It’s About Freedom

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Sheepdog-Iconography---SoapboxAfter the Senate dropped all of the gun control bills that were scheduled this past week, most going down to a resounding defeat, the President, Vice President, and the mainstream media went on a tirade of hate and hissy fits. Predictably, some of my more liberal/progressive friends were bemoaning this defeat. Just as predictably, I did happen to get into one of those discussions.

After initially being summarily dismissed (and he called ME the closed-minded one), he later asked a question about what the discussion was about, saying that he didn’t want his kid accidentally shot by my kid while they were messing around with a gun (I chose to take this generically), and that he didn’t want crack addicts to have access to guns. I thought I’d repeat my reply here. [Full disclosure, I did make a mistake in the original response, so I’m correcting it here, as well as adding some clarification]

This argument about the gun control bill is not about liberal/conservative. In the end, it’s about freedom, responsibility, and the law, especially as it relates to the Constitution. If you don’t want your kid to get shot by a friend who’s messing around with guns, train your kids better (the Eddie the Eagle program by the “hated” NRA is a PROVEN way to do this), and get involved enough as a parent to know WHO your kid is going to see, and if those parents are responsible. Whether it’s unsupervised access to a gun, or even violence or porn, it’s our job as parents to understand who our kids are hanging out with. If the parents don’t keep their guns safe, or you don’t trust them – don’t let your kid hang out there. That’s responsible parenting.

A crack addict is NOT going to go to a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL holder) to purchase a gun, so they will never have a background check done. They will go to the resident scumbag dealer if they need a gun. This bill would have done nothing to alleviate that. If you want to deter a crack addict, attack the problem from three angles – socially providing services to help them get clean if they want it, throw them in jail as criminals if they don’t want to get clean, AND give citizens the opportunity to defend themselves. Criminal predators consistently seek the weakest prey – every study done has shown that. When the prey is weak, they move on. This is one of the key differences between the violent crime rates (aggravated assault, armed robbery, and homicide by any weapon type) in England and New York and LA, versus some place like Miami and even Dallas. When the victims are unarmed and unable to defend themselves, the predators strike with impunity.

As far as high capacity magazines, hunting and the Constitution, I’d like to handle that all at once. Hunting is not a constitutionally protected right. You heard me right – the Constitution of the United States has never been about hunting. The explicit text of the Second Amendment is: 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. (BTW – that is the COMPLETE text)

“Well regulated militia”: See my commentary above, this means every adult man, except federal workers, (militia), should be well-trained (original meaning of well regulated).

“Being necessary to the security of a free State”: causational statement. The placement seems odd in today’s english. In modern english, it would be placed at the start of the sentence, and probably read, “Because it is necessary to the security of a free State…”.

“The right of the people”: Directly says that the people have the right (notice, they aren’t “granted” the rights by the government, they are a natural right that is self-existing, that the founders (and I) believe are bestowed by God).

“to keep and bear Arms”: Notice, this is both to have and to carry about with them. And arms, as defined then, meant any arms – up to and including cannon. Most cannon during the Revolutionary War were provided from private collections. One of the reasons our “untrained” army of irregulars consistently beat the British was our citizens had better rifles and muskets than the British actually allowed – see stories from Lexington and Concord.

“Shall not be infringed”: Cannot be curtailed. Period.

In all of their papers that justified and explained the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (both the Federalist papers and their private letters and memoirs), the founding fathers consistently and constantly reiterated that the second amendment was specifically designed so that the people of the nation would always have the means to hold the government in check, first through the ballot box, and, if that failed, through the threat of force. This was always meant as a last resort, a final option. They had just gone through a terrible war, and none of them wanted to start it, let alone have another one. But, if it was ever necessary, they wanted the options to be there for the people.

So what does this mean for “assault weapons”, high-capacity magazines, and the like. Frankly, the wrongly called, and vaguely defined, “assault weapons” are not ultimately there for hunting or even self defense (although I can point to three published stories in the last month where those evil rifles were used to defend homeowners against bad guys). They are designed as a simple reminder, a “check and balance” against any tyrannical force trying to usurp the Republic, internal or external.

