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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Liberal Lies, Misunderstandings and Misconceptions about the 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment is among the most controversial and misunderstood portions of our Constitution.

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.

Folks with all sort of agendas have attempted to interpret the amendment to fit their world view. Here are the most common misconceptions that liberals use.

1) The collectivist argument. Some argue that the amendment was meant only actually allow organized militias to arm. In other words, this was, in their view, never meant to be an individual right.

The simplest way to counter this argument is two fold. First, the phrase "the right of the people" is found in several different amendments. At no time is that interpreted to be anything but an individual right. If this is a collectivist right then so is the right to free speech which has the same type of language.

Second, look at how any of the founding fathers viewed the 2nd amendment and they all clearly saw it as an individual right.

Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."George Washington

"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."George Mason

There is an endless stream of quotes like these two and you won't find one in which any founding father viewed the 2nd amendment as collectivist.

2) defenders of the 2nd amendment want defend a theoretical right and thus create real more crimes.

You will find so called progressives making such an argument. They say that whatever importance the 2nd amendment had once, it has outlived its value. Now, in their view, they see it merely contributing to the proliferation of guns, violence and crime.

Of course, there is absolutely no data that supports such a charge. Both Washington D.C. and Chicago have each had long term gun bans. Yet, both of those cities have also long held significantly high crime rates, murder rates, and violence with guns.

Furthermore, one only needs to remember what happened in New Orleans following Katrina to see that the 2nd amendment is NOT merely a theoretical right. Once lawlessness descended on the city, the only thing that protected anyone that had to stay was a firearm. There were roaming bands of thugs and gangs shooting anything in sight. The only protection any of those folks had was a gun.

3)2nd amendment proponents are heartless libertarians, sportsmen, and right wingers that don't care about violence in the inner city.

Anytime there is a violent shooting in any inner city, you will invariably find some liberal somewhere make the argument that this is proof that it is time for gun control laws. The reality is that violence in the inner cities is a complicated issue involving abject poverty, lack of education, lack of hope, and decayed and mistreated neighborhoods. Usually, the situation is complicated by the presence of gangs. These gangs wouldn't abide by any gun control law that was implemented regardless.

4) "Sensible" gun legislation is the right way to strike a balance between the individual right to own a gun and safety.

This sounds great in theory, however the legislation needs to be "sensible". Most are fierce defenders of the first amendment and yet we also all agree that no one can yell fire in a crowded theater unless there is a fire. That is a sensible restriction onto the first amendment.

The problem with so called "sensible" legislation is that it is vague. Proponents of sensible legislation almost never specify what specific sensible legislation there is. We can all agree that a psyczophrenic just out of a mental institution shouldn't own a gun. That is sensible. Beyond that, if someone has a sensible restriction, they must specify what that restriction is. Simply saying they are in favor of "sensible" restrictions is almost always means significant restrictions on this right.

5) We are the only country in the civilized world to allow guns, and it is proven that gun bans reduce violence worldwide. I will let the CATO institute respond.

This is one of the favorite arguments of gun control proponents, and yet the facts show that there is simply no correlation between gun control laws and murder or suicide rates across a wide spectrum of nations and cultures. In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel "have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States." A comparison of crime rates within Europe reveals no correlation between access to guns and crime.

6) Folks don't need uzis, machine guns, and semi automatic weapons to protect themselves and anyone that demands all firearms be allowed is taking the right too far.

The reality is that the main purpose of the 2nd amendment is to protect the individual from invasion. What business is it of the government's to tell the individual what limit they should have on their firearms. Law abiding citizens should decide for themselves just how armed they want to be. They shouldn't have the government decide for them.

If anyone has any more, please share them. Also, check out similar lies and misconceptions on GITMO, Iraq, and gay marriage

11 comments:

Jay said...

I'll agree, there's nothing wrong with the possession of small arms for personal protection/hunting needs, but when you get into larger armament (assault weapons, SMG's, and the like) you start wondering what kind of personal protection people have in mind. Would it be reasonable if a citizen wanted to buy a minigun? I mean, this is a weapon that shoots at 4000 rounds per minute, and can cut a person in half. Even an M16 is somewhat iffy. Due to shock-related liquid compression in the body, supersonic M16 rounds can easily kill even if the shot impacts the leg or arm. Also, what about RPG's and other firearms with explosive munitions?

There are very few instances where the need for personal protection is that great.

mike volpe said...

Two problems with your position, in my opinion, first of all eliminating a whole class of weapon is way too broad. Automatic weapons encompasses far too broad a definition. Second, again, what business is it of the government to tell an individual how much firearms is enough. If someone is law abiding, with no mental history problems, who is the government to tell them their arms are too large.

Jay said...

Well, law-abiding persons with good mental health do not always stay that way. Types of debilitating mental illness have a nasty habit of popping up after certain stimuli, which are truly unpredictable. Also, at some point or another, every violent offender was law abiding. What prompted them to go over the edge? Few people know.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with firearms for which there is valid use beyond a reasonable doubt. If that last sentence seemed awkward, I'm basically saying that the firearm in question should have a much higher chance of being used legally than illegaly, beyond the reasonable doubt that exists when referencing firearms. I'm not sure who that would be decided by, perhaps a panel of firearms experts (screened for bias like a jury).

Also, if it is deemed that the weapon does not have valid use, then the government has the power to, in the interest of the rights of the public, deny the use of that weapon. An individual's rights are to always be upheld, unless doing so would infringe upon the rights of others or the public at large.

mike volpe said...

Of course, and law abiding citizens can turn into criminals as well. This isn't about what someone may do but what they have done. Based on such logic, no one would ever get a gun.

