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About guns

Successful bloggers with sizable readerships tend to achieve prominence by picking up on “hot” topics and eloquently stating their strong opinions on them, along the way explaining to the masses why said opinions are the only correct ones.

I figure, what the heck, I should do likewise once in a while. How else am I going to get to be successful?

The hot topics never fail to present themselves. For instance, for the last couple of days, the Instapundit feed has been disproportionally tilted towards the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn D.C.’s ban on handguns (D.C. vs Heller). For the first time in history, the highest court in the land affirmed the right of an individual to keep and bear arms for private use.

Despite the narrow decision, the consensus of the commentary seems to be that “The imposition by the U.S. government of a U.K.-style system of sweeping gun bans and prohibitions on armed self-defense is now off the table” (quoted from here). Moreover, the NRA is already lining up challenges in any place that seems to restrict the Second Amendment right.

Me – I’ll never own a gun. And I happen to be in the small minority of the Americans who think that the aforementioned Amendment has outlived its purpose ages ago.

So I spent a couple of hours formulating my educated opinion on this, dismantling the notion that gun ownership deters crime (look at Europe, where guns are almost universally banned and where crime levels are nowhere near those in the US), ridiculing the mantra of “Guns do not kill people, people kill people” (true, but guns make it so much easier for an average shmoe to go on a killing spree) and generally observing that gun culture is one thing I positively hate about the country that I otherwise love.

And then I felt stupid posting such a treatise here. Even though I occasionally get myself into debates on political issues, it is really not like me to find the exercise worthwhile. I hold conservative views when it comes to economy, markets, free trade, central government’s role and fiscal responsibility; tend to espouse libertarian views in regards to individual freedoms; but side with liberals on issues such as abortion, capital punishment, or gun control. In other words, I am too all-over-the-place in my political beliefs to identify with any political movement or party. And with the American two-party system, one’s preferences can never be satisfied wholesale. You vote based on just one or two things that are most important to you, and close your eyes – and pinch your nose – on everything else. And gun ownership rights is that “something else” for me. Not worth expending any more energy than acknowledging that I don’t like it the way it is.

If you own a gun, I hope that you never ever use it. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Posted in Apropos

11 Comments

  1. Kisintin

    It is a difficult topic.

    On one hand, i am more militaristic than you will ever be, I like guns and anything associated with weaponry. On the other hand, I will probably never own a gun, and I abhor the idea of taking another life, even hunting. On the third hand, I will never believe that a police force can protect me from everything, it is reactionary by definition, as you once said getting interested in a person only after that person commited a crime. Crime prevention will never be its main focus. This means that i should believe in a “normal” person’s right to protect oneself and the ones dear to him.

  2. Ilya

    It’s equating the latter with owning a gun that I find to be a problem.

    The argument that you invoke basically goes as this:
    a) Crime will always be rampant,
    b) Criminals will always have guns,
    c) The only way to avoid succumbing to lawlessness is with the guns in hands of good guys.

    If this holds true, then it is certainy a sad world we live in… And yet, in Europe, individuals do not own guns and the gun-related crime is considerably less rampant…

    Just wondering…

  3. Art

    I heard a very interesting suggestion on the radio yesterday. If every single Jewish family man in Germany in 1933 had a gun and took one gestapo officer with him before they took his life would there be a holocaust? A can also add another analogy; if every family in Soviet Union had weapons in 1936-1937 would millions of them be arrested and sent to die?

    Have you noticed that all dictators, socialists, marxists and the likes always begin their reforms from taking weapons always from all of their people?

    My thinking is – a right to bear arms means more than just a right to occasionally go out hunting with friends, to spend some quality time at a shooting range or even to be able to protect your family from some s*^^*bag. All these are very nice additions.

    I think the real reason for the Amendment has become more philosophical rather than social. It is more about people telling their government: “you are one of us, we elected you…, so don’t you dare threaten us or our families. Yes you, the government, have grown out of all proportions and now think that *you* are the center of the Universe. But *we* want you to remember that we can always take out our Colts, Brownings, Magnums and Winchesters and remind you that we are not the “sheeple” that you assumed us to be.
    We won’t go down that easy.”

    Just my 2 cents.

  4. Ilya

    Makes America the only Western democracy where this type of thinking and this type of *protection* is necessary… Hmm, never thought of it this way. You almost argue that our democracy cannot survive unless this unspoken threat of armed resistance exists. In the Old World, such foundations do not exist, yet democracies have been no less stable in the last 50-60 years…

  5. jason

    I grew up and live in a very conservative state (possibly the most conservative in the Union, depending on how you measure it), a place where the annual deer hunt in the fall used to be a virtual school holiday when I was growing up, a place where thinking like Art’s is pretty commonplace — and I still do not begin to understand the American obsession with firearms. Oh, I know where it comes from and get that it’s deeply woven into our national mythology and sense of identity — the history of America is, in a very real sense, the history of individuals with guns using them to get what they want whether that was freedom, justice, wealth, land, or merely another day of life — but on a gut level, I just don’t get it. I certainly don’t share it.

