As I indicated in last week's post, I plan this to be the first in a series of columns defending the Second Amendment argument by argument. Yup, in case you haven't been following along, I'm one of THOSE guys. I believe that the Peoples' Right to Keep and Bear Arms underpins the entire Constitution of the United Sates, safeguarding every other Article within it. And it's my intention over the coming months to explain that position as clearly as I can.
Having said that, I also recognize the unique potential of firearms to be enormously destructive. In the wrong hands, almost any item can be used as a devastatingly effective weapon; none more so than a gun. So it's understandable how and why someone could draw the conclusion that guns are more trouble than their worth. There's no denying that guns play a daily role in crime and violence. What gets far les attention, though, is the fact that they also play an even greater daily role in deterring crime and violence. Which is why it's incumbent upon us all to ensure that the law abiding are not prevented from exercising this vital right while simultaneously doing everything we can to keep criminals from exploiting it.
If the Devil does lie in the details, that last sentence is the granddaddy of them all! It pretty much sums up both sides of the debate. It's also a topic for another day.
Instead, I wanted to start this series where most anti-gunners begin their own argument; with the question of need. "Why does anyone NEED an assault weapon with sixty round clips," they'll ask. Intentionally incendiary and outright inaccurate descriptions aside, it's a valid question. It's also an fundamentally flawed one.
Do we really want to live in a country where everything you WANT must be justified with a NEED?
After all, ours is a free society, largely predicated upon the unquestioned validity of merely wanting things. I wonder how those same people would respond if pressed about their need to own certain things, eat certain foods, go certain places or engage in certain activities. Is a standard of need really a path down which we want to venture?
For example, does the average anti-gunner want to apply the standard of need to the issue of abortion? Considering that something like a quarter to a third of abortions performed in the U.S. are medically necessary or in response to rape or incest, the question begs asking if there's a justifiable need for the vast majority that remains. I know that those who are pro-choice can answer that question, but I also know that when they do, they sound like me defending the Second Amendment.
What if we go a step further to compare mortality rates and destructive capability in calculating this standard of need? Then the case gets even clearer.
Plane travel for purposes of recreation, Playboy Magazine, gambling, backyard trampolines, selective vaccination... I could do this all day! But I only NEED to do one more: Did Rosa Parks need to remain in her seat when a white man demanded it? No, we all recognize today that she had an inherent, unalienable civil right to stay put. If the safeguard of all civil rights is the U.S. Constitution, then doesn't the second right enumerated therein apply?
Oh, just in case you're thinking to yourself that I completely sidestepped the question of why anyone would need a modern sporting rifle with a standard capacity magazine, I'll tackle that next time with some specific examples...
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