The Issues At Hand, #1 – The Second Amendment

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.

John Kerry, Idiot

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.

19 thoughts on “The Issues At Hand, #1 – The Second Amendment”

  1. 1) Can we call it “The Issues at Arm?”

    2) So you are saying no one should have the right to own a gun under any circumstance?

    3)I feel like you forgot about the midwest and pretty much anyone very rural.

    4)Is a hunting rifle that bad? People shouldn’t be playing big buck hunter with an AK or Cougar Magnum, but if some redneck wants to rub musk on his balls and hide in a tree for 36 hours, in a designated hunting area, then a reasonable caliber, single shot rifle, sold with a proper lock seems ok in some traditional sense.

  2. 1) No.
    2) Not unless they are a member of a state/federal organization. This would include forest services, animal control, cops, ATF, etc… it’s a sacrifice that’s worth it. Gun licensing has taught us that it does not work. There are too many loopholes in the legal sense and you can’t regulate who gets a gun once they come into the hands of the public. If I have a legit license and some thug offers me 10000 dollars for my arsenal, who’s watching? No one, until someone gets shot.
    3) It’s true, I’m unfair to southerners. I didn’t mean to exclude any other rural folk.
    4) See #2.

  3. Very funny article. You’re arguments show a profound lack of knowledge of the subjects you rant about but funny none the less.

  4. Over 25% of Americans own guns and they don’t care what you think. They like them and they want to keep them. Guns are a minor issue. If you break down the stats there is a case to be made on either side. If you make guns illegal, only criminals have guns. If you make them legal, proliferation will certainly mean more gun-related deaths. Gun laws right now are moderate and rely heavily on state and local laws. That is the way things will remain for a long time. I think this is a tier 2 issue, and a red-herring used by both parties to ‘distinguish’ themselves from the other.
    Addressing your points more specifically:
    1. I disagree with your assertion that guns aren’t useful. If communities organized neighborhood watches, they’d be less need for ineffective policing and more individual freedom.
    2. Better safe than sorry.
    3. If you make guns illegal, only criminals have guns.
    4. Hunting is a sport that finances the preservation of much of the America’s forests, etc.
    5. I disagree. Guns ownership is about more than ‘protection.’ It’s also about empowerment. The founding fathers were very much interested in empowering the citizenry because a weak citizenry is easy victim to an abusive government.

  5. Re: Patrick

    A profound lack of knowledge? I’d love to hear more about why. I’ve found that people who say “you’re wrong,” but have no argument themselves usually don’t know why they hold their own position. I wrote this article to spark discussion. And yes, I am funny.

    Re: Walther

    First of all, I’m not disarming private security companies or the police. I honestly can’t think of a situation that would be improved by having a gun on me. Let’s say someone breaks in to my house. What do you think would be a better alternative: owning a gun that I would have to brandish on this person, or having a security system that calls the police immediately? Both are about the same price, am I really safer if I threaten someone else who may themselves be armed? You may be thinking, they are going to hurt you anyway, but this isn’t true. The vast majority of times home invasions are completely non-violent. In fact, what increases the odds of having that home invasion turn violent is if the homeowner possesses a gun. Moreover, you are many times more likely to shoot a family member than an intruder because of the mentality of violence that you have once a gun is in your home. The idea that you can hold your ground by force only increases the tendency to use violence, in defense and in general. Furthermore, I don’t care that local and state laws allow guns, this is only because the United States Supreme Court has not struck down Second Amendment protections. Jim Crow laws were heavily state and local – not anymore. Saying “but that’s how it is” is not an argument, and if it is, it’s a reactionary one. Political theory is the realm of what is and what should be, with emphasis on the latter, not the former. I don’t believe that this is a Tier 2 issue, because it is a core value of social conservatives and because I believe that this protection ensures the survival of the culture of violence in this country. You may think that having guns at home in no way influences using guns abroad, but that simply does not appear to be the case. Do you think that if the vast majority of soldiers who volunteered to fight in Iraq prior to the conflict would have done so if they had no experience at home using weapons their whole lives? I’m not sure, but there is only a risk that I’m right. I don’t like taking risks with conflicts that kill tens of thousands of people.

