If you have to obtain a government license to exercise a right, it is not a right.
That's all that really needs to be said about President Clinton's desire to require that people obtain a license before purchasing a firearm. Unlike driving a car, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is part of the Bill of Rights. That Second Amendment states that Congress shall not infringe the people's right to keep and bear arms.
Don't buy that malarkey that the Second Amendment applies to states or to militias but does not guarantee an individual right. A huge majority of legal scholars today agree that it does apply to individuals.
If the government is going to license purchasers of arms, then it should also license the right to speech, to assembly, to religious freedom, to trial by jury. There is no debate that unlicensed journalists through the years have caused far more damage to the republic than firearms.
Of course if people are ignorant of their rights, ignorant of their Constitution and the history of its writing and ratification, then it's easy for demagogues to take their rights away from them. Even in the time of Franklin Roosevelt, if any politician had suggested Americans had to obtain a license to buy an ordinary firearm, there would have been a national uproar. Decades of poor education, however, took its toll.
It should be clear to any thinker what these mugs are up to. Crime and the homicide rate have been going down steadily as prisons were filled up. Keep criminals off the streets and you get less crime. The availability of firearms has nothing to do with it.
The belief that an inanimate object, in this case a firearm, will cause an otherwise honest and normal person to commit murder is the intellectual equivalent of believing that black cats and broken mirrors cause bad luck. It ill becomes a nation that purports to be a leader in technology and science.
So if it's not crime, what is the game? Well, it's as old as the republic. Long ago Thomas Jefferson said that no matter what they call themselves and no matter what age they live in, people always divide themselves into two groups -- those who love and trust the people and those who fear and hate them. Elitists fear the American people. They want them disarmed.
But there is definitely a cause-and-effect relationship between armed citizens and freedoms. For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many Jewish organizations oppose private ownership of firearms. I can only conclude that they learned nothing from the Holocaust. Do they think that the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was carried out by licensed firearms? The 1968 Gun Control Act is virtually word for word a copy of the Nazi gun-control act that Adolf Hitler hailed as a great triumph.
Yes, I know, Americans believe that nothing bad can ever happen in the good old U.S.A. I don't know where they get that idea. We exterminated Indians. We enslaved Africans. We killed 600,000 of each other. We periodically have riots, during which the police make themselves scarce and people have to defend their lives and property with private arms.
The truth is nobody can predict the future. It may be hunky-dory, peachy-creamy. It may be hell. We could have a military coup. We might elect ourselves a dictator. We may become involved in a war in which foreign troops are fighting on our soil. The future is unknowable.
What is knowable is that a free people must have the right to arms and must recognize the difference between rights and privileges. What is knowable is that a government that does not trust the people cannot be trusted by the people.
Published in The Orlando Sentinel on February 06, 2000.
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