Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rational Arguments, Useful Idiots, and Liberty

A call to action.

I have witnessed a lot of attempts at "reasoned discourse" concerning the Second Amendment. What I hear from those who would infringe this right is disturbing. It is especially disturbing when coming from those who are passionate defenders of the REST of the Bill of Rights. Those Useful Idiots who bleat incessantly about protecting the First, Fourth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, or Twenty-sixth amendments. You know, Free Speech (except "hate speech"), Unreasonable Search (except border checkpoints), and the right to vote for all, including women and minorities, over the age of 18 (and especially the illegal immigrant vote!). Sarcasm aside, the defenders are being used by others who are promoting a different agenda under cover of Liberalism.

Yesterday, I came across a link to Angry Mouse's diary entry on Daily Kos from April 21st of last year. It was heart warming to see a quality defense of the right to bear arms from a Liberal. It is a passionate and articulate argument for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and was well-reasoned in execution. It spoke of the true reason we have this right (revolution), in unapologetic terms. Angry Mouse, in this article, personifies the classic "liberal" position as a staunch defender of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. ALL of the Bill of Rights. Not just the parts that she likes the best. The "Comments" on the article were also illuminating. It was interesting to see what passes for thought by those who argue for further infringement or for completely taking this right away, especially in light of our position as an "enlightened and civilized" society.

The arguments against guns basically boil down to a few core points:

Guns have no place in a civil society. Guns are evil. Guns are scary. Guns kill. Guns in the hands of citizens aren't effective at resisting tyranny or invasion. "Assault Weapons" are evil-squared, and doubly scary, and make you more deader... (sigh).

Since it is my personal position that inanimate objects have no moral standing, I would have to resort to comparative arguments using other inanimate hunks of metal as a baseline. Like-Cars vs. Guns; deaths and injuries per year; total, and as a percentage of the total items in circulation in the United States. Cars lose this one every time yet nobody argues for total bans on cars (well, except for the Green wackos, but that is another article completely). I will say that anthropomorphizing inanimate hunks of steel lends them more credence than they deserve, and ignores that they are tools, not actors in their own right.

The arguments for additional legislative infringement basically boil down to a few points as well, usually as comparison to "infringements" on First Amendment freedom:

You can't yell "Fire" in a crowded theater. You can't use speech to incite riots. You cannot threaten to kill someone. Religious Cults which pose a danger to people are illegal.

Taking these arguments individually, let's see what the real issues are.

First, the "Fire" argument. Falsely shouting "Fire" in a theater full of patrons is a Tort issue. The person doing the shouting is either attempting to cause injury to the patrons by causing a stampede to the exits, thereby risking injury to the patrons, or he is causing harm to the theater owner through potential lost sales and by exposure to liability due to injuries sustained in the incident. The speech itself is not the issue. The Tort claims arising from a false shouting of "Fire" is at issue. Truthfully shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater that is aflame is a protected act, as it alerts the patrons to a real danger. The act of shouting "Fire" is the same. Only the intent of the actor is at issue. This is not a Speech issue at all, but rather an issue of Tort law based upon intent and subsequent harm.

Next up, the "Inciting speech" argument. Briefly, the speech is protected, the riot is not. If it can be proven (tough to do, really) that the specific words caused the action, then the issue is again one of Tort. The action that was subsequent is the causative problem, not the speech. The riot, and any resulting property damage, are issues of law. The speech itself does no harm. I can listen to "inciteful" (but not insightful) speech all day long and take no action and there is no issue at law. Only when I take action is there a problem. The speech is not causative, it may be contributive, but my actions are definitive.

""Religious cults" are evil". Well, all religions have detractors who claim that the specific religion is a cult. The line is drawn based upon bias, and my Christian church may be your dangerous cult. Unless people are actually being harmed by the "religion", and not by the people professing to be practicing the religion, there is no case against the religion. Again, the human element is the defining issue here, not religion.

Then there is the pacifist who thinks that guns are evil things and doesn't want anybody to own guns, anywhere, at any time. He would rather die than kill. Would rather everyone was a victim instead of resorting to violent means to defend themselves against violent means!?! No kids, thankfully, but at least he is consistent. And he would disarm all of us if he could. If there was ever a SHTF moment, this guy is toast no matter which side he is on. Thankfully, he doesn't get much support even from other pacifists on the Kos board. To take a position such as his is to effectively deny all of human history and to wish for a Utopia that will never come.

Next up: "ownership of automatic assault rifles fails to demonstrate any rational purpose while posing a significant danger to the public. Requiring special laws for ownership of such weapons does not violate any individuals "right to bear arms" yet serves the purpose of offering greater protection to the public who continues to suffer at the hands of these weapons." I love this argument because it deftly exposes the logical flaw, as well as the rational infringement regulation argument, in one neat paragraph. The logical flaw? That it is the gun that kills, completely removing the human element from the equation. The rational infringement regulation argument? That it is OK to remove SOME types of weapons or to license the owners of same, and that doing so is not an infringement of a right. Of course, this argument ignores even the recent history of the Twentieth Century in which more than 80 million people were killed by brutal regimes who disarmed their populaces, and of which licensing and registration was the first step.

