AN ODD, OFF-THE-WALL, MEANDERING THOUGHT — 22 FEBRUARY 2018

Assassination of William McKinley in 1901; McKinley died eight days later from his wounds. (from here)

Why do some people want to “control” guns? What do they think gun control is? What some want to do is prevent gun violence. To prevent violence by guns, they want to ban the manufacture of firearms, the selling of firearms to the public, and the private ownership of firearms. What is gun control carried to its logical extreme? To prevent violence by guns, we would exterminate all those evil guns.

What is the thought process? Let’s start with the Second Amendment.

Amendment II

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.

When the Second Amendment first went into effect, the Second Amendment was solely a prohibition upon the Federal Government. If there was to be any gun control, the states were responsible, not the Federal Government.

What confused matters? The context changed over time. After the Civil War, we amended our Constitution. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited states from depriving citizens of their rights.

AMENDMENT XIV, Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Whereas before the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment it was clear that the Federal Government had no business infringing upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms, that only states had the authority to regulate such matters, because the context had changed, the intent of the Second Amendment was no longer clear. All our rights require some limits, some regulation, but the Second Amendment was designed to thwart any regulation by the Federal Government, to leave the matter to State control. Yet all rights have some limits, must be regulated to some extent.

So now we have to more carefully define what is meant by the right to bear arms. Usually gun control activists want to focus the debate on this part of the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. What the gun control advocates wish to ignore is the second part: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. At the time the Constitution was written, the Federal Government did not exist. Citizens gave their first loyalty to their respective States, and those citizens understood that their State’s ability to defend itself from an out-of-control Federal Government depended upon their right to bear arms. Has that actually changed?

As citizens, do we still have a right and the responsibility to defend ourselves? If you believe guns cause violence — that they exist only to kill people — then the apparent lack of clarity in the Second Amendment provides an opening. These days militia members no longer bring their own guns when their militias gather for drill and practice. The government provides all their arms and keeps those arms when they go home. So gun control activists say the Second Amendment does not give citizens the right to bear arms. Then they precede to argue that our safety from those violent guns demands their prohibition.

If what gun control activists say is true, then we ought to ban government. Government exists to make people do what they don’t want to do. In fact, that is the ONLY REASON government exists, and governments use more guns — more weapons designed for no other purpose except killing people — than any other institution. So if we are going to ban gun violence, we may as well ban government violence.

Of course, if we banned government violence, we would have a problem. Without a government to enforce the ban on government violence, who would enforce the ban on government? Similarly, if we banned all the weapons that our government uses to make law breakers behave themselves, how would government protect our rights? The only people with weapons would be those who were willing to break the law and bully people with guns.

Sometimes we need to set aside our emotions, define the problem, and just work on practical solutions instead of childish ones. Here is a bereaved father who suggests just that.

Here is the longer version with statements from others.

Are guns evil? Or is the person who controls the gun good or evil? Is government evil? Or are the people who control the government good or evil? Are we trying to control evil people who bear tools of destruction or eradicate all tools that can be misused to kill the innocent?

78 thoughts on “AN ODD, OFF-THE-WALL, MEANDERING THOUGHT — 22 FEBRUARY 2018

  1. “But that’s just me. My opinion doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn anymore than anyone else’s; we vent in blogs for therapy against the absurd.”

    I like that. So true.

    I’ve always been facinated by survivalists. These are the folks who spend much of their time and money preparing for the apocalypse. Some of the pilots I knew (especially the Anchorage based ones) were survivalists to some degree or another. I read an article about the basic survivalist plan.

    Essentially, they stay prepared to hole up in their home for a month or so until things calm down enough to bug out to the cabin in the woods where they have everything they need (food, guns, ammo, seeds, etc.) to survive indefinitely and presumably to rebuild civilization from the ashes.

    That’s fine. Everybody needs a hobby and people should be free to do anything they want if they aren’t hurting anyone else. However, from a cost benefit analysis, it makes more sense to do something more enjoyable with your time and resources.

    What if the apocalypse comes in the form of a plague? As pilots, we are the ones most likely to spread and bring diseases home to our families.

