How Far Does the Right to Bear Arms Extend

I know a few anti-gun zealots who would like the populace to be completely unarmed. I cannot help but completely disagree with them. I am not a gun control advocate and like most Americans I think law abiding people should be free to have guns, knives, swords ect. for the purposes of self-defense, hunting, and peaceful recreation.

At the same time so many of my fellow American’s are happy to point the second amendment of the constitution and declare it to be absolute, at the mere suggestion that we restrict peoples ability to buy assault weapons or high capacity ammunition magazine. In fact, I suspect some of these types would actually favor the government subsidizing guns for everyone. I tend to be put off by both sides in the gun debate, as more often than not absolutist gun nuts and gun abolitionist nuts both seem to be driven more by ideological rigidity, than a willingness to examine the issue.

I recognize that in practice the second amendment is not considered absolute by the majority of people on either side. Most gun rights advocates will not argue that the second amendment does not grant ordinary Americans the right to own land to air missiles, weaponized anthrax, rocket propelled grenades, apache helicopters or nuclear bombs. For better or worse, most actually see it as a good thing that the government maintains a monopoly on these arms, and these people are not often accused of being inconsistent. There seems to be some sort of unspoken agreement that the line between what weapons we do or don’t have the right to own needs to be drawn somewhere. The question is, how do we determine where?

Perhaps it is the case that things like assault rifles are close to the line that is to be drawn. Or perhaps there is no line, and we really should be allow ordinary people to run around with tanks and cruise missiles. One friend of mine suggested that we will inevitably draw the line where the supreme court justice with the best bullshiting skills says we should. So I’ll ask our readers: how far does the right to bear arms extend?

Also, since I have quite many people I would like to think that many of my readers have at least some voluntarist or libertarian leanings, I would imagine that many of you do not recognize the right of any state to crackdown on even the most dangerous weapons stock piles.  I have to ask how does a free society defend itself from people stock piling weapons of mass destruction to hold the rest of society hostage, if these people are presumably free to do so?

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6 Responses to How Far Does the Right to Bear Arms Extend

  1. 3boxesofbs says:

    I have to ask how does a free society defend itself from people stock piling weapons of mass destruction to hold the rest of society hostage, if these people are presumably free to do so?

    First I would ask is there really a need to do so? And Second, I would ask would the laws against such stockpile really stop someone bent on evil?

    Any measure of statistic or evidence available indicates an incredibly small number of people doing the vast majority of crime. Both firearm related and not; so do we really have to fear the average Joe or Jane having a high power ‘assault’ weapon?
    Evidence says no.

    Second; let’s look at history. Has ‘gun control’ ever made the average person safer anywhere in the world?
    Has prohibiting an item really stopped the trade in that item?
    Alcohol Prohibition in the ’20s? The War on (Some) Drugs in the last 3 decades?

    No, drugs now days are not only cheaper but more potent and more widely available then ever.

    Lastly, the limits of the 2nd? Easy

    What ever our government could conceivably use against the people should be legal for the people to own.
    Another way of looking at it; what ever the government uses is what the militia — the body of the people — should be allowed to possess so that the militia can support the military.

    Bob S.
    3 Boxes of BS

    • Mr. Wilson says:

      Thanks Bob. Here is my response to the questions you raise:

      “First I would ask is there really a need to do so?”

      I’m just guessing, from your response that you live some place in the developed world where religiously motivated suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism and violence are not common place. Realizing that these are common phenomenon in many places illustrates to me that there is in fact a need to defend against this type of thing. As technology becomes more available and user friendly it does seem to me that would be terrorists will have access to increasingly more dangerous weapons. While, I do not know the best way to defend against this eventuality, it does strike me as something that there will be an a need for in the foreseeable future.

      “I would ask would the laws against such stockpile really stop someone bent on evil?”

      Probably in some cases. To be honest I do not know how many would-be terrorist were dissuaded or caught because some wing of the state monitors these things. Of course, it does seem to me that if there are enough would-be stockpilers out there such rules may become unenforceable, and I acknowledge that enforcement of such rules, may well undermine the ability of regular people to defend themselves and will serve to empower the state, which are both undesirable from my perspective. As such I am not arguing for the state policing weaponry, but asking what some realistic alternatives are.

      You say “Both firearm related and not; so do we really have to fear the average Joe or Jane having a high power ‘assault’ weapon?
      Evidence says no.”

