how do you respond to these gun control arguments?

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    In the aftermath of football player Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide, there has been plenty of discussion about guns in America (including from the always enlightening Bob Costas at halftime of Sunday Night Football). Gun control advocates keep bringing up the following points, and I’m not sure if I am addressing them in the best way. What do you think?

    Argument 1: Yes, knives/bats/chainsaws/etc. can also be used to kill people, but guns are specifically designed to kill people. Some guns can be used for hunting, but what can, say, a handgun be used for besides killing people?
    Counter: Handguns and most other guns are used for self-defense. Self-defense is the primary purpose of guns. While uncommon, handguns are also used for recreation (target shooting and gun collecting). Additionally, handguns can be used in hunting as a sidearm to, say, shoot snakes.

    Argument 2: 2nd amendment advocates claim the law is intended for people to resist a tyrannical government. As argued here, these people claim that the people have the right to use the same kind of weaponry as the government. But nowadays the government has vastly superior weapons, including tanks, missiles, airplanes, and nuclear bombs. Do we want to live in a world where citizens also have access to these kinds of weapons?
    Counter: [don’t know how to respond to this]


    Both arguments rest on the premise that “we” (meaning: central authorities in the government) get to decide for the rest of us what is appropriate to have. (When in doubt, always – always – reject their premises and substitute your own. Control of underlaying assumptions/premises/assumptions is how the other side steers things to their conclusions. Not that the “man on the street” thinks of it this way – they just adopt, and reflect, the narrative frame that comes from the top; they also often think of themselves as “questioning authority” when they accept the establishment’s narrative frame).

    Put it to them this way – it’s one thing if the ‘we’ in question is a group of friends discussing things but leaving each other free to make their own decisions. It’s another if the “we” in question is a government deciding for the rest of us the definition of our rights.

    You can also toss something like this at them – and no, it’s not a nonsequiter. This is a relevant counter-argument for the type of person attracted to this site, at least.

    As for the “loose gun laws lead to gun violence” argument, Peter Hitchens (Christopher’s conservative/peace-oriented brother) frequently makes the point – in the context of British debates – that Britain in the period before WWII had virtually no gun control laws: British law on guns, then, make today’s laws in, say, Texas look restrictive. Yet there was hardly any gun violence.

    (His books, including A Brief History of Crime are worth looking into; while he’s no libertarian at all, he often makes the point that the increase of law and prevalence of government officials have gone hand in hand with a crime explosion, and these laws are often turned not against combating true crime – violence, fraud, thuggery – but against otherwise peaceful people, especially people who think they have some right of self-defense, because it’s easier for the officials to go after them than tackle traditional crime).


    Here’s another argument against this:

    Argument 2: 2nd amendment advocates claim the law is intended for people to resist a tyrannical government. As argued here, these people claim that the people have the right to use the same kind of weaponry as the government. But nowadays the government has vastly superior weapons, including tanks, missiles, airplanes, and nuclear bombs. Do we want to live in a world where citizens also have access to these kinds of weapons?

    which they’ll hate, hate, hate, and try to rule out-of-bounds, not because it’s a bad analogy but because it’s a good one:

    When the 1st amendment was written, they had no concept of modern media and education. In today’s world government and their affiliates, including education and major media, have the big megaphones. They compel people daily to violate their consciences, thus rendering moot the free exercise clause. People’s livelihoods are threatened and even lost for expressing the wrong ideas in public. You think you can fight all that with a few liberty-oriented blogs and a facebook page? No, it’s time to treat the first amendment like the questioner wants the second to be treated: not to bother to even make the effort of repealing it explicitly, but just treat it in practice as a dead letter, let government tell us what the limits are; but keep the pretty paper the amendments are written on because it’s in that government’s interests – the only interests that functionally matter – to maintain the pretense that it is a constitutionally legitimate regime operating within the rules in the eyes of its subjects.”


    Guns are no more designed “to kill” than knives are. Guns are a tool, designed to fire a projectile. Knives are a tool, designed mainly to cut.

    While it is slightly irrational to just say “yes, private citizens should be able to own tanks, anti-aircraft weapons, etc,” the general principle of it is true. Every time someone attacks the 2nd Amendment and brings into it the “sporting” use of a gun, they have immediately conceded that they either didn’t pay attention to history, or they just disregarded it. It’s sole purpose is to allow the citizens to defend against tyranny.

    While the average citizen would never be able to afford such an arsenal, lucky for us more and more people are waking up and hopefully we wouldn’t need private citizens with this stuff. Hopefully enough military/law enforcement personnel understand what is going on and side with the people rather than the government.


    For the purpose of self-defense, or defense against a tyrannical gov’t, you don’t need tanks or A-bombs. I think history has shown us that when it comes to the ‘few vs many’ warfare, gorilla style is the way to go. Tanks, bombers, etc are useful against traditional military advances, but quite useless against a ‘terrorist” or fighting an idea such as liberty. When it is man vs man, each will have a gun, and your gun should be as good as the soldier’s. We have the right to bear arms precisely for this purpose, just as intended by the founders, who were fighting a behemoth state.


    For Argument 2, this may get you labeled as some extreme/insane person, but I would argue that absolutely, we WOULD in fact be better off if private citizens had access to the most advanced military equipment available.

    It would be cost-prohibitive for your average psychopath to purchase, say, a Stealth Bomber. That type of technology would only be available to someone with a very vast amount of resources, and those people are not likely to randomly decide to become supervillians, despite what Hollywood may suggest to us. Is there any particular reason that I should trust Barack Obama with a stealth bomber any more than I should trust Bill Gates with one?

    As currently interpreted, the second amendment means nothing. Imagine a hypothetical scenario where the King of England, prior to the revolution, issued a decree granting the colonists “the right to bear arms.” Then, he sent his soldiers, armed with muskets, to every individual home and confiscated all the muskets and cannons that the colonists owned. If anyone complained, the King’s agents would simply reply that the WERE in fact allowed to bear arms, as they were being allowed to keep any swords, shields, and longbows. However, they couldn’t really expect private citizens to be allowed to own the same advanced technology that the government possesses, as that would just be dangerous and chaos would ensue.

    Do you think anyone would have bought this argument as legitimate?

    The founding fathers didn’t simply want the populace to be “armed” (which is a vague and meaningless term). They wanted it to be sufficiently armed as to be capable of successfully opposing the government.


    I’d add on to what Muffin said, in that Bill Gates actually has a stake in the health and well being of society. If he bombs the hell out of a country, he loses business. B’obama doesn’t have anything at stake.


    The Swiss actually issue high-powered weaponry to their citizens.

    Evidently high-powered weaponry in the hands of people is not the cause of violence. They even bicycle with them.


    Here’s something that will really make your “only the government should be armed, because the only people we can trust with deadly force are politicians” friends freak out: DIY Armed Drones!


    The state is just the most successful criminals in a society. Obviously we should let them decide what private people should own or not own.


    However, we ARE in a much different world from the 1700s. The notion that the people will “take back” their liberty by force of arms is ludicrous. A population which wishes to be tyrannized (as does that of the US) will be tyrannized.

    Ettienne de la Boettie

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