An armed society is a dangerous society

First, we must understand why we are a nation and not a British colony any more: The complete text of the Declaration of Independence can be found here: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html It is an exceptional read and has several points that are valid in our discussion.

Secondly, we move to the constitution itself. Again, there are a number of points that we need to address before we can properly understand the context of my argument. Full text here: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

I am going to lean rather heavily on the introductory text of the two documents because in those introductory paragraphs we lay down the purpose and function of the government, to which the rest of the document and amendments must be in support of.

From the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

So straight of the bat, the most important statement in the creation of the US government is to protect and enable – unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -.

It is to enable everyone to have these rights that we have a government to begin with and the sole purpose of the government is to protect these rights. When the government or other organisation infringes on these rights it is for the people and the government to adjust the laws and norms of society to protect these rights – Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. –

From this I take that the government itself has an obligation to change if the citizens’ life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, or safety are threatened.

Moving onto the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Again this gives us context for what our government should and should not be doing. Here we will be focusing on justice, domestic tranquillity, common defence, general welfare, and the blessing of liberty.

Finally, we will look at the 2nd amendment:

“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.”

Now that we have collected the necessary text we can start to analyse the different bits. Back in the Declaration there is a very important grievance against the King of Britain that help puts the 2nd into context:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

It was felt among the colonials that a standing army was the tool of a dictator and that the US wouldn’t maintain a standing force of fighters. Instead they had citizen first responders called the militia. Now when the 2nd speaks of the militia it talks specifically about the security of the free state and a well regulated militia. This is vital to the early security of the states without a standing army to protect the states from exterior threats and to handle civil disturbance. However, the situation has changed, we have 5 branches of a standing army now (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard) as well as the new national militia, the National Guard. These organisations have superseded the need for the militia as the standing armies protect the freedom of the state and the national guard and police forces handle the needs of civil disturbance. The requirement for the professional peace keeping forces to have access to arms is not in dispute and I think that is what the 2nd is about, protecting the state. But in contrast me must also look at the role of civilians in peace keeping. The civilian is in general supposed to stay out of peace keeping. If you track criminals the way a police officer would you become a vigilante. If a group does it, you become a mob. The role of the civilian in peacekeeping is to keep themselves out of the way and keep themselves safe. Even security guards are only there to observe and report in dangerous situations and wait for the professional law keepers to show up and tell them what happened.

Given the modern world, I feel the 2nd has no meaning for the general public, the general public is not supposed to be involved in the maintenance of domestic tranquillity in an armed role. Further, when an armed civilian gets involved in preventing a criminal situation through the use of fire power the result is not “Just”. The punishment for robbing a liquor store is not summary execution. Even the punishment for shooting another person is not summary execution, we no longer live under the law of an eye for an eye.

Continued: a civilian does not have the authority to remove the “inalienable rights” of life and liberty from another civilian. Only the government must be allowed to interfere with these rights and it must only happen under the rule of law. A major problem in the US right now is the number of shootings that the police get into, but while I disagree with it, I understand it. Every time a police officer pulls over a civilian in a traffic stop there is a high probability that the civilian is armed and the traffic stop is potentially life threatening to the police officer. An armed populace is a threat to the job of ensuring domestic tranquillity. If I were a cop, I would be worried about getting shot for doing my job and giving someone a traffic ticket, this would escalate the situation from safe to unsafe and I understand why cops pulls guns quickly. Police forces outside the US don’t have to worry about getting shot at random times. Since other countries don’t have an armed and aggressive citizenry to worry about they don’t have to opt to violence in the way that American police do. In the UK the cops don’t even carry guns because it is safe enough for them not to.

This all leads me to the conclusion that a highly armed citizenry isn’t in the best interest of the citizenry’s life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, or safety. Therefore something needs to be changed. However, I accept that some people have legitimate reasons to have access to fire arms. We should not be restricting people that actually have a need from having access to weapons.

In regards to the argument that if we disarm the citizenry that then only the criminals will have access to guns. This is correct in the very short term. The free availability of weapons in the US has lead to the free availability of weapons in the hands of criminals in the US. No weapon leaves the factory intended to be used in a crime. It isn’t like Smith and Wesson has a secret factory pumping out guns to be sold directly to criminals. It is instead our lax gun laws that allow criminals easy access to weapons. In Australia in order to get an AR-15, you need to have black market contacts, for those black market contacts to trust you enough to sell to you, and the AR-15 costs over $34,000. In the US, you can just get your non-criminal buddy to walk into Wal-Mart with $1000 and then “lose” the gun or report it stolen depending on what state you are in. This also leads to the conclusion that if you are paying $34,000 for your gun you aren’t going to risk that gun by using it to mug someone for the $40 they have in their wallet. It is not an economical use of resources.

As time goes on and the price of black and grey market weapons increases do to the scarcity of weapons, criminals will have less access in the long term to these weapons and they will be less likely to use those weapons in petty crimes or in low value crimes. Not to mention that the cops will be able to target gun dealers more effectively to get illegal guns off the streets.

This brings us to Open Carry. Open Carry is a scary situation where you do not know if the person that is carrying the weapon is just a douche bag that wants to show off how small his dick is, or if it is someone that is actually about to commit a crime. There is no way to tell until the moment of danger itself. Then there is also the problem of the racially biased enforcement of Open Carry. If a bunch of white people are open carrying then the cops won’t do anything. If a non-white person is open carrying then the police will respond in force. This flies directly in the face of “all men created equal”.

Finally, there is the idea that the free ownership of weapons is to ensure that the government doesn’t become a dictatorship. This was never the intent of the 2nd and that is pure revisionist history. The Constitution itself protects against the formation of tyranny through the use of checks and balances. Additionally, the world has changed and you will be brining your semi-automatic rifle to a drone fight.

All together as my conclusion: we no longer use militias they have been replaced by professional forces to ensure the protection of the free state and domestic tranquillity. No citizen should be removing life or liberty from another citizen, criminals won’t have free access to weapons once we close down the legal to illegal pipelines, everyone will be safer after we disarm the population. People that have a legitimate reason for having a firearm will still be able to access them.

It works great in the rest of the developed world and there is no reason that it won’t work in the US. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick. It will be worth it.

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