      I have to disagree an average Joe firing into a crowd of people can do a lot of damage and this not to underscore the damage that suicide bombers are able to cause. So yes, I think a crazed average Joe with assault weapon or a bomb strapped to him is something we should be concerned with mitigating the threat of. I again am not saying I know how to do this, just it strikes me as a problem I would rather here solutions to, than dismissals of.

      “Has ‘gun control’ ever made the average person safer anywhere in the world?”

      To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that question, and I figure that issues like safety in various societies have several factors that contribute to them. I would say that anyone arguing for gun control has burden of proof, which I have not seen met, which is why I am not a gun control advocate. That said, if hypothetically someone could demonstrate to you that gun can or does make a people safer under some circumstances, would you change position on it, in those circumstances? Or is it a position you are willing to hold regardless of any empirical evidence?

      “Has prohibiting an item really stopped the trade in that item?”

      I largely agree with you on this point and oppose prohibitionist policies for those reasons.

      “What ever our government could conceivably use against the people should be legal for the people to own.”

      I question how much sense that makes. Governments could conceivably use weapons, against their own people that have no other purpose than killing large numbers of civilians, such as nuclear bombs. It does not seem to me that resisting tyranny should involve techniques like mass murdering people who are not actually involved in the tyranny. Furthermore, someone who has such a weapon is a clear threat to all those around him.

      That said, I take your answer to mean, that ordinary people should be able to have nuclear weapons, long distance missiles and what have you and that you are not here offering voluntarist alternative ways of keeping such threats in check??

      • 3boxesofbs says:

        You ask what are “ome realistic alternatives are.” and yet give answers that seem to indicate there are few if any ‘realistic alternatives”.

        At the same time, you point to only the state as being able to provide security instead of the individuals. Doesn’t make much sense to me; the countries most effected by suicide bombings seems to the one with restrictive arms control laws.

        I have to ask how does a free society defend itself from people stock piling weapons of mass destruction to hold the rest of society hostage, if these people are presumably free to do so?

        This is the crux of our differences — you see just the stockpiling as a reason for the state to “crack down on people doing so’ and I strongly believe that the state as no power to act until harm is done.

        Does it matter if I have a single shot pistol or a nuclear weapon; until I plan on or actually use it for harm; why should any government or society do a darn thing to me?

        You own chemicals, common ordinary household chemicals, whinch can be combined into dangerous explosives or create gases; do you consider yourself a danger to society?

        Under your vision, it seems the state should crack down on you because you could possibly harm thousands — Nice knowing you, write to me from prison eh.

      • Dom Vasta says:

        The average Joe or Jane Doe is not a criminal, sure there are crazy people, but they will do evil with whatever they can get their hands on, be it fertilizer bombs, assault rifles or boxcutters on an airplane.

  2. Mr. Wilson says:

    In response to 3boxesofBS?

    “You ask what are “ome realistic alternatives are.” and yet give answers that seem to indicate there are few if any ‘realistic alternatives” ”

    That is why I am asking the question to my readers, in hope that they will provide an alternative that I am unaware of.

    “Doesn’t make much sense to me; the countries most effected by suicide bombings seems to the one with restrictive arms control laws.”

    Could you provide a source for this? It seems plausible to me, but I’d like more information on this claim. It seems likely to me that even if you are correct, that there is a big difference between having restrictive laws and actually being able to enforce them. I would not be surprised if it is the case that the law enforcement agencies of countries high numbers of suicide bombers have their hands a bit tied up. Of course this also, asks the question, what of the would be suicide bomber’s right to bear arms? Should one have an inalienable right to enter a crowded bus or theater with a large explosive devise trapped to his or her body?

    You seem to misunderstanding where I am coming from, I am do not like the idea of the state “cracking down” on anyone for nonviolent acts, and that is why I am looking for alternatives to this. This is not “my vision” and I am not trying to advocate any position. While I recognize that your position, that one should be allowed to assemble atomic weapons in his own house, is consistent with the libertarian approach I take elsewhere on this blog, it does seem to me that a person assembling atomic weapons in his own home can be considered enough of a clear and present danger to his neighbors that preventing him from doing so could and possibly should be considered an act of self-defense on their part. Just saying.

  3. TJ says:

    boy no one will rop a nuke if they can’t get it into the air

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