Intellectual Ammunition Pt 3: Armed With Logic and A Mistake by SCOTUS

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 12, 2018
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In this series, we strip away the flimsy veneer of contemporary political rhetoric, and offer long-standing principles, facts, and syllogisms to let you carry something with you.

Thus far, we have explored the upper layer of the “gun control” issue, that being the rhetoric and supposed “practical” arguments offered as so-called justification to infringe on the individual right to keep and bear arms. We also looked at what the Founders believed when they wrote the Second Amendment, which is supposed to prohibit any government from doing anything to infringe on your right to keep and bear arms.

Now, let’s approach the issue logically, and ask:

“Who engages in threats of gun violence, the civilian who owns, or attempts to own, a firearm, or the civilian or politician intent on passing ‘gun control’ statutes?”

To address this, we ask a further series of questions.

First. Is ownership of an object an aggressive act? Clearly, the answer is “no.” By simply owning something, a person is not engaging in aggressive violence or threats of violence against another human being.

Second. Does ownership connote intent? This is important, and goes towards one’s civil treatment of his neighbors in all things. Although we might think we can guess as to why someone has procured something, we cannot assume for another why he or she acquired it. All valuation and reasons for human action are subjective – self-driven – and to assume for another why he or she did something is conceited and arrogant, breaching the walls of civility and the Golden Rule. Someone may have purchased scissors, and one might assume he or she is going to use them to cut something, but would that be for cutting a person, for an aggressive act? Perhaps the scissors are for an art display or a theatrical production, to be a prop.

Even if one were to assume for his neighbor the reasons he or she had for procuring an item like a firearm, as we’ve noted in the past, a suppressed Centers for Disease Control study showed that Americans use firearms far more often to stop crimes than to engage in them – 3.6 times more often. So, by the collectivists’ standard -- that of assuming they can tell you what to own or not own -- if they want a safer nation-state, they should want the government to mandate that everyone own a gun.

Given that possession is not a violent act, and possession does not connote intent, one must ask, for what are gun “control” advocates calling when they call for “gun laws”?

They are calling for statutes that will threaten people with penalties if they procure firearms or ammo, sell firearms or ammo, or possess them in ways the state proscribes. If a citizen should breach those prohibitions, the gun “controllers” want the state to punish them. This requires armed agents of the state to enforce the statutes.

The logical conclusion is that promoters of “gun control” employ threats of gun violence against innocent, non-violent people. This is irrefutable and axiomatic.

And what of the idea that, practically, passing gun statutes will make areas safer? In Part One of this series, we looked at the real-world numbers on that question, but here is a logical argument to pose to gun-grabbers.

Suppose you are in a paintball game. You have a paintball gun, and you will win $10,000 if you enter one of three houses and, in five minutes, hit ten people with pellets. If you get hit by a pellet, you will have to pay $200,000… There are forty people in each house. In House One, you know that there is no one with a paintball gun. In House Two, you know that there are a few people with paintball guns, and in House Three, you know that there are many, many people with paintball guns.

Which house would you choose?

The answer is obvious. Let’s not be foolish about pretending that we would choose anything other than House One.

The logic of self-protection through firearm possession and use is irrefutable. The statistics of it are clear. The history of despots disarming citizens prior to destroying their lives is also clear, as is the history of what the Founders thought when they wrote the Second Amendment.

The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

But the “interpretation” of this prohibition against agents of the state passing laws to attenuate your right is left in the hands of…

Agents of the state.

Recall in Part Two of this series when we mentioned that one of the most important cases in the US Supreme Court to affirm the individual right to keep and bear arms being protected by the Second Amendment was the 2007 DC v Heller case?

I mentioned that Justice Antonin Scalia, often a hero for conservatives, and a man seen as a “strict constructionist” made a grievous error when he concluded his majority decision. For over sixty pages, he cited contemporaneous accounts from the Founders to prove that the Second Amendment protected an individual right, not a “group” right. That was fine, though he could have simply used logic to show that the term right is associated with the individual, is inherent, and that the term “group” is just a word applied to a group of individuals, just a term with no personal meaning at all. A “group” is always reducible to the individuals therein, and they retain their rights.

But Scalia did something else that calls for more critical attention. At the conclusion of the majority decision in Heller, he noted that, indeed, the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, but:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.

This is an egregious and blatant attack on the very concept and definition of the word “rights”. Rights are supposed to be unassailable. The term is derived from Old English and Old Germanic to mean “right-handedness” and “what is proper”, and the very basis of it is that it pertains to self-ownership and a set of innate, natural “freedoms from” state or person-on-person infringement.

In speaking with Richard Heller, the defendant in the case, I learned that many people believe Justice Scalia added the last few pages of the opinion -- the pages in which he utterly eviscerates the very meaning of the word “right” – as a bargaining tool to get one more vote in favor of the “individual” interpretation and in favor of the defendant.

If this was the case, it’s an indication of just how tenuous one’s hold is over his own inherent rights when those rights are put under the “protection group” of the state. And, in fact, Scalia’s terrible final words on the ruling are being used today to crush peoples’ rights.

As a result, I believe it is important for many of us to remember that attacks on our rights come from many directions. It’s important for individuals to gather information they can use to defend themselves against such attacks. And it is intellectually satisfying, as well.

Thank you for reading this series on “gun control”. I hope you’ve found it intellectually worthwhile, as well.