Friday, January 25, 2013

Gun Laws and Polish Jokes

David Mamet is among my favorite playwrights and screenwriters and he is responsible for many of the best films of the last 30 or so years. "Glengarry Glen Ross" is the title you are probably most familiar with, but he also had his hand on such classics as "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "The Untouchables" (bad acting, great writing) and "The Winslow Boy".

I've mentioned David Mamet before on this blog making reference to his brilliant book "The Secret Knowledge" which chronicles his coming to, rather late in life, conservatism and the conflicts found in that relative to his personal background and the professional circles that he resides within. If you haven't read that book, I highly recommend it. It's fascinating even if you don't agree with his conclusions.

Mamet recently penned an essay on the topic of "Gun Control". As one might expect, it's pitch perfect and I'd like you to read it.

Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm


The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so. 

By David Mamet. 

Karl Marx summed up Communism as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” This is a good, pithy saying, which, in practice, has succeeded in bringing, upon those under its sway, misery, poverty, rape, torture, slavery, and death.  

For the saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia. The agency is called “The State,” and the motto, fleshed out, for the benefit of the easily confused must read “The State will take from each according to his ability: the State will give to each according to his needs.” “Needs and abilities” are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to “the State shall take, the State shall give.”

All of us have had dealings with the State, and have found, to our chagrin, or, indeed, terror, that we were not dealing with well-meaning public servants or even with ideologues but with overworked, harried bureaucrats. These, as all bureaucrats, obtain and hold their jobs by complying with directions and suppressing the desire to employ initiative, compassion, or indeed, common sense. They are paid to follow orders.

Rule by bureaucrats and functionaries is an example of the first part of the Marxist equation: that the Government shall determine the individual’s abilities.

As rules by the Government are one-size-fits-all, any governmental determination of an individual’s abilities must be based on a bureaucratic assessment of the lowest possible denominator. The government, for example, has determined that black people (somehow) have fewer abilities than white people, and, so, must be given certain preferences. Anyone acquainted with both black and white people knows this assessment is not only absurd but monstrous. And yet it is the law.

President Obama, in his reelection campaign, referred frequently to the “needs” of himself and his opponent, alleging that each has more money than he “needs.”

But where in the Constitution is it written that the Government is in charge of determining “needs”? And note that the president did not say “I have more money than I need,” but “You and I have more than we need.” Who elected him to speak for another citizen?

It is not the constitutional prerogative of the Government to determine needs. One person may need (or want) more leisure, another more work; one more adventure, another more security, and so on. It is this diversity that makes a country, indeed a state, a city, a church, or a family, healthy. “One-size-fits-all,” and that size determined by the State has a name, and that name is “slavery.”

The Founding Fathers, far from being ideologues, were not even politicians. They were an assortment of businessmen, writers, teachers, planters; men, in short, who knew something of the world, which is to say, of Human Nature. Their struggle to draft a set of rules acceptable to each other was based on the assumption that we human beings, in the mass, are no damned good—that we are biddable, easily confused, and that we may easily be motivated by a Politician, which is to say, a huckster, mounting a soapbox and inflaming our passions.

The Constitution’s drafters did not require a wag to teach them that power corrupts: they had experienced it in the person of King George. The American secession was announced by reference to his abuses of power: “He has obstructed the administration of Justice … he has made Judges dependant on his will alone … He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws … He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass out people and to eat out their substance … imposed taxes upon us without our consent… [He has] fundamentally altered the forms of our government.”

This is a chillingly familiar set of grievances; and its recrudescence was foreseen by the Founders. They realized that King George was not an individual case, but the inevitable outcome of unfettered power; that any person or group with the power to tax, to form laws, and to enforce them by arms will default to dictatorship, absent the constant unflagging scrutiny of the governed, and their severe untempered insistence upon compliance with law.

The Founders recognized that Government is quite literally a necessary evil, that there must be opposition, between its various branches, and between political parties, for these are the only ways to temper the individual’s greed for power and the electorates’ desires for peace by submission to coercion or blandishment.

Healthy government, as that based upon our Constitution, is strife. It awakens anxiety, passion, fervor, and, indeed, hatred and chicanery, both in pursuit of private gain and of public good. Those who promise to relieve us of the burden through their personal or ideological excellence, those who claim to hold the Magic Beans, are simply confidence men. Their emergence is inevitable, and our individual opposition to and rejection of them, as they emerge, must be blunt and sure; if they are arrogant, willful, duplicitous, or simply wrong, they must be replaced, else they will consolidate power, and use the treasury to buy votes, and deprive us of our liberties. It was to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government. 

Many are opposed to private ownership of firearms, and their opposition comes under several heads. Their specific objections are answerable retail, but a wholesale response is that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. On a lower level of abstraction, there are more than 2 million instances a year of the armed citizen deterring or stopping armed criminals; a number four times that of all crimes involving firearms. 

The Left loves a phantom statistic that a firearm in the hands of a citizen is X times more likely to cause accidental damage than to be used in the prevention of crime, but what is there about criminals that ensures that their gun use is accident-free? If, indeed, a firearm were more dangerous to its possessors than to potential aggressors, would it not make sense for the government to arm all criminals, and let them accidentally shoot themselves? Is this absurd? Yes, and yet the government, of course, is arming criminals.
Violence by firearms is most prevalent in big cities with the strictest gun laws. In Chicago and

Washington, D.C., for example, it is only the criminals who have guns, the law-abiding populace having been disarmed, and so crime runs riot.

Cities of similar size in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and elsewhere, which leave the citizen the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed in the Constitution, typically are much safer. More legal guns equal less crime. What criminal would be foolish enough to rob a gun store? But the government alleges that the citizen does not need this or that gun, number of guns, or amount of ammunition.

Mamet's assertion of 2 Million instances of armed citizen self-defense is debatable.  Depending on the source the number varies from as few as ~1,000 per month to over 10x that figure. The problem is that the mechanism for reporting of such instances varies from state to state. In most states a defensive shooting where the assailant is not killed is simply not reported amongst crime or "violence" statistics in the same way as the assault that instigated it. The reporting mechanisms also fail to capture instances where the brandishment, without discharge, of a firearm was responsible for halting an assault. Regardless of the actual figure, the fact remains that the number of people who successfully defend life and property annually with a firearm exceeds the number who are victims of gun violence. 

There is simply no logic whatsoever in restricting law abiding citizens ability to defend themselves and their property in exchange for the fictitious promise of "increased safety". The utopian ideal of which has never, and will never be attained in any society who attempted to or pledged to provide it.

The end game of the discussion is not one of "need". We don't have a "Bill Of Needs". We don't apply a litmus test of "need" to the exercise of our rights. Though compelled to do so, I've no "need" to write about this topic. I've no "need" to have this blog to discuss my thoughts on politics, food, travel and the outdoors. I've no "need" for a Twitter account. I've no "need" to speak my mind. I do however have a right to the free exercise of my 1st Amendment rights and I choose to exercise that right. 

The stock answer to the aforementioned is that "Nobody has ever been killed by free speech." Martin Luther King and Malcom-X would disagree.

Ultimately, exercise of the 2nd Amendment is no different from that of the 1st. It's a matter of choice. I choose to own firearms. I choose to take on the responsibility of their safe ownership, storage and use and do so with full knowledge of and acceptance of the inherent risks. Because it's my duty as a husband and because I recognize that I'll wait on average 11min for a police response to a 911 call, I choose to accept the personal responsibility for the defense of my property, my life and that of my family. I reject and will fight any effort to restrict that choice. 

Will you?

No comments:

Post a Comment