The interesting thing is that if we were talking about some other hobby besides guns no one would react this way. If remote control airplanes were killing even a few hundred people per year instead of the tens of thousands of people a year killed by guns they would be outlawed with very little fanfare.
Not necessarily. They would be subject to regulation regarding who could operate them. Model rocketry is a perfect example. Your standard little model rocket doesn’t require any license or anything to build and launch, but if you start getting into what is called high-powered rocketry, which involves liquid fuel rockets, that is extremely regulated and controlled. Also, model airplanes are not something seen as a fundamental human right.
There is a near fanatical devotion to guns in this country which is based entirely on paranoia and fear. Paranoia of the government and fear that they are going to be attacked in their homes. Neither of which has any basis in reality if you look at history and the statistics.
We have a near fanatical devotion to free speech in this country as well, something that many other countries criticize. Plenty of other free countries regulate speech in ways that would be unheard of here. Does this mean one is paranoid if one defends the right of Nazis to march spewing their hate? Defending a right doesn’t make one paranoid. I defend free speech, but that doesn’t mean I think the government is on the verge of becoming fascist Italy or something.
And I’m not sure what you mean about history. Historically, the government has been bent on trying to outlaw guns. It’s only because of the constant efforts of gun rights people that they have not. When a right is constantly under threat, and people care about it, then yes people will be very zealous in defending it. Let me give you an opposite example. Take the abortion issue. The pro-life people are very fanatical in doing everything they can to pretty much outlaw it. This makes the pro-choice people very paranoid when it comes to any new abortion control laws. Because just like with guns, when pro-life folks talk about “reasonable restrictions on abortion,” a red light starts flashing above the head of the pro-choice person, who asks, “Is that really just code language for extremely restrictive laws to essentially indirectly outlaw abortion?” And their paranoia is justified. One tactic used by pro-life people for example is to regulate abortion clinics to such an extreme degree, that they cannot operate. So it’s an indirect form of banning abortion. Gun rights people deal with the same all the time.
And historically, if you go back not very far, governments have a nasty habit of seriously oppressing their people. Also, people do commit attacks against others. One thing to remember is that war is not something that only countries get into with one another, it is something that individuals do to one another as well. If someone breaks into your home and is trying to kill you, then that person is making war on you. As such, you have a fundamental right to possess the basic tools of war, i.e. arms, in order to be able to protect yourself and/or your family. The concepts of self-defense and war are different variants of the same thing when you get down to it. If North Korea attacks South Korea and South Korea starts fighting back, and people say, “They’re at war,” one could also say that South Korea is acting in self-defense against North Korea. Historically, people have also used arms to resist oppressive governments, and also to defend the state. For example, back in Greek times, how each citizen had to possess arms to defend the city-state if needed.
A militia of individuals armed against the government is more likely to cause harm to the majority of the population than it is to save us from tyranny. These individuals are not elected to their position of gun ownership by the citizens and as such they represent a very skewed segment of the population. Do we as a country really want THEM to decide when its time to initiate a violent revolt and overthrow the government? Gun supporters might argue that if everyone had a gun the decision would be very democratic since we would all have a say but this would only hasten the path to violence since we all would have the power to solve things with force and wouldnt be forced to limit ourselves to negotiation. Using an armed populace to keep the government in line has been a flawed argument for a very long time since private individuals and militias will never have anything close to the firepower that the government has unless we start allowing individuals to own RPG’s, tanks, and F22’s. Is that what we want?
A few things:
1) Resistance to an authoritarian government does not require violence. The best option initially is always peaceful civil resistance. Violence should always be a very last-ditch option, because historically violent revolutions lead to despotism. The American Revolution managed to work because the U.S. wasn’t overthrowing the English government itself and we had a really brilliant group of men. If one does have to formally resort to violence, than it should be controlled as much as possible (respect for human rights should be emphasized, so if government soldiers surrender, you respect that). If an armed resistance movement is based on violence for violence’s sake, then that makes it all the more prone to despotism. It also provides the government with a huge gift as they can label your movement as terrorists. The idea of the population being armed is that it serves as a counterweight to the government’s otherwise having a monopoly on force. It changes the calculus of the situation. It is a populist concept really, not really left or right. The government can have better-trained soldiers and better weapons, but if they are trying to control a population of tens of millions of people who possess basic arms, that is going to be virtually impossible. The Nazis found this out the hard way, so did the Soviets a couple of times. There are only so many places that one can place troops to maintain order or even to attack with things like fighter planes.
