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View Diary: To my gun owning neighbor and to every gun enthusiast in the United States of America - (333 comments)

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  •  Rights (10+ / 0-)
    " First, I refute any concept that owning a gun is a "natural" or "God Given" right akin to free speech.  This one is pretty simple.   God didn't make guns.  And if you claim that guns are the natural progression of the right to "self defense" then we should all own tanks, flamethrowers, howitzers and military jets - and my argument is not contrived, it's rational - and I challenge you to explain why it's not.  And I'm willing to bet you don't want me having a flamethrower or a tank."
    I think you mean that you dispute the conception, not refute the concept. That little tweak aside, let me take up the challenge—even in the face of your closing emphatic announcement that your mind is not open to discussion.

    Just FYI, in the history of natural rights theory, self-defense is the base and foundation of all other rights. The political theories of these things, studied by our founders and which gave rise to our Constitution, are first found in Hobbes and Locke. The Lockean conception and phrase, adapted for the Declaration, was that government exists to protect rights of life, liberty, and property. Property turned into pursuit of happiness in the Declaration, but here I only note the order of terms, in which life comes first and which presumably reflects the natural order.

    It is a sobering thing to learn that the most basic of our rights, prior to any civil liberty, is protection of our right to our own bodies. And, as was observed centuries ago by these theorists, the government cannot always be there to protect you, at which point you have the right to do whatever it takes to preserve your own existence. In short, the 2nd amendment is not some extraneous "and also" thrown casually into a list of rights, any of which is open to challenge.

    Moreover, if rights are neither God-given nor natural, then we will need to find something else to ground them in. Not only that, we'll need some way to tell the difference between a putatively vital right of free speech and putatively less essential (unessential?) right of self-defense. Does the diarist have some aid to offer in this project?

    Beyond that, I don't see how observing that God did not make guns helps us out here. Is the idea that in protecting our rights we are limited to things made by God? I don't think She made printing presses or the internet, either. Does this mean that free speech is confined to actual spoken words and nothing else?

    As for flamethrowers and howitzers, I sorry to say that, in fact, the argument does seem contrived. Let me simply start from the uncontroversial fact that guns are and have been weapons of personal defense for hundreds of years—howitzers and jet planes, not so much. The latter are purely weapons of war, never of personal defense. We may eventually have difficulty deciding the line between instruments of self-defense and those of warfare (isn't this the entire rationale for the 'assault rifle' distinction?), but to reverse the kind of "slippery slope" claim made here, there is no logical ground for concluding that because it is reasonable that howitzers are prohibited possessions, .22 pistols must also be banned.

    •  Complete and utter rubbish (20+ / 0-)

      It is already beyond argument that having a large number of guns in society causes more deaths than it prevents. For every aspiring Rambo who shoots a burglar (or perhaps a cop who has wandered into the garden following a suspicious person), there are many more gun-related fatal accidents and suicides. Moreover, restricting guns does not mean people simply murder by other means. The "other means" just aren't as efficient. As a matter of fact, a study that compared Vancouver, Canada with Seattle in the mid-80s found that while in nearly every other crime the two cities had closely similar rates, you were eight times more likely to get shot in Seattle, and the teen suicide rate (mostly committed with guns) was ten times higher. Oh, and the murder rate in Seattle was fifty per cent higher too. All those people shot has a "right to life," wouldn't you say?

      So, if the "right to life" is paramount, then governments would be justified in banning the private possession of firearms altogether. By doing this, they would save more lives than would be lost. The damage they'd do to your fantasy world is incidental.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 11:35:19 AM PDT

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      •  Tossing the trash (7+ / 0-)

        Imagine my confusion, when I posted something about rights and in response, receive a lecture about statistics. And not even germane statistics, unless they concern people who owned and fired legal guns in self-defense. Did they? I don't see where that is the case. Or is that one of the things that, so you declare, is conveniently (for you) "beyond argument?" Is the title of your post supposed to be descriptive of your own posting?

        To the very limited extent that you are able to stick to the actual topic of discussion, you invent an interpretation that were there a right to life, it would have to be absolute, so that anything that takes life would have to be banned, lest it possibly injure or kill some other possessor of that right. On your reasoning, the right of free speech would even preclude a heckler being ejected while preventing another from delivering a speech, let alone while shouting fire in that famously crowded theater. Logically (on your view), I would have to respect the life even of someone who attempted to take my own. For that matter, since we require the police to respect our rights, they would have to be disarmed, as well. Needless to say, I don't subscribe to your invented absurdities. But the fact that no right is absolute cannot mean that the right can be legislated away (which I took to be the diarist's hope).

        •  More idle chatter (8+ / 0-)

          I am speaking of your assumption that you have a right to self-defend yourself through a means that will end up causing the deaths of more of your fellow-citizens than would complete disarmament. Perhaps, in your selfishness, that prospect enchants you. But the government, which is supposed to be acting on the behalf of society at large, would be justified in disagreeing.

          "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

          by sagesource on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 02:10:16 PM PDT

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          •  Industrious chatter (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pengiep, CarlosJ

            Except that government generally doesn't disagree. My assumption, as you call it, is pretty much enshrined in law (with state-by-state nuances). You have a right to defend yourself, even if that caused the death of someone else, on the grounds that you have no duty to defend anyone else to your own detriment. That prospect enchants no one, but it is a measure of your own obtuse incivility that you sling the accusation.

      •  I say anyone who is stabbed, or strangled, or (8+ / 0-)

        burnt, or blown up, or clubbed, or ran over, or even beat to death have a right to life.  

        Generally, however, we go after the murderer and not the knife, rope, gasoline and match,  baseball bat, vehicle or fists of the murderer..... and we certainly don't ban those items from those who have committed no crime.

