Defense through defenselessness–now I’ve heard everything

A BBC article today, “Deep divisions over US gun control,” describes a “clash of cultures” that defines the gun rights vs. “gun-control” debate. The article points out that this debate has gained relevance in light of the District of Columbia v. Heller case pending in the Supreme Court. The specific way the article words the argument used by advocates of restrictive gun laws is a bit different from most I have so far encountered. In describing the debate over the meaning of the Second Amendment:

Some experts say it implies a collective right to defence through gun control while others say it guarantees individual freedom.

“Defence [using their British spelling] through gun control”? Meaning, basically, defense via a mandate of defenselessness? I cannot help but have some serious doubts about the efficacy of such an approach, although I have to admit that, were the Department of Defense to implement such a methodology, budget deficits would cease rather quickly to be a problem.

Continuing with the “clash of cultures” theme:

“It’s a clash of cultures,” says constitutional law expert Professor Randy Barnett of the Georgetown University Law Center.

“It’s the culture of individual self-defence as a protection against crime versus the culture of collective defence brought to you by government police departments.

Defense brought to us by government police departments? So police do have an obligation to defend us? So the Supreme Court’s Gonzales v. Castle Rock decision, and countless similar decisions made by lower courts, are all wrong? Well that’s a relief–although of small comfort, I imagine, to the brutally raped and/or beaten survivors of attacks that the police failed to prevent, or to the families of the slain.

“On the one hand you have a culture of self-defence in which firearms enable us to protect ourselves. And on the other side, at least since the sixties, there has been a culture of using gun control to address the problem of violent crime.

And that approach by “the other side” has worked swimmingly, has it not? Just look at Washington D.C. and Chicago since the sixties.

“People who favour this think it’s absolutely essential there be controls on the rights of people to keep and bear arms or that people should be denied that right altogether in the interest of preventing crime.”

Yep, and if people think a fundamental human right of the individual should be denied, who are those stuffy old Framers of the Constitution to argue?

War on Guns discusses the same article, but focuses on a different aspect. It is, as always, compelling reading.

UPDATE: In a comment, I was (gently) taken to task by DW for coming across as being rather critical of Professor Randy Barnett (who was quoted in the article). That wasn’t my intention, but in hindsight, it does kind of look that way. Professor Barnett was quoted in the article summarizing the position of the citizen disarmament advocates. In trying to criticize that position, I did not make it very clear that I was not criticizing Professor Barnett, but the position he summarized (but didn’t endorse). My apologies.

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3 Responses to “Defense through defenselessness–now I’ve heard everything”

  1. dwlawson Says:

    I hope you aren’t castigating Prof Barnett. He wrote this, and for that is one of my heroes and one of the inspirations for wearethemilitia.org.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-barnett091801.shtml

  2. 45superman Says:

    I probably wasn’t adequately clear–it’s not Barnett I was criticizing. The position of the citizen disarmament advocates, though, as summarized by him, strikes me as bizarre.

    I’m not really in a position to comment on the accuracy of his summary of their position, though.

  3. GarandFan Says:

    Superman:

    I have a comment criticizing the DC Metro Police Department’s commander Michael Anzallo, regarding his statement: “The problem is easy access to firearms.”

    People like Anzallo have extremely short memories, especially when it’s convenient to them. Regarding this “new problem” of “easy access to firearms”…

    See the following passage from: Polsby, Daniel D. and Don B. Kates. 1997. Of Holocausts and Gun Control. Washington University Law Quarterly 75 (3): 1237-75. http://ls.wustl.edu/WULQ/75-3/753-4.html

    Undeniably, the murder rate in this country (both perpetration and victimization) increased rapidly among teenagers, especially among minorities, from 1983 to 1992. However, firearms are not “more accessible” to today’s adolescents than they were to yesterday’s. In fact, until 1968 anyone in this country could readily mail-order Army surplus .45 automatic pistols, German Lugers, high-powered semi-automatic rifles, or even trench mortars and bazookas, along with ammunition for all. Munitions of all sorts other than fully automatic weapons (which have been banned since the mid-1930s) could be purchased anonymously by anyone who would check a box on a mailing coupon that said “I am 21 years old or older.” Despite this laisser faire regime, in the twenty years following the end of World War II, America’s crime rates, including its murder rate, were much lower than today.

    Also undeniably, this notion that “the problem is easy access to firearms” falls flat on it’s face.

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