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Gowdy's Wrong Questions About the 2nd Amendment Preclude Getting Right Answers

Trey Gowdy's writings and comments via Fox News increasingly reveal that he is not as staunch a supporter of the Second Amendment as gun-owners once assumed.

Gowdy's Wrong Questions About the 2nd Amendment Preclude Getting Right Answers

“What can we learn and what can we change in the wake of another mass shooting?” ostensibly “conservative” Fox News asks. “Trey Gowdy says there are at least four areas worth examining, the weapon, the shooter, the place of the shooting and our culture.”

The article is a synopsis of the ostensibly “conservative” former prosecutor and congressman-turned-“news”-host’s reflections on his popular Sunday Night in America cable TV program. Note I use “ostensibly ‘conservative’” to reflect how the rest of the media portrays both Fox and Gowdy, at least when they’re not being condemned as “extremists” or worse.

With that as backdrop, and with Gowdy’s previous endorsements from NRA and inclusion in its 2016 “Leadership Forum,” it would be understandable to believe the Second Amendment is in good hands. 

Is it?

Gowdy told the enthusiastic NRA membership he understood the right to keep and bear arms is important “for at least three different reasons... The right to defend oneself or one’s family or others ... is not a right that government gave you. It is a natural right, and no government can take it from you.”

“Number two, there was and there is a need for the citizenry to be trained to handle weaponry, Gowdy acknowledged, stopping there. He could have fleshed that out more, especially since the Militia continues to be ignored at all our peril. (See the articles Ignoring Core Purpose Makes 2nd Amendment More Vulnerable to Infringements: the Militia Aspect, Part 1 and Part 2 via Firearms News’ website)

“Number three,” Gowdy continued, “Our government is based on consent. The people consented to be governed in exchange for certain representations that were made to us. It is sort of akin to a social contract, and consent, both in theory and in actuality, can be withdrawn.”

Being from South Carolina, you’d think he’d understand that citing irreconcilable differences to separate from a dominant partner don’t always work where state actors are concerned, but those are nonetheless good moral points and true. That part he gets. But don’t relax just yet.

Gowdy was paraphrasing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Heller, who, unfortunately, also volunteered that weapons suitable for common defense purposes might be legitimately up for grabs. (See the article Scalia's Critical Error As The 2nd Amendment Literally Requires Military Weapons Ownership by Citizens, via Firearms News’ website.) 

Gowdy’s speech quickly devolved into advocating that government enforce existing gun laws (including on the prior restraint of having to get firearms transfers approved by the government). Lost in the NRA audience applause was the parallel that doing so is equivalent to pre-revolutionary colonists demanding His Majesty’s government enforce existing Intolerable Acts. 

It sounds good to talk about keeping criminals from getting guns, but the truth of the matter is that anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun can’t be trusted with a custodian. Anything else leaves predators free to stalk among us. Add to that the reality that “gun control” that claims to deny firearms to “prohibited persons” doesn’t work. None of it does. Don’t believe me? Google “Chicago homicides,” and then ask yourself how many of the killers you think used “legally” acquired firearms.  

While “prosecute felons” sounds all flag-waving “Back the Blue” and stuff, many if not most NRA members aren’t thinking too deeply about who the citizen disarmament enforcers will be. Remember that those permanently denied a right to arms include such “public threats” as Martha Stewart, convicted of lying to the feds about stock trades. Then there’s the unconstitutionality of the feds claiming any delegated power to disarm the people (a fact conveniently never mentioned in the eye-rolling feeding frenzy Congressional Democrats engage in). That Americans could be prohibited for life over non-violent infractions, including convictions for “violating” politically-motivated infringements, was another reason a large group of RKBA advocates, myself included, repudiated NRA and signed onto the “Project Exile Condemnation Coalition” over 20 years ago.


Anybody else starting to see cracks in Gowdy’s “staunch defender of the Second Amendment” facade? Let’s look closer, at what he just advocated to his Fox News audience. This time out, he’s got four areas of concern:

“The solution has to do more than simply make us feel better. What works? What does the evidence say?” Gowdy begins. “There are at least four areas worth examining, the weapon, the shooter, the place of the shooting and our culture. Is there anything about our culture you would change to prevent the next mass killing? Can we stop glorifying violence? Can we stop glamorizing serial killers? What are we willing to do to make schools and churches and malls and workplaces safer?”

