In light of yesterday’s tragedy in Connecticut, I have decided to weigh in.
I see gun rights as the last-ditched defense against tyranny, first and foremost. The Battle of Athens in 1946 is a great example of how an armed populace can resist the overreaching arms of government, in this case a local government in the United States. Also, look at how easily the police in Vichy France rounded up 42,000 Jews during World War 2. Nearly all were murdered in the camps. Had these people been armed, the French authorities would have been deterred to some extent. Fewer people would have been rounded up, that much is certain. The greatest murderers in history have always been governments that wield totalitarian power. Maoist China, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany. An armed populace is one way to impede the evil wishes of such governments. And if you think that these examples are too long ago and too far away to be relevant, I disagree. Tyranny can happen anywhere if we let it. Germany represented the pinnacle of Western civilization for over three-quarters of a century. Many couldn’t believe that it could ever descend into tyranny. Yet it did. Swiftly.
Thomas Jefferson said it best: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in Government.”
This is more of an argument to protect the second amendment than anything else. While shooting for sport and hunting is fine, I also support gun rights for self-defense and home defense. It is under-reported in the mainstream media, but there are many, many instances of guns being instrumental in saving lives. A great example is the shooting rampage at Appalachian School of Law in 2002 that was nipped in the bud by students wielding personal firearms. A lunatic killed three people and would have killed more had he not been subdued by men with guns. Gun rights people often keep what they call “Dead Goblin Counts”, that is, news stories of would-be bad guys (murderers, rapists, psychopaths, whatever) being stopped cold by righteous fire. The counts have gotten very high. Google the term for some recent examples.
When people use guns to save lives, it barely gets a mention in the press. When people use guns to waste lives (in the absence of armed people to stop them, of course), it’s all you hear about in the press. And I understand this. A surgeon can save dozens of lives, but one stupid mistake could end his career. We need to keep this in mind before we mindlessly start blaming today’s tragedy on “wingnuts” or the NRA.
Let’s also consider the alternative: gun control. Gun control. Will. Not. Work. People hell bent on mayhem will always be able to acquire a gun. Perhaps gun control may make it more difficult for some of these people to acquire firearms. But you know what? It will make it more difficult for normal people to acquire firearms as well. In that instance, these “dead goblin counts” will never get so high. Armed lunatics and criminals will have an easier time with unarmed victims. Remember Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, the underboss of the Gambino crime family? He loved gun control. Here’s what he had to say about it.
“Gun control? Itâ€™s the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. Iâ€™m a bad guy; Iâ€™m always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You will pull the trigger with a lock on, and Iâ€™ll pull the trigger. Weâ€™ll see who wins.â€
Please also look at the facts. Places with the most gun control also have the most gun violence. Los Angeles, Detroit, Washington DC, New York City, the list goes on. Try legally buying a gun in those places. It isn’t easy and it takes a long time. Yet criminals always seem to be armed. Innocents always seem to get shot. Now, I am not saying that strict gun control causes these murders. But it sure doesn’t seem to be helping.
In 2009, there was a similar shooting in Stuttgart, Germany. Teenaged shooter. 15 dead. And this came in the wake of much tighter gun control laws than in the US, which in turn were caused by an equally diabolical shooting in eastern Germany in 2002. So, those of us who believe in gun control, please provide evidence of it actually working. You will be surprised at how little evidence you will find.
As for today’s tragedy, it’s hard for many of us to think straight about it because most of the victims are children. But looking at the facts, we have a young man, the killer, who was most likely autistic, perhaps suffering from Asberger’s Syndrome. Such people are typically considered mentally handicapped, not mentally ill or psychotic (although overlap exists, I’m sure). According to people who knew Adam Lanza, he was odd, shy, asocial. One person said he was rambunctious but not violent. But was there any evidence that he was a time bomb? Were there any clues that could have been capable of such a horrific act? From what I’m reading, the answer is no. He had no criminal record. He certainly was strange and could be described as ‘troubled’, but is this enough for us to Monday morning quarterback one of the worst domestic murder sprees ever? The guns weren’t even his; they belonged to his mother. You can’t even blame the negligence of gun dealers for this one like many did for the Virginia Tech shootings a few years ago.
Basically, the trade off of having a second amendment is that there is no guarantee against these kinds of killings. As long as we have guns that can be purchased legally and relatively easily, then there is always a risk that some lunatic will make a ghastly, bloody name for himself in infamy.
And that scares the crap out of me.
But you know what scares me even more? Living in a world where the only nonmilitary people who have guns are cops and criminals. The police cannot be everywhere at once and are (rightfully) impeded by due process. This basically leaves the law-abiding populace defenseless. Criminals know this and will exploit this knowledge frightfully fast when given the chance. At least with guns we’d have a fighting chance against them.
Of course, gun rights should be reasonably regulated. Because of the danger involved with guns, not everyone should be allowed to purchase guns, not children, not criminals, and certainly not the mentally ill. There should also be background checks and other safeguards in place. The irony however is that even with perfect gun regulation, today’s shootings couldn’t have been stopped. This wasn’t a failure of any system, whether it be law enforcement, mental health, gun restriction, or whatnot. Adam Lanza did not slip through any cracks. He created his own with every life he ruined today. In a free society, there is no guarantee against such actions. Tragic as it is, however, this is no reason to make us any less free.