The perennially anti-gun Los Angeles Times has just thrown its weight behind yet another gun control scheme, giving rights activists yet another opening to criticize the newspaper for exercising the First Amendment to crusade against the Second.
As South Carolina Congressman and former federal prosecutor Trey Gowdy put it during a hearing with a Department of Homeland Security regarding so-called “no fly, no buy” gun control legislation: “Is there another constitutional right that we treat the same way for American citizens that we do the Second Amendment?” Watch the video of that exchange here.
The L.A. Times editorial board doesn’t dare answer that question with its Tuesday morning endorsement of Proposition 63, a measure it gleefully declares “would add to the state’s already robust gun control laws.”
In its editorial, the newspaper casually dismisses the concerns of Proposition 63 opponents including the measure’s “requirement that before buying ammunition, people must obtain a four-year permit verifying they are not barred from owning a firearm. But while it’s true that the permit could take up to 30 days to process, the initiative would allow current gun owners to apply six months before it goes into effect after July 1, 2019. And new gun owners would be given a 30-day temporary permit to buy ammunition while they wait for their four-year permit to be processed. That’s hardly a burden.”
Suppose that same imposition were placed on the Times’ editorial board before it was allowed to publish one more editorial? Then how much of a burden would such a requirement become?
The newspaper seems okay with the notion that civil rights can be put up to a popular vote.
“Despite a few niggling concerns, we encourage a yes vote on Proposition 63 to send a loud and clear message to the pro-gun lobby that California voters want more, not fewer, limits on access to firearms.”—Los Angeles Times editorial, Sept. 20, 2016
Perhaps the newspaper has forgotten what Mat Wadsworth, writing about gay rights in the Law Journal for Social Justice said about this back on Feb. 14, 2012:
“It’s a simple story, but it precisely conveys the problem with leaving popular rights to the fickle whim of the voting populace. Anyone can put together a voting majority. Anyone can put together a stronger, bigger bully to strip the rights from a weaker, smaller minority on any given election day. Particularly in today’s mass-media, superPAC driven election cycles.
“The idea that a majority of voters get to define the rights of a minority of people is repugnant to the concept that all men are created equal. It is repugnant to the concept that all men are endowed with certain unalienable rights. I do not care what majority or minority I happen to be in today; I reject the idea that my rights are up for vote.”
The L.A. Times would no doubt side with Wadsworth in a heartbeat, because the rights under discussion then were and remain popular with “progressive” liberals. The individual right to keep and bear arms affirmed in the Second Amendment – which was incorporated through the 14th Amendment to apply to the states in the June 2010 Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago – are toxic to the political left. Ergo the hypocrisy.
It is easy to campaign against a right when it is one you don’t exercise and personally disdain. It is quite another thing to defend a right you disagree with, because it is a right.