“There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess an Assault Rifle.” Or, “There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition.” Or, “You don’t need an Assault Rifle to go hunting.”
These three sentences, in many variations, have been uttered a lot lately. In the news and in opinion pieces, on blogs and radio shows. Whenever I read or hear these sentences, I don’t even have to know what exactly happened, where or when. Even if I had been living in a box, I’d know that someone, somewhere just shot a bunch of people. And I’d know that it was horrific and massive enough that gun control advocates are ramping up again. These sentences are robotic reactions whenever someone abuses the use of an Assault Rifle and/or clips that holds lots of ammunition. They’ve been uttered before, they’ll be uttered the next time some goof ball abuses a Right. But are those three arguments accurate? Is there no reason a civilian should have an Assault Rifle with lots of ammo?
I used the word Right on purpose in that last paragraph. It’s because the Right to bear arms is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is as much a Right as our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to peacefully assemble and freedom to never have to see Cher in concert. And Rights are not granted by the government. They are above government. The government exists to secure these Rights and they can not be taken away en masse. Rights can, however, be taken away, by the rule of law, from a person who abuses a Right. (Keep this last sentence, in it’s entirety, in mind, it’s important. And there might be a quiz).
I’m not going to define the Second Amendment. I already did that a bit in a previous article here at Freedom Cocktail. And I’ve been in this game way too long to finalize an argument on The Constitution Says So! The Constitution also validated slavery. But that was eventually corrected. A good counter argument to The Constitution Says So! is that if slavery can be corrected, so can some other wrongs in the document. The Constitution Says So! always ends in a head meeting the tail in a circle that goes nowhere. I believe that the Constitution doesn’t even need to be involved to provide a proper argument against the three proclamations noted in our opener. Instead, I will use logic. It works for science.
When I was in Kindergarten, and some other levels of grade school, if the teacher caught a student or two goofing off, on occasion, the whole class was punished. All students would have to put their heads down on their desks, be quiet and think about what had occurred. The only other time I witness this type of discipline is when someone commits a crime so horrifying to the psyche that an Off With Their Heads mentality grips the public and new laws are called for. In the case of firearms with big ole’ clips, we get the repeated mantra of the three opening sentences of our current study.
Let’s not be as knee jerk and say they’re wrong. Maybe they’re right. Can we find a reasonable argument against the complaints above? Let’s not argue from emotions but work purely in reason and logic. I understand that I’m advancing an uphill battle, asking human beings to put their emotions aside, but let’s try. Again, it works for science. I suspect if we can give a reasonable defense to civilian possession of an Assault Rifle with big ole’ clips, we can show no basis for the three declarations noted above.
“You don’t need an Assault Rifle to go hunting.”
The Right to bear arms, and gun ownership itself, has nothing to do with the sport of hunting. Nothing at all. Zero. Bearing arms has to do with securing your personal self defense and repelling invaders, domestic or foreign and; most importantly, repelling a tyrannical government should it arise. With this in mind, civilians would have every need to secure an Assault Rifle with lots of ammunition. Shotguns, pistols and crossbows don’t stand a chance against tanks and helicopters.
History tells us that we must be on guard for just such tyranny. Nazi Germany is the ultimate example where Assault Rifles among the people, the Jewish people in particular, would have been beneficial. Don’t try to argue that it can’t happen again or that it can’t happen in the United States. We can not predict the future but using the past as an indicator, the fact remains that no society ever went from tyranny to freedom without a fight. In fact, all societies that started as free eventually fell into tyranny. This is why Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.” He knew this. And we, as good students of history, must also know this. To forget it or claim it won’t happen again is to engage in the crime of child neglect on future generations.
“There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess an Assault Rifle.” Or, “There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition.”
I will give you two examples where civilian possession of an Assault Rifle with a clip with lots of ammo would have saved lives and property. And I’m not even gonna have to mention Germany. They happened right here in the US of A.
How about the LA Riots in 1992? That would have been a good time to be in possession of just such a firearm if you were about to fall victim to the lynch mobs. If you were unlucky enough to be pulled out of your vehicle by people who wanted to pound you into a pancake, that would have been a good time. If you were one of the store owners who were being looted and attacked by the raging mobs, that would have been a good time to have riot repellent. How about Louisiana, September 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? That would have been a good time too if you had a home, property or just your life to protect.
