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Left Pounces on Joni Ernst's Defense of Gun Rights

Friday, 31 October 2014 10:45 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There is a new argument against Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. To wit, that she should be excluded from the United States Senate because she might shoot the parliamentarian the first time a procedural ruling goes against her.
In a recently unearthed video from a 2012 National Rifle Association meeting in Iowa, Ernst explained her devotion to her Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter in particular, and to her gun rights in general. "I believe," she said, "in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important."
The left reacted to her statement a little like the squealing hogs Ernst talked of castrating in a famous campaign ad.
Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg said that Ernst declared "she would shoot first and ask questions later if the government violated her rights."
"In the American system," Paul Waldman of The Washington Post scolded, "we don't say that if the government enacts policies we don't like, we'll start killing people."
And Paul Begala accused her of toying with treason.
All of this is frank distortion or willful misunderstanding. Ernst never said she would shoot first and ask questions later, or lock-and-load if an increase in the federal minimum wage passes over her objections.
Accusing her of any of this is like saying that, because she promised to protect her family, she wants to shoot anyone who makes one of her grandkids cry.
Ernst has a much more traditionally American attitude toward rights and gun ownership than her critics do, and for much of American history, her statement would have been utterly uncontroversial.
We live in a country founded by traitors, at least according to the view of the duly constituted government of the time, and they vindicated their rights by taking up arms.
There is a reason that an individual's right to gun ownership is in the Constitution.
Joseph Story — who, as one of the finest legal minds of the 19th century and the author of one of the greatest treatises on the Constitution, is, admittedly, no Paul Begala — explained that "the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic."
Is it completely fantastic that the government might so disregard people's rights that they would have to undertake to defend those rights themselves? It happened in this country in living memory. As my colleague Charles C.W. Cooke has cataloged at length, guns are an integral part of the story of how blacks persevered in the face of violent repression. 
The racist resistance to the post-Civil War order began, according to Adam Winkler of the UCLA School of Law, "with gun control at the very top of its agenda."
For good reason: It is manifestly easier to lynch an unarmed man. The journalist Ida B. Wells wrote of this post-bellum period: "The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense. The lesson this teaches, and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give."
The civil-rights movement eventually transformed the country with its nonviolent agitation, but in the meantime many blacks in the South believed, to borrow the title of Charles E. Cobb's recent book on guns and civil rights, "This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed."
They must have been gun nuts like Joni Ernst.
Of course, it is almost unimaginable that we'll ever confront analogous circumstances again. For that matter, it's also unlikely that Joni Ernst will ever have to defend her family against an intruder.
Just in case, though, she has her 9 mm insurance policy, like a free and independent American.
Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review and author of the best-seller “Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream — and How We Can Do It Again.” He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and a variety of other publications. Read more reports from Rich Lowry — Click Here Now.

© King Features Syndicate

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There is a new argument against Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. To wit, that she should be excluded from the United States Senate because she might shoot the parliamentarian the first time a procedural ruling goes against her.
Ernst, Defense, Gun, Rights
Friday, 31 October 2014 10:45 AM
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