Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Divergent Beliefs... they apply to the 2nd Amendment.

As my longtime readers know, Doctor Zombie is a liberal weenie. I am really, really liberal. Almost embarrassingly so. But, despite my left leaning proclivities in nearly every facet of my ideology, there is one area where I am not in lockstep with my fellow Liberal brethren and.. sister-en(?). 
That's gun rights. 
I was raised in a household where my father was a police officer. I grew up in a family with a long hunting tradition. I've grown up around guns. I shoot guns. I hunt. I own several guns... including a dreaded Evil Black Rifle (EBR). Yes, I own an AR15. It's a very nice AR15. It's a Spike's Tactical lower with a DS Arms upper and lots of cool black Magpul accessories. I also own several handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
My guns and my right to own them are protected by the US Constitution. The 2nd Amendment is physically where it is in the Constitution because it is second only to the first Amendment - the freedom of speech and the press, the freedom from religion, and the ability to peacefully gather. I'm not a Constitutional scholar, but I'm also intelligent enough to understand that the framers of our Republic put it where they did because it is a protection of all of the other rights enumerated in the Constitution. 
My fellow liberals fear guns. They can't understand why I and 63 million other Americans need them. They feel that they should be restricted, or even banned outright. I'm sorry they feel that way. 
Many other writers have explained why all of the silly restrictions are just that.. silly. Many of them have done so better than I have. Larry Correia , for example. You may want to check out the link there. It's a great, smart argument explaining the pro-gun side.  
Best quote from the article? "You may think that the 2nd Amendment is archaic, outdated, and totally pointless. However, half the country disagrees with you, and of them, a pretty large portion is fully willing to shoot somebody in defense of it."
I understand the arguments people are making for gun control, but they are unrealistic. And, although the NRA kind of took the douchebag route to explain their point of view, they are right. More guns - in the hands of good, trained people - can only prevent these sort of tragedies. 
Some of the arguments for gun control include:
  • Nobody needs high capacity magazines! If there are fewer bullets, fewer people die. 
  • You don't need an automatic weapon for hunting! Nobody NEEDS an assault weapon.
  • The Constitution doesn't cover your machines of death! They're talking about muskets, not AR15 assault weapons! 
  • Anybody who loves guns must be a gun nut! 
All of these arguments are stupid and horribly misinformed. They are arguments made from a place of emotion and fear.  Point by point...
Nobody needs high capacity magazines! If there are fewer bullets, fewer people die. The simple truth is that limiting magazine capacity only means that a determined shooter will bring multiple magazines. How does it do so? A skilled (or even unskilled shooter) can reload and return to target within a matter of seconds. So, instead of bringing three 30 round magazines for their AR, they bring 9 ten round magazines and lose maybe three or four seconds shooting all 90 rounds as they reload. Don't believe me? Check out this video...
The 1994 Assault Weapon ban limited magazines to 10 rounds or less. What did that do? Over 10 years, it had NO negligible difference on crime or shooting deaths. It made grandfathered high capacity magazines ridiculously expensive. High capacity, by the way,  is a bit of a misnomer - high capacity magazines are factory standard magazines. They simply hold more than 10 rounds - a political and arbitrary number. The only result is that it made 10+ round magazines more expensive for legal gun owners. It had zero effect on bad guys, who don't care about the law in the first place. Because they're the bad guys. 
Another side effect? When the ban expired, the first thing I did was run out and buy a shitload of high capacity magazines. So did a lot of other gun owners. Which brings us to the big conundrum of all of these feel good gun control measures - what do you do about the several hundred million guns out there already? What about the several hundreds upon hundreds of million high capacity magazines already out there? 
 You don't need an automatic weapon for hunting! Nobody NEEDS an assault weapon. - I hate how gun guys sometimes get bogged down in the minutia of jargon. For instance, some gun guys will honestly lose their minds every time an uninformed person says 'clip' when they're talking about a 'magazine'. (For the record - a clip is loaded through the top of a gun and the action, and a magazine is loaded from the bottom. 99% of handguns and rifles use magazines. 'Clips', however, is ubiquitous in movies and television and is used interchangeably with magazines by the non-gun public.) 
However unimportant the use of magazine or clip is (we know what they're talking about, why get your panties in a bunch, gun guy?!?) the current control argument is perpetuating some egregious language errors that I feel need to be corrected before I address the larger argument above. I am, after all, a writer, and words matter. 
Automatic weapons ARE regulated. Automatic weapons have been regulated since the 1930's. Legislation was put in place as a result of the actions of Bonny and Clyde and Al Capone. Automatic weapons are legal to own, but MUST be registered with the BATF, a tax of $300 must be paid on them, and only certain highly regulated firearms dealers can sell them. For the record, an automatic weapon is crazy expensive. They cost well over $5000. 
Excuse me while I get pedantic. Don't confuse an automatic weapon with a semi-automatic weapon. A machine gun, where you pull the trigger and a deluge of bullets flies out, is an automatic weapon. A semi automatic weapon is a weapon where, when you pull the trigger, one bullet comes out of the end. To fire another bullet, you have to pull the trigger again. 
So, when people say, "You don't need an automatic weapon' they are actually talking about semi-automatic weapons like the one used by Adam Lanza or James Holmes. And, the term 'assault weapon' is another one of those politically motivated terms. It was coined back during the creation of the 1993 Assault Weapon Ban to denigrate certain rifles that looked bad. Remember when I used the term EBR? That's what I'm talking about. 

