Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bang or Whimper? 

One of the unfortunate side-effects of the VA Tech shootings is that the usual one-sided anti-gun debate has been pushed to the fore again, in the typical knee-jerk way that the "We're Scared of Everything" lobby has of doing things.

"Someone was killed by a drunk driver? WE MUST OUTLAW CARS AND LIQUOR!!!"


"Second hand smoke might, possibly, maybe cause cancer in rats kept in a cage full of it for years and years? HOLY SHIAT - SHOOT ALL THE SMOKERS NOW!!!"

"Some prom girl dropped her baby in the trash? MOTHER F***, LEGISLATE AGAINST PREGNANCY!!!!!"

And so on.

What the gun-grabbers fail to mention is this: the presumed shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, was the only civilian with a gun on campus on that infamous day last Monday. He was shooting fish in a barrel, and it wasn't until Campus Police and Federal Authorites took action during his second shooting spree that he was brought down.

But... if there had been one other armed student or professor or person in the dorms or in the classrooms, it's quite possible that the fatalities could have been limited to a handful, or one, or none.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm a flaming liberal, but this is one issue on which I differ from what is apparently the official party line. Why? Well, first off, I believe in the Constitution, all of it; I don't cherry-pick my amendments to suit my tastes. And, like it or not, the Second Amendment does guarantee citizens the right to bear arms. Specious arguments aside, this means that the Government does not have the right to prohibit citizens from having guns. Period.
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 entire Amendment. And some people argue that "well regulated militia" means only men between the ages of 18 and 50 who have been trained as some sort of paramilitary entity -- i.e., the police, national guard or armed forces. However, that argument is blown up by the second clause, which refers to "the right of the People". In other words, while the intent of allowing gun ownership may be stated in terms of the need for a militia, ownership of said guns was not limited to the militia. It is a right specifically granted to the People, without qualification.

This amendment certainly came in handy in 1812, when the British invaded America, trying to take back what they'd lost nearly forty years earlier -- and that was precisely one of the intents of the Founders when they wrote it. The other intent? Quite wisely, they knew that the last resort of the people against a government who'd gone mad with power was revolution, and without arms, there can be no revolution.

The other specious argument against the Second Amendment is this: "Well, obviously, the Founders had no idea that automatic weapons and armor piercing bullets and all that would exist some day." True, maybe they didn't. But they also didn't know that the Internet would exist, yet the First Amendment still applies to it. There were certainly deadlier weapons than guns in 1789, but no distinction is made in the Constitution. The Second Amendment doesn't read "the right to bear handguns only, but not muskets, rifles, Greek Fire, Trebuchets, Black Powder, etc.". It just specifies "arms", meaning any weapons whatsoever. What the anti-gun types seem to forget is that the Second Amendment also applies to swords, knives, armor, slingshots, pea shooters, rocks, and so on. Arms is a synonym for weapons -- and, so, the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the People to have any and all weapons whatsoever. In fact, as written, there's no Constitutional reason whatsoever that a private citizen could not own a nuclear bomb. It's just another kind of arm, after all.

What the gun-grabbers also like to ignore is this fact: Laws do not stop criminals. The very definition of "criminal" is someone who breaks the law. And so, their efforts to ban guns have only one effect: the law-abiding types will bow down and give up their weapons. Consequently, they are helpless against those who don't pay attention to laws. It may seem a trite slogan, but it's true: "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

And outlawed guns are the perfect way to embolden criminals. Any crack head with a Saturday Night Special has the potential to become a home invader as long as he or she assumes that the homeowner is unarmed. But... if it's more likely than not that said homeowner is going to greet any unwanted visitor with both barrels of a shotgun, there's a major disincentive for crime right there.

To deal with gun crime, the answer is not to ban guns. Rather, it is to guarantee arms for all citizens, and guarantee immunity for defensive killing. In other words:
  1. Make it very easy for anyone without a criminal record or history of mental illness to purchase whatever weapon they feel appropriate for home defense. This is not a blanket "conceal/carry" law. Rather, it's an "arm your home as you feel necessary" law.

  2. Eliminate any possibility of legal penalty for a person who kills a trespasser on their own property.

  3. Publicize both laws massively.

  4. But... enforce strict liability in cases of accidental death, i.e., "the kids got hold of the gun." Just to keep the whiners placated, of course.
End result? Burglars, robbers and other petty felons thinking twice before they invade private property -- and random campus shooters like Cho being very worried that the first shot they fire in the dorm might be their last before some angry frat boy puts a bullet in their skull to protect his friends.

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