Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Crucial distinction

Stossel makes it, and it can’t be repeated enough:

If you own a gun in Illinois, take precautions. The state attorney general, Lisa Madigan, wants to release the names of guns owners in response to an Associated Press request. Publication of that list would tell the criminal class where the guns are, which could be useful to two different sorts of lawbreakers: gun thieves who want to know where the guns are and burglars who want to know where they are not.

People who want the lists made public say the disclosure is necessary to assure that government doesn’t issue permits to felons. They point to an AP report that gun permits were given to hundreds of felons in Florida, Tennessee, and Indiana. So because government is not competent enough to obey its own rules, the rest of us must have our privacy compromised? I don’t buy it.

As Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association says: “There is no legitimate reason for anyone to have access to the information. The safety of real people is at stake here. Once this information is released, it will be distributed to street gangs and gun-control groups, who will use the data to target gun owners for crime and harassment.”

Let’s take this a step further. This issue is presented as one of those balancing acts: The privacy of lawful gun owners, we’re told, must be balanced by the people’s “right to know” and the need to hold government accountable. But the only reason that governments have lists of gun owners is that they require licenses or concealed-carry permits. The right to self-defense, and therefore the right to buy and carry a handgun (the most effective means of self-defense), should require no one’s permission. It is a natural right. The Second Amendment didn’t invent the right to own guns. It merely recognizes it: “(T)he right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say, “The people shall have the right to keep and bear arms.”

I say we reject the premise that the state can legitimately exercise this power at all. What would Thomas Jefferson have said about gun permits?

Jefferson would spit in our faces and then slay himself in despair over how low so many of his unworthy descendants have sunk into vassalage and ignominy, and how his brilliant and noble creation has been defiled by them.

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