Friday, February 4, 2011

Right to Bear Arms

The motivation of the framers for the constitutional guarantee to arms was about the citizenry having the power of force in their hands should the need arrise to overthrough a tyranical government.
The Bill of Rights was written over two hundred years ago and much has changed since then.  I've been thinking about the efforts over the last century that have been successful in changing governments and changing the policies of governments.  I can't think of any that were achieved by the people using force. 
The overwhelming evidence is that the best policy for the citizenry to achive it goals of governmental change is: non-violence.  This is the policy that was so well defined and implemented by Ghandi in India, which led to the overthrow of the British governmnet there and rights for the native people of India.  Ghandi's non-violence was the model that ML King cited in pushing the civil rights movement.  This is the movement that had success, while the violent movements such as Malcome X and the Black Panthersfailed.  Non-violence, well mostly, is what brought down the Iron Curtain, and crushed Communism in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe.  This is the method that Pope John Paul II pushed. 
In the end, it seems that the possesion of force is a short term inpediment to the people when they are united in non-violent struggle over oppresion.  Non-violence has the moral high ground.  As tyranical governments inevitabley respond with violence against protestors and instigators, thus exposing themselves as the tyrants they are.  Violent popular movements simply justify the governments use of force in putting down violence and restoring order. 
The diffence of the American Revolution is that the entire people seperated from a nation and formed a new state, and that newly formed state had to defend itself against the former state.  To do this, the new state formed a citizen army, where the citizen provided much of the arms.  Hence the need for an armed citizenry.  The closest thing to this today that I know of is the Swiss citizen army where every male between 18 and 54 is in the army reserve.  Each is issued a weapon and a box of bullets, and must qualify every year by shooting those bullets and getting a new box.  ( fresh bullets for everyone ;-) 
The idea of guns for personal protection appears to assume that a state of lawlessness exists, and that people must act as vigilanties to defend themselves.  This usually only occurse during cisis such as war or natural disasters (Katrina) and is a highly unusual state of affairs.  If this is the normal state then a failed or ineffective government is in place and needs replacing.  Unfortunately, most of the latter type of governments are in smaller, third world countries which are propped up by larger western governments against the interests of the local people.

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