Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Let the Discussion Begin!

Opening Salvo by Guest poster Alex:
Kevin- instead of taking the “Jane you ignorant slut” approach to a response, I will go point by point and refute your arguments. In many cases I think the logic just doesn’t hold, and in others it may just be a difference of opinion.
That being said, let the games begin.
You say:
“I suggest you read, very carefully, the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by quite a number of intelligent, well-educated, propertied men who decided to stand up against tyranny and break the law in so doing. They pledged their (yes, I know it’s a cliché) “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” in that decision. And most of them lost their lives and fortunes, and several their families. But they kept their honor. Is your argument that there is never a time to rise up against tyranny? Or is it that our government can never become tyrannical?”
Ok, aside from the implication that I haven’t read the Declaration (which is wrong), you completely muddle up what I originally said, and even what I think you are trying to say. But if we look at the first paragraphs of the Declaration we can clear up both points. I never made an argument “that there is never a time to rise up against tyranny” or “that our government can never become tyrannical”. My point was actually simple. That vigilantes- however well intentioned are not revolutionaries, and that when you start talking about throwing off the oppression of the government, it needs to be against actual tyranny- not just something you don’t happen to like.
The opening paragraphs of the Declaration are clear on this point. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”. Pretty clear. It then goes on to list specific and demonstrative overreaches of the King which necessitate the formation of a new government. No representation (this is fundamental to all forms of tyranny). King’s control of the judiciary. The king’s ability to ignore passed laws. Placing the military superior to the civilian. These are major transgressions. And they are designed to keep people from ever having the power to peacefully change their own government through democracy. When, and only when, that right is taken away should the “take up arms for the struggle” idea be flouted.
However none of your previous examples were examples of anything but self defense or vigilantes. And when you support vigilantes you are, in fact supporting tyranny (via mob rule). Long way to go to make my point, but you gun guys like to wrap yourselves up in the flag and say you are preserving democracy and “keeping the government in check”. That is a total crock (my opinion) and belittles the true strength of our democracy- to change without guns through the system in place.
You say:
“All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.”
Ah yes- the tired line of “if only everyone had guns, there would have been no [fill in the atrocity]”. A classic, and wholly flawed argument. It assumes that there is no final solution but armed confrontation, and that any despot attempting tyranny would be thwarted at the first armed resistance. History dictates that armed conflicts can escalate into protracted civil wars, which can be far more devastating to a society than an occupation (and eventual overthrow) of a regime. Take the civil rights struggle in this country. There is no denying how brutal, oppressive and despotic the efforts made to deny a population of their civil rights were from the 40’s to the 70’s in the south. (Yes I know the rights movement began before that, but the really dangerous times- ones in which the demand for equality was met with swift retribution began in earnest in this time) So just arm them, right, and no problems?
What you would have created there is a second civil war. An armed insurgency within our own borders, and, as is the inevitable conclusion of all civil wars, mass casualties and utter destruction. Take the number of blacks tortured, maimed and killed during this period (and it is not a insignificant number, I know) and compare that to a full fledged armed conflict between blacks and whites in the south. Yes, it is comparing a known figure with an unknown, but that is exactly the part the gun guys gloss over. Do you think the whites would have just given up? “Whoa, they are armed, this changes everything… better pack it all in and just leave them alone!” or do you think they would have hunkered down, and gone all out to wipe them out completely. And, in the end, the side with the most resources is more likely to win any conflict, so the blacks still would (probably) have lost the struggle, but at a far greater toll. The civil right struggle would have ben set back decades, and all the rights they eventually gained would still have to be earned- through non-violent means- meaning they got decimated just to do the same thing they had to do anyway. Before you say “an armed populace is a free populace” study the nature of civil wars, because that is the logical conclusion of “everybody has guns”.
You say:
“You ask, “Who(se) definition of society do we have to abide by”? Good question, and one we’re constantly answering. My personal opinion: the one defined by the Constitution. No wonder forces on both the Left and the Right are trying to “reinterpret” it to mean whatever they want it to mean. This is the crux of the entire discussion. I want to keep the power to say NO!! and make it hurt in the hands of individuals, and the Statists - both Left and Right - want to ensure that the use of violence remains strictly in the hands of Government. My way, a lot of day-to-day mayhem takes place. The other way has, historically, can lead to what Professor Rudolph J. Rummel terms “Democide”. There’s that mistake you only get to make once.”
Here we are again at the “my gun is preserving your democracy” argument. This is based on an outdated, romantic delusion of being the struggling freedom fighter single-handedly battling back the “jack booted thugs” trying to take away out liberty. At some point in history, that may have held water, but it doesn’t today. You want to know what will actually take away our freedom? It’s people (on the right and left) who tell us what we can and cannot say, or even think. Being “politically correct” on the left, or “supportive of our troops” on the right has led people to suggest some pretty large steps to tyranny. They brand anyone that doesn’t think exactly the way they do as a threat to “our way of life”, and seek to squash this minority. No debate, just my way or the highway.
