July 23, 2019

Gun statistics are irrelevant to the 2nd Amendment

640px-Weapons_confiscated_from_the_Kosovo_Liberation_Army_(1999)TAMPA, December 13, 2013 – The Washington Post is at it again. Days before the one year anniversary of the murders at Sandy Hook, the Post is running another piece asking readers “What’s your gun number? Share your gun story.”

Citing statistics is a central plank in the liberal war on private gun ownership. CNN host Piers Morgan began several televised “debates” with gun ownership proponents by asking them if they knew statistics on gun violence or gun-related deaths. It was partly just a ploy to try to catch his opponent without an answer and make him seem uninformed. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes not, but nobody gave him the right answer.

Statistics are irrelevant to the 2nd Amendment.

The 2nd Amendment protects each individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Even the Supreme Court agrees, its abysmal record protecting individual rights notwithstanding. An individual’s right cannot be infringed as a result of what someone else did. It can only be infringed as a result of what that individual did. That’s why we don’t choose people at random for prosecution when a robbery is committed. An investigation is made to determine the specific individual who committed the crime, so he or she can be tried and sentenced.

That’s why we have a 5th Amendment requiring due process. No individual can be punished unless it’s proven that individual committed a crime.

The statistics actually don’t support the gun grabbers anyway. The FBI website’s latest statistics show that violent crime in general continued to plummet from 2008 to 2012, amidst record gun sales. Murders were similarly down over the period, with the FBI reporting 12,765 in 2012. 8,855 were committed with firearms.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population clock listed the population of the United States at 317,233,035 at the time of this writing. Assuming that each of the murders committed with a firearm in 2012 was committed by a different person, .00279 percent of the population murdered someone with a firearm that year. In response, gun control advocates want to infringe the rights of the 99.720 percent of the population that did not commit a murder with a firearm.

As absurd as that may seem, it really wouldn’t matter if the numbers were reversed. If 317 million people committed murder with a firearm in 2012, the remaining 8,855 would still retain their right to bear arms. That’s how individual rights work. They’re individual.

Unlike economic freedom or privacy, this is one area where the advancing state seems to be losing. As confused as he might be on individual rights and the role of government, the average 21st century American seems to retain some latent common sense about the right to bear arms. Every time anti-gun propaganda intensifies, gun sales skyrocket.

Let’s hope that trend continues.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Why conservatives lost the gun control debate

TAMPA, March 18, 2013 – Conservatives believe they’ve won the gun control debate because they expect any new restrictions on gun ownership to be relatively minor. That doesn’t really jibe with their position that gun ownership was already too restricted before the Sandy Hook shootings, but that is the way things go in America. Both sides declare victory, the government gets a little bigger and more intrusive, and the next debate starts from there.

The underlying problem is that neither conservatives nor liberals truly believe in inherent, inalienable rights. Americans think conservatives do, but that doesn’t jibe with any of their arguments on gun control (or anything else). Conservatives believe that rights come from the government or long tradition, not from nature.

No one who believes that the right to defend one’s own life is inherent and inalienable would rely so heavily on the existence of the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms exists regardless of whether there ever was a 2ndAmendment to the U.S. Constitution. It exists regardless of the American Revolution or the 800 or so years of British tradition that preceded it.

Read the rest of the article at Liberty Pulse…

Even convicted felons have a right to bear arms

TAMPA, January 11, 2013 ― Supposedly, a philosophical debate is going on between “right and left” over the natural right to keep and bear arms. As usual, both sides are wrong.

The right to keep and bear arms is inseparable from the right to life. Here in the real world, arming oneself is the only practical way to exercise the right to life, which is properly defined as the right not to be killed by another human being.

Banning guns removes an individual’s ability to exercise the right to life. It places his life at the discretion of anyone who would take it away. Life is no longer a right, but a privilege, exercised at the discretion of criminals. Sometimes, the criminals wear government costumes.

When is this ever justified?

The only reasonable answer would be when an individual has wrongfully taken the life of another person. Even then there is room for an argument. If manslaughter does not carry a lifetime prison sentence, why does the perpetrator permanently surrender his right to life?

