Gun Control v The Patriot Act

So on the one hand the Patriot Act is bad because it delegates far too much discretion and arbitrary power to law enforcement agencies, because it opens the door for abuses by the Administration and is an attack on civil liberties. But when others suggest that similar problems may exist with gun control -- that it delegates far too much discretion and arbitrary power to law enforcement agencies, that it opens the door for abuses by the Administration and is an attack on civil liberties not to mention an actual Amendment -- well, anyone who would suggest such nonsense is a bunch of crazies, clinging to their guns and religion.

Nobody wants unrestricted gun ownership. It is heavily regulated now. Those who think it isn't are ignoring the truth to further their agenda, lying to further their agenda, cannot read or aren't interested in facts. None of the proposed changes would have prevented Sandy Hook and other tragedies. Aren't these studies and facts and data that those who are always lecturing about studies and facts and data should consider? Will changing the color or stock material really prevent lunatics from acting looney? And this from a crowd that is eternally lecturing and mocking the religious for believing in an "invisible friend in the sky" and ignoring facts and science.

Fighting further regulation doesn't mean that gun owners want no regulation just as opposing further taxation doesn't mean one wants no taxation. Those who reduce their ideological opponents to such an extreme position are either lying or are just trying to win an argument. They certainly aren't interested in exploring ideas, "bipartisanship", "compromise" or "negotiating". They are interested in brinkmanship. And this from the side that is quite proud of their capacity for nuance.

The truth is that over the last 30 years, the U.S. homicide rate has declined by 50 percent. As Krauthammer writes, "We’re living not through an epidemic of gun violence but through a historic decline." Does this mean we should be uninterested in doing what we can to improve laws or curbing violence? Of course not. Again, only the silly and unserious paint their ideological opponents in such a way.

Would those who are in favor of gun laws have felt the same if "news"papers published maps that showed where all Muslims live? Of course "news"papers should not publish such lists or maps. All those gun owners are presumably innocent and have committed no crime just as the majority of Muslims are peace lovers and intend no harm. I guess the same crowd who struggles with the distinction between Islam and Islamists is equally puzzled by the distinction between gun owners and mass murderers.

The same group that was very concerned that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft would, in the name of the Patriot Act, jack-boot through every home destroying every conceivable civil liberty on their way to rounding up all peoples of Arab descent are now mysteriously quiet about the abuses of government. "But that was different," they cry. The "Bushies" only wanted to enrich their gun buddies and the left wants to spread peace and love and harmony. I suppose that would be great if it were in any way tethered to reality. There is as much or more cronyism and pocket lining going on these days as ever. In fact, an awful lot of loans have been taken out in the name of environmentalism and defaulted that have enriched a select few. And it has all been done in plain sight. If corporations like Halliburton were involved, would we hear the end of it?

This is why smaller government is better. Corruption and cronyism on both sides is the status quo. And only by limiting the amount of power any group or individual can have can this be checked. Those who are concerned when Bush and Cheney are at the tiller should maintain that suspicion when their side is at the helm. The problem is, they don't. They forget that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Yes, it cuts both ways. Those who look suspiciously at gun control should have as keen a suspicion for things like the Patriot Act. The thing is, they usually do.)

Those who think that larger and larger government can do no wrong often are tilting against their proper suspicion of those in power. They suspend that suspicion when those they agree with are holding the reins. How they manage the cognitive dissonance is a bit of a mystery. Those who think smaller government is a better way acknowledge that power corrupts, no matter who is in charge, so limiting the influence of those in power is a better management practice.

So the one side relies on mankind being good and having better answers and more perfect implementation. The other says all men are frail, mortal and corruptible and therefore institutions that can exercise great power over large groups should be limited. A well armed citizenry is a part of a larger picture that regulates and limits that power.

The Founders understood this. Shouldn't we?

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