Point/Counterpoint: “A well-regulated militia – is that what you call it?”

Posted: December 16, 2012 in gun policy, politics
Tags: ,

images-5Point/Counterpoint

In response to my article, “A well-regulated militia: Is that what you call it,” a friend posted the following: (My response follows)

From John
First I find it appalling that so many of you on the left, from top to bottom, are so very willing to use any tragedy as leverage to further your political agenda. Pandora’s Box is already open, so here we are….

It is interesting that you essentially accuse those of us who believe in the 2nd Amendment as being selfishly ideological in protecting our rights. Frankly, I believe being on the correct side of the Constitution should be enough, but I will move beyond anyway.

You may think I’m being unnecessarily harsh here. I don’t care. Your arguments are based on 100% emotion and 0% factual substance.

“Too many children are killed each year by guns.” True. More are killed in car accidents, bicycle accidents, drowning incidents, by doctors’ mistakes (preventable), and in some years, by space heaters. Have you started an orginization to ban bikes yet, or at least severely restrict use of them?

According to the CDC, gun violence doesn’t even make it into the top 15 causes of death in the US.

According to both the FBI and National Institute of Justice, guns are used for self-defense forty times (40x) more often than they are for crimes. That is just when the gun is *fired*! How many are used as a deterrent that don’t need to be fired? Could this be one of the reasons that there is a solid correlation between less restrictive gun laws and lower crime rates?

As to correlation, you can go state by state, and even county by county and see that the highest violent crime rate areas (NY, D.C., Philly, Chicago, Detroit, etc.” also have the most restrictive gun laws whereas “shall issue” states have much lower rates across the board. Even in geographically specific studies, they have repeatedly tracked stats after passage of laws that either discourage or encourage concealed carry and the results are the same. More concealed carry, crime rate goes down. Less concealed carry, crime rate goes up. The left’s only argument for this is that “correlation does not equal causation”. Having a “D” after your name clearly doesn’t equal common sense either, but then correlation doesn’t equal causation so I guess I shouldn’t poke fun.

“But the police have guns so we don’t need them!” According to US News, the police arrive too late to stop the crime in 95% of all 911 calls.

As to your fewer murders in other countries, first you don’t correct for population and second, there is no real correlation to guns. You omit many countries that have equally low (or lower) rates and have private gun ownership rates that are also very high. Switzerland and Israel to name two. Also, your statistics include suicides which severely skews the data. It is deliberate obfuscation.

The US ranks #1 in private gun ownership (by a huge margin) but there are 27 countries with a higher gun HOMICIDE rate than the US. As for suicide rates, half of the countries you list in your cute picture rank higher than the US. They simply use something other than a gun to do the job. Even the ones below like Canada and Germany are barely lower (The US is #38, Canada #39, and Germany #47). Not having a gun doesn’t seem to deter those that want to take their own life.

As for muskets, let’s take a little look at what the founders actually thought about gun ownership shall we?

“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, occurrences 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

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
Richard Henry Lee

“The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.”
Patrick Henry

“Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not.”
Thomas Jefferson

“The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that … it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; … ”
Thomas Jefferson

“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”
Alexander Hamilton

“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Ben Franklin

—–
My response to John’s response:

Thanks for your post, John.

I find it ironic that you would accuse those who want to see it more difficult for crazies to get semi-automatic rifles as using a tragedy to further a political agenda. First of all, I don’t care if people own guns. This isn’t a “political agenda.” I do care that semi-automatic (and automatic) weapons are easily available. I would also want to make it difficult for people to own anthrax if we were in the midst of an anthrax crisis. Call that a “political agenda” if you want to…but I think that’s a huge misdirection. No – the political agenda here is clearly on the part of those who won’t talk about these murders for fear of having to do something substantive about them that may include a discussion about their sacred cow.

Your argument is full of straw men. Here’s the bottom line: Why do you need semi-automatic weapons? In what ways will these weapons help you stop violence in your city more than a conventional firearm? In your home? I guess if you have a gang of murderers or a herd of killer aliens breaking into your house, you would want to be able to fire hundreds of rounds a minute. But other than that…? I don’t want to make it impossible for people to own guns in general. I like my gun.

It’s the ultimate in hypocrisy to accuse us of using this tragedy for a personal agenda. If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, you on the right would be the first ones to see it as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. After 9/11, one of the first responses that we as a nation had was to try to make it harder for terrorists to get airplanes. This is a reasonable course of action. When people run planes into buildings, it’s only reasonable to want to make it harder for terrorists to take control of airplanes. Nobody on the left said, “Hey, now’s not the time for politics! Now’s not the time to talk about regulations and debate about the security at airports!” Because, airplanes aren’t a sacred cow. One crazy with a shoe bomb led to all of us having to take our shoes off at the airport. We all empty our water bottles and let the scanners show our nude form to some stranger in a cubicle at the airport. We don’t love it. It’s inconvenient, but we are willing to sacrifice to make it harder for someone to walk onto an airplane with a bomb on his chest or in his shoe or a knife in his pocket.

