Yesterday I posted the results of the informal poll taken of his readers by Professor Glenn Reynolds at his Instapundit blog. Comparison with the CPAC poll, below, is interesting. Rand Paul won at CPAC, of course, as CPAC attracts a very libertarian crowd. Senator Ted Cruz faired very well in both polls, as did Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The standout differences seem to be with the results for Governor Chris Christie, Senator Marco Rubio, and Doctor Ben Carson.
Dr. Ben Carson may have done well simply because he was a featured speaker at CPAC, and conversely, he may have done poorly in the Instapundit poll because Professor Reynolds’ readers may be inclined toward conservatism rather than libertarianism, and conservatives do not like Dr. Carson’s squishy-ness on Second Amendment rights.
For those not aware of Dr. Carson’s views on gun rights, most of what is known stems from an interview he did with Glenn Beck about a year ago during which Beck asked him if citizens should be allowed to own semi-automatic weapons. Dr. Carson’s reply is quoted as “It depends on where you live. I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I’m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it.” Oddly, this view corresponds fairly closely to the dissent filed by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the DC v. Heller case, which suggested that an individual had a more legitimate right to own a firearm for hunting purposes than for self-protection. Lastly, the phrasing of his response suggests to me that Dr. Carson may not realize that virtually all firearms now in the hands of civilians are semi-automatics, from your run-of-the-mill revolver up to the legal AK-47 versions.
Recently, however, Tony Lee has reported at Breitbart that Dr. Carson now says:
… he does not believe in gun registration because America’s massive debt could transform the nation into a third-world country in which martial law may be imposed.
Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has been getting buzz in conservative circles, said that he changed his mind and was against gun registration because of the “sinister internal forces” that could surface in that scenario. He said he “used to think they needed to be registered, but if you register them they just come and find you and take your guns.”
That seems to me to be a weak rationale for getting to where he needs to be on the issue, but still, maybe Dr. Carson has been boning up on the history and justification for the Second Amendment. I hope so, for the sake of any future political ambitions he may have.