Billionaire Andrew McKelvey, owner of the job site, has a new gun-control group with a new gun-control tactic.

His group, Americans for Gun Safety, has upset the left because it “acknowledges” Americans’ right to own guns. The group has angered the right because it says those gun “rights should come with responsibilities.”

This fence-riding approach, when you look at the details, is nothing less than a scaled-down attempt to foist more gun control on the citizens of this country. Call it “gun control lite,” if you will.

McKelvey’s group has financed successful lawmaking efforts in Oregon and Colorado that now require sellers at gun shows to vet potential buyers via background checks. And, the group has convinced the left’s favorite new GOP senator, John McCain of Arizona, as well as former Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., to sponsor a similar bill on the federal level. That bill, the Washington Post reported Sunday, is to be introduced in a couple of weeks.

I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like all McKelvey’s group has done so far is pick up the leftist anti-gun baton and run with it under the guise of “trying to be reasonable to both sides.” This background-checks-for-gun-shows stuff is right out of the anti-gunner playbook.

And though it was big of McKelvey’s group to “acknowledge” a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, this aspect of his group’s work has accomplished nothing other than stating the obvious. It has been a constitutional right in this country to “keep and bear arms” since its founding, whether leftist wackos like that fact or not.

The larger question that should be asked of McKelvey and the gun-hating left — as well as most of our politicians and judges — is this: Why is the Second Amendment held to a higher qualifying standard than any other amendment in the Constitution?

McKelvey and the other leftists have said for years that Americans should only be allowed to own a gun if they act “responsibly.” But the Second Amendment does not say “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed … only if you act ‘responsibly.'”

Because of politically correct media coverage and weakness and cowardice among lawmakers and the courts, however, many Americans have accepted the notion that gun ownership is proper or should be legal only “if you’re a responsible guy (or gal).” What crap that is, and it’s hypocritical as hell.

There is no such “requirement” to speak freely. No such requirement to practice any religion you choose. No such requirement to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. No such requirement to take the Fifth in a court of law.

Only a requirement to “act responsibly” if you want to own a gun.

For the record, anything that restricts a person’s unfettered right to a firearm amounts to an “infringement” on that right, by definition, and by the exact language used in the Second Amendment.

Judges and lawmakers take heed: To “infringe,” according to most any dictionary you pick up, is “to commit a breach or infraction of; violate or transgress; to encroach or trespass.” All gun control laws, rules, caveats, bans or limitations, therefore, “infringe on” or “encroach upon” or “transgress” a person’s stated, constitutional right to own a firearm if they damned well please.

Also, leftists have used the criminal element as an excuse to push for more and more gun control for decades, even though the Second Amendment says nothing about the “right to keep and bear arms … so long as you’re not a criminal or never have been a criminal.”

It sounds so very rational to say, “Look, we should do whatever we can to prevent criminals from getting guns,” but unfortunately, there is no constitutional permission to implement that caveat, “rational” or not.

With guns, we’ve gotten ourselves into the habit of trying to anticipate a crime or a criminal’s actions, mostly by punishing people who have never broken a law.

For a constitutional republic, that’s a dangerous habit. If we use this logic in all of our laws, then we’ll be “anticipating” (and criminalizing) actions to the point where nobody can do anything without breaking some law. That would be ridiculous.

If somebody commits a crime with a gun, then society should throw the book at them, toss them in jail, and be done with it — just like we should for any other crime committed without a firearm.

It shouldn’t make any difference, but we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that it does. My children would be just as dead if somebody murdered them with an ax or rope, or an AK-47 style semi-automatic rifle. Dead is dead.

If we’re going to use the term “responsible” as an adjective preceding the term “gun owner,” then we have to be prepared to implement it as a guideline for “free speech user,” “religious practitioner” and “privacy advocate.” If we’re not going to let “criminals” own guns — which includes anyone from a murderer to somebody who kited a check — then why do we allow these same people to speak freely, assemble freely, redress the government freely, or believe in God?

“Dougherty, that’s absurd,” you say. “It’s because guns can hurt people!” Well, so can words, folks. So can ideas. So can religions. So can privacy rights. So can property ownership.

The wrong words can lead people to suicide. Bad ideas can lead people like Timothy McVeigh to kill hundreds. Religion has led people to kill abortion doctors. Privacy rights allow people to break the law without anyone knowing it. Property can be used to train killers.

No constitutional right should be qualified before use. No government has the right to arbitrarily place restrictions and qualifiers on any constitutional guarantee, Second Amendment or otherwise.

You don’t have to be a Supreme Court justice or a so-called “constitutional scholar” to figure that out. And you don’t have to have a Harvard law degree to know that gun rights are being treated far more strictly than every other right in our Constitution.

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