Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Canary in the Mine

It was twenty years ago that Britain retired the last of 200 teams of canaries officially charged with protecting miners from the insidious danger of methane gas asphyxiation. Canaries are extremely sensitive to the presence of methane gas and will quickly sway drunkenly then fall dead from their perches at the slightest whiff, thereby giving miners warning and a chance to flee to safety. From at least 1911 to the end of 1986, hundreds of canaries died so that tens of thousands of deep-shaft miners might live.

As conservatives begin to weigh the credibility of presidential contenders, a candidate’s affection for the second Amendment might serve a function similar to that of the canary. While nearly all politicians, particularly those with any attraction to conservatives, will swear to “support the second Amendment,” some mean it and some only mouth it. While the meaning of “support” can be a bit ambiguous, I consider the strength of a candidate’s allegiance a great indicator of the candidate’s trust of the citizenry generally. If he or she doesn’t trust citizens with guns, chances are trust is missing in other areas as well. Guns are dangerous. So are economic freedom, school choice, health issues, investment decisions, even voting! The second Amendment canary can tell us when a candidate’s true belief is closer to “I’ll take their votes if I can get them, but after that these people need adult supervision.”

Some, such as the former mayor of New York City, think guns are best only if issued to licensed hunters after they pass through the turnstiles enclosing government game lands and then reclaimed immediately afterwards. In the past, he’s backed up his “support” by suing gun manufacturers in order to extort the cessation of gun manufacturing even while subjecting citizens to a prohibitive licensing scheme. In this case, the canary died long ago and deserves an honest burial.

Others, like the senator from the west, “fully support” the second Amendment, while voting as though never really meeting a government regulation that isn’t necessary. Whether “closing loopholes” or licensing citizens, this one no more supports the second Amendment than he does the first. The canary is on its back on the bottom of the cage, legs flopping and eyes crossed.

The former governor from the east speaks in favor of the second Amendment, and all the others, too, but we can’t be certain that he has actually read any of them as his position(s) continue(s) to evolve. He forgot the canary topside and has no idea what’s in the air.

Finally, there is Fred Thompson, who not only “supports” the second Amendment, but who actually knows what it says and who believes it means what it says. On a recent Sunday interview show during a “lightening round” of quick questions and quick answers, Chris Wallace asked Fred about gun control and the new second circuit decision confirming an individual right to “keep and bear arms.”

WALLACE: (What about g)un control.

THOMPSON: Well, I'm against gun control generally. You know, you check my record. You'll find I'm pretty consistent on that issue.

WALLACE: So this federal court — appeals court ruling this last week, I guess Friday, in the case of D.C. — you'd be perfectly happy to have people have handguns in their homes?

THOMPSON: Yes. Absolutely. The court basically said the Constitution means what it says, and I agree with that.

In Fred’s case, the canary is dancing on its perch, whistling with the joy of life!

Fred Thompson trusts the citizenry.

I trust Fred Thompson.

UPDATE: The story continues to incubate, here in InstaPundit

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