Reality TV Saved the Second Amendment

I used to dream that someday I would make a fortune, retire from whatever business occasioned the fortune and endow what I would call the Second Amendment Litigation Trust.  The sole purpose of this trust would be to finance the engagement of Second Amendment attorneys to prosecute litigation designed to result in judicial decisions affirming the constitutional right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

I envisioned raising public, legislative and judicial knowledge and awareness of the origin of, and the meaning of, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  I was looking forward to hiring Second Amendment scholars to identify what we believed to be Second Amendment violations and to persuading people to whom injustice had been done to become the plaintiffs in our crusade to advance liberty in America by dusting off and exalting the Second Amendment.

It is striking how Democrats have deleted from their vocabulary the phrase “gun control.” For decades policy arguments about restrictions on firearms have sharply divided conservatives and liberals.  But the subject of “gun control” was nowhere to be found in the congressional mid-term elections of 2010 or the presidential election of 2012.  Not one word about restrictions on firearms was uttered by President Obama until he was asked directly in a presidential debate whether he would support a renewal of the federal ban on “assault rifles.” Obama said “yes,” genuinely from his personal policy preference, but visibly hesitatingly from his campaign strategy point of view.

What caused this reversal of liberal dogma?  Why is “gun control”  now a dirty word and a guaranteed political loser?

It turned out that I never made the requisite fortune to fund my Second Amendment Litigation Trust.  Gratefully, I did not have to.  Litigation, prosecuted by the very attorneys I had hoped to hire someday, achieved in the United States Supreme Court the judicial victories supporting the individual right view of the Second Amendment I had dreamed of helping to secure.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use within the home in federal enclaves.  In 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. __ (2010), the Supreme Court held that the right of an individual to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states.

The country in which I live might, in my estimation, have changed radically and tragically the day the decision in Heller was announced.  Just five justices to four justices decided Heller.  If merely one justice had voted the other way we would have awakened in a country which was not the country in which we went to sleep the night before.  If Heller had not upheld the individual right view of the Second Amendment I would have believed that the principles of liberty and constrained government, and the right (indeed the duty) of the citizens to overthrow an irredeemably tyrannical government which had violated the Constitution, on which America was founded and which were codified in the Bill of Rights, literally had been repealed and destroyed.

The scary reality is that the United States is just one Obama Supreme Court appointment away from waking up in the country described in my nightmare.  A switch of only one vote would unhinge the ability of law-abiding Americans to own firearms, and cancel a right upon which our individual liberty and representative democracy ultimately, and always will, depend.  How four justices of the U.S. Supreme Court could have concluded that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right of individuals to own firearms is baffling and horrifying to me, but that is what they believe.

To my surprise the most powerful guardians of the Second Amendment have come not from law schools but from cable television network programming meetings.  I believe that reality television shows based on firearms have exposed millions of Americans to the safe use of firearms for sports, for target shooting and simply for fun.  By making the widespread ownership and use of firearms acceptable and normal to millions of people who have never touched a gun, these shows have unwittingly saved the Second Amendment.

In Top Shot, a reality TV show on the History Channel, male and female shooting enthusiasts from military, police and civilian backgrounds compete in marksmanship tests using a variety of weapons to see who will be named the “Top Shot.” This show allows decorated military veterans, public servants like policemen and firemen and educated and intelligent civilian hobbyists to demonstrate their skill in the shooting sports and their respect for, and love of, firearms.

Sons of Guns is a reality TV show on the Discovery Channel about a custom gunsmith business in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The show allows the obvious fascination with, and love of, firearms of the gunsmiths on the show to shine through.  The show also delves into the individual identities and personalities of the members of the cast and their personal relationships, and shows them as real, normal, emotionally happy human beings who simply enjoy building, working with and shooting firearms of all kinds.  Finally, Sons of Guns frequently features war heroes, professional athletes and celebrities who passionately like, own and shoot guns.  In our star-obsessed world anything a celebrity does which is not illegal makes the activity more attractive and acceptable.

American Guns is a reality TV show on the Discovery Channel about a family gunsmith business in Denver, Colorado.  The cast, including the father who owns the shop, and his wife and daughter who work there, allows viewers to associate firearms with a successful business and a happy family life, and shows how target shooting can be a safe, fun and wholesome family activity enjoyed equally by different generations.