Of the people who argue against guns as evil, not a single one of them accords evil intent to the wielder. Because a gun is a tool for killing, the gun is the killer. The person who pulled the trigger can not be blamed for the actions of the gun...

Pointing to gun violence in "gun free" zones like Washington DC and Chicago and New York City as valid reasons to continue gun prohibition efforts completely misses the irony of the argument. Obviously, the problem is that not all of the U.S. is gun-free, right? It is self-evident that the gun causes the violence; that the nice people in these cities would not be criminals if we removed the tools of their crime, right? Sure. The numbers expose this argument as a lie. Even the numbers by people who tried to prove it was true only proved the opposite. Gary Kleck's research was originally an attempt to bolster the gun control argument. That it proved the opposite, definitively and decisively, has caused Kleck to be vilified by the gun prohibitionists. They ignore that he is a spiritual soul-mate because his report is so damning to their cause.

Pointing to drug-related crime as a reason to prohibit legal gun ownership also misses the irony of this argument. Illicit drugs like cocaine (1915), opium (1909), and heroin (1923) have been prohibited since shortly after the turn of the Twentieth Century. We still have a drug problem. "Evil drug cartels" make BILLIONS of dollars per year in profits, marketing illegal, prohibited, substances through our porous borders for sale in just about EVERY city and town in the US. So, naturally, prohibiting trafficking in guns to law-abiding citizens as a defense against these cartels is a logical and rational response to the problem, and will prevent them from acquiring more guns illegally, right?

Think about that one for a minute.

I'll wait.

If we cannot keep these people from marketing, distributing, and selling already-prohibited substances which have been illegal in the US for around 100 years, how in the HELL does it make sense that we can keep these very same people from acquiring the weapons that will be prohibited by the new laws?

Can someone honestly answer this?

I can. The answer is, "you can't".

The drug argument is not about crime or even weapons traffic. It is about controlling the population by disarming them using whatever red herring tactic gets traction with the electorate.

And it is wrong.

Just as alcohol prohibition gave rise to criminal gangs who used guns to control their territories (leading eventually to the restrictions of the National Firearms Act of 1934), so too is drug prohibition empowering criminal gangs through illicit profits gained by trafficking prohibited goods. The argument today for Gun Rights infringement? Criminal Drug Cartels.

We broke the alcohol gangs by repealing prohibition. I wonder what a similar action relating to drugs would do for the criminal elements' ability to fund their enterprises? But I digress...

Let's get to some truth about the Gun issue.

If we take the Second Amendment seriously and literally, we can only come to a single possible conclusion. Namely that Any law which infringes upon the people's ability to own any arm is unconstitutional. NFA34? Unconstitutional. GCA68? Unconstitutional. AWB94? Ditto. AWB2 (2009/2010)? Ditto. HR45? Unconstitutional. Pick any one. They are ALL infringements of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Taken literally, The People have the right to own any weapon of warfare that they can afford to acquire. Thompson sub-machine gun? Yep. Quad-50 "Whispering Death"? You betcha! Ma-Deuce? Where do I sign up? M1918-BAR? I'll take two, thank you very much. Grenades, mines, missiles? Are they arms? If so, then yes, ownership should not be a crime. The citizen-owner holds the responsibility for proper use, and holds the liability for improper use.

An extremist position? I guess that depends upon your definition of "extreme". But it is not a position that harms anybody. Why? Because I believe that the OWNERSHIP and USAGE (keeping and bearing) of these arms in non-criminal ways should not be criminal acts all by themselves. Peaceful usage of these arms is not a crime. They do no harm by themselves, threaten no one by themselves, and have no evil intent, by themselves. And, they are effective means of defense against tyrannical regimes. Very effective. So are your typical, run-of-the-mill, rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Just ask the Soviets about Afghanistan. Or the United States about Iraq.

What do we learn from this?

First, the lesson from the diarist is that there are passionate defenders of Liberty on the Left who recognize the Second Amendment for what it is-a critical component in our fabric of Liberty-ensuring rights.

Second, that there are a great many people on the Left who just never thought about guns in any meaningful way since they had no intention of owning or using them. These people have passively occupied the sidelines on the issue and allowed the extremists among them to co-opt their party, and throw away votes, to ensure ideological purity of the Party on other issues.

Third, that there truly are people out there with little-to-no rational basis for the disarmament argument. These people fear guns because of innocent ignorance, and might be swayed with proper education and a rational approach to guns as a means of personal preservation. Oleg Volk's site has convinced many from this group, and it is a powerful tool for educating the uninformed about what personal liberty requires.

Lastly, there are people out there who would disarm us to ensure that their vision of a peaceful world is enforced, even if it is at the point of an oppressor's gun. Because safety means never having to worry about your own security. These are the dangerous ones to our rights. They would trade liberty for security, and would receive neither.

All of the foregoing brings up an important question: How do we reach out to Liberals on the issue of Gun Rights? The NRA hasn't figured it out, that is for sure. Removing the demagoguery from the arguments would help. As would embracing organizations like JPFO and Pink Pistols. Those of us who who want to band together in favor of Liberty need to embrace these organizations, even if we disagree on other social issues.

