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Archive for December 29th, 2012

Need: noun

1.

a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation: There is no need for you to go there.

2.

a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary: to fulfill the needs of the assignment.

3.

urgent want, as of something requisite: He has no need of your charity.

4.

necessity arising from the circumstances of a situation or case: There is no need to worry.

5.

a situation or time of difficulty; exigency: to help a friend in need; to be a friend in need. 

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“And I don’t think many need 5000 rounds of ammo on a moment’s notice either.”

One of the most frustrating things about trying to have a “dialogue” with people who claim to want one about guns is their willingness to condition the exercise of a right that they don’t like on the “need” of the individual (as gauged by the person who is arguing for limitations on that right, of course).

Sadly, this error is a common one, and is the predictable outgrowth of conditioning by a government that too often speaks of its acts of redistribution in terms of its presumed duty to meet people’s needs, and even goes so far as to further confuse matters by calling its largesse “rights”.  This grotesque mangling of the English language might be a bit more palatable if it was at least evenly applied by those who practice it, however, that wouldn’t suit the purposes of those who benefit most from this confusion and the usurpation of sovereignty and power that it enables.  As a result, I seem to be having more and more conversations regarding the Second Amendment with intellectual eunuchs who not only have bought into this kind of thinking, but have purposely blinded themselves to the abundant evidence that their arguments make no sense, and are inconsistent to boot.

My first time encountering this was a few years ago during the Tea Party Summer when MSNBC beclowned itself with selective editing of an Arizona rally attendee who came with a shouldered firearm.  My sometimes internet sparring partner Rutherford Lawson expressed all of the predictable liberal emotions and denunciations, topped off with what he thought was the coup de grace: “Why do you need to bring a gun to a political rally?”
My response was simple: “Why should anyone have to justify the exercise of a right?
(And by “right”, I mean a real one, not merely a justification for government giving me something.)”
While he had some responses, none directly addressed this core question.

The question returned in the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting.  The left and the media (but I repeat myself) attempted to divert attention from their ridiculous malpractice in accusing Sarah Palin of being responsible for the shooting, then rambling about the shooter’s conservatism, and then when that narrative could no longer hold, the cause du jour became banning “high-capacity magazines”, because people “don’t need them.”  And again, I asked the question “Why should anyone have to justify the exercise of a right?”  And again, I was not presented with an acceptable answer. (Heck, I wasn’t even presented with a coherent answer.)

This brings us to the current “national conversation” on “gun control”, wherein the Newtown School Shooting has given the tyrants among us license to give voice to all their confiscatory fantasies, Second Amendment be damned.  Whether from the foaming mouth of a British citizen on a network no one watches demonstrating his willingness to march on Lexington and Concord all over again, or elected officials, who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution openly proclaiming their intention to subvert it, either because they don’t believe that “the governed” have any business having the right to defend themselves by the same means that they themselves enjoy, or because they are desperate to be seen as “doing something” other than spending our money and avoiding doing the work they were elected to do.  The justifications are simple…minded…, and include such sterling reasoning as ” At that time, the musket was cutting edge.  They never contemplated today’s “assault weapons”, and therefore, they should be banned at the earliest opportunity.”

The problem with this specious argument is that you are talking about people who understood that science kept advancing on all fronts.  Not only did they understand this, they made provision for the protection of the intellectual property that resulted when they wrote the bylaws.  That is why Congress was granted the specific authority in Art. I, Sect. 8.

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Nor were advancements in arms a foreign concept to them, as this letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe describes:

“DEAR SIR,

— The bearer hereof is Mr. Whitney at Connecticut a mechanic of the first order of ingenuity, who invented the cotton gin now so much used in the South; he is at the head of a considerable gun manufactory in Connecticut, and furnishes the U.S. with muskets undoubtedly the best they receive. He has invented molds and machines for making all the pieces of his locks so exactly equal, that take 100 locks to pieces and mingle their parts and the hundred locks may be put together as well by taking the first pieces which come to hand. This is of importance in repairing, because out of 10 locks e.g. disabled for the want of different pieces, 9 good locks may be put together without employing a smith. Leblanc in France had invented a similar process in 1788 and had extended it to the barrel, mounting & stock. [Emphasis Added] I endeavored to get the U.S. to bring him over, which he was ready for on moderate terms. I failed and I do not know what became of him. Mr. Whitney has not yet extended his improvements beyond the lock. I think it possible he might be engaged in our manufactory of Richmd. tho’ I have not asked him the question. I know nothing of his moral character. He is now on his way to S. Carola. on the subject of his gin. Health & happiness cum caeteris votis.