Again, I don't think it is for the government to decide just how well protected an individual should be. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is too vague, and exactly the sort of thing I meant when I warned against so called "reasonable restrictions".

The second amendment is clear. Everyone has the right to own a gun. That means the burden is on the government to show a reason why they shouldn't not the other way around.

Jay said...

beyond a reasonable doubt is the criteria upon which they convict people of crimes in this country. If that's too vague, then I'm not sure how we should choose to incarcerate.

By proving a gun has valid use beyond a reasonable doubt, then that effectively shows proof that the gun can be sold. Conversely, if a gun is deemed by experts (screened for bias similar to a grand jury) to not have legitimate use beyond a reasonable doubt, then it should be considered sufficient proof that the gun should not be sold. The burden to prove illegality on the part of the government will have been fulfilled - and not by a bunch of liberals in Washington. A screened jury of experts will attest to the fact.

There has to be some sort of differentiation between firearms in a legal context. Certainly an M16 is not the same as a glock handgun; they have different specifications, different attributes, and, most of all, different applications. If we just used a technical definition of firearms in order to justify the selling of all of them, then I could petition to buy an M67 Vulcan cannon. The only use the army finds for that is to blast fighter jets out of the sky.

mike volpe said...

I know what "beyond a reasonable doubt" from, however you are trying to use a standard used to convict criminals to infringe on a right. That is not logical. That is exactly the sort of vague "reasonable restriction" I am talking about.

If you are going to restrict a right, it must be spelled out clearly, not "reasonable doubt".

Again, you can't yell fire in a crowded theater, unless there is a fire. That is clearly spelled out.

You now want to cede a right to "experts". That's nonsense. I don't think you appreciate what it means to have a right. That means the government, experts, have no business telling you your business.

What you have effectively done is taken a right and turned it into a privilege. That isn't the same thing. You want folks, who have a RIGHT TO OWN FIREARMS, to prove to someone else they should own them. They have no burden of proof. It is on the government to prove something not on the individual.

Jay said...

when you incarcerate someone, you effectively deprive them of many rights. "reasonable doubt" works there.

A privilege would mean that some citizens would be allowed to possess these weapons. NO citizens would be allowed to possess these weapons. If anything, the right is simply being better defined for this day and age. In the 1700's, you could try to go on a murderous rampage with a musket, but you would be stopped before you had a chance to reload. Thanks to an abundance of assault weapons, murderous rampages today are more commonplace and have higher body counts.

All I am proposing with experts is to have them placed on a jury, and to have certain weapons tried in front of them.

I think we need to define "arms." Surely we consider firearms "arms." But do we consider grenades "arms?" Do we then consider plastic explosives "arms?" How about bombs? Atomic bombs? Yes, I hate the slippery slope form of argument. But you could be arguing for someone to possess an atomic bomb just as simply as you argue for them to have assault weapons - the same words you use could justify selling atomic bombs. Where, if at all, do we draw the line?

mike volpe said...

correct, however you are making the burden the other way around. If anyone has to meet the burden it is the state, not the individual. Before an individual's right to bear arms is removed, it is the state that needs to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that they have nefarious intentions.

You are putting the burden on the individual to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they should have their right. They don't need to prove anything. It is a RIGHT not a PRIVILEGE. You have your standards backwards. In your world, someone needs to jump through hoops in order to exercise a right. This is the sort of laws that were used against blacks, Irish, Italians, etc. to systematically subvert their rights to bear arms and subsequently those population were held down by those that had no trouble getting a gun.

Jay said...

it is impossible to prove what will happen in the future. I am simply saying that with larger and more powerful weapons, it is necessary to consider the probabiliy of illegal use to the probability of legal use. And I'm not having individuals jump though hoops - individuals will not have to do anything in this. The weapon will be analyzed, not the person. Nobody would sell an atomic bomb to a citizen, since the probability is too high that it will be used illegally. Hunting rifles can be sold, though, because the probability of legal use is higher.

I have no intent to discriminate among different races and nationalities, I have never mentioned that in this whole series of posts.

This right should be updated to acknowledge existence of terribly dangerous weapons, ones which have a higher probability of being illegally used.

The individual has nothing to prove for anyone - he would simply be barred (along with every other citizen) from legally purchasing the weapon in question.

mike volpe said...

That's fine, except still, you are infringing on a right, and in order to exercise that right, something has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Your plan sounds nice in theory, however in Englewood in Illinois, the level of protection someone needs is totally different than in the Hamptons. will you apply one standard, will each municipality be allowed their own standard. What will happen when a virulently gun control administration takes office? This sort of standard will be used by those forces to systematically remove the right entirely.

Again, if bearing arms is a right, then it is up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that some weapon shouldn't be included in said right, not the other way around. What really bothers me about your idea is the level of government interference that you insist on. I am for less government. This expands the size of government exponentially. These sorts of ideas sound good in theory, but almost always this creates abuse. What happens with ideas like yours is that corrupt gun manufacturers get to the right politician, expert, etc. and they use their influence so that the state makes their competitors, not them, illegal, and thus their competition is removed.

Jay said...

that's a good point. A system like what I propose does have more inherent corruption risk. Judging from the insane amount of money spent by lobbyists (and the favors they received in return), the system proposed might not turn out that well, depending on how successful the NRA and Gun lobbies are. Of course, a plan like mine would never be put into action, simply because there is too much political inertia on the issue. Even if Obama wins and looks to implement gun control legislation, nothing significant will pass on the heels of the recent supreme court ruling. Thanks for the debate.