The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution should be repealed

Byron vs willhud9

Only designated debaters should post in the active debates.

Moderators: Calilasseia, The_Metatron

The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution should be repealed

#1  Postby THWOTH » Jan 27, 2014 2:49 pm

The protagonists in this formal debate will consider the proposal, "The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution should be repealed." with Byron arguing for the proposition and willhud9 arguing against.

The text of the second amendment, ratified on 25 September 1789, states:


The debate will take place over five rounds and will adhere to the following agreed terms:

  • An opening statement of up to 2000 words
  • A rebuttal of up to 2000 words
  • A single question and answer post each, with a 500 word limit for questions and a 1000 word limit for replies
  • Closing remarks of up to 2000 words
  • Replies to be submitted within 72 hours (extensions may be permitted but only by the prior mutual agreement of the participants)

A debate comment thread has been made available for the purpose of observer commentary: Peanut Gallery: The 2nd Amendment to the US constitution.

    N.B. Interested members may wish to use the forum's subscription system for the duration of the debate. Click the 'subscribe' link at the bottom of this page, and use your User Control Panel to manage subscriptions.
Participants in the debate are expressly forbidden from posting to the commentary thread until the debate is concluded. Only Byron and willhud9 will be able to post to this thread - members who post here will have their comments deleted. As usual, the conditions of the Forum Users' Agreement will apply throughout.

As the proposer I now invite Byron to post his opening remarks.
User avatar
THWOTH
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: Penrose
Posts: 37101
Age: 54

Country: Untied Kingdom
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Opening

#2  Postby Byron » Jan 27, 2014 7:36 pm

Introduction

The Second Amendment stands alone. Other nations have equivalents to the rest of the Bill of Rights, but the Second Amendment, as currently interpreted by the courts, is American exceptionalism at its starkest.

That does not, of course, make it wrong. I do not invoke the fallacy of the majority, nor do I appeal to ugly anti-Americanism. The First Amendment is also exceptional, but is widely admired, even by those who disagree with the scope of its protection.

No, if the Second Amendment is wrong, it's wrong on its merits. And I argue here that it is wrong. Not because it's a relic of the past, or because it automatically leads to a bloodbath, but because the values that underpin it are wrong. What are those values? Armed self-defense.

This is the core of my argument:-

Individual citizens should not be permitted to own and carry firearms for defensive purposes.

In arguing this, I am not arguing that armed self-defense is ineffective. As the Center for Disease Control* recently noted, studies have shown that armed resistance is the most effective way to respond to a violent criminal. Nor am I arguing that gun ownership leads, inevitably, to a high rate of homicide. While it lacks a constitutional right, the Czech Republic combines a liberal approach to ownership and carry of sidearms with few deaths.

No, this comes back to values. I do not argue that the Second Amendment should be repealed on practical grounds, but because it is wrong to give individual citizens the power of life and death over their fellow creatures. Yes, the victim's safety might be maximized, but at what cost? Put simply, why is their life worth more than their attacker's?

If a citizen is empowered to kill their attacker, the law is made arbitrary. This strikes at the heart of the rule of law, which aims to replace might makes right, the rule of the strong by their whim, with the reasoned judgment of an impartial court.

Choices

My argument rests in large part on the lack of control that we have over who we are, and what we do. Yes, we make choices, but those choices are shaped and channeled by our life experiences. Those who become violent criminals are often brutalized by abuse. It's become a cliche to say "explain, not excuse," but this cliche is dishonest when the intent is to garner sympathy for criminals.

No evasion here. My purpose is, absolutely, to excuse, in whole or in part. A violent criminal gunned down in a cloud of cordite is, so very often, a damaged creature long before the bullet drives into him and ends his existence. In making the decision that his victim's life is worth more than his, the law is denying his human worth.

This has its limits. The constitution is not a suicide pact, and neither is this principle. No functioning society can allow violent people to have the run of its resources and citizens, and sometimes, deadly force is the only way to stop the predators among us. I don't counsel perfection: I argue that, to preserve the rule of law, the circumstances in which life can be taken legally must be drawn as tightly as is possible.

The Second Amendment gives too much latitude. Below, I'll elaborate on why.


Objections

My opponent will, I have no doubt, offer up some of the following in his rebuttal. To maximize the time we have, I now anticipate and respond to some of the potential counter-arguments.


Necessity

In short, even if the violent criminal doesn't deserve to die in an arbitrary fashion, to preserve the victim's life, it's justified.

On occasion, this is true, which is why I do not argue for a ban on using deadly force in self-defense. But necessity, by its nature, must be strictly limited. Deadly force by the individual must only be permitted when it is truly the only option they have to survive. To achieve this end, it must be discouraged. Allowing the citizen to strut around strapped does not discourage justifiable homicide. Just the opposite.

Let's face the hard consequence of this position upfront. Banning armed self-defense will lead to some individuals being murdered or brutally assaulted who could, with a gun in their hand, escape that fate. This is hard, but it is not unanswerable. No position is without cost. For every victim who dies, there's a violent criminal who dies needlessly, who would, if not resisted, have taken the money and gone, without harming his victim. That criminal's death was not truly necessary.

True, we cannot know which criminal will murder or rape, and which will rob and no more. No flawed human system can aim for perfection. In order to protect the lives of some damaged people who commit criminal acts, the lives of some victims must be sacrificed. My opponent's position would sacrifice the lives of some brutalized people needlessly. Neither side has it clean.

