As much as I enjoy reading every pundit say this and that about Barack Obama and John McCain, I think that it would be much more productive to actually address specific issues. I don’t really care whose baby Sarah Barracuda’s daughter is having, unless of course it is Alf’s. As much of a head rush I get from listening to Barack Obama speak, what is the point of agreeing with someone because they are charismatic? That seems to me to be a dangerous method for making decisions and quite similar to the herd-mentality embraced by Republicans that us so-called Liberals decry. That is why I am launching an ongoing column, in many parts, called “The Issues At Hand”. Today, I’m going to analyze what appears for some reason to be a continued talking point in the presidential election – the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Conservatives that compose the “base” of the Republican Party seem extremely intent on continuing to possess firearms, while Democrats have pointed out that guns are for shooting people. I have chosen this issue first, because, in my opinion, it isn’t very difficult to poke fun at.
This is the full text of 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.”
Talking Point #1: “Guns are important because they allow me to defend myself from a possible dictatorship.”
I have bad news for anyone who thinks that having an assault rifle or grenade launcher is going to the stop an aggressive American federal government. They have these things. One is called the Air Force, the other is called the Navy. As much power as you feel from gripping your sweaty Republican hands against some American Steel, at this point there is simply no way of ever standing up to the US military. This is a lost cause.
More importantly, any scenario where the US government “comes after” its citizens either collectively or in part is well beyond highly improbable. When I say “comes after”, I mean anything that would warrant opening fire on them as they come tanking down Cherry Street to your lovely home. Let’s say they have some completely unjust reason to pursue you, like being “X” minority. Is the general idea that you’re going to start killing federal marshalls until they leave you alone? Wouldn’t it be better just to get arrested and let the other citizens of the country try to save you? Even if a 1984 state comes to power, it could only happen with the support of the citizenry of the United States. As a democratic state, if crazy people take office, it’s because we put them there. It’s almost like this is some huge catch-22: “I need to protect myself from crazy government officials with a gun, but the only way I can keep having a gun is to vote for crazy government officials. Fuck!” So, short of everyone democratically deciding to hunt your ass down, having a gun isn’t going to save you from any action brought by the federal government. Stop deluding yourself. Even under the guise of a “state’s rights” argument, this is ludicrous. I’d love to see the Texas Air Force compete with the US Air Force. What would that last, like five minutes? To those of you who might be saying, “Well, doesn’t that mean we should just arm our states more?” To which I reply, (1) with what money, (2) we’ll still lose, and (3) internal arms races have not historically proven helpful at keeping a state unified. The text shown above only appears to support the maintenance of “state militias”. If you want to join the National Guard, I think that is what the Second Amendment protects. But having an AR-17 in your closet is not a “state militia”.
Talking Point #2: “I have a gun to protect me from when the Russians/Chinese/aliens invade!”
Yeah, that’s how it’s going to go down. The Russo-Sino-ETs are going to land their ships on the coasts and start pouring in. Then it will be every person for themselves as martial law grips the country and one man must save America using only his wits, a gun, and some dental floss. I don’t think so MacGuyver. Remember that military we have? I think that they can handle it. If you honestly think there is a probability that they cannot, don’t you think that in that situation the feds would just start handing out weapons to everyone? If we had a draft for a proxy war in Vietnam, can you imagine what would happen if the US was actually on the brink of falling to a foreign state? I think it would be a credible assumption to say that the military would get us involved if they thought they had to.
Talking Point #3: “I have a gun for self-defense from criminals.”
This is a slightly more compelling argument, but only because the last two involved the US military attacking its citizens and alien invasions. Every study ever done has shown that the only person you’re likely to shoot is a member of your family. Carrying a Derringer in your purse isn’t going to help you get out of a sticky situation anyway. Unless you have a serious Annie Oakley complex, drawing on someone in the street doesn’t seem like a safer option. The conservatives reply, “That’s why we train at shooting ranges.” I have a better idea, become a police officer. From what I’ve seen, it’s not that hard to get in.
Talking Point #4: “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAW!!!! Hunt me up some animals.”
This final point is what I believe all of this to really be about. People like guns because you can use them to shoot a twelve-point buck with a forty odd scope at two hundred yards. This right to hunt animals, however, clearly falls into that category of “not fucking important at all unless you’re an egomaniac” category. Could it be fun? Sure. Are there positive benefits to hunting? Sure. Do these pros outweigh any of the cons? Absolutely not. There is simply no need to have guns available to the general population for hunting. As for “keeping populations in check”, volunteer for the Forestry Service.
Final Talking Point: This is not what the Founding Fathers intended.
This is the most “history-defunct” Amendment to the Constitution. I say “history-defunct” because the Second Amendment is the perfect example of something that used to be important, then lost its necessity and became a burden. Two hundred years ago, when the Britons were all up in our shit – i.e. the War of 1812 – the Second Amendment looked pretty damn compelling. One hundred and fifty years ago, when white Southerners tried to secede to maintain slavery – the Second Amendment made sense (wait, aren’t most pro-gun advocates white Southerners?). Since then, however, a few things have happened. Like planes. And nuclear deterrence. Not to mention that the unified nature of the US government has made state militias irrelevant anyway. The Founding Fathers wanted America to survive in the face of violence. Guns allow you to do that. That is, however, what the military and police are for.