2007-04-18
People don't stop killers. People with guns do
Glenn Reynolds (who is Beauchamp Brogan distinguished professor of law at the University of Tennessee) quite elegantly says "People don't stop killers. People with guns do":
"Gun-free zones" are premised on a fantasy: That murderers will follow rules, and that people like my student, or Bradford Wiles, are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers like Cho Seung-hui. That's an insult. Sometimes, it's a deadly one.


But Eric S. Raymond's essay, Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun: What Bearing Weapons Teaches About the Good Life remains my favorite rant on the subject:
We live with a recent history of massacres by governments that have dwarfed in scope and cruelty anything Barlow or Jefferson could have imagined. The Turkish massacre of the Armenians, the Nazi "final solution", the Soviet purges, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Hutu-Tutsi massacres in Rwanda; each and every one of these vast and hideous slaughters was preceded by and relied upon the disarmament of the victims.

It is more important than ever, today after a century of blood, that we retain the power both to protect ourselves and to discern the cause of such oppressions. That cause has never been in civilian arms borne by free people, but in their opposite and enemy the organized and conscienceless brutality of cancerous states.

It is time to recognize that we, as individuals and as citizens of our neighborhoods and our nations and our planet, have gone too far down a road that leads only to disintegration of both society and self a future of atomized and alienated sheep, terrified by the reflection in each others' eyes of the phantoms in their own souls, easy prey for demagogues and dictators.

It is time for each of us to rediscover the dignity of free men (and women) in the only way possible; by proving it in the crucible of daily decision, even on ultimate matters of life and death. It is time for us to embrace bearing arms again not merely as a deterrent against criminals and tyrants, but as a gift and sacrament and affirmation to ourselves.

If you cannot trust your neighbors to carry arms, how can you trust them to vote? If guns are evil, then so are laws and governments--both would be essentially useless without guns and people willing and able to use them.

To pass laws that criminalize the mere sale and possession of guns is to use the power of the law, and hence the power of the gun, against your innocent neighbors, merely because you don't trust them to act as your protectors, but instead fear they will act as thugs. But if your neighbors cannot be trusted with guns, how can they be trusted with the power to vote, since voting may result in laws whose enforcement ultimately relies on armed agents of the government?


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Labels: ethics, guns, politics



// posted by Alan Lovejoy @ 4/18/2007 1100 PM
I liked this part so much, I'm reposting it by itself.

It is time for each of us to rediscover the dignity of free men (and women) in the only way possible; by proving it in the crucible of daily decision, even on ultimate matters of life and death. It is time for us to embrace bearing arms again not merely as a deterrent against criminals and tyrants, but as a gift and sacrament and affirmation to ourselves.