Elections have consequences, and the retaking of the House of Representatives during the 2018 midterm elections is a perfect illustration of it. Several House Democrats are vowing to use their new majority in the House to enact additional controls on guns, which raises several issues.
The initial legislation they intend to push for is a bill that would require federal background checks on all firearm sales, but Americans who value the right to keep and bear arms should understand that the Democrats have no intention of stopping there.
Nancy Pelosi, presently the House minority leader, but expected to replace Republican Paul Ryan as the new speaker in early January, said, “The new Democratic majority will act boldly and decisively to pass commonsense, life-saving background checks.”
“The American people want this,” explained Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). “They’re way ahead of the Congress, they’re way ahead of the White House.” Thompson, the sponsor of the legislation, is the leader of a Democratic “gun violence” prevention task force.
Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) chimed in, “It’s very important to us, it’s one of our top priorities.” Nadler will chair the House Judiciary Committee, where the bill will most likely be sent after its introduction.
Why would the Democrats want to pass a bill that would almost certainly be considered dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate? For one thing, it would satisfy their base, which wants stricter gun-control laws — with many desirous of outright confiscation — regardless of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It also would draw more attention to the issue prior to the 2020 presidential and congressional elections.
The Democrat gun-control advocates believe it is a “winning issue” for them, citing polls. But Representative Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who is considered a strong gun-rights champion in the House, offered a counter to that idea, arguing that universal background checks are “something that … polls very well, but there’s not a single commercial gun transaction in America that doesn’t have a background check.... The wrong people are not going to report gun sales.”
Because of this, what the Democrats are aiming for, Hudson explained, is “a registry to know where every gun is.”
Left unsaid by Hudson, but obvious to anyone who has seriously studied this issue, is that once the government knows “where every gun is,” they will know where to go to get them when they move to confiscate them — the ultimate goal of most gun-control advocates. Both Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro, for example, used gun-registration laws to confiscate guns.
Beyond the gun-control issue, Representative Thompson’s remark that “the American people want this” reveals an attitude about the purpose of government that is contrary to the founding ideals of the country. James Madison included the right to keep and bear arms — by individuals — in the Bill of Rights. We don’t put the Bill of Rights up to a vote. An American has the right to free speech, freedom of religious practice, and the right to keep and bear arms, regardless of what the American people “want.” We do not — and should not — use public-opinion polls to make laws. American citizens, when they go vote, often vote for someone with whom they disagree on one issue or another because they believe the candidate is the best choice among the alternatives.
This is a powerful illustration of the fact that Americans who treasure the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms — or any of their personal liberties, for that matter — should not simply trust Congress, the president, or the courts to honor the words found in the Constitution. One only has to review many of the laws passed by Congress over the years to see that. Even the Supreme Court decision Heller v. District of Columbia, which declared the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right, was only a 5-4 decision!
And, for those clamoring for a Constitutional Convention of the States to “rein in” the federal government, the delegates would be chosen by the same electorate that returned the gun-control crowd to power in the House of Representatives. Do you really want to put the Second Amendment up for revision in this environment?
As William Cullen Bryant once said in a poem in which he personified freedom, “nor yet, O Freedom! close thy lids in slumber; for thine enemy never sleeps.”
Photo of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representative Mike Thompson: AP Images