It isn't about what's perfect, but what's preferable.

Choice?

It can be argued that, even though a damaged person's choices are curtailed, they're not eliminated, and a violent criminal has brought their death on themselves.

This fails to account for the extent of their diminished responsibility. Yes, outside the tiny number who are acquitted under the insanity defense, violent criminals have voluntary control over their actions, but they had no control over their abusive upbringing, which has stunted their empathy, and robbed them of the capacity to imagine a better tomorrow.

For them, life is Hobbesian: nasty, brutish, and short.

A civilized society should not allow people to have their existence wiped out on the basis of such a diminished choice. If a damaged person were given the help they need, many would choose differently. Idealism aims to turn the world as it is into the world as it should be. We should imagine the violent criminal as the person they could be.

Cold comfort to their victims, yes, but likewise, the abstract notion of choice is cold comfort to the robber gunned down in the dead of night. Gunned down for the money he sought to buy the drugs to desperately, desperately try to block the memory of the evil that was done to him in the past. Life is messy. People don't divide neatly into perpetrator and victim, hero and villain, good and bad. Victimhood is so very often what drives people to make victims of their own.

The cycle must be broken, not with the violence of the carry weapon, but with healing.

Arbitrariness

Will may well say, and with justification, that allowing individuals to keep and bear arms does not lead to arbitrariness. With justification because, in a strict sense, he's right. Homicide is only justified when measured by the objective test that the shooter had a reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of death or serious injury.

Within that space, however, must inconsistency lies. What is a "reasonable belief"? Typically, courts look at whether the shooter genuinely feared for their life, and ask what a hypothetical "reasonable person" would have done in their place. In reality, this involves the judge or jurors taking an imaginative leap, and seeing the world through the shooter's eyes. The accused is given full benefit of the empathy the dead felon lacked, and frequently, they are acquitted.

Problem with this is, fear affects us all in different ways. Where one person pulls the trigger, another may merely brandish, or not even draw. A belief can be reasonable, but allow much latitude on the part of the victim.

The law can't be tightened further without removing the objective element entirely. The only way to limit the arbitrariness is to limit the victim's ability to meet out deadly force. Self-defense has to be limited to the most desperate situations, when it truly is life and death.

Some innocent victims will die as a result, yes, but allowing people to keep and bear arms allows too many damaged assailants to meet an unjustified end. They are not innocent of all crime, but are innocent of a crime that justifies their killing. They are, in that sense, innocent victims too.

One vs Many

The law is common property, and so, it could be argued, it's the right and responsibility of all citizens to aid in its enforcement. This is why we allow citizen's arrests.

Yes, but we limit the scope of individual whim as much as we can. Citizens who effect an arrest must deliver their prisoner to the police as soon as possible. Police, likewise, must deliver suspects in their custody to the courts in short order.

Ah, law enforcement. This debate is hampered by the disparity between the police and the citizen. It's argued, convincingly, that individual police officers should not enjoy protection denied to the citizen. Are they not individuals? When they draw and fire, are they not acting in self-defense, regardless of whether they're under color of law?

The answer is again hard, but should not be avoided. Police should not be routinely armed. Firearms should only be available to specialist teams, summoned when there is no other way to stop violent criminals. This removes the subjective element of an officer firing in self-defense. Deadly force is authorized by senior officers and delivered by specialists who arrive with a cool head.

Yes, this removes the potential for swift response from officers on the ground, and increases the risk, but we do that all the time. We make officers await search warrants, compel them to knock and announce when they might be met with a hail of lead. Exceptions to these rules exist, but the crucial thing is, they are exceptions, and the rule remains.

If the disparity between police and citizen is reduced, this case becomes a lot easier to make.

* * *


Will is now challenged to defend the Second Amendment and all that goes with it. He will not be asked to establish that armed self-defense is effective, or that citizens can be allowed to keep and bear arms without an appalling homicide rate. I accept both of those things.

Instead, Will is asked to make the ethical case for allowing citizens to maximize their odds of killing criminals, and for subordinating the lives of criminals to the lives of the law-abiding. He is challenged to show why criminals must be forced to pay, with their lives, for choices circumscribed by brutal upbringings and the stunted empathy that results.

Yes, many people have hard lives, and don't commit crimes. We respond to trauma in different ways. Some can rise above it on their own, or are lucky enough to meet caring people who can heal the damage at an early stage. This isn't about them, but about those who, by roll of the biological and circumstantial dice, may not be so lucky.

Sympathy for violent criminals will, obviously, be in short supply. Our instincts are powerful, our horror justified, but must try to rise above it, or what makes us better than them?

The Second Amendment is pragmatic, but that pragmatism comes at too high a price. If you will forgive the religious phrase, it poisons our soul.


Endnote:-
* Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence, 2013, pp.15-16
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Re: The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution should be repealed

#3  Postby willhud9 » Jan 28, 2014 12:01 am

Introduction


I would like to thank the mods, the followers in the peanut gallery, and Byron my opponent for giving me the chance to debate this issue. I also give Byron a hat tip for arguing the devil's advocate position as it is not as easy as one would imagine. Now onto business!

