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“It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it. Focusing on the need rather than the right to own a gun, many may well conclude that for them a gun is more a danger than a protection. Those fewer guns will make for a safer country.” Gary Gutting, Who Needs a Gun? [at nytimes.com]

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108 Responses to Quote of the Day: Needs vs. Rights Edition

  1. Yes, you very well may decide that owning a gun is more of a danger than a protection. You might even convince others that this is the truth with your article. In that case, DON’T BUY ONE! But to have the gall to project your personal conclusions on the population en masse and force the rest of us to forgo firearms in the home is assinine.

    If you want to live as a coddled infant, go for it. I choose to be an adult.

    • I disagree. I believe they “get it” very well but are willfully disregarding “it” to suit their own agendas.

      If they didn’t “get it” they wouldn’t be able to avoid being pigeon holed in a debate by avoiding “it” as well as they do. If they actually didn’t get it the numerical data would end any discussion of gun control before it began.

  2. I see “needing” a gun as cost benefit analysis. There are costs associated with owning, operating, maintaining, and using a gun; both in a training setting and a DGU (think legal costs). The benefit is that you stand a better chance of not being a victim/dead. For me, the benefit greatly outweighs the costs.

    Also, his statement that “Those fewer guns will make for a safer country” is like saying filtering out some of the salt in the ocean makes it less salty. There is no discernable difference.

    • I beg to differ. Unfortunately I don’t have citations right at hand, but anecdotally, more guns corresponds to more safety, for example, More Guns, Less Crime and the documented fact that every single one of the recent mass shootings has been perpetrated in a criminal-safe zone where the responsible are rendered defenseless.

      That’s the true agenda of the antigun nuts – to disarm the population so that when the tyrant takes over completely no one will be able to resist, as has happened with every tyrant in history.

  3. Oh, where to begin? Using that logic they’ll soon be telling us we don’t want/need to comment on a blog or even write ridiculous articles in the NYT.

  4. “It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it. Focusing on the need rather than the right to have a spine, many may well conclude that for them a spine is more a danger than a protection. Those fewer spines will make for a safer country.

    There, fixed.

  5. Funny how quickly “only 48 percent” of anything quickly becomes a referendum on policy and resounding support of an opinion or position when you add 3 more percentage points to it.

    • That’s exactly why most people in government want us to believe in democracy. Democracy is horrible, it’s mob rule. The minority voice will always be drowned out in the crowd.

      That’s why we’re a constitutional republic. The system was set up such that the dissenting voice could freeze the entire process until something gets done about it.

      A prime example is the “gridlock” in the Senate that led to the “nuclear” rule change that the President endorsed. They operate under the supposition that the Senate is supposed to get things done, when in fact it was quite the opposite. Our government was design PURPOSELY such that gridlock is how it’s supposed to operate. If they can’t get stuff to pass, they can’t violate rights.

      /rant

      • The purpose of the Senate is to represent the interests of the State governments to the national level. It was the cornerstone of Federalism. The passage of the 17th Amendment calling for the direct election of Senators, not the Civil War, is what caused the erosion of Federalism and increased the power of the Federal government. Once Senators stood for election then they became less interested in protecting the State’s rights and more interested in pandering to the populace. It also made state legislative bodies and elections less important which also undermined Federalism. If you want to constrain the Fedeal government repeal the 17th Amendment.

        • THIS!

          And people who are young enough to not reside in an assisted living facility generally don’t know about this. And with the embrace of democracy that we’ve seen in the last few generations, I doubt we could get this repealed. People would feel like their “right to vote” or “access to the electoral process” was being stripped of them. Nevermind the fact that the House of Representatives is supposed to be the house we have direct electoral control over, now that we also control the Senate the people will never give that up.

        • Agree 100%

          But my argument was more about how the government was designed to function. Namely that it was designed to NOT function. Not getting things done is what they’re SUPPOSED to do.

        • Of course, this presumes that state governments represent the people that live in that state, not the money that is thrown at them.

  6. Conservative: I don’t like that, I’m not going to do it.

    Liberal: I don’t like that, YOU’RE not going to do it.