The ability to consolidate media in the hands of a few (and to prevent the media from serving as the nation’s watchdog, as it should and must), the ability to allow money to influence our legislature to the degree it does, the attacking of an independent judiciary which is they very backbone of any democracy, and the attempt by those in power to change the rules and checks and balances within the system to stay in power- THESE are the actual threats to a modern democracy. And all your guns won’t do a damn thing to stop them.
You keep waiting for the army to come kicking down your door and “take away the guns”, while the hyper-real threat just unfolds before your eyes and you do nothing. Talk about taking your eyes off the ball. If the groups that spend all the resources crying about how the big bad guvment wants to take away their God-given right to own a bazooka spent half their time actually doing something about the real threats to democracy, we’d all be better off. But I guess putting your money where your mouth is seems like to much to ask. Better to just keep deluding yourself as the nation’s last line of defense, instead of actually realizing that a bunch of nitwits in cammo armed to the teeth are doing zero to protect us from the real threats. But, hey, as long as they support the 2nd amendment we’ll all be OK, right?
You say:
A bunch of arguments about ballistic fingerprinting, gun control efforts in other countries and ineffective tracking measures. (There was a lot of arguments entangled here, and I am not dismissing them by not breaking them out individually, you had very good points -it just seemed like a long recap, so I skipped reprinting them).
You made some decent points here, and I definitely need to educate myself more about the current technologies available before I can refute your considerable evidence. It will take me a while to do that, so all I can do for now is attack a simple premise.
Even if I concede that the technology currently used in attempts at “ballistic fingerprinting” (BF) today does not work effectively (which I am not ready to concede until I get a full assessment, not just the “gun guys spin”), nothing you have shown that it could not be made to work should the technology improve. (i.e. there is no fundamental hurdle that seems impossible to overcome). Star Wars (the military technology- not the once great movie series bastardized into mindless pap), as an example, contains a fatal technology flaw. EMP (the force generated during a nuclear blast) wipes out mechanical and electronic components within a very large radius. So, even if you build a prefect missile hunting satellite (which is still a ways off), the entire network can easily be wiped out by a few detonations in space. This is a fundamental technological flaw- something that no scientist has even hinted at having an idea how to overcome. BF, even in its currently flawed state, does not seem to have these “there is no way imaginable to make this work”. It just needs to improve the technology in place.
Plus, this technology has had zero assistance from the gun manufacturing industry (in fact there has been outright hostility to this approach). So it is natural to assume (at least until proven otherwise) that should the engineers that design guns and ammunition, actually become engaged in producing traceable evidence, the technology would be significantly advanced. Put simply, if the gun industry actually separated the efforts to track criminals from the efforts to control all guns, we’d get somewhere. But they don’t. They look at any sensible reform efforts as the tip of an iceberg that will annihilate the second amendment. Now if there is a reason to oppose the concept of BF, I’d like to hear it. It only affects criminals and aids in their capture (again, the concept- not necessarily the current science). If you want to argue on the practicality of the current state of technology, that’s fine. But if you want to attack the entire idea of BF, that seems wholly indefensible. Sorry I cannot be more specific in this argument about the specifics on the current state, but you presented enough compelling evidence to convince me that it is far more complicated than I originally thought, although I don’t think it is as dire as you portray it (however I can’t back that up… yet)
To recap this diatribe:
1) Yes, you can rise up against a despotic regime imposing tyranny. However, taking the law into your own hands just because you don’t like something the government is doing is being a vigilante. And the examples you gave were of just that. Bullets are not needed as long as ballots are used.
2) It’s easy to say “this would never have happened if they were armed”. Yet it ignores the effect of a protracted armed conflict, which often times would be far worse than the oppression in the first place. At a minimum it is lazy thinking that presumes that guns will stop people from committing terrible acts.
3) You gun does not prevent tyranny. Tyranny today disguises itself in the “need to protect our values” and the Orwellian doublespeak that passes as governance today. It doesn’t come in through a kicked down door by the government, it comes in through defining certain speech as acceptable, and the people who don’t speak like that as “threats”. It lures the unsuspecting in with catch phrases and litmus test that weed out the “troubling elements” and says “we want what you want so lets punish the other guys”. Until you become an “other guy”. And all the guns in the world wont stop it.
4) There are certainly valid concerns about the existing BF technology. But using that to throw out the entire concept is crazy. The question should be, “could we make traceable guns and ammunition that resist tampering?” But the gun industry won’t have it. Better to just look at the first attempt and say “see, it doesn’t work. Better can the whole thing.” All science evolves, and if there isn’t a fundamental scientific reason BF can’t work in concept, then we just have to try harder.
Despite this long winded response, I still don’t think this argument gets at the real core of someone who is in favor of some sensible controls, and a typical “from my cold dead hands” fanatic.
I’d like to challenge you to a larger debate (I don’t think these issues get at the heart of our differences). One that looks at the gun industry as a whole, where reform makes sense, typical straw men used in gun rights arguments, and a comparison of international efforts for gun control. I think only in this type of debate could we really expose some sloppy thinking (on both sides) and dispel of the classic sound bites that do nothing to advance either side’s argument.
(Edited just a little bit by siteowner for readability, and to give it a title.)

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