What Part of “Bear Arms” Don’t You Understand?

 

Don writes:

“To be honest where gun laws are today doesn’t bother me in a philosophical sense. At least not nearly as much as the ridiculous prohibitions on “lesser arms” like knives and knuckle dusters. Gun rights are almost in the “refining” stage compared to draconian laws around other legitimate arms (though let’s un-restrict the suppressors, barrel lengths, capacity and stock and grip configurations already, jeez!) . . .

I confess it makes me quite angry at our own community that “the right to bear arms” is often exclusively interpreted to be “the right to guns” without a second thought. Heck, I agree with the people who say that the 2nd amendment isn’t “specifically” about guns. It is about guaranteeing the accessibility to the means for self-defense which I think is the set of all personal arms, guns inclusive. It’s about an equality we would like to instill in civilized society, that we shall not restrict a person’s use of technology to make up for natural born differences in strength, size, and physical ability.

Everyone get’s their shorts twisted over gun restrictions while totally absurd knife restrictions and prohibitions exist everywhere. Daggers, blackjacks, switch knives, billy clubs, knuckle dusters, etc. are all legitimate defensive weapons too. A lot of these items were outlawed during the various European emigrations to the US, it is hypothesized, to criminalize “undesirable” elements of society (Irish, Italians, Asians) who for cultural and economic reasons all possessed these kinds of weapons for self-defense. The excuse was “crime”… these were “gangster weapons”, etc. Same bad arguments we hear today about certain firearms.

For a certain person in a certain set of circumstances these “lesser arms” could be more applicable or manageable. I feel that the fact that these “lesser arms” often don’t even make the debate kind of weakens the “pro-defense” argument by lack of completeness.

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    The reason that gun rights are the focus of 2A is that the American Edged Products Manufacturers Association isn’t the NRA. Knuckle dusters, blackjacks and nunchucks don’t have users groups and industry lobbying organizations to support those means of self defense. Firearms are big business; daggers are not. It’s just that simple. And while I fully agree that knives, clubs and other means of self defense are part of 2A, I can only fight one battle at a time.

    1. avatar Nate says:

      I ran into this problem last July and had to concede the one battle at a time as well. I had bought a house that very morning, when my semi broke down otw to get loaded. A young trooper pulled off behind me and I ended up going to jail for the first time in my life. My open carry firearms were returned, but because a couple of the knives I used to cut food in what had been my home until that morning weren’t acceptable, I had to decide which battles were worth fighting. Once it was explained to me exactly how I broke the law (they would have been ok if not “concealed” in a storage compartment) I decided a $300 misdemeanor fine wasn’t worth the battle that fighting would have entailed. Had it not been that the law specifically called the brass knuckles that were affixed to the knife most in question a weapon, I would have fought tooth and nail for my right to carry tools on my truck, regardless of shape or length.

  2. avatar MadDawg J says:

    FWIW some states specifically have concealed weapons permits and they allow the carry of some of the otherwise restricted weapons not just firearms.

    Yes I agree, and have had a similar discussion with a cop years ago. The 2 handguns and the rifle where fine and legal, but the Bowie knife was a big no no. I found it amusing and fortunately he did too so he just gave me the verbal warning and acknowledged that it was a stupid law. I would feel more naked without a knife than a handgun and I have to spend more time and energy making sure my knives are legal than worrying about my handguns.

    1. avatar Derek says:

      As it is here in Ohio. I can carry literally as many guns and as much ammo as I can strap to my body, but if my pocket knife is a little to big (or if the cop decides to be a douchenozzle; any knife at all), then it’s jail time. WTF?

      Honestly, if the antis wanted to compromise and gain an ounce or two of traction with gun folks, then they’d suggest tightening gun regs while loosening the regs on other weapons. Weapons that can very reasonably be called “less lethal”. I’m not saying I’d accept them but I find it odd that they haven’t taken that route. It’s not like they don’t have reason to be desperate.

      1. avatar James says:

        I don’t think I’m as lucky, being in Michigan. Though it’s been since ’05 when i took my first CHL class, I specifically remember the instructor (NRA certified, ex-DPD) mentioning that a Michigan CHL was for a handgun – not a rifle, shotgun, samurai sword, numchucks, etc.

