Warning: This blog is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. (That's actually a blessing of course. I'm just trying to be fair to the skeptics.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting Ourselves Off The Hook Q&A

In this piece, I will attempt to address questions, concerns, and statements made by individuals who voiced objection to the Sandy Hook essays and/or other remarks I have made regarding 2nd amendment rights and the debate over the ban on “so called” assault weapons.
I have elected not to mention names out of respect for their privacy, even though I do not hide my identity.
I some instances I was forced to extract a question from comment(s), a somewhat subjective process. However, I tried to use the exact language used by the poster whenever possible.  As more questions come in, I will add them to this post.

Q: So does this say that the right to life (liberty and the pursuit of happiness) (the preamble to the constitution and before any of the ammenments) is more important than any of the ammendments?   (This is a comment left on part 2 of the series that addressed the Common Good and the Dignity of the Human Being.)
A: First off, the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is from the Declaration of Independence not the preamble to the Constitution.
But that aside, the answer would be YES. You might notice that the word “life” is listed first in the series, followed by “liberty,” and then “pursuit of happiness.” This is because if we are not alive we can’t avail ourselves to live free. If we are not free we cannot pursue happiness. Without life we can’t assert our rights to freedom of expression for example (1st amendment.)  We cannot assert our right to be free from unlawful searches (4th amendment.) If denied the right to life, there is really no point to having other rights. A dead person cannot use those rights.
In part 2 of the series, I spoke of the primacy and sacred nature of human life. From this there arises a need to protect it. In fact, it is not only a right; we have a duty to protect life. As such, we have the right and duty to self defense.
Our Republic is founded on the belief that these rights are bestowed on us by our Creator (God) and that they (the rights) are inalienable. Meaning they are part of our nature and can’t be cut away. To do so would be an affront to natural law, which can’t be violated.  Therefore (in the minds of the founders,) governments should be created to secure these rights. There was never a belief that governments granted those rights.
From here we have the fledgling US government creating a constitution whereby some of these rights are enshrined in words. Among them is the second amendment, which was placed there not only to underscore the necessity of protecting life (self-defense) but also as a guard to the nation (national defense) and ultimately as a guard to tyranny. See part 3 and part 4 of the series.
Q: If we all still had muskats instead of uzis then that would be ok.
A: By this, I will interpret the question to mean something like this: Wouldn’t it be sufficient to possess an 18th century musket instead of an uzi?
I would answer definitely NO. That type of weapon is too outdated to be of any practical use for self defense at our current station in time. In its day, it was state of the art. Since then, there have been significant advances in firearm mechanics, materials, and ammunition.
Technological advances have shaped the musket of yesteryear into the repeating rifles we use today. Today’s rifles are the temporal equivalent to the musket of the 18th and early 19th century.  
Incidentally, the uzi is a pistol in a technical sense not a rifle. It was produced in both pistol and machine pistol versions. Nevertheless, I understand the use of the term to mean any of those ugly scary guns like the so called “assault rifle.”
Q: In Taft, CA a boy brought a single shot shotgun to school. He shot one person superficially and the other one went to the hospital. What might he have done with a 30 round clip?
A: If the Taft shooter had brought a weapon to the school with a 30 magazine I don’t know what he might have done. I don’t know what he was planning to do. Do you? However, assuming he would take such a weapon to the school to do a mass killing instead of shooting a single classmate with a shotgun for teasing him, then it’s possible for him to have killed or injured more people. That should be obvious.
However, this outlook focuses only on the gun and not the person.
A gun cannot decide to do anything. People do that.
People conceptualize ideas and set in motion plans to make real their ideas. In that process a person may select the right tools for the job. If they plan on building a house, they select tools to do so. If they plan on killing people in a mass murder, they do the same thing with whatever implements they choose. To make illegal a weapon that is as versatile and ubiquitous as our current day repeating rifles only impinges on the legitimate right and duty to self defense in our current age. See part 4 of this series.
Q: Does any one actually HUNT FOR FOOD with an assault rifle? I would think there wouldn't be much left of the animal to clean and dress. Just some things to think about.
A: Let’s look at the first part of your question first. Does anyone actually hunt for food with an assault rifle? I have two answers to this question. First, you could certainly hunt with a “so called” assault rifle. You sure could. It functions no different than my grandfather’s semi-auto Remington 7400 hunting rifle. The better question is: why would you want to.
Firearms are like tools, you select the one that best suits your task and goal. For hunting, extreme accuracy, weight, cost, and game type may be the driving factors in selecting the right firearm for the job. Weapons designed for self defense are made to be rugged, reliable, fast, and have sufficient firepower for potential multiple threats. When hunting a deer, those factors are not essential.