    1. Are you seriously suggesting that communities arm themselves and take the law into their own hands? I don’t like the police much either, but this is not a solution. Better monitoring and regulation by federal authorities and citizens alike will solve our policing problems – not putting guns in Grandma’s hands. I don’t equate “individual freedom” with being able to shoot people who are threatening.
    2. No – it’s not. That’s the whole point. Having guns vastly increases all of the risks you are trying to avoid by having guns. See above.
    3. This is a ridiculous claim and its logic fueled the arms race in the Cold War. Just substitute the word “nuclear weapons” for “guns” and “Communists” for “criminals”. If the problem is that criminals have guns, and they get those guns illegally from people who acquire them legally, then please explain how keeping guns out of the hands of legal purchasers would not help to solve the problem. Moreover, see the above argument about shooting your own family by mistake. Read the statistics man.
    4. This may be true – and a point worth making at exception for. But I’m not totally sold. I think that it would be entirely possible to just give weapons to the Forestry Service and Animal Control. “Volunteers” i.e. hunters could then have the right to use those weapons in the preservation of the populations of forest animals. These volunteer licenses would still finance the preservation of forests, without giving guns to people.
    5. This is exactly what I was talking about before. “Empowerment” is a synonym for violent thought. I think that if people spent less time thinking that their guns made them strong and more time participating in local and federal government, then there would be a much better off America by now. The founding fathers, not to speak the great insult, were just some dudes; dudes who lived 300 hundred years ago. From what I’ve deduced, 300 year old white guys are usually wrong about a lot of shit – like slavery for instance. And racism in general. And health care. And federal services for the poor. Should I continue? The fact of the matter is that “it’s history!” is not a justification for anything, but a shield to keep things in place the way they are because people are afraid of change. What is the abusive government of which you speak? If you define abusive as what the Bush administration was to our civil liberties, please explain in a detailed scenario how having a gun helped/would help that situation. Seriously – think about it. If by abusive you mean that Uncle Sam is coming with guns blazing, then see the above article. We don’t stand a chance and it’s not worth it, because it’s completely improbable.

    Anyone else want to weigh in on this? I still haven’t heard a good argument.

  6. University of California – San Francisco Medical and Ethics Professor on Guns:

    Study conducted by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health:

    Minnesota Statistics on Gun Ownership in the Home:{0D44C5F1-C425-4ACA-B209-0D51F4F97474}&DE={CBC8379A-D930-4B9D-95EF-05BDDD5A099E}

    Department of Justice Statistics on Guns:

    I can find dozens of studies if the gun-people would like me to.

  7. 32% of Americans support banning hand guns. (

    You have a lot of work to do.

    In the meantime, I suggest we debate when life begins: conception…birth? I don’t think that issue has been talked about enough.

    Seriously though, if political theory is about ‘what is and what should be’ then political practice is about what CAN be. It’s my belief that this country will become increasingly dependent on an increasingly inefficient and corrupt federal government unless the freedom loving people on the right (libertarians) and the freedom loving people on the left (social liberals) get together and do something about it. Gun control is one of the few issues that keep these two groups from joining forces (that and lots of semantics.) We need a compromise over gun control so we can move onto more important issues like creating a better education system, responsibly dismantling the American empire, getting every American health care, simplifying the tax code, creating a more transparent government, ending the war on drugs, etc.

  8. Don’t you believe it to be a specious claim to say ‘This is (or isn’t) what the Founding Fathers intended’?

    For instance, take etymological differences alone. Some words whose contemporary meaning appears clear to us signified entirely different concepts or ideas circa 1800. As an example, ‘pursuit’ is usually construed as a verb by most Americans today, but it was commonly used as a noun in 1791. That is, my pursuit (profession) is the law. One could easily imagine that these linguistic idiosyncrasies
    extend to the 2nd Amendment as well…so why argue them?

    In other words, do you think the most effective argument against the right to own a gun is the ‘Founders Intent’ route?