So where does all of this talk of terminology land us? It lands us on the side of marketing. And by marketing, I mean it is a ploy to make guns sound worse than they are. You're being messaged here, folks. The fact is that nearly every gun is a semi-automatic weapon. There are exceptions (pump shotguns or bolt action rifles for example), but most rifles, handguns, and even pistols (including the old time cowboy pistols) are semi-automatic. 
Despite the fear that anti-gun advocates have of them - 'assault-type guns' have more uses than simply hunting or spontaneously killing people. My AR can be used for competitive shooting because of its accuracy. It also does have hunting uses. AR's are the preferred weapon for varmint hunting (coyotes, gophers, groundhogs, prairie dogs, etc).
And - do you know what? I use my AR and my handguns for protective purposes as well. I joke about the zombie apocalypse, but the fact is that a police officer is several minutes away and home invasions are on the rise. I carry my handguns with my CCW license, or have my AR available in case I get an unexpected visitor in the middle of the night. I'm there and I'm responsible for the safety of my wife and children. I won't rely on the response time of my suburban police department. 
So yes, my guns serve a purpose that I see as necessary. I'm sorry you don't agree. They are tools, they are recreation, they are a means of self-defense. You can't take them away because of your fear of them. 
The Constitution doesn't cover your machines of death! They're talking about muskets, not AR15 assault weapons! No. They're talking about my guns. The founders did not envision a document that was written in stone. The Constitution is a living, evolving document. The 1st Amendment was written in the late 18th century as well... does that mean free speech doesn't apply to the internet because it wasn't around at that time? How about television? The didn't have TV's when George Washington was kicking around, does that mean the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to it?! Look, saying the 2nd is antiquated is the same ridiculous argument. Society evolves, technology improves, and to argue that the framers of our government didn't believe this is disingenuous and patently stupid. And, that leads to a point I danced around in the last section, and will make clear here. 
The dudes who wrote the constitution had just come through a bloody, protracted war of independence. They recognized that old King George controlled his people in numerous, totalitarian ways and they were damned if it was going to happen again. The grand American experiment they were embarking on was based on the simple premise of, 'Never again'! They also knew that government was easily corruptible. They build a pretty kick ass framework that, looking back, was a genius piece of architecture. The put in a system of checks and balances, and wrote down the top ten rules that were inviolable; the top then things that would ensure that the power rested with the people, and not with the government. 
The 2nd Amendment is there to protect the people. It is there to protect against a government that has decided to run roughshod over its people as England did with its colonies. This has a bearing on history. The 20th and 21st century are rife with mass murder perpetrated by governments gone wrong. Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot, Turkey, Rwanda, Serbia... all of these atrocities - the MILLIONS of lives lost - happened in the last one hundred or so years. And do you know what the prelude to each and every one of these genocides was? The government took the guns away from their people because it's easier to subjugate and murder a populace that can't protect itself. 
I know this sounds like crazy talk and would be more appropriate on Infowars or any of the other myriad and nutty conspiracy sites out there. But the fact of the matter is that the founders of the US saw this as a possibility, and took steps to ensure it wouldn't happen. Don't believe me? See the quotes below from those same founders, writers, and signers of the very 2nd Amendment we're talking about.
  • "On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." (Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322)
  • "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."(George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788)
  • "The great object is that every man be armed" and "everyone who is able may have a gun." (Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution. Debates and other Proceedings of the Convention of Virginia,...taken in shorthand by David Robertson of Petersburg, at 271, 275 2d ed. Richmond, 1805. Also 3 Elliot, Debates at 386)
  • "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-8)
  • "Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244)
  • "A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves …"(Richard Henry Lee writing in Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, Letter XVIII, May, 1788.)
  • "The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full posession of them." (Zachariah Johnson Elliot's Debates, vol. 3 "The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution.") 
  • "… the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms" (Philadelphia Federal Gazette June 18, 1789, Pg. 2, Col. 2 Article on the Bill of Rights)
  • "And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; …"(Samuel Adams quoted in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1789, "Propositions submitted to the Convention of this State")
  • "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States" (Noah Webster in `An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution', 1787, a pamphlet aimed at swaying Pennsylvania toward ratification, in Paul Ford, ed., Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, at 56(New York, 1888))
  • "Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people" (Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788)
  • "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them."(Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights, Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124 (Univ. of Alabama Press,1975)..)
  • "No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion." (James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses [London, 1774-1775])
  • "To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege." [Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, at 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52, at 54 (1878)]
  • "The whole of the Bill (of Rights) is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals.... It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." (Albert Gallatin of the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789)

