February 27, 2017

January 9, 2013

The Gun Thing, Part VI: Rights and Wrongs

Some thoughts on how the Second Amendment relates to American exceptionalism:

One of the more puerile criticisms is that America is alone among the developed world, and in stark contrast to the more “civilized” nations of Europe, in having private gun ownership enshrined in its Constitution as a right, as though the fact that we are alone in this regard is reason enough to abolish the Second Amendment.

Let me point out just some of the reasons why this is wrong.

- Simplest of all: Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right. We often forget the basic truth of this when we deal with Big Questions. We should stop doing that.

- America is not alone just in the first world, but in almost the entire world. Scour the maps and the data for countries with similarly permissive firearms laws, and you’ll find nothing.

- America is a radical experiment in the idea that government should be the servant of its citizens, not the other way around; that government is a necessary evil, not a benign entity and certainly not a force for good in and of itself. Part of this radical experiment is that the people will decide how best to defend themselves, their families, their property, and their country.

- Yes, this is in stark contrast to the way Europeans have always thought about the individual in the context of the state, but that was the point of the American revolution. That is, in fact, the whole point of America. It is that we enjoy rights given to us by our creator, not given to us by other men solely because of the blood that runs through their veins.

- Remember that in the 20th century alone, Europe had to have their fat pulled out of the fire three time by America. And why? Because each time - the Germans twice, the Soviets once - aggressor nations amassed armed forces and either launched war or threatened war with an unarmed and emasculated Europe. The idea that average citizens shouldn’t have wide-ranging freedoms in firearm ownership, and that their “betters” would protect them, is exactly what allowed World War I and World War II to turn into what they did, with the second world war segeuing into the Cold War.

- It is either the case that there is something special about the land mass between Mexico and Canada such that when you put your feet on it your human nature is changed… or there is not. I think it’s fair to say: “There is not.” Simply being an American citizen, or being a foreigner in America, doesn’t change your human nature and make you entitled to something more than, say, a Frenchmen or a Nigerian or a Laotian is entitled to. So if we are correct that the recognition and preservation of human dignity includes the right to defend oneself, and that such defense includes the possession of firearms, and that these are rights we possess because we are human beings… then it can’t be the case that what’s good for the human beings who happen to find themselves in America isn’t also good for the people who find themselves in France or Nigeria or Laos. It’s therefore the case that every country which prohibits its citizens from possessing firearms… is in error. In other words, the fact that America is alone in its permissive gun laws doesn’t make *us* wrong. It makes everybody *else* wrong. If the right to self-defense is a human right, not just an American right, then that’s where it leaves us. All of Europe, with the possible exceptions of Switzerland and the Czech Republic, are wrong. All of Africa: Wrong. All of South America: Wrong. All of Asia: Wrong.

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One thing that is fundamentally different is that in the US the idea that unless something is prohibited it is permitted.  The mindset in most other countries is that if something is not permitted then it is prohibited.

Thus government is the source of all rights (really privileges) and what government can give it can take away.  That is why the comparison between cars and guns fails. Driving is a government granted privilege, the right to bear arms pre-dated the Constitution and is not a privilege granted by government.  Because government did not grant the right its ability to encroach on it is limited.

What is fascinating is how even liberals understand this distinction when it is applied to the Bill of Rights except the 2nd Amendment.  Only that Amendment gets different treatment and the Right gets converted, magically, to a government granted privilege which may be limited or abrogated as government sees fit.

[1] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-9-2013 at 10:17 AM · [top]

I agree Br, it’s ability to encroach on it is limited…....in theory…..


I think excrement is getting ready to hit the wind-moving-device…..

[2] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 1-9-2013 at 01:00 PM · [top]

Obama has shown that he is ready and willing to act outside the Constitution and the law.  Americas checks and balances are failing against an administration and political party that are ready and willing to act contrary to law.

[3] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-9-2013 at 01:37 PM · [top]

If the current President thinks that he can simply bypass that inconvenient body called Congress and enact serious gun restrictions by executive fiat, I think he’s in for a firestorm of push-back, and not just from conservatives and firearms owners.  He’d be dissing the leadership in Congress and pretty much buying a very contentious second term.  Plus, it would get kicked immediately into the Federal courts and up to SCOTUS, which has consistently shown recently that it will back the 2nd Amendment as an individual right.

Then again, I’d almost welcome him to step into that steaming pile of trouble.

[4] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 1-9-2013 at 05:18 PM · [top]

I think the current POTUS WANTS that fight.  He has just been waiting for a winning issue, an issue he thinks has enough legs to carry past the pathetic leadership in the Senate and the House.

I saw an article that even Marco Rubio was getting weak kneed on the gun issue.

Ya think John Bohner is going to suddenly grow a pair [parden me, don’t know how else to express the thought]?

SCOTUS is a heartbeat or two away from being an Obama-packed house.  We’ve no doubt seen the last pro-2A decision from that body.  Heck, according to them Obamacare is just fine and dandy.  And why are all these mayors talking so tough?  They know the 2A push from SCOTUS is done.

Nope, if the Prez decides to push ahead you may see ugly like we have not seen since the war of Northern Agression.  And I firmly believe there are a number of folks in Washington DC just itchin’ to have that happen.

