Helping Martin Longman


Martin Longman hurls various forms of abuse at me that begin with a simple misunderstanding of a simple post of mine. I quoted Paul Waldman, who was arguing that a constitutional right is meaningless without the means to exercise it and so, if the Constitution protects a right to abortion, the government must provide funding for women who cannot afford it. I ran it under the title, Now Do Guns. The obvious point: Nobody who believes in a constitutional right to bear arms — not conservatives who believe in a strong form of the right, not liberals who believe in a wispy form of it–thinks that its existence obligates the government to subsidize people who can’t afford to buy a gun. Similarly, the right to a free press does not mean that the government has to help people who can’t afford to buy their own media outlets.

My point wasn’t that Waldman is inconsistent because he doesn’t support gun rights, which I guess is the view Longman is imputing to me. I have no idea what Waldman’s position on guns is. My point was instead that trying to apply this same logic to guns should instantly show its absurdity.

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Longman goes on to attack another short passage I wrote, but doesn’t follow it either. Sometimes when a writer is misunderstood it’s his own fault. Since nobody else seems to have missed what I was saying about guns, though, I’m going to chalk this up to Longman’s having a bad day.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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