Next, the hunting argument is a straw man fallacy. Our right to bear arms has nothing to do with hunting. It has to do with self defense. See part 4 under “Snipe Hunting With Our Rights” for more information on this. Two excerpts from that part are listed below.
“It’s about the right to defend oneself, against those who threaten us in our homes, in our communities, and our nation. And yes, unpleasant as it may sound or feel, against a government that has turned on its own people too.”
“It’s not about hunting at all, it’s not just about self defense in the home, it’s not just about national defense, it’s not just about a defense against tyranny. It’s about all of them in their totality.”
Lastly, the notion that there would be nothing left of the game after shooting it with an assault rifle seems to be predicated on the belief that the person shooting will somehow shoot many times or somehow use the weapon in a full auto fashion. Here, I believe we see what I refer to as “Ignorance from Firearms.”
First off, fully automatic weapons are illegal. The weapons the anti-gun crowd wants to ban are the civilian versions of the type used by the military, which function differently.  They are not fully automatic.
Second, you imply that if a person would use a repeating rifle to take game, he or she would somehow lose all control and let loose with a fusillade of rounds. That notion seems absurd to me. For the idea of taking game would be to eat it, not destroy it. Again, what I am hearing here is a focus on an inanimate object and not on the person.
People…that should be our focus.
Q: But really, "With a rifleman behind most every door, the notion of subduing America by force becomes a pipe dream." Maybe that's because a smart would-be conqueror would realize that all they need do was bide their time until the fearless riflemen had slaughtered enough of their own countrymen that force would no longer be necessary.
A: The idea of a rifleman behind every door is only one factor in keeping an aggressor from considering an attack on US soil. It is a significant deterrent.
Of course, the phrase a “rifleman behind every door” is hyperbole and it’s a variation of a quote from the “Prange Files” were he used this similar language, “a rifle behind every blade of grass” to describe the futility of an invading foreign force on US soil. Gordon W. Prange served as Chief Historian on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff.
However, to say all a smart would-be conqueror would simply have to wait until we all killed each other off seems a little silly; it simply lacks faith in the human person as capable of achieving what is good. I call your attention to Conclusion in Part 5 where I write:
“I think the difference between those who want to take (or control) the guns and the ones who believe in the 2nd amendment as it was intended is this:
It comes down to a faith in the human person. 
The former sees the human as so defected that it needs to be controlled, restrained, even enslaved. The human being is thus objectified. The latter understand humans as flawed but also sees intelligence, responsibility, self control, beauty, courage, love, and self sacrifice in the human person. In this latter vision, the human being is recognized as made in the image of God. The former sees something darker.”
We have, in fact, lived with guns all our lives. There has been nothing that would suggest that we are on a course of picking each other off in some mass mysterious “Happening” like event. The notion is absurd on its face.
It also flies in the face of what our founders had in mind. We ARE capable of living our lives freely and without subjection to the arbitrary rules of despotism. WE have what it takes.
Q: “I'm cherrypicking, but you get where I'm coming from. We aren't safer with 300 million handguns floating around. A rifleman in every corner sure isn't the neighborhood I want my children living in.”
A: First, I think the national debate is about rifles not handguns. I also must take issue with language regarding these weapons “floating” around. Again, there is an implication that there is no control what so ever. Again, the inference is that we no faith in the human person.
Next, no person is required to exercise all their God given rights all the time or anytime for that matter. You don’t have to write a blog to exercise your 1st amendment rights. You don’t have to attend church to exercise your 1st amendment rights. You don’t have to vote as supported by the 14th, 15th amendments et al. You don’t have to participate at all if you don’t want to.
You don’t have to arm either in order to exercise your 2nd amendment rights. 
However, just because you don’t want to exercise your rights is no reason to impinge on the rights of others.
To tell me that I am not permitted to own an effective contemporary rifle because it’s just too darned dangerous is no different than telling me to “go away’ after asserting my right to self expression in making a post on Facebook. In both cases your are telling me I am not competent enough to control myself, that I am not worthy. Worthy to express myself or defend myself competently. 
Moreover, when I served out my career as a police officer, I never worried much about an armed public. At a tactical level, it was simply part of the landscape. But, stepping back from that role and looking at my role as a citizen macro fashion, I would rather live in a responsible society where people who choose to be armed are permitted to do so.
I’m not afraid of it. And, I don’t fear it for my children either. You see, I have faith in people. I figure if God has faith in us, we must be capable of doing some pretty awesome things. 
