I give up. Apparently I’m way off base with this issue, or so everyone tells me. My girlfriend sent me this opinion piece from the New York Times. I would like to address some points the guy makes. But first, I’d like you to understand a little about where I’m coming from with my views on this issue.
I have a deep seated distrust of government, however,I do not believe “the government” is some giant, unified force out to destroy. There are some aspects of government that are beneficial and some aspects that are harmful.
“The power of the citizens and that of the police approach parity. The police cease to have even a near-monopoly on the use of force.
To many devotees of the Second Amendment, this is precisely the point. As former Congressman Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, said in January 2011, “We have a right to bear arms because of the threat of government taking over the freedoms we have.” The more people there are with guns, the less able the government is to control them. But if arming the citizenry limits the power of the government, it does so by limiting the power of its agents, such as the police.”
Exactly. From my point of view, the police are not your friends. They are not there to protect you. Their primary purpose is as enforcers and to guard property. Over the years the police in America have become increasingly militarized under the excuse of “increased safety in the threat of terror.” It feels like more and more police are turning to undercover cop cars without markings. These cars are great for laying traps and catching people, but good luck quickly identifying police when you need help. A perfect and recent example of the militarization of police in America took place in Anaheim California earlier this year. A small protest of about 300 people was met with this. Militarized police wearing army camo, carrying tear gas grenade launchers and assault rifles with rubber bullets. Here’s the irony: the protesters were protesting police violence. On the other side other side of the country the NYPD was found to be illegally spying on Muslim students way outside the bounds of their jurisdiction.
I realize my view of police is what you’re probably going to have the largest issue with. So many of our views on the availability of guns depends on how we view the police and their functions. If you view the police as helpful protectors, there to keep you safe, then of course having private citizens own guns sounds absurd. If you don’t view the police like that, then it doesn’t sound absurd. Am I saying all police officers bad guys? Of course not. There are plenty who join up because they want to make a positive difference in their community. Perhaps things are different in other countries where the cultural attitudes towards and of police is different, but here in the US the militarization is very alarming.
“There is, of course, a large element of fantasy in Dickey’s claim. Individuals with handguns are no match for a modern army.”
I knew this would be one of the first criticisms when writing my last post about the need for guns, but I didn’t address it because I wanted to keep my argument short and to the point. Mr. Smith asked me if I “seriously believe untrained civilians can suppress a government with aircraft, ships, control over the entire transportation system and drones, stealth fighters, as well as nuclear weapons?”
Honestly? No. But then if that’s the case then it’s game over. We’ve already lost. Handing over you last recourse to defend your rights from your government is just the final admission of your complete subjugation.
“It’s also a delusion to suppose that the government in a liberal democracy such as the United States could become so tyrannical that armed insurrection, rather than democratic procedures, would be the best means of constraining it.”
I really hope you’re right, but I can’t help but feel that this is based on the wishful assumption that things will always be as stable as they are now. As I pointed out in my previous post, I feel that much of this line of thinking comes from the relatively recent and short track record liberal democracies have had. I bet if you asked people in the Weimar Republic, they would have said the same thing about their democracy. I can only hope that I’m seriously wrong about this because if I’m not, it’ll be too late to say sorry.
“The logic of private gun possession is thus similar to that of the nuclear arms race. When only one state gets nuclear weapons, it enhances its own security but reduces that of others, which have become more vulnerable. The other states then have an incentive to get nuclear weapons to try to restore their security. As more states get them, the incentives for others increase. If eventually all get them, the potential for catastrophe — whether through irrationality, misperception, or accident — is great. Each state’s security is then much lower than it would be if none had nuclear weapons.”
But you can’t un-invent the technology. It is there forever. You also can’t take away every country’s nuclear weapons. Unless the one doing the taking also gives up their own weapons, you’ll have a situation where “…only one state gets nuclear weapons, it enhances its own security but reduces that of others…”
“Either criminals and non-criminals will have them or neither will.”
This is just as impossible as taking away every nuke from every country that has them. You can’t take guns away from criminals, especially not with laws that they’re going to ignore anyways. You can only take them away from law abiding citizens, who are, by definition, not criminals.
Another huge issue this doesn’t even begin to touch on is who a “criminal” is. I feel that many people have a very Batman-esque view of criminals as masked henchmen. As if criminals were some try of uniformed group. People are driven to “criminal” activity for a variety of reasons. What if what is “criminal” is actually the morally correct thing to do? The government is the one who says what is criminal and what isn’t. What if the government is full of the real criminals?
“Gun advocates prefer for both rather than neither to have them.”
That’s disingenuous. Nobody wants criminals to have guns, not even gun advocates. I sure as hell don’t want criminals to have guns, just as much as I don’t want mentally unstable people to have guns. In order for me to get my permit to carry my handgun around under my jacket, I had to undergo a mental and criminal background check, get finger printed, and wait several months.
“Gun advocates will object that a prohibition of private gun ownership is an impossibility in the United States. But this is not an objection they can press in good faith, for the only reason that a legal prohibition could be impossible in a democratic state is that a majority oppose it. If gun advocates ceased to oppose it, a prohibition would be possible.”
This is ridiculous. Of course a legal prohibition is impossible if a majority oppose it because the majority write the laws. (Ostensibly through representation.) The back in the 1920’s the majority supported a prohibition on alcohol and thus there was a legal prohibition. It was unenforceable and disastrous. A “legal” gun prohibition would result in the same.
You know what. Fuck it. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to argue about this any more. This is futile and I have better uses of my time. Whether I’m right or wrong I’m going to lose my human right to defend my person and to have ultimate authority over those who attempt to control me. I just have to fucking accept it and move on.