Lest you think that this is one narrow piece, I suggest getting the Library of America’s volume “Jefferson: Writings” and spending some time reading it yourself.  I submit that he and his contemporaries were acutely aware that science in all endeavors was going to march forward, whether or not some attempted to keep the genie in the bottle, and that they fully contemplated advances in arms as part and parcel of those scientific advances to come.

The “need” argument has also been applied to specific types of arms, resulting in some variation this premise :

“You don’t need a ______for hunting.” or “You don’t need a _________ for household defense.”

The obvious reply is that the Second Amendment says nothing about hunting, and while it says nothing about household defense, that is tacit based on both the conditions that existed when it was drafted (with many homes being on the frontier, and subject to attack by natives, and where there was little in the way of professional law enforcement), but it was also part of the common law that informed the nation’s jurisprudence and legal experience.  From Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book One, The Rights of the Individual:

5. THE fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute 1 W. & M. ft. 2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.

This particular individual right was also reflected in the individual Constitutions of the colonies which predate the formation of the United States as well.  (Which I leave to the reader to research, although a good reference point is the The Second Amendment Primer, from which you will find the appropriate references to be able to complete the research on your own, or as a wise old man once said “Trust, but verify”.)  That said, the idea that the defensive purpose was subject to an arbitrary need, which is (of course) to be determined by someone else, is neither expressed or implied in common law, tradition, or the text of the language itself, and in fact, many of the so-called reasonable restrictions that gun control activists would be counter to the entire language of the Amendment, as this piece in National Review does a fine job of describing.  While it seems obvious to people who own guns and who have paid attention to the constant usurpation of state and individual power and sovereignty by the Federal Government that “The Second Amendment Protects the First” or “The Cartridge Box Protects the Soap Box, The Ballot Box, and the Jury Box”, there have been generations of citizens conditioned to be subjects by public instruction, and will endeavor to condition the exercise of the Second Amendment on the approval of the institution that is supposed to answer to us.  They remain willing to compromise this right in exchange for the illusion of safety given by a government which continually demonstrates that it cannot be the ONLY line of defense.  It is a mindset responsible for the idea that people are made safer in “gun-free” zones because a nation of millions of law-abiding citizens who are entrusted daily with a myriad of other tools, many of which are capable not just of ending life, but multiple lives in one use, are somehow not to be entrusted with a firearm.  While this creates a target-rich environment for the criminals, and the insane, both of which seek easy victims, it does not create a place that is any safer than those where citizens can carry guns.

Which brought me to my latest encounter, and the assertion that there should be background checks and waiting periods for anyone purchasing 5000 rounds or more of ammunition.  When I asked why the 5000th round was now suspect when 4999 wasn’t, I was told that if you were a law-abiding citizen, it shouldn’t be too big a burden to undergo another check and waiting period, and

“And I don’t think many need 5000 rounds of ammo on a moment’s notice either.”

And so the error of “need” was embraced yet again.  But “need” and ” the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” are not compatible.  That is the reason for the precise language that says “shall not be infringed”.  It doesn’t say “shall not be infringed unless…” And once again I asked the question “Why do I have to justify the exercise of a right?” , and again I received no worthy answer.  I’m not surprised by this.  Even a half-wit can recognize the trap laid by this kind of thinking.  If you have to justify the exercise of your Second Amendment right, then you also should have to justify the need for the exercise of all the others.  We don’t make members of the Press obtain licenses.  We don’t make dissenters explain why they have a need to dissent.  We don’t bar the church door until congregants explain why they need to show up and worship when they do.  We don’t require suspects to explain why they need to require a warrant before the police can search their homes, their cars, or their offices.  We don’t make defendants tell us why they need the right to remain silent.  No defense of this logic has been offered precisely because it is indefensible.

And while I’ve had a few people express to me the idea that the Second Amendment is not inviolable because it is subject to amendment itself, I reject the notion.  It isn’t a step I take lightly, but it is the product of several years of study of the law, and the philosophy of the law.  At its core, the Bill of Rights is an expression of unalienable rights.  It is not exhaustive, but it exists as a guarantee by the government of the ability to exercise the rights enumerated.  It was undertaken not as a concession that they were government’s to grant, because the people who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights knew better, but as a recognition that governments are jealous of the rights of the individual, and that when left their own devices, governments will usurp what they can, and curtail or restrict that which they cannot usurp.  This being the case, if government were to undertake the amendment of any portion of the Bill of Rights, it would no longer be acting lawfully, and would be manifesting an intent to protect the rights of government, and not of its citizens.   This is why I do not have to justify the exercise of a right to anyone.  It is a right, and by its nature, no justification or need should be made to anyone else for it.

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