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Jan 23, 2013

Reason And Force

I know not everyone agrees with my view; however, I believe in the right for the common citizen to own and carry a firearm. Do I believe this is an unrestricted authorization? Absolutely not. Just as Freedom of Speech does not give one the authority to commit perjury or incite a riot, the Right to Bear Arms is a careful responsibility that can be abused. The right does not give us unfettered license to wave and wield weapons wherever we like. As with Free Speech, there is a responsibility associated with this right and also a consequence if one does not attend to its potentiality.
The wonderful thing about our society is the rights our government acknowledges allows us to disagree over how the apply those very rights. The First Amendment permits us to debate the Second without seriously fearing retribution for our opinion. It does not mean that we will all agree, however. The Freedom of Speech is misused and sometimes people are hurt because of it, but the value of that freedom outweighs the potential harm. It is my belief this is also true for the Second Amendment. But I'm sure many who read this will disagree -- and that is perfectly fine. It is a democratic society; disagreements are part of the equation.
That said; there is a push to place serious restrictions on the Right to Bear Arms. In all fairness, some political reaction to preserve it without any reasonable responsibility is nearly as bad. I personally do not believe the premise behind recent events which have spun this debate has much to do about gun regulation. I believe there is a different problem at the root: one of moral decency, social respect, personal responsibility and community brokenness. But that is a different topic and again only my opinion. To my point, I have heard many arguments for and against these suggested restrictions. Some are smart; some are dumb -- and on both sides.
As we as a culture, society and people, consider how to solve this perceived problem of guns-and-bad-guys, let me offer the opinion of Retired Marine Major L. Caudill. I appreciate his perspective, and while you may or may not agree, I hope you will read it and consider the point. The Right to Bear Arms may need some governance, but to remove it completely as some suggest would be, I believe, a horrible mistake. For those who have questioned what is the value of gun ownership, only see the damage guns do and hope to wipe away their legalization, I give you the following point of view:
"The Gun Is Civilization" by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force.
If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.
In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a armed mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.
People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.
The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.
When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force.
It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

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