There is no justification for prohibiting gun ownership for virtually any other crime. Perhaps egregious assaults or child molestation also qualify, but that is still a tiny percentage of the population.

Even conservatives cast the net far wider. Standard conservative talking points go something like this. “We defend the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding citizens who are not mentally ill to keep and bear arms.”

Virtually every word of this statement is wrong. And this is the “pro-gun” side.

First, there are no such things as “2nd Amendment rights” or “Constitutional rights.” Rights do not come from the Constitution. They existed before it. They exist regardless of the creation of any government, anywhere. They are endowed by our Creator, as our founding document states. They cannot be taken away. They cannot be voted away, not even by democratically-elected representatives.

Even Barack Obama supposedly believes this. He said so in his nomination acceptance speech.

By “law abiding citizens,” conservatives mean anyone who hasn’t been convicted of what the government calls a “felony.” The problem is that the government calls virtually everything a felony and they designate more innocuous behavior as felonious every day.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are currently over 2 million people incarcerated in the United States. It is unknown how many U.S. citizens alive today have ever been convicted of a felony, but that number must be in the tens of millions. No matter how long ago that was, those people are prohibited from owning firearms.

Martha Stewart was convicted of lying about whether or not she committed the non-crime of insider trading. What reasonable person could argue that because of this she should spend the rest of her life at the mercy of anyone who decides to invade her home or attack her on the street?

Ms. Stewart is to some extent a bad example. She has the financial means to hire armed bodyguards to protect her and her home and still comply with the law. Most convicted felons do not have this luxury.

Neither have most convicted felons ever harmed another human being. Two thirds of the U.S. prison population is incarcerated for non-violent offenses, about half of them for drug offenses.

For most of these people, there is no justification for incarcerating them in the first place, much less for violating their most basic rights for the rest of their lives.

Even the qualification that the individual not be “mentally ill” is bogus. It is true that the ability to reason is a prequalification for liberty, but it is not up to any bureaucrat to determine whether someone is mentally ill. The burden of proof that someone is mentally unfit to exercise their basic rights falls upon the accuser, not the accused. A person must demonstrate mental incapacity by some overt act and their incapacity must be proven before talk of violating their rights occurs.

If we allow the government to start requiring people to prove they are not mentally ill, they will achieve their gun ban without firing a legislative shot. Some have already called Tea Party or Occupy protestors “terrorists.” It won’t be a stretch for them to decree that certain political positions constitute “mental illness.” Ever been diagnosed with ADHD as a child in a government school? Someday you will be on the list, too.

If conservatives represent the strongest defense of the right to keep and bear arms, the debate is already over. They are nothing more than “Progressive Light” on this issue, as they are on most others.

Throughout human history, one chief identifying characteristic of the slave has been that he is unarmed. Free people keep and bear arms. Slaves are prohibited from doing so. Virtually every American, including most convicted felons, should have the opportunity to purchase and carry the firearm of their choice.

Don’t let politicians or their media partners define the debate. The 2nd Amendment is the last vestige of American freedom.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The Newtown tragedy should not prompt a “national discussion”

TAMPA, Fl, December 26, 2012 ― Perhaps 21st century Americans are not worthy of liberty. Reason is a prequalification of liberty, and Americans don’t demonstrate the ability to exercise it at all, at least not in a political context. It may be time to admit that a century of “progressive” education has transformed Americans into a herd of dependent, unthinking sheep.

Any person capable of even the most elementary reasoning would immediately conclude that not only shouldn’t the Newtown tragedy prompt a national discussion, but that there is no such thing as a “national discussion” in the first place.

Do Americans really believe that the 300 million people occupying this nation are actually participating in a discussion?

During the Republican primaries, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich often referred to “having a conversation with the country.” I assumed that I was not alone in rolling my eyes. Any lucid person would assume that Gingrich was either delusional, insincere or both to even suggest that any “conversation” he could participate in actually involved the wishes or interests of every individual in the country.

