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The right to bear arms

The United States has a distinct aversion to limits on their citizens' ability to bear arms, yet on the international stage, they want some nations to be restricted from having nuclear weapons.

It's all relativeβ–³

While a nuclear weapon is much more dangerous than a gun, relative to a nation, it is less dangerous than a gun is to a person. A nuclear bomb may destroy a lot of a city, but a gun can kill a person.

Conversely, for a nation, an equivalent weapon to a gun would be able to wipe out several nations in quick succession. Even the largest nuclear weapon cannot wipe out the largest nation, but a single bullet can wipe out the most powerful person on earth.

When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, relative to their nation, it was like a flesh wound, and so the Japanese ignored it. With the second bomb, they saw that it wasn't an isolated incident, and not knowing how many more there were, surrendered. It was the threat of the eventual mortality of the nation that changed the emperor's mind.

The United States did more damage dropping incendiary bombs on Japan than did the atomic bombs. The non-nuclear firepower that the US has sold to dubious regimes around the world is likely to exceed that of North Korea's or Iran's nuclear weapons, so the hypocrisy of current arms debates is blatant.

While some may want to distinguish between nuclear weapons and guns, the comparison highlights the contradictions in the international and domestic policies of the United States. US citizens are allowed to carry the equivalent, at a national level, of enough firepower to wipe out most countries on earth, yet a couple of nations are not allowed to have the equivalent, at a personal level, of a few slingshots.

What's the worst that can happen?β–³

In any consideration of arms control, whether personal or national, the worst case scenario has to be examined.

A lot of nuclear arms control effort is aimed at stopping rogue nations from acquiring nuclear weapons. Why? Because of what can happen when some hot-head leader decides to launch them. Yet that exact same thinking is entirely absent from many of the same people when discussing personal firearms.

The US has seen a huge escalation in gun violence as the battle between police and criminal gangs to be able to out-gun each other steps up. The increasing militarisation of the police, though supposedly in response to increasing militancy of gangs, has resulted in an assumption that every police encounter with the public will likely escalate to gun violence, resulting in innocent and unarmed minority group members being shot in their own homes by police excessively fearful for their own safety. The Pygmalion effect in action, where the expectation is fulfilled by one's own actions.

In comparison, British police don't carry firearms, except for well-trained teams deployed in situations that have been assessed to need them. The consequence is a lot lower level of firearm violence. For comparison, the gun death rate is 60 times lower in the UK than the US. Police not bringing guns to every interaction with the public lowers the chance of them being used, if only because criminals know they don't really need them on themselves at all times and police won't be tempted to use them instead of other more-suitable skills for most situations.

Relying on lethal force as a last resort is one thing, but having it just in case for every situation is inviting the worst case outcomes, just because the expectation of such an outcome has to have been planned for, and so is high in the consideration of all involved, which puts all on edge, leading to more likelihood of the outcome that is supposed to be prevented by carrying firearms in the first place. The threat of firearms violence is made all the more real by their presence, with the resulting fear making escalation to use all the more possible.

Of course, the continued perversion of the original intent of the second amendment of the US constitution into sanctioning of a firearm free-for-all has not helped, by enabling many people who are woefully undertrained and barely able to keep a lid on their emotions being allowed to walk around with lethal force.

Lead by exampleβ–³

Until the US, and other nuclear-equipped nations, are willing to stop risking the lives of people all over the planet for their own benefit, they will have little effect upon those rogue nations.

In all this, I am not defending the actions of North Korea or Iran, or any other aspiring nuclear club member, but trying to get some perspective on the whole inconsistent and hypocritical stances taken by nuclear-privileged nations in trying to keep others out. The only rational way out of this is for all the nuclear nations to seriously cut their own nuclear arsenals, and stop supplying bulk arms to dictatorships with dubious human rights records and histories of supporting terrorists. Otherwise those nuclear nations are the terrorists they feign to oppose.

Distractive thinkingβ–³

As many gun-proponents point out, it is people who perpetrate the mass shootings, but is that just a distraction from making effective changes now?

Any democracy is trying to strike a balance between allowing as much freedom as possible to their citizens while protecting the society from those who would jeopardise those freedoms. That means that government generally works by being reactive to change, rather than being pre-emptive, which risks unnecessarily restricting some freedoms.

It would be very difficult to reliably detect who would be capable of murdering others without a large mass-scale mental evaluation of all citizens, which would be very expensive and be very unlikely to be acceptable to the public. Also, trained people with malicious intent can be difficult to detect without similarly disruptive mass screening.

The real problem, even with mass testing, is that we don't necessarilly know what and when some people will be triggered into a breakdown that would lead them to murder. The obvious action is to restrict what those people can get their hands upon when they do flip, but that does not help if they already have the weapons.

The obvious people to keep weapons from are those who are paranoid and crave lots of destructure firepower. Well, that applies to terrorists, but unfortunately also to a lot more pro-gun lobbyists. After all, prior to 9/11 2001, it was paranoid right-wing anti-government nutters that were responsible for the worst US domestic terrorism.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in 2012 that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This is now used as the standard excuse for not taking any action to restrict access to guns after mass shootings. But how do we determine who are these so-called good guys and how do we identify them when they are brandishing their weapons, otherwise how is another good guy supposed to know that they aren't a bad guy? Even if we could certify good guys, it doesn't guarantee that they don't become bad guys between testing.

We are now seeing lots of killings of unarmed people by police and special forces soldiers, who are supposed to be the good guys. If these well-trained gun-bearers cannot really be trusted to wield weapons responsibly, why would allowing free access to guns, even if they are not automatic, by almost anyone makes us safer? It is obviously misplaced trust in the capacity of human beings to retain fair-mindedness when they have lethal weapons in their possession.

