28.4.2005 kl. 19:34

Army Tank As we all know, the United States Bill of Rights states that "every citizen has the right to bear arms" etc. The dicussion of the American Founding Fathers on this topic is well documented. The clause was included because Jefferson and others were astute enough to realize that an armed population would not as easily be subjugated by the recently instituted centralized power created by the United States Constitution. They would be more difficult to oppress and keep in check, should the population feel that their freedoms were being impinged upon. This may very well have been true in the late 18th century, where armies fought each other using primitive rifles and cannons. A population armed with rifles could quite possibly put up a decent fight, even against a regular government army. But today, it seems to me as though the situation has changed. The armies of modern states are equipped with sophisticated technological equipment: tanks, heat-seeking missiles, sattelites, global positioning systems, stealth fighters, nuclear bombs and highly trained special squads consisting of career soldiers: snipers, demolition experts, marines etc. Does an armed populace really pose a plausible obstacle to such an army? I think not. Even if every man in the United States owned an Armalite pistol (or even an MP5 submachinegun) and practised his skill at arms regularly, the population as a whole would lack the coherence, intelligence gathering and technology to engage a modern army. As a consequence of this, I think the right to bear arms is obsolete -- it no longer serves its intended function.

English Bobby I honestly believe the English system to be a more sensible approach. The ownership of firearms is altogether prohibited. English policemen receive training in hand-to-hand combat and are armed only with a truncheon, secure in the knowledge that their adversaries do not carry guns. Of course, this raises a question: What do they do if they encounter someone who is armed with gun? -- This is the brilliant part: In such situations they call in the SWAT teams, highly-trained special squads with automatic weapons. These SWAT teams shoot to kill -- none of that "Freeze" nonsense you see in Hollywood films -- they bring down armed criminals without asking questions. This system is, in my opinion, very clever, because most criminals do not wish to be shot, and thus see it to their advantage not to carry firearms. As a consequence, per capita gun deaths in England are only a fraction of what they are in the United States.

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GoogleThis | 29.4.2005 kl. 20:49
Unknown User

Ok, I'll bite.
Yes, the first argument, armed citizens against a standing army would be no match, is as true today as it was when the Revelotionary War began. Washington's tactic was to protract the struggle against a superior force. Had the French not been persuaded to get involved the outcome would have been different. Its also an assumption that the members of the Army Force would universally agreed to oppress the population, consider that many of the Confederate Generals in the Civil War were originally in the Federal Army.
Had the Nazi Party not disarmed the German citizens in c.1939, perhaps a few years later, a stronger resistance force could have slowed the genocide; not by defeating the superior National army, but by causing enough internal problems that would have put world domination on the back burner.
The US is founded on the principals of consent of the governed and that rights are "bestowed by the creator", not the government. If the means to resist a government that "turns to tyranny", as Jefferson wrote, are removed, consent becomes a hollow word.
Your second argument shifts from matters of "security of a free State" to that of personal security. The police in the United States may carry arms (not by Constitution authority, btw) to protect the public. They will not protect an individual citizen. If you are threatened, say by an estranged spouse, you may seek a restraining order. That court document does not provide you an armed guard. If you look at the home invasion statistics in Australia since their gun-ban along side crime statistics in US states with a Right to Carry statute you can easily argue that the threat of an armed citizen acts as a deterrent to crime.
In any case, IF the the 2nd Amendment is to be abolished, let us hope they do it via the Constitutional Amendment process; not by whittling it away as they have done to the 1st Amendment with the Campaign Finance Reform Act, (ironic, the the 1st Amendment was written to protect political speech, but is instead used to protect state funded offensive materials). It has become so much like Animal Farm, Orwell; where the rules painted on the side of the barn kept changing, but the short memories of the animals prevented them from realizing it.

Sveinbjörn | 30.4.2005 kl. 04:55

Well, as I see it, the question of whether to permit ownership of firearms is largely an empirical question, and experience speaks quite decidedly against it. Owning weapons did not help the people in South American countries to overthrow their tyrannical governments. And countries that prohibit gun ownership (e.g. Britain and the Nordic countries) have a vastly lower murder rate than those who permit it.

But I think it is also very important to distinguish between different kinds of firearms. An enormous majority of domestic homocides are perpetrated with the use of handguns -- small, easily hidden, available in an instant when you want to kill or maim.

When your wife misbehaves, you're unlikely to go digging in the closet for your hunting rifle...or that's at least how I see it.

GoogleThis | 3.5.2005 kl. 15:36
Unknown User

Thanks for the flattering picture, it makes me look thinner!

Your paradigm is flawed, the phrase "whether to *permit* ownership" assumes that ownership is a right that the government can provide at its pleasure. Government by consent inverts this dependency. The question should be rephrased to "shall WE permit the government to encumber x". This process is a Constitutional Amendment, which poses the question back to the state governments, remember the US is a republic not a democracy. If 2/3's of the states agree, then the Federal gov't can revoke the right. When the 18th Amendment banned liquor in the US, it turned out that only criminals had liquor and organized crime flourished. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th. Likewise, a ban as you suggest will only remove arms from citizens who are law-biding, leaving them defenseless. I don't think that the population composition in the US is comparable to the Nordic countries; there are many differences (e.g. immigration, ethnicity, drug-prohibition, lenient justice system) that one could use to assert causality; but it more complex than any one parameter. Did you know that statistics used to support gun control include death-by-firearm of cases where the shooter was defending their life, police officer included!

So when your wife misbehaves and you grab the nearest cheif's knife to stab her, in your heated passion, shouldn't she be allowed to shoot you to protect her life?

Guess we just disagree on this issue; its very polarizing. To some Americans, guns represent all that is good, many other American see, as you do, that guns represent all that is bad here. I understand that your intensions are good and that you only want to save lives. We agree on the end, just differ on the means.

Sveinbjörn | 4.5.2005 kl. 04:00

Well, I must say that I don't think it makes any difference whether the statistics include police officers etc. Even shooting a criminal is, to me, an undesirable result. I happen to believe that people have a fundamental right to life, and I'm very much opposed to the death penalty, for example. I'm sure that a great deal of deaths caused by police shootings are unneccesary, and are simply caused by the ease by which people can acquire firearms.

A firearm is an implement designed and optimized for killing. While there may be many people who enjoy them as a hobby, it does not change its ultimate purpose. While I'm all for people's right to self-defense, I disagree that the level playing field should be one where everyone is armed with guns. I think it is fair to say that this leads to a much higher death count.

In the end, while I am not generally favour of social engineering of any sort, I believe that setting up things in such a way that criminals see it to their advantage not to carry firearms is a very sensible thing to do.