From Michael Gungor (reference at end of article):

But when a man walks into a school full of little children and starts firing assault weapons, or into a movie theatre in military gear and starts shooting people, and this keeps happening, why is it against the rules to discuss how to keep this from happening? Why does it become so political, so quickly, on your side? How many of these things are we going to have to experience before we say, “Ok, maybe we should re-look at how we are distributing weapons to these people?” Seems like a natural and reasonable response to me.

I make no claims to know the appropriate way of accomplishing this. I also do not mean to vilify anyone that believes that gun control would be ineffective (even though I disagree with them.) I just think the conversation is important, and it is important to have before these deaths are quickly forgotten like all of the other shootings.

When the danger is anything else – tainted food, terrorists on planes, cars with bad brakes – we jump at the chance to protect people’s lives. But when the topic even comes close to your sacred cow, and you get all up in arms (pardon the pun) and refuse to even dialogue about the problem, and instead rehash tired statistics about crime and cities and populations and such, you lose credibility. This is a real issue, and blind devotion to ideology in this case will literally cost people lives.

Why can’t otherwise reasonable people (choose just two or three):

  1. Admit that we have a problem.
  2. Admit that it’s too easy for crazies to get assault weapons.
  3. Acknowledge that wanting to keep these weapons out of the hands of crazies is not the same thing as “confiscating everyone’s guns”
  4. Even just acknowledge that not being allowed to own an assault weapon is not the same thing as not being allowed to own gun.
  5. Admit that you don’t need semi-automatic weapons in your home in order to enjoy all the benefits of gun ownership.
  6. Participate in a reasonable dialogue about how to stop these senseless killings – and participate with an open mind.

I’m sorry to say, too, that your founding father quotes are also not helpful. At the risk of being redundant, we’re not talking about muskets here anymore. I have to believe that those gentlemen would have crawled all over each other in an effort to be the first to amend the constitution if they had seen what we’re seeing now. It’s apples and oranges, man. Keeping the hundreds-of-rounds-a-minute-murder-weapons off the streets does not in any way violate our constitution, or the spirit of its authors. It’s blind ideology that you’re supporting – not a reasonable look at the issue.

(Almost) directly quoting musician Michael Gungor:

Would it violate your constitutional rights to have to work harder to get a gun? We all go through all sorts of red tape and bureaucracy all of the time – to get our driver’s licenses, to pay our taxes, to get a permit to sell flowers, for crying out loud. Yet many of us are unwilling to even talk about having to go through some sort of complicated process to earn the right to own a firearm that could be used to blast away an elementary school. We will spend a third of our income and a bunch of our time filling out tax forms, but don’t you dare try to make me go through a process where someone decides whether I’m mentally or emotionally fit to own a firearm! Don’t you dare try to tell me that there are certain military grade weapons that are not possible for me to purchase.

If having total “freedom” from governmental meddling with our firearms actually does result in at least part of the violence that we keep seeing, are we really willing to offer our own children as blood sacrifice for the sake of that convenience? Are we really willing for more mothers to have to lie in bed, tossing, turning and weeping, playing the imagined scene of their baby being shot over and over so that we can not have to work harder to obtain these sorts of weapons…or so that we can have exactly the weapon we want, no matter how unnecessary?

I am not under the delusion that the government can fix the human heart. You cannot regulate away violence. But we can do little things to limit the carnage when the violence comes out. Again, I don’t claim to have the answers to what those things are exactly. But I do hope that people will stop worrying so much about ensuring that they can acquire firearms without any inconvenience to them and start trying to figure out a way to limit the pain that our weapons allow us to inflict on each other.

This response is very heavily borrowed from/plagiarized/stolen from Michael Gungor: http://gungormusic.com/#!/2012/12/the-gun-god/

Comments
  1. Luke says:

    My response to your response to his response?

    No one is discussing automatic weapons. Those have been under extremely tight federal control for many, many decades. If you want to discuss automatic weapons, then feel free. The very cheapest one you can find is at least 5,000 dollars (Most are four to five times that), and by purchasing it you literally waive your fourth amendment rights.

    The real issue that people want to discuss is ‘assault weapons.’ The long and short of that is that people on the left want to ban a category of guns made up in the ’90s because they look scary. An ‘assault weapon’ is no more lethal or powerful than any other, it merely looks different. Let’s take a quick examination.

