I’ve really struggled with the timing of this article. I was prepared to write it before the Orlando murders, but the rhetorical and political fallout caused me to pause. Typically after a situation like Orlando anger-filled hatred is spewed across all available media. Nothing constructive seems to come from that other than a few cute memes that often miss the point as both sides talk passed one another. (Full disclosure, I’ve been part of that crowd in the past too).
All that aside, if it’s possible to put that aside, let’s take a look at Donald Trump’s Second Amendment policy.
I’m inclined to agree that Donald Trump’s opening comment about the Second Amendment being clear is correct. Legally is where the Amendment comes under fire. Forgive the historical rabbit trail, but no one before the 1890s disputed the Second Amendment’s original meaning. The language was in fact clear, and is still clear. That is, unless you’re part of the ruling Legal class of today.
Today’s legal profession and Constitutional Law professors teach case law. It is a throwback to the weighty and often spurious English Common Law system in which cases, not stated laws, govern legal proceedings. This is why one often hears lawyers cite previous court cases as legal precedent instead of de facto laws.
Such system puts written laws in a secondary category and judicial interpretation in a primary position. That being the case, law therefore becomes indefinable. It is to morph with the age, to overly generalize Case Law’s greatest proponent, Christopher Columbus Langdell.
It’s necessary to understand Langdell and Case Law’s influence on the discussion before moving further down the Second Amendment road for this reason, definition. The Pro-gun and Anti-gun debate rages, because each side is working from differing premises.
Donald Trump is making his case based upon original definition (better than original intent, because the state ratifying conventions clearly defined the language used in the Constitution). The Anti-gun lobby says that the Amendment was written with a specific type of gun in mind, namely only a musket, and therefore all other Guns must be regulated/banned.
Figuring out who is right in this debate greatly hinges upon picking the proper legal philosophy. Think of it this way. Everyone loves the letter of the law when it protects them, but hates it when it hinders their cause. Those who hate having their cause hindered must then find a way to circumvent the letter of the law. From a Christian standpoint, which I fully disclose to be, man has bought Satan’s “Yay, hath God said” ideal. It’s that ideal that is being constantly applied to the Second Amendment.
Working from that foundation, one can rightly conclude that the proper argument is the one holding to the original definition. I’d much rather have that type of law, which is, as the traditional adage goes, blind. The other type of law allows for loopholes, exemptions, cheating, and everything that is our present American corrupt legal system in which the likes of a Hillary Clinton, guilty of breaking multiple laws over her lifetime, and is now running for President. She’s not even the poster child of this type of legal system. One would have to look at her husband for that. It is that type of legal system anti-gun proponents want. I’d argue that under their philosophy, guns are the least of our concerns. But let’s stick to our guns here.
Donald Trump really does hit the nail on the head in this policy’s second paragraph. He states that the Second Amendment does not create the right to bear arms, it merely guarantees that the natural right to defend ourselves cannot be taken away by the federal government.
The key here is the federal government. Historically, the states have had the power to regulate that right, and many of them do in fact regulate that right. The Tenth Amendment here becomes key to the discussion, and it allows the states the right to have their own laws on guns. That being the case, one who believes that guns are a serious problem can move to one of those strictly regulated states, such as California or Connecticut for instance. On the other hand, if one wants to have the maximum gun freedom possible, he should move to Alabama or Kentucky perhaps.
Mr. Trump mentions enforcing the laws already on the books in his first substantive section. I’m not crazy about his mentioning President Obama’s abysmal record, because in fact crime of all types, including violent, is at an all time low, and it’s been decreasing for the last forty years.
The section continues by invoking Richmond, Virginia’s “Project Exile” program as the model to fix the legal system and guns. There is a catch, however, in that criminals would be tried in Federal, not State, courts. This is unconstitutional, and would be another threat to State’s Rights. In spite of the State’s Rights issue, the numbers seem to indicate that the program works. But are those numbers to be trusted?
As already noted, crime rates have been dropping steadily for forty years. That drop has been happening regardless of whatever government program is being used. Further, recording the types of crimes listed under Project Exile are very specific, and do not reflect all types of gun or violent crimes. Therefore, claiming that Project Exile is the reason why crime rates dropped is shortsighted at best.