Family Guns is a reality TV show on National Geographic about a father and son who buy, sell and restore rare firearms.  The show reflects the ordinary human drama inherent in any parent/child relationship and in any family business relationship.

Each of these shows allows people from all walks of life, and especially people in urban areas who never have even seen or touched a real firearm, and who know about firearms only what they see in action movies and in news stories of homicidal maniacs with “assault rifles,” to see smart, educated, classy men, women and youngsters using firearms completely safely and purely for sports, fun and entertainment.  These television shows unintentionally have the effect of introducing people to the safe and fun use of firearms.  Instead of associating guns solely with horrible crimes committed by kooks, these shows prove to people that it is acceptable to own firearms, and that many normal, intelligent, educated people enjoy the shooting sports.  These television shows have introduced the acceptability of firearms ownership and use in peoples’ minds, and into the fabric of our culture, in ways that even successful results from my litigation trust never would have achieved.

The right to own a firearm was considered by the Framers of the Constitution in 1787 to be equal in importance to the right to speak freely, the right to peaceably assemble and the right to practice religion.  These liberties are guaranteed to each of us by the first two amendments to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

Even if a new justice who believes personally that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of states and not of individuals to own firearms is appointed to the Supreme Court, I am no longer certain that McDonald and Heller would be reversed.  If an ever larger majority of Americans view the private ownership of firearms as normal and acceptable, as taught by the increasingly popular and numerous reality TV shows about guns, I doubt the Supreme Court would overrule that widespread view.

I had always believed that the Second Amendment is the most important amendment because it guarantees the only right that is capable of defending the other rights in the Bill of Rights.  To my surprise it actually has been the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech and thereby allowing the creation of reality TV shows, that has fostered a renewed appreciation of, and has ensured the enduring sanctity of, the Second Amendment.

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  • jacob


    I expect people not to ever forget how his last appointee shamelessly refused to recuse herself
    from voting on an issue she was part of….and her Supreme Court colleagues let her get away
    with it and Congress likewise…

    But this is the country we are living in….
    Next, OBAMA plans on putting us under the jurisdiction of the USELESS NATIONS…..

  • scythe

    I wonder if you know that the multi gazillionaire Nany Bloomberg of New Yawk plans to spend his fortune and the rest of his life pushing for gun control. I also wonder if you even suspect that the reason the thug i the WH has seemingly done nothing is because he is trying his utmost to control and ban firearms UNDER THE RADAR. Does Fast and Furious ring a bell for you?

    • Viet Vet

      This is the comment I was going to post, e.g., Fast and Furious. He told Sarah Brady he was working on gun control "under the radar."

      • Mary Sue

        yup. I'm surprised someone was around to record that, but lucky thing!

  • DMWF

    "If an ever larger majority of Americans view the private ownership of firearms as normal and acceptable, as taught by the increasingly popular and numerous reality TV shows about guns, I doubt the Supreme Court would overrule that widespread view."

    You mean like they overruled Obamacare (with the Chief Justice re-writing the law to make it fit)..

  • Moishe Pupick

    F., 11/30/12

    It is galling how politicians with armed security details and/or concealed carry permits pontificate that
    the "little people" should call 911. Hollywood celebrities are another class of the elite. Some of them have private armed security details and/or concealed carry permits. However, they, too, preach to the "little people" that "common sense" gun control laws are urgently needed. Cops who are honest will tell you that most times, they arrive on the scene of a criminal homicide AFTER the fact.

    • Goemon

      You ought to yahoo or bing Sylvester Stallone's hypocrisy on gun rights.

    • Mary Sue

      well yeah, because you know, they're scared of the hoi polloi, who "cling to their God and their Guns" so naturally they need to be exempt from it to protect themselves! [/sarcasm]

  • larryarnold

    The reality gun shows have certainly played a role in popularizing shooting sports, primarily by demonstrating to TV executives that there's a huge pro-gun audience to be reached. Now we're starting to see better treatment on non-gun-related shows, like the episode of Top Chef where the contestants had to "hunt" their wild game ingredients.
    But the source of that huge pro-gun audience was the NRA's basic shooting education program, which fielded thousands of trained instructors who taught millions of people to shoot, as well as all the state rifle associations' programs which kept shooters engaged.

