March 07, 2008

Horse 864 - Repeal the Second Amendment Pt 3
Four adults and two children were found shot dead inside a Memphis home, and three other children were rushed from the scene in a critical condition, authorities say. The injured children were 10-months, four-years, and seven-years-old, they said.

Police have not yet released any additional information about the victims or potential motives or suspects. Memphis Police Lieutenant Ray Douglas says they have confirmed that there are fatalities on the scene. "Other than that, we don't know a whole lot right now," he said.

Every time I see a story like this in the newspaper, it causes three reactions in me. One is disappointment and grief that yet more innocent people should have to die so needlessly. This could be someone's mummy or daddy, a brother or sister. Someone loved who has been stolen. Second is disgust that someone would even think about commiting the act and third is utter hatred at the legislation which allows it:
I refer yet again to that fatally tragic pile of steaming legislation, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

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.

I referred to it here in Horse 581 as well as in Horse 280 and every time I mention a disagreement with the Second Amendment, someone somewhere will always send me a half-baked excuse as to why the so-called "right to bear arms" is an inalienable right. I'll be looking at two excuses in this piece and showing fundamental flaws in them.

1. Self-Defence
The call that people need guns for self-defence is only true if everyone else in society has them in the first place. The simple fact of the matter is that if people do not have the necessary means to kill each other then they don't. Australia learned a horrible lesson in 1996 when Martin Bryant turned a weapon on 11 victims and consequently set in place a series of tougher laws. Ten years later, statistics prove that they actually worked.
The new report, titled Australia's 1996 Gun Law Reforms: Faster Falls in Firearm Deaths, Firearm Suicides and a Decade without Mass Shootings, finds that in the 18 years before the gun buyback there were an average of 492 firearm suicides a year.
After the introduction of the buyback scheme, that figure dropped to 247 in the seven years for which reliable figures are available.
After the massacre, tough gun laws were enacted across Australia, specifically targeting military-style weapons, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of weapons being destroyed.
The number of deaths caused by firearms dropped almost 50 per cent between 1991 and 2001, with the biggest yearly fall in deaths coming after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
The risk of dying by gunshot has halved since Australia destroyed 700,000 privately owned firearms, according to a new study published today in the international research journal, Injury Prevention.

The argument that the right to "self-defence" is also spurious as this is not once mentioned in the constitution, and wasn't mentioned as one of the inalienable rights in the first place - those being life, liberty and happiness (which for the record aren't in the US Consitution anyway but the Declaration of Independance which itself does not hold the force of law).

It must be said that anyone who owns a gun with the primary intention of using it for self-protection is far too paranoid about their safety. Currently, the USA seems to lead the world when it comes to security paranoia, so the two things go together naturally. Secondly, if your neighbourhood really is so dangerous that it's safest to be armed, there are deeper-rooted problems there — problems that shooting people in the name of security probably won't fix.

2. Tyannical Government
The argument runs something like this: A murderer kills some, a tyrannical government oppresses virtually all. The theory is that by allowing the people to be armed, they are somehow able to incite a revolution if they find themselves oppressed by the government. Tish! There are two very obvious arguments against this and two legal examples of why this doesn't work in practice.

If you read the first bit of the amendment you find this: "being necessary to the security of a free State". This of course is a sensible idea. Whilst the Continental Army was relatively organised, a free-standing US Military did not yet exist. The need to quickly form an army was needed to defend the nation. In 2008 that situation faded quite some time ago. If you were to form a half decent militia to fight the United States, you'd be up against a fully mechanised and mobilised force worth $548bn/year in running costs.

Whilst this does indeed sound stupid, there is a test case for just such a situation; that being the US Civil War... and the United States still beat the rebel Confederates. If you really want to know something odd, the US Supreme Court found that the Civil War was an illegal act (Texas v White 1869) and held that "the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null" So if states can not seceed from the Union, then what chance does the individual have when it comes to rising up against "Tyrannical Goverment"?

Nil, it would seem, for even if you turned your newly created militia against the United States, you've not only be arrested for civil disobedience but be put on trial for treason, which itself is a violation of the Article 3, Section 3 of the constitution.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.

Your "revolution" against "tyrannical" governments is a weak excuse, because it's illegal.

What possible defence is there for the Second Amendment? "the right to bear arms" exists for what purpose? Something that removes people's life, liberty and happiness to the tune of 10,100 lives per year is not excuseable. Even Thalidomide which was probably responsible for 8000 deaths was removed, yet since 1962 when it was banned, something which has caused more than 52 times more death and mayhem is not only allowed to go on sale, but is fiercely defended because of seven words in a 217 year old document.

If anyone can provide even a logical and well-thought out reason as to why it shouldn't be repealed immediately, I'll tip my hat to them, provided they don't try to blow my head off first.

And now:

One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela


and dandy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Those would would choose a little safety in place of liberty deserve neither" - Ben Franklin

you deserve to lose your freedom if you don't defend it