Donald Trump then mentions gang members and drug dealers as being key gun-criminal problems. While it is true that this group is a key demographic, putting them in jail at the required level of Project Exile does not fix the gun violence problem. Consider the extremely high taxpayer cost to fight the war on drugs and incarcerate convicted felons. Then consider that the Drug War has been an abysmal failure both monetarily and practically.
The War on Drugs itself has created a specific criminal, just like the War on Alcohol during the Prohibition Era created the now legendary gangs of the period. When Prohibition ended so too did those bootlegging gangs. At the risk of sounding naïve, more laws will not fix the issue, but removing certain laws, at least historically, will.
Mr. Trump is most certainly correct about law enforcement not being able to be everywhere all the time, though a Big Brother style government would surely like to try. But that being the case, stopping crime is up to the citizen. This is a strong case for gun ownership. The reality is the police generally only arrives after a crime has been committed. In fact, in the recent Orlando situation, the police didn’t arrive until at least 45 minutes after shots were fired. They cannot protect us, and it is foolish to think otherwise.
The next section of Trump’s plan is, for me at least, the most controversial. He wants to fix the broken mental health system. My next comments will be the ones that turn most of you readers off. I know what viruses, germs, and illnesses caused by those observable issues are. I also know what thoughts, ideas, and dreams are. But I don’t know how to define “mental illness.” How can thoughts be sick? They can be incorrect to a harmful fault, but is that an illness in the way that flu is?
This last question is key for me, and I believe for Donald Trump. If the answer is yes, then prescribe medicine to correct the illness. If the answer is no, then the drugs are a huge (forgive the punny reference) problem, if not the problem. (Please see more reference material to consider - Here, here, and herefor starters). It’s not that the shooters forgot to take these drugs, it’s that they were on these serious medications in the first place that is the issue. In my estimation, the only way to fix this is to stop prescribing “legalized” drugs in the first place.
Donald Trump wants to expand the practice; however, and I cannot oppose this plan more. It is foolish at best, and deadly as we’ve already seen many times. Further, because “psychological” issues are so nefariously ambiguous, who gets to define what is an illness or not. If it is left up to the government, then it is certainly possible that many other liberties could be sacrificed at the expense of supposed “mental health.”
Bottom line is that this generation is already the most psychologized generation in the history of mankind, and that has not helped. It would be insane to think that more psychology would fix a very serious moral problem, namely that of secular humanism’s desire to blur the lines of what is right and what is wrong. (Make no mistake, Secular Humanism is the religion propagated by Government Schools, and it dominates the nation today. It’s not an illness, but it is a seriously flawed philosophical system. Fix that, and many, though not all, issues become much easier to correct).
The final section of Trump’s plan details how Gun Owner’s Rights will be defended.
1. Gun and Magazine Bans. Mr. Trump rightly calls them a total failure. He then leaves the path somewhat by attacking the phrases used by gun-control activists, such as, “assault weapons”, or “high capacity magazines” that are often used to confuse. (These types of weapons have been outlawed since 1934, with further laws added since that time).
2. Background Checks. These are already in place, but they do not stop criminals from obtaining guns. I’m not sure what Mr. Trump means by fixing the system. He seems to be contradictory in this section in that he says that only law-abiding citizens navigate the background process, but then he says that he wants to fix the system. How? Make criminal gun dealers do background checks on other criminals? That’s not going to happen.
3. National Right to Carry. This, on the face of it, seems to be a good idea. Then when one digs deeper, he should realize that such a National law would come at the expense of State’s Rights. That sacrifice is not worth taking. If a state wants to regulate guns based upon their resident’s will, then so be it. National sovereignty does not supersede state sovereignty constitutionally, and we’re talking about Constitutional rights after all.
4. Military Bases and Recruiting Centers. This point is another hazy one for me. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I’m not certain why it’s even a point. If the military wants to regulate how servicemen carry on military installations, then so be it. I don’t see how this affects the gun-control debate either way.
To summarize Mr. Trump’s plan, I think there are good statements about protecting gun-ownership, but his plan is an attempt to protect something that is already protected. His desire to use government to fix the situation is wrongheaded, ambiguous, and potentially unconstitutional. I for one am not for breaking the Constitution in an attempt to save it.