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America’s Elites Love Fearmongering About Gun Policy


For all its braggadocio about being the political faction dedicated to “science” and reason and fact-driven opinion and intelligence, the elitist Left is remarkably uneducated and illiterate when it comes to firearms. It is common knowledge that progressives are prone to using terms like “military-style assault weapon” without grasping what such terms even mean; it is equally well-known that they are unable to grasp firearm terminology to the point where they can tell the difference between a magazine and a clip. It is unsurprising in a sense that the Left would not deign to use or even learn the nomenclature of guns, given that they view firearms as antediluvian throwbacks to the days before the Left figured out nobody needed firearms. And yet the full-blown inability for progressives to understand guns must go beyond mere contempt and disdain for the devices: there is a willfulness in the Left’s ignorance, a deliberate avoidance on their part of accuracy, reality and rigorous thought.

Such was on display on a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, on which the titular host and his panelists went on a predictable and predictably-uninformed rant against both guns and the Second Amendment. Recently, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens declared that the Second Amendment should be edited to read, in part, “The right of the People to keep and bear arms when serving in a militia shall not be infringed.” For years, and ever-more vociferously since 2008’s excellent D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court decision, progressives have held that the Second Amendment established not an individual right to “keep and bear” firearms, but a “collective” right that tied firearm ownership directly to service in a state militia—hence Justice Stevens’s desire to make the distinction explicit.

“This is the original intent of the Second Amendment,” Maher declared.

That is an utter falsehood. It is questionable why someone with the obvious intelligence of Bill Maher would ever utter such an incorrect, ahistorical and easily refutable a proposition. I have written in these pages before of the individual right that is self-evidently contained within the Second Amendment. As I wrote, a simple textual analysis of the Constitution makes this clear, and it would take the average reader no more than 15 minutes to do so. We must assume that Bill Maher has read the Constitution. It would be improbable for him to have managed to avoid doing so up to this point. Allowing for that assumption, then, the only reasonable explanation is that Maher knows that the “collective right” theory of the Second Amendment is wrong, and he simply chooses to believe otherwise.

This theory would seem dubious if not for the fact that the Left counts among its philosophical pillars the notion that an armed citizenry is a bad citizenry—or more accurately, that the government is the correct and appropriate dispenser of self-defense and personal protection. A body politic of gun-toting freeborn citizens simply does not square with the progressive worldview; it apportions sovereignty and authority too broadly among the citizenry, and divides self-sufficiency in ways that make authoritarians distinctly uncomfortable. There is no Second Amendment in North Korea. “Why do you need a gun?” is a common question from the Left, as if needs determine rights or as if the Left’s hostility toward, and often-outright fear of, guns means nobody should have them. If the Left acknowledges that the individual right to own firearms is explicitly codified into our Constitution, they then must admit that they have lost not merely the political battle, but the philosophical one as well. From the get-go, we have not only been a nation of gun owners, but a gun owner nation, not merely possessing the natural right to self-defense but the chartered right as well: that right “shall not be infringed,” blithering about the militia be damned. To be perfectly fair, don’t we all sometimes wish to deny things such as these, when they are so devastating to our worldview?

If progressives are unable to confront the legal and Constitutional realities that are part and parcel of the civic and governmental fabric of the United States, they are equally-unable to review and process the modern-day, straightforward, unbiased statistics regarding guns and gun laws. On the same edition of Real Time, Bill Maher’s panel guest John Avlon, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, reflected on the most recent “guns everywhere” law in Georgia which expands carry zones throughout the state: “Guns in bars? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?”

That’s a great question! If Avlon had mustered the gumption to do a little research, he would have perhaps seen the aftermath of Virginia’s passage of a similar “guns in bars” law a few years ago: crimes at bars dropped. “What could possibly go wrong?” In Virginia, less went wrong.  It apparently did not occur to John Avlon to look at different states’ experiences with similar laws, if only because the progressive worldview does not demand one back up one’s anti-gun convictions with actual data or facts. All that is required is that you hate firearms and steadfastly ignore or deny any inconvenient truths regarding them. Why look into it any further?

Give him credit, Avlon certainly knows how to hire them. Over at the Daily Beast, in the wake of the “guns everywhere” bill, columnist Cliff Schecter declared that it “doesn’t matter that this legislation flies in the face of all public health statistics, common sense, and modernity. Or that more people will now die.” His evidence that “more people will now die?” A study that showed “widespread American gun ownership is fueling America’s gun violence epidemic.” Never mind that this claim is entirely dubious: the Georgia bill has nothing to do with owning guns and everything to do with carrying them. Gun ownership is totally and completely immaterial to the new Georgia law, but Schecter does not care that he cannot even craft a coherent argument: all he wants you to know is that guns are bad and we should be afraid of them.

These are not isolated incidences; they are not infrequent. Those of us who are familiar with guns and appreciative of the Second Amendment’s immense importance to maintaining a healthy republic are, by now, used to the tiresome liberal tendency to remain woefully uneducated about firearms. Nevertheless, it is still troublesome to witness how frequently and aggressively wrong they are on the subject, and how easily they can misguide the uninformed. Why shouldn’t they? After all, the ultimate aim of the anti-gun left is near-total civilian disarmament, and for that they will need to confuse as many people as they possibly can. A populace blinded to its natural God-given rights, and without the ability to defend itself: what could possibly go wrong?

Daniel Payne blogs at Trial of the Century. You can follow him on Twitter.