I'm going to go with the conservatives on this one. Guns are merely tools, and tools require responsibility. Which is why convicted felons are not legally permitted to own guns. They abused the right, and thus have lost it.

So I'm all in favor of the Second Amendment. When I finally acquire a living space of my own, I fully plan to acquire a handgun, get training in its proper use, lock the trigger, and keep it in a safe place for self-defense purposes. If anyone finds anything unreasonable, radical, or dangerous in any of that, please /msg me and I'll explain exactly why you're a schmo. :-)

"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."

That's the whole Second Amendment right there. The Second Amendment. It comes right after the right to free speech, religion, freedom of the press, and other things we hold dear, and before even the prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment", quartering soldiers, and before the right to a fair and speedy trial.

The right to keep and bear arms is right granted to us by the Constitution. So long as American blood flows in your veins you have the unquestionable right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, free speech, and the right to keep and bear arms.

It's just that simple.

Well.. it should be.

I live in Switzerland and I have been through military service and yes: I had my assault rifle with 24 rounds of ammunition at home. So here's my theroy of why the swiss are not using the guns to kill each other senselessly.

First: Every male with a gun has gone trough boot-camp. He has learned to live with a weapon, shoot with a weapon, walk with a weapon, handle a weapon, clean a weapon, hate a weapon (on the walks), love a weapon. He has made himself aquainted with his weapon - even learnt the serial-number by heart. He knows what his weapon is capable of - and respects it. It's like martial arts in a way. When you practice Karate you soon learn how to inflict injury or death on others. You learn that you wield power. And you also learn instinctively that the power is within you all the time - you don't need to prove it by showing off. There is respect for your powers and you become calm and confident.

Second: Swiss people are not constantly barraged with mindless violence as US people are. Here, no parent would take their 4 year old child into a movie that was rated for a much older audience. (As I have witnessed in a US movie theater: Kids that cry because they are frightend of what they have to see on the big screen.) The quality of the television programming here is slowly detoriating to lower standards but still - we are not there yet, so there is some hope left.

Third: Any male who has gone through the military would not use his assault rifle because he then would have to explain the missing rounds at the next inspection of the stuff you got from the military to the inspecting officer. And that would be really difficult and embarrassing.
The case for a gun ban has at least one very strong argument: if a gun ban is effectively enforced, the number of lethal violence will decrease over time. Many countries, Japan and Singapore for instance, who banned guns enjoy a relatively crime free society. During election periods in the Philippines where a gun ban is enforced, police records show that gun related crimes from both licensed and unlicensed firearms decreased dramatically.

Personally, I believe the "right to bear arms" is obsolete, and does more harm than good. However, I do recognize that the US is different from Singapore and Japan, and due to political, geographical, and cultural reasons, the second amendment will not be repealed in the near future. Therefore, the current trend towards more regulation and education is a welcome alternative. Especially since I'm going to be living in the US for two years starting this August.

i have been a collector of fine and antique bear arms for over 20 years.

it is my constitutional right to keep them in my private home.
all the bear whose arms i have collected and displayed were hunted by me, with a bow and arrow, in bear hunting season in the upstate new york region of the catskills.

this case will go all the way to the supreme court. i am obliged to inform you that i have hired the infamous johnny cochrane to protect my rights.

boy oh boy, it's another gun control argument.

At the risk of rehashing my arguments in right to keep and bear arms, I will say my piece.

The Second Amendment, as it is worded, may or may not confer gun rights on individuals - that point is debatable. After all, on the one hand, it does state pretty clearly that "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged." On the other hand, there's that pesky bit about a militia in the beginning. The wording of the Second Amendment, however, is largely irrelevant. Why, you ask? Because there's about 200 years of common law piled on top of the actual Constitution. This common law is vastly important in determining the correct interpretation of the text. The gun control folks want a strict constructionist reading. Ok, fine. If the liberals would agree to a strictly constructionist reading of all Constitutional points, I'll gladly give up my individual right to keep and bear arms. But they won't. And so we must take the common law into account. And what that common law has been over the past 200 years is that individuals do indeed have the right to keep and bear arms.

