Ban Assault Religions: A First Amendment Analogy

AP Photo, File

Every time there’s a mass casualty event involving an AR-pattern rifle in the United States, the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to push their gun control agenda while the victims’ bodies are still warm.

The cacophony of illogical and emotional arguments is familiar to many of us.

“Ban military-style semi-automatic assault rifles.”

“Weapons of war don’t belong in our streets.” (Barack Obama et al)

“Why do you need an AR-15?”

“Just get a shotgun.” (A Joe Biden special.)

“Your gun ownership makes you less safe statistically.”

“Your AR-15 will be useless against the government’s F-15s and nukes.” (Joe Biden, Eric Swalwell, et al)

“From your cold, dead hands? Sure!”

Readers with Twitter accounts may be familiar with tweets like the one below (Archive link):

These tweets are sorted by character length for a dramatic visual impact to create a sense of fear in the reader.

Those of us who follow the discourse on guns know that this is a manipulative tactic; there are an estimated 20 million “assault rifles” in the hands of the citizenry, with thousands more sold each day. Even if 100 of these rifles have been used in mass casualty events, which is a generous assumption, that puts the misuse of these rifles at an infinitesimal 0.0005%. Tom Knighton compared the lethality of AR-pattern rifles to those of vending machines on this site two years ago.

The Gun Grab Lobby doesn’t care about the low rate of misuse of these firearms. They’re after bans and they have no moral qualms about lying, manipulating or dissembling. A lot of people unfortunately fall victim to their shenanigans.

Would this tactic work with something else, such as religiously inspired terror attacks? 

Over the past two decades, there have been numerous Islamic terror attacks around the world. What if politicians used that as a pretext to ban a religion which is viewed by a majority with suspicion?

What if politicians decide to classify Islam as an “Assault Religion”? Going with the scare tactics we see on Twitter, what if after the next jihadi attack, a tweet like this goes out:

9/11: Islam
Nice: Islam
Boston: Islam
London: Islam
Mumbai: Islam
Brussels: Islam
Toulouse: Islam
Colombo: Islam
Barcelona: Islam
Manchester: Islam
Chattanooga: Islam
Charlie Hebdo: Islam
San Bernardino: Islam
Pulse Nightclub: Islam

With arguments such as, “Why do you need to practice Islam?” Or “Just practice Taoism.”

What if politicians tried feature-based bans like we see with AR-pattern rifles? “If your religion requires you to pray more than 4 times a day, or requires you to pray facing 21º N (± 1º) and 39º E (± 1º), you cannot practice that religion.” And, “If you already practice such a religion, you need to register yourself at the County clerk’s office, with a separate opt-out form for public data disclosures.”

Most people would rightly say no. There are about 2 billion Muslims on the planet, and even counting all the Islamic terror attacks that have taken place since 9/11, the vast, vast majority of practicing Muslims aren’t at risk of turning into terrorists. That’s also the case when it comes to the millions of Americans who lawfully own AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles and will never use those firearms to commit a violent crime.

Our Second Amendment right is treated like a second-class right. Elevating that to the same first-class status as the First Amendment will require advocates to unyieldingly make the case and put it on the same footing as the freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and the right to petition.

So the next time you run into someone who makes any of the lousy arguments against gun ownership like the ones listed above, ask them what they would say if a politician, backed by a democratic majority, decided to classify and ban Islam as an “assault religion” citing the death tolls from various global jihadi terror attacks.