I've made this point about the 2nd Amendment
several times before
, but too often it's been swallowed up whole in one of my ten page posts, never to be seen or heard from again. During an unrelated thread yesterday, on how good people can do bad things and yet still think well of themselves, this point came back up, and as the perspective was appreciated by a friend who I very much disagree with politically (he still doesn't agree with me, but, even better, it prompted him to give the issue some further thought), I thought I'd essentially re-post it here as a short stand alone post. A friend of my friend replied to me:
"...And at risk of a tangent, I would say that is precisely why I don't buy into the whole idea that we need more "good guys with guns." More people with guns means more people using them to kill, commit suicide, and have accidents."
My reply to that, was:
That is a bit tangential, but I'll go straight to the heart of it: If you were to somehow present me with proof that one or another limitation upon the 2nd Amendment would 'work' to reduce crime, suicides, murders or ease any other societal ill, my opposition to them would remain unchanged. Why? Because neither the 2nd Amendment, nor any other of our essential individual rights that are protected by our Bill of Rights, are there for anything having to do with crime, reducing criminal behavior, or any other failure in our society - that's not their purpose, and proposing limitations to any of those rights, in order to solve issues that are at best tangential to their purpose, is a non-starter.
Those individual rights that are protected in our Bill of Rights, serve two purposes,
1) to preserve each person's ability to live as human beings, and
2) establish an impassible barrier to any tyranny rising to power: if people can speak, associate, worship, discuss, be secure in their homes and property, secure from judicial harassment and able to defend their lives and other rights from assault, then no nascent tyranny can ever rise up any further than its hands & knees.
Parallel to the central purpose of the 2nd Amendment, is that it ensures that each person is able to defend themselves from any personal threat, be it by bear, mugger, mob (or tyrannical govt), by keeping and baring the arms (and guns are but one of many options protected as Arms) which they deem most suitable for them to do so with.
We will never be able to prevent people from making poor, wrong, or evil choices, and attempting to limit their access to one particular technology for putting those choices into action, is simply folly. The issue is a human one, not a technological one, and the solutions to that are to be found in philosophy, morality and education, not law. What we can do though, is enable those on the receiving end of another's unjust actions, to defend themselves, rather than ensure that they are left defenseless in the face of them.
Contrary to the notion that I was going against "...empirical evidence on this issue", what I am stating, is that empirical evidence such as that, is irrelevant to this issue. The 2nd Amendment is no more about crime, than the 4th Amendment (police needing a warrant to search your home, etc) is. No doubt lives could be saved, and crime greatly reduced... if the police possessed the unfettered power to search anywhere, anytime, on a hunch; would you support that? Again, I would not, because reducing crime and saving lives is not the purpose of that, or any other amendment in our Bill of Rights - only preserving our rights, and thwarting tyranny, is.
Reducing crime and saving lives IS our business, as members of a community, but doing that takes real, sensible, persistent effort, to accomplish (involving, IMHO, philosophy, morality & education), and there's no easy fix to them, and especially not through laws (anymore than making drugs illegal, has eliminated drug abuse), and especially not by hobbling or eliminating our ability to think and act as we can best judge to.
I'll resist the urge to expand upon that, and let it go there... for now.
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