I am sick and tired of people saying "Guns should be regulated and licensed" or as Saige said "doesn't the requirement of licensing and registration seem common sense?"

YES. Licensing and regulation does make sense thats why we have both of them and have had both of them for years and years. Way before i was born they were regulated. More then 50 years ago hand guns required permits.

Lets suppose i am an 18 year old who has never had a gun before. To get a gun i must
  • Take a two day gun course totaling over 16 hours of instruction
  • apply to my home town police station for a Firearms Identification Card (FID)
  • The police run a full background check before approving the apllication
  • I must then go to the police station for a three sets of finger pronts and two sets of mug shots.
  • I then have to wait for about a month while the federal gvernment does more background checks and processes my ID request.
  • a mont later i recieve in the mail a photo ID with my finger prints on it which i must carry at all times.
This only gives me the right to carry longuns (rifles and shotguns) "to and from" as in to my house from the store, to the shooting range from my house, to hunting grounds from my house. You cannot just walk around with a gun when you get this permit.

To get a pistol permit being that same 18 year old after completeing all the steps above
  • I must have been in a gun club for over two years
  • The gun club must write me a letter of sponsorship saying that i am capable of using a gun
  • I must then fill out many more lengthy forms at the poilce station along with a brief essay on why i need a "pistol permit" and to what degree the permit will be either "for protection of self and property" (read :concealed) or "to and from"
  • Then there is more waiting and usually you are turned down because you don't really need a handgun for "for protection of self and property"
This is a lenghty and time consuming process and i speak from experience. Don't try to to tell me there is no licensing or regulation thats just plain not true. And all of this is just to get the guns. Now i could type pages upon pages of regulations regarding the storage transportation and use of guns but it won't because its irrelevant.

People have the right ot keep and bear arms it will never be repealed, get over it. And if you think there is not regulation, there is already way to much regulation in my opinion. If you don't know what you are talking about then don't talk.

Some Notes1 Towards2 a Grammar3 of the Second Amendment4 Debate (S.A.D.)5

This is an attempt to nail down some of the recurring patterns in the debate about the Second Amendment. It occurs to me that mapping the territory of the discussion in terms of its recognizable features may be the first step to traveling in a straight line, as opposed to these too-familiar rhetorical circles.

The "God Given Right" Assertion: Probably employed by the user to divert attention from the Constitution, not in fact to assert that God at some point gave the speaker authority to bear arms. It is true that the constitution merely recognizes rights, does not grant them. The right may be granted by god, or inalienable humanity; that is not our concern. Constitution is merely a pledge to respect the right, not a grant in itself.

If the user of this phrase means to borrow from the dignity of the Constitution, then, he is a scoundrel. Who gave the right? If God, well then it's a religious debate. If the Founding Fathers, then why? And does their reasoning still hold? The "God Given Right" assertion provides some advance cover for the user, as it draws the mantle of holiness over the Constitution, surrounding the thought of amending the Constitution with associations of sacrilege.

The Argument by Metonym, or Euphemism, or Elision: Conflation of the entire amendment to the words, "The right to keep and bear arms", sometimes shortened to the acronym "RKBA". In fact the entire amendment is complicated by notions of "a militia", that militia being "well regulated", in service to the "security" of a "free state". Simplifying it to "the right to keep and bear arms" precludes a number of objections to many interpretations of that phrase, objections based in the same authority as the phrase itself. The user of this shorthand summation may be hijacking the process of interpreting the wording of the amendment.

Argument ad Absurdum: Defense Against Government: Responding to the assertion that the amendment clearly indicates the Framers' desire to arm the citizens against a government gone tyrannical, one points out that even if that were the case, the military hardware protected by the amendment as being needed to defend against today's military would include nuclear missiles, nerve gas shells and land mines. Certainly if one's neighbors are allowed, indeed encouraged to keep these things in their yard the housing market will plummet? The sidewalk will not be child-friendly?

