Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

The Right to Bear Arms

with 10 comments

Yes, that’s an assault rifle. What’s going on here? Where was this picture taken? How would you react if you came across this fellow a local convenience store? (As always, image is explained at end of post.)

In America guns are in the news today. In an historic ruling yesterday the Supreme Court revisited the Constitution’s 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 court ruled that this amendment does indeed mean that citizens have the right to have a weapon in their home, and that local governments cannot prohibit people from exercising that right. Every other pundit on the planet is going to be writing about this, not to mention every gun control advocate and every NRA supporter. As a former NRA member yet a staunch advocate of the right to bear arms, I thought I’d toss my two cents in. (I’m also a former Boy Scout, hell, I’m a former lots of things.)

First off, I find the extreme positions on both sides of this issue ridiculous and counter productive. The NRA fights even the most reasonable efforts to control gun violence and often distorts the facts and endorses positions that are indefensible. I left them when their magazine ran an ad for a Barrett Light Fifty sniper rifle that included words to the effect of “This is the perfect gun to use when BATF armoured vehicles are coming up your driveway.” I’m sorry, but advertising a purely military weapon to civilians by touting its potential use against law enforcement is just as disgusting as cop killing rap songs. On the other side, gun prohibitionists, like almost all prohibitionists, are blind to the fact that prohibition creates as many or more problems than it solves. In the case of gun prohibition, there’s no evidence it solves a damn thing. Gun prohibition punishes the innocent, wastes police resources, and means nothing to criminals except more profit.

I’m very happy about this ruling for a number of reasons. The main one being that it clearly and finally establishes the ownership of a weapon in one’s home as a individual right. This clause was put into the Constitution because the British were confiscating colonist’s weapons, and the colonists wanted to make damn sure no government they set up could ever do the same. People are not cattle owned by the government, people are the government, and ultimately they have the right to disarm the government, not vice versa. And note that the Supreme Court also made clear yesterday, while the government can’t prohibit the possession of weapons in one’s home, it can most certainly regulate their use and sale. The second amendment does state a “well regulated militia,” the Constitution’s authors did intend for communities to be able to have reasonable restrictions on gun use. I mean, guns are dangerous for God’s sake!

I’m also happy about this because if we are lucky, this will give impetus to reasonable and workable methods of reducing gun violence in America. Because as even the gun right’s supporters must admit, there is way too much senseless gun violence in the USA. And now that banning guns is off the table, maybe we can all work together on this problem? And in that light here is what I think can be done to become a civilized gun toting nation:

  1. Local Background Checks. It should be a no brainer that local authorities should vet gun purchases. None of us wants criminals, the mentally unstable, and people with restraining orders sworn out against them getting guns. And a recent study showed that local background checks reduced homicide and suicide rates by some 25%. I could live with that. Some may object that they don’t trust their local authorities. No problem, they should move to a county where they do trust the local authorities or work to get new authorities in their county. Most of us do respect the local authorities, that’s why we have them.
  2. Time limits and gun limits. I’m sorry, but if someone drives up to a rural gun store and wants to buy a trunk full of 9mm handguns…they’re up to no good. A person can only use one gun at a time, so there’s no good reason why someone would want to buy more than one at a time. I’m not sure what the limit should be, but the aforementioned scenario does occur and it needs to be stopped.
  3. Gun buyback programs. Anyone anywhere should be encouraged to turn in a gun and get money/food/sports tickets/whatever. The reason these programs are so effective is they tend to mostly collect old, cheap, unsafe guns in the hands of people who don’t want them and know nothing about them. IE the old rusty revolver in Aunt Millie’s top drawer that her husband left her when he died, a gun she neither knows how to use or store safely. Why is it so important to get these guns? Because these are precisely the guns that get stolen and used by criminals…or found by children with tragic result.
  4. The media. Sigh. I know it’s complicated, but gun violence is a social and cultural thing. Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, in almost every master bedroom there is an assault rifle. And yet Switzerland has an extremely low gun violence rate. The mere availability of guns is only part of the problem, it’s the attitude toward them that has to change. And that’s where the media comes in. There’s not any question that the media plays a great role in the justification and even glorification of gun violence in America. I’m not advocating censorship, I’m advocating people do everything in their power to pressure advertisers and the media not to support/produce shows that glorify gun violence.

Have a great weekend everyone! Practise safe, sane, and responsible gun use!

(The above image is more or less public domain and I think I’m using it legally: This work is free software; you can redistribute it or modify it under the terms of the CeCILL. Credit: Rama. This is a picture taken in a civilized gun toting nation, Switzerland. It’s a guy on his way home from his annual gun qualification test stopping for some smokes and Pepsi. He does have to have a permit to do this, the millions of assault rifles in Swiss homes are owned by people who have received military training with them and qualify for their use every year. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet home invasion is a rare crime indeed in Switzerland.)