  9. Re: Walther

    That was a very intelligent way of changing the subject. You’re not wrong, you’ve just abandoned the debate. Like I said, I was engaging in political theory. Pragmatism, which you call “political practice”, is certainly important and a large part of law-making. That said, however, I was simply trying to demonstrate that the 2nd Amendment is important to talk about, because there are ramifications that extend beyond the person who uses the gun at a shooting range. (See above comment)

    Political practice is kind of like running on a treadmill. You run really fast, do a lot of work, and get fucking nowhere quickly. I’m not writing here to convince Republican Congressmen to change their votes; I’m writing here to get regular people to change their minds. That is communicative action, and I’m going to agree with Habermas’ contention that maximizing it is the only way to balance our power against the administration. (See “A Theory of Communicative Action” and “Between Facts and Norms”).

    As for “uniting freedom-loving people”, I’m on board that ship already. I do think, however, that gun control is a key issue dividing libertarians and social liberals, not a semantic one. It highlights that libertarians are individualists to the end, while social liberals are at least attempting to construct a community. This is highly politically ironic, because “republican” is supposed to mean that you’re in favor of community organized politics, and liberal is supposed to mean “rights individualist”. I guess it shows that political labels like the two we just used are pretty irrelevant and unhelpful. What matters are the issues and the candidates, which, you point out, there are several more of.

    Good news for you, and everyone, I’m going to write about them next! I look forward to you dodging all of my arguments in the near future.

    Re: Daedalus

    First, I very much think that the “Founding Fathers” argument is somewhat of a waste of time. As I said above, they were just guys with some amazing ideas and some particularly bad ones as well. I bring the Founding Fathers argument up at all, because I have found it to be a serious talking point among conservatives who defend gun ownership. This was the purpose of my “history-defunct” argument in the original article. Indeed, the Founder’s Intent argument is not the most effective, but that’s why I have a bunch of other arguments too.

    As for words, yes, they do change meaning. I use the text of the 2nd Amendment, because it is a static-textual part of our constitution. Although I’m not sure anyone is arguing over “linguistic idiosyncrasies” above. In any case, I’m pretty sure that “pursuit” is a noun regardless of whether it takes a genitive (pursuit “of X”) or is a direct object (This is a pursuit.) Pursuit has never been a verb, unless of course you’re referring to a Bushism along the lines of “I’m pursuiting them Iraqis.”

  10. While we both know you’re being disingenuous and coy, I should have been clearer. “To pursue HAPPINESS” – our understanding – and “My PURSUIT(profession) of happiness” read: preferred occupation – an alternative understanding – are two separate interpretations of the same phrase. Undoubtedly, this extends to other parts of the document. But it is also peripheral to the main point, which is: rather than rebutting the Republican’s views using their own method of argument, why not attack or destroy the fundamental assumptions of their method (One, transhistorical intent)?

    In any case, let’s move onto more important issues like why Republicans are crazy.

  11. Even worse than being “history defunct,” the Second Amendment never ever had the purposes opined by today’s typical super-conservatives.

    Whatever the inherent right of individuals may be to arms for personal self-defense, hunting, or insurrection, that is not what the Second Amendment addresses. The Second Amendment was written to protect the continued right of the people to keep and bear arms as common security through a well regulated militia.

    Two commonly used phrases in the era of the Founders were the idiomatic expressions “capable of bearing arms” and “able to bear arms.” Both were synonyms for “capable of military service.” It would have been strange indeed for the framers of the Second Amendment to have guaranteed a right to bear arms to an individual not capable of bearing arms. Nor is it at all likely that they would have concerned themselves with the possible infringement by the federal government of a right to keep arms for individuals not capable of bearing arms.

    During the War of 1812, James Monroe, who was Madison’s Secretary of War, described for Congress the right of citizens to a common defense:

    “The Commonwealth has a right to the service of all its citizens, or rather, the citizens composing the Commonwealth have a right collectively and individually to the service of each other, to repel any danger which may be menaced.” (James Monroe, Secretary of War, report to the House, Annals of Congress, October 17, 1814)

    The manner in which such mutual service is carried out, Monroe wrote, is “an object of legislation,” and the militia was a “striking example.” As to the possible abuse of power under such a system, he added, “happily our Constitution has provided ample security against that evil.”

    That constitutional security was undoubtedly the Second Amendment.

