The Corner

Guns N’ Roses

Excellent pieces today by Charlie and Robert on guns and externalities, both of which eventually boil down to the same thing: Once the Right starts compromising on principle, there’s no end to the mischief that the Left can get up to. For example, Robert writes: 

Charlie makes the case based on principle, and I agree with him entirely: It is not kosher to tax people specifically for exercising a constitutional right, and the broader idea of using taxes and subsidies to account for every conceivable externality is a threat to liberty.

To which I would add that the idea of using the taxing power — thanks, John Roberts, for opening this particular barn door! — to account for every conceivable externality is not only a threat to liberty, it’s the road to fascism itself. 

“Liberty” is a concept much in disfavor on the left these days — they don’t even pretend to admire it anymore — and for one simple reason: It implies the possibility of opposition to their various crackpot and coercive rosy scenarios for social perfection. That’s why their first reaction to anything they disfavor is always: Ban it! Regulate it! Tax it! 

As Mark Levin so pungently stated on his radio show yesterday, under our constitution no legislative body gets to have an up-or-down vote on any part of the Bill of Rights; if the Left wants to amend it, good luck with that. That’s principle, and it’s not “obstructionist” to defend it. But once conservatives buy into the notion, so beguilingly whispered by the Left, of “reasonable” and “commonsense” restrictions on constitutional principles, then there is no Constitution at all. 

That’s why the brawl over the Second Amendment is so important: The Left is using public ignorance about and fear of firearms to seduce the country into abandoning principle, which “shall not be infringed.” (“Gun violence” has nothing to do with guns qua guns and everything to do with violence.) Sneering Regressive sophists immediately leap from that wording to someone’s reductio ad absurdum right to tool around the neighborhood in an Abrams tank, but such a counterfactual has no bearing on the reason for the Second Amendment, which, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, guarantees personal liberty.

Principles, not programs. Principles, not programs. Principles, not programs

Otherwise, to paraphrase Churchill (or somebody), the Left has established what conservatives are, and all they’re doing is haggling about the price.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.

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