Wendy Kaminer wants fewer guns, more pornography
Well, not quite. But she has an interesting post on obscenity law and firearms:
If you consider a stash of obscene videos scarier than a stash of firearms then this is the country for you. In America you have a constitutional right to own a gun, and you may traffic in firearms with legal impunity; but you risk being imprisoned for buying and selling arguably obscene pornography.
It’s an odd notion of liberty that equates the dangers of legalizing pornography and the dangers of prohibiting gun ownership, but it’s not an uncommon one. Consider the views of the Liberty Counsel: “(O)bscenity, pornography, and indecency debase our communities, harm our families, and undermine morality and respect,” according to the Counsel’s Declaration of American Values. “Therefore, we promote enactment and enforcement of laws to protect decency and traditional morality.” But if “smut” poses demonstrable harm to “(m)en, women, children, families and larger society,” gun ownership (according to the Declaration of American Values) is “central to the preservation of peace and liberty.” The Second Amendment “stands as an impenetrable wall between tyranny and freedom,” Liberty Counsel founder Mathew D. Staver declared, lauding the Supreme Court’s recognition of a constitutional right to own a gun: “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” he chortled; cower when confronted with pornography.
If you had asked me about this two years ago, I probably would have described myself as a pro-gun, pro-porn maximalist. Upon further reflection, I’m now less sure about the porn. Regardless, I think Kaminer’s post is another argument in favor of radical political decentralization. People’s views on porn and guns vary so dramatically that I think it’s basically impossible to devise a one-size-fits-all firearm or obscenity policy. The irreconcilable nature of these disagreements also makes me doubt the existence of some universally acceptable middle ground between Second Amendment absolutists and the Brady Campaign (or between Larry Flint and the Family Research Council, for that matter).
So while national compromise is unlikely, hashing out obscenity guidelines or firearm controls at the local level strikes me as a plausible alternative. Kaminer can have her liberalized obscenity laws, the Liberty Counsel can continue to “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” and we’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t somewhere along the way.