The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 9.35.08 AMWe’re going afield into politics again, for which we will shortly apologize. But we wanted to alert you to a rather serious academic article by Professor Edward J. Erler of Cal State San Bernardino (yes, the city that whelped the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, and that is now quite literally bankrupt, that San Berdoo of legend. Who knew it has a college?). It ran in Hillsdale College’s Imprimis, and to our surprise hasn’t been picked up much in the 2A blogosphere, so we’re giving it a little push. Apologies to those of you who come here for the gun tech or the special ops stuff.

A very small taste of Erler’s article (adapted from a speech he delivered at Hillsdale):

Now it’s undeniable, Senator Dianne Feinstein to the contrary notwithstanding, that semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 are extremely well-adapted for home defense—especially against a crime that is becoming more and more popular among criminals, the home invasion. Over the past two decades, gun ownership has increased dramatically at the same time that crime rates have decreased. Combine this with the fact that most gun crimes are committed with stolen or illegally obtained weapons, and the formula to decrease crime is clear: Increase the number of responsible gun owners and prosecute to the greatest extent possible under the law those who commit gun-related crimes or possess weapons illegally.

Both the analysis and policy recommendations are, in our view, on target. (Indeed, the AR-15 we described working on this morning is an airline pilot’s home defense gun). Personally, we’d differ slightly from Erler in the policy we recommended — criminals with guns will always commit gun crimes, so there’s no gain and much grief in malum in se possession prohibitions, and nothing lost requiring a demonstrated mens rea before we slam a cell door on some person. One of the depressing factors in the current Washington (and several States) debate about gun laws is the fixation by all sides on prosecuting non-violent possession of inert, unsentient objects as if it said possession were the equivalent of willful axe murder. Some of the new proposals seem designed to create as many unwitting felons as possible, to enable selective population of whomever a prosecutor has an animus towards.

It’s not whether Alice has a gun, it’s what she does to Bob with it that defines her as a criminal, in any sensibly moral environment. Shouldn’t our laws be a similarly moral environment? Nah. Not unless we want respect for the law breaking out all over. Who knows where that would lead?

At the end of Erler’s article, he makes some truly frightening suggestions for where an anti-gun, anti-liberty administration might go when its policy preferences are frustrated by a divided Congress. It is a very fortunate thing that Eric Holder, for example, almost certainly does not read Imprimis.

Who does, then? Imprimis is a very small but serious magazine for the intellectually freedom-minded conservative. It’s 2.6 million subscribers include a who’s who of today’s liberty-oriented thinkers and doers. We at WeaponsMan.com may sometimes fall short of their expectations of a median reader, but we always feel smarter after we’ve read it. That’s true whether we agree, disagree, or — as in the case of Professor Erler’s thoughtful 2nd Amendment article — reach a split decision on any particular article. You can read it online, or subscribe and they’ll send you a short but high-idea-density paper copy every month.