The "Lots of things are dangerous, but we don't ban sharp sticks" Argument: An argument ad absurdum which conflates "banning guns" with "banning any object that may cause harm", and then reasons that banning the silliest example of a harmful object (say a frozen leg of lamb used to bludgeon someone) is reason not to ban any harmful object at all. Plays possibly on the fear of a slippery slope, that <bogeyman>the government, the liberals, politicians, non-founding-fathers</bogeyman> will grow more tyrannically powerful if allowed to exercise their tyrannic power in this matter.

The "Guns Hurt People" Argument: An assertion that guns lead to violence and damage to society. Useful only as part of an argument for changing the Constitution, or as part of an argument that denies the notion that the Second Amendment recognizes the right of all people to keep arms in their daily possession and bear them as they see fit. One could agree that yes, guns are bad, but we are powerless to regulate them because of the amendment, but this argument is rarely heard. Usually those who bring up harm caused by guns are doing so to strengthen the argument that even if the Amendment is an obstacle, it should be overcome by the utility of reducing harm. Interpretation or alteration of the Amendment are a separate issue.

The "Guns Help People" Argument: Another argument of utility, i.e. that the positive effects of gun ownership are a present argument to retaining or strengthening the interpretation of the Amendment in favor of gun ownership.

The "Guns Are Tools" Argument, a.k.a. "Guns don't kill people...": Equates guns to other tools, implicitly asserting that tools are neutral in their effects, as often helpful as harmful depending solely on the user's intent. Objection: as the magnitude of help and harm a tool can bestow grows, it is acceptable to place limits on access to the tool. Tools are often regulated, as are constitutional rights limited. Mere physical tools like pesticides are regulated, based on the inherent ability of the tool to cause unintentional harm (]DDT] for example.) Constitutional guarantees are obviously abridged, as you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, or have a free assembly on your neighbor's roof at midnight without his permission, or enter an airport without being searched. So a gun, even if it were a constitutionally guaranteed and neutral device, might be regulated to reduce its involvement in dangerous situations.

The "Places With/Without Guns" Parable: Taking the form: In Switzerland everybody has a gun and there's no crime. Or, In Japan nobody has a gun and there's no crime. Or, My cousin had a gun and stopped a holdup. Or, My cousin had a gun and it accidentally killed a saint. The user of this parable may be asserting that given the presence/absence of guns, the U.S. would be exactly like some other country in the matter of crime. Or that one situation, plus or minus a gun, would have a certain inevitable outcome. This is a simple generalization, but does serve to establish a possibility of the wished-for outcome.

 

  1. I have always liked the term "Monograph", but it is far better not to use it first. I would prefer that some chappie came up to me unasked and bestowed the term on my collection of notes: "I say, Smokey! Read your monograph on the S.A.D., old chap. Smashing!"
  2. Towards? Or Toward? Somewhere there is a dry and pedantical explanation of which is which, and somewhere even an interesting one. This is not there .
  3. I took an interesting course with Damien Conway, the great guru of OOPerl and a great explainer. He illustrated, without defining, the concepts of grammar and grammar generation so well that I finally caught a glimpse over the wall into a rich province of programming and algorithmic thought. But it's not Parse::RecDescent that I'm talking about here. It's the basic collection of tropes that you tend to find in a S.A.D.
  4. Which reads, "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."
  5. An acronym need not be an initialism, but this one is.
The second amendment, has been twisted to mean that people are allowed to own guns, and there is nothing the government can do about it. However, recent research has led to a different interpretation of this right. The different interpretation has come from a debunking of American myths.

When one imagines American settlers, one thinks of men brandishing their guns. The myth goes, every settler had a gun, knew how to use it, and many backwoods farmers were crack shots. The reality could be the exact opposite. Many early Americans did not even own guns. Historians have reviewed countless wills, estate holdings, and other public records. The conclusion was, few Americans owned guns. Those that were owned were passed down as family heirlooms. The majority of guns were too large, too old, and too inaccurate for anyone to use.

