Last week, I wrote about President Barack Obama's gun-control executive orders, and in it, I said, "You don't have to be a firearms enthusiast to know that this isn't a final triumph for gun-control advocates. It's only the latest chapter."
My argument was that any time you give the government an inch, they will always take a mile — especially when it comes to eroding our constitutional liberties. I also argued that our Bill of Rights was designed to make sure government didn't even get an inch and that certain rights "shall not be infringed."
The day after the column ran online, Dianne Feinstein introduced a revamped assault-weapons ban that included some types of handguns and shotguns. And with it, the definition of what is or isn't an assault weapon had expanded and that definition is likely to keep expanding. In fact, the point is to keep expanding them.
Government grows. It expands. Always. And Second Amendment advocates are right to fear a compromise on the right to bear arms. The politicians will keep coming for their guns. This is not paranoia. It is probable.
Just look at the Fourth Amendment for an example. When the Patriot Act was enacted, civil libertarians screamed that Big Brother Bush was attacking the right to privacy. They were right. Today, our e-mail, social media, banking records, credit card information, web history — literally any private information you can imagine — is sifted through by the federal government on a regular basis. Some have estimated the number of such intrusions to be in the millions, billions, or more. We will never know the real number because that information is classified. Yes, how much our government regularly ignores the Constitution is kept secret thanks to the Patriot Act.
In 2011, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden spoke on the Senate floor about how bad the Fourth Amendment was being abused: "I have served on the Intelligence Committee for a decade, and I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry. And they will be asking senators, 'Did you know what this law actually permits?'... Many members of Congress have no idea how the law is being secretly interpreted by the executive branch, because that interpretation is classified."
The few examples where information has been declassified offer a startling glimpse into the true damage done by the Patriot Act. The act itself is bad enough, but it has also created a law enforcement culture that feels free to do anything it likes, legal or not. The digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation used the Freedom of Information Act to force the FBI to admit that they had violated the law approximately 800 times under the guise of conducting Patriot Act-approved intelligence work (In total, some 7,000 potential violations were investigated). Although these violations were reported to the president's Intelligence Oversight Board, no one would have known about these abuses if not for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
When it comes to any new gun-control legislation, Feinstein's bill will thankfully be hard to pass, but this does not mean she and her allies will stop trying. We already know that she intends to expand definitions in the direction of more gun control, yet the Left will continue to say that gun rights advocates are just being alarmists. But during the debate over these new far-reaching laws, it is usually those "alarmists" who end up being right. When Social Security was enacted, opponents feared that it might one day be used as a form of identification, but its advocates scoffed at the idea. We know how that turned out.
The government will eat up the Second Amendment just as surely as it has the Fourth and the rest of the Bill of Rights. This is why our Founding Fathers spent so much time warning against its dangers. And it is why we should start listening to them.