Whenever I have a discussion with someone over the Second Amendment and gun ownership in this country, it is seriously like a walk down idiot lane with a bunch of unreasonable, ignorant, paranoid, right wing, the-zombie-apocalypse-is-upon-us-and-we-need-to-protect-ourselves-from-liberals morons who could not logically argue the need for water for life on this planet.
I feel like they need to be taken aside and educated since the arguments as to why ordinary citizens just direly need to own tools of mass murder always center around the same uninformed, ignorant notions and baseless strawmans rooted in myth and paranoia.
People who adamantly champion for ordinary, private citizens to own guns often have very little understanding of either the Second Amendment, the history behind it and why it was set in motion and they cannot even really intelligently articulate as to why their right in 2012 to own tools of murder should supersede the right of people to safety and most importantly life. I keep hearing the same lame and weak excuses over and over again and it is tiring having to repeat oneself. This really is idiot nation when it comes to guns. Well, not just guns but you get the picture.
So, here I compiled an FAQ in response to the typical “arguments” that are often thrown in the way of gun control in this country. I may add to the list because stupidity is bountiful and I am sure someone will come up with some colorful, creative reason trying to justify why we, as a civilized people, need an arsenal of guns at our disposal.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution says that citizens have the right to bear arms. Wouldn’t putting limits and regulations on such a thing violate the Second Amendment?
As stated in the Second Amendment “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.”
So the patriots are correct, gun ownership is in the Constitution – if you’re in a well-regulated militia. Ordinary citizens are not part of the militia.
The militia at the time of the framing of the Constitution was all able bodied citizens. There was no official militia at the time and it should be noted that the National Guard wasn’t formed until 1903 with the Militia act of that year. So the framers of the Constitution were clearly referring to “the people” meaning all citizens as a source to draw upon in case of military need.
If the Constitution were written in today’s English, the justification and operative portions of the Second Amendment would likely read something along the lines of “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed because they may be called upon for military service to secure the state“.
What is a “well regulated militia” anyway?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a MILITIA as
a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service
Or as Alexander Hamilton stated about the militia:
A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.
Why was the Second Amendment put into the Constitution?
Remember that at the time the US Constitution was framed, we were still a young nation having just freed ourselves from the yokes of the British Empire. The original intent of the Second Amendment, which calls for a well regulated Militia of the citizenry, was, therefore, to defend against the superpower Great Britain in case it chose to exercise its property rights as “owner” and seize back the newly created United States.
Up until then and codified in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the King and ruling bodies had the authority to disarm their subjects and especially opponents. For the populace not being able to bear arms was, therefore, a very serious issue since – as a result – they were also not able to stand up to a tyrannous state that oppressed them. The text of the English Bill of Rights of 1689 includes language protecting the right of Protestants against disarmament by the Crown.
The need to have arms for self-defense, which is what the proponent of the second Amendment strongly stress, was not really in question. Peoples all around the world since time immemorial had armed themselves for the protection of themselves and others.
However, as organized nations began to appear these arrangements had been extended to the protection of the state. Without a regular army and police force (which in England was not established until 1829), it had been the duty of certain men to keep watch and ward at night and to confront and capture suspicious persons. Every subject had an obligation to protect the king’s peace and assist in the suppression of riots.
A foundation of American political thought during the Revolutionary period was the well justified concern about political corruption and governmental tyranny. Even the federalists, fending off their opponents who accused them of creating an oppressive regime, were careful to acknowledge the risks of tyranny. Against that backdrop, the framers saw the personal right to bear arms as a potential check against tyranny.
The framers thought the personal right to bear arms to be a paramount right by which other rights could be protected. Therefore, writing after the ratification of the Constitution, but before the election of the first Congress, James Monroe included “the right to keep and bear arms” in a list of basic “human rights”, which he proposed to be added to the Constitution.
The advocates of guns who claim patriotism and the rights of the 2nd Amendment – are they in well-regulated militias? For the vast majority – the answer is no.
I am a patriot but how do I protect myself against the tyranny of the government?
True patriots support the Constitution adamantly and wholly. They have faith in the Constitution of the United States and the Rule of Law. Since we no longer find ourselves in the 17th Century where citizens had to fight for and stand up to oppressive monarchies, the use of arms in this country to protect against the government no longer applies. To think that the United States will suddenly turn to France circa 1659 or to Nazi Germany circa 1933 and come after people is laughable. To think that one could stand up to such acts, if they were to really happen, by owning guns is beyond ridiculous.
But are you expecting me to just have blind faith in the government?