 All of the above quotes are apropos when members of our current government start bandying around phrases like 'gun confiscation' and 'mandatory registration'. And the quote from Larry Coreia about shooting people who try to take them? That's not too inconceivable a concept.

The fact of the matter is that there are a LOT of guns out there. And those guns are owned by millions of americans who sincerely believe that disarmament is tantamount to subjugation. Isoroku Yamomoto, the Admiral of the Japanese Navy during World War II is credited with saying, "You cannot invade the mainland US; there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."; which touches on our conundrum again. If you've got millions of guns already out there, and add to that people willing to use them in defense of their liberty, how do you expect to take them?


A common phrase uttered by the gun community is 'Molon Labe'. It is attributed to King Leonidas of Sparta, at the stand of Thermopylae. He was told to surrender his swords by the invading Persians. His response was the above phrase; which is translated from Greek as a defiant, 'Come take them."

I, for one, will not give my guns up. Take that for what it's worth, but I and many, many, many other sincerely believe that our guns are part of our American birthright.

Which leads us to our last point:

Anybody who loves guns must be a gun nut! Guilty as charged. But being a 'gun nut' doesn't mean I'm a bloodthirsty, out of control weirdo. I am a responsible, safe firearms owner. I collect guns and own them for their utilitarian purposes. I enjoy shooting, and I enjoy hunting. I enjoy plinking and, yes, sometimes, I like to 'light shit up' with a gratuitous mag dump on some poor unsuspecting milk jug or clay pigeon. 

But because you are uncomfortable around guns, because you fear them, doesn't give you the right to take them away from me as a response to an isolated case where someone with mental health or self control issues perpetrated a tragedy. 

Here's a little truth, I fear guns too. Anybody who shoots them fears them. But it is a healthy fear that drives us towards being safer. I KNOW what my guns can do. I know the power they have, and as such treat them with the respect they deserve. But, a gun is a paperweight absent a finger pulling the trigger, and absent the person holding it. Yes, that is a rephrasing of the much more trite 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people'. But it's true nonetheless, and gun control won't have any affect on evil people. It only punishes those of us (the MILLIONS of American) who are simply exercising a constitutional right.