The Commentary
The Gun Control debate.

Thursday, June 26, 2003  

I'm Glad This Has Stimulated You

I think I'm being quite pragmatic, myself.

I've got to ask a question, though. What do you think would happen if your fellow commuters were able to carry guns?

Indeed, a lot has changed since the Constitution was drafted, but the Second Amendment has not been repealed. Laws, in a society based on the rule of law, are supposed to mean something. A mechanism exists that allows us, if we feel it necessary, to change the Constitution, but no one has pursued that path. Instead, the effort has been to render the Second Amendment legally meaningless, and as ├╝ber-liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz has explained:

"Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the constitution by claiming it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a safety hazard don't see the danger of the big picture. They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use this same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like."
Now THAT's pragmatism. Dershowitz really doesn't like the Second Amendment, but at least he recognizes what it's there to protect.

You said:
I question whether you can wind back the clock by relaxing gun control laws. Besides, in the context of the present society in which we live, I believe that (re)introducing a largely unrestricted personal right to keep and bear arms would prove detrimental to society. I think it would create more problems than it would solve.
No offense, but I'm not really concerned about the right to arms as it pertains to England. My concern is the right to arms here. I'm not all that concerned about "winding back the clock" either. My position is largely "this far, no further," but I very much want the Federal government to apply the 14th Amendment and make gun laws uniform across the country. What is legal in Arizona should not be a felony in Chicago.

I wrote a rather long essay (big surprise) on my blog concerning what it is that I advocate. It's entitled "Is the Government Responsible for Your Protection?" Read and think on that, if you would.

Again, I want to break Tytler's cycle. I hope that breaking that cycle doesn't require Jefferson's periodic rebellions. I hope that what it requires is a reasoning, responsible citizenry - an anathema to governments that ever yearn to have more and more control over the citizens they are supposed to serve. I hope, fervently, that the instantaneous communications that the internet represents will be a force for providing that reasoning, responsible citizenry. So long as the citizenry is interested, involved, educated, and responsible, then society will be vibrant and healthy. Guns in the hands of the law-abiding citizens are nothing to fear. If the society becomes disconnected, apathetic, ignorant and irresponsible, disarming the people still willing to follow the law won't help. It just aids Tytler's descent into bondage.

posted by Kevin | 17:40

Wednesday, June 25, 2003  

I feel that we have two different viewpoints. that mine is more pragmatic, whereas yours is more theoretical. I look at my fellow commuters on the Tube in the morning and I imagine what would happen if each and every one were able to carry a gun, while you quote the Founding Fathers. I think a lot has changed since they drafted the Consititution and I suspect that, were Jefferson & Co. here today, they would be disgusted at how the American people have failed to keep the republic they created. Bennet may well be right, and "the distinctive difference between a free man and a slave is the right to possess arms", in which case we're all already slaves and focusing purely on the right to keep and bear arms is short-sighted and a distraction from the real issue.

I question whether you can wind back the clock by relaxing gun control laws. Besides, in the context of the present society in which we live, I believe that (re)introducing a largely unrestricted personal right to keep and bear arms would prove detrimental to society. I think it would create more problems than it would solve. Perhaps, however, that would be a good thing. Chaos and anarchy might lull the People into accepting a strong, right-wing leadership. Of course, it might lead to reliance (or dependence) upon such a leadership and, hence to dictatorship and bondage. We're back to Tytler's Cycle again!

Strangely enough, this debate has fired me off on all sorts of tangents about our culture, Tytler, globalisation and the implications of a global civilisation, republics and democracies.

posted by Jack | 17:38

Tuesday, June 24, 2003  

Banging My Head Against a Convenient Wall...

I can lead you to water, but cannot make you drink.

The enumeration of the Second Amendment was in the context of a militia. It protected the right to arms so as to ensure the possibility of a militia. Whether or not a militia actually exists is irrelevant - so long as the people retain the right to arms a militia is possible. Without an individual right to arms, a militia is impossible. Retaining the right to arms means that individuals have firearms not only for militia use, but also for hunting, target shooting, and self-protection.

