A Guide for the Left: Using Abortion to Understand the Passion of 2nd Amendment Advocates

My new Forbes column is up, and discusses the incredible similarity, in my experience, between gun and abortion advocates.  I find this particularly interesting because, in many cases, the occupants of each camp hate each other.

The most important common trait they share is that they both tend to feel (and act) like they are standing on shifting sands.  They both feel that their Constitutional rights (for guns as written in the 2nd Amendment, and for abortion as clarified in Roe v. Wade) are under constant attack by a powerful and vocal minority.  They share almost the exact same sense of paranoia (I don’t mean any negative connotation to that word — as a libertarian, I am paranoid about a lot of things).  As a result, they feel the need to hold the line against every regulation or incursion, no matter how seemingly reasonable, fearing the narrow edge of the wedge that will eventually threaten their core rights.  They know in their hearts that the true intent of regulators is to work towards outright bans, so even seemingly “reasonable” and narrow limits are treated as a Trojan Horse and opposed with an energy and vehemence that seems over-the-top to people outside of the debate or on the opposing side.


  1. Richard Harrington:

    Voting rights are also a good comparison point. A lot of the Jim Crow techniques such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and unobtainable forms, are the same as those used by gun control advocates.

  2. Michael Stack:

    Boy that is 100% on the nose - agree completely. I've shared this article, hoping it helps some of my friends from both the left & the right to understand one another just a bit better.

  3. Morven:

    A very good comparison. I'll be sharing this.

  4. Matthew Slyfield:

    -1 invalid use of paranoia/paranoid.

    1. Paranoia is the delusion that EVERYONE is out to get you. A belief that some specific group is out to get you even if irrational is NOT paranoia.
    2. Just because you are paranoid, that doesn't mean that no one is out to get you.

  5. marque2:

    Has coyote blog jumped the shark? This post/Forbes blog leads me to believe it has.

  6. nehemiah:

    Warren, I’m not sure where to start. You follow someone’s blog and you think you know them.

    The right to keep and bear arms is specifically described in the 2nd Amendment. From which Article or
    Amendment does the right to abortion derive so that it required “clarification”? Guns in the hands of criminals or the mentally disturbed can result in deaths, but there are times where a gun can protect life. The death rate for abortion is 100%.

    The Founding Fathers had much to say concerning the right of the people to bear arms. The fact that they didn’t have much to say regarding abortion is likely due to their naivety about society adopting the practice, However, there is one notable quote from Supreme Court Justice James Wilson (served from 1789-1798) , “With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and in some cases, from every degree of danger.”

    You cannot pursue happiness without Liberty and you cannot enjoy Liberty unless you have Life.

  7. John Marvin:

    Terrific article which will hopefully engender better understanding between the two entrenched camps.

  8. perlhaqr:

    I concur.

  9. perlhaqr:

    The death rate for abortion is 100%.

    Really? Everyone who gets an abortion dies?

  10. Mole1:

    " In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb."

    A far more reasonable position than that life begins at conception.

  11. john mcginnis:


    Your observation vis a vis the 2nd amendment is valid. However I have to point out that I don't think that is the position that the OP was considering. His focus was more the mindview of the two camps which are unerringly similar. Nor do I think that the `nose under the tent` belief is without merit. You look at the various federal laws that have been enacted that now enforce things that are way outside the realm of original intent. (eg RICO)

  12. Matthew Slyfield:

    Yes. No, if that were the case the death rate from abortion would be 200% as then every abortion would cause two deaths.

  13. anonners@yahoo.com:

    I share your frustration (i.e., plain text vs. emanations and penumbras), but under the law of the land -- the Constitution as interpreted by nine folks in black robes -- the right to privacy and the right to an abortion are just as enshrined in the document as the right to bear arms. How the Constitution should be interpreted is another question.

  14. MingoV:

    There is a major difference between the gun rights supporters and the abortion supporters. For example, when gun rights supporters push for legalization of more types of ammo, the outcome doesn't matter to the ammo rounds. However, when abortion supporters push for legalization of abortion up to the ninth month of gestation, the outcome certainly matters to aborted fetuses that were viable (especially when there is a shortage of adoptable infants).

  15. JohnSn:

    "They know in their hearts that the true intent of regulators is to work towards outright bans [...]"

    Incremental restrictions leading to outright bans is/was the avowed policy of the Brady Bunch and other anti-self defense groups, as stated by Handgun Control Inc's then-chairman Pete Shields: "The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal."

    Even if you are paranoid, they may be out to get you.

  16. Mondak:

    Am I broken? I am usually against regulating either.

    Actually, I am usually against regulating anything.

  17. danh:

    This is the major parting point of half of the Libertarian Party. The Second Amendment is clear. You have to torture it to get the leftist position. Abortion was an imagined right based under what the court referred to as the right to privacy. If the libertarian position is defense of freedom (liberty), then whose freedom is it? The unborn child is deprived of its very right to live under abortion, for the convenience of the mother. As a libertarian, abortion is the greatest attack against liberty.

  18. Gil:

    No it isn't Murray Rothbard points out parents can abandon their children at any point in time thus abortion is a form of child abandonment.

  19. norse:

    I never got why anyone believes for a second the narrow wedge style arguments. "Sure, this is eminently reasonable. But imagine what other discussion might come after it!" Seriously? If there's another discussion later, well, just say no to the actual thing you don't feel is warranted. Case closed.
    As far as rights and real dangers go, do yourself a favor and look up what really impacts the lives of children. It's high time for a war on pools and bathtubs.

  20. Gil:

    Also: torture what? No Supreme Court ruling has ever said there can be no restrictions on firearms.

  21. Joe_Da:

    In arguing the meaning of the 2Ad, there has always been the camp that believes that the "the right to keep and bear arms" is definitely an individual right. While the opposing camp is arguing against the individual right point out the preamble to state that the 2A only confers a group right. Most every argument is that the 2A is either one but not the other or visa versa, but never both. It takes a severe torturing of the english language (see Stevens dissent in Heller) to argue that 2A does not convey an individual right. That begs the question as to what the preamble is supposed to mean. Reading the various commentary of the time, and the various proposals of the 13 colonies state constitutions, the most likely explanation is that 2A conveys both rights, both the individual right and the right of people to form militia's for protection, such as indian raids, federal agent raids, posses to chase down criminals, etc.

  22. nehemiah:

    The fertilized egg starts cell production immediately using the unique DNA created at conception. Eye, color, hair color, gender, etc set at that instant with all subsequent cell production following the initial blueprint. An individual right from the get go with plenty of stirring going on. Justice Wilson didn't have the benefit of viewing in the context of genetic research or I'm pretty sure he would have moved his marker back to conception.

  23. nehemiah:

    As you say, abortion is the law of the land, but some laws are unjust.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Letters from a Birmingham Jail,
    “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

  24. nehemiah:

    Silly claptrap. Abandoning someone isn't quite the same as killing them.

  25. Gil:

    Nope, Murray Rothbard supported child abandonment even if the child would face probable death.