Monday, August 07, 2006

The Right to Kill

The NRA has long contended that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Well, now they're lobbying state legislatures around the country to allow people to do just that and so far 15 states have gone for it. The New York Times article has a few examples of the laws invocation to avoid legal penalty, such as:

  • A prostitute who took a 72-year-old client's gun and killed him rather than just walk away;
  • A man who shot his neighbor after an argument about the number of garbage cans he had put out;
  • A cab driver who killed an inebriated passenger after dropping him off.

    In the words of a professor from the Brooklyn Law School, "In effect, the law allows citizens to kill other citizens in defense of property." And conservatives accuse liberals of being materialistic? Right, I'll be sure to take that one seriously next time....

    Think about it friends, if this law would have been around in 18th century France, none of us would have had to endure Les Miserables, for Valjean would be dead! Oh, expansion of extrajudicial death penalties, thank you legislatures! Go NRA, huh?

    I doubt they'll target Washington State, but if so we will absolutely revisit this issue.

    Richard Warren said...

    I'd like to say that while I don't always agree with the NRA I'm glad they are around because if they weren't America would have followed the British model and probably would have banned all civilian firearms ownership by now. You might ask so what's wrong with that, well I don't know about you but I find it chilling to imagine living in a country where only the Government gets to have the guns. I don't trust them to do the right thing all the time and there are plenty of examples in history where countries with 'leaders' like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Kim Il Sung, etc. have ruthlessly controlled their countries by force of arms against an un-armed citizenry. Yes, people do awful things with guns and they should be punished for their acts but their behavior is no reason to deny other people the right to gun ownership.

    Karl Smith said...

    To be honest, I'm inclined to agree with you to some extent. Gun ownership and responsible gun use (hunting, recreation at shooting ranges, etc) I have no problem with. My main problem with guns is how easily they escalate conflicts - I disagree that guns are conflict deterrents and wholeheartedly disagree that they should be our main source of conflict resolution.

    While I generally don't disagree with the NRA on gun ownership (though in the case of assault weapons I'm not so sure), I do object to their lobbying on behalf of bills that lead to greater numbers of unnecessary deaths.

    Alex Kim said...

    The "guns for protection against government" justification for gun ownership would've have been more convincing a century ago, when government troops were armed with implements no more sophisticated than what people might keep in a cupboard or shelf at home. Today, however, the nation's army is armed TO THE TEETH with weapons that are almost ludicrously more powerful than anything you or I might have in a closet. For similar reasons, armed citizenry could not have stopped any of those leaders you mention.

    The framers were wary, however, of an armed state ruling over the people - that's why the Second Amendment's original intention was to complement the parallel tradition of a civilian militia. The nation was not meant to have a standing, professional army - rather, as defensive needs emerged, localities were called upon to form militia, and the Second Amendment's intention was to prevent the state from barring the acquisition of arms to that end.

    Arguing that guns protect average citizens from tyranny by the state is a classic line out of the NRA Propaganda book. If the sincere concern of the NRA is state tyranny, then perhaps it should join me in calling for a reduction of federal munitions and military budgets and eventual total disarmament.

    Karl Smith said...

    If the sincere concern of the NRA is state tyranny, then perhaps it should join me in calling for a reduction of federal munitions and military budgets and eventual total disarmament.

    And we happen upon an issue of sincere disagreement at last. The total disarmament of the nation's standing army is but a utopian ideal, not one which will ever be realizable. Sadly, human nature dictates that the threat, or even use, of force is sometimes necessary to preserve peace. Force prevented Milosevic from committing atrocities beyond that which he did. Force could be brought to end the genocide in Sudan. Were there the will, international force could prevent both Hezbollah's bombardment of Israeli cities and Israel's destruction of Lebanese infrastructure. Those who would visit horror on others (whether based on nationalism, religious sentiment, fear, etc), will always arise. The question is, will we be able to thwart them?

    Now, as we disagree on the fundamental premise of whether or not world without force is possible, it makes sense we encounter further disagreements. Just because a nation's military is better armed than its people (at the present time), doesn't justify the complete disarmament of a populace. Don't think of this just as what one has in a "cupboard" (and I hope that's not where people keep their arms!) Think in terms of organized groups, the sort that might arise out of necessity in some future situation.

    This is certainly more complex than there is space for here, but to dismiss such sentiments out of hand is also errant. And we both know that we needn't strictly settle for the intentions of the Founders - Al Gore was correct in saying that the Constitution is a living, breathing document.