When the Founding Fathers decided that the Constitution need to add some language to protect the rights of the people from a potentially tyrannical government, they knew what they were doing. The right to keep and bear arms, in particular, was important. The Founding Fathers made it very clear in their own writings that they wanted us armed.
However, in response to an NRA challenge to a post-Parkland law, the attorney general for the state of Florida makes a legal argument that is, frankly, terrifying.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is asking a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association challenging gun legislation passed after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 14 students and three faculty members.
The national gun-rights group challenged part of a sweeping school-safety law that raised the age to purchase rifles and other long guns from 18 to 21.
But, in a motion to dismiss the case filed Tuesday, Moody’s lawyers argued that the law doesn’t violate the Second Amendment because, while individuals who are between ages 18 and 21 cannot buy guns, they may still “keep and use” firearms “for any lawful purpose.”
Now, that might look like no big deal, but let’s carry this “reasoning” out for a bit.
By Moody’s reckoning, so long as possession of firearms isn’t restricted, then the Second Amendment rights of individuals are fully preserved. If that’s true, then what’s to stop a state like, say, California from outright banning the sale of all firearms but not lifting restricting their ownership. You can’t buy and sell a gun, of course, but you could legally have a gun without an issue.
According to Moody’s suggestion, that should be in keeping with the Constitution.
Now, before someone accuses me of a reductio ad absurdum fallacy here, keep in mind that I simply took that same argument and only broadened the restrictions it’s used to defend. I didn’t even broaden them all that much in the overall scheme. Instead of applying to a portion of the population, I just expanded them to the whole population, but the meat of the argument remains the same.
If Moody argues that bans on the purchase of firearms for any lawful adult don’t count because those same adults can still own firearms, then why couldn’t that same argument apply to all adults.
And that’s the problem for me. It’s a bogus argument, but it’s also one that if it somehow takes hold could be used to completely undermine the Second Amendment.
The truth is, if you can’t purchase a firearm, then the Second Amendment is practically meaningless for you. It doesn’t matter that you’re allowed to possess a thing if you have no means to acquire that thing. At that point, for all practical purposes, you’re banned from having it, even if the law doesn’t explicitly say that.
Moody’s argument, for that reason alone, is particularly troubling. It’s also why I pray the law is overturned. We simply can’t allow such a legal argument to take hold or else it will be expanded further until even more sections of the American population are effectively restricted from exercising their Second Amendment rights.