Arguing Against Gun Control, Lance Armstrong, “food porn” and more, today at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)

TOPICS: Is it valid to argue, today, for the right to private gun ownership on the grounds that this may be needed — someday — to protect ourselves from the government? What about gun *registration* or other government collection and retention of information about gun owners. Is that harmless? Lance Armstrong, “food porn” and more.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Arguing Against Gun Control, Lance Armstrong, “food porn” and more, today at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)

  1. ”Is it valid to argue, today, for the right to private gun ownership on the grounds that this may be needed — someday — to protect ourselves from the government? ”

    Yes it is & the argument was made in the debate on the Constitution(see below).
    It is not the only argument but it is a perfectly legitimate one.
    For one thing our entire Constitution is designed with a array if safeguards & protections which are there to protect us against aspiring tyrants. So the fact that a future dictatorship is hypothetical is not a argument against the Second Amendment.
    The presumption of innocence applies to citizens, not the state,which is rightly viewed with suspicion. Indeed if anything the Founders may have erred in being too trusting.
    What is more the question is misplaced as it assumes that private citizens must establish that they have a need for such & such a thing,when the burden of proof is on the government to establish that IT has a right to regulate or prohibit something.
    Ownership of a gun does not violate Individual Rights,in & of itself. It is only if the Individual uses the gun to violate Individual Rights or conspires to do so that rights become threatened. Prohibiting private gun ownership on the grounds that someone MIGHT commit a crime is a violation of rights.

    As to the ”resistance argument”
    a common false argument made against the ”resistance argument ”
    is the claim that a resistance organization would stand no chance against the United States Army. There are several flaws in this argument:

    First it was not the view of the Founders ,second its irrelevant,third it’s probably wrong.

    James Madison

    …..”The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty -fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty -five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for the common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the late successful resistance of this country against the British arms will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments of the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.

    Federalist No. 46 (1788).

    Noah Webster:

    …..” Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”…..

    Noah Webster (writing under the nom de plume of “A Citizen of America), An Examination Into the Leading Principles of the Constitution (October 17, 1787).

    George Mason:

    …..” I ask, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor. . . . Virginia’s U.S. Constitution ratification convention (June 16, 1788), reported in Elliot, Debates of the Several State Conventions 3:425.

    Even if these views were mistaken, it would not alter the fact that this was the view of many Founders,& as such,must be held in mind when reading the Second Amendment to determine what the Second Amendment’s purpose & public meaning was. Even if one accepted the premise that the Second Amendment was militarily obsolete it would still not mean that it is not legally binding.

    Second the argument assumes that a right ceases to be a right if it is not successful in achieving its aim. If one accepts such a premise however one would need to conclude that since a private citizen cannot fight off all possible attackers single handedly that the right of self-defense doesn’t exist. This claim makes no sense. The right to defend yourself from a attacker is derived from your right to your own life,not from a claim that your act of self-defense is certain to succeed. By the same token the Warsaw Ghetto fighters faced near certain death whether they fought or surrendered,nonetheless it did not follow that they had no right to resist.
    A eloquent expression of this view was made in the Gulag Archipelago,which also notes the ”deterrence effect” of armed civilians.

    “”And how we burned in the camps later,thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went
    out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or
    if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not
    simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had
    understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, polkers, or whatever
    else was at hand? After all, you knew
    ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you
    could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on
    the street with one lonely chauffeur –what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of
    Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!”
    “If… if… We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more — we had no
    awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted
    with pleasure! ……….. We
    purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
    – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, The
    Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956

    Third the argument assumes a kind of artificially concocted scenario: that a resistance group, in defiance of all historical precedent,would choose to battle the U.S. Military on a open battlefield,where the military,(which unanimously supports the dictatorship in this scenario) then proceeds to wipe them out. What’s wrong with this?
    History.

