Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Poll Tax Revisited

Every time there is a shooting, of almost any kind, the anti-gun crowd comes out in force with their screaming about how everything would be all better if we would just listen to them and take an economy-sized eraser to the Second Amendment. All of the usual arguments have been debunked into the ground (most of these shootings are already in violation of a whole plethora of gun laws, other countries do not actually have lower violent crime rates, "assault weapons" have nothing to do with cosmetics and usually have nothing to do with these shooting events, etc.) and, of course, the specific actions being called for usually have nothing to do with the shooting being used as a springboard (the shooting in Arizona a few months ago, which involved a handgun, caused a renewed cry for an assault weapons ban). Still, occasionally a new argument comes up that almost manages the impossible - almost manages to make the other arguments look intelligent.
I've been seeing one such argument for a few months now. I first started seeing it in the debates around the Arizona shooting. It is probably older than that, but that's when I first noticed it, and it seems to be gaining traction among the fringe elements. Mind you, it is gaining traction only among the fringe elements, because no one else can consider it with a straight face, but it does make an amusing discussion. The argument goes like this: We acknowledge your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but the Second Amendment doesn't cover ammunition, so the government should declare small arms ammunition to be military ordinance that can only be purchased from state armories, registered, tracked, and at inflated prices. One person I see frequently pushing this argument on the boards actually sets the price at $20 per bullet.
It should not take much thought to realize why no one outside of the fringe elements can look at this argument without giggling.
On the obvious side, you run into the definitions of "guns" and "arms". Without ammunition, guns are not arms. Without ammunition, guns are just funny little statues that make for odd decorations. You cannot have a "right to keep and bear arms" without a right to arm those arms. See how that works? The very word used in the amendment requires that ammunition be included in the right. Otherwise, you only have the right to keep and bear strangely shaped clubs. There is plenty of evidence in the historical record that this is not what was intended.
Slightly less obvious but just as important, this would be nothing less than revisiting the infamous poll tax. "You have this right, but you must pay a fee that only a select few can afford in order to exercise this right." Amusingly enough, the people who push this argument are usually the same people who push the Eat the Rich philosophy. "We hate the rich and will try to penalize them at every opportunity, but we are also going to argue that only the rich can make use of the Second Amendment." How does that even make sense?
It doesn't make sense because it isn't supposed to make sense. These people do not have a coherent argument. They are only grasping at anything that might accomplish their goal of removing guns from their rightful owners.
This argument is nothing more than a thinly disguised attempt to render the Second Amendment moot through back door betrayal. Their attempts to separate the individual from the Second Amendment have failed and they know they have no chance of repealing the Second Amendment, so they want to neuter it and are trying to push a plan that wouldn't fool a child.
Guns without ammunition are not arms. Ammunition without guns is equally useless. The two are inextricably tied together. Any attempt to argue otherwise is arguing from falsehood and should be treated as such.

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