        Things may have changed since then, but I don’t know.

        1. avatar Derek says:

          D’oh. Handguns. I can carry as many handguns as I can strap to my body.

  3. avatar Bob says:

    I have to disagree with almost everything in Ralph’s comment above.

    I think the reason that gun rights are the main focus of 2A is that most people see guns as the best weapon for self defense. The same is true for hunting also.

    Ralph should not start repeating (or even inferring) one of the Anti’s main talking points – that the NRA is just a few “users groups and industry lobbying organizations”. The NRA membership consists primarily of millions of citizens. If you are a member, then you can proudly say “I am the NRA”. We must constantly remind people that “the gun lobby” is not a few greedy, mean-spirited corporations; it is people, and lots of them who do not support gun control.

    I think the reason guns are the main focus of 2A is because most gun owners would wholeheartedly agree with Ralph’s last statement, “And while I fully agree that knives, clubs and other means of self defense are part of 2A, I can only fight one battle at a time.”

    1. avatar "Dr."Dave says:

      Hunting and self defense are only side products of the second amendments actual purpose.

      Hunting is not mentioned anywhere in the second amendment. Neither are firearms, and for very good reason:

      The second amendment isn’t about sports or self defense, its about keeping and maintaining arms in case they should be nessescary for a civil war.

      It is the final bastion and bulwark against tyranny.

      So not only does it cover switchblades, it covers anti aircraft cannon, explosives, grenades, and every other from of weapon.

      You might get butthurt that you cant carry your Benchmade, but I’m upset about the despairty of force between our constantly militarizing police and our armed forces.

      1. avatar Coyote says:

        I don’t think it’s about civil war – it’s about civil defense. When it was written, the 2A was in part the answer to the need of a standing army – the “militia” was literally every able-bodied man (yeah, it was man) with a weapon. Based on the excerpts from the Federalist papers, the theory seems (to me, at least, this being obviously a hotpoint of debate) very much based on the idea of self-defense scaled up to every level – community, state, and national.

        At a moment’s notice (and of course, back then we couldn’t put boots-on-the-ground within hours of the need of a military present), citizens could rise up to defend themselves from any threat – foreign or domestic. “Indian” tribes, criminal gangs, foreign invasions, or tyrannical political leaders at any level.

        1. avatar Tom says:

          Actually, I think the 2A is both a check and balance on government, but it can be used for defense of the state in time of invasion.

        2. avatar "Dr."Dave says:

          I think, at the time it was written, the Founding Fathers had rebellion on their minds, and not national defense. Although at that time, they were kind of one and the same.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      @Bob, I think you need to re-read what I wrote. I never said that the NRA is just a few “users groups and industry lobbying organizations”. I said that the AEPMA isn’t the NRA, and that numchucks don’t have user groups and industry lobbying organizations. You made the leap of illogic, not me.

      I don’t mind when people disagree with what I write, especially since it proves that they were reading. However, when I’m criticized for what I didn’t write, it kinda tells me that someone wasn’t reading.

      Get me?

      1. avatar Don says:

        I think I get what you were saying and I think you are correct. You answered the practical question as to “why” rights to other arms are not addressed. You didn’t say that you ideologically support these reasons or that it is not lamentable that this is what it comes to ;-).

        It is interesting and I think something worth noting that the “rights” that tend to be protected are often the ones whose existence has the side effect of creating a profitable market or lets the current status quo holders of power further consolidate and enshrine their power.

        A curious question arises… what happens in our system when in a particular instance what is right (or best) is NOT profitable? In the most basic modern incarnation of “free market philosophy” (or at least what the popular (mis?)interpretation of it is) profitability is assumed to be a good proxy measurement for value delivered to the individual or to society. Competition optimizes this measure, attempting to maximize it, and therefore also value delivered to the individual and society. In many cases this works quite well. In SOME cases, such as this one, profitability is not a good proxy measurement for value delivered to the individual or society (in terms of rights and freedoms). An optimizing strategy such as commercial competition which maximizes this proxy measurement (profit) fails at delivering the maximum value to individuals and society (in the form of rights and freedoms) in this particular instance.