    His premise is sound. If you don’t want a gun and don’t think you need one, then don’t buy one. That’s where it SHOULD stop. When he goes on to support legislating that people don’t need guns, that’s where the eye twitching starts.

    Honestly, as much as the vein in my head was throbbing reading the article, I actually let out a vocal “Whoo hoo” when I read the article under the third link. As a newly minted Ohio resident, I will be following Stand Your Ground VERY closely…….

    • I don’t even concede that much, that his premise is sound. People may well conclude that a gun is more danger than protection and decide not to get one. So? People can be wrong.

      For him to conclude that just because others conclude they’d be safer without a gun, that it is so, is itself erroneous. People can conclude they’d be safer without seatbelts, vaccines, and locks on doors for all I care, but they’d still be wrong. They can conclude whatever they like, but it doesn’t make it so. In this case, those false conclusions about firearms ownership can actually leave people mord vulnerable and in greater danger.

      • There is another fundamental flaw in his whole argument: Gun violence is a terrible problem that we need to solve, so terrible that we must make sweeping, fundamental changes to how the country is run to solve it. But also, and simultaneously, gun violence is so rare and so outside the experience of the common American that we don’t really need guns to protect ourselves from it. Can’t have it both ways, unless you are up for some good old fashioned Prog doublethink.

        • Another flaw in his argument — he assumes that getting people to think through the need basis and cost/benefit ratio for their firearms will result in most of them reaching his conclusion.

          His conclusion isn’t the inevitable truth, it’s just an opinion.

          The fact that there are so many gun owners right now — and the big spike in gun sales after his cohorts started their post-Newtown prohibitionist dance party — show that plenty of people can indeed consider the line of thought he’s presenting and reach the opposite conclusion.

          What’s more, like every anti-gun pundit ever, he willfully ignores the benefits of having guns around. Sure, the odds of your ever needing one for self-defense are low. Yes, there are things that can go wrong. But what do you stand to lose if you need one and don’t have one? Everything. Literally. Your life, your family and their future well-being, everything.The stakes don’t get any higher than that.

          He can play the long odds all he wants. I’d rather protect my winnings.

      • I agree, people can be wrong and therefore put themselves in more danger. It is also none of the governements business (I’ll yield vaccines, only on the basis that complete eradication of certain diseases is good for all).

        Freedom is dangerous. It’s not the governments job to protect us from ourselves. They haven’t the legal or moral authority to do so.

    • “Conservative: I don’t like that, I’m not going to do it.

      Liberal: I don’t like that, YOU’RE not going to do it.”

      …unless the topic is gay marriage or abortion.

      • Ah, yes, the ability to end another person’s life because it’s an inconvenience to you makes perfect sense.

        Dude, stay on topic.

        • Not off topic at all. Both sides have their own anti-freedom wish list. (One side just has a longer list, that’s all.)

    • Conservative: “My priest doesn’t like that, so I’m going to throw you into an iron cage if you do it.”
      Liberal: “I don’t care what you do, just give me all of your money so I can buy the votes of the parasite class.”
      Libertarian: “Do no harm.”

      There. Fixed that for you.

      • Hmmm….that’s the job description, all right, except libertarians have a tendency not to finish the job. They’re the first in the fight for expanding rights, but when it comes comes to coupling rights with responsibilities, they’re suddenly MIA.

        It’s their “I want my rights, and to Hell with the direct impact on you!” that belies the alleged libertatian commitment to doing no harm and reveals libertarians as just another flavor of rights infringers.

        • Another person exercising their God given rights has no impact on you.

          When you feel the impact is when they demand that those rights be re-instated, and in order to do so the gummint has to back off programs that were otherwise infringing on those rights.

      • So does the mean, “Do no harm, including to the most defenseless among us?” If not, I feel that that position is a bit half-baked.

  7. This is what Holder was talking about when he said they have to brainwash people into not wanting guns.

    I’m sure all the hoops people have to jump through in certain states or for certain things contribute to the decreasing the “want factor” so expect attempts to create more hoops to come in line with the brainwashing.