    First dictatorships are often reluctant to turn their regular military on the civilian populace. There is a reason for this,the results are unpredictable. The Nazis set up the gas chambers & handed over their bloodiest work to the SS because of the number of suicides of regular army conscripts & officers
    who had been forced to execute Jews en masse by firing squad.
    They found that they needed a unit composed of psychopaths to best achieve their ends. The danger of relying upon the regular army can also be seen in the French Revolution, where the soldiers turned their guns on the bastille & in China where in the run-up to Tiananmen Square Massacre the widespread dissension among PLA troops was such that it caused the Dictatorship to bring in units from outside the Beijing region,troops who did not speak the dialect of the protesters & who had received special indoctrination.
    See:

    People’s Liberation Army at Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Liberation_Army_at_Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989

    The same situation was apparent in the 2009 crackdown on the Green Movement in Iran where the bulk of the killings were carried out by the para-military Basijs.

    What’s more a future resistance movement–far from facing the U.S. Military of today,would likely face a weakened military,one which has lost its best & most competent officers who would likely be purged ,in lieu of yes men & regime loyalists.

    For these reasons it is probable in my view that a future dictatorship would rely upon some secret police force of their devising.
    But let us assume that the U.S. Military were corrupted enough to lead the attack itself,it would still have to deal with care to avoid enraging the non-combatant segment of the populace. There is a commonly held belief among many people that insurgencies exist merely because of the sufferance of the United States’ rules of engagement. And it is certainly true that our ”war on terror” has been self-crippled. But when Russia,which was not constrained by humanitarian concerns waged their war in Afghanistan ,they found it very difficult to kill the leadership of the mujaheddin;this,despite the fact that they killed several hundred thousand Afghans & had 80-100,000 soldiers deployed at any one time. It is certainly true that the Mujahedin received arms,funds & training from the U.S. & Pakistan & Saudi Arabia & China, but that alone cannot account for their success in bleeding & eluding the Russian military. A good portion of that must come from the simple fact that it is very difficult for militaries to kill those who do not wish to be found.
    So it is by no means certain to me that a resistance group,operating in the vast rural terrain of the United States,would face certain defeat.
    But as I noted even if one could foresee the future,it would not mean that a resistance group had no right to resist.

    As to registration I regard it as a kind of preventive law & disagree with Ayn Rand’s view that it would be justified. (I recall reading that ,that was her view in Ayn Rand’s Answers by by Mayhew,I don’t recall the exact quote or page) But whether it would or would not be justified in some imaginary Objectivist utopia is irrelevant in the here & now where we have a regime that would use such registration to attempt to disarm people. What’s more we have seen a New York newspaper use government records to create a map of gun owners in their city. Two of whom have been robbed.

    Disgraced Journal News Removes Gun Owner Map | NewsBusters

    http://m.newsbusters.org/blogs/matthew-sheffield/2013/01/18/disgraced-journal-news-removes-gun-owner-map

    Almost every gun confiscation effort follows a familiar pattern: Declare that you don’t want to take anyone’s guns,that you just want to register them. Then once they have been registered ,as soon as you can get confiscation passed show up to ”buy them back” with threats of ten year prison sentences. This is exactly what happened in Great Britain & many Americans will simply not comply with such laws if they are enacted on a federal level.

  2. In so far that a “government” does not uphold individual rights it is a bunch of crooks.
    Removing a bunch of crooks isn’t removing a government, it’s reinstating one.

  3. Henry

    The founders were in no way concerned about the issues of hunting or self-defense against criminals when they framed the second amendment. These issues are too obvious and self-explanatory. Their only concern was to make sure that no government of the US would ever attempt for whatever reason to disarm its citizens. After all, the eight years of war that they had just endured were sparked by Britain’s attempt to seize the weapons depot at Concord in order to help disarm the citizens of Massachusetts. All famous modern dictatorships share the attribute of disarming the citizenry as their first act after seizing power. It is impossible (for it consumes too many men and resources) to enforce a tyranny on an incompliant and armed populace. If you want a vivid example of why that is as true today as it was in 1775, go watch the TV series Jericho.

  4. Alan Forrester

    To Amy. In the show you advocated changing commitment laws for people deemed mentally ill. As you pointed out in the show, laws that punish people for acts other than violence, property rights violations or credible threats thereof are non-objective and morally wrong. People who are committed may be locked up and drugged against their will without a trial: that is, they may be deprived of their liberty. You might say something like: mentally ill people aren’t moral agents, but this is not so. Many of them clearly express a preference not be be imprisoned and/or drugged. Since they are capable of expressing preferences they are moral agents, regardless of whether people dislike their preferences.

