Clinton’s speech to DNC shows eagerness to amend Constitution

Hillary Clinton has now accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to run as their candidate for president.  In her speech on Thursday, she laid out her case for our votes, balancing her time giving anecdotes about her own life with explanations of how she isn’t Donald Trump.

One of her closing statements was that we need to start “listening to each other. Hearing each other. Trying, as best we can, to walk in each other’s shoes.”  I’ve never had a conversation with her, so perhaps she simply hasn’t been given the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone like me or someone like my fellow members of the gun community, but these remarks struck me as particularly disingenuous in a speech that was so much political cliché.

She offered assurances that under her administration, we would all rise together.  According to her, we are not afraid, and we won’t ban an entire religion.  These are fine sentiments, ones that anyone who supports rights should agree with, but she needs to read on to the next amendment after the First in the Bill of Rights.

With regard to the Constitution itself, she is aware that it can be amended.  She promised to fight to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, even if it takes an amendment to achieve that.  That ruling found that freedom of speech applies at least to some degree to corporations and unions.  This is bound up with a series of rulings over the years that have established the principle that corporations are to be treated like persons.  The question of money in politics is an involved one, but I’ll say in passing that rights are best understood as belonging to individual human beings one at a time.  As we more and more treat them—both rights and individuals—as mere elements in some larger body, the unique and worthy character of each is diminished in the minds of many.  That being said, if Clinton is talking about amending the Constitution, we gun owners are left to wonder at what point she would stop.

When she says that she wants to create more and better jobs, she doesn’t seem to have the gun industry in mind.  Perhaps she regards the almost 300,000 jobs in the making and selling of guns to be disposable, just as Maryland and Colorado do.

Her direct attack on gun rights also came near the end of her speech:

And if we’re serious about keeping our country safe, we also can’t afford to have a President who’s in the pocket of the gun lobby.  I’m not here to repeal the Second Amendment.  I’m not here to take away your guns.  I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.

We should be working with responsible gun owners to pass common-sense reforms and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and all others who would do us harm.  For decades, people have said this issue was too hard to solve and the politics were too hot to touch.  But I ask you: how can we just stand by and do nothing?

You heard, you saw, family members of people killed by gun violence.  You heard, you saw, family members of police officers killed in the line of duty because they were outgunned by criminals.  I refuse to believe we can’t find common ground here.

It’s hard to accept that she wants to find common ground with people like me.  The list of restrictions, bans, and curtailments that she has called for over the years is long and disturbing to anyone who values rights.  Imagine a thief who steals your television one day, your computer the next, your artwork the day after that, and then returns to say that no, he doesn’t want to steal everything you own, so won’t you let him come in.  This is the position we’ve reached with Clinton and other politicians who demand more gun control.

She said that the founders of this nation created a constitution in which one person would never have all the power.  That’s fine rhetoric, but whether we’re talking about one person or a whole group of people, gun control is precisely the sort of power-grab that our founders protected us against.

In her words, “America is great because America is good.”  Violating rights is never good, not when done out of malice and not even when done out of claims of expedient need.  If Clinton wants to walk in my shoes, she may start with this fundamental idea and work forward from there.

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