Magician comedian and gun rights supporter Penn Jillette gets owned on a Comedy Central’s Nightly Show debate on gun rights. For one thing, it looks like he’s struggling (#tonematters). In this clip, Jillette attempts to draw a parallel between the “technology means the Second Amendment is outdated” argument by his millennial antagonist and the technological enhancements since the First Amendment was drafted. It’s the right approach, but incomplete – thanks to an interruption. He switches gears and concedes that “we’re evolving as people.” Which is where things go seriously wrong . . .
The Second Amendment to the Constitution works today because we’re not evolving as a people. Violent crime is down, but Americans face the same threat of government tyranny that they faced on May 29, 1790, the date the document was ratified. And there’s no guarantee that violent crime will stay down. And no guarantee that any individual American won’t face an individual act of violence – whether from a criminal or his or her government – even with violent crime rates at such a low level.
Jillette really loses the plot when he states “the First Amendment has been broadened tremendously beyond what the Founding Fathers intended.” I know what he’s trying to say, and don’t get me wrong I love this guy, and I’ve been in televised gun control debates and done worse, but the First Amendment has not been broadened. It’s the same First Amendment as always. It was broad enough back in the day and it’s broad enough now. Just like the Second Amendment.
Again, I don’t think Jillette should have given his assent to the idea that humans are evolving to being less violent. If anything American society may be evolving to be less violent – although there are parts of this country plagued by all manner of violent crime. The larger point: human nature is human nature. Just as human rights – including but not limited to the right to self-defense – remain human rights. Regardless of time, technology or social structures.
The question here: how do you shut down gun control advocates on TV, where time is limited and sound bites are all?
I don’t think we should engage them in a war of statistics. Point-counterpoint also seems pointless. These days, I began any interview with the Bruce Krafftian statement “Before we begin, I’d like to point out that the right to keep and bear arms does not depend on arguments about whether or not it’s dangerous for society. Nor is it subject to the democratic process. The ability to defend yourself with a gun is a fundamental human right. OK, so . . .”
Any other ideas? [h/t DrVino]