Why Ben Carson is Wrong To Grab Your Tank

Why Ben Carson is Wrong To Grab Your Tank

We might need 'em. You never know.

Farnsworth: “So what are you doing to protect my constitutional right to bear doomsday devices?”

NRA Guy: “Well, first off, we’re gonna get rid of that three day waiting period for mad scientists.”

Farnsworth: “Damn straight! Today the mad scientist can’t get a doomsday device, tomorrow it’s the mad grad student! Where will it end?!”

NRA Guy: “Amen, brother. I don’t go anywhere without my mutated anthrax. For duck huntin’.” — Futurama

You know the popular red herring used by anti-gun advocates: The chilling slippery slope ends with a bunch of nuts brandishing advanced military weaponry in your neighborhood. First guns. Then “assault weapons.” Then tanks! Maybe nuclear weapons? Where does it end? Is there any weapon that will satisfy the nihilistic needs of the right? The latest conservative to chime in on this was potential presidential candidate Ben Carson, who said: “I think there are some weapons that probably aren’t appropriate,” but then could only, according to the astonished media, list tanks and rocket launchers.

To begin with, as Dan Mitchell reminds us, via the Wall Street Journal, tanks are not only perfectly legal but tanks featuring operational guns are perfectly legal as long the owner procures a federal Destructive Device permit for around $200. The “applicant must swear he hasn’t been a “fugitive from justice,” “adjudicated mentally defective” or convicted of “a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” And …

A local law-enforcement official, usually a sheriff or police chief, has to sign off on the application. Tanks generally aren’t street-legal, so owners usually drive them off-road or on other private property. Some say local authorities sometimes make exceptions for parades, a quick test drive or a trip to the gas station.

And a few years back, Peter Bagge at Reason magazine made some compelling arguments in favor of allowing Americans to own a Bazooka, as well. If a person doesn’t pose a threat to his fellow citizens, if he or she is a collector of such things, or even if he or she wants to stash a weapon in their backyard bunker in case tyranny breaks out, it seems to me that should be their right. Because, as Carson himself goes on to say: “But the real reason that they put it [2nd Amendment] there is recognizing that there could come a time when our government itself could go off the rail, and could try to dominate the people, and the people would need a mechanism of defense for themselves.”

Conservatives shy away from this argument for understandable political reasons. It is unlikely, really unthinkable in today’s world. Yet … you never know, we may need some tanks one day.

But today, most people who already own firearms, as Gallup found, do so for reasons of personal safety/protection (60%), followed by hunting (36%.) These conversations are meant to distract and scare Americans, who aren’t as horrified by firearms as the average journalist may imagine. So, tanks!

Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter 

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today. Follow him on Twitter.
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