Reading through the comments in the Kos thread and in others whenever the issue of gun rights comes up, one wonders whether the "Antis" arguments have any foundation in logic. A lot of what I have witnessed in these discussions hinges on gut emotion and feelings, rather than an objective look at natural law and human nature. As someone who just wishes to be left alone by our government, how can I get like-minded Liberals (classic definition, not the modern definition), Libertarians, and Conservatives to engage on the gun issue in a positive way? This is not a "Brand D" or "Brand R" platform difference. This is a fundamental issue of how free citizens relate to their elected government.

Both sides, "R" and "D", have incrementally moved us from a Nation that is mostly free to one that is mostly not. We have bought into the lie that it is OK to enslave portions of our society (through economic means, taxation, wage laws, unionization, forced volunteerism) in order to provide benefits to people who did not earn them. We have bought into the lie that it is OK to become dependent upon government for our support, our retirement, our medicine, our shelter, and our freedom. We have bought into the lie that it is better to be lightly shackled but reasonably well fed, rather than completely free but with our means tied solely to our successes and abilities.

If we are to move back to a point where we are free as a nation, we need to firmly and permanently roll back and remove the oppression that we have voluntarily donned. To do this, we need to secure ALL of our liberties against infringement by the State once again. This starts with the Second Amendment. If you are a liberal reading this, or a conservative for that matter, heed these warnings. "Government rules best which rules least." "The people are most free when their government fears them."

Status Quo is no longer an option.

In order to secure your liberties, you must be willing to fight those who would take them away. The person who stands idly by while a fearful government passes the Patriot Act against its citizens is as much at fault as the person who stands idly by while the Government bans the most effective means of defense against tyranny in the Brady Act. Both acts are abominations against Liberty.

The Patriot act should be repealed, but the current president won't push for that because he can use it against his political enemies.

New gun control (replacing the expired Brady Ban), or ratification of CIFTA, or any other act which disarms the populace also threatens every body's liberties. Those who would oppress us will come for the guns first. They will come for the presses, blogs, and other media next. They will use the Patriot Act to label dissenters as enemy non-combatants or domestic terrorists and no one will be the wiser.

Remember Waco and Ruby Ridge? Think about the implications of a Guantanamo Bay, from a falsely-accused citizen's perspective. What do we REALLY know about Gitmo? Not a lot. All we hear about right now is how the "evil Bush regime" was torturing those poor cuddly guys from the Middle-East. They weren't. The "torture" you heard about is a lie. I firmly believe that using water boarding, wooly caterpillars, and other psychological means to obtain information is not torture.

Tearing your fingernails out, or inserting glass rods into bodily orifices and then shattering them, or jamming bamboo slivers into your gums is torture. Playing loud music and keeping someone up past bedtime is not. Get over it.

Liberals, let's face it. You need the gun owners. You need to become the gun owners. You need to, because your nation's identity as a beacon of Liberty and Justice and Equality for all is at stake.

Conservatives, get off of your high horse. You need the Liberals, too. You need them to ensure that the Nation you wish to conserve is one which respects all of its citizens rights and freedoms. Even the ones that you dislike.

All of you, who would sow the seeds of discontent, need to embrace your political opposite. You need to wrap your mind around the thought that a government that has the power to persecute dis-favored groups has too much power. The levers of government in the United States were not designed to become a political "spoils system" whereby whichever party in power persecutes and prosecutes their predecessors. We need to dismantle the bureaucracy and remove the departments and directorates which exceed the constitutionally defined limits on the Federal Government.

Think about this: Brand D and Brand R are the obverse and reverse of a coin known as Statism. No matter which way the toss lands, the citizens now lose. We the People, Citizens all, need to put aside the differences of party and the labels we choose for ourselves. We need to recognize that there are events happening right now that will radically alter the way we relate to our government and to each other. We need to band together for the future of our nation and the future of our way of life.

Democrats, the present occupant of the White House has co-opted Brand D by using all of the right words, but with totally different meanings attached. He and his coterie of staffers and advisers have put one over on the citizens with sparkling oration and empty rhetoric. Be as vigilant in watching his actions as you were with Bush. Assume that the media is covering for him and utilize alternative sources of information, even sources you distrust like Fox News.

Republicans, thanks for nothing these past 8 years. You have destroyed the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. It is now time for you to either sweep yourselves into the dust bin of history, or purge yourself of those Statists among you. Using government to oppress the citizens is wrong, and you own the responsibility for the mess you find yourselves in. Clean up your own act before you ask me for another dime of support. Prove your worth by preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution, as you swore to do in your Oath of Office.

Citizens, I implore you to take up the cause of Liberty. Embrace the Constitution. Require your elected representatives to uphold their Oaths of office. Thwart those who would oppress you with laws and treaties, and who would take away your rights in the name of some "greater good". Mostly, embrace your neighbors and stick together. Together we can weather the coming storm. Apart, we are nothing.



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