I just listed two examples where an Assault Rifle would benefit the civilian, examples where the police could not possibly gain control and it was up to victims to protect themselves. And, granted, these are just two extreme examples where a skeptic might agree. But here’s the counter: “How often is this really going to happen?” Let me ask you, do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? How about auto insurance on your vehicle? Or insurance on your boat? Or did you buy a replacement plan on your latest purchase, like an I-Pad or oven? If you have any of these things, you probably noticed you never use them; or, you only had to use them once or twice. The Assault Rifle can be in the same category.
There are millions of gun owners and Assault Rifle owners in the United States. Most, so much so that I could say all, do not commit crimes with them. Most have them as insurance policies. Others have them for target shooting in sport. Some have them just to brag they have them. But that’s it. So why do angry nay-sayers jump up and down and call for banning Assault Rifles when one, ONE fool abuses their Right to bear arms? Because it’s how most people deal with horrific events. Let’s get government to fix the problem. Let’s pass more laws against “it”, that’s the answer. A recreational drug hurts someone and the story gets the run of the papers? Let’s ban it. A kid drowns in a two-foot deep swimming pool and Nightline spends a half-hour on it? Ban it. Every Man Bites Dog story gets into the papers. Why? Because it’s so unusual. And the illogical side of the human being reacts to the unusual event with an unusual, not reasonable, solution. Wouldn’t the news be boring if we read daily articles titled, “Millions of Gun Owners do Nothing Eventful Today.”
When someone does abuse their Right to bear arms, like breaking into a home and shooting the occupants or spraying a crowd of the peacefully assembled with bullets, that perpetrator deserves to have their Right taken away and then put away from society for a time. And that’s what we do, all the time. In a case of armed robbery, if the perpetrator used a six-inch knife and if the police can make the arrest, we lock the perp up and they lose all kinds of Rights. We don’t lock down the city, go door to door and take away every six-inch knife. Same in the case if the armed robber had a revolver. We don’t get the same action committees trying to ban revolvers. And when a drunk driver slides into a family of six, we don’t ban cars or alcohol. We rightly blame the irresponsible party and punish accordingly. It’s only in extreme cases, Celebrity Cases, that a call to action is made to ban and punish everyone. Celebrity Cases are Man Biting Dog cases and sound and reasonable policy should never be based on them. Otherwise, you’re making all the innocent put their heads down on the desk and get punished for what someone else did.
Arguing in favor of the civilian possession of an Assault Rifle may not be politically correct. It’s never been popular in my forty-two-years on this planet, especially if it’s made just after an extreme case gets publicity. But keeping quiet when the drums of war are beating is not a time to lock your door and hope for the best. It’s time to get involved or others will decide for you. None of this should be construed that I am heartless and don’t show sorrow for the victims of the fools who abuse their Rights. I don’t even feel the need to justify an attack like this. Of course I wince when I see someone abuse their Rights and cause harm. But I’m, we’re, not in grade school here.
George Orwell said that the prime responsibility lay in being able to tell people what they did not wish to hear. (1) Whether you wished to hear this now or twenty years from now or never, the defense rests.
1) Orwell in Christopher Hitchens, “Letters to a Young Contrarian” 2001
3 thoughts on “A Man Bites Dog Story Should Not Set Policy”
You started with the questions asked by the gun control zealots. It’s been their tactic to make a utilitarian argument. No one hunts deer with an AR-15 in Ga. Most rednecks I know use a 30-06, 270, 30-30, 7mm magnum. Obviously there are many flavors but the point is they ask the question in a sense where most would agree with the premise of you wouldn’t need an assault rifle for hunting. As you pointed out, this isn’t about hunting but rather a constitutional right to bear arms assault rifles included. It’s a change the argument tactic. It’s not in their power to judge what a person needs or is entitled to use. They cannot win on the merits of their argument so they change the argument Clearly pencils are responsible for misspelled words so we should ban them according to Brady’s logic. Flawlessly executed opinion piece sir.
You should never be prosecuted for what you own. It’s more a question of how you use it. That goes for Corvette owners who barrel down the highway at over 100 MPH drunk. When the crash happens and thirty people are hospitalized, I never hear about banning the Corvette, engines that go over 70 MPH or even alcohol. Thank you for your commentary and kind words, Dave.