Fayetteville, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- Since 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been a key defender of basic rights in America, fighting cases in the courts, and often winning, to protect the ability of people in the unpopular minority to express themselves in speech and belief, to control their own bodies, and to insist that the judiciary affords them due process.
The organization’s one consistent blind spot has been their views on gun rights.
This is not hard to understand. The emphasis on civil liberties—the protections afforded by law, instead of rights that are inherent in human beings—shapes the group’s thinking, and the case law on the Second Amendment was mixed prior to the Heller decision. Still, the ACLU isn’t actively a part of the anti-gun lobby, and in the same way that attacks on the NRA because they don’t work on some activist’s pet obsession are misdirected, criticizing the ACLU for their views on guns is mostly a waste of effort.
That’s especially the case since on some important points of contention, the ACLU has discovered the concept of consistency.
When, for example, the Social Security Administration was contemplating a change in the rules regarding the exercise of gun rights by persons whom the agency determined to be incapable of managing their own affairs, the ACLU objected, saying that an administrative finding cannot be a substitute for due process, even when members of the organization might approve of the result.
This is a good test of anyone’s intellectual honesty. As stated above, the ACLU has spent decades defending due process, and it would have been hypocritical to sacrifice the same in pursuit of the objective of making legal gun ownership more difficult—though again, that’s not a primary goal of the organization.
Gun control advocates all too often demonstrate their willingness to discard any other right that stands in the way of their desires.
Now the American Civil Liberties Union is speaking out against the efforts of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to silence the NRA by cutting off the latter’s access to financial services. A statement from the ACLU put it this way:
“Political advocacy organizations like the NRA (or the ACLU or Planned Parenthood) need basic business services, like insurance and banking, to operate. The NRA says that the state, using its regulatory powers over those industries, is threatening financial companies that do business with the NRA.”
This, of course, is a declaration of the obvious, but it has to be said to people who obviously are more desirous of the rule of whim over the rule of law.
Why would the ACLU take this position? That is explained further down:
“Substitute Planned Parenthood or the Communist Party for the NRA, and the point is clear. If Cuomo can do this to the NRA, then conservative governors could have their financial regulators threaten banks and financial institutions that do business with any other group whose political views the governor opposes. The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.”
In other words, the American Civil Liberties Union understands, to borrow a line from Martin Niemöller, that if the government comes after one type of political advocacy and we say nothing, the government will come after us soon enough and there will be no one left to speak on our behalf.
The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting for the principle summed up by Voltaire’s biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is in keeping with American values, and we should be pleased to welcome the ACLU to this much of the cause.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.