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Six shooter and the right to own guns

I have an essay for the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference due, so I have to keep it short. I just wanted to ponder the Supreme Court's 2nd Amendment decision on the individual's right to own guns.

Now gun ownership is one of those areas in which I agree with Chris Rock, "No normal decent person is one thing. OK!?! I got some shit I'm conservative about, I got some shit I'm liberal about. Crime - I'm conservative. Prostitution - I'm liberal."

Gun ownership is one of those areas that in spite of viewing Bowling for Columbine 1000 times, I'm "conservative" about, but for liberal reasons and with some caveats. First the caveats, I believe in the individual right to own guns, but there should be restrictions on the types of guns. I do not think semi-automatic or automatic weapons of any kind are valid weapons for hunting or home self-defense, and thus such be banned. I believe that every gun owner should have a license and have required training or be able to pass a "shooting" test in the way that you have to pass a driving test to get a drivers license.

Now the Constitutional issue of the 2nd Amendment hinges on whether gun ownership is permissible for those only part of a militia. The 5-4 split vote was that individuals could own guns without being part of a militia. I agree with this decision because of the underlying assumption behind the 2nd Amendment is that you cannot trust the government to protect you (i.e. Redcoats in your house), thus need to have means of self-defense of the home, community, etc. Granted this was before the standing army, but due to US history with the African-American community (and other communities as well), I do not think it is prudent to trust the government so much that you give up the means to defend your community against potential abuse of power.

The first action of any totalitarian regime is to disarm any oppositional factions. Yes, I might trust an Obama administration, but if for some reason it becomes a totalitarian regime, I want to be able to defend myself against the National Guard or US Military if it rolls tanks down my street.

But you might say, most of the weapons are being used to kill innocent children in drive by shootings. This is where the caveats become important from a policy perspective although I understand the reality of gun theft and running, so that requiring licenses and training does not help the situation. I get it. But, one of the important messages of Bowling for Columbine was that it was not the amount of guns on the streets that caused the rates of homicide in the US, but rather the culture of fear propagated by the media and unscrupulous politicians. Eliminating individual gun ownership may seem to be the most practical solution to gun-related violence, but I would want to approach things from a different perspective. I'd make policies that would require broadcasters to make sure that 50% of their content covered "positive" news. If the FCC can regulate sex, it should regulate violence in the media by saying "Okay, you can have your Murder/Death/Kill, but you have to give equal time to Compassion/Life/Alturism."

Now the irony of all this is that I do not own a gun, nor do I desire to own one.


Simon Grey

"Guns" such a confused debate! Even the language used seems out of context; a liberal attitude to gun ownership; liberal because you can own them but surely conservative because it's Republicans who defend your right to own them against liberals! Weapon ownership is part of your constitution it isn't a God given "right"; Gun ownership is a socially accepted "norm" in your culture given credence by a legislative system - and as such should be respected. In England you may also own a gun but not to "bare" arms - And the type of arms legally owned is restricted, again this is within a modern legal framework not a foot note on a stone tablet. That said , the English, as do Americans, have a problem - it's the media's focus on the availability of firearms in 21st century city centre slums and the rampant battalions of youth militia prepared to wield them.
America may have a bigger problem and it's the premise of your debate: a nation that promises to be where "one man one vote" is embedded can only now defend democracy with a bullet rather than law as decided by collective ballot.
And that surely is the danger all Americans face - that your "right" to democracy is claimed to be so weak it can only be defended by individuals with the threat of an individual recourse to available violence. This is the heart of it, you have bought into a lie; totalitarian regimes do not "disarm" the opposition - they disenfranchise opposition voters, they suppress trade unions, they burn books, they subvert the media (so that only sanctioned truth is publishable) and the compliant are rewarded no matter how repugnant their cowardice. Totalitarian regimes can't ban weapons in the hands of Militia, Democrats or Republicans or Socialists, other tribes, creeds or colours or voters for that matter but they can declare the right to use violence against those who oppose them. And they always claim that license before a shot is given in reply.


"if for some reason it becomes a totalitarian regime, I want to be able to defend myself against the National Guard or US Military if it rolls tanks down my street."

That was all well and good in the days when the red-coats were also armed with one shot long-rifles, but hand-guns vs tanks just doesn't work. Ask any of the countries the US currently occupies how useful their guns were against the US military.

The message that I took away from Bowling with Columbine was that you guys HAVE anti-gun laws over there, it's just that they aren't USED in any systematic manner. Personally I'm against guns (handguns especially), and that's despite the fact we have 8 or 10 in the house...

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