[5] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 1-9-2013 at 06:12 PM · [top]

The photo used with this article is too distrubing - at least to me.  I wish that you would take it down.

[6] Posted by Nikolaus on 1-9-2013 at 06:29 PM · [top]

If I were you I would seriously consider going to a gun show this weekend and stocking up on supplies.

I predict Obama will ban all semi-automatic guns and any clips holding more that 10 rounds.

[7] Posted by B. Hunter on 1-9-2013 at 07:15 PM · [top]

Please use correct terminology .  You mean magazines.  A clip is used to hold ammunition for insertion into a magazine.  For example the 8 round en block clip used to load the M1 rifle.

[8] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-9-2013 at 09:05 PM · [top]

If POTUS decides to bypass Congress and rule by decree it is time for impeachment.
And please leave the the photo posted, here’s why:

Many years ago i was dating a very sweet jewish girl. One day while browsing in the bookstore I came upon a horrifying photo from the Shoah with a brutal and armed government official leaning over a group of prone naked Jewish women in order to murder one who had raised herself up in defiance. In that picture all I could see was my friend. Defenseless innocents disarmed by goverment decree obediantly went along with the socialist government which had declared war on them.

[9] Posted by Stefano on 1-9-2013 at 09:18 PM · [top]

CFW (5), I’m under no illusions that there probably WILL be some legislation coming down the pike in the wake of Sandy Hook.  And that it may garner bipartisan support.  Personally, I think there needs to be a debate.  But I also, perhaps naively in your eyes, don’t see this nation as so far down the rathole of the chief executive-as-emperor that Obama could get away with such an executive power grab with utter impunity.

Many if not most Dems in the Senate and House still remember what happened to them in 1994 in the wake of the Clinton AWB.  They lost the House in 2010 as a direct result of ObamaCare, which at least could be argued to be passed by a bare majority of both houses, but at least with the fig leaf of legislative process.  A hugely unpopular power play by BO on this issue could, just could, be the petard that hoists the liberal Dems.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty attitude before a fall.”

[10] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 1-9-2013 at 11:50 PM · [top]

I doubt that there will be much of a debate.  I see very little of it in press.  What is see passing for debate is demagoguery, propaganda, lies, deception and sloganeering.

For example they want to ban “assault weapons” when what they mean is commonly used semi-automatic fire arms.  There is deliberate confusion by throwing around terms such as assault weapons, assault rifles, spray fire, guns that shoot hundreds of rounds a minute etc.  All this this is deliberately designed to confuse the debate and to make people think that a semi-automatic firearm is a machine gun.

“Gun show loophole” when they mean ending private sales between individuals and require all gun sales to go through a FFL holder.  All persons dealing in firearms must have an FFL and conduct a background check when ever they transfer a firearm whether in a shop, on the street or in a gun show.  There is no gun show loophole. 

Using a hunting standard for allowable firearms when the standard is for militia or military purposes.

[11] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-10-2013 at 07:03 AM · [top]

Saw a great post on Face Book “I saw a movie once where only the police and military had guns, it was called “Shindler’s List “”

[12] Posted by Dave B on 1-10-2013 at 07:22 AM · [top]

Nikolaus, here is the caption from that photo. This is what happens when the right and willingness of human beings to keep and bear arms and defend themselves disappears:

Mass Murder Einsatzgruppe member kills a Jewish woman and her child near Ivangorod, Ukraine. 1942. Credit: Jerzy Tomaszewski, Poland
Mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) followed the German army during its invasion of the Baltics and the western Soviet Union, first killing Jewish men, Soviet political commissars, and others considered racially or politically dispensable. Months after the invasion, Mobile killing units turned to the execution of women and children. Open air killings continued in areas of eastern Europe during 1942 and by the spring of 1943, Einstagruppen units A-D had killed over 1 million persons.

[13] Posted by Chazaq on 1-12-2013 at 12:10 AM · [top]

Do not forget the 3rd amendment when talking about how the second amendment was put in to prevent tyranny.

Ben Shapiro did an A+ job on Piers Morgan the other night by smartly, calmly and expertly arguing his case.  It could have been a bit stronger by reinforcing his argument with the 3rd amendment.

When that fatuous blowhard said, “Do you realize how absurd you sound?”  Ben did a great job of punching back twice as hard, but adding that the 2nd and 3rd amendments both provide guarantees against the spread of tyranny would have been a bit more forceful.

[14] Posted by Seanny Rotten on 1-12-2013 at 11:51 PM · [top]

Maybe if we had conscription—like Switzerland does—and required all the young men conscripts to store their fully automatic firearms in their home—like Switzerland does—then maybe our gun culture would be different.  A couple of other things I love about Switzerland, one, though taxes everywhere in Europe are high, they are pretty low in Switzerland by European standards and most importantly, they practice federalism in a way they we don’t—but used to.  Federal income taxes in Switzerland top out at between 10-13%—but by far the vast majority of the taxes you pay in Switzerland are at the local and canton level.  Most governmental expenditures are local, not national.

[15] Posted by Matthew on 1-16-2013 at 05:56 PM · [top]

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