    The Saiga hunting rifle by Izmash is perfectly legal in the US, and has been in any state with an ‘assault weapons’ ban. What might surprise you is that the receiver is literally a semi-automatic AK-47. Why is this legal and unbanned, while the AK-47 has been banned before? It’s because the Saiga doesn’t look scary. It has no pistol grip and no flash hider, it has different sights.

    Both of these rifles use box magazines, so the idea that the AK is somehow more dangerous by holding more rounds is silly. Either can hold anywhere between 5 and a hundred rounds depending on which magazine you put in.

    If we want to be honest about the whole ‘assault weapons’ thing, we’ll either admit we’re interested in banning all semi-automatic firearms or banning magazines over ten rounds.

    What we should examine is whether or not blanket bans are fair or not. I say they’re not, and we can reach a compromise by requiring licenses or permits for whatever it is you want to restrict.

    • nash says:

      I really do/did mean semi-automatic. You’re right. I’m talking about anything you don’t have to stop and load (which were the guns the founders were dealing with, by the way.) I should go back and replace the wording to reflect this….

      • nash says:

        There…I went ahead and did it….I used “semi-automatic” and “assault weapons.” Thanks for the clarification – might save me a little embarrassment.

        My point is pretty much unchanged: “I’m sorry to say, too, that your founding father quotes are also not helpful. At the risk of being redundant, we’re not talking about muskets here anymore. I have to believe that those gentlemen would have crawled all over each other in an effort to be the first to amend the constitution if they had seen what we’re seeing now. It’s apples and oranges, man. Keeping the hundreds-of-rounds-a-minute-murder-weapons off the streets does not in any way violate our constitution, or the spirit of its authors. It’s blind ideology that you’re supporting – not a reasonable look at the issue.”

        • Frank Boone says:

          Nash I beg to differ the founders quotes have no relevance to today. They have everything to do with today as liberty has not changed. Nor has the threat to liberty changed. The fact that the tools then were different used to secure said liberty does not matter.

          If we use your logic saying the founders guns were inferior to today’s guns so today’s guns don’t fall under the protection of the Second Amendment, then let’s only provide freedom of the press for hand cranked printing presses. Let’s not allow “free speech” on TV or Radio either.

          The facts that the tools to secure individual and personal liberty have changed is a reflection of our society’s evolution. The tools have to change to meet the threat to liberty.

          With all due respect, what the founders said about the need for guns to defend ones own and a people’s liberty are just as true today as they were then. The flintlock muskets they had then and the cannons were the most technologically advanced weapons of their time that could be used to secure their liberty. As the threat to liberty increases in sophistication so must the defensive tools of liberty also have to change to meet that threat.

          “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence”

          If the government entity that wants to take our liberty away has automatic weapons then so should “we the people” be able to “keep and bear” them.

        • Luke says:

          Don’t feel embarrassed. It’s an extremely common mistake, because sadly the people who advocate gun control the loudest are the ones who understand the firearms and terminology the least. You at least took the time to correct it and react to feedback. Most people would have just yelled at me or called me crazy.

          So there’s hope, right?

          I do want to respond to your list though.

          1. Admit that we have a problem.- Yes, we have a problem.

          2. Admit that it’s too easy for crazies to get assault weapons.- I don’t think it matters what kind of weapon they get, the issue is that they’re getting them. If you’d feel better, we could put some limitations in place on such weapons, but I, personally, will never endorse a ban of them.

          3. Acknowledge that wanting to keep these weapons out of the hands of crazies is not the same thing as “confiscating everyone’s guns”- Of course not, but it is a nasty step that makes us uncomfortable. Who’s to say where it will go next?

          4. Even just acknowledge that not being allowed to own an assault weapon is not the same thing as not being allowed to own gun.- Here’s where I really disagree. If you dictate to use what types of weapons we can have (besides the existing destructive devices distinctions) then you essentially ARE telling us we can’t own a gun. It becomes a little like voting in Syria. Do you want Assad, Assad, or Assad? Hey, you still get a choice.

          5. Admit that you don’t need semi-automatic weapons in your home in order to enjoy all the benefits of gun ownership.- Yes, you really do. Probably the top two target rifles are the M1A and AR-15, which are both semi-automatic. Additionally, just about every self-defense handgun is semi-automatic. Then there’s the advantages a semi-automatic hunting rifle have. Namely if your first shot only wounds your quarry, you have a chance to kill it with a second shot before it runs away to die lost, alone, and in pain.

          6. Participate in a reasonable dialogue about how to stop these senseless killings – and participate with an open mind.- I am right now, sooooo?

          Can I challenge you with four points of my own?

