Index Home About Blog
Newsgroups: talk.politics.guns,alt.rush-limbaugh,alt.politics.clinton,
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: Comment on Phil Hartmann
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 18:29:06 GMT

In article <>, Ford <>
> >If I had as my purpose a trip from Tampa to St. Louis, I'd feel
> >better having a set of car keys (and the car to go with them) than
> >a Mossberg 12 gauge pump.  Please *try* to focus on the important
> >stuff -- the *principles* behind the reasoning.
> I see where you're coming from, but as a gun owner and supporter of
> the 2nd amendment why should I stoop to the rather foolish argument
> comparing guns to cars to anything on the planet as being a potential
> weapon.

It's a "foolish argument" if the topic at hand is the civil rights
issue.  But that's *not* the only issue that matters.  I agree with
you that it is the only one necessary.  I have stated numerous times
that even if gun availability *were* proven to be a significant cause
of violent crime in American society, that this fact alone would not
justify disarming law-abiding and criminal Americans alike, and that a
third way would have to be found, because the Second Amendment, like
the rest of the Constitution, does not become invalid as soon as it
becomes inconvenient.

The "everything can be a weapon" argument is still an important one.
The classic line on this was Archie Bunker's response to his daughter
when she lamented the number of people killed by handguns:  "Would
you feel better if they was pushed out of windows, little girl?"

The problem with arguing this stuff is that anti-gunners don't think
real clearly, and even they themselves aren't sure just what they
mean when they say, "Guns are bad," or "Guns kill XXX children every
day [year/month/etc.]."  Lumping accidents, homicides and suicides
in together obscures the real issues and prevents us from assessing
just *what* the true cost of this bit of freedom really is.  Again,
I agree with you that freedom is worth the cost, but in this case
it turns out that the "cost" really isn't very high after all.

So, if someone comes in here and says that it's wrong for 25,000
people to die just so Americans can own guns, they are making a lot of
assumptions that need to be addressed, and the car / pool / knife
illustrations can strip away a lot of those bogus assumptions quickly
and effectively.  If you're prepared to ban gun ownership because 200
or 300 children a year are killed in gun accidents, you had better be
prepared to explain why you'd still allow swimming pools (much less
useful, more purely "sporting") in the face of many, many times that
number of deaths.  Why is someone's right to go swimming more
important than my right to go target shooting?  Being confronted with
this inconsistency has a way of persuading the intellectually honest
anti-gunner that perhaps he needs to rethink his position.  Again,
I've seen it work.

> Cars are manufactured for the purpose of transportation, guns are
> manufactured with their primary purpose being to kill, and there's not
> a damn thing wrong with that.

I'm glad you don't think there's anything wrong with that, but the
statement is still patently false.  I have known maybe 5,000 or 10,000
car owners, and not a single one has ever failed to use his car for
transportation.  I have known maybe 200 gun owners, not a single one
has ever killed or intended to kill anyone.  That's a funny way to
fulfill one's "purpose."

Also, I don't know of a single car available to the general public
whose primary purpose is *other* than transportation.  But there are a
hell of a lot of guns on the market whose design clearly favors sport
shooting over lethality.  If not, why would anyone ever make a .22

Guns are generally -- not universally -- designed as effective killing
tools, but that's not the same thing as saying their "primary purpose"
is killing, any more than the "primary purpose" of a knife is killing.
If I wanted to murder someone in cold blood, and get away with it, I
wouldn't even consider using a firearm in my plans.  Firearms probably
wouldn't even be in my top ten tools, up there with gasoline, knives,
poisons, bombs and yes, even cars, depending on the constraints of the
problem space.

If I wound up in a situation in which I wanted to kill someone and
didn't care whether I got away with it, firearms would probably jump
back to the top of the list, though.  Whole different problem.

>   The second amendment is a good enough argument for me.

I'm glad.  It's good enough for me, too.  But it can be repealed, and
God knows it can sure as hell be circumvented (we see this more and
more these days).  Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and all
that.  If I have to spend energy convincing people that they have
exaggerated the negatives of private firearms ownership in the US, and
ignored the positives, then the Second Amendment will be that much
stronger in the face of the constant assaults to which it is
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

Index Home About Blog