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Defending The Second Amendment Is Hardly Extremism

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In this day and age, most of us have been accused of extremism at some point or another, I’m sure. After all, we don’t toe the progressive line, which seems to be the totality of qualifying offenses for extremism.

However, there are those who believe fighting to preserve your constitutionally protected rights is extremism all on its own.

In fact, they often get to write op-eds showing just how bizarre their thinking actually is.

The modern era of gun rights began in 2008, when the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s near-total ban on handgun ownership. It later overturned a similar Chicago ordinance. Both were serious infringements on a freedom enshrined in the Second Amendment — “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

But gun rights advocates are not content with eliminating stringent regulations on firearms ownership and use. They oppose minimal ones as well. An Illinois circuit court judge recently ruled that the state’s requirement of a license to own a gun is unconstitutional, at least when applied to someone keeping a firearm at home.

That conclusion rests on an absolutist view of the Second Amendment that is at odds with common sense and the Supreme Court’s decisions. The requirement didn’t exclude Brown from the Second Amendment any more than parade permits exclude protesters from the First Amendment.

The system reinforces existing federal laws that disqualify certain people from obtaining firearms, while causing only a negligible inconvenience for gun owners. (I speak from experience as a longtime FOID card holder.) It serves to deter the ineligible from keeping guns they are forbidden to have.

It can block them from purchasing firearms or ammunition from licensed dealers or private sellers — who are required to verify that the buyer has a valid FOID card. It functions as a universal background check.

Now, let’s be clear here. Heller did say that some reasonable restrictions wouldn’t necessarily run afoul of the Second Amendment. I disagree with that ruling, but whatever.

However, that should never be taken to mean that simply because a gun control law exists, it’s constitutional. Far from it, actually.

The author claims that requiring a FOID is a “negligible inconvenience” for those who want to own guns and opposing it is an extremist view. However, I have a friend in Illinois who has been waiting for months for a FOID. Her job often requires her to go through sketchy neighborhoods late at night, yet for months she’s been waiting for a license to simply own a gun. Once she finally receives her FOID card she can then buy a handgun and go through another interminable wait for her concealed carry license.

Does that sound like a “negligible inconvenience” to you?

Further, it’s not like the damn things actually work. For one thing, prohibited people in places like Chicago are getting guns fairly easily, it seems, based on their violent crime rate, so FOID requirements aren’t helping there. Nor did it help with a convicted felon in Aurora, Illinois.

Arguing against these regulations isn’t extremism. The only extremism here is believing that such an infringement on a civil liberty protected by the Constitution is just.

Imagine if we required a license before someone would be allowed to write columns for newspapers? Imagine if you had to have a license before you could purchase a computer?

Such a thing would never be tolerated, nor should it be. Yet dangerous ideas exist on the internet and are spread by people with little understanding of what they’re talking about, such as this writer. They float their extremism and pretend it’s simply common sense when it’s nothing of the sort.

Then again, when you think requiring a license just to own a gun–even if you’ve owned that gun for years–is only a mild regulation, your calibration is clearly so off-kilter that you wouldn’t know true extremism if it jumped up on your face, stripped off all its clothes, and twerked with a neon sign saying “extremism” flashing above its head.

Dec 02, 2021 7:30 PM ET