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Red-Flag Nation: Anti-Gun Laws, Sanctuary Cities and the Second Amendment

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Where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for some form of intervention or detention.

Be warned: once you get on such a government watch list--whether it's a terrorist watch list, a mental-health watch list, a dissident watch list, or a red-flag gun watch list--there's no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government has adopted a "do what I say, not what I do" mindset when it comes to Americans' rights overall. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in the government's attempts to arm itself to the teeth, all the while treating anyone who dares to legally own a gun, let alone use one, as suspicious and/or on the road to being an outlaw.

In Virginia, for instance, legislation has been introduced that would "require background checks on all firearms purchases, allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others, let localities ban weapons from certain events and government buildings, and cap handgun purchases at one per month."

To those who subscribe to George Orwell's views about gun ownership ("That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there"), these legislative attempts to regulate and control gun usage among the citizenry is nothing short of tyranny.

Not surprisingly, then, in Virginia and a growing number of states across the country, momentum is building for 2A "sanctuary" cities that adopt resolutions opposing any "unconstitutional restrictions" on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Personally, I'm all for any attempt by the citizenry to nullify government actions that run afoul of the Constitution.

"We the people" have been so focused on debating who or what is responsible for gun violence--the guns, the gun owners, or our violent culture--and whether the Second Amendment "allows" us to own guns that we've overlooked the most important and most consistent theme throughout the Constitution: the fact that it is not merely an enumeration of our rights but was intended to be a clear shackle on the government's powers.

When considered in the context of prohibitions against the government, the Second Amendment reads as a clear rebuke against any attempt to restrict the citizenry's gun ownership.

As such, it is as necessary an ingredient for maintaining that tenuous balance between the citizenry and their republic as any of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, especially the right to freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, security, and due process.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas understood this tension well.

"The Constitution is not neutral," Douglas remarked, "It was designed to take the government off the backs of people."

In this way, the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights in their entirety stand as a bulwark against a police state.

To our detriment, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, these rights have been steadily weakened, eroded and undermined in recent years.

Yet without any one of them, including the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms, we are that much more vulnerable to the vagaries of out-of-control policemen, benevolent dictators, genuflecting politicians, and overly ambitious bureaucrats.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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