        Only with guns do we seem to focus on the tool/weapon and the law abiding people who might have one....we are not even so wise as to strengthen the punishments of those who happen to commit a crime with a gun or even prosecute more of people who abuse their rights to own one or try in some way to actually put more people, who shouldn't have guns in the first place, behind bars when they try to get one....apparently that would be unfair and unjust.

        •  Do you have the right to live.... (5+ / 0-)

          ....at the expense of someone else's death? Possibly. But if your living means the deaths of more than one other person, you lose that right. The death of one is not more tragic than the deaths of two, three, or more.

          The presence of large numbers of guns in society has been firmly linked with elevated rates of suicide, fatal accidents, and murder. At the same time, the proportion of gun owners who actually defend themselves with their weapons (often against some fate less drastic than death) is miniscule. You are saying that the lives of those many accident, suicide, and murder victims are worth much less than the lives of those few who might be killed by criminals if they did not use firearms to defend themselves. I say that is romantic selfishness.

          In my opinion, gun fetishists (so called to distinguish them from, say, ranchers, to whom a gun is a necessary tool) are borderline sociopathic, since they defend their right to a highly improbable herioc episode at the cost of sacrificing the lives and safety of their fellow citizens.

          "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

          by sagesource on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 02:32:00 PM PDT

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          •  So, if a gang cooperated to murder you, you have (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PavePusher

            no right to lethal force to defend yourself. Is that really what you are saying?

            "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens," -Friedrich Schiller "Against Stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in Vain"

            by pengiep on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:54:57 PM PDT

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        •  Not too many 4 year olds (13+ / 0-)

          have come across a rope or knife lying around, picked it up, and accidentally killed someone.

          Scary how many parents are more casual about their loaded weapons than they are about their paring knives. At least that's how it seems, to judge by all the news articles about kids picking up mommy or daddy's handguns and killing someone while playing with it.

          You never hear about a toddler finding and accidentally setting off mommy or daddy's chef's knife.

          On the whole, I prefer not to be lectured on patriotism by those who keep offshore maildrops in order to avoid paying their taxes. - Molly Ivins

          by Lashe on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 02:39:32 PM PDT

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          •  Unfortunately this is true and it's a symptom of (0+ / 0-)

            people ignoring the first part of the 2nd amendment- that bit about "well-regulated militia" which is the first part of the amendment and thus perhaps the most important part of it. Leaving aside the argument about personal ownership vs. collective ownership by an organized militia, to me at least, our firearms troubles are a result of purposefully ignoring the first phrase of the 2nd Amendment. It demands that for the people to have arms, there HAVE to be regulations, and not just "some" regulations, strong and relatively effective regulations- I might be unique, but from the phrase "well-regulated militia", I get a feeling that gun regulation is an essential part of being allowed to bear arms. I am an owner of firearms. But I am strongly in favor of extensive background checks, licensing and registration, along with a requirement to safely store my firearms so they will only be used by myself or another qualified person. When I go to the range or go hunting etc., I'd like to be as certain as is reasonably possible that any other people with arms that I might encounter have been vetted for their right to have those arms and the ability to safely use them.

            I also think we should refer to "firearms regulation" rather than "gun control". Because we want the firearms that are out there to be in the hands of people qualified to have them, and not to blindly seek to reduce the numbers and kinds of firearms.

            "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens," -Friedrich Schiller "Against Stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in Vain"

            by pengiep on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:05:43 PM PDT

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        •  Ever hear of vehicular homicide? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti, RUNDOWN, PsychoSavannah

          And we already regulate cars in all those ways you claim we could never regulate guns.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:36:07 PM PDT

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      •  We eagerly await your citations. (0+ / 0-)

        Meanwhile, I got dinner to cook and a new computer to set up.

        Your hate-mail will be graded.

        by PavePusher on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:28:38 PM PDT

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    •  False 'logic'. (11+ / 0-)

      Guns have been 'weapons of personal defense' for hundreds of years....for privileged white people. For former slaves in the deep south, not so much. Quite the contrary; guns have a long and repellent history as tools of control, oppression and murder wielded frequently under the control of a plutocratic minority against the majority. And before you say it, that is absolutely not an argument for more gunz everywhere; it's an argument for limiting access to such lethal firepower to legitimate authorities rather than the local KKK.

      Plenty of local petty feudal dictators had their own equivalent of howitzers and jet planes back in the day; they were called castles and catapults. Every lethal weapon developed, up until the industrial age, was used for "self defense" (much more often for the abuse of others) by those able to afford or obtain them. One illuminating exception would be the elimination of firearms from late feudal Japan, because they were a lethal threat to the highly trained and very expensive Samurai warriors used to maintain feudal/social order

      •  Racist laws (8+ / 0-)

        I also read that gun control laws, especially in states of the former Confederacy, were enacted precisely to keep weapons out of the hands of former slaves. And I know that I have read that MLK applied for, and was denied, a gun permit. So I don't think that's exactly the clear-cut instance you think, and is an excellent argument for support of a right that is, in any case, already in existence.

        Printing presses were also for "privileged white people," and were tools of repression and control wielded by a plutocratic minority. Is that an argument for more widespread control of printing presses, or for limiting such presses to "legitimate authorities?" I'm going to go with "widespread."

        In any case, dragging in dictators with howitzers or castles and catapults is just plain strange. But if you want to go that direction, you might recall that one of the most distinctive hallmarks of the citizenship of the English yeoman was that he possessed his own longbow and was both yeoman farmer and yeoman archer.

      •  My family had guns, but they had to be hidden lest (10+ / 0-)

        they lose their life.  Now that we enjoy the same rights as everyone else, in that regard, I do not want it changed.  Perhaps I even value the right to own my gun more so than others...since my family hasn't always enjoyed it as freely as we do now.

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