Guns and Going to the Extreme

Let’s talk guns for a minute:

It’s an important thing to carry ones argument to the failing point, and every argument has a failing point. I tend to be more libertarian, but the libertarian failing point is anarchy – when you carry libertarian principles to the extreme, the result is anarchy, which is a failed idea. So, as a libertarian leaning person, I must recognize the failing point, or the extreme, of my values, and then draw a line. Some might say “anarchy is the way to go,” in fact, I remember debating someone with that view in high school – I showed her that the result of anarchy was mob rule, or worse, strong-man rule. She insisted that with no laws, people would be inherently good and treat each other justly. In her mind, all evil stems from the government. I disagree with her fundamentally. I believe that, while most people are good, it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone else: this is the purpose of government – to keep people from harming others or taking their stuff. 

Having gone to the extreme of my viewpoint, I draw the line. For me, the place to be is as far toward the libertarian extreme as we can get, without the breakdown of society. For me, the line is the US Constitution. There are, admittedly, a couple of amendments that I would repeal, given the chance to be dictator-for-a-day, (the 16th and 17th come to mind) and a few that I would add, given that same authority (a balanced budget amendment, for example). I believe that the US constitution, as written, provides the greatest liberty to the greatest amount of people, while still holding together the republic that best protects people from other people.
So to guns – I think the argument has been settled since 1791, but there still seems to be constant questioning, particularly when people die because bad people use guns badly.

So to discuss guns, we ask what are the extremes? 

To the authoritarian extreme: Complete governmental control of all guns; keeping guns in the hands of the military and police forces.

The the liberal extreme: the complete obliteration of all guns, the removal of the existence of guns, and the ability to create guns.

The Conservative extreme: The restriction of armament to the good, honest, emotionally stable

The libertarian extreme: The complete removal of any restriction of armament, up to and including weapons of mass destruction.

So seeing the extreme of each position, I’ll sum up the breakdown of them: The authoritarian extreme fails because it doesn’t allow for evil in government, nor does it truly protect the populous. this is evidenced in Australia, and the UK, who, implementing laws that draw close to the authoritarian extreme, have had a significant increase in violent crime, (though an overall decrease in gun crime…), an increase in *hot* home break-ins (hot meaning that the resident is home at the time of the break-in) and a decrease in overall public safety.

The Liberal extreme fails because it is literally impossible. Even if all guns could be rounded up and destroyed, and all gun manufactures put out of business world wide, guns aren’t really all that difficult to manufacture at a small-scale level, and the black market of home made guns would immediately take off.

The conservative extreme is theoretically lovely, but like the liberal extreme, it’s impossible. How do we restrict the armament of the evil, the dishonest, the emotionally unstable proactively? This is the current question and intent of law enforcement theory, and the science-fiction end result is Minority Report – the removal of rights based on what a person MIGHT do, rather than what they HAVE done.

Finally the Libertarian extreme fails because SOME people are evil, SOME people want to kill many people, and allowing weapons of mass destruction into everyone’s hands doesn’t result in cold-war stalemates, but rather mass destruction
Of course, few people sit in any one extreme, (and few will admit to actually being extreme in their position) – around here, we tend to get people who are both conservative and authoritarian in their views. The result is that they trust the government without (or with little) condition, while still desiring allow people their rights. This is an awkward conclusion – a people who support individual rights as directed by the central governmental force (I tend to think that this view is hypocritical, naive, or stupid).

In some areas, the combination is a liberal-authoritarian view (DC and Chicago come to mind) – complete trust on government, paying lip service to individual rights, but refusing individuals the ability to make any decisions – the end result is some of the highest murder rates in the country, general distrust (and riots) against the police, who at best fail to protect the citizenry, and at worst act as tyrants over them.
My view tends to be libertarian/conservative – While I don’t thing that we should have any restrictions on personal armament, I also do not want weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the evil or ill-intending, and am willing to allow for the restriction of those weapons on all individuals.

I used to make the liberal exception: if we could remove all guns from history, and the knowledge of them, we’d be better off. after all, guns are only (or mainly) to just kill people… except, they aren’t. they aren’t just to kill people, they’re to equalize people.

We get caught up in the second amendment being about guns. If the Bill of Rights enumerates God-given rights, surely ‘guns’ don’t fall into that category? Surely, God didn’t give us the right to have GUNS? No, He didn’t. He created us with the right to defend ourselves. There’s an old saying: God made man, Sam Colt made them equal. Guns give everyone an ‘equal’ shot at defending themselves
Of course, not everyone is ‘equal’ – some people are faster, some people are better shots, some are better trained, some are better equipped, but those things are all controllable at an individual level. Even as a disabled person, I can train, practice, and spend my time and money on the best equipment and education to be the best prepared and most equal in defending myself. Without guns, I cannot do that. for all intents and purposes, I’m crippled. I cannot defend myself using martial arts, despite my knowledge of some. I cannot defend myself with a sword or knife or baton, despite being trained to do so with at least 1 of those. And because my disabilities are no longer invisible, I’m at a significantly higher risk of being targeted as a victim of violent crime. A gun gives me a real shot (no pun intended) at defending myself against someone intent on harming me.

(There’s no one trying to get you, some argue – but they are deliberately or ignorantly confuscating the point: I have a right to defend myself period, not just a right to defend myself only if someone is trying to get me)

So back to the first full paragraph: What is the end conclusion, taking into account the extremes? I am in favor of the greatest amount of personal liberty possible. My personal extreme is the libertarian extreme, but the line I draw is for weapons of mass destruction. I’m not sure that the second amendment allows for that restriction. But we’ve a long way to go before we get to that extreme… a long way.
When deciding policy, we MUST define our personal lines. we must define our political lines. Where do we stop? The problem with most proponents of “common sense gun control laws” or other bull-manure fallacies, is that they say “let’s go toward this extreme. we’ll go only a little bit toward it, for now, but next time, we’ll go farther. and the time after, we’ll go farther. and then farther. eventually we’ll be close to the extreme, but at no point will we define where we will stop.” This is why the discussion rankles people like me, we Second Amendment supporters. It feels dishonest, and in the case of most politicians, it IS dishonest. So before I’m willing to have the conversation, the ‘other side’ has to first acknowledge the extreme and put into place their stopping line. 

What is the problem with the Founder’s stopping line? Their line is “The Right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.” It’s the libertarian view. The problem that people have with the Founder’s stopping line is that it leaves room for bad people to do bad things. We naturally want to prevent a San Bernardino, or an Aurora, or any number of other events wherein bad people did bad things. What nobody is willing to admit is that we CAN’T prevent all of those things. That’s not a nice admission. That’s not something we want to hear. But we can EITHER control the actions of every individual in our country, OR we can keep our people free to choose. The first doesn’t work, and it also strips the individuals of liberty AND responsibility. Both allow for bad people to bad things. 

It is hard to admit that in a free society, people will make decisions that we disagree with. People will use their freedoms to make poor choices. They’ll use that freedom to make bad choices. They’ll use that freedom to make decisions that hurt themselves or others. It’s hard to allow people to be wrong. But Freedom can’t exist without that choice.

It’s difficult to make policy decisions that are perfect. But if we can’t be perfect, I’d err on the side of personal liberty.


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