Earlier this week I wrote at The Federalist that “Hillary Clinton wants to take your guns.” I will stand by that statement: She does want to take them, and she is barely interested in pretending otherwise, as a recent campaign statement demonstrates.
Last week Trump pointed out – correctly — that Hillary Clinton wants to “abolish the Second Amendment.” Never willing to let an accurate statement about a liberal politician go to waste, the folks over at FactCheck.org got right on it: “Trump Distorts Clinton’s Gun Stance,” they declared.
But these proposals are ultimately irrelevant to the singular question every politician must answer when it comes to gun rights, namely: Does he or she wish to repeal the Second Amendment, upon which all American gun rights rest? If the answer is no, then we can safely assume that the politician in question does not ultimately want to take away your guns. If the answer is yes, however implicitly, then plainly the politician wishes to take away your guns, and a “gun violence prevention proposal” such as Hillary Clinton’s is simply a smokescreen over the ultimate aim of gun confiscation.
Along with the vast majority of Americans, Clinton believes there are common sense steps we can take at the federal level to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while respecting the 2nd Amendment. She also believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe.
Here is the problem with Clinton’s belief that Heller was “wrongly decided” because it prohibited states from making “common sense laws to keep their residents safe”: It is a lie. Heller prohibited no such thing: In fact, in the court’s majority opinion on Heller, the late Antonin Scalia explicitly allows that the Second Amendment is perfectly compatible with laws meant to keep residents safe from harm. “Like most rights,” Scalia wrote, “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.” Among the regulations permissible under Heller, according to Scalia, were “laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” such as laws meant to protect public safety by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.
The crux of it, then, is this: Clinton purportedly believes that Heller was wrongly decided because it did not permit cities and states “to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe.” But Heller allows for that, unequivocally and without doubt. In other words, Clinton objects to Heller on the grounds that it does not contain a provision it explicitly contains.It would be tempting to write this off as simple political and constitutional ignorance. But it is almost certainly much more than that. Hillary Clinton assuredly knows that Heller allows for “common sense laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.” And because it is perfectly reasonable to assume that she knows this, there is only one reasonable explanation left: She objects to Heller on some other grounds.
What grounds would those be? The same grounds on which most other liberals object to Heller and wish to see it overturned, of course: that it affirms that the Second Amendment protects an individual American right to firearms and thereby prevents the government from enacting an all-out ban on commonly used weapons. Because she is not stupid, Hillary Clinton understands that there is no meaningful distinction between Heller and the Second Amendment itself; to get rid of one is, effectively, to get rid of the other. It is silly, insulting, and alarming that she still insists upon pretending otherwise.
— Daniel Payne is a senior contributor at The Federalist. He runs the blog Trial of the Century. Follow him on Twitter @danieljpayne.