In allowing the government to maintain a standing army and police force, we are also agreeing to transfer to the state the duty and immense power of defending us from being attacked in the first place. This is not only a matter of practicality, it’s the only method anyone’s come up with to prevent the Hobbesian war of all against all.
As the founders knew, however, the power we grant the state to defend us can easily be turned against us. “The means of defence against foreign danger,” Madison wrote, “have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” Going back even farther, this was why the supporters of republican government stuck the long knives into Julius Caesar. In “crossing the Rubicon,” he violated the law by bringing the Roman army into Italy. This effectively turned the means of protecting the republic into the tool for establishing imperial rule.
(read the whole thing)
I’ve seen this premise mocked mercilessly in the media recently with a sneering “really?!? You really think you need guns to keep the government away? You think there’s going to be another revolution?”. (A pet peeve of mine. Thinking that the remorseless repetition of the word really? substitutes for cogent argument. This was reinforced under a movie director that did this cluelessly and constantly for weeks. No logical support or counter argument, just “really? really?, REALLY?“)
The intention is pretty clear: whether consciously or not, Constitutional opponents seek to minimize and ridicule 2nd Amendment supporters into giving up a fundamental right in exchange for illusory (and proven-false) security. But saying that something is unlikely is not the same thing as saying that it is impossible. I don’t believe it’s likely that we’d have to exercise our 2nd Amendment rights against the government, but I am unwilling to be coerced by that same government into making those Rights, won by others through trial and bloodshed, into illegal acts. Especially in light of history.
Here’s the point: if you can so easily use reactionary, crisis-based emotionalism to remove or weaken a single Right that has been protected in the Bill of Rights then someone else can use the same template to remove a different one. Those rights are there for a purpose and by common agreement. They are the rules of the game and it is unacceptable for one side to change the rules when they do not like the conditions. There are ways (also within the rules) of changing, amending, and abolishing those rights and if the true owners of our republic (citizens) want to unburden ourselves of our protections and do away with the Fifth Amendment (due process), the First (freedom of speech), the 6th (right to a trial by jury) or the 2nd (right to bear arms), then we use the mechanisms within the rulebook (the Constitution) to change them. That’s the deal. Unilateralism isn’t a legitimate vehicle of constitutional modification, and mockery does not qualify as logical support.
For many of us, it is not about 10 vs 17 round magazines, or folding stocks, or bayonet mounts, or even Sandy Hill. We are putting aside emotion and playing the Long Game. It is about the rules that we have agreed to as a society. Yes, those rules can sometimes be twisted and manipulated by madmen to tragic ends, but we refuse to lose sight of the protections they ultimately provide. In the end, the citizens who are standing strong on the 2nd Amendment are simply standing strong for all citizens. And the entirety of the Bill of Rights.
UPDATE: (via Instapundit) How Does the Sandy Hook Massacre Demonstrate the Need for Gun Controls That Have Nothing to Do With It? It’s like they’re just cynically exploiting tragedy to advance a pre-existing agenda.
After a mass shooting, gun controllers push the policies they’ve always supported as if they were a logical response to that particular example of senseless violence. When skeptics say it is hard to see how the proposed measures could have prevented that attack, gun controllers (if they are honest) say that’s beside the point, because the real goal is not preventing the rare mass shootings that get all the attention but curtailing more common forms of gun violence. If so, the horrible event that supposedly makes new legislation urgently necessary does not in fact strengthen the case for that legislation one iota. If the proposed policy was a good idea before the attack, it remains a good idea; if it was a bad idea, the emotionally compelling but logically irrelevant deaths of innocents do not make it suddenly sensible.