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Gun Control Argument

Here is an argument I’ve been mulling in favor of gun control, to present in a discussion with someone who is against gun control, and bases that opposition in the sanctity of the Second Amendment. (Just putting thought to digital ink here.)

Just because a right is enumerated in the Bill of Rights, that doesn’t make the right absolute. Consider the First Amendment. The Freedoms of Speech, Religion, Press, and Assembly. Each and every one of those rights is quintessentially American, but even those Freedoms have limits. You aren’t allowed to yell, “Fire!” in a theater or make threats against the life of the President. You aren’t allowed to have multiple wives even if your religion considers it a sacrament. Journalists are not allowed to publish all information they come across, if it affects certain financial entities or national security. A group of people are free to assemble, but they often need a permit so that a city can make sure things remain orderly and they reduce the risk of a mob or riot.  Each of these limitations are in place for good policy reasons, which no one reasonably disagrees with.  Each limitation can be abused by authority, but the abuse which can be corrected does not invalidate the underlying reason for the limitations.

So why would anyone think that the Second Amendment is a blank check to bear any and all arms? It is completely consistent with the application of the Constitution to put limitations and restrictions on the type and scope of arms one can bear.  In fact, we already accept some limitations, because there is a legal distinction between rifles and handguns and things other weapons, such as rocket launchers and flamethrowers. There is no logical distinction to be drawn from the Constitution to say that one type of individual weapon should be allowed and another not, just because one type of those weapons is more traditional and existed in some form in 1776.

So it is evident that (1) all of our Freedoms have limits and (2) the degree of those limits is based on public policy. Further, the contours of such limitations are not based on any prophetic foresight of the Founders, but is a flexible set of limits that react to the reality of the times. SO, what objective argument can one have to say that it is unacceptable for the government to decide that some automatic guns, or high capacity magazines (like the ones used by the Aurora shooter), or hollow-tip bullets are excessively dangerous and should be banned or strictly regulated?

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Comments

I believe the argument usually boils down to the need for the population to be able to defend themselves against a tyrannical government if the need should arise. I believe that was one of the purposes of the 2nd amendment originally because the British had forbidden weapons to better control the populace. Therefore, as weapons improve and the government becomes more well equipped, the citizenry should be able to do the same. The same folks usually argue freedom of speech for the same reason, and most Americans are in agreement about the importance of free speech.

Personally I don’t buy the defending oneself against the government argument, but I know it is real to many.

I’d imagine the 3rd Amendment would support that argument about defending against a tyrannical government. Regardless, that argument, taken to an extreme, suggests that individuals should have a right to nuclear weapons, because how else can individuals defend against a tyrannical government with nuclear weapons? It is a ridiculous position to ascribe to the other side, but it does support the stand that there has to be some regulation of weapons, and the argument should be about where the lines should be drawn.

I think you need to go either to one extreme or the other. Switzerland is heavily armed, and has low crime, because you know everyone is packing heat. Japan is virtually unarmed, except for the Yakuza, and also has low crime. Japan has very strict drug laws as well as a 20 day period to be detained without being charged.

Also we’ve had our freedom of speech limited( no protests anywhere where the Secret Service is or might be, etc.), search and seizure limited with NDAA, so it makes sense that gun control will eventually be limited as well.

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