Do We Really Need Them?

So, yes, another article on guns. But, this one is little different. Lets talk about “liberty.” I just got done reading an article on Obama’s potential executive orders, and the more interesting comments that followed. It was more of the same stuff that everybody says when talking about guns. “It’s our constitutional right!” followed by: “The constitution didn’t say anything about fully automatic weaponry!” It gets old. I know. But what does the constitution say?

Well, it’s not altogether clear. That’s why we argue about it. It DOES give a right to bear arms, but that sentence IS preceded by the clause “A well regulated militia.” Curious, isn’t it? But as clear (or not) as it may seem, the law WAS explicitly applied to the general public in 2005. The court case was “District of Columbia v. Heller.” It seems to go contrary to the way that I personally read the second amendment, saying that the clause :”A well regualted militia,” does not restrict the rest of the sentence, but nonetheless grants the right to bear arms to the general public. And, in fact, the second amendment ends with the saying ” the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Now we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. As the law now stands, we cannot infringe on the “right” to bear arms, and it doesn’t say what kinds of arms either. So, the argument that nobody really “needs” a fully automatic weapon doesn’t hold any water whatsoever. And, as a matter of fact, we already have laws in effect that break the second amendment. It may be surprising to hear that. Which ones? The 1930’s gun ban, banning fully automatic weapons, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices such as hand grenades and grenade launchers. This is more commonly known as the “Gangster Gun Ban.” Now, I would agree that people don’t really need grenade launchers. But, because the constitution does not make an effort to clarify what types of weapons should not be restricted, or “infringed,” any restriction on any weapon should be unconstitutional if we are to apply the second amendment to the general population, instead of just a well regulated militia.

The argument based on “need” doesn’t really begin to make sense though. While I agree that there is no “practical sense” in owning fully automatic weapons or grenade launchers, that shouldn’t mean that people shouldn’t have the “right” to own them. People don’t “need” high performance muscle cars. They have way to much power for any “practical” use, but anyone that owned one would be quick to say that they could take it to the track to use it to its full potential. The same can be said of fully automatic weapons. That is the exact reason that shooting ranges exist. It is a place gun enthusiasts or hobbyists to shoot their guns because they can’t shoot them anywhere else. Muscle cars are not practical, but that isn’t enough reason to ban them. People don’t “need” ice cream. I mean really, sugar is not good for us, and it is filled with saturated fats. There is no “practical sense” in eating a bowl of ice cream. It is nothing more than wasted, empty, bad-for-you calories. But, that isn’t enough to ban ice cream. This is the exact argument that many are trying to use to ban assault rifles today.

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Liberty is a tricky thing. We are quick to defend our own liberties, but almost numb to the liberties of others. While I think that it would be fine for me to own a muscle car that has a useless amount of power for any practical (or legal) use of the car, and guzzles gas putting endless amounts of pollutants into the air that you, and I, breathe, I (being the average American) wouldn’t mind taking something from you that I have deemed you do not “need.”

We do not “need” a lot of the things that we do on a daily basis, and it would be dangerous to start basing our laws on what we actually “need.” Sure, it may not impact your life today (guns), but next year it could be something that you do or enjoy (muscle cars/ice cream).

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So What Are We?

It seems like any political conversation you stumble upon anymore always has that one guy, clearly smarter than the rest of his peers, aggressively reminding the rest of us ignorant and unlearned sheep that this country is not a democracy. Oh no, no we are not. We are a republic. And, unfortunately, because it is in fact annoying, they are right. They ARE right. We, Americans, live in what was originally designed to be a “republic.” Today, to the rage of some, the United States has made some strides towards a more pure form of democracy, but we still resemble that original republic.

But, there is one bit of information that these people have seemed to miss. What is this fact?

Democracy no longer means anything, at least not as a word on its own. It is a umbrella term that takes many forms. While the United States is, in fact, a republic, all republics are democracies. There are many forms of governments that are considered democracies, and it is factual that a republic is a form of democracy.

Now, I am more than aware that not all of you would realize why this difference, especially as small the difference actually seems, would even begin to matter. I mean, weren’t we all taught in school that democracies were good? Why would some be upset that we have taken strides towards true democracy? Well, I’m not sure that even the many assertively reminding us online even know the answer to this.

Democracy is a nifty thing. It frees its people from totalitarian rule, and gives power to the people. However, democracy can lead to some very bad things. In a pure democracy, majority rules. Always. Without question, or concern for those in the minority. Those who are most often in the minority have no say in their government. Effectively, in freeing “the people” from totalitarian rule, totalitarian rule is merely transferred to “the majority.”

This is where the United States first broke from the notion of true democracy. Our constitution, in recognition of this unfair treatment of those in minority, took some precautions in protecting the minority. Many different types of laws require what is called “super-majority” to pass through the house. This simply means a 2/3 vote, and on very rare occasion, a 3/5 vote. This is clearly a means of protecting the minority.

So, if republics are so great (protecting the minority and all), why have we taken strides against it? Well, in representative government, the people open themselves up to corruption and unfair/unequal representation. In today’s society, when someone wants to become an elected official, they first have to run for office. Election campaigns are incredibly expensive, and few, if any, can actually afford it without help. Where does this help come from?

The rich, and big business. It stands to reason that the help comes from places with a lot of money. All that these people ask for, in return for their help, is legislation that they find favorable. Essentially, they want protection for themselves— No, their money.

Does this sound familiar? Enter “fiscal cliff.” The fiscal cliff debates became nothing more than an argument between republicans (Republics) and democrats (Democracies). What were they arguing about? Money. Money, money, and money. The democratic president wanted the rich to pay more money, while republicans, in an effort to protect the minority that is the rich, fought against that notion.

But, don’t let envy of their wealth cloud your opinion on this matter. If you honestly believe that the rich should pay more, that is fine. If you think that they should be protected, that is also fine. But, they should not be subjugated to unfair treatment simply for the reason that they have more money than the rest of us. Contrary to popular belief, they did not steal all of our money and leech off of those who actually work. In the free-market economy that is the United States, we willingly gave our money to them for stuff, what we thought was a fair trade until we gave them all of our money.

I simply mean to say, while the rich could pay more, and now they will due to the agreements on the “fiscal cliff,” we need to make sure that the average American is not simply, as the majority, infringing on the rich’s liberty, simply because they can. For, if they do, this country is no better than the totalitarian rule we fought to free ourselves from.

It is easy to support the removal of liberty when the ways in which it is removed doesn’t effect you personally.