Keep citizens armed and safe

Guns are the great equalizer.  They let older, smaller, less athletic, less able-bodied people stand a chance when young, fit, energetic, predators try to prey on them.

Citizens use guns hundreds of thousands of times (or millions; it’s hard to define and hard to measure, but numbers I’ve seen from research papers range from maybe 250,000 to 7.5 million) each year to defend themselves from crimes.  Guns save lives.

There are, I think, four main problems leading to the sort of rapid mass murder scenario we’ve had recently in Connecticut.

First, people are being pushed to the wall by social expectations of conformity and roll fulfillment, competition, and such, way too often.

Second, the culture of celebrity tells people that being “famous” is the greatest thing that can happen to a person.  People who have seen every aspect of their life collapse can still view themselves as a success if they become famous.

Third, mainstream culture fetishizes the gun as a magical implement that bends people to your will, makes you taller, and so forth, while keeping people terrifically ignorant about real guns.  This is not an attitude you find among actual “gun nuts”!

Fourth, getting assistance with mental health issues is stigmatized, and is not well supported in the health care system (which in turn doesn’t cover nearly enough people well enough in the first place).

Occasionally, these things come together with appallingly tragic results.

And, immediately, people start demanding that we take action against…none of the above.  Instead, they want to deny basic civil rights to everybody in society.

The Heller Decision

I’m not going to go into this in any depth, but I wanted to post something acknowledging that the Supreme Court handed down the right decision on something (not that rare even for this court).

No reasonable interpretation of the Second Amendment, based on its history, its language, the debate surrounding its adoption, or the other related measures debated and sometimes adopted for state constitutions, can possibly justify understanding it as anything other than an individual right to “keep and bear arms” for self-defense and any other lawful purpose.

One can sanely think this is a mistake, and thus favor fixing it; but to fix it requires a new constitutional amendment.  It’s been done before; slavery was thrown out, and prohibition was brought in and then thrown out, for example.

Justice Scalia’s decision goes into the historical and linguistic scholarship in some detail, and is also remarkably nasty to the dissenting opinions.  I haven’t yet read them; the two of them are bigger than the main opinion, and I just haven’t had time.

The decision (in PDF format) can be downloaded here.

There’ll be years of litigation, of course, trying to expand from this beachhead into a real, solid, acceptance of the most basic human right, the right to defend yourself.