For all of its reputation as the “conservative” voice among the major news channels, Fox News has a funny way of showing it. Fox News Sunday host John Roberts asked his guest, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), if his Republican Party is “out of step” with America in opposing gun control.
Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, opened the interview by suggesting that Democrats want to “take away guns” in response to recent mass shootings, such as the one in Uvalde, Texas, that caused the deaths of 19 fourth-graders and two teachers.
“When you have a shooting,” Scalise told Roberts, “instead of sitting down and asking ‘OK, what is really causing this, why do we see these happening more and more in the last few years,’ it immediately becomes a debate about taking away guns.”
Instead of restricting the rights of innocent American gun-owners, “We need to be focused more on stopping things before they happen,” Scalise insisted. “This isn’t something that we are having a conversation about right now, and it should be. It immediately becomes about Democrats wanting to take away guns.”
Roberts later presented Scalise with polling data that indicated large majorities of Americans support more restrictions on civilian gun rights.
“Let’s take a look at where the public is on some of these policies regarding gun sales,” Roberts said. “Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers? Eighty-nine percent of Americans say they support it. Eight percent oppose it,” Roberts added, citing a Quinnipiac University poll. “Do you support or oppose red flag laws? Seventy-four percent [support], 21 oppose.”
Roberts then asked Scalise, “Are the views that you and your colleagues hold out of step with where the nation is?”
Scalise said he opposed red flag laws — laws that allow law enforcement to seize weapons from individuals who have committed no crime. “Under the guise of a red flag,” Scalise explained, “they take away due process where they literally can come into your house and take away your gun without you even knowing that there was some kind of proceeding where somebody said ‘oh, I think that guy might be a threat.’”
Scalise added, “Now somebody can go and take away your constitutional right. I don’t think I’d agree with that, that’s not how we deal [with] rights in America.… Due process is a constitutional right.”
It should be noted that Steve Scalise is someone who knows a lot about “gun violence.” In 2017, James Hodgkinson, a supporter of socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), shot Scalise while Scalise was at a practice for the annual congressional baseball game between Republicans and Democrats. Hodgkinson was shot and killed by plain-clothes Capitol Police officers after he fired off more than 50 shots from a rifle, with five shots hitting, and nearly killing, Scalise.
Months later, when Keith Ellison, then Democratic attorney general of Minnesota, tweeted that he wanted evidence that supporters of presidential candidate Senator Sanders had attacked those who disagreed with them, Scalise responded, “I can think of an example.”
Prior to opening fire on the Republican members of Congress who were practicing, Hodgkinson asked Ron DeSantis of Florida (who was then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives) if the team practicing were the Democrats or the Republicans. Sanders later denounced the assault as “despicable,” and Scalise said he did not blame Sanders for the shooting.
This incident, in which a supporter of Sanders —who finished second to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 contest for the Democratic Party nomination — shot a prominent Republican member of Congress in an assassination attempt, has largely gone down the “memory hole.” Can one imagine that happening if, say, a supporter of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who finished second to Donald Trump in the 2016 contest for the Republican Party nomination, had shot the Democratic Party House Whip, at a Democrat baseball practice?
Roberts’ questions, which imply that a Constitutional right can be limited if a public opinion poll indicates that a majority of Americans no longer agree with individuals enjoying that right, is disturbing. The Bill of Rights — indeed, the Constitution itself — was not adopted to allow the majority to infringe on the rights of a minority. On the contrary, the purpose of American government, according to the Declaration of Independence, is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It does not say, “unless the majority wish to kill members of a certain group,” or “unless a majority wish to jail political opponents,” and the like.
The Bill of Rights was intended to bar Congress from enacting laws infringing on the basic rights of Americans, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religious practice, and the right to keep and bear arms. Taking away someone’s property (such as a firearm) without “due process” is specifically forbidden by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. This means that, as Representative Scalise accurately explained, any “red flag” law that does not provide for “due process” is unconstitutional. For example, a person under arrest for murder can lose some rights under due process, but a private citizen cannot lose his or her rights unless that person has been afforded due process — regardless what a public-opinion poll says.