Response to Jason Alexander

August 23, 2012

Jason Alexander posted a 9800 character "tweet" on gun ownership that I just ran across. It's not the typical liberal nonsense. You know, "In light of last week's events, I propose …the exact same thing I've been proposing for 30 years." Please.

No, he seems sincere and for the most part he attempts to be fair and rational. But, of course, I disagree. Below are several excerpts, followed by my thoughts.

Clearly, the angry, threatened and threatening, hostile comments are coming from gun owners and gun advocates. Despite these massacres recurring and despite the 100,000 Americans that die every year due to domestic gun violence - these people see no value to even considering some kind of control as to what kinds of weapons are put in civilian hands.

Right off the bat, we see the most common mistake of the anti-gun position. (I believe it's an honest mistake, not a deception.) They consider the benefits of getting rid of guns, then ascribe those benefits to making guns illegal. But making them illegal and getting rid of them are two completely different things with two completely different sets of costs and benefits.

Many of them cite patriotism as their reason - true patriots support the Constitution adamantly and wholly. Constitution says citizens have the right to bear arms in order to maintain organized militias.

Yes, but you always have to remember that the Constitution doesn't give us any rights. We already have them, including the right to bear arms. The Bill of Rights only seeks to protect what we already have by being explicit on a few specific points that have been problematic with past governments.

As passed by the Congress: "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." As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State: "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."

So the patriots are correct, gun ownership is in the constitution - if you're in a well-regulated militia.

Do you honestly believe that 9 of the amendments in the Bill of Rights were meant to protect the rights of individuals, but this one was only meant to give powers to the government?

And note that it doesn't say the right to keep and bear arms "shall not be taken away completely". It says "shall not be infringed". So even partial bans, restrictions, or "sensible gun control" are crossing the line.

Let's see what no less a statesman than Alexander Hamilton had to say about a militia:

"A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss."

Or from Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Definition of MILITIA
a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service

I'm no scholar either, but my understanding is that, at the time, "militia" was widely understood to mean "any male over 16" and was later expanded to include women.

In any case, Hamilton seems to be fine with the "militia" being armed, but not the general public (because he says they can't rightly be called a militia). So tell me: If they didn't allow arms for the population in general, why would Hamilton feel the need to put forth an argument against it?

The advocates of guns who claim patriotism and the rights of the 2nd Amendment - are they in well-regulated militias? For the vast majority - the answer is no.

Again, rights are something we're born with. They can only belong to individuals, not groups.

Then I get messages from seemingly decent and intelligent people who offer things like: @BrooklynAvi: Guns should only be banned if violent crimes committed with tomatoes means we should ban tomatoes. OR @nysportsguys1: Drunk drivers kill, should we ban fast cars?

I'm hoping that right after they hit send, they take a deep breath and realize that those arguments are completely specious. I believe tomatoes and cars have purposes other than killing. What purpose does an AR-15 serve to a sportsman that a more standard hunting rifle does not serve?

It's pretty clear (and I don't think we disagree) that the 2nd Amendment was put in place to allow people to protect themselves from an oppressive government. Not to go hunting or protect against burglars. With that in mind, shouldn't the more powerful "military style" weapons be the last thing you seek a ban on?

These people believe that the US government is eventually going to go street by street and enslave our citizens.

Ah, the old "it can never happen here" argument. That seems pretty naive. What if you're wrong? What if, in 100 years, the government crosses a line and a sizable portion of the population decides to do something about it. What are they supposed to do? Go to the government and say "You've gone too far. We need to stop you. Can we please have our weapons back?"

And, once again, we have the right to keep and bear arms. Whether or not we need to keep and bear arms has absolutely no relevance here.

these committed, God-fearing, brave souls will then use their military-esque arsenal to show the forces of our corrupt government whats-what. These people think they meet the definition of a "militia". They don't. At least not the constitutional one.

This asshole in Colorado didn't meet the definition of a militia. Does that mean he can't do any damage? Oh, good. I'm sure a lot of people will feel safer (or less dead) knowing that.

Are these guns so dangerous that they should be eliminated, or completely ineffective? Pick one.