        Heh, I guess I can also offer a potential way to refute this argument I’ve just made which is seemingly refuting a presumed infallibility of the “free market”… where do you draw the boundary… where do you stop and measure “value delivered to the individual or society”. To refute my prior argument one can claim that prohibitions on lesser arms not being struck down is unfair but it creates a monopoly on guns as being the only attainable means of self-defense, and therefore strengthens the market for guns allowing for manufacturers to direct larger profits into designing high quality and low cost firearms which are superior arms to knives and knuckle dusters? Would we have the quality guns we have today if the self-defense market was more broadly shared with junk knives and billy clubs? Maybe? I guess it’s up to the individual to decide which line of reasoning holds more water.

        -D

  4. avatar irock350 says:

    Perhaps some historical perspective is in order here. The ruling on knife restrictions was made in 1871 as apart of English v. The State where in the courts ruled that “arms” referred to in the second amendment to the United States constitution are the arms of a militiaman or soldier, and they do not comprise dirks, bowie knives, etc., regulated by the legislature in the act of April 12, 1871.”

    Of course now the US military uses all kinds of knives, that may meet the legal definition of dirk, bowie, etc., so in addition the court also ruled that “The powers of government are intended to operate upon the civil conduct of the citizen; and whatever conduct offends against public morals or public decency comes within the range of legislative authority.”

    So while it may be unconstitutional to ban all arms, it is constitutional to ban only the arms that are “offensive” to public decency. I do not know of any successful challenge to this ruling.

    1. avatar Don says:

      This is fascinating, particularly the rationale for why it is constitutional to ban some weapons:

      “The powers of government are intended to operate upon the civil conduct of the citizen; and whatever conduct offends against public morals or public decency comes within the range of legislative authority”

      When considering weapons there tends to be a lot of other connotations that ride along with them, and a lot of visceral reactions in the realm of morality and public decency.

      Can you imagine the same rationale being invoked for something other than weapons? Speech or a religion? Imagine arguing that speech or religion come within the range of legislative authority if they offend the public’s morals or public decency? What if the only effect on the public is an emotional or philosophical offense to the public’s sense of morals or decency? I’d say that outside of weapons, society is in agreement that a purely philosophical offense no matter how deep does not grant you the authority to curb someone’s rights to their views and personal behaviors. If you aren’t affected in any other practical or physical way, your comfort or faintness of heart doesn’t count for much.

      Who even is the public? Is that the majority? Wouldn’t forcing the individual to conform to the sense of morals and decency of the majority be a form of tyranny of the mob? Public sensibilities change too, the majority’s sense of what is moral and decent is a moving target, and that seems like an unstable thing to base the “legitimate” control over people’s rights on.

      -D

  5. avatar Aharon says:

    A very thought proving piece. Arms was not called firearms or another such gun-specific related term. This is a concept that needs to begun being addressed. Knives, swords, bayonets, hatchets, etc were all used too during the Revolutionary War. Arms are weapons and tools of self-defense.

    It is time for Robert to rise-up and to launch TTAA The Truth about Arms! Just don’t forget to launch The Truth about BBQ Grilling and Smoking Foods.

  6. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    The great thing about Florida’s CCW permit is that it allows clubs, knives and stun devices as well as firearms. I agree with Ralph because without the NRA none of us would have a gun, and you have to pick your battles one at a time.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      JOE, not only are you a prince — packing S&W 500s no less — but you also understood what I wrote!

      1. avatar MadDawg J says:

        Blitzkrieg. We attack gun, knife, baton, taser, OC and body armor unjust laws separately but at the same time. Let the antis try to fight all those battles at the same time or figure out which ones to take on.

        1. avatar Don says:

          I do experience a lot of success when talking with anti-defense folks when I invoke the argument that prohibiting lower cost weapons like switchblades or building fee/cost deterrents into weapons ownership is a form of institutional discrimination against middle and lower income members of society. With affordable and attainable weapons as part of the debate this argument is easier to invoke.

          -D

        2. avatar Ralph says:

          ‘Dawg, I’d love to fight a war on all fronts, but who’s going to pay for it?

          The SAF won Heller and McDonald because it was willing to hire the best, like-minded lawyers that money could buy. Who’s going to do that for brass knuckles?

