Winning the Second Amendment Argument

Obama - Shredding Constitution
The president has said he can act unilaterally with executive authority and he intends to do that. – Jon Dougherty


Republicans are looking to get whipped once more by an imperial president and his leftist-progressive allies in the media, this time over the issue of guns and gun rights in America. Let’s hope this time around they develop spines – and, more importantly, cohesive arguments – rather than simply cave again because they are too afraid to stand up for their oaths of office.

Here are some of the more popular “arguments” the progressive Left is using in their bid to demonize lawful gun owners, short-circuit Republican opposition, justify new gun control and circumvent the Second Amendment, as well as counter-arguments Republicans, Libertarians and gun-owning, gun-supporting Democrats can and should use when faced with them:

What’s the difference between being able to own a rocket launcher or a bazooka and an assault weapon?

This is perhaps the most popular one, but one of the easiest to refute.

To begin with, the term “assault weapon” has been made up out of whole cloth by liberal politicians and echoed by the media – let’s just get that straight right off the bat. Modern AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles may look like true military-grade assault rifles like the M-4 I carried in Afghanistan, but they cannot perform like them; the true “assault weapon” is a military-grade rifle that can fire fully automatic, while civilian versions of military look-alikes cannot. So the vernacular is wrong.

Also, the founding fathers wrote and adopted the Second Amendment to pertain strictly to arms, which are mentioned by name. At the time the amendment was adopted, “to take up arms” applied to the taking up of firearms – personal rifles and pistols common to the era that were able to be owned in great numbers by the people.

“Bearing arms” was not meant to apply to all weapons, but specifically to arms; cannon, which were in wide use by militaries of the day are weapons, not arms, and were not specifically mentioned by the framers; certain types of mines and other weapons considered ordnance were also in wide use at the time of our nation’s founding, but were not specifically mentioned or included in the Second Amendment. If “arms” was to mean all available weapons – not simply personal firearms – the founders would have written that into the amendment, given how specific they were in enunciating rights spelled out in the First, Fourth, Fifth and subsequent amendments.

So the Second Amendment does not, and has never, applied to “bazookas,” hand grenades and rocket launchers.

Well, you don’t need a semi-automatic weapon or high-capacity magazines.

Though today’s modern weapons obviously did not exist 240 years ago, firearm technology had nevertheless progressed (albeit slowly over the centuries, firearms historians will attest). Even given those advances the founding fathers still may not have envisioned rifles possessing the capacity and capability of those manufactured today. Nonetheless, they did not specifically limit a firearm’s capacity either, and therefore that cannot be used as justification for limiting the capacity of today’s firearms.

Furthermore, who is one person to tell another person what he or she needs when it comes to the exercise of a constitutional right? For example, there is no such litmus test for the First Amendment (“Hey, you don’t need to go to church every week;” “You’re writing another newspaper article? You don’t need to write so many;” “What do you mean you’re going to assemble freely and protest? You’ve done that several times this month already…you don’t need to go protest again.”).

Who needs a bigger garden when so many other people are starving? Who needs a computer with faster download speeds, if it gives them an “unfair advantage?” Do you need a car that goes faster than 50 miles per hour?

Well, anyway, recent polling data indicate most Americans support banning semi-automatic rifles and limiting magazines to 10 rounds.

My knee-jerk response is, “So what?” But gun rights supporters need to take this argument several steps further.

For one thing, we don’t “vote” on constitutional rights; they are the law of the land and as such are not open for debate. Now, there is a constitutional procedure – the amendment process – in which Americans, through their representatives, can change or alter our founding document, but that is the only way it can be done. So it doesn’t matter if 99.9 percent of respondents in some poll say they support limitations on any constitutional provision; our country’s founding document is not subject to a popularity contest. If it were, what other rights would be subjected to “the people’s will?” Think about it.

For another, pollsters can – and most often do – skewer questions to achieve a desired result. That’s what most of these recent “gun control polls,” especially one taken jointly by ABC News and the Washington Post, have done – they have asked core constituency groups loaded questions to achieve pre-ordained “results,” then they dutifully report those “results” as if they really were scientific and telling. This is all done as part of a propaganda drive to support a president over which they have repeatedly prostrated themselves because they share a like-minded anti-gun political agenda.

Obama and his supporters have said they welcome a debate over “reasonable” gun control policy and legislative changes, but they have already tipped their hand. They have indicated they don’t want anything reasonable nor anything resembling a debate.

How so? The president has said he can act unilaterally with executive authority and he intends to do that; any leader who truly wants a debate over policy would have one with his or her opposition before acting unilaterally. Further, the left never bends; they expect the right to bend.

Now, how will his political opposition respond?

Can the Republicans withstand the coming storm of lie-driven criticism (the GOP is pro-crime; the Republicans are for gun violence; the GOP refuses to be reasonable)?

Can they make the case that to be pro-Second Amendment is to still be compassionate about those lives that have been lost and families who have been affected by gun violence?

Can they convince Americans that gun control equates to people control, and that making law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to harm is not sound public policy?

Can they turn the tables on Obama and convince the electorate that their argument is first and foremost about the preservation of liberty, not his?

Can they effectively ask, “What will you do without freedom?”

The country awaits, but they have facts – and reason – on their side, if they are capable of using them effectively.

The Moral Liberal Contributing Editor Jon E. Dougherty is a former news editor and columnist for,, & contributor at He has served as a policy analyst for Citizens United & Freedom Alliance, & is the author of the books, Election 2000: How the Military Vote Was Suppressed & Illegals. Jon has a bachelors of arts in political science.

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The Moral Liberal recommends Jon E. Dougherty’s Illegals: The Imminent Threat Posed by Our Unsecured U.S.-Mexico Border.