Tuesday, 28 January 2014

New Gun-Rights Bill Angers Namesake Piers Morgan

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An Oklahoma state legislator has proposed a pro-gun law to “reaffirm Oklahomans’ Second Amendment rights,” and humorously named it after a man who loathes being associated with such a measure.

The “Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act,” proposed by State Senator Nathan Dahm, would allow citizens over the age of 18 to openly carry loaded or unloaded guns without the need for a license. The bill would include military or law enforcement functions, practice or performance for entertainment purposes, and lawful self-defense situations.

If passed, the legislation would not have an impact on gun-free zones such as schools and government offices.

Dahm stated in a press release,

The Second Amendment says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and yet when we require our citizens to jump through hoops, pay fees and undergo a process that presumes they're guilty of something until proven otherwise, their rights are being infringed upon.

Senate Bill 1473 simply says Oklahomans can carry firearms in all the places currently allowed by law, but they will no longer be required to obtain a license to do so.

Responding to concerns that the law would increase gun violence, Dahm asserted, “I’m not concerned about it. They said the same thing ... when we passed open carry. There was going to be a wild west — there was going to be blood in the streets, and we haven’t seen that happen.”

According to Doug Friesen, an Oklahoma gun law attorney, current laws hurt Oklahomans who do not have the financial ability to pay for classes and licensing:

Some of our most vulnerable citizens are left without the means to protect themselves outside of their home. That, I think is a tragedy.

It affects many of our lowest social economic groups, which quite frankly probably live in areas where they need it the most. Human predators are just like animal predators. They seek out the weakest, the ones least able to defend themselves.

Dahm humorously named the bill after CNN’s Piers Morgan (shown), a notorious anti-gun commentator well known for his anti-Second Amendment tirades. Said Dahm,

A lot of times, people will name bills almost the exact opposite of [their] intent. We have the Patriot Act that was passed by Republicans — one of the most unpatriotic acts ever passed in American history. What better name to come up with — somebody that is for even stricter gun control — to actually loosen our gun control measures in Oklahoma.

Morgan has garnered a reputation as an anti-gun crusader. On Monday, for example, he tweeted his theory on the Second Amendment: “Given the young ages of most mass/random shooters in America, I’d make it illegal for anyone under 25 to buy a gun of any kind.”

Morgan then compared Second Amendment rights to the ability to rent a car: "It's almost impossible to rent a car under the age of 25 in America — why not regulate guns the same way? Just common sense."

The CNN on-air personality also used the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the 9/11 attacks to advance his agenda, writing, "America's response to 9/11 was to ban all potential weapons on planes. Why is the only answer to gun violence MORE guns?"

Upon learning that Dahm's legislation was named after him, Morgan tweeted that it was “unbelievable": “Hi Senator @NathanDahm—come on my show and debate your new ‘Piers Morgan Act.’ If you have the guts.”

Dahm accepted the offer, tweeting back, “Received the email invite from your producer. Working out the details but it looks like Monday evening. We can discus it then.”

Appearing on Morgan’s show on Monday, Dahm discussed the intrusiveness of the federal government, particularly in relation to Second Amendment rights.

Morgan used a Kinder egg — a chocolate shell with a little toy inside (which is illegal in the United States) — in an attempt to make an analogy about the absurdity of what he perceives as careless gun laws. But it backfired when his conservative guest agreed with him.

Morgan argued that it was nonsensical for Dahm to have a "constitutional right to have guns” while Kinder eggs are prohibited. “Does that strike you as strange?" he asked.

However, Dahm agreed that Kinder eggs should be legal, asserting that their ban exemplifies the government's constant effort to protect citizens from themselves, and observed that the federal government is equally "intrusive" in banning either Kinder eggs or guns.

"The federal government has become very intrusive and they are operating outside of their constitutional authority in many areas, and this is one example of it," he responded.

"So you would battle hard with me to save the Kinder egg for the American people?" Morgan asked, to which Dahm replied, "I love the Kinder eggs."

Detecting that his analogy failed to achieve the desired result, Morgan abruptly switched the conversation: "Let's get serious against guns."

He played a video of a grieving father who lost his son in the tragic Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting in December 2012, and argued that the right to life supersedes the right to carry a weapon.

Dahm responded,

I believe that both of them should and could coexist. We do have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And we also do have a right to keep and bear arms. And yes, somebody should not take that right and violate somebody else's right, and take a life, and they should be punished accordingly if they do that. But you don't understand what a right is, and that's the problem here.

Morgan began to get heated during the interview, demanding,

What part of a well regulated militia allows you to put this bill out using my name to get yourself some cheap publicity, and sort of make a mockery of the whole thing? What part allows you to say that Oklahomans should all just be able to be armed to the teeth in the streets, with no licensing or background checks, and that constitutes somehow a well regulated militia as laid down by your founding fathers?

But Dahm remained calm, answering,

First of all, I'm not here to get attention for myself. I'm here to get attention on the issue. The militia is made up of three parts: the Oklahoma National Guard, the Oklahoma State Guard, and the unorganized militia, which is every able-bodied citizen between the age of 18 and 69.

While the future of Dahm’s bill is uncertain, the exposure that his proposal has received has given him the opportunity on nationwide TV to advocate constitutional rights and limitations — and that alone is an achievement.

Photo of Piers Morgan: AP Images

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