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"Preventing Gun Violence" is not a Compelling Governmental Interest

Charlie T Waite

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In a recent column, well known Reason editor and writer Jacob Sullum makes a likely unintentional error. He writes that "preventing gun violence" is a compelling government interest. From townhall.com:
Restrictions on fundamental rights usually pass muster only if they are narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest -- in this case, preventing gun violence.
"Gun violence" is an Orwellian phrase that compels the user to focus on guns rather than on illegitimate actions.

“Preventing gun violence” is not a compelling government interest.

Preventing murder, can be a compelling government interest, though, in our federal system of limited governmental powers, it should primarily be an interest of the States, not the federal government.

Preventing suicide, may be a compelling government interest, though the case is less clear than preventing murder.  Some governments are involved in approving of, and assisting in, some suicides.

Preventing justified homicides is clearly *not* a compelling governmental interest; promoting justified homicides aids in lowering murder, violent crime, and crime generally.

Preventing accidents may be a secondary governmental interest.

Preventing a murder or suicide committed with a particular method is *not* a compelling governmental interest, because it is not clear if prohibiting one method will do anything to lower murders or suicides generally. It is arguable that prohibiting one method will lead to the rise of other methods. If preventing one method does not lower the overall rate, resources have been wasted and liberties narrowed to no effect. Thus, singling out one method becomes a matter of choice and preference.

Using the Orwellian phrases of Progressives is one of the easiest ways to lose an argument with them. If you cede to them the ability to define the words and terms of the language used, they win, mostly by default.

A "compelling governmental interest" is a legal concept used in the application of strict scrutiny of actions that effect Constitutional rights.

It is the highest level of interest.

In the lowest level, "rational basis", the governmental interest need only serve a legitimate function. Statutes are almost never found to violate the rational basis standard.

In the middle level "intermediate scrutiny" the governmental interest must be shown to be important, a higher test than legitimate.

For "strict scrutiny", a compelling  interest must be shown. From mtsu.edu:
An interest is compelling when it is essential or necessary rather than a matter of choice, preference, or discretion.  
Examples of compelling governmental interests would be: protecting the country from invasion; maintaining the rule of law in contracts and property rights; protecting the structure and execution of Constitutional order.
"Preventing gun violence" is precisely a matter of choice, preference, and discretion.

The choice, preference and discretion of those who want a disarmed population, are all aimed at disarming the rest of society, precisely what the Second Amendment is designed to prevent.

Progressives do not believe in Constitutional order. They do not believe in limiting governmental power. They do not believe in God or in an moral code.

Opposition to the Second Amendment is in Progressivism's DNA.

©2019 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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