To Anti-Gunners, Gun Rights Aren't Really Rights

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

For most pro-gun advocates, when we talk about defending the Second Amendment from infringement, we talk about our rights. There’s a reason for that. Our rights are sacred and vital. They’re what makes this nation great.

However, anti-gunners don’t think gun rights are real rights.

Six days.

That’s how long it took New Zealand’s parliament, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with the support of opposition leaders, to ban military-style assault weapons in the wake of a deadly rampage at two mosques in Christchurch that claimed the lives of 50 people.

The speed with which the island nation acted was a triumph of political will in the face of unspeakable tragedy. And it holds lessons for American policymakers who have been utterly paralyzed in the face of mass shootings in our own houses of worship, schools and public spaces.

Up front, it’s important to acknowledge that there are some material differences between New Zealand’s political system and our own.

Notably, there is no equivalent to our Second Amendment, which means New Zealanders have no legal right to own weapons for self-defense. In addition, New Zealand’s parliament is unicameral, which means there are far fewer political pinch points to derail such measures.

Federal system.

Compare that to the American federal system where bills can be derailed at any point by powerful committee chairpeople, by influential and deep-pocketed interest groups, by the president himself and by the U.S. Supreme Court, which can make the ultimate call on a law’s constitutionality.

Most of the time, the system works – protecting the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

But when it comes to gun-control measures, from universal background checks to bans on bump stocks and high- capacity magazines, the exact inverse is true. A noisy minority, backed by a powerful lobbying group in the National Rifle Association, has effectively stymied passage of even the most basic modifications in federal law.

So, the system works to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority, except if that minority appears to be gun owners.

You see, there’s a perception out there that the Second Amendment is only supported by a small segment of the American population. Anti-gunners like to believe they’re the majority while we’re just a fringe group of radicals.

The fact the U.S. political system works to keep minorities safe from the tyranny of the majority becomes a problem for the anti-gunners who want to infringe on the rights of who they see as the minority, primarily Second Amendment supporters.

The writer fails to note in any way this is the opposite of protecting a minority from the majority. In fact, he essentially says that gun rights advocates are a minority and being protected. He just doesn’t like it.

The thing is, protecting the rights of the minority doesn’t just mean protecting minorities as people. It means protecting minority positions as well — things like gun rights, for example.

So why the disconnect?

The answer is simple. In the writer’s mind, gun rights aren’t rights. I suspect that he’s trying to argue that the issue is that our gun rights are being protected while his imaginary right to be safe is somehow infringed.

Unfortunately, no such right exists. You have no right to safety because there’s no reasonable way to protect that right. Life is inherently dangerous. Cars kill tens of thousands of people every year, yet there’s no concerted push to deny people the ability to own them. They’ve been used by terrorists, yet there’s no demand for background checks before selling or renting a vehicle.

Even if there was, accidents still happen. Buildings collapse. Things fall. People fall. You can’t keep everyone safe and sound, which is why there’s no inherent right to safety.

But there is a right to have the means to keep yourself as safe as possible. That means there is a right to own guns.

No, it does seem a lot of people aren’t fans of that right just now. Frankly, I don’t care. I don’t care if I’m literally the only person left alive who supports the right to keep and bear arms, I still have that God-given right.

We may be a “noisy minority,” but as the writer notes, our system of government is built to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

I’m just damn glad it works.