I want to have guns because… (a critical thinking exericise)

Do you see something faulty in this account of three reasons one might want to have guns?

  1. I just want to have guns.
  2. I want to have guns because the Constitution gives me the right.
  3. I want to have guns so I can resist violations of the Constitution.

Take each in turn:

  1. -> Q: Why?
    • To protect myself against people who would harm me, especially with guns -> Q: What other forms of protection would suffice or do better?  (An elected government might provide some of these forms of protection.)
    • To be able to blast away others.  (An elected government should protect others by preventing this.)
    • To hunt -> Q: What is the minimum capacity gun that suffices for hunting? (An elected government might legislate this capacity as a limit to guns purchased.)
    • To resist an elected government if they do something I don’t like (including something I claim is against the Constitution).  -> Q: Would you ever rely on future elections and the Constitutional checks and balances to push back, without using guns, against what the government did?
  2. -> Q: Would giving everyone a simple, C18 militia-ready gun at age 18 (and controlling all other gun purchases) meet the requirement of 2nd amendment?
    • Yes.
    • No. In my view, this violates the Constitution.
    • No. In the view of the Courts, this violates the Constitution.
  3. ->Q: Who decides what violates the Constitution?
    • With respect to violations by elected governments, I accept that the Constitution provides for checks and balances. (If I didn’t, then I can’t appeal to rights provided by that same Constitution and I’d be back with #1 for why I want to have guns.)
    • Obviously, an invader or insurgency that overthrows the Constitutionally elected government violates the Constitution. However, if an elected government decides that the best defence against this possibility is through the military budget and diplomacy, not by endorsing individual gun ownership outside militias regulated by the government, then I would cease to invoke this possibility for why I want to have guns (even though I might get involved in elections to change the government or its policies). (If I kept invoking this possibility, then I would not be accepting the actions of the Constitutionally elected government, which means I’m not fully accepting the Constitution which would put me back with #1 for why I want to have guns.)

     

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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to I want to have guns because… (a critical thinking exericise)

  1. A short version of this thought piece might be to ask for evidence for or against the proposition that “What is the evidence that second amendment advocates support the rest of the Constitution?”

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