The Second Amendment to the United States is one of the most controversial amendments we have in the United States Constitution. My introduction will be divided into three categories: 1) The importance of a solid Constitution and constitutional government, 2) Interpreting and modernizing the Second Amendment and 3) Why it matters.

Part I
Why a Constitution


To my non-American friends viewing this debate, the entire Constitution seems frivolous and unnecessary. From the outside looking in, I have heard people say Americans worship, revere, or cherish their Constitution as if it was a holy text. But their perception I think is warped from a skewed perspective and before I can even begin defending the Second Amendment I must provide a rationale for the existence and adherence to a Constitution, let alone an Amendment to the legislation itself.

In 1215, King John of England signed a document brought to him by the lording barons restricting the power and rule of the monarchy. This began a stepping stone towards an ideal which would be developed as Republicanism. When the colonies in America successfully revolted and routed the British forces, they had an opportunity to create another monarchy and an empire, but they chose to create a confederacy. This confederacy was based around incredibly loose policies and ultimately failed as Congress was unable to protect the interests of trade, the interests of the states, or maintain the peace as Shay's Rebellion demonstrated. This brought forth the roll of the Constitution.

The Constitution is a binding contract for the United States government to obey, which regulates and restricts various powers and responsibilities divided among the various branches of the government to create a checks and balance system as well as a proper division of power. However, people were afraid the Constitution gave the government too much power and so James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights to propose to the congressional convention. This Bill of Rights restricted the government from infringing on an individual's rights and made it clear that the power in this country by law went from the rights of the people, to the rights of the states, to the rights of the federal government. The people had the most rights and freedoms with the states and the federal government being restricted progressively.

So is the Constitution necessary? Yes. A constitutional republic gives a solid background against tyranny of the state. The civil rights movement began not only because it was a social injustice to segregate and discriminate, but because the government was tyrannically infringing on the rights of the people, be they women or black, etc. What the constitution allows is a basic and plain backing for US legislation. If a piece of legislation violates the Constitution then the courts bring that legislation to be reviewed.

Furthermore, it is not an end all document. It can be amended further reflecting the wishes of the socio-political culture. It is a very important document and many other countries have a successfully established constitutional governments in which their legislation has to be backed by their Constitution. It is an effective system.

Part II
Interpreting the Second Amendment


Onto the subject of this debate. We know why the Constitution is important, but the Second Amendment has caused confusion via its wording and whether or not its applicable to the general populace or not. Now our gracious moderator THWOTH has provided for us the text of the Amendment above, so I will not repeat it, but I will choose the keywords of the amendment to discuss.

1) militia- Many people think of militia as a town guard, or paid conscripts and soldiers. In modern times they are called our national guards, and coast guards. This is not necessarily the case. In the United States, all men at the age of 18 have to register for selective service i.e. the draft. All men are eligible at anytime the United States calls forth a draft to report to wherever they send you at a given time. It has barely been 50 years since the draft for Vietnam. All of those men were part of what is called the militia. In the past, it was the militiamen's duty to provide their own supplies and ammunition. During the Civil War this was one of main advantages the Union had over the Confederacy, better guns and ammunitions from having richer families and more industrial goods.

2) free State- To prevent the tyranny from the government, both local and abroad, a free State is important. When that free state turns into an authoritarian government, the people can be subject to cruelty and massive infringements on their rights. Now the argument that a gun cannot stand up against a drone strike is oftentimes thrown out in the discussion and I would like to point out that many regimes in Syria, Pakistan, etc. are successfully rebelling against their Russian backed governments and managing fairly well in their resistance despite inferior weaponry and equipment.

3) Arms - Many people assume this refers to all armaments, and the context does nothing of the sort. Small arms was a concept back in the day, and it referred to individual/personal firearms. It didn't count infantry support or mortars, etc.

So interpreting the second amendment in order to fully understand it's implication:

All men (women are not required to register for the draft) of the years 18 and over who are eligible for the selective service of the United States are necessary for the protection of the freedom of the people from both foreign and domestic enemies, the right to bear personal firearms shall not be broken.

Pretty straightforward material, and that is how the courts have interpreted in recent years.

Far from being archaic, the message is pretty universal. Now you can argue that the draft is obsolete, but as of now the draft is still legal and can indeed be enacted at anytime by Congress.

Part III
Why the Second Amendment Matters


The argument that you can still have gun rights without the second amendment is oftentimes debated. Through the course of this debate I am hoping to convince others that the importance of the right to keep and bear small arms can be well regulated and restricted, but not completely infringed. The Constitutional amendment ensures the American people that the government cannot legally at anytime pass legislation to violate their rights to own a gun. Sure you could do away with the Amendment, but at the peril that a ban like the 1996 ban in Britain can occur.

At most, and I will touch on this throughout the debate, you can always amend the second amendment to be more modern if the people felt it was too out of touch with reality. But as has been argued by the SCOTUS, gun control itself is not unconstitutional, so long as it is not restrictive from stopping a law abiding citizen from owning a gun.

With this I close my opening introduction and wish my opponent the best of luck and for those watching to enjoy what I hope to be an engaging debate. Thanks and best wishes!
Fear is a choice you embrace
Your only truth
Tribal poetry
Witchcraft filling your void
Lust for fantasy
Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
User avatar
willhud9
 
Name: William
Posts: 19252
Age: 28
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Rebuttal

#4  Postby Byron » Jan 28, 2014 7:58 pm

I echo Will's thanks to the mods for setting this up so smoothly, and to the peanut gallery for their attention and comments. I find their constructive criticism to be a valuable companion along the way. Appreciated, guys. I extend my own thanks to Will for agreeing to this debate -- your time & participation are most welcome. Good to be fencing again, my friend!

