On Gun Control

To this point I have stayed out of the fray over gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Since I have friends who are on both sides of this issue, I wanted to choose my words carefully and give thought to what I wanted to say, and how.

This post is not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of the issue, but just some of the thoughts I’ve had. In no particular order, here they are.

One major problem with the discussion about gun control is the high-profile nature of mass shootings and the low-profile cases of law-abiding citizens using firearms legally to prevent crime and death. For instance, the story that an Oregon man with a concealed weapon license stopped a mass shooter in a mall received very little media attention.

Additionally, according to one study, there are over 6,000 crimes prevented by gun owners every day, including thousands of violent crimes like rape and murder. But since a crime committed receives more attention than a crime prevented, the overwhelming perception about the impact of guns on violence is negative. When people talk about “gun policy”, the overwhelming tendency is to focus on one side and ignore the other. Even the most well-intentioned policy will be a failure if it does take all the evidence into account.

What we need to realize is that people, all people, are capable of doing very evil things and they don’t need any particular weapon to do it. All the laws in the world won’t change this basic fact of human nature, and removing the ability of individuals to protect themselves will only make the situation worse. Advocates of gun control, well-intentioned as they may be, do no benefit to their cause by pretending that self-defense is not the primary incentive for law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms

When it comes to the Second Amendment, it may surprise some people to know that it does not grant them the right to own guns. The language of the amendment is that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”, which indicates that this was a pre-existing right.  You might think that this is splitting hairs, but this is, in fact, a key distinction. How we think about rights is important because our rights are not granted to us by a government and we should reject even the hint that they are. The Bill of Rights exists as an explicit protection of certain rights which the people already possess and which are not to be infringed by the federal government.

It is also important to understand the purpose of the Second Amendment. The argument for the amendment was largely based on the idea that well-armed citizens of the individual states made standing armies unnecessary in peacetime. The Founders believed that a powerful army controlled solely by the federal government would be dangerous to the liberties of the people and they wanted to negate that danger as much as they could.

In calling for a bill of rights, including the expressed protection against infringement of the right to own firearms, the ratification conventions of both Virginia and North Carolina said, “That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided….”

Pennsylvania’s 1776 Declaration of Rights added the idea of self-protection by saying, “that the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state.”  The Founders believed that if the monopolization of force were wielded by the central government, it would result in oppression.

Before you snicker at this idea as if it could never happen in the United States, I suggest you talk to a Native American or Japanese-American.

I have to laugh when I see President Obama surround himself with kids and pretend to be super concerned about innocent life, all the while supporting abortion and continuing to bomb and kill innocent people, including kids, in other countries. It’s hard to take lectures about violence seriously when they’re given by people who so wantonly dispose of life. Ron Paul hit the nail on the head when he wrote that the “federal government has zero moral authority to legislate against violence.”

Finally, if people are serious about protecting their rights, there would be no better time to get involved in the nullification movement. Many state and local governments have introduced legislation against federal gun laws or have announced their intention to not comply with them. In an era when politicians in Washington have no regard for the Constitution, it is only the states, acting in the interest of their citizens, who can preserve the republican form of government that our Founders envisioned.

Check out the Tenth Amendment Center for ways to get involved.