If most Americans believe there is a “national conversation” going on about guns, a reason to have one or even the possibility that one could be had, we’re in deep trouble. This is all just a well-orchestrated show to herd Americans to a place where they will accept being disarmed without raising too much fuss.

The debate is already framed. “Something must be done.” Now “we’re” just bickering about what that will be.

Think for a moment how idiotic this is. It is suggested that we pass a law that affects 300 million people because of the actions of a solitary lunatic. It’s happened before? So what? You could fit every person that has committed a similar crime during the past fifty years into the kitchen of a Greenwich Village apartment. Somehow we’re to believe that the actions of these few have some relevance to the rights of hundreds of millions.

The math doesn’t work.

Yet, this is only a secondary and utilitarian argument for rejecting gun control. The most important is that keeping and bearing whatever arms one wishes is a right, not a privilege. It is not granted by the 2nd Amendment. That amendment merely attempts to ensure that the right it refers to is not violated by the government.

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Feinstein’s assault weapons ban would abolish the 2nd Amendment

TAMPA, December 18, 2012 –U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has vowed to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons nationwide, similar to existing legislation in California. In doing so, she will effectively abolish yet another of the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

To many, Feinstein’s argument might sound very reasonable. She isn’t looking to ban all guns. “The purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said, weapons of war off the streets of our cities,” the senator told Meet the Press.

Having weapons of war on the streets is the whole point of the 2nd Amendment. The amendment wasn’t drafted to ensure that Americans could hunt. It wasn’t drafted so that Americans could protect themselves, although the natural right to defend one’s life was never as compromised as it is in the modern gun control era.

Like most of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment was drafted to prevent an abuse of power that American colonists had suffered under the British. The 4th Amendment was passed with Writs of Assistance in mind. Lexington and Concord inspired the 2nd.

The left loves to reduce the American Revolution to one issue: taxation without representation. That works for well for their agenda, because they can then say, “Well, you’re represented, so now we can tax the living daylights out of you.”

It wasn’t that simple, of course. There were many long term and short term causes for the American secession from Great Britain. But the straw that broke the camel’s back, the most immediate cause for armed resistance, was the British attempt to disarm the colonists.

That’s why the British marched to Concord. That’s the only reason the colonists cared where they were marching.

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The rights to life and to keep and bear arms are inseparable

TAMPA, December 16, 2012 ― The right to keep and bear arms is not granted to Americans in the U.S. Constitution, nor in the “Bill of Rights.” The right to keep and bear arms is a natural right, inextricably linked to the right to life.

The 2nd Amendment recognizes this. It does not say the right “shall be granted.” It assumes the right already exists and says it “shall not be infringed.”

All rights are negative. We do not have a positive right to anything. Rights merely prohibit other people from aggressing against us. If someone is struck by lightning and killed, we feel bad about it, but we do not say his right to life was violated. Neither do we say so if he is eaten by a lion.

The right to life is very narrowly defined as the right not to be killed by another human being, other than in self-defense. The only way to exercise this right is to defend oneself if attacked. There is no other circumstance in which the “right to life” has any meaning.

Given that an aggressor may have weapons or may be a more capable fighter, individuals must be able to arm themselves sufficiently to overcome these disadvantages in order to exercise their right to life.

Natural rights preexist government. They exist in what Enlightenment philosophers called “the state of nature,” which is the state without government. These thinkers had different ideas about nature and society, but all agreed on one thing. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.

John Locke’s “Essay Concerning the true origin, extent and end of Civil Government (1690)” inspired the entire American philosophy, according to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson thought it so important that posterity understand this that he had a resolution passed to proclaim it.

This was due to the important differences between Locke’s philosophy and others. Unlike Rousseau, who claimed that when joining society man had to agree to “the total alienation of all of his natural rights,” Locke said that man entered society to preserve those rights. That’s why the Declaration of Independence says that certain rights are inalienable.

The only rights that man gives up upon entering society is the right to judge his own case in a dispute and to enforce that judgment. These he gives up to the government in return for the superior protection of his life, liberty and property the government supposedly provides.

