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Patrick Richardson


March 16, 2013 - 6:18 am

With the current, and often whacky, push for gun control it’s perhaps worth taking a close look at the the Second (and arguably more important) Amendment.

Many Americans, growing up in liberal families in large cities, like much of the country, haven’t really been exposed to firearms. Guns tend to scare them. Moreover they’ve been taught that the police will protect them — a fallacy, ask any cop if he can protect you. He’ll tell you he mostly can just clean up the blood — but I digress.

Let us begin our little journey into the frightening world of firearms by first dissecting the Second Amendment as there seems to be a great deal of confusion about what it actually says, despite being one sentence long.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

Now, it’s that second and subordinate clause which really seems to confuse people, because it sets off the first clause, “A well regulated Militia.”

The argument goes that the militia is the National Guard and and Reserves and not the people. The problem is the U.S. Code states specifically that all able-bodied males between 17 and 45 are part of the unorganized militia. So everyone, except women, is a member.

But that argument is known as the Collective Right argument — in short that only as a collective do we have the right to keep and bear arms so it only applies to the military and police.

The counter view, the Individual Right argument, says everyone has a right to keep and bear arms for their own defense, defense of the nation and for recreation — i.e. hunting, sport shooting, etc.

That argument is actually the one backed up by the text of the amendment itself and in two separate decisions by the Supreme Court, Heller and McDonald. I won’t go into those here, because taking those decisions apart, and the implications of them is graduate thesis work, and this is a basic class. Suffice to say the Supreme Court has come down in two separate cases and said that yes, the individual people do have the right to own firearms.

Basically, what the amendment actually says is pretty simple, it’s just couched in 235 year-old English. To paraphrase: “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

What really scares Statists about armed citizenry is that they might take it into their heads not to do what the State tells them to do — this would be why dictatorial regimes all over the world immediately start confiscating guns upon coming to power. An armed citizenry is a threat to the government, and rightly so.

Even a cursory reading of the writings of the framers would note those brilliant men considered the Second Amendment as a final check on the government which they had just created.

Keep in mind as well that those men had not so many years before led an armed rebellion against what was at the time the most powerful nation on Earth.

No less a luminary than Thomas Jefferson himself understood how important it was for the people to be armed and that armed men are fee men.

Indeed in a letter to William Smith in 1787 ‘ol TJ himself said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

And he was talking about the recently concluded Whiskey Rebellion.

Another argument for gun control, (which I’ve always considered to be the ability to hit what you aim at, but I again digress), is that guns are dangerous and they don’t save people they only kill them.

Well the utter silliness of this argument ought to be obvious even to a liberal, but it obviously is not since they keep making it.

I personally own several firearms, from my daddy and grand-daddy’s shotguns to a deer rifle I bought myself, I’ve owned and sold many others over the years — I’m a gun-nut and if I weren’t so broke I’d probably spend a lot of money on them.

None of my guns have ever killed anyone. Come to that, they’ve never killed a deer. And of course the reality is, they are incapable of killing anyone — firearms are inanimate objects. I have taken my share of pheasant and dove over the years, but my firearms have not, they are simply the tool I use to bring home some tasty treats.

Guns are not, in and of themselves dangerous. People are dangerous. But a dangerous man remains a dangerous man whether he’s carrying a pistol or a toothpick.

As to whether they save people or not, check out the National Rifle Association’s Web site, they have hundreds of defensive gun uses listed there. Sometimes the criminal is dead, sometimes he’s wounded, and often enough he took to his heels the minute he saw the armed citizen confronting him. John Lott in his blockbuster work “More Guns, Less Crime,” estimates there are over 1 million defensive firearms uses a year in the United States, most of them without a shot ever being fired.

Moreover, states which have enacted “Shall Issue” concealed carry laws have seen a huge drop in violent crime. Exactly the opposite of what gun control nuts like Handgun Control, Inc. said would happen. Why? Well mostly because criminals are basically cowards, they’re not going to try to mug someone who might be armed, and if they don’t know if you’re armed or not, they’re less likely to attack you. They also know that police response times are often a half hour or more in big cities, so if you’re not armed, you’re defenseless.

‘Tis true there are less deadly ways to stop someone, a ball bat comes to mind. Well arguably less deadly, you belt someone in the head or ribs with a baseball bat and you stand a really good chance of killing them just as dead as a bullet. However, you expose yourself to far more risk that way, and there’s a good chance the criminal, who’s probably more acquainted with physical violence than you, will leave you the one dead, not the critter.

A firearm, and the willingness to use it are among the most important tools you have to keep your family safe — especially in our crime-ridden big cities. By-the-by, it’s notable that the cities with the most restrictive gun laws, Washington DC, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, have the highest murder rates. You’re actually safer patrolling in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq than you are walking down the street in those big cities.

Then of course you get the argument, “well if we outlaw guns then criminals can’t get them!”

This is really about the dumbest argument of the bunch. Criminals by definition do not obey the law, or at least, only obey those laws which suit them. Restrictive gun laws really only affect those already predisposed to obey them — the law-abiding. Of course after every school shooting, which are tragedies do not misunderstand, there is this push for more laws.

After Columbine there was the predictable outcry of “we must DO something!” So politicians, to advance their own agenda  and in order to be seen to Do Something, tried to pass more laws.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the free-fire zones our schools have become because of “Gun Free School Zones,” or the complete incompetence of the Littleton, Colo., police. No, let us focus on the fact that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had already broken more than 20 gun laws. So please tell me what one more would have done?

Moreover, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, at Fort Hood — or at Sandy Hook for that matter — one armed individual could have stopped the rampage before it fairly got started, and saved any number of lives. Indeed, when the police finally arrived at Fort Hood, it was one armed cop who DID stop it before it went further. The problem was the number of unarmed victims Maj. Nidal Hasan had gunned down before he was stopped.

The final argument I wish to address is perhaps the most pernicious of the bunch. It goes something like this: “Only God should have the power to decide who lives and dies, not some person with a gun.”

This is a fine moral statement. Under most circumstances I tend to agree. The power to end a life is an awesome responsibility. One should never pick up a firearm lightly, not even to shoot at cans. One holds destruction in one’s hands and that is a frightening thing.

However, the question is not as simple as that statement sounds.

Is it moral to allow your loved ones to be harmed if you have the power to prevent it? Is it moral to stand by and allow someone else to be harmed? Is it moral to allow yourself to be harmed if you have the power to prevent it?

And how many others would that person harm, because you didn’t stop him when you had the chance? Are you not responsible for those deaths or injuries because of what you were unable or unwilling to do?

Is it not moral cowardice to be unwilling to take a life in order to save others?

In the end, what the left never seems to understand, it that a firearm is a tool. It has no life of its own. It requires a human being to function. It is the use the tool is put to which is good or evil.

And that is up to the person holding it.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.

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Great piece.

American colonists' need for firearms was almost Darwinian. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh dropped off the first set of Brits on Roanoke Island. They all died.

The next group landed in 1607 at Fort James (Jamestown) partly because they were armed. By 1610, the wars began. In Virginia they fought the Anglo-Powhatan War until 1667 when they drove the tribe off the peninsula. Boston they fared no better. First there was Pequot War, then King Philip's War. French, Dutch and Spanish settlers used local tribes as proxies to drive the British out. The colonials fought King William's War, Queen Anne's War and King George's War before the French & Indian War. If you were an Englishman on this side of the pond without firearm skills, you were morted out of they gene pool! The Crown repaid the colonial efforts by increasing their taxes to pay for troops.

In the early morning of April 19th 1775, 700 British soldiers arrived in Lexington MA to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams and to seize colonists' firearms. After a brief engagement on Lexington Green, some local residents lay dying on their porches. Things unravelled at the North Concord Bridge when the Red Coats encountered well armed 1,200 Colonial troops. These two conflicts did much to justify the first four amendments in the Bill of Rights.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"""""" And he was talking about the recently concluded Whiskey Rebellion """""

In 1787? No Sir, he was talking about Shay's rebellion. The Whisky Rebellion was in 1792.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My idea will not satisfy the anti-gun left because it won't remove guns from the hands of the American people, which I'm pretty sure is their ultimate goal, but it will meet two of their criteria which is universal background checks and it will, effectively, close the so-called "gun show loophole."

A few years ago, when you went to get a driver's license, all you could do was get a driver's license. Nowadays, you can get a driver's license, become an organ donor and register to vote in the United States. Why not add a background check to own a gun to that list of things that can be accomplished at the DMV.