    Like you, Ilya, I will never own a gun. Just don’t see the need. And I don’t feel one bit less safe without one than I imagine the guy down the street feels with one. I think a streak of paranoia often accompanies gun ownership — so many gun owners always seem to be fretting about being attacked in their homes or having to be ready to fight another revolution — but I can’t say which comes first, the gun or the mindset. I’m not saying all gun owners are paranoid — my girlfriend’s father and brothers own firearms and are perfectly rational on the subject — but I’ve met quite a few of them who are.

    My idealistic side wouldn’t mind seeing all the guns in the world disappear, because I personally have no use for them, but my practical side knows that will never happen. There are too many out there already floating around, too many people who feel as Art does. Really, though, it’s just not that important an issue to me. I think it’s another essentially unwinnable argument that’s been consuming valuable oxygen for far too long while more important problems fester. With this ruling, maybe we can back-burner the argument and concentrate on something else for a while…

  6. Art

    Hi Jason,
    Welcome to the non-idealistic world!
    For the record I am far from being obsessed by guns, don’t own one and (hopefully) will not own one in the future. I am not looking to start a revolution or begin getting what I want using a gun. (by the way, name at least one country in the whole world, that DOES NOT have a “history of individuals with guns using them to get what they want”)

    So in my case you can tell that the mindset came first. And my mindset dictates me that in case the time comes (hopefully never) when my neighbor down the street tells a political joke; and at night disappears grabbed by some ARMED officials who enforce the political correctness du jour, and the same thing happens to dozens of my neighbors… i need to have a constitutional right not to become the next slaughterhouse client. That’s it. Simple as that. Having said this, I am gladly putting the “if they break into your house, will you have time to unlock a safe with your gun” discussions to rest.

    Hi Ilya,
    I did not reply to your post previously because I did not (and still don’t) want to aggravate your readers with my views on in which direction and how fast the Old World is headed. But your 50-60 years argument seems to be a bit stretched. C’mon, what is 50-60 years in history? And yes, you can remove “almost” in your assumption regarding my viewpoint.

    Respectfully,
    Art

  7. Ilya

    Artyomchik, we are going on a tangent here, but the fully automatic firearms were invented less than a hundred years ago; such important staples of everyday life as air flight or television, or even an automobile, all came to the masses during the second half of the 20th century. The internet was invented less than, what, 40 years ago? The world today is so unlike what it was in the first half of the 20th century, that I can argue that the last 50-60 years changed the world much more than the centuries past. What’s a thousand years of feudal system, when the progress made the world a very small and very public place in just the last twenty?…

    In a prosperous country with the history of strong democracy over the last half-century, the situation that you describe appears inconceivable to me, all the stupidity about political correctness aside. Not in the Old World, not in the good old U.S. of A.

    Fifty years from now, over a few bottles of Hacker-Pschorr, one of us is going to tell another “I told you so”. Do you really expect that European democracies will succumb to dictatorships by then?

  8. Brian Greenberg

    Interesting discussion. Like all of you, I will never own a gun, and would probably feel less safe with a gun in my home than without one.

    That said, I’m cognizant of the fact that I (like probably all of the commentors here) live in a relatively nice neighborhood, where crime is not anywhere approaching rampant, and that I generally trust the police to protect me from anything that comes up.

    Not everyone in the country lives under these conditions. And so while I, like Jason, would love to wave the magic wand and have all guns disappear (or, as George Carlin used to say, just all the bullets…), I understand why some might choose to own one, and it strikes me as strange that the government would tell them they couldn’t.

    What would be a nice addition, though, is if they could codify this sentiment into the law: OK, you wanted a gun, so now you have one. If you a) hurt yourself, b) hurt someone in your family, c) hurt a stranger for no good reason, or d) otherwise cause trouble in society because of the gun, the responsibility for those events will fall directly on YOU. Not on the government, not on the NRA, not on some argument about a failed police force or justice system – just you. Still want the gun? Fine, have at it.

  9. Ilya

    I agree, Brian, although I believe that, nutcases aside, majority of the gun owners understand these caveats even if they are not explicitly codified. It’s the nutcases – who likely would not care one way or the other – that worry me here…

  10. Art

    Illusha, how has the internet or air travel changed a desire by some people to cut other people’s heads off? People still have their “basic instincts” particularly thinking that it is always more effective to take away possessions or freedoms from other people by force. But in any case, you are right; it is time to wrap this thing up. I am solemnly giving my word, that I will be there for you in 50 years (in any way, shape or form) to settle this thing once and for all. Meanwhile, I hope we don’t have to wait 50 years (now it’s more like 49 years and 355 days) to agree on a phrase by a dude called George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeat it”.
    Happy Fourth of July!
    Art

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