You may have already heard that earlier today a federal judge rejected Colorado’s motion to dismiss a discrimination case against the embattled Christian cake baker, Jack Phillips. According to the Washington Times:
“Senior U.S. District Judge Wiley T. Daniel said the Colorado Commission on Civil Rights and Colorado Civil Rights Division Director Aubrey Elenis had shown evidence of ‘bad faith’ by filing a formal complaint against him in October over his refusal to create a cake to celebrate a gender transition.”
Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. He gained national attention in 2012 when he refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The couple filed a lawsuit which ultimately landed in front of the United States Supreme Court, who ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips on June 4th of last year.
While cases like these are often defended on the premise of religious beliefs, I’ve always felt that there’s also elements of the right to associate (or disassociate) and to conduct one’s business as they see fit. In essence, it’s the spirit of the “Right to Refuse Service” signs that were once so prevalent in businesses across the country.
Among those who rightfully defend people like Jack Phillips is a large number of folks who consider themselves Republicans. This makes sense when we consider the fact that Republicans are supposed to be advocates of limited government. So, you can imagine my disappointment when a reader of The Minuteman sent me the link to House Bill 1160 today. It’s a simple — yet troubling — bill. It simply reads:
“A person may not refuse to sell a firearm to an individual who is otherwise authorized to purchase a firearm. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”
Those who have read The Minuteman for some time know that we are huge advocates for gun rights. We fully recognize and support these rights that are protected by both the federal and state constitutions. But does my right to own a gun also mean I have a right to force someone to sell me one? Apparently a group of Republican state lawmakers thinks that it does.
Representatives Ben Koppelman (R – District 16), Karen Karls (R – District 35), Scott Louser (R – District 5), and Austen Schauer (R – District 13); together with Senators David Hogue (R – District 38), Donald Schaible (R – District 31), and Jessica Unruh (R – District 33) are sponsoring the bill. To say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement.
Whether I’m a private individual or a licensed firearms dealer, why should I be forced to make a sale to an individual that I don’t want to sell to? Let’s not forget that the guns that I’m selling are my property— not yours. You may have a right to “keep and bear arms”, but that doesn’t mean you have a right to mine— regardless of whether I want to sell them or not.
As this law is written, I might advertise to sell one of my guns only to have Neighbor Bob show up wanting to buy it. Well, let’s suppose I’ve known Neighbor Bob for years and have observed him to be horribly irresponsible. Yet, he has no criminal record or background that would prohibit him from owning a gun. Under this law, the minute that I refuse to sell to him, I’m in violation and potentially subject to the penalties of a Class A misdemeanor. Forgive me, but that’s pathetic.
While I’m horribly disappointed in these legislators, I have no doubt that their intentions are good. But that doesn’t make them right. Aside from the cake baker situation, wasn’t it Republicans who rightfully railed against Obamacare for forcing people to purchase something against their will? Yet, now we want to force people to sell to others?
A person should be no more obligated to sell a gun to someone than they should be mandated to sign up on the health exchange or to bake a cake that violates their personally held religious beliefs or personal property rights.
This bill needs to die a quick death when it hits the House floor. Not only is it bad legislation, but it makes Republicans look awful.