Now, as Will rightly says, to business.

I applaud Will for laying out the historical background so clearly, and for parsing the amendment so well. As much of his opening provides essential background material, this rebuttal will be relatively short. I offer my own take on what the Second Amendment says before I look at the resisting tyranny justification and how it fits with the position I'm defending.


Collective Right or Individual Right?

Much time and patience has been spent on this question. Is the Second Amendment a "collective" right, guaranteeing the states the right to form a militia, or an individual right, guaranteeing the citizen the right to keep and bear arms?

The biggest problem is the fact that the Second Amendment is framed in terms of a dead paradigm: opposition to standing armies, which, as the peanut gallery has already noted, ties into a lot of romantic nonsense about citizen militias. Ah, militias! The infamous "well regulated militia" clause has caused no end of trouble. Does the 18th century English mean "well equipped militia," as gun rights advocates claim; or is it license to regulate the ownership of firearms, as gun control advocates insist?

Frankly, it doesn't matter. Jeffersonian democracy is not a current position, and whatever the merits of the interpretive arguments, in legal terms, this has been settled. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled, in D.C. v. Heller, that the Second Amendment was an individual right, one used by citizens for self-defense against criminals. 2010's McDonald v. Chicago extended this ruling to every state of the union. Both decisions were split five votes to four, but the doctrine of stare decisis ("stand by things decided," or precedent), and the reality of a heaving docket, ensure the SCOTUS won't be in a hurry to overturn these rulings. Whatever its merits, the Second Amendment has been ruled an individual right.

Even so, the original purpose of the individual right is a world away from the current debate. The Supreme Court decided that the Second Amendment existed to maintain an armed militia pool (like a jury pool, but strapped) for the federal government to draw upon. So we have an amendment designed for one purpose -- providing an armed resource for Congress, the "unorganized militia" -- used for a different purpose -- self-defense against violent criminals.

Weird, but hey, sometimes the law's messy. In practice, as noted and approved by the SCOTUS, the Second Amendment's purpose is to allow citizens to own guns to protect themselves from criminal violence, and that's what I'll be opposing.

Will has, however, raised a mainstay of Second Amendment advocates, resisting tyranny, so it's here that I now turn.


From Minutemen to Red Dawn?

When arguing that citizens shouldn't be allowed to arm themselves against criminals, my argument has been ethical, not practical, because, while we're entitled to our own views, we're not entitled to our own facts. The CDC report suggests that armed self-defense works. When it comes to resisting tyranny, the facts aren't so clear. Will is right to say that insurgency movements have been effective, but those movements, from Vietnam in the '60s, to Afghanistan in the '80s, to Libya in the '10s, have been resourced by outside powers. This goes right back to the Revolutionary War, which was, from the perspective of the revolutionaries' French allies, a proxy war against the British Empire.

Perhaps an insurgency would work despite that, but it's something to be borne in mind.

Even if the tyranny argument is practical, efficacy is no god of mine. Something can work and be wrong.

So here's the question: is resisting tyranny by deadly force justified? Yes, I believe it is. My case against the Second Amendment is built on the value of human life, but deadly force is sometimes justified, and death is not the worst of evils. Resisting slavery, resisting a life reduced to mere existence, is a situation extreme enough to justify ending another's life.

Is this then a justification for the Second Amendment as it currently stands? No, I don't believe that it is.

A genuine tyranny is unlikely to arrive unannounced. If it comes, and a resistance forms, they will set about arming themselves. It is not my argument that guns should be banned, only that guns should be banned for defensive purposes. My target isn't the gun itself so much as the circumstances in which the gun can be used. If a government turns tyrannical, the law falls silent, and sporting weapons can be repurposed. The militia pool will exist in its truest sense, as it does in Switzerland, with weapons stored inoperable, but ready to be put into service if the balloon goes up.

Ironically, if the courts had limited the Second Amendment to its original purpose, I would not need to argue for its repeal. They have, however, extended it beyond the militia pool to self-defense from violent crime, so repeal is the only way to reduce the shooting of violent criminals under color of law.

If the argument is that tyranny can be deterred by civilian gun ownership, there's no reason that guns must be kept operable. The Second Amendment could either be repealed and replaced, or the Constitution amended, to the effect that citizens have the right to store weapons securely and unloaded in an inoperable state. Something like the Swiss arrangement. This would allow tyranny to be discouraged while avoiding the thing that I'm arguing against: allowing citizens the means to kill criminals quickly and easily.

A last resort should be just that.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Response

#5  Postby willhud9 » Jan 31, 2014 6:40 pm

A quick point for clarification in case my opponent may have been confused:

In regards to my Constitution comment and how it causes confusion to many people outside the US, I trust my opponent had the grace to read in the last paragraph of my first part: "It is a very important document and many other countries have a successfully established constitutional governments in which their legislation has to be backed by their Constitution." So I nowhere said that the US was the only country with a Constitution, I made a comment opening up why some people may find a Constitution, let alone the right to bear arms as part of it, necessary. It is indeed important for this debate.

