The following post was written by a close friend of mine, Mark Ferguson, a self-described “absolutely worst sort of privileged white male with degrees from Michigan State University, Indiana University, and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.”
Let’s talk about gun legislation
Are your hackles raised yet? It’s a touchy subject fraught with knee-jerk responses. We need to get past that. I think there’s a ready way to frame the discussion.
Gun legislation is, without doubt, a thorny, complex issue. The discussion, as far as it exists, devolves quickly into a “from my cold, dead hands” response from those that oppose any such notion. Based on polling, it’s clear that this particular position happens to represent a very vocal, very small minority. It is truly unfortunate that those voices are loud enough to stifle any kind of reasonable discussion about legislation.
I’d like to think that there is a way forward in getting some meaningful discussion on the topic. I’d like to think that comparing the treatment of another fundamental right is one such path.
Is the right to vote more dangerous than the right to bear arms?
This question comes to mind after seeing Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy ask about what other rights one must appeal to the government to have restored, in reference to the due process issues that encumber restricting gun ownership based on the no-fly list.
This is not to diminish the due process issue — the no-fly list itself is guilty on that count — but it is worthy of note that if one is denied one’s right to vote for whatever reason, it must be petitioned to be restored.
Here’s another question: how many restrictions on the right to vote can you think of off the top of your head? How many on the right to bear arms?
I’ll give you a minute.
Well? It’s kind of striking, in my mind. The right to vote is mentioned five times in the Constitution and a state would lose its Congressional representation should that right be “in any way abridged” per the 14th amendment. The right to bear arms is mentioned once, along with the “not to be infringed” clause — seems like a similar level of protection is implied in both cases. Setting aside that the “number of references” is insufficient to rank them, it’s still awfully clear that the right to vote is as important as the right to bear arms.
There seems to be no argument that legislation regarding the right to vote is prudent and, in fact, such legislation is enacted frequently (voter ID laws, absentee voting laws, the Voting Rights Act, etc.) So why not treat legislation regarding the right to bear arms in the same way?
I have my own views on what sensible legislation might look like and what types of policies might help achieve a safer environment for all Americans. Unfortunately the current political climate doesn’t allow such discussion, and that needs to change.
[CC photo of Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s “Non-Violence” sculpture: François Polito | Wikimedia Commons]