On the Second Amendment and Misinformation Against it.
Every time there is a tragedy, there will inevitably be efforts by many to use the tragedy to score political points. Sometimes, it’s more obvious and ridiculous (not to mention laughable), such as blaming gays for natural disasters. At other times, it seems to make sense.
Around a hundred years ago, it was pointed out that alcohol made people do bad things. It made sense — it’s common knowledge that alcohol really isn’t good for us in the first place, and too much of it can make the one drinking it lose self-control. Problem is though, banning it didn’t make it go away. It instead put its distribution in the hands of those who didn’t care about laws, and weren’t above using violence (and lots of it) to achieve their ends.
Alcohol is easy enough to make, even if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Human civilization had been making it for thousands of years before we actually learned how we were doing it. Under the right circumstances, it is quite easy to even make it by accident. Point is, alcohol isn’t going anywhere. It could be argued that humanity would be better off without it, but trying simply to ban it is to live in denial — we have to instead live in the reality that it is in this world and always will be. With that, there is nothing particularly wrong with enjoying it on occasion, if you do so responsibly. At the liquor stores, we are attracted to various different styles of alcohol for various reasons — maybe it fits our image of ourselves, maybe the packaging caught your eye, and that’s okay. We’ve more or less come to terms with it.
When someone gets drunk and commits a crime, we don’t blame the alcohol. We may offer treatment on the side, but the fact is that the one who chose to drink it is the one who gets the blame. Despite there being a number of incidents of alcohol being involved in breaking the law, there are seldom calls to ban it again. Why? Maybe we remember from our history books that prohibition was a failure. Maybe it’s because there are more who enjoy at least the occasional drink than there are strict teetotalers. More people who understand the realities of alcohol from personal experience.
Presently, it seems the scapegoat for all the woes of our society is guns. I’ll get it out of the way and state right now for the record that I am a strong supporter of the individual’s right to keep and bear arms, as stated in the Constitution, as stated as one of the fundamental rights in the Bill of Rights.
As such, there is really no insult you can throw at me for such that I haven’t already heard. I’ve been accused of being a tea-publican hick (for the record, I am actually decidedly liberal), I’ve been accused of being a baby-killer (my criminal record is quite clean, I assure you… and in fact, I do intervene, and have, when I witness child abuse… sometimes only to be threatened with whatever weapon is convenient), I’ve been accused of having no regard for human life (I’m sure that the various homeless/near homeless people I’ve fed may have something else to say about that, as well as various others I’ve come to the defense of in a number of ways). Indeed, I am a bleeding-heart liberal… and unashamedly so.
Why, then, would I support keeping guns around?
Well, apply the reason I mentioned about alcohol prohibition in the second paragraph. Quite simply, guns aren’t going away. Sure, you can ban them. They aren’t quite as easy to produce as alcohol, but bear in mind that they are only one of several possible tools of violence. I ask, then, whether the problem is guns or violence?
Media bias is real, of course. Even if not lying outright, they can report selectively and present facts in the same way to sway opinion. This is pretty much common knowledge. It’s why only the cute white girls generally make national headlines when they die. It’s why we so often see various minorities in a negative sense. My own thought is that it’s simply done more because controversy sells, rather than out of personal bias, though personal bias likely plays some part in it also.
With guns, think about it. We see movies in which they are wielded almost in a sense that makes them seem magical. Point one in a person’s general direction, and they drop dead instantly. One bullet is enough to make a car explode. But, if a regular gun could be elevated to the status of a flaming sword, then a military styled one may be depicted as being akin to the hand of God.
Audiences who don’t know any better are left with a sense of awe and fear. I mean, hey… we know guns are powerful weapons, right? And it makes sense that the military would have even more powerful weapons, right?
So, we see these mass killings in the news. Most people know very little about the realities of guns. Sure, maybe they went out shooting a couple times with their dads or grandfathers, but not enough to really learn much by it. We spend more time watching television and movies, and they dominate our minds. Then we hear about crazy people in possession of these fabled weapons. How? How could they pull that legendary sword from the stone and use it in such a way? It is out of this lack of actual knowledge that various people have proposed what they consider “common sense” gun laws, ignoring the fact that you must first be in possession of such knowledge before you can say what is common sense.
The media as well as a number of political action groups rather slyly manipulates the public. Rather than reporting something as an act of violence, they will say “gun violence,” making the two words synonymous in the minds of many. It is a deliberate deception.
