Saturday, January 19, 2013

Non-Partisan Thoughts on Gun Control and Fear

[This short article does not draw any final conclusions on this subject. It is intended to be a place to start: ideas and questions to begin upon in your own contemplation. On this site you will never be told what to think; neither will you intentionally be handed ammunition to use to tell others what to think. Rather, you should be encouraged to think.]

Text of the Second Amendment:
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. 

The second constitutional amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, was authored out of fear - an honest and well-justified fear of government - but fear nonetheless. The purpose of an active militia is to protect the people from a ruined State; to maintain, not merely the philosophical grounds for, but the constant pragmatic threat of revolution. The founders did not consider themselves, or their fresh (and often conflicting) ideas on government, to be perfect and readily admitted the possibility that their new nation could go very wrong.

Fear was the motive, and until that is grasped all other questions, arguments, and ideologies are secondary, because fear motivates all people in this discussion and makes them into equals. The 2nd amendment was authored out of fear of Bad Government, and gun control legislation is authored out of fear of Bad People. The First Question is: In today's world, which is the more immediate fear?

It is only after that question is answered that we can gain a real grasp of this issue. Its answer places the question of control in a different, and possibly brighter, light, and gives rise to a new set of questions which are not often even asked in the present debate.

For example, if we assume that our answer is Fear of Bad People then we're forced into a few other questions. For the moment forget about whether more or less gun control is good for protecting us against bad people and answer this: Is the language of the 2nd Amendment useful for this new purpose? It frames the debate in terms of the other, Fear of Bad Government, and says nothing about the right of a person to self-defense. No matter what our queries support in terms of the effect more or less gun control has on the increase or decrease of violent crime rates, the 2nd Amendment appears to need revision if our acting motive is fear of Bad People.

If we assume the other way, that our primary fear is of Bad Government, then it hardly matters what the effect of gun control is upon violent crime. If we have to pay for our protection against Bad Government with increased violence in the streets or slums, then so be it. If not, great, but if that's the price then we'll pay it.

In other words, the discussion of whether or not gun control laws make us safer is meaningless unless we answer the question: Safer from what? And, if we answer, safer from Bad People, then the 2nd amendment becomes, in a real way, obsolete.

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