The Gun Deal We’d Like to See
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The New York Sun’s policy on gun control can be summed up this way — we are unwilling to support any new measures to tighten gun regulations anywhere in America until a carry permit is issued as a matter of right to Craig Whitney. The Craig Whitney? you might ask. Yes, the same Mr. Whitney who is a liberal centrist, now retired after a long and distinguished newspaper career at the New York Times.
This isn’t the first time we’ve hauled our friend into one of these editorials about the Second Amendment. His book, “Living With Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment,” is a classic in the reasonable man theory of gun control. It’s rarely seemed as relevant as it does as it does now, when our country is reeling from the crimes committed in El Paso and Dayton and our politicians are wrestling, yet again, with what to do.
In our view, they should ask Mr. Whitney. We don’t speak for him here. His book, though, suggests he can’t get over the fact that he doesn’t need the government’s permission to exercise his First Amendment rights in journalism but would need a permit to exercise his rights that the Second Amendment prohibits infringing. He couldn’t get a permit, even if he applied for one, which he doesn’t now feel the need to do.
It’s hard for us to imagine a more respectable citizen. He’s a grandfather who, in his more than 70 years, has yet to be cited for even a single misdemeanor. It’s not as if he doesn’t know his way around guns. He is a former officer of the United States Navy who was trained to use a pistol and carried a sidearm — a .45 — in Vietnam. On what grounds is he unqualified to carry a gun?
We once asked one of New York City’s wisest career police officers about Mr. Whitney, only to be told he could probably get a permit to keep a pistol in his home. Not, though, to carry it in the city. Yet the Second Amendment doesn’t ordain that the right of the people to “keep” arms shall not be infringed. It ordains that the right to “keep and bear” arms shall not be infringed.
How much more plain could the Founding Fathers have been? The fact is that the long history of gun control in America suggests that it is a one-way street. The Democrats’ goal is not to tighten up gun regulations on the margin. It is to outlaw guns altogether. Their goal is New York, where the Second Amendment doesn’t apply — and Governor Cuomo, Mayors de Blasio and Bloomberg, like it that way.
In other words, give them an inch and they’ll go for the mile. That is why — apart from the prospect that gun regulations being proposed won’t stop mass shootings — so many reasonable Americans are unprepared, even in the wake of these kinds of crimes, to countenance more gun control. Were the left prepared to apply the Second Amendment where it’s now blocked, our guess is that a deal on guns would be easier.