As with alcohol, it could be reasonably argued that the world may be a better place if guns somehow didn’t come into existence. Thing is though, they are here. You can ban them, but that will still leave those who don’t particularly care about the law, and are willing to commit horrendous acts of violence to achieve their ends, with or without guns. It will also leave the rest of the people who don’t live lives of violence and regularly practicing violence, defenseless. There is no such thing as a fair fight, particularly when one of the parties is an unwilling participant… nor should a fair fight be expected from someone who is simply trying to defend their life from someone who wants to harm them for whatever reason. I think that may be another thing movies have corrupted our minds on — we think if the opponent has a knife, the defender should be limited to a knife. If the opponent is only using fists and feet, then the defender, again, should be similarly limited. It makes for a great action sequence in a movie, but in reality… if someone kicks down my door, I’m not looking for a great action sequence straight out of the movies. I’m simply going to defend my family and myself. In that situation, the one who had the choice as to whether there was going to be violence would be the one who kicked down the door… and they chose violence. My choice would simply be whether I would be the victim… or whether I would allow anyone else to become the victim of another’s choice to be violent. I say no to both.
People do successfully defend themselves with guns, as well as defending others, on a regular basis. Mass shootings have been stopped by armed people. It’s not reported much in the media, but it is true nonetheless. Try looking up the Pearl High School shooting, for example. It was stopped by the principal going out to his car, getting his gun, and confronting the shooter. I could not find one mainstream media website that mentioned that. They simply mentioned that a school shooter killed some people, giving no mention of how it was stopped, or why there were relatively few casualties.
I’ll go on to say that with guns being necessary, there is nothing wrong with having some fun with them. In addition to the guns I have for self-defense, I also keep some guns I wouldn’t use for such, simply because they are too powerful in that the bullets would pass right through an intended target and would go on to hit a few unintended targets. And no, I’m not referring to the fabled AR-15, which in its standard military caliber is actually on the low end of medium-powered in comparison to most rifles.
This brings us to my next point. Up until now, I’ve been speaking of the issue on a more personal level — self-defense from the day-to-day would-be assailants and domestic terrorists. Let us now look at the actual reasoning behind 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.
First, let me be clear — while corruption may indeed be rampant, I think we mostly have a well-meaning (if sometimes misinformed) government, so I certainly am NOT advocating any anti-government action. I am simply stating the actual reasoning and intent behind the Second Amendment.
A lot of the opponents to gun rights get hung up on the “well regulated” part. However, it says “well regulated militia,” not “well-regulated firearms.” Instead, it says that the right of the people (note that the founders said “people” here and not “militia”) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The first part about the well-regulated militia was the explanation for what followed; they hadn’t intended there to be a standing army as what we have today. They simply intended that everyone who could take up arms to do so if there was cause for it… similar, actually, to the system Switzerland has. Strictly speaking, the intention was that the citizenry have access to military grade firearms… although what the constitution says on the matter and what present laws are are two different things. The firearms some people have may look like military firearms, and the media may encourage people to think that they are the same. Unlike military firearms however, civilian firearms do not have the capability of full-automatic fire.
The founders also added the Second Amendment with the thought that the people have no reason to trust a government that didn’t trust them. Let’s face it: a government is made up of regular people who happened to become rich and powerful, often through an accident of birth, and usually corrupt in one way or another. The founders did not intend for there to be a ruling class (see Art. I, Section 9 in regards to titles of nobility), although they probably knew it would be inevitable. They wanted the people to be able to keep the government honest, and if the government became tyrannical, to bring it back in line.
Some have claimed this Amendment and reasoning has become outdated, and quite frankly, that kind of thinking scares me. First, it is simply not true that it is outdated, nor will it ever be. Second, we’ve seen this thinking before on various other matters. Us liberals were furious when someone in Bush’s administration referred to the Geneva Conventions as “outdated.” The Patriot Act was pushed forward with the belief that various parts of the Bill of Rights were outdated or inconvenient. We get furious when Freedom of Speech is violated. Why the exception to the Second Amendment? Honestly, you can petition all you want and carry picket signs until your arms fall off. The Second Amendment is to ensure that the rest of our rights stay more or less intact. Without it, you are simply trusting on the good nature of those in charge.
In conclusion, I will say that the ones who oppose guns generally are living in a state of denial. “There’s no fight here unless you brought it with you,” they might say. I don’t bring fights with me… but I can never speak for the next one to walk in the door. If they did bring a fight with them, then I’d certainly like to be able to end it. There is really no such thing as a safe place — there are always risks anywhere you go. However, it should be mentioned that most mass shootings happen in what are legally “gun-free zones.” It stops the decent, sane people from bringing their guns… but the ones who are there to mass murder really don’t care about the laws, and such laws disarming people truly only disarm the ones who would stop the murderers and such.