Politics & Policy

The Bizarro Morality of America’s Gun-Control Debate

(Alexandr Sidorov/Dreamstime)
Up is down, good is evil, and truth is fiction for anti-Second Amendment progressives.

To the geeks among us, “Bizarro World” is a fictional planet in the DC Comics universe, a place featuring alternate versions of Superman and other comic-book heroes, governed by a code whose first principle is, “Us do opposite of all earthly things!” But to everyone else, the planet’s name has become shorthand for a backward state of affairs in which up is down, good is evil, and truth is fiction.

The gun-control debate is a Bizarro World unto itself, one where activists, writers, and politicians — operating with an attitude of absolute moral superiority — operate according to their own “bizarro code” with three main tenets: Make up history, propose ineffective remedies, and mock proven solutions.

First, the history. It is simply remarkable to see liberals flood the Internet and social media with allegations that the Second Amendment either does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms or that — incredibly — that right is restricted to single-shot, flintlock muskets. All meaningful historical evidence points toward the conclusion that the Second Amendment merely recognized a pre-existing right to bear arms. This is plain from the text of the amendment, which protects the right of “the people,” and from its historical context. Indeed, writing in 1803, St. George Tucker updated Blackstone’s Commentaries to declare that the United States “may reasonably hope that the people will never cease to regard the right of keeping and bearing arms as the surest pledge of their liberty.”

This understanding is buttressed by dozens of state constitutional provisions, the vast majority of which clearly and unmistakably establish an individual right to gun ownership — not the mythical “collective” right so beloved by the Left. Alabama, for example, declares that “every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” New Hampshire’s constitution states that “all persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property, and the state.” These provisions aren’t part of a right-wing plot; they reflect long-defended American liberties.

RELATED: The Left’s Phony War on Guns

The Left knows that it can’t strip Americans of their individual right to bear arms, much less confiscate their weapons, without ripping our nation apart. So they retreat to the second tenet of their bizarro morality: that all good people should respond to a mass shooting by supporting legislation that wouldn’t have prevented that mass shooting.

Every time such a massacre happens, Democrats trip all over themselves offering gun-control proposals that are the functional equivalent of trying to respond to a flu outbreak with heart medication. The aftermath of last week’s Orlando attack is a perfect example: Connecticut’s Chris Murphy filibustered on the Senate floor for 15 hours to ensure votes on proposals to ban people on a terrorist watch list from obtaining weapons and to expand background checks to gun shows and Internet sales. Neither proposal would have prevented Omar Mateen’s massacre. He wasn’t on a terror watch list (he’d been removed), and he passed a background check to purchase his weapons.

#share#If leftist gun-control measures won’t stop mass shootings, what can? We know nothing is foolproof, and no one can be under any illusions that there is a single public-policy answer, but we also know that multiple attempted mass shootings have, in fact, been stopped by armed civilians with guns. Writing in the Washington Post late last year, Eugene Volokh, detailed ten separate instances in which armed citizens stopped mass carnage.

But here, the final principle of progressives’ bizarro morality rears its head: Claims that armed citizens could potentially stop a killer are invariably met with howls of rage and derision from the Left. “How dare you introduce more guns into this discussion?” they demand.

NR EXPLAINER: Of Course the Second Amendment Protects an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Yet let’s consider what happened in Orlando. Even if one presumes that the initial exchange of fire was conducted in the midst of maximum chaos (not even an armed police officer could stop the initial attack), the gunman later spent hours in the club. He talked on the phone. He texted. He washed his hands. All while terrified survivors hid in bathroom stalls or played dead. Is it unreasonable believe that — in those circumstances — a concealed weapon in the hands of a competent citizen could have saved lives?

#related#America has faced a spate of terror attacks in recent years. Something has clearly changed, but that “something” isn’t easier access to guns. In the last few decasdes, Americans bought millions more guns even as gun crimes declined sharply. The country was awash in guns throughout the almost 13-year period between 9/11 and 2014 when jihadists killed very few Americans here at home. The change is the rise of ISIS, which has brought renewed terrorist violence not just to America but also to our gun-controlling European allies.

Regulations won’t defeat ISIS, nor will making it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves. The group will go down the way jihadists always go down: at gunpoint in Mosul, in Fallujah, and — yes — even here at home. It is right to protect yourself and your fellow citizens from evil men. It is wrong to deprive yourself and your fellow citizens of the weapons that offer such protection. That’s not bizarro morality; it’s the real thing.

— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.


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