Written by unitedcats

June 27, 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Responses

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  1. I appreciate this blog post.

    As a Canadian, I used to look south and just cringe at a USA awash in weapons and gun violence. I always thanked our government for making it more difficult to obtain firearms, as it certainly seemed to have a positive effect on our rates of gun violence. I found the concept of a handgun deplorable and was glad that there was no real reason for me to ever own one.

    Now that I live here, I must admit that since there are firearms everywhere already there is a certain appeal to being able to defend one’s home. I have mixed emotions about the issue, but will probably purchase a handgun at some point, if only for home security. I do wish that they would tighten the restrictions for accessing a firearm though. A friend of mine recently purchased a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, and all it took was a 5 minute written test that the gunshop owner basically gave him all the answers to.


    June 27, 2008 at 10:00 am

  2. Yeah, in Switzerland, every sane adulte male get an assault rifle, ammunition and the training that go with it, and moreover : there is no fanatism around it. People rather see that as a boring obligation “oh no, I have to do my mandatory training or I’ll get fined” and nobody see that as a way to wipe the bad guys out of the street (the cops are here for this.)

    In fact, the federal government is so weak that nobody would think of his gun as a way to defend from it. It is weak because we don’t have bipartism and we don’t have a president who can do anything he wants to.


    June 27, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    • Ammunition is no longer included in the military kit required to be kept at home. Because guess what would be broken open during a family conflict or suicide attempt?
      People can of course go out and get their own.
      The federal level of government is weak because more power rests in the Cantons – states.

      Lamont Cranston

      October 13, 2012 at 7:52 am

  3. The ruling will stop more than half the arguments that have been heard for YEARS !

    On that score alone maybe we have made progress.

    With the time “free’d up” not having to argue this one anymore, perhaps we can focus on other constitutional issues… like only Gold and Silver as money as called for in our US Constitution.

    With the economic collapse happening in plain sight, it is time to pay attention. Or are we to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain ?

    Much as the right to bear arms is to provide protection from government, so too does a ‘sound currency’. A currency which is nobody’s debt. Certainly not the debt of a out-of-control government.


    June 28, 2008 at 6:56 am

  4. I must admit that I have been pretty disheartened by most of the letters and editorials I have seen regarding this issue, I and ET appear to be almost alone in viewing this decision as a way to end some pointless debate and to look for common ground in preventing gun violence. I am more and more coming to believe that most people live their lives with their eyes glued to long tubes, and they simply cannot or will not make the slightest effort to see things from other people’s perspectives. They in fact on in many cases cannot even admit that other perspectives might exist.


    June 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm

  5. […] Amendment and the right to bear arms. The problem I with that is pretty simple, this issue was settled last year. The Supreme court ruled that the Second Amendment most definitely means that individuals have the […]

  6. you obviously have no idea why we have the 2nd amendment. military weapons are exactly the kind of weapons the founding fathers meant for us to own.

    The main purpose is to defend against tyranny and foreign invasion. All other reasons take a back seat. the constitution does not grant the federal goverment to regulate firearms. any gun law affecting legal law abding citizens is illegal and against the intent of the constitution.


    September 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm

  7. […] RIGHTS: Well, aside from the FACT that the Supreme court recently ruled that we do indeed have a constitutional right to bear arms, Obama’s position on the issue is hardly extremist. Well, unless one thinks there’s no […]

  8. You have misrepresented the meaning of regulated in “well regulated militia”. The meaning and usage of the word regulated speaks to a trained, equipped militia not gun control. We can all argue the meaning of the 2nd amendment, however we cannot argue how words were used and common meaning in a given time and culture. For one to claim the “well regulated” phrase calls for control of arms ownership is just silly. The wanted to make regular the citizen militia, to ensure training and effectiveness. I would also point out the actual ratified version has NO comma after “keep and bear arms”. The actual version reads “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Once again we can argue the need for logical control but it clearly states infringement is not allowed. That is unless “shall not be infringed” is viewed in the modern sense as you are doing with regulated.


    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  9. They can ONLY carry their rifle like that to/from shooting range or annual military qualifications
    And it cannot be loaded
    Switzerland has what the constitution means by militia, albeit at a federal level of organization.
    A bunch of yahoos walking around with pistols on their hip, and dozens more at home, thinking they’re in the old west and everyones out to get them is not what it means.

    Lamont Cranston

    October 13, 2012 at 7:54 am

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