One should always question the actions and policies of one’s government and leaders demanding transparency and oversight But armed revolt? With guns? One cannot keep lawmakers in check by owning assault rifles. One cannot get the Supreme Court to enact policies by pointing a gun at them. Such an approach to “civil” discourse goes directly against the very principles this nation was founded upon where people are to resolve their problems and dissatisfaction through civil society and democratic means, such as grassroots, organizing and lobbying instead of by shooting opponents.
Our government has been corrupted and stolen and the forces of evil are at play, planning to take over this nation. We need to fight back and take a stand. How can you be against that?
I agree. There are evil forces at play. To fully quote Jason Alexander who said it better than I could: I call [such evil forces] corporatists. I call them absolutists. I call them the kind of ideologues from both sides, but mostly from the far right who swear allegiance to unelected officials that regardless of national need or global conditions, are never to levy a tax. That they are never to compromise or seek solutions with the other side. That are to obstruct every possible act of governance, even the ones they support or initiate. Whose political and social goal is to marginalize the other side, vilify and isolate them with the hope that they will surrender, go away or die out.
These people believe that the US government is eventually going to go street by street and enslave our citizens. Now as long as that is only happening to liberals, racial minorities, atheists, homosexuals and democrats – no problem. But if they try it with anyone else – it’s going to be arms-ageddon and these committed, God-fearing, Jesus loving brave souls will then use their military-esque arsenal to show the forces of our corrupt government whats-what. These people think they meet the definition of a “militia”. They don’t. At least not the constitutional one.
And, if it should actually come to such an unthinkable reality, these people believe they would win. That’s why they have to “take our country back”. From who? From anyone who doesn’t think like them or see the world like them. They hold the only truth, everyone else is dangerous. Ever meet a terrorist that doesn’t believe that?
But I am still worried about the tyrannous government. I need to arm up to protect myself.
If you live in fear than any day the government will come after you like this was Afghanistan or Orwell’s 1984, I suggest undergoing full psychological evaluation and seeking aide in that regard. Not arming up. In fact, arming up is the last thing a doomsday paranoid individual with a nervous trigger finger should be doing.
Then how do I protect my family against intruders or muggers?
A simple hand gun should suffice for that purpose, after you have undergone a certain minimum hours of training in order to gain the experience needed to utilize the gun in case you need to to protect your life while in immediate danger. Not assault rifles that can shoot 30 rounds without reloading per minute. The only use for such guns is combat.
Why is it bad for a civilized society if everyone were armed? In fact, wouldn’t we be a safer society if everyone carried guns to protect themselves?
Using a weapon to protect oneself in cases when one’s life is in danger – such as someone breaking into one’s home – is very different than resorting to some form of vigilante justice as a matter of public discourse and in lieu of a criminal justice system. Unless you want the country to fall into chaos under martial law, you will not advocate for unlimited and unhindered gun ownership and extensive usage by ordinary, untrained civilians not accountable to anyone – unlike the police, national guard and members of the armed forces.
We have the Constitution, the separation of powers and the rule of law for a reason. You have the right to own a gun to defend yourself but that is where its usage stops. To defend your life. Not take revenge or take justice into your own hands and become judge, jury and executioner at once. This is not how the social contract works. In fact these are not the principles this country was founded on.
What about places like Chicago that are gun free zones but where gun crimes still occur? And for that matter what about criminals who use guns and for whom such gun control laws will have little to no consequences?
Yes there will always be crime, but that doesn’t mean we will forgo law enforcement or stop prosecuting and punishing criminal. Similarly, there will always be people who get their hands at guns and other tools of murder if they want to. But that doesn’t mean we can stop trying to regulate guns.
The difference between 200,000 guns or 2 million lying around is 1,800,000 less guns. The issue is of access and availability. A society in which its citizens are armed to the teeth is not a safer one. People are irrational, they react in the heat of the moment. Having a gun ready to point and shoot at others is not what we should build towards. People cannot be entrusted with such tools unregulated and unhindered and call it their right.
People have first and foremost the right to life. If owning guns seriously jeopardizes that right, then they are no longer entitled to it.
Wait a darn minute here. People kill people, not guns. Guns should only be banned if violent crimes committed with tomatoes means we should ban tomatoes. In fact, drunk drivers kill, should we ban fast cars?
A gun is a tool solely designed to kill. Nothing else. Tomatoes and cars have purposes other than killing.What purpose does an AR-15 serve to a sportsman that a more standard hunting rifle does not serve? Let’s see – does it fire more rounds without reload? Yes. Does it fire farther and more accurately? Yes. Does it accommodate a more lethal payload? Yes. So basically, the purpose of an assault style weapon is to kill more stuff, more fully, faster and from further away. To achieve maximum lethality. Hardly the primary purpose of tomatoes and sports cars. And, more to the point, by that line of reasoning, one’s hands should be banned since a human hand can be a tool for murder as well.
