Mimesis Law
22 September 2020

A Gun Hater’s Lament

Feb. 10, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — I’ve made no bones about the fact that I do not like guns, do not have guns, do not want people around me to have guns. Fault Lines has seen two very thoughtful posts about the Second Amendment, against it by Ken Womble and for it by Josh Kendrick. The discussion has, by and large, been substantive and informative, though the schism is huge.

The debate arose from a post by Ken White about the Bundle of Rights. I had made the same point earlier, which I note only for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Ken just made it better. But if we were to put the efficacy of the Second Amendment on the table, thus raising the question of whether it still reflects a right worthy of protection from government fiat, and thus allowing us to adhere to the principle that the Bill of Rights is worthy of respect, as amended by current sensibilities, would Ken’s and my concern still make sense?

Just to be clear, it’s not that my personal distaste for guns matters a great deal to anyone else. It doesn’t. It’s not that I disagree with the arguments in favor of gun ownership, but I don’t trust people with guns and I really love my kids. I fear that one of you may someday pull out your weapon and fire it, thinking that it’s an appropriate time to do so whether to stop someone else from committing harm or because an agent of the government has crossed a line you refuse to allow.

So you shoot your gun. My son is walking down the street, minding his own business, and ends up with your bullet in his head. No, I will not be understanding about your having missed your mark. Or worse still, he’s running out of a store while someone yells, “thief, thief,” and you decide to play cops and robbers and plug him. Except he’s not the thief. Maybe there is no thief. But he’s still got your bullet in his head.

And before you point out the obvious, it would not be any more acceptable to me that the bullet came from a cop’s gun. So no, I don’t like guns.

To get to Ken’s argument, the Founders didn’t suppose that their handiwork was so perfect as to never need tweaking, and crafted a means by which the Constitution could be amended. It’s a long, difficult process, but it exists. And it’s been used. Why, if there is enough support for the proposition, right or wrong, should it not be raised with regard to the Second Amendment?

No matter how much I hate guns, it would be delusional to think that everyone else shares my aversion. There are polls about such things, but there are also strong feelings in play on both sides of the issue. If someone called for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Second Amendment, the outcome would by no means be certain.

But when we put one of the Bill of Rights on the table, subject to popular whim, we put them all on the table. The fight over the Second Amendment might be brutal, but the fight over the First, the Fourth, others, likely wouldn’t be nearly as fierce. There are some fans of the First Amendment around, but there are an awful lot of people who feel it needs some serious work, since, you know, hate speech.

And repealing the Fourth Amendment is damn near a no-brainer, since it’s just a technicality that lets criminals go free. Ask anybody. They watch TV. They get it.

Ken raises a question of why the Second, as opposed to the First, is the only amendment that addresses our right to possess a “tool.”

The 2nd Amendment is one of those incredibly complex issues. It is also, as a right, very, very different. Most of our constitutional amendments establish human rights, like freedom of speech, assembly, due process, voting, etc. A smaller number deal with procedure, such as presidential succession, prohibition of the poll tax, senatorial election, etc. But then there is #2. In our nation’s almost 240 years of existence, the 2nd Amendment is the only time our leaders have granted a constitutional right to possess tools.

Is this really the distinction? Will this distinction be sufficient to protect free speech and the warrant clause, the right against self-incrimination and double jeopardy, from the politicians and the public?

When the Constitution was ratified, for better or worse, we made a deal with the devil, to give up our authority to do as we please in exchange for rules by which to conduct our society. But in doing so, some rights were reserved, and it was agreed that the ones we gave away would be in exchange for the ones we kept for ourselves. Whether we made a good deal is a matter of argument, but that was the deal.

If we had it to do over again today, the likelihood of making as good a deal as back then is slim to none. There would be some gains, at least in some people’s minds, but there would be some losses too. Based upon the political climate, the losses would far exceed the gains. It’s not clear if this is because our Founders were smarter than we are today, or because their experience was different. Clearly, some of their compromises fell below three-fifths of good, but times were very different.

