Surrendering Ground on our Second Amendment Rights is Naïve

Liberals and other know-it-alls assume that our arguments for defending our Second Amendment rights, no matter how rational, are totally worthless.  Trying to change their minds is a fool's errand.  Unfortunately, for that to happen they will have to experience a personal tragedy and/or grow up.

Lawyers are trained to challenge every argument presented by the opposing counsel in their quest to sway jurors.  Prosecutors, in particular, know that they must destroy the credibility every defense argument or there is a high probability that the jury will have reasonable doubt, and reasonable doubt is grounds for acquittal.

That's exactly what Brett Joshpe did in his article in today's American Thinker.  With one exception, he listed some of the most compelling arguments for protecting our Second Amendment rights, and then he tried to tear them apart.

Joshpe's "Gun Rights are Inalienable and Natural" argument is the exception.  It's different from the others that he mentions, and I think it is off the mark since I have never heard anyone suggest that gun rights are God-given.  I can only surmise that since Joshpe listed that argument, and especially since he listed it first, that he believes gun rights advocates by-and-large are right-wing, Bible believing, fanatics.  It's his least compelling argument, a straw man as it were, and his case would have been stronger if he had left it out.

Be that as it may, Joshpe concludes that

In the wake of the Sandy Hook horror, it has never been more obvious to me -- and probably to many Americans -- why law-abiding citizens might want a gun in their home to protect their family.  That right is sacrosanct and, for all intents and purposes, non-negotiable, given the Supreme Court's ruling.  However, it is also time for sensible restrictions and regulations. 

Access to high capacity magazines and automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be severely curtailed, if not eliminated.  Recreation is their primary purpose, and sport can no longer outweigh even the slightly higher likelihood of future tragedies like Sandy Hook.  In addition, as a nation, we need to de-glorify enhanced firepower.  To the extent that guns serve a defensive purpose and can save lives, we should treat them as the tools of last resort that they are, not toys or props littering our movies and video games.  Second, purchasing weapons at gun shows from non-licensed sellers and without a background check should be banned.  Gun shows offer the easiest way for those with bad intentions or who are irresponsible to acquire weapons.  Certainly there is nothing in these common-sense suggestions that is inconsistent with our Second Amendment rights.

I hope that Joshpe doesn't realize how sweeping his conclusions are, because if he does, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  By that I mean he is opposed to our Second Amendment rights, and he pays them lip service begrudgingly before he tries to eviscerate them.

For instance, curtailing or eliminating access to "high capacity magazines and automatic and semi-automatic weapons" would virtually wipe out hunting weapons.  Depending on how "high capacity magazine" is defined, that argument could lead to the abolition of every type of weapon except revolvers and single or double barrel shotguns and rifles and even revolvers are questionable since a magazine is nothing more than the compartment that holds the ammunition.

I suspect and hope that Joshpe and people who think the way he does do not understand what we are up against.  I'll use a real world example to make my point.

In 2006 in Anderson, South Carolina, Cyndi Marchbanks shot and killed a pregnant woman who invaded her home to beat her to a pulp or worse.  There were several eyewitnesses who told police that they saw the perpetrator break into Cyndi's home through a locked storm door.  According to South Carolina law, Cyndi had every right to defend herself, and she did not have to retreat or give ground to her attacker inside her home.  South Carolina law is very clear about that fact.

Even so, Cyndi was charged with two counts of murder (the mother and the unborn child) and two counts of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime.  For 14 months as she awaited trial, Cyndi lived with the fear that she would have to spend the rest of her life in prison with no chance for parole because she shot an intruder.

I wrote a book about the incident titled Falsely Accused.  From start to finish, the investigation of the shooting took less than two hours.  The detective in charge of the investigation, Kevin Matheson, told me that he didn't agree with South Carolina's law that says a person does not have to give ground inside her home.  I think that played an important part in his and the prosecutor's decision to charge Cyndi with murder.

Another aspect of the shooting played an important part as well.  The unborn child was delivered postmortem and kept alive on machines for 40 days before she died.  As you would expect, the media had a field day with the shooting.  Day after day, they portrayed Cyndi as an arch villain.  Since the solicitor in Anderson, Chrissy Adams, was seeking re-election, I think that she wanted to prosecute the case to improve her chances of winning another term in office.

Cutting to the chase, South Carolina is not like New York, Connecticut, or Massachusetts where perceptions about gun rights are concerned.  Yet even here, the use of a gun in self-defense is under attack, so much so that law enforcement officials in South Carolina were able to put Cyndi Marchbanks and her family through hell for 14 months with impunity until a jury closed the door on their nefarious pursuit.

If it can happen in Anderson, South Carolina, it can happen anywhere.  Yes, Mr. Joshpe, we are on a slippery slope, and it's naïve at best not to acknowledge that fact.  Failing to protect our Second Amendment rights at this time is dangerous and potentially life threatening.


Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.



Liberals and other know-it-alls assume that our arguments for defending our Second Amendment rights, no matter how rational, are totally worthless.  Trying to change their minds is a fool's errand.  Unfortunately, for that to happen they will have to experience a personal tragedy and/or grow up.

Lawyers are trained to challenge every argument presented by the opposing counsel in their quest to sway jurors.  Prosecutors, in particular, know that they must destroy the credibility every defense argument or there is a high probability that the jury will have reasonable doubt, and reasonable doubt is grounds for acquittal.

That's exactly what Brett Joshpe did in his article in today's American Thinker.  With one exception, he listed some of the most compelling arguments for protecting our Second Amendment rights, and then he tried to tear them apart.

Joshpe's "Gun Rights are Inalienable and Natural" argument is the exception.  It's different from the others that he mentions, and I think it is off the mark since I have never heard anyone suggest that gun rights are God-given.  I can only surmise that since Joshpe listed that argument, and especially since he listed it first, that he believes gun rights advocates by-and-large are right-wing, Bible believing, fanatics.  It's his least compelling argument, a straw man as it were, and his case would have been stronger if he had left it out.

Be that as it may, Joshpe concludes that

In the wake of the Sandy Hook horror, it has never been more obvious to me -- and probably to many Americans -- why law-abiding citizens might want a gun in their home to protect their family.  That right is sacrosanct and, for all intents and purposes, non-negotiable, given the Supreme Court's ruling.  However, it is also time for sensible restrictions and regulations. 

Access to high capacity magazines and automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be severely curtailed, if not eliminated.  Recreation is their primary purpose, and sport can no longer outweigh even the slightly higher likelihood of future tragedies like Sandy Hook.  In addition, as a nation, we need to de-glorify enhanced firepower.  To the extent that guns serve a defensive purpose and can save lives, we should treat them as the tools of last resort that they are, not toys or props littering our movies and video games.  Second, purchasing weapons at gun shows from non-licensed sellers and without a background check should be banned.  Gun shows offer the easiest way for those with bad intentions or who are irresponsible to acquire weapons.  Certainly there is nothing in these common-sense suggestions that is inconsistent with our Second Amendment rights.

I hope that Joshpe doesn't realize how sweeping his conclusions are, because if he does, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  By that I mean he is opposed to our Second Amendment rights, and he pays them lip service begrudgingly before he tries to eviscerate them.

For instance, curtailing or eliminating access to "high capacity magazines and automatic and semi-automatic weapons" would virtually wipe out hunting weapons.  Depending on how "high capacity magazine" is defined, that argument could lead to the abolition of every type of weapon except revolvers and single or double barrel shotguns and rifles and even revolvers are questionable since a magazine is nothing more than the compartment that holds the ammunition.

I suspect and hope that Joshpe and people who think the way he does do not understand what we are up against.  I'll use a real world example to make my point.

In 2006 in Anderson, South Carolina, Cyndi Marchbanks shot and killed a pregnant woman who invaded her home to beat her to a pulp or worse.  There were several eyewitnesses who told police that they saw the perpetrator break into Cyndi's home through a locked storm door.  According to South Carolina law, Cyndi had every right to defend herself, and she did not have to retreat or give ground to her attacker inside her home.  South Carolina law is very clear about that fact.

Even so, Cyndi was charged with two counts of murder (the mother and the unborn child) and two counts of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime.  For 14 months as she awaited trial, Cyndi lived with the fear that she would have to spend the rest of her life in prison with no chance for parole because she shot an intruder.

I wrote a book about the incident titled Falsely Accused.  From start to finish, the investigation of the shooting took less than two hours.  The detective in charge of the investigation, Kevin Matheson, told me that he didn't agree with South Carolina's law that says a person does not have to give ground inside her home.  I think that played an important part in his and the prosecutor's decision to charge Cyndi with murder.

Another aspect of the shooting played an important part as well.  The unborn child was delivered postmortem and kept alive on machines for 40 days before she died.  As you would expect, the media had a field day with the shooting.  Day after day, they portrayed Cyndi as an arch villain.  Since the solicitor in Anderson, Chrissy Adams, was seeking re-election, I think that she wanted to prosecute the case to improve her chances of winning another term in office.

Cutting to the chase, South Carolina is not like New York, Connecticut, or Massachusetts where perceptions about gun rights are concerned.  Yet even here, the use of a gun in self-defense is under attack, so much so that law enforcement officials in South Carolina were able to put Cyndi Marchbanks and her family through hell for 14 months with impunity until a jury closed the door on their nefarious pursuit.

If it can happen in Anderson, South Carolina, it can happen anywhere.  Yes, Mr. Joshpe, we are on a slippery slope, and it's naïve at best not to acknowledge that fact.  Failing to protect our Second Amendment rights at this time is dangerous and potentially life threatening.


Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.



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