So people kill? Fine. Let them kill each other with tomatoes. Let them bring baseball bats, knives, even machetes — a mob can deal with that but with assault rifles that just point and shoot high velocity bullets into the flesh of people in a matter of seconds?
If the Sandy Hook Elementary principal had guns and if people in Colorado during the viewing of The Dark Knight had guns, couldn’t these shooters have been stopped?
A crowd of untrained people firing away in a chaotic arena with moving targets but without planning produces even more victims. Remember that the Principal of that school is not a trained peace officer. In fact, police and members of the National Guard and armed forces undergo hundreds of hours of training and real-time exercises to be able to master such situations. It is neither the job nor the obligation of regular layman and unarmed private citizens to possess the skills, training and expertise of SWAT teams and counter insurgency operators.
But people like Lanza and the Colorado shooter would get these weapons even if they were regulated
That is true. However, in case of strict regulation, the Colorado shooter, for example, wouldn’t have strolled down the road to Walmart and picked up guns and ammo with his pot roast and a gallon of milk. Regulated, such people would have had to go to illegal sources – sources that could possibly be traced, watched, overseen. Or they would have to go deeper online and those transactions could be monitored. “Hm, some guy in Aurora is buying guns, tons of ammo and kevlar – plus bomb-making ingredients and tear gas. Maybe we should check that out.” But that won’t happen as long as all that activity is legal and unrestricted.
Again, it is about accessibility. When guns are easily available, more of them float and lie around in society. Remember than Lanza’s mother obtained those assault rifles legally. Had she have to get them illegally, she probably would not even needed them because why would a citizen go through the trouble of getting assault rifles illegally if she wasn’t planning something?
The more of something is just there and available, the easier it is for people to get their hands on it and live out their impulses and pathologies.
But why can’t I own an assault rifle? What is so wrong with assault rifles in the hands of ordinary citizens anyway?
Guns are tools designed solely to kill. Assault rifles especially are designed to kill a large number of people in a short amount of time, due to their higher payload.
The AR-15 – which is a very popular and also preferred weapon of gun owners as well as the weapon the Newton shooter Adam Lanza used, is an assault rifle. An assault style weapon is used to kill more stuff, more fully, faster and from further away in order to achieve maximum lethality. Why do American citizens believe that they need to own such weapons of mass murder – unregulated and unhindered no less? Weapons obviously designed for combat because they do take down a large number of people in a short amount of time without having to reload. The AR-15 was the same rifle that James E. Holmes used in the carnage in Colorado.
Semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15, the civilian version of the military’s M-16 and M-4, are a logical choice for anyone whose goal is to kill a lot of people in a short time because of their ability to rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds. As a la abiding citizen there is no need for such weapons. In fact, those have no place in the hands of ordinary citizens in a civilized society. A single hand gun is enough to protect oneself. It should not be easier to own a gun than it is to own a car.
In order to hold a licence and own car one needs to take tests, meet health requirements, get insurance and renew the paperwork and registration every year.
How come tools designed to kill do not and should not require such measures? It is truly indefensible.
Military weapons belong in accountable hands, controlled hands and trained hands. They should not be in the hands of private citizens to be used against police, neighborhood intruders or people who don’t agree with them. These are the weapons that murderers acquire to wreak murder and mayhem on innocents. They are not the same as handguns to help homeowners protect themselves from intruders. They are not the same as hunting rifles or sporting rifles. These weapons are designed for harm and death on big scales.
What about the Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), where the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia?
Remember, this is the same ill informed court that ruled that corporations are people allowing unlimited political expenditures by corporations, thus effectively resulting in the creation of Super Pacs so that now corporations and those with money can influence the outcome of elections.
Don’t trsut everything the Court says unquestioned and as if it were populated by infallible beings.
As citizens of a democratic republic, we are required to critically assess the actions of the people making decisions on our behalf, which includes being critical about the decisions of law makers and legislators and not just accept everything at face value and without examining the evidence and other pertinent information in order to arrive at the right conclusion – whether that be agreeing with or disagreeing with a piece of legislation.
Also remember that faith in the Constitution is not the same thing as blindly trusting decision makers, including the Supreme Court, no questions asked.
In other words, the Supreme Court’s decision in this regard, much like Citizens United, is wrong, misguided and flawed. Remember the Supreme Court also once ruled that Jim Crow laws were perfectly legal.