          This is America. You get the all justice that you can afford to pay for. Sad but true.

        3. avatar Don says:

          There is little practical difference between cynicism, a bad attitude, and stark raving reality. 😉

          -D

        4. avatar MadDawg J says:

          True, and politicians are more expensive than Ed Brown Signature Edition 1911s.

          Perhaps it’s time we put the power back into “We the people”, but I am as unsure how to do that as I am of why we let it get away from us in the first pace.

        5. avatar Kelly in GA says:

          They all have to be legislated separately, but at the same time. Overwhelm them. Who knows, maybe the NFA repeal will fly under the radar.

        6. avatar MadDawg J says:

          Exactly, we’ve been fighting one one one, we divide and conquer. Let them fight us when it’s our 12 against their one.

    2. avatar Walrusleather says:

      Joe, Just do not count on taking your Spring assisted opening or Full automatic opening knife into Miami Dade county, Your permit does not override their Knife laws. Florida did not include any language to cover a knife that is legal in most of the state to be exempted by your permit. In
      FL statue 790.33 Field of regulation of firearms and ammunition preempted only covers Guns and ammo so the Counties laws restricting your rights are still trampled on. See Miami-Dade Sec. 21-14. And just driving thru the area with your SOG flash II will get you 6 months and a misdemeanor offence.

  7. avatar Tom says:

    Join the National Knife Association.

  8. avatar Qajaqon says:

    The gentlemen who wrote the second amendment new from experience tha thet powers the be would/did take all wepons(guns knives swords bows arrows and all other implements one could kill with) from ‘the people’ to quell them. This is why the second amendment was written. There is also the fact that when ever the citizens of The United States came together/volunteer for war they were expected to bring their own weapons with which to fight. It was not until around the middle of the civil war that the US would begin to provide weapons to the warfighter and begin the practice of having a standing military.

    The second amendment is intended to protect the right to all arms as an individual right and as a means to easily deploy warfighters when needed.

    but, thats all given/taken away for some kind of perceived comfort.

    Shame

  9. avatar David W. says:

    Could not agree more. A transferable class III weapon like a Tommy Gun can be had in many/most states but a ballistic knife no?

    The upside is some awesome weapons can fly under the radar. Automatic weapons are fine if they are pneumatic. Flame flowers check. Snake venom heck yeah. Catapults you bet ya. Probably the most destructive weapons around are normal vehicles that are weaponized. Lobbing planes, cars, and boats into things is about as destructive as it gets.

    Keep in mind . . . the government entity telling you that permission must be had for a short-barreled shotgun has H-Bombs.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      You can stop a rebellion against the government with an H-Bomb, but you will have nothing left to govern. 😉

      The government does have tanks, artillery, air power, etc. which are very effective for quelling a rebellion. I wonder how effective they would be against several million armed citizens, though. Millions of armed citizens can be a very effective guerilla force, if their government hasn’t taken away all their guns yet.

  10. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

    I agree with your complaints about noise suppressor bans.

  11. avatar IdahoPete says:

    Gotta love Idaho. A “Concealed Weapons License” is exactly that – any weapon. gun, knife, sword cane, brass knucks, collapsible quarterstaff, whatever. People in Idaho elect legislators who figure if you can be trusted to carry a concealed weapon, it doesn’t matter what it is.

  12. avatar bontai Joe says:

    A very thought provoking article! I had not considered that the Second Amendment is also about weapons other than firearms, but it totaly makes sense now that I think of it. What “proper” member of the citizen militia would have come to fight circa 1785 without his knife, tomahawk, and perhaps ax? These were common weapons then of the fighting man, and should still be considered now as “arms” protected under the Second Amendment. Thanks for posting this!

  13. avatar David says:

    To Mike,

    The point of the last comment was not that a successful coup could not be achieved but that gov. prohibition on any type of weapon is hypocrisy in the extreme. U.S. gov. entities have developed and used some of the most powerful weapons ever known but they “regulate” (ban or limit) weapons with far less destructive capabilities.

    But your point is taken and is one I have meditated on for a while – if you kill all the taxpayers no one is left to pay taxes 🙂

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