    And if you’re going to say that they are objectively ill, this is problematic since most mental illnesses can’t be detected by any medical test (this is stated explicitly in the diagnostic criteria many of which can be looked up online), nor can they be detected at autopsy. And in any case, being ill does not legitimise imprisonment and/or drugging without trial. If you are going to say that drugs help mentally ill people, this is a difficult position to maintain when the illness cannot be detected by any medical test or autopsy test. What is the evidence of their effectiveness: change in behaviour? Under that criterion, communion wine is medicine for Catholics, it stops them from wanting to take communion for a while.

    If there is some flaw in the criminal justice system that makes it unfit for whatever we want it to do, then it should be reformed rather than being circumvented by non-objective laws about people with magical “illnesses” that can’t be detected.

    Mental illness is an excuse for coercive control of behaviour that people dislike without explaining their reasons to the person to be controlled. As such it is a non-objective idea used to evade unsolved moral problems and disagreements: you should not endorse faking reality. You should read the works of Thomas Szasz, who had many other criticisms of mental illness ideas and stop peddling non-objective laws of which there are known criticisms.

    • Craig

      Consider these facts. Objectivism is considered a mental illness by many people who make such decisions. Objectivists have been imprisoned and tortured for their convictions on this basis. When you endorse the common superstitious beliefs about mental illness you endorse the arbitrary, extra-legal power to persecute Objectivists for being Objectivists.

      • Alan Forrester

        I’m not endorsing a common belief about mental illness. It is common to believe that some people are mentally ill and that some of these people should be committed. I disagree with both of those positions. You say that I am superstitious for rejecting the idea of mental illness but provide no counterarguments to the substance of my objections. Only a superstitious person would change his mind in the absence of a substantive argument against his position. Finally, you say that some people characterised objectivists as mentally ill and persecute them, and say that I am playing into the hands of the persecutors. Regardless of whether some people are deemed mentally ill for being objectivists your argument doesn’t make sense. People who respond to arguments with force are thugs and should be opposed, not appeased.

        • Craig

          You misunderstood my message. I was agreeing with and seconding you not arguing against you. Amy’s belief IN mental illness is superstition not the other way around. You are not playing into the hands of the persecutors of Objectivists (quite the opposite) but Amy is.

    • Gentlemen, I’ll address this topic briefly during my next podcast. Thanks for coming here and commenting.

  5. Craig

    Massachusetts State House Firearms Rally 1/19/2013

    • jayeldee

      You hadn’t sufficient time at the end of the podcast for the topic of “food porn”, so I ‘d just like to mention, for the benefit of those not yet privy, that “calorie counting” is, in and of itself, virtually meaningless. Because, unlike humans, not all calories “are created equal” (before the laws of nutrition): to put it briefly and bluntly, the nutritional effect of calories is wholly dependent on the type of calories at issue; some calories are “good”, and some are “bad”–with the quantity consumed of either type being a secondary issue. See: Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories); Michael Eades (Protein Power); and Robert Atkins (New Diet Revolution).

      Much of the latest valid research on this matter directly contradicts what governments, the medical establishment, and various “consumer advisory” groups (such as the outfit cited in the podcast) have been pushing for decades and decades, and still are–largely as a result, I think, of unbridled ignorance. (Look around when out and about, and you see the awful results.)

      Lastly, many types of saturated fat are GOOD for the human body–including most dairy fat and animal fat, and should be regularly consumed. (The greatest nutritional enemies reside largely in carbohydrates derivative of grains.)

      • jayeldee

        PS Oh, and I should add: never mind “the latest research.” There is ample evidence of the points mentioned, amongst much early (valid) research, as well–in the face of which, governments, doctors, and sundry “advisers” are still flying with abandon (for reasons–never good–best known to themselves). See the aforementioned work of Gary Taubes–et al.

      • As one who believes in the power of a high fat diet, I agree wholeheartedly 🙂

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