Lock and Load, America

It is so nice to be back here at BSO. I hope that you all enjoyed several months of a refreshing break, doing whatever you do when you are not here. Now, back to work.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America: “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.”

I do not understand the liberal point of view on gun control. It is indeed true that this amendment does leave some ambiguity over whether gun rights are intended to be individual or collective. That said, the ending line, “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” is a clear endorsement of the individualistic interpretation. Additionally, the liberal social view tends to endorse policies that allow for greater personal responsibility and freedom over security and control. How is it that the right to self-defense with the use of firearms is not a part of the liberal perspective?

All humans have basic rights endowed to them by their Creator, according to the Declaration of Independence. The right to life is the first specified. It is reasonable to infer that it bears the greatest weight. Gun ownership is a critical way of assuring the right to life. Self-defense with use of force is a necessity in the modern world. Our society is proliferated with guns. It is as unreasonable to believe that guns can be removed from all Americans as it is to believe that marijuana can be entirely stamped out. The critical question is not whether or not we want a gun-free society. It is whether or not we wish to grant the right to own guns to law-abiding citizens, or simply to criminals. Criminals will always have guns. Many guns used in crimes are illegal today. It is not as though gun-bans, such as those enforced in New York City, Canada, and Great Britain, will actually prevent criminals from possessing firearms. In fact, recent studies by groups such as The Fraser Institute (http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/) and the British Journal of Criminology (http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/) suggest that gun control programs have been a wasteful failure.

Why is there still a lingering notion that loose gun laws in America are responsible for high violent crime rates? Nations such as France, Switzerland, and Germany, all seen as progressive on social issues, have very permissive gun laws in comparison with the U.S., and they have lower violent crime rates than we do. In principle, it is ridiculous to believe that strict gun laws prevent crime. To throw out a simple example, which is robbed more often: a bank, or a gun store? When many individuals have guns in an area, crime is less likely. It is prevention by deterrence at its core.

A number of recent restrictions on guns have been considered. Child safety locks were recently mandated by federal law on all new firearms, and there has been talk of banning assault weapons recently. The child lock legislation, though well-intentioned, is flawed. Imagine that an individual breaks into the home of a gun-owner, awaking her. It is the middle of the night. As a responsible gun-owner, she has placed the gun in one secure, hidden location. The ammunition is in another. The lock’s key is in another. Depending on her level of energy and the location of these items, it could cost several minutes for her to ready herself for self-defense. In situations where every moment is precious, is this reasonable? I think not.As far as the assault weapons ban goes, we are not discussing legalizing grenade launchers, silencers, or full-automatic weapons. The ban outlaws all semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic weapons can be a critical tool for home defense. Additionally, they can serve as a great tool in personal protection. The ability to rapidly fire several rounds in a firefight within the home can mean the difference between life and death.

Guns and the right to self-defense are inherently linked. It is irrational to suggest that, through the use of stringent controls on law-abiding gun-owners, violent crime can be reduced. All citizens have the right to own and carry firearms. If one truly wants to reduce gun crime, then outlaw the possession of firearms by convicted felons and encourage all citizens to receive proper training in the use of firearms. Require background checks on all participants at gun shows and on any potential firearm purchaser. Do not infringe on liberty in the name of security.


4 Responses to Lock and Load, America

  1. WildWeathel says:

    Wow. Thank you, Matt. There are several points I would like to respond to in this article.

    First, every article of the Bill of Rights is based on one or more human rights. The Second Amendment guards the right to self defense–particularly the right to communal self defense. Thus, the governments, federal and local, of the United States have the obligation to promote every citizen’s ability to defend their community, state, and country and do not have any lawful authority to impede each citizens right to the just defense of their person and family.

    Nowhere in this right is any right to “sporting uses” beyond the training utility of the shooting sports for defensive service. While the right to, say hunting, is implicitly protected by the catch-all ‘right to liberty’ sporting rights are not absolute and may be curtailed in the face of extenuating circumstances, such as the need for wildlife management.

    The other point I’ll touch in this comment is HR 1022, the return of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. I advise everyone to look-up read the text of the bill at THOMAS. Unfortunately, the bill is written as a revision of the 1994 codified law, so it is impossible to fully understand HR 1022 without copy of the code that contains the ’94 law. However, turn your attention to the definitions.

    A rifle or shotgun may be banned if it is either on a long list of proscribed weapons or meets a description of features. Note that one of these features is a ‘pistol grip’. The typical definition of a ‘pistol grip’ is an upright grip like would be found on a handgun, but used in conjunction with a shoulder stock. However the bill’s language indicates that a ‘pistol grip’ is actually any feature that may be used as a grip–outlawing all semiautomatic long-guns.

    Handguns are treated differently. The banned component is a ‘high-capacity ammunition feeding device:’ any magazine with greater than ten-round capacity, typical of todays self-defense sidearms.

    Even though the bill gives enforcement agents (under the Attorney General) authority to ban all semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, and most handguns, there is little reason to think it will become in effect an overarching ban. Exceptions will be made for “sporting purposes,” although such exceptions will exist solely at the continued pleasure of the Executive. Still, it appears that the Federal Government won’t be stopping the sales of deer rifles–at least at first.

    But there is a deeper issue here. Once the bill is scheduled for debate (and with 30 co-sponsors, it will be this time) watch for the parade of testimony that these weapons serve no sporting purpose. Well spotted! They only serve the purpose of personal and common defense. Therefore, the supporters will claim, they ought to be banned. But remember: sporting rights are inferior to a higher right to defense. This bill totally denies the right of the common citizen to be armed for his defense, that of his family, community, state and nation. For this reason and this reason only it should be struck down.

  2. Matt says:

    I very much agree that the attempts to resurrect the assault weapons ban are unconstitutional. They do not acknowledge the fact that weapons are a critical way of assuring the right of individual citizens to defend themselves and others.

    Additionally, it is very strange that many people do not seem to believe that citizens need to be empowered with the right to self-defense. Although I am by no means a supporter of taking the law into our own hands, I for one do not want police in my bedroom, if only to protect me.

    Thank you for your comments pointing out the flaws in the proposed assault weapons ban.

  3. tbsa says:

    The police would have to rip the legal weapons I own out of my cold, dead, hands.

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