March 16, 2013
With the current, and often whacky, push for gun control it’s perhaps worth taking a close look at the the Second (and arguably more important) Amendment.
Many Americans, growing up in liberal families in large cities, like much of the country, haven’t really been exposed to firearms. Guns tend to scare them. Moreover they’ve been taught that the police will protect them — a fallacy, ask any cop if he can protect you. He’ll tell you he mostly can just clean up the blood — but I digress.
Let us begin our little journey into the frightening world of firearms by first dissecting the Second Amendment as there seems to be a great deal of confusion about what it actually says, despite being one sentence long.
The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
Now, it’s that second and subordinate clause which really seems to confuse people, because it sets off the first clause, “A well regulated Militia.”
The argument goes that the militia is the National Guard and and Reserves and not the people. The problem is the U.S. Code states specifically that all able-bodied males between 17 and 45 are part of the unorganized militia. So everyone, except women, is a member.
But that argument is known as the Collective Right argument — in short that only as a collective do we have the right to keep and bear arms so it only applies to the military and police.
The counter view, the Individual Right argument, says everyone has a right to keep and bear arms for their own defense, defense of the nation and for recreation — i.e. hunting, sport shooting, etc.
That argument is actually the one backed up by the text of the amendment itself and in two separate decisions by the Supreme Court, Heller and McDonald. I won’t go into those here, because taking those decisions apart, and the implications of them is graduate thesis work, and this is a basic class. Suffice to say the Supreme Court has come down in two separate cases and said that yes, the individual people do have the right to own firearms.
Basically, what the amendment actually says is pretty simple, it’s just couched in 235 year-old English. To paraphrase: “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
What really scares Statists about armed citizenry is that they might take it into their heads not to do what the State tells them to do — this would be why dictatorial regimes all over the world immediately start confiscating guns upon coming to power. An armed citizenry is a threat to the government, and rightly so.
Even a cursory reading of the writings of the framers would note those brilliant men considered the Second Amendment as a final check on the government which they had just created.
Keep in mind as well that those men had not so many years before led an armed rebellion against what was at the time the most powerful nation on Earth.
No less a luminary than Thomas Jefferson himself understood how important it was for the people to be armed and that armed men are fee men.
Indeed in a letter to William Smith in 1787 ‘ol TJ himself said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
And he was talking about the recently concluded Whiskey Rebellion.
Another argument for gun control, (which I’ve always considered to be the ability to hit what you aim at, but I again digress), is that guns are dangerous and they don’t save people they only kill them.
Well the utter silliness of this argument ought to be obvious even to a liberal, but it obviously is not since they keep making it.
I personally own several firearms, from my daddy and grand-daddy’s shotguns to a deer rifle I bought myself, I’ve owned and sold many others over the years — I’m a gun-nut and if I weren’t so broke I’d probably spend a lot of money on them.
None of my guns have ever killed anyone. Come to that, they’ve never killed a deer. And of course the reality is, they are incapable of killing anyone — firearms are inanimate objects. I have taken my share of pheasant and dove over the years, but my firearms have not, they are simply the tool I use to bring home some tasty treats.
Guns are not, in and of themselves dangerous. People are dangerous. But a dangerous man remains a dangerous man whether he’s carrying a pistol or a toothpick.
As to whether they save people or not, check out the National Rifle Association’s Web site, they have hundreds of defensive gun uses listed there. Sometimes the criminal is dead, sometimes he’s wounded, and often enough he took to his heels the minute he saw the armed citizen confronting him. John Lott in his blockbuster work “More Guns, Less Crime,” estimates there are over 1 million defensive firearms uses a year in the United States, most of them without a shot ever being fired.
Moreover, states which have enacted “Shall Issue” concealed carry laws have seen a huge drop in violent crime. Exactly the opposite of what gun control nuts like Handgun Control, Inc. said would happen. Why? Well mostly because criminals are basically cowards, they’re not going to try to mug someone who might be armed, and if they don’t know if you’re armed or not, they’re less likely to attack you. They also know that police response times are often a half hour or more in big cities, so if you’re not armed, you’re defenseless.
‘Tis true there are less deadly ways to stop someone, a ball bat comes to mind. Well arguably less deadly, you belt someone in the head or ribs with a baseball bat and you stand a really good chance of killing them just as dead as a bullet. However, you expose yourself to far more risk that way, and there’s a good chance the criminal, who’s probably more acquainted with physical violence than you, will leave you the one dead, not the critter.
A firearm, and the willingness to use it are among the most important tools you have to keep your family safe — especially in our crime-ridden big cities. By-the-by, it’s notable that the cities with the most restrictive gun laws, Washington DC, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, have the highest murder rates. You’re actually safer patrolling in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq than you are walking down the street in those big cities.
Then of course you get the argument, “well if we outlaw guns then criminals can’t get them!”
This is really about the dumbest argument of the bunch. Criminals by definition do not obey the law, or at least, only obey those laws which suit them. Restrictive gun laws really only affect those already predisposed to obey them — the law-abiding. Of course after every school shooting, which are tragedies do not misunderstand, there is this push for more laws.
After Columbine there was the predictable outcry of “we must DO something!” So politicians, to advance their own agenda and in order to be seen to Do Something, tried to pass more laws.
Let’s leave aside for the moment the free-fire zones our schools have become because of “Gun Free School Zones,” or the complete incompetence of the Littleton, Colo., police. No, let us focus on the fact that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had already broken more than 20 gun laws. So please tell me what one more would have done?
Moreover, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, at Fort Hood — or at Sandy Hook for that matter — one armed individual could have stopped the rampage before it fairly got started, and saved any number of lives. Indeed, when the police finally arrived at Fort Hood, it was one armed cop who DID stop it before it went further. The problem was the number of unarmed victims Maj. Nidal Hasan had gunned down before he was stopped.
The final argument I wish to address is perhaps the most pernicious of the bunch. It goes something like this: “Only God should have the power to decide who lives and dies, not some person with a gun.”
This is a fine moral statement. Under most circumstances I tend to agree. The power to end a life is an awesome responsibility. One should never pick up a firearm lightly, not even to shoot at cans. One holds destruction in one’s hands and that is a frightening thing.
However, the question is not as simple as that statement sounds.
Is it moral to allow your loved ones to be harmed if you have the power to prevent it? Is it moral to stand by and allow someone else to be harmed? Is it moral to allow yourself to be harmed if you have the power to prevent it?
And how many others would that person harm, because you didn’t stop him when you had the chance? Are you not responsible for those deaths or injuries because of what you were unable or unwilling to do?
Is it not moral cowardice to be unwilling to take a life in order to save others?
In the end, what the left never seems to understand, it that a firearm is a tool. It has no life of its own. It requires a human being to function. It is the use the tool is put to which is good or evil.
And that is up to the person holding it.
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