September 12, 2003
gun owners against civic ed
Yesterday, I reported on the progress of HR 1078, the bill written by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would fund summer programs for civics teachers. Gun Owners of America opposes the bill on the amazing grounds that it is "anti-gun." They are asking their members to send the following form letter to Congress:
Dear Representative ________________,
If H.R. 1078 is enacted, educators will be encouraged to teach that I do not have an individual right to keep and bear arms. It will establish Presidential Academies on teaching civics and history which will use anti-gun texts like We the People -- the textbook that conforms to the federal guidelines on teaching civics and history.
This book encourages students to start questioning the wisdom of the Second Amendment, asking the student whether the right to keep and bear arms is still as "important today" as it was in the eighteenth century and to decide what "limitations" should be placed on the right. This kind of discussion treats the Second Amendment as though it were not protecting a God-given, individual right.
But the individual rights view is exactly what our Founders intended and what the American public still believes today. An ABC News Poll in 2002 found that almost three-fourths of all Americans believe that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of "individuals" to own guns.
We already have too much Federal involvement in education, and the results have not been good. As control over education becomes more and more federalized, it seems that the ideas which children are learning become more and more radical. Please vote against H.R. 1078, a bill which is decidedly anti-gun.
The We the People curriculum and textbook are widely supported by conservatives (as well as liberals) because they provide rigorous and balanced materials on American institutions. This letter reflects a fear of open and balanced discussion that should be deeply embarrassing to all proponents of the Second Amendment and of freedom. I would hope that some would come to the defense of We the People.
PS. The Maple River Education Coalition says that HR 1078 "is in clear violation of the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution." (This is a bill, remember, that provides very modest federal support for voluntary summer classes for teachers. It's also a bill that invites students to read and debate the 10th Amendment, which might cause some to gain appreciation for states' rights.)