A ban on high-capacity magazines will not stop a mass-killer. The killers from Columbine had 10-round magazines in their carbines (which weren’t banned under the Clinton Assault Weapon ban). The Aurora shooter’s 100-round drum jammed after the first couple shots. The majority of murders were committed with a pump-shotgun (6 round capacity), and a handgun. The killers in both instances reloaded multiple times.

This past lunacy of a law was originally intended to star the process of complete gun confiscation (see statements from Diane Feinstein and Joe Biden). The mandated background checks would not have stopped the Sandy Hook killer – he killed his mom and stole her guns, in other words, he wouldn’t have gone through the background check ANYWAYS.

If you want to begin to slow or minimize violence in America (as fallen humans it will never go away), there needs to be a much more comprehensive series of steps that do not infringe personal freedom and liberty. First, parents need to start monitoring the violence their kids take in – movies, TV and video games. There are physiological changes that really mess kids up when they are bombarded by violent media. And SOME of those kids will get violent. Second, start treating mental health better. While keeping care to treat real mental health issues only, a more holistic approach to care must be used. The overuse and unsupervised use of psychotropic drugs are having a longterm affect on society.

Third, and most controversial in this “feel good” society, let the good buys be armed. I’m not talking about just the police or military, but ordinary, everyday citizens. You want to stop a mass murderer in his tracks? Have a good guy with a gun. Statistics show that armed citizens DO make a difference. On average, during a mass-killing like Columbine, Aurora, or Sandy Hook, if you wait for the police to show up, the average is just over 14 murders. If there is an armed citizen available – it becomes an average of just over 2. From the Clackamas mall killing last year (CCW holder stopped killer by drawing on him, and never fired a shot – bad guy killed himself) to the New Life Church murder spree a couple years ago (armed volunteer shot bad guy, who then killed himself), armed citizens save lives.

You want to stop a mass killing in a school? Arm the staff (those who want to) and let the parents carry – works for Israel. When a society is generally armed, the peace that happens is actually pretty impressive. Look at the Swiss – where every citizen is a member of the military and has a fully-automatic weapon assigned to them, in their house. Home invasions are nil, crime is low, and even the Nazis and Russia left them alone. Take a (factual) look at our own “Wild West”. Yes there was violence. But the interesting thing is that, because everyone was armed, the overall violent crime rates in the west were actually lower than back east, where “civilized” folk didn’t go armed.

At this point, he and another person replied that we apparently wanted to live in different worlds. Yes, I do apparently want a different world than they (and the President, et al.). I would like a world where personal freedom (and personal responsibility) are paramount, where government interference is minimal and as local as possible, and where neighbors care for each other if someone has a problem.

Others apparently want a world where the government regulates and cares for everyone “for their own good”. Where personal freedom is fairly high (except for speech, the “wrong” religion, and your own beliefs), and personal responsibility is nonexistent – after all, it’s the gov’ts job to provide for you if you can’t/won’t provide for yourself. To accomplish this, the government must control the population – whether it is firearms, smoking, soda, salt or sugar. Make no mistake, gun control is not about solving violence, it is about control. It is about “feeling like you are accomplishing something”, and it’s about making others “feel” safe, rather than rationally allowing them to BE safe.

So there it is. In reality, it all boils down to the Constitutional argument. If the Constitution is the law of the land, let’s follow it. If you want it changed, there is an established process for that. Other than that, you won’t convince me that it’s better to give up our rights to the government, and I won’t convince you that wanting the government to control every aspect of your life is a bad idea. Of course, you could ask any legal immigrant from any number of Communist, Socialist, Marxist, or Theocratic regimes. they’d give you some perspective too.

Just to clarify the violent crime rates (per 100,000):

  • Detroit: 573.8
  • LA: 405.5
  • New York: 522.6
  • Statistics provided by FBI crime statistics for 2011.
  • England: 22,030 (provided as 2,203 per 10,000 by the British Gov’t annual report)
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