Unfortunately, the must have guns mentality has allowed such obviously stupid thinking like allowing a 9 year old to handle an automatic weapon that is outside their ability to control. Mental problems are one thing, but with such inappropriate thinking being considered a right, the problem is much greater than just those having ill-will. Proliferation of lethal weapons allows too many to become blasΓ©, leading to a lack of appreciation of what is required to handle them responsibly. This failure to discriminate about when and what to use of them has led to too many accidental deaths.

The second amendment was designed to allow states recourse to protect themselves from errant federal or foreign governments, but it is also incumbent upon governments to protect their citizens from the stupid and dangerous thinking of other citizens. Given the difficulties of pre-emptively detecting who will be competent to use them at any time, the only recourse is to severely restrict what weapons are available, and who is allowed to have them. Unfortunately, too many of those charged with helping to protect us from ourselves are encouraging us to exceed our capacity to handle lethal power.

Constitutional amendmentsβ–³

Amendments allow changes to the constitution, as the assumption is that the constitution is meant to be able to be updated according to the needs of the people.

However, amendments are also not set in stone, but themselves can be subject to being repealed if they are no longer needed, either because they were found unworkable – as in the case of the 18th Amendment, banning the manufacture and sale of alcohol, being repealed by the 21st Amendment – or no longer represent the aims of society – as with the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

In regard to the 2nd Amendment of the US constitution, many seem to think it is so set in stone that opposing it is being unpatriotic. The fact is that it is an amendment, and can be repealed. Therefore, opposition to it is a right of every citizen, as how else could they start the process to get it repealed, so that anyone claiming that such opposition is unpatriotic is themselves being unpatriotic.

That also makes laws that oppose publicly-funded research into gun violence seem contrary to the public interest, as people need to know how laws affect them in order to make informed judgements about them. A government's due diligence is to evaluate its own laws. Amendments were allowed because the founders knew they did not have the capacity to know what directions the will of the people would take in the future nor what they would have to deal with. They were deliberately made difficult to implement to dissuade acting on whims.

The whole gun debate is continually distorted by a false sense of entitlement funded by the powerful NRA, backed by arms manufacturers, that regularly politically blackmails politicians into doing its bidding. Political appointments to the supreme court have resulted in distortions in interpreting the constitution so that they effectively undermine the original intent to create distrust in government and undermine democracy itself, all supported by millions who have been persuaded that they can only have power while they have their guns, putting others in fear so that they won't resist.

The 2017 Las Vegas shooting had seen bipartisan support for the possibility of limiting the most dangerous of personal weapons. Even the NRA has suggested that enabling fully automatic operation of weapons may need to be limited. But it is still all rather removed from decisive action against people being able to walk around with a mass lethal capability.

Let go of the hobbyβ–³

A hobby is generally good for winding down from life's stresses, but some may be unhealthy for society.

The US second amendment was written in the 17th century when guns were nowhere near the sequential delivery capacity we have today. The amendment has words that were basically interpreted as applying to state militias until the Supreme Court relaxed its interpretation to include individuals. Since that time we have seen a huge expansion of weapons in citizens hands.

The amendment was intended to allow states a bulwark against federal government overreach, though that was expected to be unlikely, but it did express a concern of the states. Recently, we have had a plethora of unproven conspiracy theories about a corrupt federal government that is being put out by members of the same government, creating huge distrust in not only the top, but in all levels of government. These rogue government members are trying to stir up resentment using the second amendment as a rallying cry.

This is creating a dangerous climate for armed insurrection of which the 6 January 2021 invasion of the capital was a portent. Despite current bipartisan efforts seeming to limit some access to guns, there are still all those currently in circulation and that will be sold under the new laws. While 60% of Citizens wanted some of more of these types of measures, the Supreme Court is striking down any laws that are trying to restrict access any further.

While there may be many gun owners that consider themselves responsible, only 30% actually own guns with almost half of those by white males. That latter group is the predominant consumers of the anti-government conspiracies, so the concentration of guns in their hands is worrying, especially given the recent shootings of blacks and children. Recent shootings have prompted several people to hand in their weapons as a gesture, but a few is not going to really make a difference.

Perhaps it is time to seriously consider reversing the gun culture altogether. So many hanging onto their guns claiming to be responsible still validates the central place guns hold within the core group of anti-government white males that claim the same but also seem primed to use them. What will undermine that group and so lead to less tension within society and politics is a mass movement of white men willing to give up their gun hobby to bring about peace. The decision is about whether societal safety is more important than their hobby.

Many more white males publicly eschewing their guns in order to protect their fellow citizens would send a powerful message about what really being masculine is and that it isn't reliant upon guns. From there, the next step is to push for much more restrictions upon gun ownership, and then onto repealing the second amendment. That does not mean that no one can have guns, but that it cannot be considered a right. This will mean that a lot of the existing guns will be taken out of circulation, generally lowering the risk of injuries and death from their use.

Police can then be reducing their reliance on guns for their sense of safety, especially during what would normally be non-combative scenarios like car checks, resulting in less blacks being shot because police are so pumped up and on edge. Criminals are a lot less likely to carry guns because they are less likely to meet with people with weapons. Mexico would be thankful because there would be a lot less weapons being smuggled from the US into cartels' hands. The US could look forward to being a safe place for families of any colour .

  • β€’Liability for algorithms
  • β€’The Great Replacement Theory
  • β€’Right-wing dishonesty
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