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Gun Control and Drug Control

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The Democratic attempt to enact additional or more draconian gun-control legislation is dead. Liberals in and out of Congress — many of whom would prefer that only members of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the police be armed — have lost the momentum they thought they had after the Sandy Hook school shooting last year in Connecticut. Even calls for more gun restrictions in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman have fallen on deaf ears.

Though Democrats control the U.S. Senate, they don’t have enough votes to reinstate the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004. Democrats in West Virginia and Missouri have joined with Republicans in resisting additional gun-control measures. And although Colorado earlier this year passed new gun-control measures, some Democratic lawmakers who supported the legislation are facing recall elections because of it.

Conservatives in and out of Congress have provided genuine opposition to liberal attempts to further demonize guns and gun owners. Now, this does not mean that all or even most conservatives in principle oppose gun-control legislation. Many conservatives support the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), state-mandated waiting periods for gun purchases, and federal bans on certain kinds of guns, magazines, and ammunition. Congressional Republicans did absolutely nothing to repeal federal gun legislation when they had the chance to do so during the four-year period when they controlled both Houses of Congress under a Republican president. And even if some Republicans do support more or stricter gun-control laws, with a Democrat in the White House, political expediency rules the day. Republicans in Congress also know that supporting additional gun-control legislation would be the death knell of their reelection campaigns.

Not only are conservatives congratulating themselves for resisting the push for more and tighter gun-control laws as liberals exploit shooting tragedies for political gain; they would also like to take credit for what they see as an increase in the gun rights of Americans.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee recently approved a one-year ban on the use of federal funds to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty by the State Department. The New York Times editorial board laments that “citizens in too many states have been quietly, legally arming themselves at alarming rates that offer scant optimism for reining in the nation’s runaway gun culture.” And just last month, Illinois became the last state in the nation to allow the carrying of concealed weapons. There are now around eight million Americans with concealed-carry permits.

So, because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to control drugs, just like it nowhere authorizes the federal government to control guns, conservatives, to be consistent, must not be in favor of drug control, right?

Wrong.

Okay, but because drug-control laws infringe upon individual liberty, just like gun-control laws do, conservatives, to be consistent, surely must oppose drug-control laws, right?

I’m afraid that’s not the case.

Well, because government drug control and gun control both violate property rights — since it’s no one’s business what someone else has or does in his own home on his own property — conservatives, to be consistent, certainly must be against government drug control, right?

If only it were so.

While we can applaud the attempts of conservatives to fight against gun control, we must resolutely condemn them for their inconsistency and hypocrisy when it comes to the question of drug control.

Conservatives are inconsistent because the same principles underlie the case against gun control as underlie the case against drug control. Conservatives are hypocritical because they pose as defenders of the Constitution, liberty, and property when they are nothing of the kind.

In fact, if conservatives are going to be inconsistent and hypocritical, then they might just as well be inconsistent and hypocritical in the other direction; that is, because they have no solid philosophical foundation, it would make just as much sense for them to support gun control and oppose drug control instead of the other way around.

After all, guns are more dangerous than drugs. Guns are used to kill more people than drugs are. Guns are used to rob more places than drugs. Guns are used to threaten more people than drugs. Guns are used in more suicides than drugs.

Some conservatives feel that they are not being inconsistent or hypocritical at all. They reason that they can oppose gun control and at the same time embrace drug control because the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms but nowhere in the Constitution does it protect anyone’s right to sell and use drugs.

But this is to utterly misconstrue the nature of the Second Amendment, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution itself. The Second Amendment confers no positive gun rights. The Bill of Rights is primarily an additional limitation on federal powers that could violate natural rights. The federal government has no authority to do anything unless it is included in the limited, enumerated powers granted to it in the Constitution — none of which have anything to do with guns or ammunition. The absence of the Second Amendment wouldn’t change the fact that Americans have the natural right to keep and bear arms. Its absence would in fact stop the endless debates over whether the Second Amendment defends individual rights or merely protects militias.

To be consistent and to not be hypocritical, conservatives have no choice but to oppose drug control just as much as they oppose gun control.

Even if conservatives consider cocaine, heroin, LSD, and marijuana to be unhealthy, addictive, harmful, dangerous, destructive, and immoral, they should still support their full legalization, and not just for medical use.

The federal government has no more authority to ban drugs than it has to ban assault rifles, extended-capacity magazines, high-caliber weapons, and sawed-off shotguns.

The federal government has no more authority to institute drug control than it has to institute background checks, limits on gun purchases, licensing of gun dealers, and gun-free zones.

But the real issue is not even about guns or drugs. The reason the federal government has no authority to ban guns or drugs or to institute gun control or drug control is that the federal government has no authority to ban or control any substance or activity. Yet, even though the Constitution mentions only three federal crimes (treason, piracy, and counterfeiting), the federal government criminalizes thousands of things it has no authority to — like trafficking in unlicensed dentures. Conservative support for drug control is not only inconsistent and hypocritical; it feeds the monstrosity that the federal government has become.

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