  • BHirsh

    Ron, I'll take this opportunity to inform you of an edit you need to make to correct your description of "American Guns". "[A]nd his wife and daughter who work there" should read, "and his wife, son and daughter who work there". Rich's son is a superb engraver, and is vital to the level of opulence and quality in their custom work.

    Don't forget him, please. [grin]

    Love the column. Well done.

  • JCS

    Gun control liberals believe having a gun in the home is more dangerous than not having one.
    Any liberal who believes that should put a sign on every door of his home saying: "I believe iin gun control. There are no guns or weapons of any kind in this house."

    • Western Spirit

      Very good! I got a good laugh out of it. That'll be the day many liberals change they're minds and pants or maybe I should say pants and minds.

  • Harkrader

    Dream on. All you have to do is read the attitudes of the likely Supreme Court justices that Obama will appoint, and BE AFFIRMED BY GOP legislators, and you can see we will be in for a terrible fight.

  • John

    Before the Fabian Socialists can declare martial law and suspend the constitution, they must disarm america. To do that they will create a treaty through the commUNist United National to outlaw guns. These treaties over ride the constitution. UN goons in blue helmets will visit your home to confiscate your guns. Beware of the UN.

  • sean

    By assault rifles he is referring to military hardware. Once again if you actually listened to what the President said, not what FOX news tells you, you would know this.

    • Gunner

      No Sean, he's referring to ANY weapon that looks like a dreaded "assault rifle", just like Feinstein did in the original ban. Remove the bayonet lug and it was no longer an "assault rifle". I'm sure you have reams of lists of all the poor victims murdered by criminals in the US using bayonets. Oh wait, never mind, most of the people murdered in the US by "assault rifles" were killed by criminals, not honest citizen firearms owners. Just like the ones murdered in Mexico by drug gangs, OOPS, organized unlicensed pharmacists.

      And it's his Administration (or regime) that created the Fast and Furious scandal. The President is from Chicago, where if you're not a criminal or a cop, you can't have a weapon. Armed persons are Citizens; unarmed persons are subjects, serfs or slaves.

      • Phil

        It's "politburo," not "regime and especially not "administration." Communists rule by politburo, don't forget.

    • welldoneson

      yeah, Sean, if you want to look a complete idiot just keep snivelling about Fox news.
      you lefty 'tards don't seem to realize that Fox gets more viewers than all other cable news networks because more and more people understand the leftist bias of the media. clowns like you snivelling about Fox news, with NO clue who you're talking to, only help us understand the prejudice, ignorance, and pre-programmed memes you're full of.

    • Don Kosloff

      The protection of the right to keep and bear military equipment is the purpose of the Second Amendment.

  • LindaF

    Every day, I become more convinced that the struggle for freedom must be fought in the culture, not the courts. This just affirms my belief.


    Creepy islam has harrassed our ancestors (MayPeaceBeUponThem) and us (MayPeaceBeUponUs) enough !!
    The greatest health mistake we are making today that will make our future generations suffer and curse us is our willingness to pander and encourage islam into our societies. Europe will soon fall….so will north america and australia….islam is the pox that is worse than small pox….soon the human race will be dead and only muslims will be alive. The islam virus uses politically correct thought to creep into the system. We are Dhimmies….The arabic word for non-muslim dummies that help islam come in and then are disposed off. The arabs were the smartest in the end and moremad the dirty pedo-arab was in the end a genius. Pedo and Petro are so similar like dhimmie and dummy. Fantastic.
    Creepy islam has harrassed our ancestors (MayPeaceBeUponThem)
    and us (MayPeaceBeUponUs) enough !!