I go in to get my driver's license renewed and I tell them I would like a background check done to own a gun. I don't need to own a gun at that time in order to have the background check done. I don't even need to have plans to buy a gun. I could have the check done and NEVER actually buy a gun.

The DMV would issue me a temporary driver's license and tell me that the background check will take between seven and ten working days. I thank them and go on my way with the temporary driver's license. The DMV, of course, would not actually do the background check, they would simply send off a list to the FBI who would do the background check and then send back a list of those who had passed.

Seven to ten days later, I would return to the DMV, go up to the counter and hand them my temporary driver's license, tell them I had put in for a background check and came to see if I had passed and to receive my permanent driver's license. They would check their computer, see that I had, in fact, passed my background check and issue me a permanent (as permanent as a driver's license gets anyway) driver's license with a small box checked stating that I had passed my background check giving me the ability, the right, to go out and buy, or posses, a weapon.

Whether I went to a gun store or a flea market or a gun show, I would be able to pull out my driver's license and show them "Yes, I have passed a background check." By simply adding a requirement that a buyer show that they have passed this national background check anytime they wish to buy a gun, whether at a gun store, at a sporting goods store, at a flea market or at a gun show, the so-called "Gun Show Loophole" is closed.

If I have a driver's license with the background check box marked, and I am found guilty of some crime, or if I am deemed mentally unfit to own a weapon, my driver's license could simply be taken away, my name would be added to that list of citizens who are not allowed to own or posses a gun and I would have to go to the DMV and pay to have a new license issued, one with that background check box not marked and would once again not be able to buy a gun.

As I already said, this effectively closes the so-called "gun show loophole" that the left is obsessed with, it is reasonably quick and efficient (as quick and efficient as the DMV has ever been) and there is one more advantage.... If I have had a background check done that says I am fit to own a gun, there is really no reason at all for me to have to register my weapons with the United States government.

Add one more little detail, stating it is against the law for an employer to use that background check as a determining factor in hiring an individual. Background checks would be optional, not mandatory. No one would have to have a background check done. Not having a background check done should not be seen as a determining factor in deciding whether to hire a person.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

I'm afraid that your argument – excellent as it was – will fall on deaf Progressive ears: "Is it not moral cowardice to be unwilling to take a life in order to save others?"

See Progressives don't think that of such an action as "moral" or not. It is an axiom of Progressive/Liberal/Leftist thought that humans are perfectable. "The poor criminal just needs understanding and support, or he [inevitably 'he'] wouldn't act that way." To a Progressive, the "Moral Action" would be to attempt to *redeem* the criminal, not stop him – at least on the individual level. Of course, Progressives are capable of Moral Outrage, but only in the past tense: "Someone should have *stopped* that man before he killed those children!" Even then, the imperative to perfect humans results in applying any preventative action to groups (such as gun owners) and not individuals. After all, applying proactive or even retroactive prevention to an individual would deprive that individual of the right to be "perfected."

Progressives cannot be expected to understand Moral Cowardice as you mean it, because they perceive the attempt at redemption as being the moral act, not the saving of a life – especially if that life was perhaps less in need of the redemption that Progressives would offer. Thus these conflicting "moral" imperatives for the Progressive – (A) to redeem the fallen and perfect humanity, (B) to not be proactive and prevent the criminal act (which would interfere in the ability to redeem the criminal), (C) to summon Moral Outrage only in the past tense, and (D) to apply any attempt at proactive prevention to groups rather than individuals so as not to interfere with individual redemption.

It is a schizophrenic worldview, and perhaps explains the tendency to overreact when high-profile tragedies occur, not to mention the hypocrisy shown by Mark Kelly, Sen Feinstein and other Progressives that publicly speak of Gun Control when they privately own guns (or hire armed bodyguards). Nevertheless, in their own minds, it is not Moral Cowardice to fail to defend a life when they can reclaim their own moral high ground through either the redemption or demonization of the criminal!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Offered without comment.

A Manhattan millionaire faces three years in jail for drawing an unlicensed gun on a burglar inside his home.

George Bardwil, who owns linen company Bardwil Home, was in his E Street apartment when an intruder came into his home in January, The Daily Mail reports.

Mr. Bardwil, 60, threatened the intruder with a loaded .40 cal Sig Sauer. The man fled and Mr. Bardwil called the police.

After showing the cops footage from his home surveillance cameras, they arrested him under suspicions of owning an illegal firearm.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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