Sickened by yet another shooting (in a gun-free zone, a fact left unmentioned) and the apparent lack of concern shown by the masses, Sanjay Sanghoee has offered up another piece over at HuffPo.
Another day, another shooting – this time by an ex-marine armed with an AK-47 at a PathMark in New Jersey, but what’s new? Lately, mass shootings seem to have become a weekly sport … And that is the biggest problem of all: We are slowly but surely getting desensitized to the violence that is sweeping through our society and remain either indifferent or deliberately oblivious to the role that guns (and the overt aggression they represent) play in mass murders …
The thing is, Sanjay, looking at the chart below it’s hard to see any sort of “violence … sweeping through our society.”
As for indifference and/or oblivion, I’d suggest that it’s you and your anti brethren who are deliberately oblivious to the 1.5 million defensive gun uses that take place annually. At least that was the number back in May of 1997 when the DoJ published Jens Ludwig and Philip J. Cook’s report (see the table at the bottom of page 8 for a table of DGUs which shows the 1.5 million figure is distinctly conservative).
Given the explosion in the number of “shall-issue” states and firearm sales since that date, I find it inconceivable that the number will have diminished. Indeed if we look at the population in 1997 (267,743,595) versus the population today (which the Census population clock puts at 314,284,565 at the moment) we see a 17% increase. Applying that proportionally to the 1.5 million DGUs gives us more than 1.76 million DGUs annually. Applying the 17% increase to the over 25,000 lives saved annually by DGUs (see the math here) nets a little over 29,300.
Not, of course, that any of this matters since the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility. But I’m just sayin’.
So what does Sanjay offer next?
In order to address this issue effectively, we need to first reject the objections to gun control brought up by the Second Amendment fanatics, those people who are so enamored of the idea of private justice, anarchy, and insurrection that they lose their common sense and even their humanity in the face of these revolutionary fantasies.
You’d better smile when you say that Tex. I may be a Second Amendment “fanatic” (if by that you mean someone who believes that it means what it actually says) but I’m by no means a fan of private justice. Although, what is “private justice” anyway? Does Sanjay mean lynching? If so does he mean it in the frontier justice sense of “everyone knows he’s guilty so string him up!”? Or does he mean it in the sense of the KKK’s “you are getting uppity so we are going to torture you to death”?
Or perhaps what he’s referring to is the concept of armed self-defense? If that is the case then I definitely am a fan. Otherwise it seems to me that “private justice” must be a code for rank injustice.
As for anarchy, I can see why some people might suppose that I’d be in favor of it. I’m 6’5” 330 pounds, I own lots of guns and I have a lot of friends who own a lot of guns, so if things ever devolved into lawlessness and anarchy we could probably do reasonably well for ourselves. But the fact of the matter is that I am a strong proponent of law (assuming, of course, that the laws respect individual freedom) and order. I believe that contracts should be followed and that those who utilize force and fraud to attain their ends should be punished.
Now insurrection is another loaded term. According to the Google dictionary it means:
A violent uprising against an authority or government
So strictly speaking the French maquis in WWII were insurrectionists. I suppose Sanjay would argue that the Germans in the north and Vichy in the south did not constitute legitimate government to which I would reply that I would never violently rise up against a legitimate government either. Of course, one of my favorite bumper sticker quotes is:
If government does not obey the law, then what is treason?
Finally, on the subject of revolutionary fantasies I actually prefer the term Restoration to revolution, because I have no interest in overthrowing the Constitution of the United States; my fantasies revolve around a limited government restricted to the specific enumerated powers outlined in Article 1, Section 8 as opposed to one which has stretched the commerce, general welfare and necessary and proper clauses all out of shape. But again, different post for a different blog.
… in the wake of this latest shooting, I think it’s worth considering what our Founding Fathers would have done if they had been confronted by such carnage in their own time.
Of course, for this analogy to be meaningful, it’s necessary to imagine that the weaponry of the time had advanced to the level that we have today, because it’s pretty hard to commit mass murder with the rickety weapons of the 1700s, like the flintlock fowler. So assuming a level playing field, would the Founding Fathers have removed the Second Amendment from the Constitution or abandoned the idea of empowering citizens to defend themselves because of a string of mass shootings? Not likely, but what they would have done is created a strong set of restrictions to ensure that guns were not abused by people to harm the welfare of their fellow citizens:
Well at least Sanjay understands what many other antis don’t; that the Founders would not soil themselves and refuse to even conceive a Second Amendment at the mere thought of modern weapons. Unfortunately what he fails to understand is that the “arms” carried by the colonists in the Revolution were the “assault weapons” of the day. These weapons were at least the equal of (and in many cases actually superior to) the Redcoats’ Brown Bess.