However, these powers only pertain to crimes that occurred in the past. The government has no power over the future or the present. It cannot prosecute someone for a crime that he will commit tomorrow and it cannot protect the individual from a crime occurring right now.

Therefore, the individual retains the right to defend himself against aggression occurring in the present, even after giving up other powers to the government. Locke is very clear about this:

“Thus a thief, whom I cannot harm, but by appeal to the law, for having stolen all that I am worth, I may kill, when he sets on me to rob me but of my horse or coat; because the law, which was made for my preservation, where it cannot interpose to secure my life from present force, which, if lost, is capable of no reparation, permits me my own defence, and the right of war, a liberty to kill the aggressor, because the aggressor allows not time to appeal to our common judge…” [emphasis added]

Reason inevitably leads to this conclusion. The right to keep and bear arms exists in nature and is never given up in any social contract, because no government is able to defend its citizen in the present.

This also clears up a common misconception. Since the government is unable to defend you in the present, it is not true that by surrendering the right to bear arms you place care of your life in the hands of the government. You must be placing it elsewhere.

Since it no longer resides in you either, the care of your life must now reside in your attacker.

This is not some theoretical exercise only true in a classroom or lecture hall. This was the very real situation that defenseless teachers and children found themselves in on Friday. The school was a “gun-free zone,” meaning all who entered it agreed to surrender their right to keep and bear arms.

The government didn’t defend them because it couldn’t. The government was only able to respond after the attack commenced. The only one able to make a decision whether they lived or died was Adam Lanza.

One would think tragedies like this and in other gun-free zones like the City of Aurora, Colorado, Ft. Hood or Columbine High School would have taught Americans a very clear lesson. Do not put the lives of our children and their teachers into the hands of homicidal maniacs.

Instead, the hue and cry is for precisely the opposite. Not only should schoolchildren be deprived of their right to life, but all of society.

Locke called any social contract where the individual accepts even worse protection of his life and property than he had in the state of nature “too gross an absurdity for any man to own.” He would call most reactions to this latest school shooting downright insane.

*This article originally appeared in Washington Times Communities

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

How Can Conservatives Support Sanctions Against Iran?

Many have decried that the so-called “liberal left” has abandoned its anti-war stance and thrown its support behind President Obama’s intent to impose sanctions on Iran. As the reason for the sanctions is Iran’s supposed pursuit of nuclear weapons, the left actually remains more philosophically consistent than the right. Liberals have always attacked the natural right of self defense, usually as it manifests itself in the individual right  to keep and bear arms. They have also traditionally supported large-scale warfare, as long as the war was started by a member of their party. Remember that U.S. involvement in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and Viet Nam was initiated in each case by a liberal Democratic president with the support of a Democratic majority in Congress. There is nothing out-of-character about liberals supporting President Obama’s war agenda with Iran.

What is harder to understand is how conservatives can defend the 2nd Amendment and still support these sanctions, given the stated reason for their imposition. As a sovereign nation, Iran could make all of the same arguments regarding their right to develop nuclear weapons as conservatives make regarding the individual right to keep and bear arms. Iran lives in a world in which many of its neighbors possess nuclear weapons. In the event of a nuclear attack against Iran, there is nothing the “international community” can do until it is too late, just as there is nothing the police can do for an individual at the moment he is attacked by an aggressor. Like any potential mugging victim, Iran is much safer armed with a deterrent than at the mercy of those who wish her harm.

Liberals often argue for gun controls or bans based upon what an armed civilian might do with a weapon. Conservatives correctly argue there is not justice in using government force against people because of “what they might do.” Until an individual actually commits some form of aggression, conservatives  argue it is no one’s right to infringe upon another’s right to keep and bear arms. This certainly applies equally to nations in relation to one another. How can conservatives deny this right to Iran?

Liberals make the argument that the world is safer without handguns and so oppose them indiscriminately for everyone except government employees. Conservatives correctly argue an armed citizenry is much safer against criminals than an unarmed one. They remind us that every known statistic shows neighborhoods under stricter gun controls have a higher incidence of violent crime, because the criminals still have guns and  know law abiding citizens are helpless. Conservatives understand this implicitly in terms of individuals, but it completely eludes them when applied to the relationships between nations. They also fail to recognize that history supports this argument: the only nuclear attack in human history was perpetrated by a nuclear-armed nation against one that did not possess nuclear weapons.

