Washington gridlock, so denounced across the nation and especially in D.C. itself, is sometimes unavoidable. Consider two proposals to deal with how to keep guns from the hands of terrorists. At stake is due process and the second, as well as the fourth and fifth amendments. Also at stake is the security of America’s citizens and residents.

This is not an easy problem to solve, precisely because of the checks and balances in America’s Constitution. Yes, the White House could, in some theoretical dystopia, pass executive orders superseding the Legislature and the Courts and round up every gun of every law-abiding citizen and resident in America. Basically ending the American Republic. And it still wouldn’t stop a potential terrorist from acquiring weapons on the black market – which would thrive under such a dystopia. What it would do would be to render individual, law-abiding citizens as helpless and vulnerable petitioners before a distant all-powerful Executive.

In other words, gun-control absolutists: be careful what you wish for. Because having disarmed the citizenry, and ignored the legislature and the courts, the executive is free to order, in executive fashion, as they see fit.

Yes, the second amendment is not just about hunting and target practice. It’s about ensuring that the people are capable of defending themselves from any attempted usurpation of their rights. That’s why, after the 1st amendment which defends freedom of thought and speech, you next have the 2nd amendment. This is not some archaic, rustic nod to state militias. It’s a necessary precondition to ensuring that the contract between individual states and the federal government is respected by the federal government. And by all government levels, federal, state, and local.

How do you ensure this without having an armed citizenry on constant orange alert? Due process of law, as established by the constitution and by the state constitutions, state legislatures, and local and higher courts.

When the NRA and the ACLU are both against a proposed amendment that would dispense with due process,and is based on “error-prone watch lists”, you know that the Collins-Heitkamp measure is something not to be rushed into. Or even voted for. Proposals from Cornyn and now Johnson instead insist on convincing a judge that you should deny someone the chance to purchase a gun. And delay the sale until a judge clears or bans it.

This is the heart of the Constitution that is being debated in the Senate. The constitution that created the American Republic and the freedoms – some long-delayed and hard-fought but gained never-the-less – which allow an astonishingly and not necessarily conflictive citizenry to live lives unimagined by earlier generations. But the imaginings of the Founding Fathers made these gains possible, and sustainable in as robust a way as any democracy could hope to achieve.

So this debate inexorably will play itself out through the procedural labyrinths of Congress. And the slow march of the courts. Yes, it will be frustrating to watch. Yes, but: we are laying the foundations for a democratic balance between security and freedom. In a world where barbarian fanaticism would return us to a Dark Ages version of life, lived in what Hobbes termed the state of war. And where such fanaticism uses the latest innovations in communications to try and achieve their crazed, evil ends. Yes, it will be frustrating, even infuriating, to watch Congress. It should be.