THE BLOG

Of Pedicures, Pistols and Presidents

04/10/2008 10:51 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So I'm reading the New York Times at the local nail salon while getting a pedicure, when a front-page article titled "Power to Build Border Fence is Above U.S. Law" grabs my attention. And maybe it's the way the attendant is massaging my leg with warm water, or the late-afternoon sunlight is reaching into the near-empty storefront, but I relax and start free-associating, and before I know it I'm having an epiphany about why ardent gun rights advocates shouldn't support the Bush administration. Let me lay out my case:

Point #1: The Supreme Court is currently considering D.C. v. Heller, a case that requires considering whether the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals or groups to bear arms, being that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State and all. Citizens who support the former view generally contend that the Founding Fathers wanted citizens to be able to fight off an over-weaning central government, should it ever come to that. Or, as a friend's husband once memorably said in explaining his large private gun collection, "I want to be ready when the shooting starts."

Point #2: I've found, at least anecdotally, that these same people are generally fans of our weapons-friendly president and his firearms-friendly, if firearms-challenged, VP. Yet this Chief Executive has done more to concentrate power centrally in a single branch of government than any other in our history. Through hundreds of signing statements, he's made clear his intention to interpret the laws passed by the legislative branch any way he wants to; he and his minions unilaterally decided that the FISA law didn't need to be obeyed; at his request, his lawyers determined that the Geneva Convention was quaint, extraordinary rendition wasn't so extraordinary and torture could be performed at the executive's whim.

Now, according to this piece in the New York Times, Michael Chertoff, a member of Bush's cabinet, claims the authority granted by 2005's Republican Congress to "ignore any laws that stand in the way of building a border fence. Any laws at all." Last week, the Times' Adam Liptak reports, "Mr. Chertoff issued waivers suspending more than 30 laws he said could interfere with 'the expeditious construction of barriers' in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas." According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, Liptak notes, this delegation of power is unprecedented.

Which brings me to Point #3: The same people who lobby assiduously for less gun control should be concerned about reining in the metastasizing powers of this central government, shouldn't they? If people feel moved to buy guns because they may need to defend themselves against their government in the future -- even if they think the threat of terrorists or future landscapers crossing the border is the greatest risk facing our country -- they have to be deeply disturbed about the power this government has slowly been accruing over the last seven years. Fresh reasons for outrage pop up in the news on an almost daily basis. We voters probably won't know the extent of this administration's power grab for years to come.

So are Second Amendment-inspired gun rights advocates up in arms -- sorry, couldn't get to the end without throwing that in -- about the Bush administration's belief in an all-powerful, centralized government? I'm curious.