Those are generalities. The short answers, in order are: Heed the Founders on what they deemed necessary “for the security of a free State” and it’s not gun owners doing the glorifying and glamorizing: Talk to the anti-gun media “progressives.”

When Gowdy gets to specifics we can see what he’s driving at. And where he ought to be told in no uncertain terms to stomp down on the brakes.

“What about the weapons and the characteristics of those weapons? Does self-defense really include unlimited magazine capacity?” is the first “red flag.” 

As even a Supreme Court with an agenda recognized in 1939’s Miller case, the militia was “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense [and] bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” Its function was — and still is — to field citizen soldiers. And these citizens bore arms that were suitable for that purpose, “ordinary military equipment” intended to be taken into battles. 

They assembled with the intent to match and best a professional military threat. To suggest the Framers of the Constitution meant anything else is to accuse them of being insane, and of codifying into the supreme Law of the Land that sending an ill-equipped citizenry to their slaughter was somehow “necessary to the security of a free State.”

“There are already large categories of people who cannot lawfully possess any firearm,” Gowdy continues. “Does that group need to be expanded? Are those laws being enforced? If a felon cannot buy a gun in a store, why should that same felon be able to buy a gun in someone's den or living room?”

He’s opening the door to invite demands for more “prohibited persons,” which I’ve already addressed above,  and for so-called “universal background checks,” which the National Institute of Justice’s 2015 “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies” flat-out admitted, “Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration...” [emphasis added].

“What law currently in existence, if enforced, would prevent mass killings?” he asks. 

For some reason, Fox uses that line to link to another article talking about nationally raising the purchase age to 21. Forget for a moment that 18-year-olds can serve in the military, make binding contracts and marry, and that Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi are threatening to lower the voting age to 16, or that such a ban would have made Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in World War II a “prohibited person.” (Refer to the article If Newly Proposed Gun-Control Policies Were Law in 1945 via Firearms News’ website.)  There’s also this little matter of 10 U.S. Code § 246, that begins “The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age...”

Since total prohibition, the gun-grabbers’ real goal, is a non-starter that decades of experience with alcohol and drugs demonstrate will only increase the violence and corruption, and since trying to confiscate guns would no doubt spark uncontrollable powder kegs throughout the Republic, nothing will prevent the evil from victimizing those they perceive as vulnerable. We can only deter some, make others think twice, and do our best to repel the rest, which would, for the most part, be doable if society ever got smart about it. 

“And what idea, not currently law, would prevent the next mass killing or reduce casualties?” Gowdy follows up. Unfortunately, more like outrageously, current law is the culprit here. “Gun-free zones” are anything but to those who view the “law-abiding” as prey.

“Most Americans do not and never will accept the mass killing of children as a consequence of living in a free society,” Gowdy concludes. “What are we willing to alter, to preserve the freedom to simply stay alive?”

That sounds like he’s asking what more we must give up and conflating where we are now and where he wants to lead us with freedom. You won’t achieve that, as history amply demonstrates, with more centralized controls. What you’ll get, to paraphrase and repurpose Mr. Franklin, is giving up essential Liberty to purchase the illusion of temporary safety.

That, since he brought it up, is “what the evidence says.”

Gowdy should know all that, but again, we’re dealing with someone who presents the illusion of being “conservative.” His “extreme immigration declarations” have earned him praise from a leading open borders advocate and his friendship with gun-grabber (and for some reason “conservative” darling) Tulsi Gabbard point to more of a “Big Club” agenda. And the $7M Bengazi probe he “led” that fizzled out and “provided no new evidence of specific wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Clinton” hardly bolsters his “pit bull” reputation, either.

There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and while Gowdy’s gun queries may seem like the exception to that rule, don’t underestimate his intelligence. And don’t presume his motives sync up with those for whom the Second Amendment is the indispensable keystone that supports all others. 

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions,” novelist Thomas Pynchon wrote in Gravity’s Rainbow, “they don't have to worry about the answers.”

About the Author

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine, a featured contributor to AmmoLand, contributor to Firearms News website and magazine, and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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