Friday, January 14, 2011


Erich Pratt, of Gun Owners of America, is quoted in the NYT in response to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's proposed legislation that would ban large-capacity ammunition magazines (such as the one Loughner used to fire 30 rounds without reloading): “These politicians need to remember that these rights aren’t given to us by them. They come from God. They are God-given rights. They can’t be infringed or limited in any way. What are they going to do: limit it two or three rounds. Having lots of ammunition is critical, especially if the police are not around and you need to be able to defend yourself against mobs.

Mobs?? What kind of crazy neighborhood is Mr. Pratt living in???

Also, I'm pretty sure the 'right' to large-capacity magazines is neither God-given nor enshrined in the constitution. And that even constitutional rights can be subject to reasonable limits.


Anonymous said...

Yet I have a slew of hi cap mags, and I have committed no crimes. To ban them is to say that I must surrender my property, my investment due to no fault of my own, and because of the whim of some government officials.

Should the 'good' of the many, or even the popular vote supersede my right to property?


Courtney said...

I'm not taking up the property rights question. I'm taking up Mr. Pratt's reasoning, that a) Large capacity ammunition is *not* a God-given right (and when the founding fathers wrote the constitution the 'well-armed militia' could only fire one round at a time), b) Rights certainly can be limited in reasonable ways. The definition of reasonable is obviously up for debate and is pretty much the basis of every law in this country, not just gun control laws, c) Mobs?? When has anyone in this country needed to defend themselves against armed mobs??

Courtney said...

Incidentally, I just saw this today and it's kind of the same principle: "In his bill, [Georgia state Rep. Bobby] Franklin states, 'free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right."

Anonymous said...

Fair. Mr. Pratt fights from mixed premises, so it makes a weak argument. However:

a) at the time of the constitution, there was no radio, TV, or internet, so I guess those are not subject to free speech?

b) "Reasonable" limitation can only slip in the direction of knee-jerk emotional reactions. There is no objective principle behind "reasonable" limitations, which leaves rights up to the whim of a government official or a popular vote.

c) It happens on occasion, but very rarely admittedly. The flaw here is he should not have to justify the right to own anything. Instead, he agreed to argue on their terms, and thus agreed to lose.


By the time someone accepts as fact that the government can tax its citizens to build roads, it should be no surprise that they need to be licensed as well.