Democracy irrelevant on civil liberties

Democracy irrelevant on civil liberties
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I’m not interested in getting into the whole “democracy vs. republic” debate right here and now. I understand where both sides are coming from and this isn’t really the place to have that conversation.


What is relevant, however, is whether democracy itself somehow overrides the protection of one’s civil rights.

The reason it’s relevant is that some people apparently think it does.

For example, this is from The Jacobin:

The radical gun rights agenda enabling all of this is not the product of popular will; it is ascendent because its proponents are successfully subverting democracy. Majorities of voters favor stronger gun control measures; upward of 70 percent from both parties want universal background checks, for instance. But Congress ignores their views. It is in thrall to the powerful gun lobby, which commands a small but impassioned army of supporters who go to great lengths to advance their cause, even marching in public with assault rifles to intimidate opponents.

Many politicians are reliant on the National Rifle Association (NRA)’s financial generosity. The NRA was the biggest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, and it reaped the rewards, including three Supreme Court justices who would faithfully advance the gun lobby’s cause. In its landmark decision New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the Supreme Court majority declared concealed carry restrictions enacted by New York State unconstitutional.

In short, when it comes to guns, the Supreme Court doesn’t care what voters want. (This diverges notably from its position on abortion and environmental regulations, which, the justices say, should be up to the will of voters in each state.)


Except that there’s no explicitly stated constitutionally protected right to an abortion, nor does the Constitution mention environmental regulations even once.

Yet the Second Amendment does explicitly talk about the people’s right to keep and bear arms.

See, while you can make the case one way or another about whether abortion is a right or not, there’s no ambiguity with regard to gun rights. They’re explicit, codified for all time in the Constitution itself.

As such, democracy becomes irrelevant, much like how we don’t decide who gets to vote based on who the majority opts to allow to vote. We don’t decide who has the right to speak freely based on whether the majority approves of that speech.

The Jacobin, a socialist magazine, should understand that quite well. Socialism isn’t exactly the most popular ideology out there, yet the freedom of the press means The Jacobin can’t be shut down just because they’re espousing unpopular ideas, even if the majority approves of such a thing.

Gun rights are rights. They’re not the subject of debate, regardless of what else is going on around us. We don’t decide our rights based on the popularity of that right. If we did, they become privileges that and be yanked away at the whim of a fickle public.


The Supreme Court decided correctly in Bruen, and while the socialists out there lament that fact, they should remember that they benefit from the same philosophy that protects the right to keep and bear arms, namely that people have rights, even if you’d prefer they didn’t.

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