My friend and occasional Tracinski Letter contributor Jack Wakeland has been giving me a hard time because I haven’t been covering very much of the debate over new gun control measures after the Newtown massacre. He’s right, of course, so below I am copying some of Jack’s comments on the issue, and as a special form of penance, I include his admonitions scolding me for slacking off on this issue.
“Your coverage has been very thin on the gun rights war kicked off by President Obama and the two-month-long hysteria following the Sandy Hook Massacre.
“Obama intended his anti-gun initiative to be a harassment of gun owners—retribution for not voting for him and a general party fundraising tool—rather than a serious attempt to establish gun bans and gun controls at the federal level. He probably also intended his anti-gun campaign to be the center ring in a circus of misdirection—a way to divert the people’s attention from the ongoing bankruptcy of the federal government—and on the general partisan principal that his party should always be on the attack.
“But there is more to the story. Much more.
“Obama intended his campaign would light off numerous gun-banning initiatives at the state level, probably with particular hopes that Illinois would ban semi-automatic rifles. That goal that has been frustrated because the legislature is busy arguing over bills that set shall-issue concealed carry licensing standards in the wake of the federal 7th Circuit’s decision to strike down the state’s ban on carrying guns, as a violation of the Second Amendment and the right to self defense.
“You did not cover the shocking imposition of an 11-round magazine ban and ban on private gun sales in the great mountain state of Colorado or the open declarations of defiance of the new laws by two state senators and five county sheriffs.
“You didn’t cover much about the mad rush of people—which is still underway—to buy ammunition, high-capacity magazines, and AR-15 semi-automatic rifles (the rifle-buying part of it is starting to calm down). General firearms purchasing rates are so high that background check and gun permit issuing operations in several states have been overwhelmed. Waiting times for Colorado’s ‘instant’ background check have gone from 30-45 minutes to 7-10 days. Permits to purchase handguns in Maryland and gun ownership permit cards in Illinois now take two to three months to process.
“You didn’t cover Beretta USA’s threats to quit Maryland or Colt Firearms’s one-day factory shutdown in which the gun maker sent all 500 employees across town in buses to visit the Connecticut state house so that lawmakers would personally meet the people they demonize and who may be exiled to another state or to the unemployment office if Colt’s AR-15 is further restricted in the state.
“You covered New York’s insane ban on 8-round magazines and their accidental failure to exempt police officers and police agencies from the ban. What you didn’t cover is the reaction to this error in law-writing: a coalition of gun makers and accessories-makers have decided that the ‘mistaken’ ban on possession of ‘assault’ weapons by the police wasn’t a mistake at all. They’ve joined Ronnie Barrett of Barrett Arms in refusing to supply or train police agencies and individual police officers in states and municipalities that ban their weapons, accessories, and training to citizens.
“If you are going to cover the Barrett, LaRue, Olympic Arms, Magpul, etc., boycott of police in police-state anti-gun jurisdictions, please quote Ronnie Barrett’s statement in full. [How about a link .—RWT] Mr. Barrett refused sales to law enforcement in California when, in 2004, the state outlawed private ownership of his entire line of .50 cal. rifles, including his Model 99 bolt-action anti-materiel rifle.
“Mr. Barrett hit upon a formula which should be used to define the proper legal limits the government may place on privately-owned weapons: all weapons routinely carried by police patrolmen must be routinely available to citizens, totally unencumbered by any legal restrictions, permits or background checks, record keeping regulations of any kind, carry prohibitions, storage requirements, etc. Any weapons which go beyond normal armament against attack by individuals or small groups of criminals—area weapons like belt-fed machine guns, grenades, etc., should be closely regulated for both police and citizens. The type and extent of the armament of the police should be no more and no less a matter of public concern and close control than the type and extent of the armament of private citizens.
“This adds one layer of sophistication to my previous formula that all individually operated point weapons—firearms which can be used discriminately to stop lethal threats posed by individual criminals—are weapons which the people possess as a matter of right as an integral extension of the right to self-defense. There can be no restrictions of any kind on the possession, sale, transportation, and manufacture of these weapons for people who have not lost their liberties by due process in a court of law (as in a felony criminal conviction, involuntary commitment to a mental ward, or adjudication of mental incompetence which strips a person of the right to own property).
“Likewise, the people should jealously guard against the elevation of the police to a special class of state-authorized specially-armed death-dealers. While the police must have a special status when it comes the use of force in general, they rightly have no power to use deadly force that is different or special. When it comes to using deadly force, the police may use it in defense of innocent life against an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, or, in certain traditionally limited cases, to defend an innocent property-owner from the imminent threat of a major loss. These are exactly the same limited and emergency circumstances under which the individual has the right to use deadly force. Thus, in general, both police and the people should have access to the same weapons.”
What I have been covering, in a recent edition of my RealClearPolitics newsletter, is the withering of the federal-level campaign for gun control, primarily as “red state” Senate Democrats decide they’re not going to stick their necks out. What I noted particularly is that all of these state-level gun control measures are being proposed and passed as if the Supreme Court had not made several pro-Second-Amendment rulings in the past five years. As I wrote there: “It strikes me that Democrats still haven’t taken on board the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling affirming the right to bear arms as an individual right. This means that there will be a second phase in which the new state-level laws are challenged, as well as anything that manages to make it out of Congress, and we will see if the Court once again invokes the Second Amendment to control gun control.”
The state governments of Colorado, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland have become a kind of domestic version of “rogue states,” going rogue against the rights protected in the Second Amendment.