          1. Admit there is no objective difference between an assault weapon and any other semi-automatic rifle.
          2. Accept that the second amendment doesn’t just protect hunters.
          3. Understand that gun owners are nervous for a reason.
          4. Help to address the other causes of mass shootings (improper and inadequate mental healthcare comes to mind).

          • nash says:

            Thanks Luke. Here’s where I’m at with your four questions:

            1. Admit there is no objective difference between an assault weapon and any other semi-automatic rifle. Agreed.
            2. Accept that the second amendment doesn’t just protect hunters. Agreed – it protects the right of the states to establish a well regulated militia. The “people” in the amendment are a collective people – the states – and they are part of a militia. The second amendment doesn’t apply to what we’re talking about here.
            3. Understand that gun owners are nervous for a reason. Understood.
            4. Help to address the other causes of mass shootings (improper and inadequate mental healthcare comes to mind). Totally and completely agree.

            • Luke says:

              On point two there, I have a point to make.

              http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311

              “The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.”

              So the state militias, or the National Guard, are not what the founders meant by ‘a well-regulated militia.’

              To build on that, I’ll let one of the experts talk. http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/common.htm

              Additionally, the Supreme Court has already incorporated the 2nd Amendment, which means that it formally ruled that the ‘right of the people’ means the same thing it does in all the other amendments, which is the right of the individual.

              Does this mean we can’t have reasonable restrictions? Of course not. But it does mean we’re talking about a bona fide civil right.

    • Frank Boone says:

      The term “assault weapon” is dog whistle for those that don’t want Americans to own guns.

      ANY gun is an “assault” weapon if you are assaulting someone with it. How a gun looks has nothing to do with it lethality. The guns that WERE NOT “banned” during the “assault weapon ban” functioned just the same and capable of just as much destruction as the ones that WERE BANNED.

      The word “fair” should never be considered when it comes to the right of we the people to keep and bear arms. Those seeking to take our liberty certainly will not play “fair” 🙂 Just sayin’ 🙂

      • nash says:

        I have no problem with people’s right to bear arms in general. I just think they should be different guns. And that the semi-automatics should be reserved for the “well regulated militias” that the constitution addresses.

  2. “First I find it appalling that so many of you on the left, from top to bottom, are so very willing to use any tragedy as leverage to further your political agenda.”

    I’d find this argument a thousand times more convincing if it weren’t for the fact that so many people on the left have been using the Benghazi tragedy (four adults, working voluntarily in countries they knew were dangerous) for the no-so-noble motive of bashing the president. Bleating about morality in this instance is breathtakingly hypocritical.

    • *oh-so-noble. My ability to type correctly sometimes deserts me when I am blindsided by such ignorance and arrogance.

      By the way, in response to the blog post itself:

      “I have to believe that those gentlemen would have crawled all over each other in an effort to be the first to amend the constitution if they had seen what we’re seeing now.”

      Amen!

    • nash says:

      Thanks, Sarah. Did you mean “right” (not “left”) in your second paragraph?

  3. A further point of contention Mike. You operate under the fallacious assumption that “tighter controls” on assault weapons, semi-automatic weapons, or whatever will somehow help in making kids (or others) safer. This is demonstrably not true.

    “The facts” point inexorably to just the opposite. More guns make people safer, not fewer. Your emotional reaction to that simple fact makes you irrationally unable to accept it. You think it is “common sense” that if a shooter could not obtain a weapon of the sort often used they couldn’t inflict the damage caused. Yet, when has this assumption ever held true?

    Let’s look at almost any shooting… at Columbine, the perpetrators violated 19 gun laws. Which would have made the difference? a 20th? a 25th? A 30th law? Which would have “fixed” the problem?

    In the recent CT slayings, the shooter was actually denied a weapon so he stole his parent’s. What kind of law would you enact to stop stolen or unlicensed guns from being used in crime? The only answer, of course, is that you must ban ALL guns. I realize there are plenty on the left that would be all too happy to do just that, but most are not intellectually honest enough to admit it.

    Find me the study that says tighter restriction on private gun ownership will help with mass shootings or any other violent crime and we will have a conversation. On the other hand, I can point you to a multitude of studies that say the more guns we have the safer we are. As I mentioned above, the evidence is irrefutable, and thus the only argument left is that “correlation does not necessarily equal causation”.

    I believe that there are many factors involved in what may or may not be responsible for violent crime to be sure. But, we solid evidence that more gun control DOES NOT equal safer neighborhoods.

  4. […] just when the gun is *fired*! How many are used as a deterrent that don’t need to be fired?”  (point, counter-point: on “A well-regulated militia – is that what you call it?” – Dec. 16, […]

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