The shock of three mass shootings in a week has prompted even the conservative newspaper The New York Post to call for the banning of what it calls “weapons of war” and President Trump to upset his base by tweeting that “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks.” Several Republicans have spoken warmly about “red flag” laws that would take guns away from people believed to pose threats. The mood in the wake of dozens of dead in mass shootings is, understandably, to “do something.” But it is precisely the vagueness of this “something” that presents an enormous danger.
The Reason Behind the Second Amendment
It will not suffice to fall back on cries that the Second Amendment is sacred or untouchable. That doesn’t go nearly deep enough. The reason for the Second Amendment must be understood, and by this, I do not mean the immediate, practical reasons related to life in 1789 North America but the foundational ideas that support the amendment as a universal statement.
The difference between the Right, which posits the existential primacy of human freedom, and the Left, with its fetish for artificially achieved equality, lies in their difference over the idea that principles can be universal. For the Left, universality is conformity that works against diversity. For the Right, universality is the achievement of a truth that goes beyond one’s community, nation, or race. The Right has failed to argue effectively for the superiority of the values that posit freedom as prior to any meaningful equality universally.This difference is central to the discussion. How often are they discussed? The Left is eager to point out its championship of equality, taking it to the limit and beyond: if a woman has the right to give birth, then so does a man, they argue seriously, unaware they are echoing Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
But the Right has failed to argue effectively for the superiority of the values that posit freedom as prior to any meaningful equality universally, cowed perhaps by leftist attacks on any
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