Ugh! Sometimes I just can’t stand the people I’m closest to in politics. It’s times like this that reassure me that I’m a free thinker and not a lemming: I’ve slowly gone from pro-capital punishment to against, war admiring to war hating, and am slightly becoming more non-animal-eating*… but on the issue of gun control I can’t stand how delusional progressives and (non-classical) liberals are!
Yesterday I was listening to Thom Hartman on Air America, and 90% of the time I totally agree with him. But he was discussing gun control and any time he does that I think he enters La-La Happy Magic Fairy Land.
Like most liberals (from here on that will always refer to non-classical (libertarian) variety), Thom seems to think there is no purpose and use to the 2nd Amendment any longer, and private ownership of firearms is unnecessary. Honestly, I wish to goodness he were right, but he’s not. We live in a world where guns exist, they can’t be uninvented, they won’t go away. The Pandora’s Box can’t be closed. We can see what would happen if gun were banned outright by looking at the U.K.
Since 1997 all private ownership of guns, both pistol and rifle, has been outlawed. Period. How’s crime going there? Increasing ever since, and the UN has even declared the U.K. has the worst blackmarket gun problem of any western nation:
- This is what happens when governments try to ban guns
- Gun Control’s Twisted Outcome: Restricting firearms has helped make England more crime-ridden than the U.S.
- Myth #3: Gun Control Has Reduced The Crime Rates In Other Countries
- Handgun crime ‘up’ despite ban
The U.K. is the closest society to the U.S. aside from Canada in all ways (except they’re less religious than we are). Looking at the way their crime has soared despite complete gun control is a good indicator of what would happen here. I really wish a magic wand could be waved and all guns disappeared forever, but that’s not reality. Reality is the truth of the axiom: if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. And they will have them.
The liberals love to harp on the wording of the 2nd Amendment as proof that the framers of the constitution did not want individuals to have guns, but rather militias. State controlled armies that can be called into service to defend the nation. But there’s a problem: militias are defined and codified and allowed already in the Constitution under Article 1 Section 8. The Bill of Rights is a set of amendments to the Constitution which deals with individual rights, freedoms and liberties which by and large define ways in which the populace had rights over the government. To have the militia defined and legalized in the Constitution to make a return in the Bill of Rights implies specifically an intent for an armed citizenry. And it’s not hard to understand why!
Jefferson, among others, fought hard to prevent the US from having a standing army. (See how far we’ve drifted from that original intent!) The militias would be the citizen army called to fight if need be. But the framers also recently had to deal with breaking from a government which attempted to disarm the colonies. Tried to control citizen gun ownership as a means of controlling the citizens and preventing “trouble making” and revolt against the Crown. Citizen gun ownership was key and vital to our having been able to fight for our freedom and liberty and throw off the yoke of oppression. The framers intended the people of the US to have to ability to do so again:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it… (Declaration of Independence)
Obviously, the preferred means of altering government is via politics. But they realized governments can turn against the people that they are supposed to represent–it’s happened throughout history and the Founders just fought a war over it, they surely anticipated it could happen again.
Arguably more important than the detente that is approached with criminals by an armed populace is the political benefits an armed citizenry produces. A government destructive to the purposes of defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will never be able to go as far as it might want knowing the populace already has the means of holding an armed resistance. Could a populace armed with pistols and rifles and shotguns withstand a full militarized war with the U.S. military? No. Apache helicopters, Abrams tanks, and grenade launchers will beat a .30-.30 any day. But the resistance that could be mounted would be long, painful, horrible, and so bad that only an empire that already controlled the rest of the world would consider fighting against such rebellion.
See, Thom would reply to such an idea on his radio show with shocked admonitions against wanting such a thing to happen, aghast that anyone would desire such a situation. No one wants that to happen!! And so long as it’s a possibility, it’s less likely to happen. But here’s the bottom line of this argument: Should the government become so powerful and corrupt that it were to instigate complete martial law and removal of civil rights, would it be better to roll over and let it happen, or to fight it? Even knowing how horrible the loss would be? I say better to fight! Chances are likely other factors would intervene…
The caller Thom was talking to brought up the French Resistance in WWII, using guerrilla tactics and even homemade guns made from bicycle parts, against a massively more powerful army. Thom’s refutation is “they failed. It took the armies of the US and UK to defeat Germany.” Indeed it did. If the US government went into lock-down and sought to disarm and depower the US citizenry, and we fought a horrible resistance, there’s a good possibility that the nature of such a conflict would encourage other nations’ armies to come to our aid. It happened in the American Revolution and even our own first Civil War. We might start out fighting and dying alone, but it wouldn’t stay that way should the US government turn completely criminal. (Assuming we hadn’t already taken over and dearmed the rest of the world.)
Secondly, the majority of the US military is comprised of the American heartland. Should New York or California revolt, they wouldn’t have a chance. But should the Midwest and South get involved in a rebellion against the federal government (especially the South), you can bet a large number of servicemen and women would remove the uniform and also rebel. And they’d bring with them their body armor and M16’s and AR-15s, and would “liberate” heavy ordinance just as rebel Generals Washington and Knox did in the Revolution. In fact, should things get increasingly bloody and untenable in an American Civil War, I would bet a few military leaders would attempt a coup. I have no doubt at all that most military leaders would rather an unarmed citizenry and a fascist state, but they also don’t want to be slaughtering their own people either.
