Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show Wednesday night to discuss gun control. Toward the end of the segment, he made a very aggressive statement about the Left’s view of the Second Amendment.
“I think that the President – and he just doesn’t have the guts to admit it – is not a believer in the Second Amendment, although he states that he is,” said Rubio. “The Second Amendment’s in the Constitution. I didn’t write the Constitution. Neither did you, neither did he. If he doesn’t want it in the Constitution or he wants to reform the Second Amendment, then have the guts to admit that.”
Rubio’s “gut check” illuminates several facets of the gun control debate, and “progressive” thought in general. First and foremost, progressives never have the “guts” to explain their ultimate policy goals to the public, although once in a while they’ll get either metaphorically or literally high, and discuss them with each other. The public is exposed to liberalism in controlled doses, in order to keep their ideological Geiger counters from ticking too loudly. Small, “irreversible” steps are taken towards ultimate power. It doesn’t hurt that these little steps don’t “solve” whatever problem is under consideration, or actually make it worse – on the contrary, that’s helpful, because progressive failures drive their demands for even greater power.
You’ll see another demonstration of this tactic in a couple of years, when ObamaCare collapses completely, and the Left begins howling for single-payer nationalized health care as the only possible “solution.” The more strident liberals discussed this ultimate end game before ObamaCare was implemented, but the public was fed soothing, meaningless noises, such as “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
Likewise, if you like your gun, you can keep your gun, provided it doesn’t have any cosmetic features that liberals currently find alarming. Updated lists of alarming features will be released periodically. You don’t really need seven bullets to kill a deer, do you?
Those who complain that banning “assault weapons” has little to do with the Newtown massacre, and won’t do much to slow down violent crime, are misunderstanding the progressive mind. Such uselessness is a feature, not a bug. That way, they’ll be able to come after handguns, the next time the public mind is concentrated upon gun crimes. As long as each stage of the process makes the government a bit bigger, and the sphere of individual liberty a bit smaller, the progressive software is running properly.
Rubio also doubtless understands that the Constitution is still strong enough to survive a full frontal assault, but it can be chipped away piecemeal. He’s exactly right that Obama has no stomach for a battle to overturn the Second Amendment, or to amend the Constitution in other ways. Why should he fight such a battle? He doesn’t have to. He didn’t need a Constitutional convention to alter the nature of religious liberty or create the concept of an “individual mandate,” did he? The wounds already inflicted upon the Constitution will prove mortal over time; the Left sees no need to risk its own blood in a direct confrontation.
And in one other respect, Rubio is correct to portray the Second Amendment as a “gut check.” It is a test of faith between the State and its citizens, a crucial expression of respect and trust. The people are entrusted to defend their own lives and property, because the State knows they are better able to do so than its agents. The people are trusted with the power to physically oppose the State, precisely because it should never be necessary.
A sentiment dubiously attributed to Thomas Jefferson has been reworked for the modern ear as, “People should not fear their governments; governments should fear their people.” Actually, it’s better if nobody fears anybody. When the State has the proper humble and respectful attitude toward free citizens, it honors their rights through faith, not fear. The Second Amendment is a gut check that any true American statesman should be happy to pass.