Now onwards.

The Right to Own a Firearmp


Obviously this debate is around this issue, but what does this right mean under the law? Why do we need such a right?

When the U.K. instituted it's ban on firearms in 1996 it was in a culture which already had a small amount of firearms circulating in it. Firearm ownership was an exception, not a normality. Countries like Switzerland, however, do not need to implement a gun ban, but do have reasonable gun regulation.

At the very end of my first post I mentioned amending the Second, but in reality we really do not need to. Why not? Because the SCOTUS has ruled time and time again that while an individual's rights to own a firearm is not to be infringed on, gun control such as background checks, such as permits, are not unconstitutional. Because of this a reasonable position on the gun control debate is implement reasonable gun controls. Ultimately my opponent's position is unnecessary on the sole basis of it can be fixed with reasonable gun controls. There is no need to do away with the Second Amendment at all. An individual can still own a firearm, albeit through stricter regulations and restrictions, something which is not barred from the Constitution.

Using Switzerland as an example, most men between the ages of 20-30 are enlisted into a militia, as Switzerland does not have a standing army. These men receive military training, including weapons training, and then are sent home with their equipment. There are a lot of "assault weapons" circulated in Switzerland, a progressive European country, and yet it has a low crime rate.

Why is this? Well aside from a prosperous economy and socio-political liberal ideologies, Switzerland has reasonable gun control. They require a permit and it restricts how many guns can be owned on that permit, bolt-action and single-shot firearms are an exception. To get a permit self defense, which I will get to a minute, is a valid reason to acquire it. Among other regulatory practices. It works.

In the United States such gun control, as well as a change in the socio-economic/political situation, would have effective power in limiting gun accidents and deaths. And all without needing to change or do away with the 2nd Amendment. Such a legal hurdle to try to implement is largely unnecessary.

Tyranny From Foreign and Domestic Enemies


The only way diplomacy successfully works is if you have something of value to the other guy. That can be a productive workforce, a land filled with plenty of resources, something to trade, OR enough intimidation of force. In the case of an oppressive government subjugating their citizens to authoritarian violence, the only hope for the people is either outside liberation, change in government which overthrows the authoritarian regime, or successful resistance to the authoritarian government. Now in America, things are not that bad, but with constant police brutality, a growing disconnect between Americans and their government, a huge wealth gap and other factors, and America is on the verge of crashing.

Sure it won't fall per se but it is losing its status as the leading world power and fast. All one has to do is look at the revolts in the Balkans, such as Serbia, Yugoslavia and Croatia to know how bad it can be when a government collapses or experiences massive complications. The people in those countries and territories were subject to violence and oppression by would-be leaders and political parties trying to assume control. In the race for the throne it is the little man who gets hurt.

Such a thing may seem farfetched to those of us who have lived in the Western world with a modicum of security, but if it does happen, which it can, what protects the people from the violent intents of power-grabbers? Sheep-like complacency may seem safest this is true, until that complacency leads to you being robbed of everything, or worse raped. No, in order to protect oneself from those willing to harm you, whether it be a government oppressing its people, an anarchist like society trying to pick up the pieces of a government collapse, or whether it be individuals willing to harm to another, the right to self defense is a reasonable right. A personal firearm allows for the best protection from such violence.

Self Defense


Most countries in the civilized world have laws dealing with self defense, in which a person can use reasonable force to stop the threat to their life. Some countries include property, but I am not going to argue the property clause, just the people clause. And it makes sense. Why should a person have to sit back and not at least try to defend themselves from an assault if they have to fear legal repercussions after surviving an attack that may or may not leave permanent injury.

Now obviously we have abuse of these self defense laws within the court, and those abuses need to be dealt with. But abuse in the courts is no rational reason to do away with the concept of the law altogether. A strict, and regulated enforcement of the law can easily fix these abused, just as a strict and regulated enforcement of gun control laws can easily fix gun crime and gun deaths.

In this regards both things are unnecessary. In short, I believe my opponents call to repeal the 2nd sounds warrantable, but is unnecessary and not needed. People should have the right to defend themselves from violent criminals. With stricter gun control laws those violent criminals would not be likely to have a firearm, but it can happen. The people should be able to have a regulated firearm in their home to protect themselves in a case such as that. The analogy of a fire extinguisher in the home comes to mind. The person may not expect a fire, and may do everything they can to prevent a fire, but fires can happen. The same can be said in regards to violent crime and ownership of a firearm. Because of this we cannot reasonably do away with the right to bear arms.

But Even IF!


Even if in some strange universe the second amendment were to be repealed that does not mean the right to own a firearm is removed from the US society.

The Ninth Amendment grants rights to the people not listed in the Constitution.

So in conclusion, an amendment or even a repeal of the Second Amendment is unnecessary and useless for the issue of gun control. You can create appropriate legislation which is easier to pass and remains backed by the Constitution. So long as it does not ban an individual from a personal firearm.
Fear is a choice you embrace
Your only truth
Tribal poetry
Witchcraft filling your void
Lust for fantasy
Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
User avatar
willhud9
 
Name: William
Posts: 19252
Age: 28
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Questions

#6  Postby Byron » Feb 01, 2014 12:12 am

Nice job, Will, although there's points that need clarifying. Helpfully, we move now to the question and answer round, so let's do just that.

I'll ask questions followed by a brief explanation. I've done my best to avoid making the questions leading. The theme throughout is that the Second Amendment dehumanizes criminals, and gives one group of citizens too much latitude to kill another.
* * *

"Does armed self-defense make it too easy to commit unjustified homicide?"

By allowing a citizen to kill their attacker quickly and effectively, the Second Amendment (as interpreted by the courts) allows robbers and burglars who don't intend to commit murder or inflict serious bodily harm to be killed alongside rapists and murderers. Self-defense isn't a penalty, but it is supposed to be a proportionate response to a threat. Ending another's existence is so extreme an act that everything must be done to discourage it. I don't believe that the Second Amendment does enough. What say you?


"Does the Second Amendment rest on an obsolete concept of personal responsibility?"

However enlightened its authors (and considering that a great many were slaveowners, that enlightenment, at the least, had horrific blind spots) the Second Amendment belongs to another time. That isn't grounds to dismiss it out of hand: some principles are eternal. But it is grounds to ask if new discoveries change its operating assumptions.

We know, unlike its authors, that humans are evolved primates. We also know how important upbringing and circumstance are in shaping the brain and mind. I have argued that many violent criminals are not wholly responsible for their actions, whether through a history of abuse, mental illness, or both. In allowing them to be gunned down, does the Second Amendment impose disproportionate consequences on them? No, they're not being shot as a punishment, but their shooting must be proportionate. Is it?


"Does the Second Amendment undermine the rule of law?"

The rule of law is the enemy of whim. In maximizing the odds in individual self-defense, does the Second Amendment enable arbitrary killing? An individual may reasonably believe that their life is in imminent danger, but as a practical matter, judging the reasonableness of that belief after the fact is hard, and judges and juries will tend to err in favor of the accused. A self-defense shooting can leave no witnesses save the shooter. Ultimately, if the forensics don't contradict them, we must rely on their word. Does this undermine the rule of law?


"Should individuals have this power?"

The Second Amendment empowers one set of individuals to use deadly force on another. Does this undermine the principle that law-enforcement should be conducted on behalf of everyone by agents of the state?

* * *

I look forward to Will's answers, and to my own cross-examination!
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Answers

#7  Postby willhud9 » Feb 02, 2014 11:16 pm

The following are my answers to Byron's questions.

Does armed self-defense make it too easy to commit unjustified homicide?

I will readily admit that there are many issues with present legislation on when lethal force is allowed to be used and how and when people get away with it. In cases such as the recent George Zimmerman trial we can see that even in the public's eye such controversy exists. Such laws allow a person to shoot a robber running away from the scene of the crime and such laws are abusive and antithetical to the point of armed self defense. The first and foremost action in this case would be to simply change those laws to be less abusive, to be more rational and reasonable, and to give us much protection to both parties that the law can allow. A robber making a mistake of robbing a house because of his poor economic standing may not deserve to die from breaking and entering.

This is also why those who are choosing to buy a gun for self defense should go through appropriate self defense classes. When you choose to carry armed you are choosing to potentially be able to end someone's life and such power, as I will address in a bit does not come lightly.

Does the Second Amendment rest on an obsolete concept of personal responsibility?

Personal responsibility will never be an obsolete concept. As for the 2nd Amendment being from another time, that is a tricky question. The language reflects such a time, but so does the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. If you can declare one as obsolete for no reason aside from it is dated why not the others?

Does the Second Amendment undermine the rule of law?

No. Self defense is a right all humans have. Now if an individual abuses said right of self defense serious legal repercussions should and must exist. The taking of another man's life is a serious thing. Anyone looking to carry for armed self-defense needs to fully understand this. This is why a firearm should also be considered the last line of defense.

Should individuals have this power?

We allow citizen arrests and we allow bounty hunters to exist. But by no means do these people somehow supercede the law. A citizen in the attempt to arrest a criminal, or suspect cannot violate the law. Neither can the police for that matter. The law applies equally for everyone within a country. But should individuals have the power to save their own life from a potential lethal threat? Yes. But such power needs to be tapered with responsibility and knowledge.

Either tonight or tomorrow I will post my questions. Thanks!
Fear is a choice you embrace
Your only truth
Tribal poetry
Witchcraft filling your void
Lust for fantasy
Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
User avatar
willhud9
 
Name: William
Posts: 19252
Age: 28
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Questions

#8  Postby willhud9 » Feb 04, 2014 2:19 am

Questions and these questions apply to the peanut gallery as well:

1) What solutions do you propose and why do you believe they are reasonable?

For example, Byron you know that a blanket repeal of the second amendment would never fly in current American politics. You also offered an amendment, what would your amendment include and why? On a more focused front aside from the second amendment, what do you suppose we do with current right to carry laws? Why?

Too often the debate becomes bogged down with ideologies and dogma that when it actually comes time for reasonable action, both sides only want what their ideologies and dogma dictate. We saw this in America after Sandy Hook. We had a chance of reasonable gun control that was blown because of the anti-gun activists spooking and delaying the negotiations with talks of assault rifle bans and magazine clip bans instead of background checks and other more reasonable measures. It allowed the extremist NRA to assume control of the debate and through massive lobbying, blocked the bipartisan gun control bill that was supported not only by the people, but reasonable and fair-minded gun activists. So what reasonable solutions do you propose and why?

2) On what basis should a person's right to carry be restricted?

Even this issue can be divided into subsections. On one hand you can legal carry in your home and car, but not in public. Other places restrict hospital carry rights and school carry rights, but allow in public. Where should the line be drawn and why?

3) If you could not repeal the second amendment but could free of pass amendment it, what would you amend it to and why?

4) What evidence do you have that restricting a person's right to carry substantially alters crime, gun deaths, and accidents?

For example, the guns are still in circulation, it just is illegal to carry the firearms on you, except for express purpose of transport and then it would have to be in a carrying case unloaded. Does limiting the right to carry prevent more deaths or more crime?

I await Byron's answers and I do urge those in the peanut gallery to sincerely answer the questions as well.
Fear is a choice you embrace
Your only truth
Tribal poetry
Witchcraft filling your void
Lust for fantasy
Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
User avatar
willhud9
 
Name: William
Posts: 19252
Age: 28
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Answers

#9  Postby Byron » Feb 05, 2014 10:53 pm

Thanks for some tough questions, Will.

* * *

"1) What solutions do you propose and why do you believe they are reasonable?"

This is a vital challenge. It's easy to be against things, harder to be for them.

Before I answer, I'll disagree with how your elaboration mixes aims and tactics. It's obvious that repealing the Second Amendment would be a Herculean task, which is why gun control advocates like President Obama declare their support for it. That isn't, in itself, the decider. Extending marriage to gay couples appeared likewise impossible in the early '90s, and look how that is progressing. While one may inform another, whether we should do something is a separate question from whether we can do something.

I propose that the Second Amendment be repealed and not be replaced. Private ownership of firearms would then be a privilege granted by the states. It would not be a right in any sense.

If it's impractical to eliminate defensive carry, it should be minimized, to avoid unjustified shootings. Individuals who want to carry a sidearm should be compelled to make a case for it. To avoid repeating the allegations of bias that abound in current "may issue" jurisdictions, the carry license ought to be decided by a jury, but in a court, with the citizen's case tested rigorously by a representative of the state.

That would put the decision in the hands of the people. It could, if necessary, form the basis of a new constitutional amendment.

"2) On what basis should a person's right to carry be restricted?"

The question isn't "where," as all firearms should be stored in an inoperable condition, as is typically stipulated in jurisdictions like Canada and Australia.

If exceptions have to be made, these should be as limited as possible, in order to minimize the odds of people being wrongfully shot dead in self-defense.

"3) If you could not repeal the second amendment but could free of pass amendment it, what would you amend it to and why?"

Good question! In that case, it should be amended to clarify that the right to keep and bear arms exists to provide a militia pool, like the Swiss situation, and not for personal self-defense.

If personal self-defense has to remain, the Constitution should make clear that it exists at the discretion of a jury.

"4) What evidence do you have that restricting a person's right to carry substantially alters crime, gun deaths, and accidents?"

None. I'm not entitled to my own facts. I have been making an ethical case for precisely this reason.

* * *

I again thank Will for his questions, and look forward to his closing, which will end what has been a brisk and enjoyable debate.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Closing Remarks

#10  Postby Byron » Feb 06, 2014 11:16 pm

Before I kick off, I'd like to thank the mods (especially THWOTH) for their assistance, those members of the peanut gallery who have offered constructive comments, and of course Will, for agreeing to this debate, and slicing and dicing my arguments so well. As is his right, he'll get the last word, and I fully expect him to make the best of it. Thanks, man.

My closing will review my arguments in light of Will's criticism, reiterate why my case took the path it did, and wrap by advocating the Second Amendment's repeal. Then it's over to Will.

* * *

Fight the Good Fight?

Will has made a measured case throughout, advocating moderate restrictions on firearms ownership, including training, and strict self-defense laws aimed at protecting life, not possessions.

What he has not done is overturn my contention that, in allowing citizens the means to kill criminals quickly and easily, too much power is given to the whims of individuals. Will is right to say that training will reduce bad shootings, but not nearly enough. Whatever training they undergo, in a fight of flight situation, people are still driven by instinct, still prone to kill fast if they believe their life to be imperiled.

Sometimes, this killing will be justified, but many other times, it will be excessive, assuming murderous intent where none exists. "Castle laws," that create a presumption that deadly force against an intruder is justified, exemplify this problem. If an intruder is shot dead, in virtually all cases, the homeowner will be let off. If the intruder was there to murder or rape, the shooting was justified. But if he was there to burgle, it was not. Castle laws lump both together, erring on the side of caution by allowing swift, brutal preemptive violence under color of law.

My position would lead to assaults that would not otherwise occur. I have never denied this hard truth. But I have argued that this cost is not insurmountable, and Will's case has not surmounted it. Perhaps it will in closing, and I issue that challenge now. Will, can you say why preemptive deadly force is justified?

Castle laws exemplify all that is wrong with the mindset created by the Second Amendment, a mindset that's now on the streets thanks to "stand your ground" laws, which abolish the ancient common law duty to retreat from a confrontation, if that retreat can be made in complete safety. Self-defense is morphing, shifting, from an act of last resort, to an offensive act of violence. It is becoming the thing it was created to oppose: aggressive violence.

Shoot first, ask questions later. If the poor bastard survives.

