CNS Messes Me Up: I have had great luck with the press, having never been burned by a reporter using an embarrassing quote that I did or did not say. But this Cybercast News Service story on the Right to Arms panel at the Brookings Institution on Monday really led some people astray. At Brookings, I made the point that those who favor gun control should not use methods of interpretation to negate its meaning that their political opponents can just as easily use against the rights that they support. The two such moves are to appeal to the "underlying" principle or purpose of a provision to limit its scope. The second is to argue that changing circumstances justifies ignoring a part of a written constitution. Speaking after me, Ben Wittes took the honorable position that we should adhere to what a written constitution says and the the Second Amendment clearly DOES protect an individual right. For this reason, he would prefer it be repealed.

Wittes' opinion gained the headline in CNS: Repeal Second Amendment, Analyst Advises. The problem was they then followed with my point making it appear as though I was responding to his proposed repeal by proposing that other constitutional rights should also be repealed! Now the CNS column does not actually put those words in my mouth, but the story is very confusingly written and one blogger unsurprisingly read it this way:
Imagine my surprise. A “guest scholar at the center-left Brookings Institution,” Benjamin Wittes, wants to gut the Second Amendment. Wittes told CNSNews “that rather than try to limit gun ownership through regulation that potentially violates the Second Amendment, opponents of gun ownership should set their sights on repealing the amendment altogether.”

Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett, however, did not limit his comments to the Second Amendment, suggesting instead that much of the Bill of Rights has “no contemporary relevance.” As an example, Barnett cited the Fourth Amendment. “Sure it was fine that persons should be secure in their papers and effects back in the old days when there wasn’t a danger of terrorism and mass murder.” According to the professor, the Fourth Amendment is “archaic [and] we don’t need it anymore…….”
Of course, MY point was that such an argument could be made by those who opposed the restrictions of the Fourth Amendment. Certainly not my view. And VC readers know I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and gun rights, which is why I was on the Brookings program in the first place. See my Was the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Conditioned on Service in an Organized Militia?

One irony is that the motto of another blog site that repeated the above misconstrued report is: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” - Winston Churchill

As a result of the CNS story, this blog, or both, the misinformation is spreading rapidly through the right side of the blogosphere. As a result I have now received some charming emails that I thought VC readers would enjoy reading:
Dear Randy Barnett,
I noticed that you said recently that not only should the second amendment go away but that the Bill of Rights has “no contemporary relevance.” That makes you a traitor. You are fascist, New World Order scum. I just pray that a non Council of Foreign Relations candidate gets elected as president so that filth like you have "no contemporary relevance."

Sincrely pissed off,
Martin
Another:
I find it interesting that you ignore Jeffersons stance on an armed population. You and your masters had better realize that the day gun confiscation begins shall be remembered as the first day of the Second American Revolution. You and your ilk will likely be the first with your backs to the wall.

please do not misconstrue this as a threat. I am merely stating what most of the hunters and sportsmen I know are saying. There are TENS million active hunters in the USA. If you think you can disarm them, I comend your attention to a little place called IRAQ!

I do not hunt. I do, however, Agree with Charlton Heston-FROM MY COLD, DEAD, HANDS!
This one was entitled: "Hey, phony prof, you're full of shit, you damned communist!" and reads:
You'd better start all over again, you communist punk! We smell you comin' from a mile away.

JIM DUNN
Austin, TX
This one may be my favorite:
Hi Randy:

I read an article that claims your interested in dismantling the Constitution. Well, sir, that is not for you to decide. I believe you should be charged for treason. Are you making these statements because your paid off? Are you making these statements because of information received and/or based on the main stream media?
Are you aware of the current standoff with Ed and Elaine Brown in New Hampshire? I bet not. Have you even spent an ounce of effort to research the undeniable facts of 9/11? I mention 9/11 because it was the precursor for the ever evolving police state we are entering.
Have you heard of the scholarlars for truth? http://911scholars.org/ How about Dr. Stephen Jones phd-former physicist professor at B.Y.U. ? He has a piece of molten metal from the twin tower debris which contains thermate. OO, you didn't know that? Albert Einstein said," Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance."
How about the fact that Jet A-1 (jet fuel), kerosene based, can only burn at a max tempature of 1800 degrees F. That is considering the fuel has a constant and proper mix of Oxygen( a controlled burn). Also, Structural steel melts at 2750 degrees F. Put the two together and what do you get? We know the Towers were a dirty burn-due to the black smoke emitted-indicating a low oxygen supply. Did you know that the Solomon Brothers building(WTC-7) wasn't hit by any aircraft, but yet collapsed in 6.5 sec.(faster the the law of gravity will allow) in it's own footprint? Also. Rudy G. is on video saying he was told the towers would collapse, and then on later video saying he had no prior knowledge? Why didn't the 9/11 commission report even mention WTC-7?
Who is Dr. Ray Griffin?
Now, I am a veteran. I love the United States and I love the U.S. Constitution, (and I took an oath, probably as you did, to uphold the Constitution), but most of all, I love freedom.

I would like to know, why you are bent on destroying the Constitution? And what you are basing your reasoning on?

A response back would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou.
Steve
C*SPAN taped the program. I have not seen it on the schedule and will post if I find out in advance when it will run.
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Randy Barnett v. the "Gun Nuts" and the 9/11 "Truthers"--

I read Randy Barnett's last post on the nasty attacks he received after his views were misconstrued either by a reporter or a blogger (or both).

One of the funniest evenings I ever spent with Randy was at an AALS convention when a prominent historian told Randy and me about his work, which he said would take on the "gun nuts." Randy switched into his prosecutor mode and began carefully interrogating the historian on just what views qualified one as a "gun nut." Was a scholar who believed that the Second Amendment protected an individual right a "gun nut"? Why would someone refer to people who took such views as "nuts"? And if the scholar didn't mean that individual rights scholars were "nuts," then why would he bother in his historical scholarship to take on some non-rational fringe that no one took seriously?

I don't recall if Randy questioned whether "gun nuts" existed, though his distaste for the epithet was obvious; Randy was quite effectively challenging the tendency of anti-gun rights scholars to label serious people with which they disagreed as nuts.

As I wrote during the Bellesiles scandal, I don't understand the passion with which people on both sides approach guns. On that occasion, my research reached conclusions that made the pro-gun rights crowd happy, but when I later wrote critical things about John Lott, I received some pretty strong emails in the genre that Randy received today.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Randy Barnett v. the "Gun Nuts" and the 9/11 "Truthers"--
  2. CNS Messes Me Up:
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