    This is the beginning of the fourth and last world war.
    The third world war was against communism. Communism lost. The current and final world war is against pure evil that has creeped into our societies worldwide thanks to our clean minds and sharing beliefs that have come to bite back on us and our children. This evil that we need to rid the planet of is called islam. A figment of a mad man’s evil and vile and demented imagination filled with hate and regressive thoughts and mass murder as heavenly ordained . islam has put us all in peril. The full non-muslim planet is scared of this 1400 year old cult. We have the where-with-all to smash it but we fatally hesitate because our core beliefs have conditioned us that humans can change for the better. This is our fundamental and fatal mistake. Islam is so evil it is beyond change. islam calls us sub-human when the exact opposite is true. Islam is the vilest cult and now it has penetrated all over the globe because of the constant hoodwinking that islam does on normal people. Islam is not a religion but a system of male dominance over women and non-muslim people. Pedophilia is halal in islam. The head honcho of islam was a pedo so all muslims have to be pedos. Political correctness stops us from asking muslims these fundamental and valid questions about their core filthy beliefs. Our children are doomed. Since islam is a parasite “biological” is the answer. Then the bulldozers and then the incinerators. There is no other way. Conventional and atomic or nuclear is just one big mess. Overhead biological is the answer. The planet is fed up of parasitical islam. Ask any human. The war to the finish of islam has started.
    Why should my taxes feed and fatten dirty filthy muslims and other low lifes that want to kill me and you and your children and my children and want to rape your wife and daughters and want to rape my wife and daughters? Why should my tax money keep alive people who want to harm us and kill us? Are you insane? Soon only muslims will be the majority in all the jails in the world because islam is an evil and dirty cult. Ban islam first. Then talk about human rights. Read the dirty dirty koran …get a little educated about filthy islam then come asking for human rights. Enough with this

    Afganistan is a Buddhist
    country currently occupied by muslims,

    Pakistan is a Hindu country
    currently occupied by muslims,

    Saudi-arabia is a jewish
    country currently occupied by muslims,

    Bangladesh is a Hindu
    country currently occupied by muslims,

    Iran is a Zoroastrian
    country currently occupied by muslims,

    Malaysia is a hindu country
    currently occupied by muslims,

    Egypt is a Christian country
    currently occupied by muslims……..etc.etc.etc.

    Muslim-zombies will have to
    re-convert and re-connect to the real religion of their

    peaceful and harmonious
    ancestors prior to their unfortunate meeting

    with that total idiot
    moremad-the-dirty arab and his dirty gang of violent morons

    and their hate filled
    violent actions and thoughts.

    "Non-stop violent and
    dirty blood filled thoughts islam is" Yoda would say.

    Dirty dirty islam is no

    Islam stands alone in it’s
    own v o m i t .

    “Filth islam is only ” Yoda
    would say.

    The arabs will have to become
    jews. …because

    the arabs were jews too

    who lived in the desert much
    much much before

    moremad-the-dirty-arab came
    charging with madness and

    started slapping the oldies
    and the women around.

    Fantastic ???

    Creepy islam has harrassed
    our ancestors (MayPeaceBeUponThem) and us (MayPeaceBeUponUs) enough !!

    Constant wars and terror are the fruits of Islamic over-population and muslim
    male boredom thanks to no contact and socially stunting policies about muslim
    women and socializing. They want our women because they aren’t allowed their

    An educated muslim is an oxymoron. If a muslim is educated and
    understands logic and all things fair and just what is he still doing in islam?
    The very fact that an educated man is still muslim means that education has
    bypassed him. A muslim is not a complete human. A muslim is a base animal that
    looks like us but kept at the basest level of mental development by islam. It
    is a real shame but this is the truth. A muslim is taught only hate filled rubbish
    and poisonous thinking by islam. There is no hope for muslims and if we don’t
    take pro-active steps to wipeout islam we will be wiped out.

    Crystal ?

    Capish ?

    CONFRONT islam first and smash it then talk about human rights.

    Pedophilia is Halal in islam. Pedophilia is sanctioned in islam. There
    is no word for child molestation and child molesters in arabic or the
    "holy?"koran…just ask any muslim.

    Creepy islam has harassed
    our ancestors (MayPeaceBeUponThem) and us (MayPeaceBeUponUs) enough !!

    • welldoneson

      look at any country with large Moslem population.
      EACH and EVERY Moslem "holy" site was once the "holy site" of Hindu, or Buddha, or Christian, or whatever the indigenous religion was before Islamist imperialism arrived.

