"The second amendment is there for a reason." A professor at my school said this with a straight face today.
I'm not annoyed because I think the second amendment is pointless (even though I do) -- I'm annoyed because this is a terrible way to discuss politics, and it dominates the dialogue. The thing that pisses me off most about the gun debate, apart from all the people dying, is that pretty much everyone agrees that if we can just find the right interpretation of the Holy Second Amendment, which was so important that the Blessed Founding Fathers put it right under freedom of speech, then everything will be okay.
The fact that Americans so frequently act like the Founding Fathers' vision is more important than trying to govern effectively in the present, based on contemporary values, is easily one of the biggest drags on progress here.
But fine. It's here for a reason. Whatever. Here are the reasons I know:
1. We need guns to fight off the government if it goes too far.
Okay, we're not going to beat the government. If (a.) the American citizenry revolts, (b.) the military stays loyal to the government, and (c.) that fact doesn't dissuade the revolution, the military and the government wins. No question. The only way the citizenry wins that fight is if the government decides they should -- and we don't need guns for that. In fact, it would probably be more effective without them.
2. People have a right to protect their homes.
No, people have a right to a government that protects their homes. People living in a society, especially a society with a police and judicial system, implicitly give up their right to self defense. We are defended by our government, because our government can be fair and impartial. That's the goddamn point of police and judicial systems -- it lets us sidestep the hundreds of horrible, anti-civilization side-effects of the standard of self-defense.
3. But a well-armed militia!
Are you going to take up arms when Canada attacks? Or are we going to leave the fighting to the organized military?
4. Guns are fun!
Fine, whatever. Here's an idea: Guns are legal, but you have to keep them at your local, registered shooting range or hunting lodge. You can use them at the range, or in the woods during designated hunting seasons or if there's another good reason, like self-defense against bears. Your shooting range can give you a sticker to put on a box that vouchsafes a specific date on which you're transporting your guns in your trunk to and from a hunting trip, and in absolutely every other context people with guns who are not in the process of turning them in get arrested for it and put in jail. Because you don't need a gun in your house. Because the police.
5. If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns!
See above: arrest everyone seen with a gun. Let the courts sort out the fringe cases (I left the sticker in my coat pocket!, en route from shooting range to lodge = shouldn't have been an idiot, now you have to deal with the judicial system before you get your gun back.) People who break the law do not unduly expose themselves to arrest. Heroin addicts living in countries that will arrest you for having needles choose instead to share needles to minimize risk. Prostitutes living in countries that will arrest you for having condoms on you choose instead to have unprotected sex. We can leverage those same depressing realities to a good cause: criminals who know they're going to jail if they're caught with a gun aren't going to carry around their gun. And some segment of the ones who do will get arrested, and their guns will be taken off the streets. Every arrest = one less gun out there. Every dealer bust = dozens fewer guns out there.
Anybody got any other reasons? I'd love to hear them. Otherwise, can we stop canonizing the Founding Fathers and the Constitution as the Christ and Bible of American politics? I would very much appreciate it if we could start having a cultural discussion about the present day instead of the 1700's.