  12. From the moral perspective, isn’t the power to end someone’s life just by moving your index finger a quarter of an inch too much to put in any one citizen’s hand (especially since the citizens drawn to these toys tend to be from the South)? I just don’t understand the pro-gun people unless their fear is that the government will start trimming down other Bill of Right’s rights as well but liberals are more supportive of the rest of them. But also FYI, in armed robberies as a victim you’re more likely to be killed if you have a gun than if you don’t have one. In summary…


  13. Hi Cerebral Assassin,
    I might be a neighbor of yours, if not someone very like me probably is a neighbor. I have owned firearms all my adult life. No one of those firearms has, accidently or purposefully taken a life. There are tens of millions of firearms in the united states. The vast majority have never, accidently or purposefully taken a life or even injured anyone for that matter. If you are a citizen of the United states and have voted for a president elected into office in the last 25 years, you have, with a “quarter inch” flick of a finger, voted in someone who has killed people on your behalf. Was that too much power to grant to you?

  14. Re: Patrick

    As glad as I am that you haven’t killed anyone, I’m not sure you understand the argument that Cerebral Assassin is making. His point is that firearms have the potential to end a life in such a quick fashion that, from a moral perspective, why should people be allowed to own them? I strongly suggest you read the statistics that I posted above to further understand his concerns. What if your home was broken into and someone stole those weapons? What if someone in your family was depressed and decided to take your weapons and use them to end their own life or the lives of others? Gun cabinets and gun locks are simply not enough to prevent access to them, because of family members who are familiar with these safety precautions. These fears are not unfounded – just last week a man in Washington state killed six people, including a police officer, because of a mental illness that he developed. Even if only one in a hundred guns is used to kill someone, is that worth it? Honestly ask yourself, why do I need these weapons? I was once a member of the NRA and owned guns myself. After some honest thought about the situation, I had the weapons destroyed. Unless there is a very clear and present danger to you and your well-being, which I cannot imagine there is, you too should reconsider your possession of firearms.
    As for your contention that every president for the last quarter century has killed people – you are correct that their use of violence is questionable. However, the use of force in the name of self-defense by the leader of a country is precisely the kind of power that is legitimate, as opposed to the private ownership of firearms. The police and the military, under the guise of the President, should have the authority to stop innocent lives from being taken by the use of deadly force. What we are objecting to is the ability of everyday people to have that same power without any of the oversight that exists to regulate state power. If you have weapons because your parents owned them, and their parents before that, like me, I understand your reluctance to surrender those arms, particularly if you enjoy practice shooting or hunting. But is the joy of using a weapon really worth the risk of someone being killed? That is the question at hand – is the ability to have a little (or a lot) of fun more important than the safety of our communities? I think not.

