The guns of February

February 25th, 2012
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Two recent articles highlight the perplexing, but also frightening worldview of the Left when it comes to guns and criminality. One article concerns the recent vote to eliminate the gun registry in the Canadian Parliament, the second described judicial push-back on mandatory minimums for gun crimes.

The arguments around the registry are well-known. One might tersely sum up the conservative position as follows: the registry was a sweeping punishment of the many for the crimes of (literally) a tiny, unhinged minority. The corollary was that the anti-criminality argument fell down simply due to the fact that criminals don’t register their weapons. Duh.

The other article features a judge challenging the mandatory minimum sentence for a gun play incident on the grounds that it contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Admittedly, the case in question is marginal, suggesting that either the law was a touch too broad, or that the individual was charged with the wrong offence. In any case, veterans of the political arm of government will recognize the use of “the Charter” as the frequent and often first refuge of public officials who disagree with government policy. More on mandatory minimums in a subsequent post.

While conservatives are asked to justify a certain liberality toward guns in general, Left-liberals are rarely asked to justify their position. If one is sufficiently anti-gun to support restrictions on everyone’s freedom, how can one propose comparative leniency for those who ACTUALLY USE guns in crimes? The usual response is a solemn declaration that liberals are really serious about violent crime but, nudge-nudge wink-wink, we know how that’s worked out in practice.

Believe it or not, there is a philosophical consistency in these positions. Both penalizing the peaceful citizenry, who just want to be left alone, and coddling criminals have the same underlying assumption; namely, that an activist state is the best solution to any problem.

If one is a reflexive statist then setting up a large bureaucracy to impose intrusive infringements on everyone’s freedom makes perfect sense. The fact that most on the Left are also “icked-out” by guns certainly plays a part too.

Similarly when that previously suspect citizen, who up to then has perhaps only been guilty of thought crimes, actually commits a violent act – that changes everything. All of a sudden, the whole apparatus of the state swings into action, treating crime and punishment as some kind of sociological experiment; the criminal caught up in the great sweep of history, the victim of immutable social forces.

So it is that society becomes some sort of great laboratory presided over by the legal trifecta – politicians, lawyers and judges. Again, the logical consistency, such as it is, in the Left’s position on guns, etc., is in a sense a functional one: whatever the “problem”, the solution is increased intervention and interference by the state.

Statist “solutions” then, except in a very few areas (like the use of recreational drugs) trumps personal liberty. It is also worth remembering that it’s the process of these solutions, the lumbering engagement of the state, that is ultimately very much in the economic interest of the legal arbiters. Let’s not even think how many people are extremely well paid to do all that interventionist busy work. It’s too depressing.

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By John Weissenberger
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