And, if it should actually come to such an unthinkable reality, these people believe they would win.

I'm sure members of our own military will universally take the government's side, just like in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. Speaking of, their rebellion obviously wasn't hopeless. Do you suppose the people there had more access to weapons than Americans, or less? And why are those people celebrated, while Americans who stand up for their rights, even verbally, are "extremists"?

That's why they have to "take our country back". From who? From anyone who doesn't think like them or see the world like them. They hold the only truth, everyone else is dangerous. Ever meet a terrorist that doesn't believe that? Just asking.

Yes, we're such assholes. Terrorists, even. We want to leave you alone. Run away!

Ever met a tyrant that didn't want to disarm those he disagrees with? Just asking.

Then there are the folks who write that if everyone in Colorado had a weapon, this maniac would have been stopped. Perhaps. But I do believe that the element of surprise, tear gas and head to toe kevlar protection might have given him a distinct edge. Not only that, but a crowd of people firing away in a chaotic arena without training or planning - I tend to think that scenario could produce even more victims.

If you're going to "what if" the situation, you've got to take it all the way. The only reason he attempted this in the first place was because he could be reasonably assured he would be in complete control. If he thought all (or just some) of the people were armed, no one would have been shot, because the guy would have just stayed home.

My first thought was "Why didn't anyone shoot back?" Clearly, because none of them were armed. For one thing, the theater was a "gun free zone". Who pushed for that? Anti-gun groups. For another, the same groups have worked for decades to shame people away from guns. They've convinced a great many people that only crazy radicals would carry them. You don't want to be a crazy radical, do you?

I blame no one for the tragedy but the shooter, and it's possible (even likely) that no one would have been armed anyway. So I'm not saying the left is at fault …but you sure aren't helping. To put it another way, you might not be causing car accidents, but you're taking away seat-belts and making people feel stupid for wearing them.

Some try to undermine the defensive value of guns by pointing out that no one at the theater shot back. So, if guns didn't help in this one situation (where they happened to be absent) they can never be useful in any situation? Millions of people use guns to protect themselves every year, usually without ever firing a shot. You're saying that shouldn't be an option?

Lastly, there are these well-intended realists that say that people like this evil animal would get these weapons even if we regulated them. And they may be right. But he wouldn't have strolled down the road to Kmart and picked them up. Regulated, he would have had to go to illegal sources - sources that could possibly be traced, watched, overseen.

Illegal markets are easier to regulate and track than legal ones? Ummm… what?

There is no excuse for the propagation of these weapons. They are not guaranteed or protected by our constitution. If they were, then we could all run out and purchase a tank, a grenade launcher, a bazooka, a SCUD missile and a nuclear warhead. We could stockpile napalm and chemical weapons and bomb-making materials in our cellars under our guise of being a militia.

Weapons that kill indiscriminately over large areas shouldn't be available to everyone, but most of the things listed above should. It says "arms", not "guns", after all. You've essentially said "We got away with violating the constitution on these things. That's normal now, so you have to let us do it in other areas too".

We will not prevent every tragedy. We cannot stop every maniac.

Particularly if they're armed and we're not.

But we certainly have done ourselves no good by allowing these particular weapons to be acquired freely by just about anyone.

That's just the thing. The word "allowing" implies that it was up to us in the first place to decide what other people may or may not buy. It isn't.

I'll say it plainly - if someone wants these weapons, they intend to use them. And if they are willing to force others to "pry it from my cold, dead hand", then they are probably planning on using them on people.

This is just a ridiculous statement. All you have to do is look at the number of AR-15s sold and compare it to the number used to kill people. Maybe that's the only reason you or the people you know would buy such a weapon, but don't project that onto everyone else.

In conclusion, whoever you are and wherever you stand on this issue, I hope you have the joy of family with you today. Hold onto them and love them as best you can. Tell them what they mean to you. Yesterday, a whole bunch of them went to the movies and tonight their families are without them. Every day is precious. Every life is precious. Take care. Be well. Be safe. God bless.

Thanks. Back atcha.

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