Anti-Gun Open Letter to Hawley Makes Dubious Claims

Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP

Sen. Josh Hawley is one of the more pro-gun voices in the United States Senate. That’s important in this day and age because, frankly, a lot of his fellow senators are pretty anti-gun. Even with the passing of gun control crusader Dianne Feinstein, we all know there are plenty remaining–including her replacement–who would stomp our right to keep and bear arms into the dirt.

Hawley, along with other pro-gun voices in that chamber, are all that kept infringements from happening in recent years before the GOP got control of the House.

Yet not everyone is happy with that fact. An anti-gun open letter to Hawley takes issue with his position.

An open letter to Sen. Josh Hawley:
Thank you for your written response to my message concerning gun safety in Missouri. I wanted to follow up with a few points in the hopes you can see my perspective and perhaps look at this life-and-death subject in a different way.
First, I am an alumni of the University of Missouri Law School (your former employer), where I received a first-class education in constitutional law. In your letter to me, you state that you oppose an assault weapons ban because it would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of people in the United States. With respect to your own distinguished legal background, I think you misunderstand the difference between infringement and regulation.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure someone is misunderstanding here, but it’s not Hawley.

Regulation, by its very nature, is infringement.

But let’s hold off to see if the difference is explained. Who knows, maybe we have been wrong all this time and the anti-gunners are right.

As a citizen, I am guaranteed numerous rights by the Constitution, including the right to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court has determined that such a right exists, and I accept it as the law of the land. However, I think you would also agree with me that none of our rights — even those enshrined in the Constitution — is absolute. The government has an interest in regulating every single constitutional right. I must register to vote. I cannot defame my fellow citizens. You see my point. Every right has limits, especially in our case where more than 40,000 Americans have died this year from gun violence, including thousands of children.

No, every right doesn’t have limits. The requirement to register to vote is in place simply to make sure that people casting ballots are eligible to vote in the first place–meaning they’re citizens of this country and residents who should be voting in that particular precinct. It’s not a regulation on the right to vote in and of itself.

A restriction on the right to vote would be more like if I were restricted to just voting in local elections because federal officers are too important for people like you and me to be trusted with voting on.

Further, while defamation may look like a restriction on free speech, it’s not. It’s a civil penalty for the harm created by misusing the right to speak freely. It’s not about the words you say or that you uttered them irresponsibly in and of itself, but about the harm caused to an individual’s reputation.

I can’t believe that an attorney doesn’t understand this. It does call into question just how “top-notch” her legal education really is if she doesn’t understand this.

And yes, the distinction matters.

We already have numerous laws governing the misuse of one’s right to keep and bear arms. You can’t brandish a gun or threaten someone with it. You can’t fire randomly into a crowd much less at a particular person without just cause.

These are all penalties on the misuse of a firearm and no one has an issue with that. These are also the more apt parallel to laws against defamation.

Anti-gunners often like to try and make this case, comparing defamation laws to gun control, but it’s a dubious claim and always has been.

Further, trying to use the blatantly manipulated statistics such as lumping suicides in as victims of gun violence and ignoring the fact that many of those “children” were gang members is a common enough anti-gun tactic that I’m no longer surprised.

I just hope the author doesn’t expect Hawley to suddenly change his positions on guns. After all, she failed to make anything approaching a valid case why he should, only espousing the typical anti-gun talking points and pretending her law degree lends credence to them.


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