You gun people are a little crazy.
Well, I do live in Texas. I know Texas has a bit of a cowboy reputation, and people think it’s weird that about half a million Texans (as of a couple years ago) have concealed handgun licenses. Who would want to carry around a gun? Let’s look at how crazy the gun nuts with CHL permits are: they account for 0.1% of assault with deadly weapons convictions, 0 cases of aggravated assault against public servants, 0.09% of aggravated robberies, 0 criminally negligent homicides, 0 kidnappings, 0.7% of murders, 0 prohibited weapons, 0 trafficking of persons, 0.06% of terroristic threats. In other words, the “Rambos” in Texas are some of the most well-adjusted, non-violent people in Texas. (All stats are from TX DPS 2011 and are available publicly here.)
When the Second Amendment was written, people had muskets and cannonballs and things like that. The Founders had no idea about automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons. Surely gun control is needed, right?
When the First Amendment was written, people had no idea about the internet, cell phones, and copy machines. One of the nice things about our relatively vague Constitution is that it’s flexible. Freedom of speech can apply to things like art, the F word on your jacket, what you post on the internet, what you write in a magazine, or what you print on a pamphlet. We didn’t leave the application of that Amendment static from the late 18th century to now. Our Constitution is made to change with a changing culture. If the intent of the Second Amendment was to ensure that citizens can maintain a free state, it wouldn’t really make sense to shackle citizens’ ability to do so.
Firearms are protected by our Constitution, so talking about heavily regulating them is like saying, “Yes, you have free speech, but you can only talk about Twinkies and only in certain places.” That’s not really free speech. The Supreme Court has decided that the First Amendment doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want whenever you want (for example, shouting “Fire!” in a theater”), although it does protect a lot.
How many tyrannical rebellions have you put down lately with your militia?
It’s impossible to accurately answer this question. I can’t definitively know one way or another as to whether the proliferation of firearms has helped or hurt citizens in their efforts to maintain a free state. Maybe the prevalence of guns has chilled tyranny over time. Maybe not.
When I look around the world at the Arab Spring, the Rwandan genocide, etc, I think it’s probably better to be armed than not to be armed, in terms of avoiding tyranny and in protecting safety.
Again, while this is an interesting question, it’s ultimately irrelevant when discussing a Constitutional right. Let’s use free speech again to suss this out. If I utilize my free speech right to only blog about how great The Bachelor is, that’s my prerogative. It doesn’t matter if it changes the world or is edifying to you or whether you love The Bachelor as much as me. It wouldn’t matter if 94% of Americans hated the Bachelor. I can write about it all day long.
We should repeal the Second Amendment!
One of the awesome things about America is that you can say that, you can even act on it. You can petition the President to respond to you, you can contact your Representatives to try and get the Constitution amended so there is no right to bear arms. Please know that I will absolutely fight you every step of the way. It’s not because I think that you are dumb or because I think I’m Rambo; it’s because my experience with the world has taught me that it’s better for a population to be armed than unarmed.
Doesn’t the government have a monopoly on violence?
No, not theoretically or legally. It doesn’t have a monopoly on killing, guns, fisticuffs, etc. We have rights to protect ourselves, others, and personal property.
As a gun rights supporter, don’t you feel responsible for these tragedies?
I believe in personal responsibility. No, I don’t feel responsible for acts that I do not commit. I believe that the individuals who murder others are responsible for those murders.
I want to talk a little more about this question. I think it’s important to remember that no one wants tragedies to happen. No one is excited that innocent people are getting shot. No one wants to live in fear. The differences aren’t in that, the differences are in what to do about the problem of evil. Some think more guns are the answer, some think fewer guns are the answer, some people think something in between or none of the above. I think we need to remember that most of us have the same goals.
Remember some of the axioms of the libertarian worldview (at least, my libertarian worldview): I think people are created with the capacity to do great good or great evil. This is the case regardless of what regulations a government puts forward. We regulate behavior but do not necessarily change it. The fact that murder is illegal doesn’t deter everyone from murdering. The fact that drunk driving is illegal doesn’t keep people from driving drunk and killing people. The legality or illegality of guns will not eradicate bad acts and bad actors.
Wouldn’t taking guns off the streets reduce violent crimes?
Maybe. Maybe not.
I’m sure you’ve heard every talking point about how if you make guns illegal, only criminals will have them, law-abiding citizens will be defenseless, etc. I think what will happen is that many pro-constitution people will either buy guns without registering them or manufacture their own. So will criminals. I don’t think firearms will go away. Violence and tragedy won’t go away.
Something that I don’t talk about very much is my experiences in Rwanda. (If you aren’t familiar with the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s, somewhere between half a million and million people were murdered. Around half a million women were raped.) In addition to visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, I also had the chance to get about an hour outside of Kigali and tour a church which had been one of the many sites of brutal mass murder. Hundreds gathered at the church as a place of peace, a safe haven. Their attackers grenaded the church, shot hundreds or thousands of rounds into the church. To save ammo, many were hacked to death with machetes. Babies were twirled around by their legs and thrown into the brick walls to break skulls. Today, the skulls and bones of the victims are kept on-site and in plain view as a memorial. When I think of evil like that, I don’t think strongly-worded letters of condemnation will do much to save lives. Interestingly, some UN officials think that the presence of 5,000 UN peacekeeping troops with enforcement authority would’ve stopped the genocide. Jesus.
If I thought turning in all of the guns would end murders, then I would happily help gather and destroy every gun I could get my hands on. My experiences have led me in another direction. My experiences have taught me that people have the capacity to do horrible things, and sometimes the only way to stop them is incapacitation. I think that’s sad and I don’t like it, and I don’t see any way around it.
Aren’t you a Christian? Shouldn’t you be anti-violence?
I am and I am. I’ve never shot anyone, I don’t want to shoot anyone, and I haven’t been in a physical altercation in nine years (that was because a man was about to attack a woman). I’m a mediator. I’m all about working together and civility. If an attacker is forcing himself or herself on a victim, I think it’s appropriate to exert the force necessary to stop that bad act. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there’s a time for everything, including a time to kill, a time to tear down, and a time for war. I could be very wrong and I hope that God will have mercy on me for any lack of faith or any bad in me.
After the act is stopped I am anti-violence. I don’t support the death penalty, for example.
Ok, you seem fairly normal, but what’s with all the gun fetishes? Your peers LOVE guns.
I think for a lot of Americans, guns represent freedom, liberty, and the notion that no one is above the law. The government works for us, don’t tread on me, etc. In Texas, we have this famous flag:
It’s from the Battle of Gonzales, in which Texans held onto a cannon that Mexico was trying to take back. I think that for many, guns are a symbol of strength, self-sufficiency, and the traditional American personality.