We need to look at all our civil and natural rights as being connected.
Without the right to defend ourselves, all other political battles become irrelevant. At different times, for different reasons, it is perfectly acceptable for different conservatives to prioritize different issues. But at no time should any conservative compromise on the right to self-defense.
Not only is the threat of a tyrannical government ever-present, but street violence is an ever-present danger, too. The threat to life posed by a rapist in the night is just as much a threat as that from a totalitarian regime. If the conservative movement really is a pro-family movement, then no law-abiding American citizen should be denied the right to protect himself and his family.
To compromise on gun rights is to necessarily compromise on abortion, taxes, immigration, school choice, welfare, right to work, and any other political issue. All other political questions are irrelevant if you and your family are at the mercy of a tyrannical government or a violent street thug. What good is your right to free speech if it can be taken away at a point of gun? What use is your right to life if you cannot defend yourself?
Americans understand we are born with rights and it is the duty of the government to preserve those rights. But as conservatives, we understand humans and human institutions cannot always be trusted. Americans understand we are born with rights and it is the duty of the government to preserve those rights. But as conservatives, we understand humans and human institutions cannot always be trusted. Yet, knowing human nature, we also know we can trust the government not to infringe our rights if we make the prospect of doing so too costly. Officials must know they can be held to account.
As we witnessed with the resent passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Senate and House Republicans who campaigned on protecting the Second Amendment were not only willing but happy to give a win to the anti-gun left with a whole slew of new gun-control provisions for absolutely nothing in return. In fact, Utah’s Senator Mitt Romney wanted the deal to be even more extreme. Elected Republicans have this mentality because conservative voters have given them a pass to cut corners off the Second Amendment. So long as the left appears more radical than they are, voters think the GOP can do no wrong, even as our right to bear arms is eroded. They, and we, must learn you cannot claim to support the Second Amendment if you compromise on it.
If removing the right to defend yourself really made everyone safer, then perhaps the anti-gun groups would have a point. But it is just not true. According to the CDC’s analysis of several studies in 2013 during the Obama administration, there were “about 500,000 to more than 3 million” defensive gun uses per year. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives are saved by guns every year. Since nearly 70 percent of criminals committed their crimes with an illegally obtained firearm, more gun regulations will only hinder a minority of gun-related crimes.
In general, regulations only serve as barriers for lawful Americans ability to exercise their right to defend themselves and their families. Common gun-control initiatives, such as waiting periods and protracted background checks, can deny access to life-saving firearms. If a riot were to break out in your hometown, like the George Floyd riots of 2020, and you needed to protect your family that very day, a waiting period would make you and your family defenseless in your time of greatest need. Regulations like expanded background checks, which are already required for every retail gun purchase, serve as an excuse to deny Americans their rights; the background-check system is flawed, as about nine out of ten denials are the result of false positives. Additionally, the background-check system provides a paper trail so the government can expand its illegal registry of gun owners. An ATF official could easily search thousands of firearm records and produce a list of lawful gun owners’ home addresses with a simple use of Control+F. These records are the first step towards gun confiscation.
At its core, any call for gun regulation—be it on the right or left—ignores a far more worrisome problem: humanity’s capacity for evil. The anti-gun crowd targets the gun is because they are afraid of focusing on the true culprit in gun violence, namely, the person behind the gun. There is rarely an attempt to understand why a young man would become so twisted as to murder innocent children. The media and politicians gloss over that hard question and immediately jump to asking how soon they can pass the next useless firearm regulation.
We need a serious national conversation focusing on why a young man would commit such a vile act, not on how he accomplished it. Conservatives need to stop thinking gun rights are an issue about which we can compromise. Do not fall for the lie that we can give over our Second Amendment rights in exchange for a win on some other policy issue. We need to look at all our civil and natural rights as connected. Compromising with the left on the right to self-defense gives them the green light to stomp on everything else.
Alex Madajian is a federal affairs assistant at Gun Owners of America, the only “no compromise” gun lobby in Washington, D.C. You can follow their work on Twitter: @GunOwners or see their website at www.gunowners.org.