Dr. Ben Carson is exploring his future in politics, and is certainly teasing that he might be considering a 2016 Presidential run as a Republican primary candidate. He’s worried some with his comments earlier this year, where he suggested that gun laws might be applied differently in rural areas than in urban areas.
He hasn’t backed off that statement, but he seems to understand the broader purpose of the Second Amendment and isn’t afraid to mention it, which is a relative rarity for a modern politician in either party.
That said, his decidedly a “nuanced” approach, as he revealed while answering a direct question on the subject recently:
Carson made his comments on May 23 as the guest host on the conservative talk radio program, the Sean Hannity Show. A caller had asked Carson for his views on the Second Amendment and how that constitutional right was being treated by the Obama administration.
The caller said, “I’ve heard some conflicting things from people and I’m curious what your thoughts are on the Second Amendment and what this administration is doing to gut it, right now?”
Dr. Carson said, “Well, it’s always good to hear it from the horse’s mouth. First of all, I am a very strong believer in the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is there for a very good reason, and I think our Founding Fathers were very wise to recognize that the populace could be a tremendous aid to the military. They could form their own militia; they would be a tremendous deterrent for invasion.”
“But the real reason that they put it there is recognizing that there could come a time when our government itself could go off the rail, and could try to dominate the people, and the people would need a mechanism of defense for themselves,” he said. “I would never allow the Second Amendment to be jeopardized.”
That sounds great so far, but here comes the nuance (the dreaded “but”):
“I do believe that it is necessary for people to begin to have rational discussions about things – what kinds of weapons,” said Carson. “You know, I don’t think tanks, for instance, would be a very good thing to be keeping in your garage. But you certainly should have access to any kind of weapon that you want for recreational purposes or to protect yourself. There really shouldn’t be a lot of restrictions on that.”
He continued, “You do need to have a discussion about how we deal with situations where there is a tremendous amount of crime and easy access to the kinds of with a weapons that can create a lot of damage quickly. But that needs to be done in context of always preserving Second Amendment rights.”
But where does Carson draw the line between weapons for “any kind of weapon that you want for recreational purposes or to protect yourself,” and “situations where there is a tremendous amount of crime and easy access to the kinds of weapons that can create a lot of damage quickly”?
The firearms most useful in the traditional Second Amendment role that Carson seems to recognize are the common AR-15, AK-47, and other magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles typically equipped with a 20-30 round magazines. Semi-automatic handguns standard-capacity magazines of 13-20 rounds also fit this role. These and other weapons are the contemporary weapons of military utility, the “terrible implement[s] of the soldier [that] are the birth-right of an American” as Founding Father Tench Coxe noted. They are our modern muskets, and as such, should be the most protected firearms in existence. As it so happens, they are also among the most versatile firearms on the planet, used in various formal and informal shooting competitions and to protect ourselves.
How does Carson—or any other politician—reconcile their claimed support of the Second Amendment with a desire to “deal with situations where there is a tremendous amount of crime and easy access to the kinds of with a weapons that can create a lot of damage quickly”?
Most gun owners can accept the broader statements Carson is making. We want to maintain access to those arms useful against criminals and despots (and yes, effective against targets and for harvesting game animals), and we would of course like to get guns out of the hands of criminals (both in and out of government).
The devil, of course, is in the details.
An honest person has to come to grips with the reality that until we radically change the underlying cultural acceptance of using guns to solve problems, there will always be violent crime, with or without guns.
Carson seems willing and able to take on both the African-American urban street culture that is the root of so much of the day-to-day violence, as he pulled himself out of that culture to become what he is today. He also seems willing to take on the toxic entertainment culture that thrives on the constant exploitation of gratuitous violence.
If he does decide to run, we need to get a better explanation of precisely how and what he means to do to combat criminals using guns, without compromising to Second Amendment rights.
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As gun owners, we have a decisions to contemplate as we face another Presidential election in 2016.
The emerging 2016 Democrat Party presidential candidates are all on the far left side of that party’s spectrum, a trend that has been on-going for decades. They are, for the most part, on the socialist to communist scale, and are virulently anti-gun, without any exceptions that readily come to mind. If you are a “single issue” voter on gun rights, then the Democrat Party as it now stands has utterly abandoned you. If you take a broader approach to your politics and are a Democrat who values the Second Amendment to some degree and the specific purpose for which it was created, you’re going to have a very difficult choice. The simple fact of the matter is that the DNC has shifted radically off-kilter, and seems to value government for government’s sake over the best interests of the citizenry. Depending on your individual views and how you rank gun rights and liberty among them, 2016 is likely to be a “hold your nose when you vote” or “sit this one out” election.
Among the Republican candidates, there appear to be no Second Amendment absolutists, and most of the candidates are for big government, just like the Democrats, just to a different degree. More than a few of the contenders are very “squishy” middle of the road “Fudd” candidates that seem to think that the Second Amendment is about hunting.
Third party candidates—libertarians, Constitutionalists, greens, etc—are self-evidently non-viable on the national scale.
If you are a single-issue voter on gun rights, 2016 is going to be yet another year where the Presidential pickings appear to be slim. I suspect that once again, it is in the House of Representatives and Senate and state races where we have the best chances of preserving and expanding rights.