The idea of a militia of sharpshooters in American history is very inconceivable. However, it gets worse. When militias did practice, many of the men were drunk. Many drills were not completed as the men were unskilled and incapacitated.

Then why is there a second amendment? The recent theory, not one accepted by the NRA, is that the second amendment was not intended for private citizens to own guns. The plan was for the states to continue supporting a militia, a traditional body the states had come to want. The federal government wanted the states to arm themselves, not their citizens.

Disregarding questions of personal defense, crime, hunting, etc., something that never made sense to me...

I had a roommate--a hippie, no less--who insisted that people needed guns in order to defend themselves against the government. The United States government. Aside from the fact that the level of paranoia involved in this viewpoint--that the government is just waiting to kill us all, and they will if we don't have our guns--I have to ask one thing:

Do you really thing your weapon--be it a shotgun or an automatic weapon, or even a small stockpile of weapons--do you really think that with these things you can take on the United States Armed Forces? Do you really think you're going to win in a battle between you and the Army-Marines-Navy-Airforce-Coast Guard-National Guard? If it's so easy to defend or conquer, then why Waco? Why Ruby Ridge? Why any of these things? If it's so easy, why doesn't it work with the IRA? (Admittedly a different issue, but I'm talking about small groups taking on a large government.)

The United States won its independence from the UK because:

  1. We were 3000 miles away from the country (United Kingdom)
  2. The UK did not send its whole army over here, being occupied with the rest of its empire
  3. We had a lot of help from the French towards the end of the war--which is why there was an end to the war.

The fact that a bunch of farmers had some shotguns did not turn the war to our favor. We're lucky Washington whipped them into a real army, but that's besides the point. We were lucky. It's as simple as that.

And so, I find the notion of "the right to bear arms" as ridiculous, in the context of a defensive measure against the US government. Because frankly, if you disobey, they'll just kill you anyway. There aren't enough of you out there to take on a military with the technology and destructive skills of the US.

Your thoughts?


However, if you're talking about the right to bear my arms by wearing sleeveless shirts, cool. I dig that.
cordelia:

I am repeating an argument that several people have made to me--regarding not the police, but the federal, state, local government, which while may include the police is not exclusive. At any rate, the police do not view it this way--this is not a case of mutually assured destruction working to prevent destruction. The destruction is already happening. Cops aren't about to not shoot someone because they might have a gun. They shoot you if you might have a gun. What I'm arguing is the futility of defense against large, organized, well-armed groups, such as the police, the armed forces, whatever. Individual citizens or even small bands of citizens cannot defend themselves against these groups through the use of firearms. They are killed outright. And what good is that?

The second amendment of the constitution of the USA grants the right to bear arms. This is to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical. The idea is that if the US government were to limit the freedom of the American people, they could fight back.


This is what, in my opinion, would happen:

Of course, the government would limit freedom gradually. It is improbable that it would just start shooting dissenters one day, without warning. It would gradually limit personal freedom. At some point, a part of the population would become angry with the policies of the government, while the rest of the people would still tolerate the government's measures.

At that point, the people who thought that the government was tyrannical would decide to exercise their right to resistance. After exhausting conventional ways of stopping the government through political channels, they would see no choice but to use their weapons to stop the tyranny. After all, that's what they're for!

But a large part of the population would still agree with the same government another part had taken up arms against. We can easily imagine the chaos that would follow: The people would be divided into pro-government and anti-government factions, both of them armed. The government, trying to contain the situation, would use serious measures. It would call in the army, establish curfews, declare a state of war. These measures would in turn increase the conviction of the anti-government faction that the government was indeed tyrannical.

Hello, civil war.

And what would be the outcome? Obviously, the government would win. The US army is better equipped, better trained and probably larger than any conceivable militia force. And now the government would be far more oppressive than before, being afraid of being attacked by the people. Many would have died and everything would have changed for the worse.

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