Sensible talk about guns and gun control from Mark Mitchell

5 Feb

From Political Scientist Mark Mitchell:

Guns have been in the news a lot recently. The dialogue, such as it is, is dominated by voices that seem ill disposed to consider the legitimacy of the other side. Some demonize their opponents while others simply shake their heads, unable to comprehend how some could be so blind to facts so obvious. Some want to reduce “gun violence” by reducing access to guns, while others point to their constitutional right to own guns and decry any attempt to limit that right. Between the two positions there appears very little room for compromise. But at the very least, it might be possible to clarify some of the terms and issues surrounding these positions. To begin, however, here are the words of the Second 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.

1. It is essential that we recognize that this amendment is not about keeping firearms for target practice or hunting. Plenty of politicians insist that they have no intention of restricting hunting rifles and shotguns. They claim that they love to hunt and even regale us with photos of themselves dressed like they stepped out of a Cabela’s catalog, happily shouldering a shotgun as they trudge through a field with a faithful German Shorthair at their heels. However, anyone who says that the Second Amendment is about hunting is either ignorant or intending to deceive. The Second Amendment is clearly addressing the idea of security, so let’s stop with the business about deer and ducks. That’s clearly a rabbit trail.

2. If the Second Amendment is about security, we have to inquire about the nature of that idea. Insecurity comes in a variety of forms. An external threat is one type of insecurity. It is conceivable that armed citizens could help thwart an attack from a foreign power and thereby help preserve the “security of a free state.” It is also possible that a “free state” could be threatened internally by a government that sought to diminish or eliminate the freedom of its citizens. Resistance to that encroachment would be possible by an armed citizenry and it is imaginable that an armed citizenry would provide a disincentive to those tempted to change the nature of the state. It may perhaps be stretching the original meaning, but when individuals are threatened by criminals intending harm, the security of a free state is jeopardized. Armed citizens could protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors while unarmed citizens are ill-equipped to do so.

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