As for the difficulty of committing mass murder with such “rickety” weapons, I refer you to the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre. In July of 1764 a four Lenape Indians raided the school near present-day Greencastle PA, shot and killed the headmaster and killed 9 or 10 children (accounts vary). In addition people were hardly limited to single shot weapons. The pepperbox pistol made its first appearance in the 1500’s; those matchlock versions were updated to flintlocks by the mid-1700s (see below).
Sanjay then goes on to list the restrictions he thinks the Founders would have invoked:
Limiting Firearm Ownership
Training and Testing
Strict Ammunition Control
Unfortunately for Sanjay the Founders’ view of law and order was to punish bad acts, not try to prevent them. These three “reasonable” and “common sense” mala prohibita limitations that Sanjay calls for are the absolute antithesis of the Founders’ concept of liberty which can probably best be summed up by the old Celtic rede (sometimes today referred to as the Wiccan rede): An it harm none do what ye will.
The one restriction of Sanjay’s which the Founders probably would have supported:
Severe Penalties for Gun Abuse
Unfortunately Sanjay’s explanation seems to indicate that he doesn’t really mean that:
The Founding Fathers were champions of freedom but were not weak on law enforcement. Faced with a debilitating threat to society, they would have enacted laws to ensure that citizens treated guns with respect and did not use them in a cavalier fashion. That would have included harsh penalties for unnecessary gun use in any situation, and even harsher penalties for casualties or injuries caused to others by guns. By invoking zero tolerance on gun violence, the Founding Fathers would have provided America with a safe and stable social order.
Treating guns with respect? Of course people should treat guns with respect, but I don’t know of any law which could reasonably accomplish this without going into those silly mala prohibita restrictions again. Penalties for unnecessary gun use? Who decides what constitutes “unnecessary”? And there were and are already laws dealing with causing casualties and injuries; it’s called murder or assault.
But Sanjay isn’t content with punishing people who misuse guns, he wants to try and prevent their misuse:
In our country today, we have a serious problem with gun violence, as well as with the proliferation of guns and ammunition. That is not in doubt or a subject for debate. The only thing that is debatable is the best way to address that problem.
I love it when people make flat statements and then aver that “the question is settled” or “there is no room for debate”. Balderdash! There is always “room for debate” on these sorts of unsupported assertions. Take another look at that chart above; the national homicide rate in 2010 is only 4% above the 50 year low which occurred in 1963. Looking at the lowest 15 years, eight of them (more than half) occurred between 2000 and 2010. As for the “proliferation of guns and ammunition”, this is not a bad thing! Thugs and hoodlums always have access to guns and ammo; what this “proliferation” means is that law-abiding citizens are now more equally armed and able to defend themselves.
Furthermore, even if we ignore the fact that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility, we are still faced with the fact that more than twice as many lives are saved annually in Defensive Gun Uses as are lost in Criminal Gun Uses. This should tell us that the best way to “address that problem” is to start treating the Second Amendment as if it were the highest law of the land, not an inconvenience to be trampled when it isn’t flat out ignored.
Sanjay does manage to briefly acknowledge the Second Amendment when he continues:
The right to bear arms should be preserved, but in the context of stricter gun laws that enable law enforcement to control and track weapons, and to provide adequate disincentive for the abuse of firearms. This alone may not solve all of our problems, but it will definitely make an appreciable difference, and that is enough. If even one senseless gun murder is prevented by these laws, it will have been more than worth it.
Okay, first things first Sanjay; the Supreme Court has ruled that criminals are not required to register their firearms and cannot be punished for failing to register, so what “stricter gun laws” would allow LEOs to “control and track weapons”? As for disincentive to abuse firearms, whatinthehell do you call current laws against assault and murder? Or are you suggesting that killing someone with a gun is somehow more heinous hacking them to death with a pickaxe while having “intense multiple orgasms with each blow”?
And Sanjay trots out the familiar “if it saves one life it will be worth it” argument. Except it isn’t an argument it is simply an idiotic appeal to emotion which completely ignores reality. Here’s some reality, Sanjay, California’s “safe storage” gun laws were directly responsible for the pitchfork stabbing deaths of 7-year-old John Carpenter and his 9-year-old sister Ashley. So if your idiotic laws save one life while costing two lives, are they worth it then?
I bet the Founding Fathers would have agreed, and in fact taken the lead in this process.
Then you are a complete moron, Sanjay because they had the opportunity to “take the lead” in this process and what did they do? They passed the Second Amendment, stating that
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.
Seems pretty straightforward to me.
 L. Neil Smith: Letter to a Liberal Colleague
 L. Neil Smith: Letter to a Liberal Colleague