The militia as envisioned by the Founders has, indeed, withered away, but it still comes back in times of need. The best examples I can point to are the ethnic Koreans forming armed groups to protect their people and property during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, and armed homeowners protecting themselves and their property against looters after Hurricane Andrew devastated the Miami area. They did what needed to be done when the official bodies would not or could not respond. This was the kind of behavior that the Founders expected "the People" to exhibit. I think I've illustrated (damned near exhaustively) that the only limitations considered as constitutional were limitations on carry, and - in a VERY limited, and unclear manner - on type. The one thing that has come through the judicial system has been that personal weapons of military usefulness are the weapons protected by the Second Amendment - i.e.: military rifles, carbines, and handguns. As a result, the right to arms can be expanded beyond these weapons (small, concealable handguns, for example) but it can't be narrowed - thus, because small, concealable handguns aren't considered "weapons of military usefulness" then regulation of them should be constitutional.

The problem is that there are people out there who want, for whatever reason, to disarm the law-abiding public - and that's not constitutional. England's seen this carried almost to conclusion. Australia is well on its way. Canada is proceeding down the slope. None of these nations has a Second Amendment. We do. We started off with the idea that some regulation was OK. After a few decades we had our eyes opened to the endgame being pursued. As a result, there are a lot of people (me among them) who now oppose all further restrictions - at least until the Supreme Court finds the right to be an individual one, and incorporates that right against infringement by the States.

Has America fallen ill? By Heinlein's definition, not yet. Particularism is gaining strength in the guise of "multiculturalism" and "inclusion," but the "domination of males over females" is a battle that ended a while back. The women won. We've not yet lost faith in the courts or police, but I think we as a culture put an unrealistic amount of faith in them. This was not always true. See, for example, Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principles. Specifically the seventh principle:

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Somewhere along the way "the police" became something other than "the public," and the "duties incumbent on every citizen" became "somebody else's problem." Taxation? Yes, ours is high, but Europe's is a lot higher. Inflation of currency? Inflation is a given. I'm not going to be concerned about it until it takes a wheelbarrow full of $100's to buy groceries. Violence? Other than homicides, our violent crime rate is lower than England's. That's not to say it's good but it really isn't anywhere near as bad as the newspapers make it out to be. This is not, for example, Haiti. Riots? Yes, that's a real concern. When a college team loses (or wins!) a national championship, and it leads to riots, looting, and arson, it's an indicator of real trouble. We don't have conscription and we've outlawed slavery, but we have compulsion in the form of taxation, and the "speedy trial" part has gone down the tubes. Personal rudeness? Among some youth, absolutely. Among adults, I have to withhold a decision. I haven't seen very much of that outside the political arena. Bad manners? Isn't that covered under "rudeness?"

I'm hopeful that we can break Tytler's cycle. All that it requires is an interested, educated populace. But that requires work. Wanting to speed up Tytler's cycle means that you want to see us descend once again into bondage. I won't go there. I think Churchill was right.

posted by Kevin | 18:58

The passages you quote regarding the militia only serve, I'm afraid, to further reinforce my belief that the enumeration and protection of the right to bear arms was in the context of a militia. It appears that the militia envisioned by the Founders has been either disestablished or allowed to wither away through apathy.

I accept that the original right which the Second Amendment enumerates was intended to allow people to defend themselves, but if you claim that as a justification for allowing people who have no involvement in a militia, to carry arms, then you must also accept that the original right came with caveats and limitations.

The fact that the government and courts have imposed limitations on the right to bear arms evinces their pragmatic approach to gun control, given the manner in which America has fallen ill.

I'm on the verge of becoming an anarchist, in order to speed up the Tytler cycle.

posted by Jack | 16:39