If we were to put the Bundle of Rights on the table today, put the Second Amendment at risk, but the rest of the Bill of Rights as well, it’s unlikely that America would repeal the right to keep and bear arms. Despite my view, a great many people support it. On the other hand, there is far less support for the rest of the bundle.

The idea that one of you yahoos will discharge your weapon into one of my kids scares the hell out of me. The idea of the United States without the full panoply of rights set forth in the Bill of Rights scares me more. If the price of a free nation is guns, so be it.

But if you see one of my kids around, please keep your weapon holstered. Please?

14 Comments on this post.

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  • Tom
    10 February 2016 at 9:30 am - Reply

    The press isn’t a tool? If the first didn’t protect tools, our only protected right to speech would be shouting on street corners.

    • Scott Jacobs
      10 February 2016 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      Certain members of the press are some of the biggest tools around…

      • Ken Womble
        10 February 2016 at 4:17 pm - Reply

        I normally love that we don’t have an upvoting system for comments. This is not one of those times.

        • Cornflake S. Pecially
          10 February 2016 at 9:09 pm - Reply

          I ought not but seeing as how nobody from Texas is taunting you two just yet and Ken is channeling facebookie popularity contest thoughts,why not….?

          Scott and Ken sitting in the tree
          First comes feelz
          Then comes hopes
          Then comes repeal in the baby carriage.

          All kidding aside though “children” shouldn’t have guns and guns won’t fix the “children”.


  • Eliot clingman
    10 February 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I dislike handguns, but I like hunting rifles, because venison. Yummy.

    • Eva
      10 February 2016 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      I don’t care for guns either but my husband does. We keep them in a big safe in our garage where they belong. You made me remember my dad used to hunt. The way he barbecued venison with pepper and the aroma, oh la…..

  • Scott Jacobs
    10 February 2016 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    I promise to keep my firearm securely holstered around your kids, unless they are being attacked and my use of my firearm would serve to protect them and prevent further harm – I would rather you be mad at me for using my gun in any way around your kids than have to live with knowing that I could have done something but did not.

    • shg
      10 February 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      What the hell are you doing hanging around my kids? Sit down. I have something to tell you and it’s gonna make you sad.

      • Scott Jacobs
        10 February 2016 at 3:27 pm - Reply

        For all I know I see your kids every day – it isn’t like I know what they look like.

        I’m just telling you how I carry my concealed weapon every day (when allowed to have one on me). Sit down, because what I’m about to tell you is going to make you very sad – I don’t have special rules for people. 🙂

        • shg
          10 February 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

          Wrong emotion. That won’t make me sad.

          By the way, mine is the one with the hair and the two ears. Keep an eye her, please. If anything happens to her, I’m blaming you.

          • Scott Jacobs
            10 February 2016 at 4:52 pm -

            Does she hand hands? That will really narrow it down…

          • shg
            10 February 2016 at 6:18 pm -

            That’s a pretty ableist question.

  • Chris Broekhof
    11 February 2016 at 6:05 am - Reply

    I’m willing, entirely, to take seriously a conversation about gun control in America, but everybody is proposing this as a solution to a problem that has plagued humanity for it’s entire history. Violence. I do accept that our access to weapons does lead to people doing terrible things who otherwise wouldn’t have the power to do them without it, but I also accept that so does chemistry, and the internet freed access to that. Yet I’m still confused that we can own weapons, but I can’t get a hunting license without a hunter’s safety course. Shouldn’t every gun come with a safety course? Much like our cars?

    This problem, like every other problem, will not be solved with promises of punishment, accolades of toughness, or a single law. Any simple solution is a disservice to us all. But, unless it’s mental illness, you can’t get far beyond gun control for solutions, that is if you can even get a consensus on gun control.

    But this article perfectly illustrates my own frustration with guns, while liking them a bit more then SHG.

    I don’t comment often so let me just say Fault Lines is at the top of my reading list now, and has been for some time. Every single one of the writers here are awesome, thanks for the education.

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