Get PJ Media on your Apple

Would New Gun Laws Spark Widespread Civil Disobedience?

Perhaps no other current issue has such potential.

by
Paul Hsieh

Bio

February 17, 2013 - 12:00 am

In his State of the Union address, President Obama doubled down on his gun-control proposals, again demanding that Congress ban so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines.” This is not a surprise. What has been a surprise are the increasingly open calls for defiance from gun owners, state legislatures, and local law enforcement. If the president’s proposals become law, he may move the country into turbulent waters we haven’t seen in many years.

Gun control has long been a controversial issue in American politics. However, there are three aspects to this issue that make this more volatile than other hot topics such as taxes, foreign policy, or abortion:

1) The strongest advocates of each side hold fundamentally irreconcilable positions.

On one hand, committed gun-control advocates say: “No one should be allowed to own certain weapons.” On the other hand, equally committed gun-rights advocates say: “No way in hell are we giving up these weapons.”

2) Ordinary Americans have declared their willingness to disobey the law.

New York state has already passed laws similar to Obama’s proposals. Gun owners there are now organizing a campaign of open civil disobedience, daring state officials to “come and take” their rifles. State officials already acknowledge that they will be unable to enforce the new law.

3) Local law enforcement officials and state governments have also vowed civil disobedience.

Over 280 sheriffs and eight state sheriffs’ associations have vowed to protect citizens’ Second Amendment rights against new gun laws.

The Utah Sheriffs’ Association used unusually strong language:

We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.

Similarly, several state legislatures are considering laws to stop federal officials from enforcing new gun laws within their jurisdictions, including Missouri, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

In the worst case, we could see clashes between armed law enforcement officials at different levels of government, each regarding themselves duty-bound to enforce their respective understandings of the Constitution. Wide swaths of the country would likely thumb their noses at the central authorities — and get away with it.

In addition to open civil disobedience, new technology also increases the capacity for quiet noncompliance, at least with respect to magazine capacity restrictions. 3D printing enthusiasts are already developing plans that allow people to create their own 30-round magazines at home. The designs are still rough, but will almost certainly improve when thousands of motivated hobbyists turn their minds to this challenge. Even if the government outlaws the dissemination of the design data and/or possession of such home-built magazines, an underground market will likely still thrive, just as there is already a thriving underground market in pirated software and music.

Once such unenforceable laws are on the books, there are serious negative consequences, including:

1) Selective enforcement

The federal authorities may try to make an example of a few high-profile cases, but that will probably anger the other gun owners more, rather than cow them. (For more on the problems of proliferation of laws which prosecutors can then selectively enforce, see this paper by law professor Glenn Reynolds.)

2) Diversion of limited police resources from real crimes

This is just another example of Charles de Montesquieu’s adage: “Useless laws weaken necessary laws.”

3) Increasing contempt by otherwise honest citizens for the central government

As Reynolds noted in a separate USA Today piece, Americans are increasingly mistrustful of the government. New gun laws would worsen this problem.

No one can know exactly how this will play out. This will depend on how strongly the central authorities wish to enforce the law in the teeth of the defiance, and how committed gun-rights supporters are to sustained civil disobedience. If history is any guide, violence is not out of the question, even if cooler heads on both sides do not wish it. New gun laws could be the political equivalent of a spark thrown onto dry tinder.

According to Politico, gun control is the most divisive issue separating the two major political parties. Passing the law would accelerate the already growing polarization of America.

During Obama’s first term, many on the Left who were frustrated by their inability to fully impose their political agendas repeatedly invoked the mantra that America was “ungovernable.” If the president’s gun-control proposals become law, they haven’t seen anything yet.

Also read: 

L.A. Times: Violent Movies Don’t Cause Violence, but Guns Do

Paul Hsieh, MD, is a member of the Colorado chapter of Docs4PatientCare (www.Docs4PatientCare.org) and co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (www.WeStandFIRM.org).
Click here to view the 335 legacy comments

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Kabuki Theater! Watch the Left Hand! Smoke-and-mirrors of the first order!
Keep on tryin' Mr. "O!" Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 says "not going to happen, not in this lifetime!!!" 20 Stat. L., 145 Chap. 263
In a nutshell, this act bans the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines from participating in arrests, searches, seizure of evidence and other police-type activity on U.S. soil. The Coast Guard and National Guard troops under the control of state governors are excluded from the act.
Dennis Corrigan, a retired colonel who taught the law at the Army's Judge Advocate General's school, says legislators should resist the urge to change it. The military isn't trained to be a police force, he says, so it should stick to the skills for which it is trained: surveillance, information gathering, logistical support. All of these activities are allowable under Posse Comitatus. "I'm not sure, even with what's going on today, that Congress wants the military arresting people.''
Many American politicians and bureaucrats hold what might be called a "Consumerist" interpretation of freedom. In a nation where liberty is defined by the ability to choose from a variety of breakfast cereals, it may not be long before the supermarket cash register will be nicknamed "Checkpoint Charlie."
This is where all American Progressive New Left Activists are swerving this argument to,i.e., million dollar insurance policies, additional taxes on weapons and background checks, check lists of weapons purchased in every city across the USA....and the list of "consumer activism" is extensive. Pray. Amen. Remember always, Progressive New Left Activists view the Second Amendment as their victorious goal towards decimating America's Rule of Law, Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Corollary:Federalist Papers...all of them.
Want More? Read: "Shadow Government, Martial Law and Locking Americans out of the Liberty Loop." You will discover that the Posse Comitatus Act has already been undermined by 32 CFR 501.4. (Remember Waco?Ruby Ridge? 9/11?Katrina? Sandy?) Don't Tread On Me!!! Damn!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!” – Adolph Hitler, 1935, on The Weapons Act of Nazi Germany
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Would new gun laws spark wide-spread civil disobedience? I hope so. But I'm not betting on it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many in the Objectivist movement over the last four years have campaigned relentlessly for the left, in opposition to "personhood" laws which had exactly zero chance of being passed in Colorado. Now we see the fruits of that work. The immense struggle to defeat the political supporters of a doctrine that could never be passed has succeeded in electing an all-Democrat legislature and governor, who are now going to ram gun control down the throats of every Coloradan. Perhaps if some time had been spent on fighting *actual* threats to people's freedom, represented by the Left, instead of pursuing fantasy threats, Colorado would not be in this situation today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
jespasinthru,
Are you saying that there shouldn't be laws against murder since murders occur despite those laws?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They want registration and they 'promise' that they will never take our guns.
History shows us that registration always precedes confiscation.
History also shows us that over 150 million people have been murdered by their own governments after confiscation.
Do you think it can't happen here? Why has 'homeland security' recently purchased nearly two billion rounds?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Was there a political or religious motivation to the acts of Ali Syed? Whether there was or not, do we want terrorists to have easy access to guns?
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/us/shooting-spree-in-california.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Terrorists and criminals will have easy access to guns no matter how many restrictive gun laws are passes. Heroin and cocaine are illegal. Has the "war on drugs" ever stopped an addict from getting his fix? Get real. Besides, "Fast And Furious" was not confined to the Mexican drug gangs. The drug gangs in America got a piece of that action too. All by design.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All