  15. Hi Anthony,
    I am also very happy that I haven’t had to kill anyone, or even injure them for that matter, that is perhaps the only thing we have in common. I would like to think I understood the core of Cerebral Assassin’s point “GUNS ARE FUCKING NUTS ARE YOU KIDDING ME WHY THE FUCK WOULD ANY DECENT PERSON EVER NEED A GUN????? seems fairly straight forward. You list a number of “what if” scenarios, we could engage in speculation for a protracted period without readching any mutually agreeable conclusion. I have honestly asked myself the question “why do I need these weapons”. Sadly this is why we will not see eye to eye on this issue. The scale of firearms ownership in the US might be difficult for you to conceptualize. The most frequent estimates given have been 200 million firearms in the United States (Gabor, 1994, p.12; Spitzer, 1995, p.7) you can see how your “only one in a hundred guns is used to kill someone” statement demonstrates your lack of perspective. We’d be talking about 2 million deaths rather than thirty one thousand. Here are a few more statistics to consider.. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists some interesting statistics for deaths in 2005, the last year they could use for proper statistics, according to their Web site.
    Of the nearly 31,000 gun-related deaths in 2005, about 55.4 percent were suicide, 2.6 percent were accidents, 1.1 percent were legal intervention and 0.7 percent were undetermined. This means 40.2 percent or roughly 12,400 people were murdered with guns.
    In the same year, roughly 42,212 people died from motor vehicle crashes. About 16,885 people died from alcohol-related crashes, which is about 39 percent. About 18 percent were drug-related motor vehicle crashes.
    More people died in cars than from guns. More people died due to drunken driving than homicides where firearms are used.
    We have banned drugs and it still accounts for 7,793 percent of fatal vehicle accidents. We outlawed drinking alcohol and driving, yet it accounted for 16,885 people dying unnecessarily. Combined, drugs and alcohol led to 24,678 people dying.
    Law enforcement arrested 1.4 million people for drunken driving that year and still 24,678 people died connect to crashes involving drugs and alcohol.
    People dying from a firearm used in a homicide – 12,400.
    There are (depending upon which source you are using) anywhere from 80,000 to 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms annually in America. Over 57% of those defenses are done with handguns. With 80,000 defenses, that’s about 45,600 defensive uses of handguns. With 2.5 milliion defenses, that’s 1,250,000 defensive uses of handguns. In 98% of the cases the defender does NOT have to fire his/her gun.
    Finally, The Second Amendment role in the United States is to re-enforce the fact that the Citizen is Supreme Authority and that this authority is backed by lethal force. This is 2A, plain and simple. Through Just Powers, the monopoly on force rises from the citizenry to officials as we see fit, and not the other way around. This is why someone cannot have a credible opinion against guns per se – it would be to oppose one’s own authority as a citizen, perhaps even to surrender it. That’s not very credible, is it? (One may elect not to own a gun, personally of course, but may not ban weapons of others and thereby opposing the very force which backs their authority as much as his own. It would be to speak out of ignorance. The right is among the inalienable rights, and one may not interfere with (infringe) the lawful, lethal force backing our very own authority, which is superior to that which we give our civil servants.) This has been an interesting conversation, I will enjoy reading your replies. Regards, Patrick

  16. Patrick,

    I appreciate that you took the time to justify your argument with statistics, but you’re missing both the moral contentions of my argument as well as the logical.

    First, your argument that more people die in car crashes related to intoxication is not relevant. I agree that more people die from automobile accidents than from the use of guns, but that is not logical argumentation. Just because one bad thing happens does not mean that we should ignore another. The fact of the matter is that driving a car is probably not that great and neither is owning a gun. Just because that’s the way things are doesn’t mean we should continue to do it. Since the advent of the DUI, fatalities from drinking and driving have decreased markedly. In other words, we saw that too many people were dying from car accidents, regulated driving by instituting blood-alcohol limitations, and the problem got better. I am arguing the same thing would happen with gun ownership and violent death.

    Second, as to your statistics claiming that there were between 80,000 and 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms, they are extremely questionable. The range of 80,000 to 2.5 million is too great to be credible – how could the numbers be off by as much as 2.42 million, which is 97% of your statistic claim, and even be brought into the discussion? Where are you getting these numbers from, they don’t appear to be legitimate from a statistical perspective. You do cite the lower number, in fairness to you. That being said, are these numbers including police operations or just civilians? Even if this number is an accurate account of only civilian uses, federal statistics show that if you present a firearm in a “defense” situation, you are much more likely to be killed by the “offender”. Also, was the use of a gun in a defensive situation really that necessary? If someone broke into my house, does holding them at gunpoint instead of letting them take my things really justify the use of all guns? Shouldn’t we just put all that money towards the police or a private security system? The over 12,000 people killed by guns would probably think so. Not to be coldly statistical, but less people would probably die in home invasions if there were no guns than the number of people shot each year. The vast majority of home invasions occur when no one is there anyway – that’s usually the point of the home invasion. The ones that do occur when people are there, usually no one is harmed. If they are harmed, then they were confronted with a risk that was probably unavoidable. If someone is brazen enough to attack you in your home, then someone somewhere would have eventually been hurt by them. My point in all of these examples is to demonstrate that less people would die if Americans were without guns than with guns. And isn’t that the point of law and politics? To protect and serve the most people it can without infringing on the rights of the others?

