Rules for thee, but not for me

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s choice no longer to honor the carry licenses of many other states has drawn predictable reactions from supporters of gun rights.  As reported by Chris Eger, these include a move in the legislature to make all carry licenses acceptable by law in the state.  But an even more piquant response is the proposal of State Sen. Bill Carrico to strip the Gov. McAuliffe of his protection detail, due to the governor’s support for gun control.

Moralizers at times like to tell us that revenge is a wicked indulgence, but as Sen. Carrico suggested, if the governor is afraid of guns, the legislature can do him the favor of keeping at least some guns out of his presence.  Making politicians like Herring and McAuliffe experience the consequences of their own ideas isn’t even revenge so much as basic fairness.

The saying—rules for thee, but not for me—is a common one in reference to politicians, especially so in the case of elected officials who decide that they and their supporters deserve protections the rest of us are to be denied.  Michael Bloomberg’s security is a matter of cliché these days, but if you’re a New Yorker who isn’t a politician, but still want to carry legally, it helps to be a celebrity.  And surely we all remember Dianne Feinstein’s possession of a carry license at one point when she felt threatened, though she has since given that up.

This kind of attitude—namely that some among us deserve privileges the others do not—is contrary to who we are.  We adopted some of that thinking in our uneasy acceptance of slavery, and it took the repeated convulsions of the Civil War and struggle to end Jim Crow to correct that error.  But in a nation whose founding principle is that all men—all human beings—are created equal, an aristocracy is a dead notion from the start.

By contrast, consider the European experience.  Gun ownership there was seen as something to be restricted to the privileged classes. As David Kopel reminds us, the aristocrats saw guns in the hands of commoners as a threat to their status.  As with the pike and other similar instruments, a firearm makes a marvelous can opener when some popinjay rides by wearing ironmongery.  This attitude goes back to the days after the western half of the Roman Empire fell, the barbarians were attacking from all sides, and the land needed a professional group of warriors to defend it.

Now, though, some of us have learned that we are each responsible for our own defense in the immediate moment, whatever security the state is able to provide broadly.  And we’ve rejected on principle the idea that the few—dare I say the One Percent—deserve legal advantages that the rest of us don’t get.

The advocates of gun control who are politically connected and wealthy can buy security—bodyguards, gated communities, the attentive patrols of well-staffed and respectful police departments.  They will never feel the need to be concerned about ordinary people.  But what we who value gun rights can do is press home to our fellow citizens, to those of us who are ignored by politicians, that gun control isn’t for our benefit.

And we can use our voices and our votes to see to it that those people in power who enact gun control are themselves made to endure what they wish to impose on us.  Until such time as we can remove them from office, that is.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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