  8. His argument boils down to your life isn’t worth protecting. Good luck selling that concept. Those that do buy it needed to be removed from the gene pool anyway.

  9. Fewer guns will make us safer? Oh, really? So where is your supporting evidence for this? This assumes that a large portion of gun owners are criminals running around robbing people and playing the shootout game. I wish these idiots would look at the data and take off their blinders to facts. I think these people just assume that their conclusion will come to pass through wishful thinking rather than critical thinking.

    • I doubt its blindness or ignorance. I’m betting they operate off the premise if you say something enough times it becomes fact.

      • ” I’m betting they operate off the premise if you say something enough times it becomes fact.”

        They DON’T operate bro…lol.

    • Fewer guns, as has been said many times before, makes THEM feel safer, since they perceive that they control the police. Of course, if things do keep going the way they have been, the poor useful idiots will eventually discover that they do not in fact control the police, and that the inner party is a more exclusive club than most leftists believe it to be.

  10. Not owning a gun because you believe it would, on the balance, create more risk than it mitigates, would in fact make you safer, assuming your analysis is correct.

    However, by the very same line of argumentation, deciding to buy a gun because you believe, on the balance, that it mitigates more risk than it creates ALSO makes you safer under the same assumption.

    • Which is why we need a check & balance on the Supreme Court. We the People should be able to tell the Court to FOAD when they start rescinding natural law.

      • Unfortunately that wasn’t included in the Constitution because the SCOTUS was never granted the power of judicial review, they took it.

    • Leonard,

      The right to keep and bear arms is already acknowledged in the 2A despite the incompetence of SCOTUS to act upon it.

    • Unfortunately, in practical terms you are correct. If you said, there is no “Federally recognized right” as opposed to “right,” then I’d be with you. I truly don’t know how the current Court would come down on this, though I’m pretty sure I could predict the positions of at least 4 of them.

    • Good God, you’re right.

      Somebody point me to the nearest buyback. It seems I don’t need all that tableware anymore.

      Come to think of it, anything that can go on a plate can go in a bowl, which is less likely to spill and therefore much safer. I’m going to register my dinner plates with the proper authorities and put them in my local government’s safe storage facility. It’s no big deal. If I want to have a high-capacity Thanksgiving meal, I can ask the police if it’s okay to put my family in danger over the holiday weekend.

  11. The NYT does serve a purpose. If it wasn’t for organizations and institutions such as the NYT, people such as GG would be unemployable.

  12. I am horrified that that moron is from Indiana but then I realize he is a professor at one of our privat/public liberal enclaves in the state and it all makes sense again.

  13. I am okay with this position. He can tell me I don’t need a gun all he wants, as long as he stops trying to take my rights away. He gets to exercise his first amendment rights, and I sure as hell keep exercising my second amendment rights. Everybody wins.

    • That’s just it, they never stop at that, at just telling. Why? Because that doesn’t work with their ideas. Liberals always have to lie, deny and conceal their real agenda. Few people would willingly sign on to their policies were all the cards were on the table. Liberals won’t win the civilian disarmament struggle by changing people’s votes. So they rely on changing the people who vote.

      This is how you end up with electoral votes for D.C. and some day Congressional seats; with Puerto Rico not far behind. This is how you end up with “Motor Voter” laws and automatic voter registration for the least motivated, most easily manipulated people. This is how you end up with amnesty and a “path to citizenship” for 3rd world welfare hordes pulling the lever for straight party voting. This is how you end up with intellectual lightweights and rabid partisans on the Supreme Court.

    • This isn’t his real agenda, it’s only a fallback position.

      He tips his hand here: “It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it.”

      He wants you to see that you don’t have a right to it.

      But because he knows you’re not likely to do so, he’s taking another route — trying to get people to just not want it. Then, when most people don’t want it and don’t care, he can say “See, you didn’t need it after all. Nobody even wants it anyway.”

