Thursday, July 24, 2014

A discussion on the 2nd amendment

This is the start of a discussion on the 2nd amendment that I was assigned for my Humanities class:

I am a big fan of the 2nd amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  I am a supporter of the Constitution itself ( ), with the exception of the 16th amendment which I do follow but also strongly believe should be repealed.  I have spent a lot of time studying the Constitution and the founders writings including, but not limited to, the Federalist Papers ( ), the Anti-Federalist  Papers( ), and James Madison’s notes from the convention ( ).  Contrary to the claims of many the 2nd amendment is not about hunting, it is about defense:  defense of self; defense of family; defense of community; defense of country.  In all of the history of mankind there have only been two outcomes from disarming the populace:  1) innocent people are slaughtered wholesale; 2) the populace is enslaved by government.  These are the only two outcomes from disarmament and, as such, are the only two possible motivations for disarmament.  Anyone that is trying to disarm the people is either: a) trying to get millions of innocent people killed, or b) trying to enslave the people.

Gun bans do not make people safer.  Australia passed a near total gun ban in 1997 and crime rates skyrocketed ( ) ( ).  Great Britain has had tight firearm controls since WW2 and in 1997 banned handguns with predictably bad results ( ) and now has people being carved up in the streets with butcher knives ( ).  Chicago has some of the strictest firearm restrictions and a violent crime rate that is nearly double the national average ( ) and Washington DC with similarly restrictive gun laws is not much better ( ).  Compare this to Kennesaw, GA that passed a (ridiculous and totally unenforceable) law in 1982 that required every home to have a gun in it and it has a violent crime rate less than half the national average ( ).  In fact, Kennesaw technically has a lower crime rate than the town I live in, but then I live in a town of 450 people and we have one family that likes to beat each other up, occasionally shoot each other, and has some rather unsavory associates.  

Many people claim that private citizens have no need to be armed because the police will protect them.  This is a fallacy.  The Supreme Court and lower courts have made multiple rulings that state the police have no obligation whatsoever to protect people ( ) and ( ).  In fact an innocent person is by far more likely to be killed by a police officer than to be protected by one ( ).

Another fallacy is that gun free zones make people safer.  The Gun Free School Zones Act was passed in 1990 originally as part of the Crime Control Act of 1990 ( ) and the results have been predictably disastrous.  Just a brief look at mass shootings since 1999  ( ) shows that there were 30 mass shootings of which 7 were in schools and 11 were in other “Gun Free Zones” (churches, government buildings and private facilities clearly marked as Gun Free Zones).  There is no mention of intended mass shootings that were thwarted by an armed private citizen.  Gun Free Zones were clearly created to get innocent people killed ( ).  From the near orgasmic responses of Senator Diane Feinstein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the bulk of the news media after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it is quite clear that this is true.  These “progressives” spun themselves like whirling dervishes into a frothing frenzy counting the dead bodies, celebrating the perpetrator, and exploiting the victims and their families.  The media response was even more revolting than the slaughter of those innocent children, if you can imagine that being possible.

One completely misguided argument I often hear is that the founders had no way of imagining modern firearms.  This may be true from the straight technology standpoint, but only in the same sense they could not imagine computers, vaccinations, antibiotics, or the light bulb.  In the founder’s day private citizens owned cannons and there were some multi-barrel gun carriages that could fire as rapidly as any modern sporting rifle.  In the Revolutionary War the assault rifle of choice was the Brown Bess ( ), which was not actually a “rifle” per-se because it was a smoothbore (like a shotgun) and had no rifling in the barrel.  Hunting rifles of the day were 32 to 50 caliber (.32” to .50” ball) with rifled barrels, mostly leaning to the smaller size, and took 2 minutes or so to load per shot.  The Brown Bess is a 75 caliber (.75” ball) musket that could be loaded 2, 3 or more times per minute in the hands of a skilled shooter.  This is a fourfold increase in rate of fire with a ball that weighs 2 to 4 times as much as the hunting rifle projectile.  These things were devastating in battle and every male between the age of 18 and 60 was expected to either have one or access to one.  The founders had certainly seen the improvements of many machines and the older ones had seen the introduction of the Brown Bess as an improvement over its predecessor, so they certainly anticipated great improvements to firearms in the future, even if they didn’t know exactly what those improvements would be.

I am an avid shooter, a firearms instructor, a range safety officer, and a gunsmith.  I haven’t hunted since I was 18 although I fully support those who do, I just find it to be a pain in the posterior and have better things to do with my time.  As an engineer I am fascinated by firearms for the machines they are.  I also recognize that as machines they have no soul and no will of their own.  They are tools that can be used for good, evil or no moral purpose at all, as in the case of target shooting.  How the tool is used entirely up to the person wielding the tool and what their intent is.  In one of the killings in the above listed article a hammer was used to kill and in two others knives were used as well.  It is entirely up to the person as to what they will do with any given implement.

While I oppose virtually all gun control legislation, I am all in favor of the National Instant Check System (NICS) that was instituted as part of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 ( ).  This is the “background check” system that is used when private citizens purchase firearms from licensed dealers.  We do have a serious problem with mental health in this country and I would like that information to be included in the NICS system.  There is a provision for it, but it is optional and many states simply do not submit the information.  There is a large call for this check to be expanded to all gun sales, but in order for that to actually be functional would require gun registration.  That worked out oh so well for Germany in the 1930’s now didn’t it.  Any information the government has will be misused for political purposes, look no further than the NSA ( ) and IRS ( ) scandals for proof.  I would however like to see the NICS system to be opened up so private citizens could optionally use the system when they sell a firearm, although I’m not certain how to make that work and still protect privacy.  I personally have only sold 4 firearms and I sold them to people I knew and knew were of no danger to anyone.

I am in favor of expanding the number of people that are legally carrying concealed pistols.  I also believe that this responsibility requires some training on an ongoing basis.  There is no such thing as too much training and I consider it to be the responsible thing to do.  I personally legally carry a pistol wherever it is not prohibited and I make it a point to get at least one professional training class per year, sometimes more, as part of my obligation of concealed carry.  I also teach classes for this purpose.

Some people claim that the 2nd amendment is old, outdated and no longer relevant.  Many of those same people say the same thing about the entire Constitution.  I disagree.  I believe the 2nd amendment, and the entire Constitution for that matter, is as relevant, if not more, than the day the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified.