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Do We Need Guns? Individualism on Steroids

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I am thinking of Aurora, Colorado today. I am guessing, as Roger Ebert suggested in his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, that some people will call for a reduction in movie violence. Ebert seems to think this issue is a complete sidetrack from the real issue, given that gunman James Holmes hadn't even seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, and was looking for a public event to exploit more than anything related to the topic of the film at hand. This argument isn't totally convincing: Holmes probably saw the previous Christopher Nolan Batman movies, which were both intensely violent themselves, especially the part of Heath Ledger's insanely psychopathic portrayal of the Joker, whom the gunman claimed to be. While I do believe that the creators of culture do carry at least some responsibility for the culture they help create, violent movie narratives are clearly not the main issue.

The main issue is very simple: In one year, GUNS murdered 35 people in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States. The Dark Knight Rises will play on screens in all these countries, as will almost all global blockbuster films with violent plots. Yet the USA is apparently (by per capita population) about 48 times as prone to gun murders than the UK. 48 Times! What else could be causing this disparity, except for the greater ease with which Americans can find guns, especially the crazy assault weapons used in this massacre? All else seems like a distraction from the crisis at hand.

I know some people claim that guns are used for sport. We have the old "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," claim. But that's not true in terms of cause and effect. For sure, all the causes that determine any one event or trend are complex and interwoven. Yet without guns, people would have to either A) punch people, or B) re-examine the source of their aggression before acting on it. I vote for option B but would also live with option A. Guns are the primary enabler of murder's rampant presence in American society. People are the primary cause of anger, but the secondary cause of murder.

Is this "sporting" argument really enough of a reason to override public safety concerns? Of course there are many hunters. But for a moment, let's say there was an alternate universe where I liked playing basketball (I do), but I found out that basketballs were often deadly weapons and were being used to commit thousands of murders, facilitate wars, and produce slaughters everywhere. I simply cannot imagine a scenario where I wouldn't choose to find another sport to play, out of concern for the Greater Good. I can't imagine that I would get righteous and claim that the Government was trying to steal my basketball from me. It might be annoying, but I would stop playing basketball and find something else to play. Wouldn't you? For the Greater Good.

And that's the real heart of the matter, which transcends even this issue, which runs way deeper in the United States. For. The. Greater. Good. Do we even believe these four words matter?

The United States may just be the most psychologically libertarian and individualistic society that has ever existed on Earth. Of course, the karma with which this country was founded was the karma of rugged, violent individualism, so it makes sense that we currently face an intensification of these shared habitual patterns.

Our current political season seems to implicitly demonstrate this deeper, darker view of human nature which underlies all of our more superficial policy debates, but we don't spend much breath on the darkness under the issues. In dialogues on wealth and taxation, health care, climate change, the role of government, and other issues, the question is not so much "how do we help each other?" The sad proposition on display in our societal conversation seems to be: "Why would you give up anything for anyone else? Anyone who asks you to think of others is either a con artist or a socialist. What matters is ME." In this growing climate of  'individualism on steroids,' which passes itself off as a more palatable word called freedom, we seem to be considering a new leader who has  furthered primarily his own economic ambitions at the expense of others' welfare. This fits perfectly into the ME mentality that has gained so much power in our cultural sphere.

Once you start to feel the truth of interdependence as a core organizing principle — that we affect, and are affected by, many more beings than we can see with our eyes —you start to accept a simple truth, embedded in the Buddhist teachings. We could call this a simple truth of human maturity, and there's nothing really that Buddhist about it: There are many times that we have to restrain our selfishness, not because there is anything inherently wrong with our selves, but because the larger impact of acting on self-centered wishes causes too much harm to others.

Any individual desire we have to own and use assault weapons seems to satisfy these concerns. Guns do kill people, and they simply don't have to.
 

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Comments

Guns & Pencils...

If guns kill people... then pencils make spelling errors.

Isn't there a bigger picture here

I see this so often with tragedies like this. Everyone focuses on either how if you removed the guns it would never have happened or that if there were more guns it could have been stopped. Isn't there a bigger question here? What caused this young man to do this? What kind of suffering in his life led him to believe his only answer was to kill so many people? What could have been done to keep him from being this way?
Now that we have created guns there is no real way to keep people from having them. Ultimately if a person desired they could build one from scratch so we have let that proverbial cat out of the bag. The idea of creating complete gun control at this point doesn't make sense and to my mind doesn't answer what we as Buddhists should be striving (not the best word but I struggle with this) for. In my mind we are practicing so as to help eliminate suffering. That means we need to look beyond the actions of someone who is quite obviously suffering and look at what can be done to remove that suffering to ease it or change it and or change how it is expressed so that it no longer causes more suffering.
Instead of deciding we should eliminate guns shouldn't we be looking at the people around us and at our society and see what we can do to help people so they don't react to their own suffering by killing others.

There is plenty to read here. I plan to. But these are 1st thots

This is the sort of topic that invites the human attention, quite immediately, to a focused and finite point—a point of meaning that I believe can be represented satisfactorily, given sufficient consideration and thought, as thus: "There is a great place for guns: holsters."

This is actually a principle. There need not be any illusions about that. The principle we are discussing or discovering ((, maybe for the first time,)) is applicable primarily to the context that pertains to civilian citizens of the United States of America, to whom the ownership of firearms is a right, and a rightly protected one; yet it also applies in broader scopes, which do not exclude contexts of military or survival-related natures. There are fundaments to this principle. They can be identified and learned...and they should not be ignored. One of these fundaments, for instance, as subtle as it is, is that in any situation in which there are adversarial opponents engaged in confrontation, COMMUNICATION IS TAKING PLACE. Every action is counted, and consequences are realized...even if you are simply attempting to sneak up on a rabbit in the woods because your family is starving.

It is appropriate in this discussion to lay down some groundwork.

There are some things to be said for several issues we have, and I will put that nearer the end of what I say here.

But groundwork:
Everything that happens, by definition, takes place in Nature. Communication is pervasive. Between or among organisms, stillness means something, and movement also means something. We can accomplish many things through ways of understanding this, including soothing each other, or effectively harming one another.
It is possible to think of this particular fundament of the principle I am discussing in metaphorical terms...as a cloud. The dimensions and properties and qualities of the cloud are all left to the imagination in the most situational of ways. In fact, at risk of sounding cliched, I will state that it is all mind.
We can find parallel cultural representation of the principle to which I refer in the traditions of Japan: Virtually the only reason to unsheathe the blade of a sword is to distinguish life from death. A weapon, which is one with its wielder, exists for effect. I would invite you not to miss this part: Communication is both effect and supporting condition of the sanity which can be invited by the presence of a weapon.

Some may think, at this stage of my expository writing, that we are quite lost, and that none of this is relevant to real life. In actuality, relevance to Life is the only thing there is to look at once awareness of weapons is accounted for. Enlightened views have a way of being spontaneous. Indeed, they are events with supporting conditions, not very few of which are physical. Utmost sincerity is one of the conditions that allows the bearing of a weapon to connect one's attention with enlightenment. This is another spot at where people just might believe that the point of any discussion has now departed, as if everything vital has just taken off to the stars. however, I am inclined to regard the point I have just made as being rather analogous to the hinayana and mahayana. Without pretense, everything is maintained and it just proceeds in an open way.

I shall try to give a light-hearted example: "Get off my lawn," can be said to untrusted intruders verbally or it can be said with the posture of someone holding a shotgun. I would not iterate that one way is more necessary than its other, nor that a second insistance to depart from our imagined guard's lawn must be a shot fired. Heavens, no.

There are many rules active in the world that we share. And extending our knowledge from the rules we are familiar with to the rules that we do not yet know is an event I could only describe as one of sanity.

I am a citizen of the United States, and I am one, as so many are, who lives with a strong connection to a particular stigma: I am from the South. I was born here, and here I learned about life and all that. The karma that produced the massive, cultural identity of the South was rather centric to the attitude of individual self-preservation, and many traits of that karma, especially personal ones, are very much alive today, and in action. I am able to take an oddly clarified stance (or point of view, if you will) regarding aspects of my cultural identity as a southerner, because neither of my parents who raised me is Southern by birth or upbringing—but here is a danger of discursion, so I will discontinue explanation of my family. What pertains to our topic is this: As I have grown to adulthood, I have developed a respect for guns in a way that is specific to how they actually work—one load of gunpowder and one ballistic projectile at a time. I myself hold modest titles in target competitions of the USA's National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association. . .because I understand how not to do harm. Here we may find elements of a great and varied tradition.

Enlightenment as a human and the command of some energy/force to create change are not separate. This is why many cultures in a variety of societies have (or had) integrated (in whatever way) the presence of weaponry into their ways of life. In the present day, I have noticed a great deal of to-do about how to separate the organism from the sword. In many ways, I feel that this is not such a bad idea, for it is a very big world we have here to understand. And there is nothing easy about concentrating on and learning about the complexities of life on Earth whilst someone with an unchecked ego is waving his personal firearm about ceaselessly, or ignorantly or worse. The way I see it, we have a complex problem that can be solved with relative ease by cultivating consciousness of basic mechanics and history.

Personally, I do not own a gun. But I am aware of the principles that enable them to operate; I know how they are constructed; I know how to clean them and keep them from being dangerous to those around them; I know how to handle a variety of firearms, which can be far more important than being able to hit a 25-cent coin 150 feet away, and even more importantly I know how to be polite when one is present, whether it is in my hands or otherwise. I do have access to one, and I feel better than not about that, but this is one part of this discussion where I would draw a line. (Not one from the other side of which I am pointing a barrel, you nervous folks;) The reason for the line is for bringing a modicum of focus to Dispassion, which is very appropriate, because we are in new territory now in the twenty-first century, as inventions are propagated at an unprecedented rate, and we have to catch our breath when we talk about technology these days... We are engaged in a forum of communication which is technological and inherently impersonal near to an extreme; and we are doing so with a purpose, and that is to decide how to live in our world without being able to uninvent the ballistic projectile device.

This is the part where my point becomes personal: I love guns and I hate seeing pictures of them ... posted all over the Information Superhighway. Every time ...

It is a little bit like looking down the bore of a gun at the tip of a bullet sitting in the chamber.
It is a little bit like seeing ... nevermind.

You look at a gun—you see your mind.
Most guns are designed with a lot of elegance. That doesn't make them dandelions. We need to respect them.
If you are familiar with guns to extent of not being swayed from ... the joy of luminosity...by the sight of one, or more of them; then I would boldly presume that when you see a [photograph or other representation of a] gun in its holster, virtually the same feelings are evoked in you as when you consider, plainly, a gun, as perhaps Plato would (if he could).
I am proposing decorum, etiquette and taste. My guess is that some people possibly would perceive that the image of *their* rifle or pistol strapped into its container or holster is an affront to their right to own it, bear it and wield it; and is similar to seeing a "boot" on a wheel of their car; or a muzzle permanently bestowed unto a family dog. . .
No. It is a sword in its scabbard; it is a picture of sanity. It is a quiet opportunity to be awake.

If you want to see your gun out of its holster. . . practice.

And then clean it, please. ;-)

Americans are in no danger of having their point on the right to bear arms lost on the audience of the rest of the world.

I recommend familiarity with guns to anyone who's mature enough.
I recommend waving them around to no one. Not even showing them off—because of what they've done.

You may believe that I am making some big deal out of myself, or attempting to aggrandize or exalt my experience; but the fact you actually are perceiving is that I have seen enough of life to understand where the soft lines and the hard lines get together to make explosions. The attitudes of Americans themselves (North Americans or South Americans) are not my point of contentious concern here...well, not in all ways, anyway. Honestly, I am a proponent of gun control in a way similar to and applied in the content of a variety of books about "The Tao of..." and "Zen and the Art of..." Advanced technology was responsible for the removal of kindred life very early on in my lifetime, and since then I have given up preparedness to allow related mistakes to bite my species in its collective behind.

We should reform some things about the ways things are done, but such reforms should take place willingly and with understanding, because they are better. When it comes down to the sole matter of surviving in this world, the "lines" are very apparent so long as we are really paying attention to what we are thinking about. That is, the truth doesn't really move. (Know what I mean?) The only thing I can imagine as a legitimate use for a fully automatic firearm is as a weapon in the hands of a combatant trained for a pitched battle between armies (of whatever size.) In any other circumstance, a general understanding and practiced precision are the things that will provide one what one needs. If you are reading this and feel that a fully automatic weapon will soon be the appropriate thing for a battle that you anticipate or expect, please let us know about said battle. . .

There are some things to be said about ideal approaches and also results of reshaping society in this particular way. I think it has everything to do with the mind. If one has no interest in training one's mind, then one will have no stability when moving about in the world with a weapon. Ignorance, aggression and passion are going to be part of how we live, along with the feelings and whatnot that we have about them and also the virtues that balance them out. A big question is: What are people going to listen to and understand? How are we going to work with what we have? So many of the issues before us are rather charged and can be commercialized and politicized immediately. Fact: Lots of people equate self-defense with survival. That can change, naturally, but that does not alter a grain of basic truth in it. If people dont do *anything* then they starve, and *that* is what some people think those of us who want to demilitarize would have happen. "We'll think of something to do later," or something like that, which is a view lacking in balance and harmony... I feel that what we (by "we" I mean humans) should be focusing on is understanding what we have in our collective lap. Because something else seems like another pull toward an endless controversy. But I could be wrong. It remains important that people understand the reasons why we should not all tote MAC-10s *all the time* and question the members of our own community at gun point every day. That is something that should be solved as a person becomes an adult in our society. They should become familiar with that needlessness, I think.

If I am way off on this, please let me know. I deserve to know if I'm wrong.

white supremacy =

did somebody say 'white supremacy? guns and drugs get 'dumped' in the poorest communities for outsiders to come and buy their 'stash. guns end up in hands of 'dumb' 'kids'

black male unemployment in inner cities is 65% and has been this way for the past 10 years, help! 

 gun deaths/ homicide: australia 35, 39 england, 194 germany, 200 canada,

 //////9484 usa

the usa is sicker than any other place in the world;

 the rest of the world has something to brag and be thankful for, imagine the stress and suffering the people in black communities experience 24 hours a day.

licenses, training, background checks & no automatic weapons

i agree wholeheartedly with what Ethan is saying. As far as the mass shootings that have been happening with heartbreaking regularity and increasingly horrifying scenarios, i think many of these could have been avoided or vastly less severe if, obviously, we didn't have AUTOMATIC and SEMI-AUTOMATIC weapons available for sale ( and easy sale). The scale of the crimes simply wouldn't be the same. Yes, criminals will always find access to guns in our gun-soaked culture... but if the shooter were just firing a rifle, shotgun or handgun, the ability of others on the scene to react and subdue them would be far greater.

Secondly, can anyone tell me WHY we don't have required TRAINING, BACKGROUND CHECKS and LICENSES required for guns, the only purpose of which is to kill, while we need a license to drive cars?  

At heart I believe that non-violence is ultimately the only way to disarm violence. We've been at this retaliatory "self-defense" business for a few million years, and last I heard, our society hasn't really gotten any more peaceful as a result. Violence begets violence. Period. Our only chance of peace is to really, deeply believe another world and another way is possible. Those who have believed this are the ONLY ones who have brought us, as a culture, any closer to peace as a culture. Gandhi, Dr. MLK Jr., Jesus (if only all of his followers could actually practice what he preached), the Buddha... and many people working today, thank goodness.

Realistically, it is admittedly naive to imagine we could demand, within our current political and social framework, a total disarmament of populace and law-enforcement and suddenly behave like England. Reluctantly, I support the second amendment, at least in principal. But I don't understand why we don't require serious training and regulation like any other dangerous item. It's so crazy that all the playground equipment from my childhood is illegal now because it's too DANGEROUS, but anyone can walk into a store and buy an automatic weapon with almost no problem. This is insanity. We regulate the ingredients of house paint, because as a culture we felt it was too dangerous. and yet guns? nope. We are the most danger averse, safety obsessed culture in the world except for this one little all consuming blind-spot.

Having lived in rural areas part of my life, I do support people's right to hunt, and have deep respect for the people for whom this is an important part of their "culture" (though I've never taken part). But you need a license to hunt, each and every season, why not a license for every gun? While licensing and training would not stop career criminals from getting guns, it would actually deter some of the crazies who commit these mass murders. Having a schizophrenic family member, i know that people who are delusional enough to kill are often way too paranoid to fill out forms or even consider trying to get a license, and they are usually also too anti-social to get someone else to get something for them covertly... mentally ill shooters usually work totally alone (their isolation part of the problem in the first place). And young people who sadly commit a lot of these shootings would simply have a harder time getting guns. And if we outlawed the mass killing machines like AK-47's, that would help too.

Another question - Where is Homeland Security for all the money we are paying them? If they can't pick up the fact that someone is buying up guns and stockpiling ammunition suddenly, they're not doing their job, honestly. I'm totally stunned at the loss of personal freedoms in the wake of 911, and yet the government refuses to even slightly regulate our freedom to buy personal weapons of mass destruction in any corner sports store? i just don't get it. It's time for some really obvious, basic changes in the gun laws. it won't end our second amendment rights to bring light of sanity to the situation.

And i hope we can as a culture begin to change the way we understand violence, fear, and self-defense. Are we courageous enough to believe in Love?

My 18-year old son was stopped by airport security last week when a slight genetic abnormality in his breastbone set off the security x-ray machine. While the x-ray screens don't show your naked body anymore, his screen showed the words "Potential Concealed Weapon" and depicted a flashing red circle around the heart of the generic figure on the screen... I love that. what if we could understand that our best concealed weapon is the heart?

I disagree that if the people in the theater had been armed they could have shot back and ended the violence (he was wearing armor in any case)... but i absolutely believed that if ANY of the perpetrators of these mass shootings had felt they lived in a world that gave them love and a sense of worthiness as human beings, none of those crimes would have happened. The heart is our only chance.

Homeland Security

I too wonder why the department of homeland security could not find this out. He had many weapons, chemicals, and had set up booby traps. Why didn't they catch him?

"Yet without guns, people

"Yet without guns, people would have to either A) punch people, or B) re-examine the source of their aggression before acting on it. I vote for option B but would also live with option A."

I think the sad truth is that people with this kind of desire will find a way and not ever consider option B and will not be satisfied with Option A. Our society promotes violence and agression and gives the perfect stage for individuals who suffer with this kind of delusion.

The media and popular culture claim to despise the violence and yet are addicted with a fierce obsession. People kill people, guns help makes it easy to kill too many. I believe if we do not stand up and stop the thirst of agression and violence it will continue with or without gun control.

there are and always have been psychopaths

now they have access to automatic weapons.

there are people who are damaged so severely that they don't recognize love. it's likely a combination of internal chemistry/wiring and external environment. you can't stop people from killing. you can limit the damage they do by controlling access to weapons.

the media sells what we want to buy. violence is immensely popular and profitable. you don't want the media to sell it -- get people not to pay for it.

Dangerous Waters

This is a very interesting discussion for me.

On one hand, I think it is very dangerous for religious leaders to wade into political discussions at all, because simply arguing over the best rules to run a given society at a given moment is an express ticket to losing track of the essential point of practice, which may be simply expressed as the act of expanding our (empty) selves this precious moment through all the joys and sorrows that come with it. So if we decide that we know the best rules for others (and our selves) that's engaging in politics, and nothing else....and that's fine, until we get caught up in all the dualistic stuff and lose ourselves in yet another conflict.

But then again what is the role for Buddhism then, or any other religion for that matter, in dealing with these rules and governments and whatnot? Well, for one thing, our practice is one thing while our groups and societies are something else entirely. The institution of religion is *not* religion. So maybe the middle way would be to embrace peaceful behavior, but to leave the warriors to their business, because they are obviously here for a reason too, eh?

Religious Leader?

Thanks for this. Really appreciate you weighing in - however, here I have to put my foot down and push back hard against this view that it's "very dangerous for religious leaders to wade into political discussions at all." Not out of anger, just because I believe it sets up a false and harmful dichotomy between our secular and our spiritual lives, a dichotomy I have been taught doesn't really exist.

First of all, I don't practice or teach buddhism as a religion. I will peel that label off of my being every time it is placed upon me. I view it as a secular, humanist psychology, ethics, and philosophy. Some teachers and students practice Buddhism as a religion. I have nothing but respect for them. I am simply not one of those.

