After Numerous Attempts, Dr. Ben Carson Still
Can't Figure out "Shall Not Be Infringed"



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By Kurt Hofmann, May 3rd 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

Dr. Ben Carson

Ostensibly "conservative" Republican and potential presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has talked about gun politics before, and those utterances have so far tended not to have served him well. In March of 2013, for example, Carson made the . . . remarkable (and that's not a polite remark) assertion on Glenn Beck's radio program that one's right to own a semi-automatic firearm should be contingent on where one lives:

But when asked whether people should be allowed to own "semi-automatic weapons," the doctor replied: "It depends on where you live."

"I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I"m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it," Carson elaborated.

However, if you live "out in the country somewhere by yourself" and want to own a semi-automatic weapon, he added, "I"ve no problem with that."

Oh, good. He "[has] no problem with" the ownership of semi-automatic firearms--by hermits. How generous of him.

For a while after that, he seems to have kept quiet on guns (probably a good idea). Then, last December, Carson wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times, asking, "Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?" At that time, I noted that just with the title, Carson has already missed the mark.

While saying that the Founding Fathers "gave" us the Second Amendment is not in itself problematical, people who word it that way have a tendency to claim that the Second Amendment in turn "gives" us the right to keep and bear arms. The illustration accompanying Carson's article reinforces that impression, by portraying the Constitution as a "license to operate" firearms.

In the Supreme Court's Cruikshank decision in 1876, it was established that the Second Amendment codifies a pre-existing, natural right, that is not "in any manner dependent upon [the Second Amendment] for its existence." This has been reaffirmed in both the Heller and McDonald rulings.

More troubling is Carson's apparent willingness to compromise on our fundamental human rights:

On the other side of the argument, there are reasonable people who look at the tens of thousands of people who are killed each year in this country by guns, and they do not feel that we are doing enough to stop the carnage.

Many of them want to see significant restrictions on the distribution of firearms in our nation, and others want to restrict types and quantities of ammunition. Some would be happy just to make sure that all guns and gun owners are registered, and most reasonable people certainly are not in favor of allowing criminals and mentally unstable individuals to purchase firearms.

What does he mean by "just to make sure that all guns and gun owners are registered"? Does he think that's a small concession, rather than an abject surrender, and an invitation to confiscate all privately owned firearms?

Well, he has recently talked about guns again, and this time, he is coming out firmly against registration. Speaking at the New York Meeting, Carson explained that he now opposes registration, because, as Breitbart puts it, "America's massive debt could transform the nation into a third-world country in which martial law may be imposed":

Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has been getting buzz in conservative circles, said that he changed his mind and was against gun registration because of the "sinister internal forces" that could surface in that scenario. He said he "used to think they needed to be registered, but if you register them they just come and find you and take your guns."

"If we were only concerned about external forces, then we would be okay," he said. "But there are some pretty sinister internal forces."

[ . . . ]

"We have a national debt that is so high, and it's being raised even higher," he said. "Now, the only reason we can do that is because we are the reserve currency for the world. What if that changes?"

In other words, he appears to be arguing that the problem with registration is that America's exploding debt crisis could trigger a collapse and ensuing tyranny. Not an implausible scenario, but is that the only reason to fight registration mandates to our last breath? If the debt situation were less dire, would he still be in favor of registration?

Justice Stevens

Perhaps he is advocating his own Justice Stevensesque edit to the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed, except by a federal government that maintains a sound fiscal policy."

Carson's stance on that which shall not be infringed has "improved" over the course of about a year from utterly unacceptable, to . . . well, very slightly less utterly unacceptable. He might want to consider picking up the pace. Dramatically.

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A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column.

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