    Finally, I agree that the citizenry is the supreme authority (ideally) in the United States government. I disagree, however, that private citizens should have the right to kill other citizens. Who has the authority between two supreme authorities? No one – that is why the government exists. I certainly don’t revoke my rights just because I choose not to own a gun, I still vote and donate money to political campaigns. I still voice my opinion to other citizens. This is the essence of my power as a citizen, to be able to persuade others using language to take my point of view. You say that I still do not have the right to take away the guns of others. Congress doesn’t let people have rocket launchers or tanks, why are guns any different? As long as legislation is democratic, I have no objection to it. Clearly, right now, there are not enough people in favor of banning guns for it to happen. That’s okay. I am, however, writing about it in the hopes of convincing others to change their stance on guns so that, democratically, they can be banned in most instances. I don’t think there is anything inalienable about gun ownership just because it was written into the Constitution. The Constitution has been changed before, and it can change again (was Prohibition inalienable?). Like I said earlier, if people put less faith into their guns, and more into their local government, guns probably wouldn’t be necessary at all.

  17. I just found the Florida State University research study you are quoting, and it does appear to be at least somewhat legitimate. The discussion, which I assume you found through Google like me, continues to the bottom of the page and cites a Duke University professor who says the number is probably just north of 100,000. The FSU study has been criticized a great deal for its non-scientific nature, but for the time being lets pretend that it is accurate.

    Would defensive gun uses be necessary if the criminals didn’t have guns either? Can you defend yourself without a gun? Looks like strong support for having a big knife.

  18. Hi Anthony,
    In the context of examining a practice based on the risk involved I believe that driving and possessing a firearm can be compared. Perhaps we could compare the fatality rates of firearm ownership versus being admitted into a hospital. 🙂 True just because one bad thing happens does not mean that we should ignore the rest. However my point was, we live in a world where bad things happen, you can’t choose to avoid living in that world just because bad things occur. You also cannot legislate all bad things out of the world.
    I also pulled data from a 1997 Department of Justice study found here The section regarding defensive use of firearms is very interesting. It too quotes the number of 108K, it’s a telling comment that they refer to this number equating to a “rare event” if you agree with that statement then you must also agree that 31K firearm related deaths of which 13K were non suicide as an even more rare event.
    The foundation of all government is the threat of force. Even in a democratic republic such as ours, that rule applies. Obey societies’ rules or be punished. The difference is that You and I are the government. People seems to forget that, a dangerous habit for any government of the people, I am sure you agree. The supreme court has already determined that the police have no responsibility to protect private citizens. In reality having a police force large enough to protect 250 million people would be truly a police state in the most literal sense. Needless to say a police force large enough to confiscate 200+ million firearms would be equally frightening.
    Anthony, please forgive me, I couldn’t let this one pass.. You state “Congress doesn’t let people have rocket launchers or tanks, why are guns any different?” that is of course wrong, it is perfectly legal to own rocket launchers and tanks, not to mention jet fighters, and cruise missile submarines. A simple federal tax stamp and background check are all that’s needed. There are even regular social events where you can take your automatic cannon or heavy machine gun and shoot up cars just for fun. 🙂 Here are a few examples available now: and included a collection of armored military vehicles, including a missile launcher with Hawk Missile (currently non operational) and at the bottom is a cannon for sale in the U.S. now I am not saying any of this is cheap but if you can afford your own cruise missile sub and are inclined to do so, you may with the “blessings” of your federal government. 🙂
    Yes you (along with other like minded individuals) can have an amendment added that will prohibit the ownership of firearms. However as you point out “was Prohibition inalienable?” it won’t work because unlike the consumption of alcohol, the right of the people to be armed shall not be infringed. Prohibition also points out the flaws in legislating human behavior, smugglers become rich and organized crime flourishes in that environment. The difference being that in this case the people you want to disarm will also have far greater legal precedent for retaining their arms in spite of the amendment than any bootlegger ever had producing illegal alcohol.
    If the world were gun free then perhaps no one would need a gun. 8 years of high school and college fencing I suppose would allow me to defend myself without a gun, would you bring a knife to a sword fight? 🙂 Seriously Knives at 20 feet or less are incredibly damaging and very lethal. I would prefer to avoid all fights whenever possible. When I was training for my concealed carry permit the one thing they drummed into us over and over was retreat is always the first step. Thanks for the replies Anthony. This has been a very stimulating conversation and I appreciate it. Regards, Patrick

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