The NFA isn't an argument in favor of gun control

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

The debate over gun control shouldn’t even exist. However, it does, and it’s not going anywhere, either. We’re stuck with it for the foreseeable future.


As a result, we’re likely to see everything from posts like this one to books written back and forth on the topic, each absolutely sure they’re right.

The problem is that it sure looks like one side has some pretty bad arguments.

Take what we’re seeing out of a supposed book review looking at an anti-gun book, for example.

Dr. Robert J. Spitzer is the author of 16 books, including four on the presidency and six on gun policy. His latest, The Gun Dilemma: How History Is Against Expanded Gun Rights, published this year, examines contemporary gun controversies, which are rooted in our history – much of which is unknown, ignored, or distorted. In The Gun Dilemma, Spitzer examines, among other things, the effects of the doctrine of constitutional Originalism on the judicial opinions of a new generation of federal judges and their expansive reading of gun rights.

Spitzer also scrutinizes a number of other relevant issues: assault weapons, ammunition magazines, silencers, public gun brandishing and display, and the recent Second Amendment sanctuary movement. In each of these cases he uses the historical record to present a background of facts which contradict the current positions of the gun rights movement.

The notion that restrictions on such lethal weapons like assault weapons are a new assault on long-standing gun rights in this country is shown to be emphatically wrong and represents a deliberate embrace of disinformation. In fact, when the country experienced a surge of gun violence in the 1920s, a number of gun control measures were passed with bipartisan public support. This choice by the American people represented a “Gun Policy Fork in the Road.” But the current policy decisions by the new originalist courts has returned the nation back to a previous era and taken a different, more dangerous course. The divergence of political consensus on gun policy in the first decades of the 21st Century has made the prospect of recalculating our direction in this area ever more difficult.’


So basically, the NFA is evidence that gun control isn’t new.

Except the National Firearm Act is a 20th-century invention, one well detached from the era of the Founding Fathers and one that’s less than a century old at this point.

While we’re a pretty young nation in the grand scheme of things, that’s hardly a convincing argument.

Especially when one considers that prior to the NFA there weren’t any federal gun control laws on the books. There were local gun control laws, but that was also prior to incorporation via the 14th Amendment. Some of those remained for some time and it wasn’t until McDonald that the Supreme Court ruled on incorporation of the Second Amendment, but that’s neither here nor there.

What does matter, though, is that the NFA doesn’t somehow make the idea of gun control “old.” Not when you consider the history of the nation, at least.

A related analysis by the author concerns judicial rulings on large capacity magazines, ruling that they are “guns” and protected by a distorted reading of the second amendment. These rulings fly in the face of wide public support for restricting both the weapons and their capacity to fire multiple bullets in a breathtakingly short time. They are the direct consequence of a concerted effort to skew the judicial system so that the designs of a political minority can be realized and an industry (gun manufacturers and sellers) can flourish unimpeded.


And here we see the problem.

Judicial rulings aren’t supposed to consider public opinion, as a general thing, only the constitutionality of the case itself. That’s because the whims of the public can shift from week to week, year to year, generation to generation. The public is fickle, so what’s popular with them now won’t be later on.

This is why federal judges aren’t elected and serve a lifetime appointment. It’s to shield them from any need to cater to public opinion.

So if the book’s author seems to believe that judges should consider public opinion on the matter, it illustrates his own inherent bias, which means there’s little actual analysis going on and a whole lot of spin instead.

Interestingly throughout this book review, all we actually see is the author’s recap of Spitzer’s book. We don’t know if it’s actually any good or not.

Then again, since the recap of Spitzer’s information seems this off-base, there’s no reason for anyone to bother to find out whether it’s good or not.

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