A case in point of how fear can make an otherwise free and reasonable people surrender their rights is in the area of the Second Amendment. I have to admit that this has never been a big priority for me because I do not own a gun. I have never even held, much less fired a real firearm. I was never in the military or law enforcement, and I never trained in using weapons. I have lived in NYC for my entire life where for law-abiding citizens at least, guns are not part of our cultural environment in the same way they are in other areas of the country. And I will state here and now that I do not intend ever to own anything that fires bullets and if I go to my grave having never fired a shot, I will not feel that I have missed anything.
I have become increasingly aware recently of this issue because it directly impacts a right guaranteed to us by our founding fathers in the Constitution. I disagree with the NRA and some of their allies in the sense that I believe common-sense regulations and valid registration is necessary. Waiting periods, background checks, and at least some degree of mandatory training all make sense to me. But such restrictions should also be balanced by protections that don’t allow for authorities to abuse or revoke the rights of citizens to bear arms.
But what is happening now in Virginia not only crosses that commonsense line, it obliterates it. Playing on the fears engendered by recent mass shootings, especially in schools, Democrats in the State Legislature are pushing through “Red Flag Laws.” The danger of laws like these goes far beyond the Second Amendment. As I understand it, these laws will allow just about anyone to report just about anyone else for just about any reason, and the reported party will have his gun or guns taken away before any due process taking place.
It could be argued that this might save lives, and if it saves even one life, won’t it be worth it even if some lose their guns? These types of laws are ripe for abuse, and it is not hard to imagine a scenario where a dispute between individuals can result in one calling the authorities to come and take the other’s guns based on whatever pretense this stupid law allows. “Well, so what,” you might say, Maybe he was dangerous.” Maybe. But we live in a country where “maybe” is never a good enough reason to seize the property of someone who has not even been credibly accused of a crime.
But this goes way beyond gun rights, which I will address in Part III.