    What if the apocalypse comes in a way that we expect, but not until we are too old and decrepit to survive long anyway. What if comes the week after we die from other causes? The survivalist is basically betting a lot of time and money on a long shot – the hope that death and destruction will come at the right time and in the right categories that he actually planned for.

    Another problem is what to do even if things go as planned. What happens when hundreds of refugees, many of them women and children, show up at the cabin wounded and starving? Do you share until you have nothing left or do you just shoot them to save yourself? What kind of a world have you created?

    And no matter how tough one thinks he is, when anarchy reigns, the toughest, most blood thirsty individuals rise to the top. If some navy seal wants what you have in order for his family to survive, tough as you may think you are, you wouldn’t want to be the guy trying to stop him.

    Figuring the odds, the costs, and the likelihood of real benefit, wouldn’t the survivalist be better off to spend their time and money preventing the apocalypse rather than preparing for it?

    The reason that I bring this up is because the fear that drives the survivalist is similar to the fear that drives this school security debate. However, unlike the individual survivalist, we are talking about actions as a community that need to be rationally governed based upon the threat, the costs and the benefit so that scarce societal resources are spent most effectively to prevent the problem rather than to just react to it. Im no expert, but the idea of arming and training hundreds of thousands of school teachers sounds irrationally out of whack to the threat, and it seems fraught with unintended consequences. Does it surprise you, however, that those lobbying to sell more guns and the politicians that they have bought and paid for have this as their favorite solution?

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    1. A while back I saw the cover of one of those survivalist magazines. A couple of people in full-up chem gear, with masks. The world around them was a barren wasteland. My immediate thought was…why on earth would anyone want to survive in THAT?!?
      I’ll offer a reading suggestion though: One Second After.
      That book has made for a lot of survivalists. It’s about an EMP attack. A neighbor lent it to me and I read it and told my husband it was a good book so he took it on a trip. That was probably a mistake because he is now a survivalist too. On the bright side, we’re pretty set if a hurricane hits.

      “The reason that I bring this up is because the fear that drives the survivalist is similar to the fear that drives this school security debate. However, unlike the individual survivalist, we are talking about actions as a community that need to be rationally governed based upon the threat, the costs and the benefit so that scarce societal resources are spent most effectively to prevent the problem rather than to just react to it. Im no expert, but the idea of arming and training hundreds of thousands of school teachers sounds irrationally out of whack to the threat, and it seems fraught with unintended consequences. Does it surprise you, however, that those lobbying to sell more guns and the politicians that they have bought and paid for have this as their favorite solution?”

      That’s a fair point. But if you google “shooting” right now do you think you’ll get more hits for “training teachers in firearms” or…something about gun control? Let’s see…I’ll open another window now and just see what hits I get. Keep in mind, the bots know I’m a firearms person (the whole family shares this computer), so they should give me more hits to fit our family’s profile….

      Well, the first couple of hits are about the armed deputy that stood outside. Next it talks about the governor raising the minimum age to buy guns. It talks about how the police were warned about Cruz…lots of stories about that.
      Four pages into a google search and still nothing about arming teachers. I agree there’s a lot of fear and irrationality here, but I don’t think you’re pointing to the main culprits. In fact, overall homicide is pretty low in the US by comparison to the past decades. But you’d never know it to watch the news.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On the subject of concealed carry, I’m less enthused with the idea for teachers (though I do think if they are trained they should have the option), but I think bringing concealed carry to military installations was a good idea. We’ll see if it makes a difference…so far (huge knock on wood) we haven’t had to find out. Or maybe that is the test. Perhaps it is a deterrent. Time will tell.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I understood that overall violence has been down trending as well. This seems to be cyclical and I’m not sure why. When it trends up we think things need fixing.. when the trend goes down we assume something is working. I’m not all that sold that these trends one way or the other are not just social or political cyclical adjustments, or a response to economic and/or demographic shifts.

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        2. Okay, Doug….I agree there are reasons for variables but certainly statistics must mean something?!? If we’re going to blame firearms for increasing homicide rates and those rates are actually decreasing shouldn’t someone check their assumptions? California is more dangerous than Texas.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. When I search I used different search engines. The results can be strikingly different. Would not trust Google. Even those guys definitely have the best search technology, they also hav a political agenda.
        😦

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