If the American people were unable to fight a rebellion, the military would likely love an order from the President to instill martial law. But the threat of a civil war makes them think twice. It’s a horrible truth that the Cold War remained cold thanks to the looming nightmare of mutually assured nuclear destruction. Again, guns exist and they always will until humans fundamentally evolve away from aggressive capabilities and scarcity is eliminated, both. Until that time, it’s a fantasy to believe that criminals aren’t less active when it’s possible the potential victim can defend themselves with lethal force, and governments aren’t leery of fascism when the populace can revolt.
Do accidents happen with gun, sure. Sadly, innocent people get hurt, children find improperly stored guns, Bad Things Happen. The price of reality without magic wands. But the problem isn’t the item, it’s the underlying causes. It’s the same issue as the failed War on Drugs: drugs will always exist so long as people have minds to alter and stresses to escape from. It is impossible to end drug abuse by attacking the supply–the cause of addiction has to be addressed. Likewise, the social ills that create social conditions for crime need to be addressed. Gun safety needs to be encouraged as a cultural element as it was pre-1970s when young boys were taught respect and and proper use for guns (and today, girls should absolutely be a part of that unlike those days past). Like teen sex, it’s not going to magically go away if we ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and encourage abstinence only. Proper education and realistic approach to the subject prevents disease and pregnancies–the same thing will prevent more firearm accidents.
The UK has certainly shown us that people aren’t harmed less by guns when they’re told by politicians to magically disappear.
* I’m not sure how far I’ll get with that. The mass commodification of living creatures for consumption kind of sickens me… but damn, meat tastes so good! A nice grilled brat with kraut and spicy mustard, bacon wrapped scallops, herb crusted crispy skinned Thanksgiving turkey, a succulent top sirloin with a touch of pink in the middle… *sigh* My ideology makes eating meat increasingly sad and gross, but my taste buds will always vibrate and my mouth water for succulent animal flesh! I’m cutting myself down to only poultry and seafood, with beef and pork as very rare occasions.
UPDATE (19 Jun 08, 10am): I had a thought to add.
It’s easy to scoff at the idea of the U.S. government ordering martial law and locking the country down and strip us of civil rights. It’s easy to sit back with a smug smile and say “it can’t happen here; we’re too modern and big yadda yadda. This whole idea of keeping arms to fight a possible rebellion against the government is too far-fetched to even contemplate.”
Yeah, I wish that were true.
Honestly think back to 10 years ago. If you were told the following would happen during the next president’s term, would you believe it? That…
- The White House employees would literally swap out a bill in the middle of the night before it was to be voted on by Congress, replacing what Congresspersons reviewed with one which gave the FBI the power to monitor U.S. without judicial warrants in addition to a dozen other civil rights eliminations and violations? (Patriot Act I.)
- The President would sign an Executive Order stating that he has the power to declare a State of Emergency at will, by his own discretion, and should such a state exist, the White House has sole control state and federal government? (Homeland Security Presidential Directive #20.)
- The President would rescind the writ of habeas corpus which since the Magna Carta (1215 A.D.) allowed citizens to challenge their arrest and detainment in a court of law, thus giving the administration the power to label anyone they want an “enemy combatant” throw them in a hole?
- The White House would instill a plan that educated pastors and priests to encourage their flocks to remain passive and cooperative should martial law be declared?
- That the administration would authorize and encourage the use of torture on captives, some of the same techniques which we tried and persecuted WWII Japanese officers of performing?
- Would maintain secret prisons throughout the world in places which we have previously admonished for using even worse torture methods?
- The White House would actively and knowingly twist and contort intelligence information to take the country into war and support war profiteering by corporations owned (or held significant shares in) by people in the administration?
- The President would use classified CIA information for political purposes to discredit political opponents to the point of even putting their and their assets’ lives in danger and destroying years worth of cover-building?
- The White House would instigate secret mass wiretapping of domestic citizens without judicial or congressional review or oversight?
- Would create a politically oriented organization (with a name harkening to his grandfather’s support of the Nazi Party…”Homeland Security”) which would control all domestic and foreign intelligence gathering as well as domestic security under his direct control?
- Would utilize private paramilitary organizations (e.g. Blackwater) for foreign security service, covert operations, and domestic service without congressional or judicial oversight or review or legal ramifications for their actions? In essence, creating a private army without Constitutional mandate?
- Would instigate a federal identification program which would prevent or limit travel within even the U.S. without “proper papers”? (And other civilian watching, monitoring, and controlling programs which would have little to no effect in preventing domestic terrorism.)
- Would rescind Posse Comitatus which protected the 4th Amendment and prevented the federalization of military actions on U.S. soil?
…just to name a few.
If you honestly thought 10 years ago that one president wouldn’t be able to do all this, then imagine whatÂ might happen should one president declare war on a country like Iran? Or what he’d do should there be another domestic terrorist act? He’s set the pieces of the board perfectly so that at the littlest provocation the Office of the President would run the country like a dictatorship. It might be Bush, it could be the next President, could be the one after that.
We don’t know, and that’s the point! That’s why there are protections defined by the Constitution, not to tell us what we should do when something happens but to help prevent Bad Things from happening. Like impeachment. It’s not there just to punish a President (or Vice President) for acts they commit, but also to discourage future Presidents from committing high crimes and misdemeanors. An armed populace helps prevent a dictatorship, which very well can happen here: