Much has been made of Obama’s statement that the gun rights crowd should stop worrying, because Obama contends that he is “constrained” by the system the Founders put in place. If you don’t read his actual words with great care, it sounds as if he’s saying he’s contractually constrained — or, to put it in political language, he’s constitutionally constrained. Without actually listening to him, we assume he’s saying, “Stop worrying, because even I understand that the Constitution stops me from grabbing your guns.”
The reason that there’s been such an uproar, though, is because that’s not what he’s saying. Here’s the entire statement:
You hear some of these quotes, ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.’ Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.
That short paragraph breaks down into three distinct thoughts:
Thought one: Crazy gun rights nuts fear the government.
Thought two: People elect their government.
Thought three: Those who are elected “are constrained by a system that our Founders put into place.”
Obama’s nasty language (and it is nasty, to the extent it calls at least 50% of Americans paranoid and ill-informed) says two things that are wrong.
The first wrong thing Obama’s implication, in thoughts two and three, that politicians are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights. That’s bass ackwards. We are charged with taking care of ourConstitutional rights — they’re natural rights, inherent in us, and the Second Amendment exists to make sure that if too many elected officials forget that those are natural rights, and begin to think they’re merely legislative rules that legislators can change, we can rid our country of these politicians’ tyranny.
The second wrong thing, which is more subtle, is that Obama is implying in thoughts two and three that, if a sufficient number of Americans elect anti-gun politicians, that majority overrides the constitution. What he says in those last five sentences (“the government is us,” “you elect yourselves,” “the election is for you”) is that, if a majority of people elect politicians who support an unconstitutional idea, those politicians get to move forward enacting that idea irrespective of the Constitution. That is a staggering misreading of the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.
All of which gets me back to gay marriage and abortion, not because I’m specifically concerned with gaymarriage and abortion, but because I’m concerned about the Constitutional implications when the Left takes on gay marriage and abortion. First, neither is in the Constitution. In 1973, Supreme Court justices used an emanation of a penumbra based upon an inference to find a “constitutional right to abortion” in the first trimester, with that individual woman’s right decreasing steadily until the third trimester, when the viable fetus became the state’s responsibility.