  14. I read his bio. Being a Professor of Philosophy is like being the world’s tallest midget…. No on cares.

    • I watched a documentary called “The Corporation” for my senior seminar class at Kettering University, and one of the talking heads, a young guy probably in his late 20s, MAYBE early 30s, actually had the title of “Philospher” next to his name when he first popped up on screen to opine on the issue. I had to stifle my laughter in class, got some funny looks.

      I read “philosopher” as “unemployable intellectual”

      • Good point – you can call yourself whatever you want, but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. I used to use “Technical Poet” for the occupation slot on my tax returns.

        • Shawn – YES!!! though I’d title him “The Dude, with guns”… Maybe he could wear a bathrobe and carry his notes in a bowling ball bag. That’s it, RF. You have been tagged. But wait, wouldn’t that make Dan Zimmerman the guy with the shaded glasses, guns, and a questionable attitude?

        • ““The Dude, with guns”… Maybe he could wear a bathrobe and carry his notes in a bowling ball bag.”

          +1

          RF, Are you listening???…lol.

    • He’s a philosophy professor? After reading that weak-ass argument, I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years. Every philosophy major I’ve ever met could run rings around this idiot in the logic department.

  15. They don’t want you to have any guns while most certainly leaving the option open for themselves and favored groups.
    And he doesn’t give a shit about your safety or what happens when bad people come around. He thinks the fuzz will put their lives on the line when the time comes
    Only if another cop radios for backup.
    The country is wound up pretty tight right now because the media need content. This is not the time to hand an advantage to those who use force to equalize their circumstances.
    Like most of the liberal base he needs to be a victim to get it. It is a shame they are blind to reality.

  16. One of the fallacies of the left with their ‘group-think’ is that society as a whole may or may not benefit from some intervention. What they don’t take into account, and seem to have an enormous mental block about is that when *I* as an individual encounter a negative consequence of their ‘group-think’ I become simply a statistic on their chart of cost-benefit-analysis. While as an individual the negative consequence could very well be the end of my existence on this planet. The differences in consequences are enormous.

    • It’s not a mental block, that the principle behind their ideals.

      In the same way as entire societies at war begin to think of their enemies as sub-human. It makes whatever they do to them justifiable because their enemies are less than people.

      If there are no individual, stripping of individual rights becomes more obtainable.

  17. Typical Liberal Statist who exists within the warm bosom of academia. Detached from reality, pontificating about the utopian American society that he is forging in partnership with Dear Leader.

    Disgusting.

    • Yes, it’s the towering hubris that I find most difficult to stomach. He’s decided what’s best for everyone, and never doubts for a second that he’s right. Yet people like him would be at a gun store bright and early the next morning after they survived a violent attack.

  18. Oh ick. How many ways does this editorial fail? Let’s see …

    “Unless you live in (or frequent) dangerous neighborhoods or have family or friends likely to threaten you, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need a gun for self-defense.”

    By this logic, we shouldn’t have fire extinguishers in our kitchens, or spare tires in our vehicles, because the likelihood of needing them is small.

    “But on the most basic level, much of our deadly violence occurs because we so often have guns readily available.”

    Well … no. We have violence because there are bad people who want to do harm to others. Bad people are bad people for whatever reason that they’re bad, not because they own a gun.

    “The idea that armed American citizens could stand up to our military is beyond fantasy.”

    The idea that our entire military would mindlessly obey those who tell them to imprison American citizens is also beyond fantasy. While some certainly would, others would absolutely not.

    “Our periodic shock at mass shootings and gang wars has little effect on our gun culture because most people don’t see guns as a particular threat to them.”

    That’s because a gun, by itself, is NOT a threat. A PERSON is a threat if they intend harm, whether by gun, or knife, or improvised bomb, speeding car, or whatever. Guns do not magically make people into monsters any more than they make cops into infallible guardians of freedom. Or for that matter, any more than guitars magically make people into musicians.

    “Their mere presence makes suicide, domestic violence and accidents more likely.”

    That’s why Japan has such a high suicide rate, right? Because of all of the guns they don’t have?

    “The fewer people with guns at hand, the less gun violence.”

