Hit & Run

Bush v. Kerry on Guns

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Alternet has an interesting piece on the NRA's role in the presidential election and the disenchantment of Second Amendment supporters with George W. Bush. The author, Evan Derkacz, is hip to the distinction between libertarians and Republicans. He even quotes "a writer for a prominent libertarian blog" who sees John Kerry as "the lesser evil" this year.

But Derkacz doesn't quite grasp why gun rights advocates object to the federal "assault weapon" ban, which Bush and Kerry both want to renew. He twice notes that "the AK-47 isn't a hunting rifle," implying that 1) the AK-47 is covered by the ban and 2) the point of the Second Amendment is to preserve hunting.

In fact, although Derkacz claims the law "targets semi-automatic and automatic rifles designed especially for combat," machine guns have been illegal since the 1930s. If you take seriously the idea of the Second Amendment as a safeguard against tyranny (as opposed to a hunter protection measure), you have to wonder how the older ban can be reconciled with the Constitution. Wouldn't machine guns be more effective at resisting an oppressive government than semiautomatics? But in the case of the "assault weapon" ban, the main objection is not that it deprives people of useful guns but that it is utterly arbitrary in its choice of targets, undermining respect for the right to keep and bear arms by restricting it for no good reason at all.

[Thanks to Jeff Schaler for the link.]