Conservatives make the argument that to deny Iran the right to develop nuclear weapons is not the same as disarming them. They would still be “allowed” to retain a conventional military force. How ironic this argument is coming from conservatives, who become red in the face when liberals argue that they are not violating the 2nd amendment by limiting the types of firearms that civilians can carry or by banning “assault weapons (is there another kind?).” Conservatives recognize that the word “allow” has no place in the same conversation when discussing a right, including the right to keep and bear arms.

Denying one individual or group the right to keep weapons relatively equal to those possessed by his peers nullifies his ability to effectively defend himself. Conservatives routinely make this argument, saying law abiding citizens need weapons of comparable fire power to the average gang-banger. Otherwise, the poorly armed citizen is still at a disadvantage against the well-armed criminal.

Their reasoning is sound. Why does it not apply to Iran? To deny Iran’s right to possess weaponry equal to that of any other sovereign nation – especially those that habitually threaten her – is to deny Iranians their right to provide for their own defense.

Conservatives respond that Iran is a “rogue nation” and therefore cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. This is nothing more than cultural bias which is flatly refuted by reality. During the past 200 years, Iran has never invaded another country or initiated military force against anyone. Beyond the 1979 hostage crisis, they have burned a few U.S. flags and said some very nasty things about the U.S. and Israel. Otherwise, they have been content to screw up their own country and leave the rest of the world alone.

In contrast, the United States has invaded doezens of nations in just the past 50 years and has committed direct acts of war against Iran, including overthrowing their democratically-elected government and installing an American puppet in its place. When Iran responded by deposing the Shah and taking U.S. hostages, the U.S. waged a decade-long proxy war against Iran through another of its puppets, Saddam Hussein.

This is not to condone Iran’s seizure of civilian hostages in 1979. Violence against civilians is never justified. But given that the hostages were returned relatively unharmed just over a year after their capture, the U.S. government’s conduct at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and secret prisons throughout the world seems to overshadow Iran’s “rogueness” in this area rather considerably. Using the “rogue nation” standard, there is a long list of nations that should be sanctioned ahead of Iran, starting with our own.

Conservatives  recognize the right of self defense is the foundation of freedom and equality. They understand that if all men are created equal, there is no justification for one person to deny to another the right to defend themselves, nor to deny another person the right to determine for themselves what weapons are necessary to that end. In order to defend themselves against aggression by other nations, individuals delegate that aspect of self defense to their government’s military force. Based on the same principles as our own Constitution, this is as much their right as the individual right to keep and bear arms. As in the case of individuals, no nation has a right to decide for another what weapons it will keep for that purpose.

The people of Iran as a sovereign nation have all of the same rights that the people of the United States. It is not for the United States to decide what weapons Iran possesses any more than it is Iran’s place to decide what weapons the United States possesses. One would have to employ the most convoluted logic imaginable to arrive at any other conclusion.

The United States was born defending the right to keep and bear arms, a fact  glossed over when American history is taught in public schools. Despite the “intolerable” taxes, quartering of troops, monetary manipulation, and a host of other offenses by their government, the American colonists did not fire upon their own troops until those troops attempted to disarm them. The colonists recognized that if they were disarmed they were no longer free. Why would Iran think any differently?

The United States government claims to be promoting freedom in the Middle East. These sanctions demonstrate it has forgotten about what freedom really is. In order for Iraq, Iran, or any other Middle Eastern nation to be free, they must be recognized as equals by the other nations of the world, with all of the same rights that equals are entitled to. The most important right is the right of self preservation, often called the “first law of nature.” Until we recognize Iran in this way, we will be in a perpetual state of war with her, with nothing to gain and so much to lose. It is time to stop playing emperor with Iran and start practicing what we preach. Liberals have always been confused about the relationship between self defense and freedom, but conservatives should know better than to deny Iran’s right to keep and bear arms.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.