The irony of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is that we won’t need it until it’s no longer in place. It’s not actually about firearms, especially when you consider that it says “right to bear arms,” not “right to bear muskets.” It’s about the balance between the people and the government. That balance involves the process of argumentation.
We are a nation built upon the concept of argumentation. Where reasoned debate is supposed to prevail. No matter what kind of relationship; marriage, business, governmental, friendship…., the process of exchanging ideas for the betterment of the relationship depends upon accepting a conclusion for the reasons given under one’s own thoughtful and well informed consideration and free will. It is necessarily a free will process since accepting a conclusion under one’s own free will eliminates the need for forceful enforcement and allows the idea to be explored under each individual’s unique life conditions and the results fed back to improve the experiential base of relationship.
As such, one may choose to remove themselves from the argumentation process for the most capricious of reasons. Without that ability the free will quality is lost. When a person removes his or her self from the argumentation process of a relationship, those still in the relationship can respond by isolating the person to some degree or completely: i.e. my religion, your religion, my nation, your nation, my lifestyle, your lifestyle, etc…. This is the most common reaction, we agree to disagree. Another response is to submit. Discard one’s own needs and thoughts and simply comply. Often domineering people block the exchange of ideas so basic to argumentation with the goal of forcing submission to their objectives. Refuse to submit, can’t isolate and can’t engage in a reasoning process and domination becomes the only response. That’s where the need for violence can come in. Whether it be a domestic partner defending his or her physical self or a violent revolution by the people against a despotic government.
Since there are a number of non-violent responses that can be used to topple a despotic government through non-cooperation, protest, and other methods, violence should be an option of extreme last resort but not completely eliminated. Mahatma Gandhi said “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” He also said “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.”
Adding from another source: “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence… I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour (sic) than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor,” and “I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully.” (http://www.mkgandhi.org/nonviolence/phil8.htm)
Given the much larger number of statements he made about non-violence, what he’s getting to, contrary to many a pacifist’s claim, is that violence is an option, but only as an extreme last resort. Any non-violent action that will effectively achieve the goal is to be used rather than violence. Anti-gun people try to create the false dilemma that we must engage in rampant violence or be so totally non-violent that we engage in self imposed helplessness. Neither is an ethical option.
The authors of the United States government structure understood that a government can’t be isolated away for it’s very nature is to regulate day to day affairs as well as national issues. If the power of the people to organize and forcefully dominate the government, outside the permission of the government, is removed then the only option the people have, should those in power capriciously cease the argumentation process or disregard the democratic process of our society, is to submit.
It is reasonable to reassess any law given the need to balance public safety with technological advances but the fundamental relationship of the people’s need and right to dominate the government against the will of the government has not change and is not likely to. The goal of disarming the people while not disarming the police or military is to remove from the people the power of domination should the government become despotic or fall to a despotic invader. The right to bear arms is not any more obsolete than the right of the people regain control of a formerly democratic government, national or local, by force or to defend themselves with force against criminal force. The attack on the Second Amendment has little to do with violence in the United States since violence has been decreasing for several decades while the right to carry a handgun on one’s person has increased. At best firearm ownership by responsible, law-abiding citizens contributes to a decrease in violent crime. At worst it has no significant effect either way. The arguments that strict gun control work are, at best, selective reasoning picking only what supports that assertion. Violence is a complex issue and none, I repeat: none, of the valid and adequately representative science has shown that firearms are a cause of violence. The assertion that they should be banned simply because they are designed for killing assumes that there is no reason to ever kill. A horribly simplistic line of thinking. Justifiable homicide laws exist because there are reasons to kill. We have the military because there is a reason for going to war. There is more than one nation that arms it’s citizens with fully automatic military class weapons and they have some of the lowest violence.
If the right to carry a firearm or have a firearm is not necessary for defending one’s self against criminal violence or an oppressive government then those against firearm ownership should lead the way by disarming the police and military first. If that results in a drop in violence, it will provide a solid ground for disarming the citizenry. I doubt if any anti-gun person believes that disarming the police and military would do anything except open to door to rogue nations invading at will and criminals engaging in violent crime with impunity. Herein lies their hypocrisy. A soldier or police officer is nothing more than a citizen with specific training. The continued assertion that criminal violence, one’s own defense, and the protection of the nation should be solely the concern of the police and military implies that the citizen is ineducable, and intellectually and ethically inferior to government employees. Anti-gun people are projecting their own self image upon the whole of the citizenry. The citizen is just as educable as any soldier or police officer. Denying citizens the right to bear arms and the access to the education to do so competently amounts to Jim Crow laws oriented toward gun ownership.
As our own civil war proved here in the United States, in order for a violent revolution to succeed the rebels must have a robust economic system of financing, manufacturing, information gathering and processing, and transportation to successfully overthrow a government. Since for every soldier in battle there is a small army of citizens supporting him with the manufacturing of food, arms, medical care, transport, equipment and running the rest of the economic system to win that war, a rebellion in a democracy is unnecessary because if you have the people to support a rebellion, you have the people to create and win an election. Violent rebellion is only necessary after the democracy has been ended and non-violent methods won’t work. The Second Amendment doesn’t exist to keep democracy in place. It serves to re-establish it after it has ceased to exist.
If you truly want to lower violence here in the United States then instead of punishing or ignoring the mentally ill, who often don’t know they need help, improving the health care system so that a person just curious if they have an issue (that can be first step for a mentally ill person) can seek out counseling without stigma or prohibitive expense. We waste our time debating gun control when we should instead devise an accessible mental health care system for everyone, especially the impoverished since mental health problems prevent one from holding a job. If you look at the developed nations with high gun ownership and low violence, you’ll find a sophisticated health care system accessible to everyone.
Supporters of stringent gun control often claim to be against violence but in reality they mostly just complain about violence. If you really are against violence then start teaching specific non-violent actions that will successfully address the threats that violence is used against. What is a non-violent way of addressing rape without being raped? What is a non-violent way of dealing with a violent assault without willfully being a helpless victim? Please provide real world effective answers and not ideological musings. I, a life member of the NRA, gun owner and concealed carry licensee will tell you that as far as resistance against government oppression the three volume books written by Gene Sharp titled The Politics of Non-Violent Action is a good source for non-violent resistance against governments. I’ll also guide you to the Teaching Company that offers the Great Courses, one of which is Professor Michael Dues’s The Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond which teaches the kind of conflict management that prevents domestic violence. What do you anti-gun folks have to offer other than the assertion that the typical citizen is too stupid to educate and therefore should just have further restrictions on their freedoms?
The true goal of those funding the anti-gun movement is to strip the people of self-determination and to impose a more despotic rule. If the whole of the citizenry are genuinely too stupid or animalistic to be trusted with the decision of when to use violence in self-defense and to have access to the weaponry necessary for that right, then certainly the more complicated issues of choosing the best leader, what action our nation should take, and understanding the science necessary for a good decision is well beyond what the citizenry can manage. That is a direct denial of the basic nature of democracy.