No right to violate rights

I haven’t written, so far, about H.R. 6691, which would, if enacted, invalidate most of Washington D.C.’s most egregious violations of the right to keep and bear arms, and also preempt local officials’ ability to set gun policy in the future. The reason for my reticence has been that even if, as expected, the bill passes in the House, I think it very unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate. Such an outcome (House passage, followed by quiet oblivion in the Senate) would be, for politicians, the best of both worlds–the people remain disarmed, but ostensibly “pro-gun” legislators can claim to have done their best (as could the NRA). I am not alone in seeing this as mere political theater, designed to keep the pro-gun natives from getting restless.

I hope I am wrong about the foregoing, and as often as I’m wrong when I don’t want to be, it certainly wouldn’t be a man-bites-dog situation if I blew this call, too.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write about this today is to rebut a claim that the citizen disarmament crowd is making a lot these days–that H.R. 6691 is wrong because it is an attack on local authority. The New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, for example, charges that it is hypocritical for Congresspeople representing New Hampshire (the “Live Free or Die” state) to support the bill.

But the gun lobby is not satisfied with the D.C. Council’s efforts and is taking this opportunity to encourage Congress to meddle in local legislation. They are pushing hard for H.R. 6691, a bill that would not only repeal D.C.’s current gun regulations but also prevent the D.C. City Council from enacting any gun-related legislation in the future. It is an obscene attempt to prevent the residents of Washington, D.C. from governing themselves. How ironic that the only two congressional cosponsors from New England come from the state with the motto Live Free or Die.

Columnist Tom Teepen (whom I have mentioned before) makes a similar argument, whining that the bill “would strip the district of its right set its own firearms regulations . . . .”

The Brady Campaign says:

Can anyone imagine citizens in St. Augustine, Florida or Marion, Indiana or Clemmons, North Carolina standing by while Congress erased any of their laws?

Of course not.

Well, the people of the District of Columbia don’t like it either.

. . . And the Washington Post:

HOUSE DEMOCRATS make much of their support for the right of the District to self-government. Too bad they are willing to sacrifice this basic tenet of American democracy to the political self-interests of members cowed by the powerful gun lobby. How else to explain a planned vote on legislation so extreme it would strip the District of all power to regulate guns?

. . . And the New York Times:

The bill is a gross trampling on the right of the district to govern itself, but it is far more than that.

Etc., etc.

The point missed by all these people is that what would be “trampled” by H.R. 6691 isn’t a right, because there is no right to deprive others of their rights. Residents of Washington D.C. have, like all Americans, a Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental, absolute human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and if the D.C. city council chooses to violate that right, then the federal government is obligated to thwart them.

Those lamenting the “trampling” of D.C.’s local authority tend to claim that the people of D.C. overwhelmingly support such draconian gun laws. Perhaps that is true; perhaps not, but such claims are irrelevant. If one person wants to exercise something approaching the full extent of his Second Amendment rights, the majority have no right to stop him from doing so. As has been pointed out innumerable times before, we do not live in a democracy, in which 51% of the people can vote away the rights of the other 49%; we live in a Constitutional republic, in which the rights of the minority are to be protected from the whims of the majority.

The recent activity with regard to H.R. 6691 might be nothing more than a cynical bid to mollify gun rights advocates without actually doing anything, but it is not a hypocritical attack on anyone’s rights.


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