“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” It’s one of the best lines in the classic movie “The Princess Bride,” but it’s also what immediately comes to mind every time I read an anti-gun opinion piece that attempts to mask its gun control agenda under the banner of “compromise.” Rarely do these pieces ever offer any sort of real compromise on the part of the anti-gun activists. Instead, their “compromise” seems to be along the lines of “we’ll let you own a gun or two, maybe. You might be able to use it in your home for self-defense, but forget about carrying it. Oh, and we don’t want gun stores in our communities. No gun ranges, either. But we’re not anti-Second Amendment. Just in favor of a few common-sense gun laws.”
Take a look at a recent piece at huffingtonpost.com, for example. The author, nurse practitioner and assistant professor Raechel Ferry-Rooney, who lives and works in Chicago, suggests that as a “compromise,” gun owners could own “a limited number of lawfully permitted handguns or rifles for personal use, perhaps including a requirement for training and licensure on each weapon class prior to permit issuance.” Does this author really believe that the relatively small number of individuals who are responsible for the vast majority of violent crime in her city of Chicago are legal gun owners who would obey these restrictions?
Professor Ferry-Rooney also says that gun owners are just going to have to accept bans on fully automatic and semi-automatic rifles, or any other firearm deemed to be an “assault weapon.” The professor does note that there are critics of these sweeping gun bans, observing that “one argument is that these legally owned guns would become illegal to own, which may cause government interference in the matters of a private citizen. This argument is difficult to overcome for some.”
Government interference in the matters of a private citizen. It sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? How about calling it what it is: criminalizing a constitutionally protected right. The Supreme Court, as reluctant as it may be to hear Second Amendment cases, has already made it clear in existing case law that the Second Amendment doesn’t just protect the types of arms that were around in 1791, just as our freedom of the press doesn’t just protect those using a printing press. Moreover, Professor Ferry-Rooney doesn’t explain what the “compromise” is here. Rather, this is just a sweeping gun ban that gun owners would have to accept in order to be team players or something like that.
Government interference in the matters of a private citizen. It sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? How about calling it what it is: criminalizing a constitutionally protected right.As for your right to bear arms, Professor Ferry-Rooney declares that “Additionally, despite states’ rights, transport and sales of firearms over state lines has to be more tightly controlled.” Sounds like the professor isn’t on board with concealed-carry reciprocity, and again I’m left wondering where the compromise is, exactly. It seems like it’s just another concession gun owners would make.
This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with most of the “compromise” commentaries. They refuse to acknowledge that our right to keep and bear arms is, in fact, a real right. Since the late 1960s, anti-gun activists (particularly those in big cities and urban areas) have done their best to push legal gun ownership to the margins of society, while guns gained a taboo cool among young gang members and criminals. The result has been a near-eradication of a lawful gun culture in many cities. A generation or two ago, kids would get exposure to firearms through 4H or JROTC. Now kids are much more likely to be watching a video of someone like Lil Pump shooting out a car window rather than learning from a firearms instructor at an air rifle range.
I’m not sure there is a compromise to be found between those who believe the Second Amendment protects a right, and those who believe owning a gun is a privilege. I’m certainly not willing to compromise on being able to own only a certain number of firearms, giving up my firearm freedom when I cross state lines, or having my God-given rights regulated into oblivion in the name of public safety. But if the “gun safety activists” want to live up to their name, then maybe we could at least find common ground on the need for better access to firearms education and training. Ranges shouldn’t just be for rural areas and the suburbs. After all, people in big cities have the same Second Amendment rights as everyone else. They should have equal access to real common-sense gun safety: training and education provided by NRA-certified firearms instructors at ranges that are convenient for them. There are no ranges available to the public in Washington, D.C. None in Chicago. Zero in Baltimore. Nothing in Boston or San Francisco, either. There are a couple of private ranges in the five boroughs of New York City, but that’s it. And these days, anti-gun activists have even begun protesting ranges in rural areas and small towns.
If allowing gun safety courses to be taught where they live is too much of a “compromise” for these folks, then how on earth can any of these people call themselves gun safety advocates? Maybe it’s because “gun safety” has become code for “don’t own a gun,” just like “assault weapon” has become code for “gun I want to ban.”
In the immortal words of Jimi Hendrix, “let us stop talking falsely now; the hour’s getting late.” When it comes to arguments about gun ownership, gun control, violent crime and public safety, it’s time for anti-gun activists to speak their mind without couching their proposals behind focus-group approved talking points. It almost certainly wouldn’t lead to compromise, but it might lead to a more honest and hopefully more productive debate.
Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.