I use the term conservative very loosely here as this comes from Bret Stephens. He one of these new “conservatives” who claims that the conservative movement has left him despite the fact that he supports policies that conservatives never supported in the first place.

Back in October he made waves by promoting a full-scale repeal of the 2nd amendment.

Yesterday on MSNBC he was brought on as the token Republican who will tell liberals exactly what they want to hear, otherwise known was Jennifer Rubining.

Stephens’ starts by rehashing his argument to repeal the right to bear arms…

Part of the failure of efforts so far is that there hasn’t been a great goal toward which to work. I’ve been saying in the pages of the Times, we should repeal the Second Amendment. And I say this for a variety of reasons, but one of them is often piecemeal gun control efforts don’t work because if you can buy one kind of gun in Indiana, you can bring it into Illinois.

But the other thing is it’s going to be very difficult to get at the root of the problem, which is about 300 million guns swimming around in the United States, unless you say, no, in fact, you do not have an automatic constitutional right to buy these kinds of weapons often in unlimited quantities.

I’ll translate that last sentence. He’s calling for full-scale confiscation of guns. I guess he deserves credit for at least being honest enough to admit that you would need to repeal the 2nd amendment first, unlike liberals who just want to ignore constitutional rights when they don’t fit their agenda.

At one point he calls gun rights a “supposed liberty” though, so he’s all over the place.

The next portion of the conversation is based on Wayne LaPierre (NRA VP) criticizing law enforcement for how they handled the Parkland shooting and suggesting that we should harden schools with better security…

What you now see is this decisive shift at the heart of the conservative movement, which is an attack on the core functions of government. I get if you’re a conservative and you’re saying, I don’t know, government shouldn’t be mandating what’s taught in classrooms, or government is too intrusive in our economic life, well that’s standard conservatism.

When you’re going after what a core function of government is, which is public safety, right, a core constitutional function, then you’re talking about a very different kind of Republican party and what you’re saying is exactly right.

This is such a strawman and shows the constitutional illiteracy of much of the Frum/Stephens/Rubin wing (what they are a wing of is in question).

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There is no right to public safety. There are laws which seek to provide that environment, but you can not have a right to something which relies on the positive action of others for it to be exercised. This is the same reason there can never be a right to healthcare. Not because it’s not a noble goal, but because we don’t have a right to force a doctor to treat us.

Even then, it’s not really true that public safety is a primary core function of the constitution. I’m guessing he’s taking that from the often misused general welfare clause, but in noway does that line empower the government to override individual rights. The Bill of Rights supersedes any law or action the government may enact.

Pitting gun rights against public safety may seem like a good “gotcha” on TV, but it’s a terrible constitutional argument.

Lastly, the idea that it’s an attack on the core of the constitution to simply question law enforcement when they’ve clearly screwed up holds no basis in reality. Our Founders did not hold government up as an untouchable, unquestionable being. Quite the opposite. It’s a wholly conservative idea to be skeptical of our institutions and to not shower them with blind loyalty.

Take this tweet for instance, which encapsulates this misguided notion perfectly…

I’ve never met one police officer or soldier who considers themselves a hero just because they signed up. Objectively, the four deputies who stood by while a maniac murdered 17 people are not heroes. They would likely not want to be called that either after this ordeal. Trying to shut down valid criticism of these officers and their Sheriff by asserting it’s an attack on “our heroes” is just absurd. It’s the debate tactic of a weak mind.

Next, Stephens moves to what’s become a common tactic in the media, among liberals, and unfortunately among some “conservatives.”

That is, taking a policy or pursuit you don’t like and claiming support for that thing means you are just helping the Russians…

This plays into the Russian agenda because what Russia really wants to do is sow profound distrust among Americans at basic federal and state institutions,” Stephens said of the gun debate. “That is, that is their goal. It is essentially operation chaos from the Kremlin, and they now have an agent, an unwitting agent, I hope, in the name of Wayne LaPierre.”

It is a fact that the FBI and local Sheriff’s department screwed up horrendously, but instead of trying to make a reasonable counter, Stephens just jumps to the “HE’S A RUSSIAN AGENT!!!” troupe.

He does qualify it by saying “I hope” it’s just unwitting, but that still insinuates that he believes he might not be unwitting and is actively working for the Russians. That’s the level of crazy our public discourse has reached in some circles.

To be frank, this is all abject garbage. It’s lazy intellectually and is a cheap attempt to avoid actually having to debate what the NRA has proposed.

What you didn’t hear from Stephens was any factual, research based rebuttal on why it’s wrong to harden schools or question law enforcement’s actions. The very building he was doing that interview in is protected by armed guards. Is there an issue at MSNBC studios with their security randomly shooting people?

The irony here is that while Stephens accuses others of being Russian agents, he’s actually doing far more to advance Russia’s attempts to sow discord. This “red scare” is exactly what the Russians wanted. They are able to project a far out-sized influence on our politics when one side blames the other’s policy positions on secret Russian mind control instead of seeing their arguments in good faith.

It is not a Russian thing to support gun rights. It is not a Russian thing to want government accountability. Once upon a time, those were purely conservative ideas.

Unfortunately, we’ve reached a place where it’s easier to call someone a Russian agent or blame Russian bots than to address a topic on it’s merits.