Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why we debate the Second Amendment the way we don't debate other rights

NRO's Charles CW Cooke:
“It is not acceptable to treat the Second Amendment as if it is a second class or less important right, and it’s not acceptable to deprive individuals of it purely because they are under suspicion… In my view, the way to take someone’s rights is to convict them of something.”
I hear this kind of thing a lot from my conservative friends, but it seems there's a kind of willful naiveté involved here. The reason our discussion of the Second Amendment is different is because the effects are different.

As I've said a million times: The function of a gun is to kill. Other things that a gun is useful for — hunting, self-defense — are a byproduct of its function to kill. That differentiates it from other tools or inanimate objects that can also cause death:

Yes, lots of people die in cars each year, but that's an accidental and unfortunate byproduct of the car's essential function to provide fast transportation — and, incidentally, we've worked successfully to mitigate that accidental byproduct. When a person takes a gun and kills 50 people in a nightclub, the person is defective, but the gun is working precisely as it should. No other civil right has quite the same results.

The First Amendment doesn't result in a Sandy Hook. The Fifth Amendment doesn't create a Columbine. But guns — and a Second Amendment that makes access to guns easy and widespread — often result in death. Lots of it.

 Now: Just because this is true doesn't mean the policy discussion should go one way or another, necessarily. But it's the reason, sensibly, we don't just say "welp, it's a Constitutional right" and shrug our shoulders. Guns are different. The Second Amendment is different. We shouldn't pretend otherwise.

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