FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Elective Despotism and the Second Amendment
Yesterday, the Maryland state legislature voted to infringe upon my Second Amendment rights. In a state already riddled with violent crime despite (or rather because of) some of the strictest gun laws, law-abiding citizens have no recourse. Under the new law, hundreds of guns would be banned, high capacity magazines would be prohibited, all gun owners would have to submit to finger printing, and state police would have wide latitude in auditing gun dealers.
This is a state that has granted in-state tuition rights to illegal aliens. This is a state with some of the loosest criminal justice laws. Yet a peaceful American citizen cannot live in this state, protect himself, start a business or support himself without Soviet style laws. And there is nothing we can do about it. If Moses himself were to run for Governor as a Republican and Satan as the Democrat, Satan would win. There is a supermajority of people in this state who will vote for these malcontents unconditionally. Some counties that voted overwhelmingly Republican just 20 years ago now vote 60% Democrat, due to demographic changes.
This is exactly what the Constitution was supposed to prevent. This is exactly why popular elections are not a sufficient means of preserving liberty. This is pure democracy.
A pure unbridled democracy is a political system in which the majority enjoys absolute power by means of democratic elections. In an unvarnished democracy, unrestrained by a constitution, the majority can vote to impose tyranny on themselves and the minority opposition. They can vote to elect those who will infringe upon our inalienable God-given rights. Thomas Jefferson referred to this as elected despotism in Notes on the State of Virginia (also cited in Federalist 48 by Madison):
An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
Sadly, we are currently living through the paramount form of elected despotism that our founders so presciently sought to forestall. There are several states like Maryland where our Constitutional rights no longer exist. Are we prepared to take this to a national level (to the extent that it is not already occurring)?
Next week, Harry Reid plans to bring a bill to the floor ( S.649), which will lead to a national gun registry, a gun tax, and a police state mandate for the ATF to go after private gun sales and take stock of everyone’s weapons. It will force anyone who wants to sell or rent his gun to a friend to submit himself for government involvement, setting up a potential nightmare of legal stumbling blocks for overzealous ATF agents to ensnare peaceful gun owners. The bill will make it a federal felony to not report a lost gun within 24 hours to the Attorney General. Yes, the same AG who participated in the worst gun smuggling plot ever.
We have several options on the federal level that liberty-loving Americans don’t have in the blue states. On the one hand, we can throw up our hands and submit to the majority of the Senate that supports this onerous bill. Yes, a majority of them will definitely support it, including every phony pro-gun Democrat: Mark Pryor, Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Max Baucus. On the other hand, we can use our minority rights granted to us by the framers of the Senate rules to militate against this travesty.
As long as 41 Senators object to the motion to proceed with this bill, it will be dead on arrival. Senators Paul, Lee, Cruz, Rubio, and Crapo have promised to block the bill. This is a prime opportunity for Mitch McConnell to stop following from behind and actually lead from the front. He should coalesce 41 senators against a bill that is designed to do nothing other than infringe on the rights of those who follow laws and slowly turn the rest of the country into Chicago and Baltimore.
They can put a mellifluous-sounding name on a gun-grabbing bill, but it is still a violation of the Constitution. Which Senators will stand with the Republic and which ones will stand with the elective despotism? We will find out next week.