Coverage of the Newtown tragedy and its aftermath has been generally abysmal. In fact, I have never seen the “liberal media” conform to right-wing caricatures of itself with such alacrity. I have read articles in which literally everything said about firearms and ballistics has been wrong. I have heard major newscasters mispronounce the names of every weapon and weapons manufacturer more challenging than “Colt.” I can only imagine the mirth it has brought gun-rights zealots to see “automatic” and “semi-automatic” routinely confused, or to hear a major news anchor ominously declare that the shooter had been armed with a “Sig Sauzer” pistol. This has been more than embarrassing. It has offered a thousand points of proof that “liberal elites” don’t know anything about what matters when bullets start flying....
Most liberals responded derisively to the NRA’s suggestion that having armed and vetted men and women in our schools could save lives. Some pointed to a public-service announcement put out by the city of Houston (funded by the Department of Homeland Security), in which the possibility of having guns on the scene was never discussed. Several commentators held up this training video in support of the creed “More guns are not the answer.” Please take a few minutes to watch this footage. Then try to imagine how a few armed civilians could respond during an attack of this kind. To help your imagination along, watch this short video, in which a motel clerk carrying a concealed weapon shoots an armed robber. The situation isn’t perfectly analogous—the wisdom of using deadly force in what might be only a robbery is at least debatable. But is it really so difficult to believe that the shooter might have been helpful during an incident of the sort depicted in Houston?
Unfortunately, after that very good start, he then hits the home stretch and goes badly awry with regards to the Second Amendment:
One of the greatest impediments to actually solving the riddle of guns in our society is the pious concern that many people have about the intent of the Second Amendment. It should hardly need to be said that despite its brilliance and utility, the Constitution of the United States was written by men who could not possibly have foreseen every change that would occur in American society in the ensuing centuries. Even if the Second Amendment guaranteed everyone the right to possess whatever weapon he or she desired (it doesn’t), we have since invented weapons that no civilian should be allowed to own. In fact, it can be easily argued that original intent of the Second Amendment had nothing to do with the right of self-defense—which remains the ethical case to be made for owning a firearm. The amendment seems to have been written to allow the states to check the power of the federal government by maintaining their militias. Given the changes that have occurred in our military, and even in our politics, the idea that a few pistols and an AR 15 in every home constitutes a necessary bulwark against totalitarianism is fairly ridiculous. If you believe that the armed forces of the United States might one day come for you—and you think your cache of small arms will suffice to defend you if they do—I’ve got a black helicopter to sell you.It never ceases to astonish me that a document written by a group of individuals who successfully engaged in an armed rebellion against their own government is so often interpreted to mean literally everything but what it quite clearly means. Harris reveals his customary ignorance of history here; I would recommend that he consider more closely the complete inability of the US military to confiscate the weaponry of the Afghan people and its relative vulnerability in the USA compared to its bases in Afghanistan.
I'd also recommend that he think hard about the obvious lesson of Oslo. The hundreds of thousands of caches of small arms throughout America will not suffice to defend any one individual from the armed forces of the United States, but then, what is defending the armed forces of the United States from millions of armed individuals?
Labels: gun control