    • Phil

      Communism hasn't lost, it's winning with the temporary alliance of the muslims. Just go back and read quotes from the top commies, then look behind al these radical feminist, queer, black, etc., groups and you'll find a communist. For example – homosexual movement – Harry Hay – communist; feminist movement – Betty Friedan – communist; Black Panthers – Angela Davis (for one) – communist; infiltration of the Catholic Church, goal #1 of the USSR – Bella Dodd & John Manning – communists; United Nations – Alger Hiss – communist; et al. Don't be fooled like a chameleon communism has changed it's colors, but it's still very alive and well. Look at what's going on in schools – it'sthe communist agenda down to the letter.

  • kafirman

    A powerful message highlighting the cultural entertainment trump over dry scholarship.

    But do we have an English-challenged sentence here, "The sole purpose of this trust would be to finance the engagement of Second Amendment attorneys to prosecute litigation designed to result in judicial decisions affirming the constitutional right of individuals to keep and bear arms"???

    If one prosecutes such litigation than one works against "the constitutional right of individuals to keep and bear arms."

  • xkn

    This is fairly amusing delusion, that 2A is saved by some TV show. Socialists in power, on a long march, have figured that from now on they will be in power forever. The dependent class has been formed and strengthened, never to be diminished in size. 2A will be dealt with accordingly, when socialists achieve full control of presidency, senate and congress. You think that is impossible? Check California. 2/3 majorities in both state houses and old-school (for now, wait until the new-school one comes) democrat as a governor. Courts packed with marxists. But….. I am sure all will be well.
    So, basically, given that socialist rule is now cast in stone, why bother with unconstitutional laws now and ruffle the feathers, when everything can be achieved smoothly through the system from now on.
    Supreme court will fall soon into the solid marxist majority. It can't be any other way. Congress will go democratic in 2014. Senate will never again have conservative majority. Once that is set, the real assault on 2A will begin. Socialists realize that 2A is a feather on a cap for them, but more important issues, needed to cement their power (it already is cemented by the way, but it came too sudden for them to understand) are in order first: First and foremost is the legalization of 20 million illegal
    immigrants, for whom there are no jobs available, but plentiful welfare is. Then, the true socialized medicine, as in once-Great Britain, then a true government pensions. By then the 401k money will be gambled away by reckless bankster gaming, so masses will be forced to accept a warm government hand. Ultimately, 2A must be repealed in its entirety, and for that socialist majorities will be necessary in all states. But 2A can be de-facto neutered by marxist federal government and SCOTUS to wait for a complete repeal at some later time.
    One of features of totalitarian (weather soft or hard) governments, once they are in power, is absolute insistence on following the rule of law, their rule of law, of course. No person was ever killed in Soviet Union before being given a " fair trial". So, why bother with hysterical AW-bans and other crap when the final solution for firearm ownership is in hand now?

    • armyguy1

      Google "hitler was a leftist" so you can really appreciate our 2nd amendment & how bad things go for nations without gun rights.__The national socialist party made it illegal to own a gun unless you were a national socialist, we all know what happened after that right? __It should be noted that the national socialists took many of their ideas from the american progressive party of the 1920s & that the genocide/racism/bigotry were consequences of socialism not the agenda of socialism.__That's what happens when big government is given too much control by the people & another thing to note is that the worst socialist dictators this world has seen were democratically elected by a electorate that was more than happy to put them there. These socialist dictators ran as men of the people or for the working man sound familiar?__Doctors are asking patients if they have guns in their homes,how many, what type so I suggest you tell them you don't own a gun, it's none of their business.

      • armyguy1

        The reason it's important is a liberal socialist doctor can take something you say the wrong way or just not approve of guns & have you held on 72 hour mental evaluation which can cause you to lose your gun rights.__I would like to add that hitler (socialist) claimed mental was to do away with undesirables but in reality he was doing away with political enemies with the support of the people because we all know that the national socialists were mentally unstable.

        • armyguy1

          How do liberal socialist dictators take control of a country? divide & conquer because once you have the divide the conquer comes quite easily. The reason it's so easy to take total control of a nation divided is that nobody will stand up for the other side. Obama has taken pages from the american progressives & marx/lenon & for anyone that never could figure out how one man could take contol over an entire country well you're seeing it & the level of disbelief from most folks is what makes it even easier. Our rights are being farmed out the the UN from gun rights to internet & carbon taxes, mineral rights so don't be surprised when things get much worse in the USA.

  • armyguy1

    Folks you need to read just how liberal socialsits operate & how they take power from the people ……………. .