The anti-gun punditry was all aflutter last week with the news that Larry Pratt had stated that in some near-future time, we might have to resort to “the bullet box” to preserve “proper constitutional balance.”
Speaking of November’s election and its possibile consequences, Pratt noted:
The courts do not have the last word on what the Constitution is. They decide particular cases, they don’t make law. Their decisions, unlike the Roe v. Wade usurpation, don’t extend to the whole of society, they’re not supposed to. And we may have to reassert that proper constitutional balance, and it may not be pretty. So, I’d much rather have an election where we solve this matter at the ballot box than have to resort to the bullet box.
Now I differ with Pratt on a number of points, including any poorly supported assumption that the R. candidate will appoint better justices than the D. candidate. And the item he mentions is historic piece of military equipment more properly called a cartridge box, not a bullet box (and you can still buy replicas of it, NFI). But I don’t see anything unusually incendiary in what he said.
Unlike the Usual Suspects in the media.
The Huffington Post (presumably just before writer Ed Mazza swooned into a deep faint) cried that:
Pratt’s organization is considered even more extreme than the National Rifle Association. The Southern Poverty Law Center claims Pratt has “ties to the militia movement, white supremacist organizations and Christian theocrats.”
The SPLC, of course, makes millions by claiming that everybody to the right of Hillary Clinton has similar eeeeeevil “ties.” Specific claims against Pratt have been long debunked, as anyone with 10 fingers and a search engine could discover. And don’t you always laugh at those little squeaks of horror about organizations “more extreme than the National Rifle Association”? After all these years, it’s amazing that hopolphobic journos haven’t realized that, within the gun-rights realm, most organizations (including ours) are “more extreme than the National Rifle Association”?
Ed Kilgore of the New Yorker has a better understanding of Second Amendment supporters and even compliments us (though I suspect he doesn’t consider it a compliment) by calling those of us who are beyond the NRA “Second Amendment ultras” rather than the usual “extremist” cr*p. I’ve never been an “ultra” before and I think I’d rather like being one.
He also makes the absolutely correct point that if conservative politicians and activists like Larry Pratt, Joni Ernst, Mike Huckabee, or Ted Cruz (all of whom have made statements compatible with the “bullet box” remark) heard rhetoric similar to Pratt’s coming from, say, a black-nationalist group, they’d be crying alarm.
But Kilgore seems to have no grasp of the concept of a constitutional republic and seemingly no understanding at all of limited powers, the Bill of Rights, or for that matter the plain truth that individuals have rights that no government or interest group has authority to abolish.
Bottom line, although his language is restrained and high-toned, Kilgore, like Mazza, seems to hold the common hoplophobe view that taking to the bullet box simply means “shooting anybody you disagree with.” Especially if you don’t like particular election results or the views of judges.
Of course, anyone can see by Pratt’s statement that he’d rather do just about anything rather than resort to shooting. And I wonder how many of the fainting pundits understand that Pratt was referring to the famous “four boxes of freedom” — soap, jury, ballot, and cartridge — and that the final item is only the very last resort of people who’ve been so tyrannized that the first three fail utterly to preserve freedom. Not “democracy.” Freedom. Individual rights. The soap box, the jury box, and (at least in theory) the ballot box are all tools of the individual. It’s only when government or perhaps powerful agents working with government take them away that the cartridge box legitimately comes into play.
On the other hand, we know where we stand with the first three boxes now.
The soap box has long been under threat from uppity presidents, self-righteous campus thugs (not to mention campus speech codes), political intolerance on any part of the spectrum, state governments, federal officials, and even petty local tyrants.
Between the over-criminalization of everything, the pressure to force us to incriminate ourselves (pdf), and other forms of courtroom tyranny, the jury box isn’t as free as it was supposed to be, either.
And the ballot box? Oh, please. At a local level, and sometimes even at a state level, voting may occasionally nudge government a little ways in the direction of greater respect for individual rights. But at the federal level, overreach, mission creep, corruption, secrecy, uber-surveillance, funny money, militarization, paranoia, unaccountable bureaucracy, and “stroke of the pen, law of the land” arrogance have gone so far that the ballot box has become nothing but a kind of “opiate of the masses” — a quasi-religious ceremony that encourages us to believe we can influence the far-off “gods” who — no matter whether they’re the gods of the Ds or the gods of the Rs — increasingly rule without regard to any limits on their power.
No, I do not know a single gun owner who believes in “shooting anybody you disagree with.” But then again, maybe those ardent advocates of unlimited “democracy,” those believers in the “anything-goes” power of unelected judges, justices, and bureaucrats really do have something to fear.
Not gun owners. We’re not their enemy. We’re not the enemy of any peaceable people, no matter how much we may dislike their opinions. What they have to fear are the inevitable — and now rapidly growing — consequences of the very policies they so lovingly or stridently or self-servingly or ignorantly support.
Ed. note: This commentary appeared first on TZP’s weekly email alert. If you would like to be among the first to see new commentary (as well as to get notice of new polls and recaps of recent posts), please sign up for our alert list. (See sidebar or, if you’re on a mobile device, scroll down). Be sure to respond when you receive your activation email!