For example, look at the struggles of the Assad regime in Syria to put down that resistance. They have used tanks, attack helicopters, strike aircraft, artillery, etc…against those people, who were not armed like Americans are to begin with, but it has proven very difficult to put that resistance down. Or look at China. The Chinese Communist Party very closely watches its people. It censored regarding the uprisings in the Middle East and actively censors the Internet, although it does so in a sly fashion in that it will let people rant about the government but censor other things that while on the surface may sound harmless actually could be threatening to the government (for awhile, people thought that the fact that rants about the government were getting through were due to the ineptitude of the Chinese censors, now they realize that is not the case). Now one could ask, what is the Chinese government afraid of? They have a nationalized police force, a military that is willing to use force against its own people, and the Chinese people are not armed like Americans are. Their fear is that regardless of all that, if enough of a boiling point was to be reached, the Chinese Communist Party could still be forced to abdicate power. One can only imagine the threat it would pose to the Chinese Communist party if the Chinese people had arms the way Americans do.
Right to keep and bear arms as a check on government is not so that someone can just randomly go and try to overthrow the government because they claim their rights are being infringed upon. That’s why we have the Courts and a democratic government where we can elect in new people. People’s rights get infringed upon everyday. The Constitution actually gives Congress the power to call forth the militia if some group of people were trying something like that. Arms as a check on government is more if the government turns into something like the Assad regime.
In America, we are very protective, even to a bit of a paranoid degree, of things that other countries don’t think much about, for example innocence until proven guilty, your right to free speech, can the government actually mandate you purchase something, can the government acquire a strict monopoly on use of force, etc…other countries ban guns, limit speech, you’re guilty until proven innocent, the government mandates people purchase things like healthcare, etc…without much thought.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while it seems unlikely right now that the government ever could move towards real tyranny, how can anyone know the future fifty, one-hundred, one-hundred fifty, to two-hundred years down the road? We have no idea what the future holds. And as we have seen with the IRS and Justice Department as of late, the government is still very prone to abusing its power and authority. One thing that historically has kept governmental tyranny at bay are the constant vigilance on the part of Americans regarding governmental authority. The Left are very vigilant about the excesses of the police state, while the Right are very vigilant about protecting gun rights and limiting government into the economy. Both seem to be pretty defensive about free speech. This vigilance makes the idea of the government becoming tyrannical anytime soon sound quaint to many, but the idea seems quaint because of the constant vigilance.
The idea of protecting one’s self in his or her own home is slightly more practical but only barely. The vast majority of us will never face that situation and only a small number of those who do will successfully gain access to their weapon and use it in such a way as to alter the outcome in their favor.
Thousands of people successfully use guns to protect their homes every year. Keep in mind it isn’t just shootings that count in protection. Just presenting the weapon can make the criminals flee. Also, the idea that just because the “vast majority” of us will never face that situation doesn’t mean you remove the right. The vast majority of us will never face a court trial where we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. The vast majority of us will never be questioned by the police, where we have a right to remain silent. Does that mean people should be innocent until proven guilty or be required to talk to law enforcement?
On the flip side the price we pay for this “security blanket” is hundreds of accidental deaths every year, many people killed in domestic disputes, and lots of criminals who have guns that were stolen during burglaries because so many homes have a gun in them.
By this argument, we might as well repeal the entire Bill of Rights so that we can let the police be more able to do their job. Let’s also outlaw alcohol, swimming pools (all those accidental drownings of children each year) and sports cars too, and mandate that no cars can accelerate from 0-60 in under 10 seconds and have a top speed of 60 mph. SUVs and pickups would also require a special license to purchase. Only the police should have fast cars.
The whole gun dispute is a clear example of humans not being able to accurately assess risk. If anything close to a rational assessment of risk were used in this debate guns would quickly be outlawed and there would be no controversy.
I disagree completely there. I think one can assess it very rationally and be against banning guns. I could say, “If anything close to a rational assessment of risk were used in this debate on whether a person should be allowed to make a video mocking Islam, such videos would be quickly outlawed and there would be no controversy.”