Democratic presidential contender John Kerry has been making laughable
attempts to appeal to gun owners, despite his very clear record
in favor of gun control. This would probably be funnier if it weren’t
for the fact that Bush, too, has a very clear record of undermining
the Second Amendment. Most supporters of gun rights seem to be oblivious
to this, or at best only dimly aware. Pointing out the failure by
Bush to protect the right to bear arms nearly always brings out
the question “So you think Kerry would be better?” Obviously only
those who agree with Sarah Brady think Kerry would be better on
guns, but it would take some considerable effort for Kerry to do
worse, as Bush has attacked gun rights in his domestic agenda, by
Administration actions in the courts, and in his foreign policy.
Taking the last first, in Iraq there is a total gun ban in place.
The interim constitution provided to Iraq by the Bush Administration
contained declarations of “rights” to security, education, health
care, and social security for the “liberated” nation, but no right
to bear arms. In contrast, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq allowed all sorts
of firearms to be bought and sold openly without restriction. To
be sure, Hussein was an awful, evil man, a tyrant and a thug. But
Hussein was better on gun rights than George W. Bush.
Of course, Bush supporters may argue that, well, there’s a war going
on in Iraq, and things are different in a war zone. There’s always
a justification to take away rights, isn’t there? War and terrorism
were certainly used to justify blatant attacks on the Bill of Rights
such as the PATRIOT Act. Arguments about the need for homeland security
were made to facilitate the transfer the anti-Second Amendment Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from the Treasury Department over
to Justice, with a big budget increase to enforce more gun control.
When it came to arming airline pilots, though, concerns about keeping
ourselves safe from terrorism meant little to the Bush Administration,
which did nothing but obstruct and stonewall.
Even in other areas not directly connected to combating terrorism,
the anti-gun bias of the Bush Administration shows through. Bush
supports continuation of the so-called “assault weapons” ban enacted
ten years ago under Bill Clinton. His Attorney General, John Ashcroft,
boasts of increasing resources to enforce gun control. And when
gun owners submitted a Petition for the Enforcement of the Second
Amendment, the Bush Administration attempted to intimidate them
by only responding through the head of the Terrorism and Violent
Crime Section of the Justice Department.
The worst of the Bush record, though, is in the courts. Bush appointee
Judge Reggie B. Walton, of the D.C. District Court, tells us that
the Second Amendment is not an individual right in Seegars v. Ashcroft.
The Bush Administration opposed Supreme Court review of U.S. v.
Emerson, with Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Majeta claiming
in open court that there is no individual Constitutional right to
own firearms, the result of the Bush Administration’s actions being
that Dr. Tim Emerson was convicted of merely possessing a firearm
while under a customary restraining order issued during his divorce.
And Bush’s Solicitor General, Ted Olson, aggressively prosecuted
the case of U.S. v. Thomas Lamar Bean, permanently stripping Bean
of his Second Amendment rights, merely for accidentally carrying
a box of .22 shells across the Mexican border.
Despite what Republicans may say, George W. Bush has shown that
rather than being a protector of the Second Amendment, he is yet
another statist enemy of the right to bear arms. Maybe conscientious
gun owners can’t vote for Kerry because of what Kerry might do as
President, but it is definitely the case that gun owners can’t vote
for Bush, because of the damage that Bush has already done as President.
Powell [send him mail]
is a former Chairman of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party, and currently
serves as webmaster of their website, www.oklp.org.