This column was originally published by The College Conservative.
Something quite amazing is happening in the U.S. Senate: bipartisanship. A Democrat and a Republican are working together co-sponsoring a piece of legislation concerning the purchase of weapons. These two senators are Joe Manchin (D-WA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Both senators are conservative and Second Amendment advocates. Toomey received an “A” from the National Rifle Association, and Manchin was well-known for shooting a rifle in one of his Senate election ads. (He was featured shooting a “Cap-and-trade” bill.) Manchin was also endorsed by the NRA.
Their bill proposes the idea of background checks, applying them also to Internet gun sales and gun show loopholes. A common sense approach that requires individuals to go through an investigative process by evaluating if there is a criminal record. That means criminals are prohibited from owning weapons, and the mentally ill.
People like Adam Gadahn would not be able to own a weapon. Gadahn is an American-born Al-Qaida leader. He could not have made a stronger endorsement for a background check. Gadahn said, “You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and, most likely, without having to show an identification card.”
That is troubling, but it is true. Many states do not require a registration card or a background check. Only six states require background checks, and 17 states have laws prohibiting gun show loopholes. About 1.8 million applications for gun purchases were denied between March 1994, and December 2008. That’s 1.8 million individuals that could have carried events like the ones from Newtown, Connecticut.
Background checks are not unconstitutional. The Manchin-Toomey bill does not take away people’s right to own a weapon. The bill regulates the amendment, and that’s fine.
Nowhere in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does it say that the right to own a weapon is unlimited. Even the pro-gun and conservative decision of District of Columbia v. Heller proposed the idea of regulation.
Justice Scalia, far from a liberal advocate, delivered Heller’s majority opinion. He wrote, “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill.”
The amendment itself contains the word “well regulated.” Scalia is an originalist, and the Founding Fathers did not believe that everyone could own a weapon.
That’s the crux of the problem. These 40 Republicans and six Democrats that voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill are not defenders of Second Amendment rights. They do not stand by the legal ownership of guns. These 46 senators stand against the amendment. Their vote against the bill is a vote for criminals and the mentally ill to own weapons. They are radical politicians that have complete disregard for reasonable legislation. They have complete disregard for the compromise which is our government’s necessary ingredient to secure the public good.
Background checks strengthen the Second Amendment. This bill would have allowed only the law-abiding citizens to own a weapon.
Now, as I have written before, gun violence is the root of the problem. Imposing gun control will not prevent shootings like Newtown, but background checks are not a gun control solution. These evaluations promote a contract with our government that the legally purchased weapon will be used for lawful reasons-hunting or self-defense.
Conservatives should promote ideas that guard the Second Amendment and encourage cultural solutions to a cultural problem. Conservatives should not stand against 90 percent of the public that believes that background check are a reasonable idea. It is even more popular that Mother Teresa.
It is time to act. It is time to put politics aside like Senator Manchin and Toomey did and serve the public good. This discussion is certainly not about Second Amendment rights since the bill does not harm these, or the safety of the American people, this issue is about politics.
Bad, uncompromising, and radical politics.