Vin Suprynowicz

The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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'CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON ... IS A PRIVILEGE. IT'S NOT A RIGHT'

Imagine with me that you opened your newspaper today and found the following story:

“NORCO, Calif. (AP) -- More than 1 million sheets of paper, a cache of unregistered books and a tunnel were found at a man’s home after a fire that forced a neighborhood evacuation, authorities said Friday.

“Crews worked to fortify the tunnel to ensure it was safe. It appeared to be at least 10 feet deep and led into a back yard, authorities said.

“The man tried to run back into the house after firefighters arrived and had to be restrained by sheriff’s deputies, Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Juan Zamora said.

“After the blaze was extinguished, crews discovered shelves of manuscripts, pamphlets, magazines, and both fiction and non-fiction books, many without government registration cards or tax stamps.

“On Friday, sheriff’s deputies and agents from the federal Bureau of Books, Documents, and Religious Paraphernalia combed the house for evidence.

“The man had no permits for most of the thousands of books that were recovered, Zamora said. Many were illegal subversive or religious tracts.

“Authorities found a machine in the garage that was used to bind printed pages together with strings and glue. The practice, known as ‘bookbinding,’ is not itself illegal, BDRP spokeswoman Susan Raichel said.

“No arrests had been made. The man, whose identity was not released, was taken to a hospital where he will receive a psychological evaluation.”

That story never appeared, actually. But the right of individual Americans to keep and bear any arm of military usefulness -- free from any government tax, registration, or regulation (all of which are clearly “infringements,” as any English-speaker who is not a lawyer or a liberal can easily tell you) -- was deemed so important to the survival of all our other freedoms that the founders allocated to the preservation of this God-given right one entire article of the Bill of Rights, while the freedoms of press, religion, speech, assembly and petition (hardly minor stuff) were crowded together, allocated only one fifth of an amendment each.

The ire of most modern civil libertarians would surely be raised if they read the story above, with its tacit endorsement as “normal” of the government licensing, taxation, and regulation of reading matter. Yet hardly a peep was heard when slightly varying versions of the following, very real, story, appeared in this newspaper (and others) in the early days of March:

“Million Rounds of Ammo at Calif. House

“By GILLIAN FLACCUS

“NORCO, Calif. (AP) -- More than 1 million rounds of ammunition, a cache of weapons and a tunnel were found at a man’s home after an explosive fire that forced a neighborhood evacuation, authorities said Friday.

“Crews worked to fortify the tunnel ... to ensure it was safe. It appeared to be at least 10 feet deep and led into a back yard, authorities said. ...

“The man tried to run back into the house after firefighters arrived and had to be restrained by sheriff’s deputies, Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Juan Zamora said.

“After the blaze was extinguished, crews discovered metal and wooden boxes of ammunition for shotguns, small handguns and assault rifles.

“On Friday, sheriff’s deputies and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combed the house for evidence. ...

“Authorities found a machine in the garage that was used to load gunpowder into empty brass cartridges. The practice, known as ‘reloading,’ is common and not illegal, BATF spokeswoman Susan Raichel said. ...

“Two of the assault rifles were illegal, Zamora said.”

(Anyone care to take my bet that there was not a single assault rifle, with a selector switch allowing easy full-automatic fire, such an M-16 or an AK-47, found in that house -- that every one of those supposedly “illegal assault rifles” fires only one round per trigger pull?)

“The man had no permit for 75 pounds of black gunpowder that was also recovered, Zamora said.

“No arrests had been made. The man, whose identity was not released, was taken to a hospital where he will receive a psychological evaluation. ...”

If you believe our government agents are required by oath, law, and all that is right to defend the Constitution with its full Bill of Rights, I submit there should be no difference in the level of outrage with which you read the two stories above -- the actual, original story about the “illegal” guns, by a reporter apparently amazed to learn that cartridge reloading is still legal -- and my version, changed only to show another constitutional right (owning, reading, and printing books) being treated in precisely the same way.

“Carrying a concealed weapons permit is a privilege. It’s not a right,” said Frank Adams of the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association, testifying before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Carson City last week, in favor of a bill to hike the fee for a Nevada CCW from $60 to $125.

Added to the cost of required range testing, that could bump overall cost for the “privilege” to the $300 range, every five years. That wouldn’t have the effect of restricting this “privilege” to mostly wealthy white people -- a de facto version of the kind of “black code” that led to enactment of the 14th Amendment -- do you think?

“It’s a privilege the legislature has given to the citizens of the state,” Mr. Adams said. “You have a right to carry a gun, but the CCW is a privilege.”

This is all pernicious nonsense and falsehood. Try to walk through the crowds of tourists along the Las Vegas Strip -- or any other major urban thoroughfare -- with a gun exposed in a hip holster, these days. Do you really think the nice police officers will tell anyone who complains “He’s only exercising his right to maintain the security of a free state, ma’am, and we’re damned proud of him. Welcome to freedom-loving Nevada”?

They SAY we have a right to carry openly when actually doing so invites tense confrontations with the boys in beige. Then they make up out of thin air the assertion that slipping a constitutionally protected gun in your pocket suddenly requires some bureaucrat’s expensive written “permission slip.”

Imagine being told you have a “right” to own a Bible, but you have to spend $300 every five years for a special permit if you want to exercise the “privilege” of carrying it around with you, “concealed” -- even to church.

Some will object that burning ammunition is more dangerous than burning books. Not by much. It’s all about something called “chamber pressure.” Airplanes also do not undergo explosive depressurization if you shoot a hole in the hull. The movies are not a real good source of physics lessons.

Yes, black powder can be dangerous. But unconstitutional, draconian regulations only make people less likely to seek sound advice on how to store such stuff -- prohibition always has that effect.

“But books don’t kill people; guns do,” some will now snarl, stomping their feet in frustration that I’m allowed to continue writing such stuff.

You didn’t really just say that, did you?

In the first place, a right is a right: It doesn’t matter whether you think exercising it is “safe” or not. Let them grab this one, and they’ll soon be back for the rest.

But meantime, shall we really start to tote up the body counts for Mein Kampf; The Communist Manifesto; the Malleus Maleficarum; virtually everything Pol Pot and his pals read while they were in college in France; the Koran (“Quran,” if you prefer) -- even (in the hands of the proper self-aggrandizing zealots, crusaders and conquistadores) the Holy Bible?

Your hoplophobia is showing.

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