Second, what my teachers have taught is that our personal practice is inseparable from how we engage in society. This view is embedded in the Shambhala teachings of enlightened society. To only contain ourselves with personal practice without relating to societal and cultural views and choices is limited. Anyone who studies with me as a teacher is expected to apply their persona; practice to their understanding of society. They by NO MEANS have to share any of my views, but if we don't each apply our practice to the culture and societal realms, we will bump up against the limits of what self-focused practice can accomplish.

So, I'd like to turn the tables on this comment and say that we swim in VERY DANGEROUS waters if we don't apply our practice to political and societal questions. We must expand our minds into the communal realm, each in our own way with our own thoughts and our own wisdom, to fully see the lack of boundary between self and society.

practice on the cushion

is practice for how we live our lives off the cushion. it informs how we act in the world. if you're practicing loving-kindness in meditation but acting like a jerk to people you meet, your practice is of no benefit to you or the world. we don't disappear into dharma -- we manifest it.

wisdom and compassion say that we don't sit by and let the warriors destroy each other (and dozens of innocent people) if our discernment sees a condition that could be changed that would ease suffering for thousands. if you discovered a cure for cancer, would you sit on it and watch people play out their karma of lingering, painful death -- when you could prevent it?

I'm not endorsing a course of action here, but to say that we as Buddhists should take no action seems contrary to the teachings.

Well, for one thing, our

Well, for one thing, our practice is one thing while our groups and societies are something else entirely.

I am not so sure about that. Saykong Mipham teaches that society is at least two people, and relationships have a lot to do with practice. Would you be willing to explain what you mean? Do you mean that our practice doesn't intersect with relationships? Or that society is outside of our control?

Nice thoughts (the rebuttal).. But...

You know when you hear a case and you just "know" it's pushing the envelope on a realistic analysis of a world situation? That's what I feel when I read these rebuttals.

and when people with a knowledge of history read stuff like that

#next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }
when people with a knowledge of world history read comments where someone suggests that it's an unrealistic analysis of a world situation to think that maybe it's a good idea for "we the people" to have the right to bear arms -

we think - maybe you should get out of your air-condiitoned always-connected bubble and read (or re-read, or just barely acquaint yourself with)  the history of the modern world - and then let us know if it's so far-fetched that governments can shift, change, morph into something unrecognizable, dangerous, armed, and tyrannical.

for reference, see the recent history of countries such as these who were absolutely safe for the citizens to be free, just like America - until armed governments decided otherwise (and then required armed force to restore freedom - or, as yet, have not):

Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan, Cuba, Bosnia, Herzogevnia, Serbia, Croatia, Tibet, Singapore, Czech Republic, Poland, etc etc

good luck!

The attacker was in tactical

The attacker was in tactical gear. Google "child shoots self'' It's sad.
Also, this

Compassion for Victims, and Preservation of Right to Bear Arms..

We don't need guns(unless you want to own one), but we do need the right to own guns. And I say this as a non-conservative. Until you de-militarize the police, National Guard, and all local law enforcement, you cannot revisit the 2nd Amendment. Local and national law enforcement having the right to carry firearms - and the 2nd Amendment in large part giving citizens the right to carry firearms in the event of tyrannical behavior by the armed local government - is baked into US culture.

The reason UK has such a smaller percentage of assaults, is that the police in large part are not authorized to carry weapons, and so there is no need for a "defense against tyranny" right to bear arms that correlate in power to the arms carried by local law enforcement.And because the firepower now granted to local police forces is so enormous - rifles, machine guns, assault weapons, etc - in order for the 2nd amendment to retain validity and meaning, citizens must have access to similar firepower.

Any other re-visitation of the 2nd Amendment - removing citizens right to own firearms that correlate in power to the firearms granted the local police force - creates an unstable situation that quite literally strikes at the heart of the balance of power between citizens and the government. Tragedies notwithstanding, any conversation about gun control must start from a place of de-arming both authorities and citizens, which I would welcome but think is very unlikely.

How do we downsize our aggression?