Now, I’m no Pollyanna. I’ve been through a few doors in my life and seen senseless violence first hand. I know evil always lurks in the hearts of men; I’ve seen its face. History is full of horrible acts committed by men on men. Millions have died at the hands of tyrants and hordes.
At a local level, the mentally ill and those who are unable to control themselves to engage in criminal activity are among us.
But I must ask, when in the history of man have these conditions ever NOT existed? Please name one?  This will be our world until the end of time. We don’t get “ourselves off the hook” that easily as the title of my little essays suggest.
But, insofar as we live in this non-utopic world we must not deny those who are free the right to protect themselves. It is after all a grave right and duty.
Lastly, you cannot say with certainty that we aren’t safer with an armed public (drawing from the 300 million handgun passage.) It’s the same as saying we aren’t any healthier because we have millions of doctors serving now when compared to ages past. Maybe, it because of those doctors that we are healthier.  Please don’t try to tell me you are some multi-dimensional being who can slip into that alternate de-armed world observe and report back.  You’re speculating.
For me and those who see truth in this light, I prefer to take my chances with the relative safety of an armed public over a world where the strong will dominate over the weak that cannot defend themselves because they lack the tools to do so.
Q: The answer on the right has been to arm the populace for long enough. Hasn't and won't work. Time to de-arm but to do that we need electeds who will push back on the NRA and gun manufacturers who line their pockets. Not an easy sell.
A: To my knowledge there is no person or organization that has pushed to arm the populace.  I’m not sure what is meant by the “right” per se. However, if we are talking about the NRA, their purpose is to protect 2nd amendment rights among many other things. This is not the same as arming the populace. No person is required to own a gun.
I would also add that if a person wanted to own a gun, it would be VERY prudent to get some training on safety and its use in whatever endeavor the ownership was being sought i.e. hunting, protection, etc.
De-arm?  No. Not going to happen. We are talking about a justification for revolution with that kind of mentality.  The 2nd amendment is a God given right to ensure our right to self defense and against tyranny.
Q: Try and make sure, as much as possible, that only "decent" citizens obtain weapons which can be misused for slaughter - meaning to make sure that the gun show loopholes are closed and everyone who purchases such a weapon undergoes a background check, forcing all state and local jurisdictions to comply with requirements to submit names of felons, etc. into the database, and fully prosecuting anyone who lies on their application and/or tries to purchase a firearm if they are a felon (or other) who is not legally permitted to purchase firearms -- that's a good start.
A: I would agree that screening is very important and could be improved. I would be concerned with the use of terms like “decent” citizens. It’s too subjective. Although, I think I know what you mean. 
Firearm ownership is a right for ALL people, even those we may consider indecent, disgusting, unworthy, moronic, etc. That said, certain individual should have considered forfeiting their rights i.e. convicted felons. We also need to have a constructive, realistic, and just dialog about how we screen the mentally ill. This is a major concern for me. I don’t want to see any firearm in the hands of another Adam Lanza (assuming he was mentally ill and it could have been detected.)
Again, we are dealing with semantics here and “background check” is a very broad term. As far as background checks are concerned, I believe they should be part of the process so long as it includes ONLY background items that pertain to criminal convictions and other items that legally preclude a person from firearm ownership. Anything else that one might find in a “background check” is irrelevant and a violation of a person’s rights. Ergo, the so called “background check” should not be a full one in the broader sense of the term.
Q: If your response is "that wouldn't have stopped so-and-so who killed their mom", of course it won't stop everyone, but it will absolutely reduce the numbers of these slaughters.
A: I agree. When you state it like that you are acknowledging our struggle as human beings. We are never going to create a utopia. We simply are not capable. Although, we should constantly strive to improve our condition through civility and respect for the human person. We are talking about love here.  Love and respect for human life first and foremost. If we get that right, all else falls into place.
Q: Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is a laudable goal. I just don't believe there is a practical solution to accomplish it. I'm not saying not to try, I'm OK with background checks against criminal history databases and refusing sales to convicted felons or parolees even though I wonder what crimes justify denying a person the right to defend themselves in perpetuity. Some felonies are easy, like manslaughter or rape, others may not be, like DUI. I do have a problem with maintaining gun registries, for as we saw recently, those can be abused.
A: I agree. We need to tread very carefully in this area. This is an avenue for potential abuse. As I indicated in three questions back how do we define “decent?” Those in power will always want to consolidate it. Disarming is a tool for the despots to control and subjugate its population. Our right to self defense is also our right to throw off such governments that set down this path.
I also agree there is no place for gun registries. That can be abused in many ways.

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