There’s this saying in American political circles that, “”The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” A variation of it is, “The Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact.” The origins of these sayings goes back to at least a couple of important Supreme Court cases.
In Terminiello v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court found that Chicago’s “breach of peace” ordinance banning speech that “stirs the public to anger, invites dispute, brings about a condition of unrest, or creates a disturbance” was unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Robert Jackson’s dissent in that case said, “There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”
In Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, the Supreme Court ruled that a part of immigration law that automatically stripped an American of citizenship for draft evasion without any judicial or administrative proceedings was unconstitutional. Justice Arthur Goldberg, for the Court’s majority, wrote, “The powers of Congress to require military service for the common defense are broad and far-reaching, for while the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact.”
Since then, the line of thinking about the American Constitution and Bill of Rights not being a suicide pact has been mangled and stretched beyond recognition to attack the Second Amendment. Notably, after the Monterey Park shooting, California Governor Gavin Newsom claimed that the, “Second Amendment is becoming a suicide pact.” This has been repeated by small fry politicians too.
Perhaps you should be pro-democracy instead of pro-gun which means pro-fascist
— Kelly D 🟦🟧 (@KellDA) July 18, 2023
The claim doesn’t stop at that false dichotomy and proceeds to assert that supporting gun ownership is supporting fascism. This is as stupid as it gets. An armed citizenry with free access to guns is the vaccine to all forms of right- and left-wing authoritarianism, whether that’s fascism or communism.
There is plenty of wisdom from the “pro-gun” Founding Fathers about the importance of an armed citizenry. As Richard Henry Lee said, “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
The founding generation had no doubt in their minds about the importance of the widespread ownership of arms as a check against foreign and domestic tyrants. In Federalist 29, Alexander Hamilton wrote about the importance of the militia to also “guard the republic against the violence of faction and sedition.” There are very serious, potentially disastrous developments like factional and seditious violence that can be staved off with an armed populace with fealty to the Constitution.
Of course, the Founding Fathers are no longer “cool” in the current zeitgeist because they were flawed, but more importantly, in Woke verbiage, they represent a “cis-hetero-patriarchy” of white men long dead and gone. Those caught up in the presentism of denouncing the past as inglorious will never be convinced by quoting the Founding Fathers.
For those people, there’s a quote from self-professed socialist writer George Orwell who fought in the Spanish Civil War against Franco’s fascists and had a first-hand view of what left-wing Stalinist authoritarianism can look like.
“That rifle on the wall of the laborer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”
That’s what it comes down to. Pro-gun is pro-democracy. It is anti-fascism, anti-communism, and anti-authoritarianism of every hue in between.