Everything old is new again. For fifty years, Democrats have opposed the Second Amendment rights of Americans to keep and bear arms; for much longer than that, of course, tyrants have opposed their citizenry possessing weapons that might enable them to resist oppression.
Does the fact that Mr. Obama wants to take our guns away make him a tyrant? Bill Clinton was equally (though less effectively) in favor of gun control, and for all his flaws, a tyrant he wasn't. The Caesars were certainly tyrannical but we're not aware of any major efforts to deprive Romans of whatever weapons they happened to have.
How about Mr. Obama's stated goal of tightening gun control by executive order? That seems to be a major concern of several conservative Congressmen, who suggest that impeachment may be an appropriate response.
Well, let's be serious for a moment - Mr. Obama will never be impeached. Not one single Democrat will ever again vote to impeach a Democratic president no matter what he does, and as we recently discussed, it's inconceivable that there will be two-thirds majorities of Republicans with the current electorate. In the abstract, though, we can understand the Congressmen's point - how else can Congress fight back against a President who doesn't view himself as bound by Constitutional limits to his power, and insists on taking power that rightfully belongs to Congress?
And there we find a key, fundamental assumption that goes unchallenged but which is fatally flawed. A recent pro-gun-control article on CNN.com illustrated this point without meaning to:
[Conservatives] talk a lot about liberty and freedom and love to call themselves patriots, but they seem to have a real problem with democracy. In a democracy, if people are proposing a law you don't like, you criticize it, you argue against it, you campaign against it, you vote against the politicians who support it. But if you believe in democracy, you don't threaten to start killing people if it passes. You don't say that if you don't like a new law, you'll start an insurrection to overthrow the government...
[Our Founders] certainly didn't set up our democracy in the hope that every time any group of people didn't like a law that democracy produced, they'd abandon any pretense of support for our system of government and start killing the cops and soldiers who protect us. There's a word for people who dream about doing that, and it isn't "patriot."
On its face, this sounds sensible. The whole point of elections is to determine what sort of government America wants to have, and to identify the policies most Americans want to see enacted. The 2012 election could not have had a clearer contrast between visions of what America is supposed to be, and a convincing majority of Americans chose Mr. Obama's vision. As he bluntly put it to Republicans, "I won."
So does that make everything he does OK, given that he won the election? No, it does not - because we do not live in a democracy.
CNN's article perpetuates this myth - in fact it extends it where it says in passing that our Founders set up a democracy. They did no such thing, on purpose, with careful consideration. They expressly did not want a democracy. They feared unlimited rule by "the people," knowng as they did that "the people" can easily be swayed into dangerous and irretrievable error by skilled demagogues and golden-tongued orators.
First and foremost, as Ben Franklin said, our government is "A republic - if you can keep it." We elect representatives who make our laws. Obviously those representatives are supposed to respond to the electorate - if they don't, they'll lose the next election - but they're not supposed to be mere puppets.
But Mr. Obama is America's elected President. Doesn't that just underscore his moral authority to do what he wants to do? It's not like his views on guns are a surprise to anyone.
No it doesn't, because of the second aspect of our government: we are a Constitutional republic.
Our Founders had so little faith in the eternal wisdom of government, that they tried to tie its hands forever by writing down what Congress was and was not allowed to do. Most of the Amendments of the Bill of Rights contain the phrase, "Congress shall make no law..." The whole point was to remove from government the power to do certain things.
The Second Amendment uses slightly different words to mean the same thing: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This is actually an even wider restriction - not only can't you make laws affecting this right, you can't infringe it at all - for example, by regulation, or by oppressive searches, or harassment, or in any means.
Of course nobody today reads the Amendment this way, because our opinionmakers reject the idea that there are supposed to be any limits on government power. But that was the key point of the American Revolution - our founders wanted freedom and liberty, which cannot exist when government can do whatever it pleases.
The title of CNN's article is, "NRA's paranoid fantasy flouts democracy." They say this as if it's a bad thing. In doing so, however, they betray their ignorance and bias.
Yes, the NRA rejects democracy - as did our Founders. The NRA, like our Congressmen, Senators and President are supposed to, swears allegiance to the Constitution. They don't swear allegiance to democracy, or to the voters; they swear loyalty to the written agreement between the American people and their government.
If the American people feel that the Second Amendment is outdated, there is a perfectly legitimate Constitutional procedure to have it repealed, though we can do without an arrogant elitist far-left Brit telling us we're uncivilized barbarians until we've done so.
Until that happens, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, no matter what the President, the Congress, or even the voters want to do.
If you'd rather not live under our Constitution and think it's too much bother to make amendments as it prescribes, there are many nearby borders which you could cross. The door is that way. Don't slam it on your way out.