Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence made this statement (and here) the other day:
These incidents all highlight the tensions involved when individuals argue that their “personal liberty” outweighs the rule of law and trumps community policy as decided by our governmental systems.
I presume this means we should just ignore the “personal liberty” issue if it is in conflict with community policy because of the tension it causes. Here are some other community policy issues decided by our governmental systems that I’m certain Helmke will agree with:
From Leavenworth, WA September 2, 2007. Notice the weapons prohibition on the right.
From St. Louis Missouri, August 13, 2006.
And here are thousands of more laws and regulations affecting the possession and use of firearms. “Community policies” that severely restrict and in some cases ban the exercise of a constitutionally guaranteed right. And according to Helmke’s organization all these thousands of laws are not enough. The “community policies” get a “failing score” in his world view.
I can’t help but note the similarities between the “community policies” above and those from not too many years ago. Then, as now, there were people who argued their personal liberties trumped “community policy” and it caused tension.
[Except where noted the following pictures are from About.com: African-American History.]
And here are some laws representing “community policy” Helmke should feel comfortable with.
Helmke and friends argue they just want to prevent violence. They argue they just want “common sense” laws. They argue no business should be forced to allow “those people” on their premises. They argue no colleges/university should be forced to allow “those people” on their campus. They argue “those people” should be fingerprinted and registered by the government.
Those arguments are the same as those of the Jim Crow era and are no more valid.
The other similarity that cannot be ignored–same political party has been claiming “community policy” should not be trumped by constitutionally guaranteed personal liberties. Democrats–the party of bigots.
I see a couple of big differences.
When a business chooses to cater only to whites (or only to blacks, etc.) it is exercising its right of free association. Personally I wouldn’t spend my money in such a place, but I defend their right to include or exclude whomever they want. The problem at the time was that many of those choices were made for them by local ‘Jim Crow’ laws. The government was deciding who could associate with whom.
The top sign, from Leavenworth, WA has no force of law behind it. Citys, Counties, etc. cannot restrict guns, only the State can do that in Washington (State Preemption). Even in cases where a private business posts that they don’t allow guns all they can do is ask you to leave. If you don’t (you’d be dumb not to) then you can be charged with trespass, etc.
I used to think that the issues were the same — a property rights issue where the owner’s views on guns should be respected. So I wouldn’t shop there. but what do you do when its your local Costco or WalMart, etc.? And who’s rights are actually being infringed on here? Yes, they have the right to serve whomever they want. But at the same time I think that my ability to protect myself against threats supersedes their right to ban me and my firearm. My life is my ultimate possession, and it is my responsablity to protect it. I think that takes precedence over someone with a public business, who has ostensibly invited me into their establishment to spend money.
If discovered and asked to leave, I will do so. But until then “concealed means concealed”.
(side note, the live comment preview sucks. Long paragraphs really slow down the system with the letters lagging typing by as much as a half a second).
Well, certainly the Leavenworth case would fail if you took them to court over it. But the problem is they can make it a big hassle for you as you go through the process. In the end it might be that they will make you a deal such that you can plead guilty to “disturbing the peace” or some such thing and pay a $100 fine or you can spend thousands to take it through the appeals courts.
In either case the government enforced (or required) bigotry is of course the worst. And that is where we are attacking, and rightly so, the most vigorously. But to really exterminate gun-control we need to make it socially unacceptable, just as racial discrimination is socially unacceptable.
That is my objective in making these comparisons. We must show gun control is just as bigoted as racial discrimination and should be treated just as severely–both legally and socially.