    Ok. And the fewer people with cars, the less car crashes. That doesn’t mean less people die and/or are assaulted/raped/etc. if we get rid of most guns.

    “Focusing on the need rather than the right to own a gun, many may well conclude that for them a gun is more a danger than a protection. Those fewer guns will make for a safer country.”

    Well, if less law-abiding citizens have guns, it’ll certainly make it a safer working environment for criminals.

    Did I miss anything?

    • The ride from Notre Dame to the South side of Chicago isn’t all that long. Perhaps he can find a rental apartment there, move hime in, and then see if he “needs” a gun. Of course, the point is moot since he wouldn’t be “allowed” to own a gun in Chicago.

    • GG assumes trouble won’t come looking for us. I guess crimimals dont drive. Avoiding bad neighborhood and people would be easier if liberals didn’t make them so prevalent. I bwt he lives in a gated community populated by smug academics.
      If a hood was walking his way he would pee himself.

  19. It’s amazes me that a Philosophy Professor from Notre Dame can demonstrate such a lack of ability to think critically. His argument is very superficial, unoriginal, and is just parroting many of the Bloomberg ilk. The Founding Fathers were also well read in the area of philosophy and they came to a very different conclusion than did Mr. Gutting.

  20. Hate to break it to you, Gary.

    If telling someone they do not “need a gun” is all the coaxing that is required to stop them from obtaining it, then they probably weren’t going to get it anyways.

    Good job single-handedly saving America though.

  21. Right now I’m focusing on the need to smack his glasses off his face. I may well conclude that for me his being able to see to type is more of a danger than just an annoyance. Those few less moronic comments will make for a safer society, and make me feel much, much better.

  22. Let’s see if that works for other rights…

    “It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it. Focusing on the need rather than the right to be secure in their privacy, many may well conclude that for them privacy is more a danger than a protection. Less privacy will make for a safer country.”

    “It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it. Focusing on the need rather than the right to a jury trial, many may well conclude that for them a jury trial is more a danger than a protection. Those non-jury trials will make for a safer country.”

    “It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it. Focusing on the need rather than the right to speak out against their government, many may well conclude that for them the ability to speak out against the government is more a danger than a protection. Less ability to speak out against their government will make for a safer country.”

  23. According to Gutting:

    “I may panic and shoot a family member coming home late, fumble around and allow an unarmed burglar to take my gun, have a cleaning or loading accident…”

    OK, pal, if you’re that freaking incompetent, then YOU don’t need a gun. Don’t project your inadequacies onto me, though.

  24. Haven’t y’all heard? Rights and needs are the same thing now, and needs are whatever the statists tell you they are. Need food? You have a right to receive it from the taxpayers? Need to murder your unborn child? We’ll subsidize that for you too. Do you need health care? A car? A phone? ….

  25. Funny how he comes so very close to getting it and then fumbles the ball at the one yard line.

    He almost seems to be getting that the choice to own or not to own a firearm is a personal decision that one makes based on their determination of needs or wants. But he doesn’t seem to mind using this strategy to encourage laws that would take this decision away from us.

  26. Well I suppose if you worked up the numbers of people who actually use a firearm for defense, those who need a firearm for work, and those who hunt (it is important for both public safety and the wild critters in the end) the majority of the population doesn’t “need” a firearm.

    That of course is if you take out all of the other reasons to own a firearm like exercising your constitutional right, the simple joy of shooting, competition/sport shooting or even just to carry on a family tradition.

    The problem is at least in the defense case is that there is no way to know who will need a firearm. The chances are small that any given person will but the consequences of not being able to adequately defend yourself if that time comes can be quite dire.

    So short of clairvoyance we don’t know all of who will “need” a firearm. So as many people as possible carrying is the best option. Beyond that we have all of the other reasons why people have firearms.

    As always it isn’t a question of need but if you decide a firearm has a place in your life. I can make an argument as to why anyone does or doesn’t “need” just about anything. That just happens to be a pointless venture.

  27. “We need to make it harder to buy guns (through background checks, waiting periods, etc.) both for those with criminal intentions and for law-abiding citizens who have no real need.”

    Thank you Professor. You have determined that your ability to determine my “real need” is somehow superior to mine, and wish to protect me from my own unenlightened judgment. Thank you for your concern for my welfare, but you see I am an adult, with education and intelligence as good as your own, and neither need nor desire your heartfelt concern that I must be protected from myself.

    I will pray — not FOR you, but ABOUT you:
    “Lord, I will defend myself from my enemies; but spare me, Oh Lord, from the hands of my benefactors.”

  28. “Gary Gutting is a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame … He is the author of, most recently, “Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy Since 1960″”

    And he is now the author of “Thinking the Idiotic” for the NY Slimes. And just as a matter of curiosity, what makes him an expert on firearms safety? What was it that George Orwell said? “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.”

    And really – does anyone NEED a professor of philosophy who likes the French?

  29. Perhaps he wants to steer clear of a firearms freedom conversation couched in terms of rights, because if the people ever learned of their rights, they might well demand to exercise them?

  30. From the article:
    “intractable disputes about the balance between the right (RKBA) and the harm that can come from exercising it.”
    Embedded in the “Right” is the right of self-defense. Nowhere is there an implied right to assault or murder.
    Therefore there is NO balance to be made because the harm does not come from the exercise of the right of self-defense, the harm come from the criminal use of guns to violate others rights.
    This is where the gun control advocates make a serious error, because they disconnect with the reality that guns are here. The only logic that can explain this error is in the unicorn world of “if there were no guns, guns would not be needed for self-defense, and guns could not be used to violate others”
    Obvious problem #1: Fists, knives, clubs.
    Obvious problem #2: Controllers still want the police and army to have guns, and that does not sound like a balance to me.

  31. “It’s easier to get people to see browbeat them into thinking that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it.”

    Fixed it for ya, Gary.

  32. I think he NEEDS a b1tch slap from a gang banger to give him the right perspective. Here’s some more of this dope’s NYT literary masterpieces:

    The Real Humanities Crisis
    For those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.

    Sex, Doubt and the Pope
    Unless the pope rejects the Church’s stance on homosexuality, birth control and abortion, his recent remarks are just changes of style and tone.

    Science’s Humanities Gap
    Steven Pinker has charged humanists with a failure to embrace science. But the greater problem is scientists’ failure to embrace the humanities.

    Getting Past the Outrage on Race
    Trayvon Martin became a symbol for opposing moral judgments about the plight of young black men. But the same systemic problem underlies both.

    Did Zeus Exist?
    We are in no position to say that he did. But are we really in a position to say that he didn’t?

    You Say You Want a Revolution
    Is the Obama administration really the sort of oppressive government that needs to be overthrown?

    Seems like this jerk is just another spoiled “enfant terrible” from a distant galaxy. He needs to go back. And stay there.

    • I can’t help it….

      “For those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.” – Because they don’t produce anything anyone wants to buy.,..

      “Unless the pope rejects the Church’s stance on homosexuality, birth control and abortion, his recent remarks are just changes of style and tone.” – Not a Catholic, so I’m not sure, but isn’t the Church’s stance the Bible’s stance?

      “But the greater problem is scientists’ failure to embrace the humanities.” – Would happen if they presented, you know, facts…..

      “Is the Obama administration really the sort of oppressive government that needs to be overthrown?” – …..yes?

  33. Why do I need a firearm is like asking why I need a fire extinguisher, irrespective of the fact that firearms are Constitutionally-protected and I don’t need a need for either of them.

    I have a fire extinguisher that I haven’t used in 20 years. The gauge shows it at full pressure.

  34. Ah, a bunch of non-intellectuals taking an intellectuals intelligence and reducing it to nothing like Einstein destroying a five-year-old’s view of the universe. God, I love TTAG.

  35. Better to have and not need than to need and not have! I’d prefer to have the FREEDOM to choose for myself then have some self absorbed Ninny (nanny) suffering from megalomania dictating my every move in life.

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