Remember Lou Grant? He was the grouchy news director Ed Asner played on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Then he became a more serious figure as the fictional liberal city editor of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune. But Lou Grant was never real. Now Asner is playing a different role, as a Constitutional scholar, but he’s still acting.
In a friendly piece for like-minded progressive liberals in Salon, Asner/Lou Grant rehashes the tired, musty and benighted arguments of why the Second Amendment doesn’t mean anything, titling the article “Sorry NRA: The U.S. was actually founded on gun control.”
Without even having to read the article, I knew what it said. But I read it anyway. He trotted out James Madison, he referred to the “well-regulated militia clause,” he referred to the Articles of Confederation and he dug into previous drafts of the Bill of Rights that were discarded by the Constitutional Convention. Yawn.
To prove his acting chops, Asner declared Lou Grant a better legal scholar than perhaps the best writer to ever sit on the Supreme Court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Referring to the Second Amendment’s safeguard against the government infringing upon a right of the people (a personal right) to keep and bear arms:
In 2008, Justice Antonin Scalia, ruling for the Majority, said that it was. Ignoring over 200 years of precedent, historical context, the Framers’ Intent and the D.C. laws of its elected officials, Scalia relied solely on the text, arbitrarily dividing the Amendment into two parts.
What a crime! “Scalia relied solely on the text.” My God, what’s next? Enforcing laws as they were written? And somehow, Lou Grant knows something Scalia doesn’t, because nobody has ever accused Scalia or being arbitrary in anything and made it stick. Not his former colleagues, not even his critics.
The only reason Scalia ever allowed people to disagree with his textualist approach to Constitutional law and interpretation is that they disagree with the text. Scalia believed that the founders were intelligent and learned people, who knew how to write, succinctly, what they meant. Therefore what they wrote was his guide, not what they didn’t write, or had written in another context, or a previous draft.
Asner/Lou Grant, like most statist totalitarian government supporters, believes that rights emanate from the government to the people. Classical liberals like Scalia know that the founders believed in inalienable rights from a creator (because they wrote that in the Declaration of Independence), and that government’s role is to vouchsafe those rights to remain a government by the consent of the governed.
Statists and progressive liberals who want to fashion society in their own image would like government to impose beliefs on the people without their consent. But those pesky armed citizens get in the way of such a plan, which, like all tyranny, would need be implemented at gunpoint.
Everything about Asner/Lou Grant’s argument has been said over and over again. There’s literally nothing new here.
Of all the 13 state Constitutions, only one — Pennsylvania’s — granted the right of an individual to own a gun. And even that Constitution gave the state the right to disarm people “for crimes committed” or “real danger of public injury from individuals.” As always, our American forefathers limited any and all freedoms when they clashed with public safety.
Total rubbish. No state constitution ever “granted the right” to anything. Pennsylvania’s constitution gave their government the right to deprive criminals and nut jobs of their guns. Our laws today do the same thing. Asner/Lou Grant is arguing the status quo. But he’s not—he wants confiscation.
And yet today, despite the evidence, the gun lobby has the chutzpah to claim that the Second Amendment belongs to them and them alone. Guns, you say, will always be with us. OK, we get that. But what’s at issue is whether the Second Amendment can be read as a fundamental and absolute right (as the NRA claims) that can neither be limited nor regulated.
What evidence? He wrote that our country was “founded on gun control,” citing Shay’s Rebellion because Daniel Shay and his protesters wanted to loot the Springfield Armory when the state militia stopped him. That is not an argument for gun control. John Brown looted the armory at Harpers Ferry and was stopped by a contingent of Marines led by Capt. Robert E. Lee. Does that mean we should still have slavery?
In one way, Asner/Lou Grant is right. This country was founded on gun control. The British enacted gun control on American colonists, which led directly to the armed revolution. So says historian David B. Kopel.
Kopel writes that two important things underlined the American response to the British policies. One was the practical concept of self-defense, which British disarmament measures was making more difficult. The other, and more relevant concept, was that “Americans made no distinction between self-defense against a lone criminal or against a criminal government.”
In September 1774, Redcoats raided a Charlestown powder house and seized gunpowder. This, Kopel wrote, nearly started the revolution. After the battle of Lexington Green and Concord, the British confiscated all colonial weapons.
“Gun ownership simpliciter ought never be a pretext for government violence,” Kopel concludes. “The Americans in 1775 fought a war because the king did not agree. Americans of the twenty-first century should not squander the heritage of constitutional liberty bequeathed by the Patriots.”
After all these years, Ed Asner is still acting as if Lou Grant has political relevance. He’s right: America was founded on gun control. That is, throwing off King George III’s gun control to impose tyranny on America. Lou Grant is just echoing the Redcoats argument for total subjugation versus governance by consent of the governed.
But really, he’s just a television actor pretending to be an activist.