Jerry, I appreciate your grasp of the rationale behind the 2nd amendment. Too often that's defended in a lazy way that doesn't challenge my knee-jerk opposition to it. That said, I don't see any kind of armament of the public as a serious counter-weight to the firepower available to officials at any level. In other words, instances like the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia prove that government has the power to totally violently dominate citizens who have armed themselves. I was confused by what you wrote: "because the firepower now granted to local police forces is so enormous - rifles, machine guns, assault weapons, etc - in order for the 2nd amendment to retain validity and meaning, citizens must have access to similar firepower."  Would you argue that the problem in the case of MOVE or the Waco firestorm was a lack of weaponry on the part of citizens?

I didn't get that impression from what you wrote at the end of the article: "any conversation about gun control must start from a place of de-arming both authorities and citizens, which I would welcome but think is very unlikely."  I definitely agree with that statement.  I know it's important to It seems like downsizing aggression and/or oppression is such a complex affair that we're better off trying to downsize the available outlets for individual aggression among the public, along with the weaponry that can facilitate a state's oppression of its citizens. 

I think of it kind of like the stories of enlightened beings performing magical powers to ensure that assailants didn't succeed in killing them and thus accrue tons of bad karma. You do what you can to help people, and when the homicidal aggression is already present, that means very simply thwarting their attempts to harm others.

some context

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Const...

"In no particular order, early American settlers viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:

deterring tyrannical government;
repelling invasion;
suppressing insurrection;
facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
participating in law enforcement;
enabling the people to organize a militia system."

What do you think?

Rebuttal

The main reason to own a gun is not "sport". It's self defense. Self defense against crazy people like this, self defense against selfish people who use guns for crime and self defense against a government stepping over its boundaries.

If the people in the theater were armed and trained that gunmen would've done a lot less damage as the video of the 78yr old foiling a robbery earlier in the week proved.

Remember, Aurora has some of the strictest gun laws on record and that theater was a "no gun" zone. Criminals will never obey the law, that's why they're criminals. And taking guns away from law abiding citizens does nothing to prevent crime.

No crime check would've stopped this lunatic. No real law would've either. The gun didn't shoot itself, and if guns were unavailable to him, he would've used a truck or a machete or an IED.

No, the correct solution is not less guns. The correct solution is more guns with appropriate training and licensing.

Don't forget, it was first the confiscation of weapons that led to so much tragedy in the last century. Confiscation of weapons from Germans and Austrians before WWII. Confiscation from Russians and Ukranians after.
Even in China, where when weapons were made illegal, the Chinese invented Gung Fu.

Tyranny always begins with the confiscation of weapons. The 2nd amendment is our protection against tyranny. Let's not in the name of peace and enlightenment commit the tragedy of assuming that everyone believes as we do.

Those that need protection against the ones that do not, need guns to even the playing field.

I didn't address self-defense

I didn't address self-defense in the above piece.

does self defense work? Or does it escalate the problem? Why do we have police then? Aren't they the ones we train to defend the citizenry? Look at the trayvon martin killing. And do we really think armed vigilantes are going to stop fascism? I think the police often acted inappropriately at OWS protests for example, but if the protesters tried to fight them with firearms, the outcome would've been horrible for all. The solution is to DEmilitarize. That's the best long term self defense for all.

Agreed.

Yes, the LONG term solution for EVERYONE is to de-militarize. But I don't think you want to start with the people first. The population owning guns is the 1st line of defense against tyranny. Perhaps if our government didn't spend so much on war, and if our police didn't buy armored tanks, we could discuss removing the guns from the hands of the population. But when the police are armed, so should be the population. Your comment about OWS is a case in point. Perhaps if OWS was armed, (and notice they could've been), the police would've acted more appropriately.

And police aren't there to STOP crime, they're there to investigate it afterwards. I believe there was a state supreme court case about this a few years ago. (don't remember the reference).

I think we forget sometimes that the right LONG term solution is not always the right short term solution. And while demilitarization is absolutely the right long term solution, if implemented in the short term, it would cause more suffering than not.

More appropriately?

Seems like MOVE and Waco, etc. show that when citizens are heavily armed the local police / gov law enforcement behave less appropriately, not more so. 

I think the public ought to demilitarize, stop killing each other, and accept the potential short-term thuggish behavior on the part of authorities, while looking long-term for ways to demilitarize those local, federal, state, municipal arms of the gov

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