This is the world that the Second Amendment has created. Why have I focused on self-defense from criminals, and not dead arguments about militias, collective rights, and standing armies? Simply, because however the Second Amendment began, we must deal now with what it's become.


Lost Down an Originalist Blind Alley

Advocates of gun control have made a serious tactical error in arguing about interpretation. To put it bluntly, the Constitution says whatever judges decided that it says. Meaning is not proven like a science. Even if the judges are objectively wrong in their interpretation, take a realpolitik approach, and accept that a wrong interpretation is still the law of the land. Try to overturn it, by all means, but until you succeed, deal with the law as it is.

That is why I have not gotten snared in arguments about the merits of the individualist reading of the Second Amendment. Whether it's right or wrong, that's the state of play. You do not win a football game by arguing the merits of the rules. Until they change, you deal with the code as it stands.

As the Supreme Court ruled in Heller, whatever its origins, in real terms, the Second Amendment is now used to justify armed self-defense, so I have faced up to the reality, and argued against that position. Why focus on a dead paradigm? As Will rightly says, other amendments in the Bill of Rights started out differently. The Supreme Court has, ironically, used the progressive notion of a "living constitution" to interpret the Second Amendment in light of contemporary experience and concern. Disagree as we might, that is how things stand, and that is what I have argued against.


Repeal

Back to repeal for the close. Will has argued, and I will not disagree, that a fight to repeal the Second Amendment would be an uphill struggle. Up a vertical drop, smeared in grease, without handholds. It would be a bitch of a fight. No argument from me on that score.

This is not, as I have said, the decider. How isn't ought. We can argue that the Second Amendment should be repealed while being under no illusion about the practicalities.

I have made that argument, and I stand by it. The Second Amendment, as currently applied, devalues human life by giving citizens excessive ability to end the lives of others. It invites preemptive violence against any degree of assault. Armed self-defense often saves life, but at too high a cost. It imposes brutal, unappealable violence on criminals, without giving them the benefit of counsel, jury trial, and appeal. Sometimes this is necessary, but everything can and must be done to limit and discourage it.

There is a nasty tendency to dehumanize criminals, to cast them out for what they do. This is understandable, and not something to be glibly condemned, but it must be fought against, or society descends into a Hobbesian war of all against all, shaped not by the better angels of our nature, but by the brute mechanics of survival. Sometimes we must think in those terms, but the Second Amendment incites it. The Second Amendment, as currently interpreted, encourages us to be worse.

The Second Amendment should not be repealed because it's ineffective. Just the opposite. It should be repealed because it's all too effective in what it does, and what it does is wrong.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Closing Argument

#11  Postby willhud9 » Feb 12, 2014 6:05 pm

Sorry for the delay. Between work and being sick I just was tired to commit myself to a post.


I ditto my thanks to everyone involved and thank Byron for the offer to do this.

Freedom over Security[c]

"Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” ~Benjamin Franklin.

The quote resounds true to this day. The goal of security is something which many people arguably desire. To be safe at home, and not be in fear of one's life. But we know that security oftentimes comes at a cost. Whether it be in the form of an increased police state which increases the chances of police abuse. Or it be in the case of wiretaps and cameras being implemented throughout the country and privacy is drastically reduced, security comes at a price and that price is freedom.

I am not talking about us being turned into slaves if we surrendered our freedom to carry. But we lose the freedom to reasonably defend ourselves. We lose the freedom to engage in something we enjoy that has no overwhelming cost to others. You can enjoy these freedoms under a well-regulated government through sets of laws, regulations are fine. But blatant restrictions, blatant removal of those freedoms sets in course an action which has detrimental repercussions for the freedom of the individual.

Image

The above is a flowchart describing clearly the reasoning why legal carry should be allowed. We may say the police are there for security, but as the bubble shows if we as civilians cannot be held responsible enough to save our own lives why should we trust someone else to be responsible?

[c]Why the Second Can Stay


My opponent has not established why the Amendment should be repealed effectively. All he has suggested can already be accomplished through the writ of law without violating the 2nd Amendment. Not only that, but the principle behind the Second is not at all what Byron is arguing it is saying.

The Second's purpose is to allow the people the right to bear arms. That is all. It does not mention why. It didn't need a reason why. This debate comes back to the concept of freedom. You can have freedom through regulation and still have security. You do not need to bar the freedom in order to have security.

In Conclusion


In conclusion the debate is essentially this:

Does the individual have the right and the freedom to own a firearm or does that freedom present too much of a risk to the population?

The evidence is not conclusive to make an assumption on either side despite the stubbornness of members of both sides. The individual should have the freedom to own a firearm, but the risk must needs be minimized towards others. This can be achieved by creating regulatory policies which limit who gets a gun when and why. But again there's no logical reason to bar the right to legal carry. Deaths can be prevented, crime can be prevented by simply having policies which restrict the guns from those more likely to commit a crime, than those less likely.

The Second Amendment does not need to be repealed because it is fine as is. The interpretation of the court at this time has allowed gun control and who knows if in the future the militia clause will be interpreted in such a way to bar civilian ownership of a gun. Of course that pesky Ninth Commandment might get in the way.

* * *
Fear is a choice you embrace
Your only truth
Tribal poetry
Witchcraft filling your void
Lust for fantasy
Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
User avatar
willhud9
 
Name: William
Posts: 19252
Age: 28
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post


Return to Debates

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest