Monday, 29 November 2004
|1120 - Guns: not "anybody", not "anytime", not "anywhere"|
wbwolf also misstates my position on gun ownership in his LJ entry. Since i can't reply to his distortion in his entry, I'll do it here.
His position is basically any gun, any time, anywhere, anybody.
The first is more or less accurate. I believe that the Second Amendment was written to protect civilian ownership of any weapon of military utility. The Supreme Court agrees: in the case that upheld the Firearms Act of 1934's prohibition on interstate commerce in sawed-off shotguns, they ruled that it was permissible because it was not within judicial notice that they were weapons of military utility. It happens they were wrong in that, as a sawed-off shotgun is preferred by troops for close-quarters battle, but the basic principle is sound. Further, in the early years of the nation, it was not uncommon for private citizens to own cannon, and not unheard of for private citizens to own warships - and this was clearly accepted at the time.
The "any time, anywhere" is not. There are times and places when going armed is inappropriate, and placing restrictions on those is permissible in my view, so long as those restrictions are narrowly crafted to achieve an overriding state purpose - and "to prevent the possibility of an armed rampage", with no further qualification, is not enough. While I believe, for example, that the best deterrent to terrorism on aircraft is to allow passengers to carry handguns with them, I realize that this is highly unlikely to ever happen, and so I accept restrictions on carrying them there.
"Anybody" is definitely inaccurate. This is perhaps the most insidious lie coming from the Left about firearms ownership: that the NRA, and by extension "gun nuts", advocates letting anyone own firearms. This is simply wrong. There are many laws on the books that make it illegal for convicted felons, people with mental illnesses, and some others to own firearms, and I and the NRA support them fully. There are people that, by their actions, demonstrate that they should not own guns, and the law properly restricts them from it.
The distortions I've addressed are hardly unique to wbwolf (although he posted them even after I debunked them in the article he linked to in qaianna's LJ), and are spread by the leftist media over and over without any consideration of the facts. I guess it's easier to demonize gun owners than it is to refute their arguments honestly.
current mood: irritated
The problem with the "any weapon of military utility" thing, nowadays, is that the balance of weapons, tactics, and strategy is far, far, far thrown toward offense - a modern warship, for instance, can hit things within about 30 miles and uproot trees in a thousand foot radius with a single blast from its main gun; territory is far too complex to hold except by the largest forces, and even then entire squads slip through the cracks and can deal incredible amounts of damage; missiles can hit things 10,000 miles away and destroy cities of 10,000,000 people in the span of a few seconds and there is no effective defense against this other than the threat of retaliation. Terrorists are as effective as they are because there isn't something solid that you can attack to stop them.
The balance between offense and defense has swung back and forth repeatedly over the centuries, most recently between WWI (trench warfare is decidedly a defensive maneuver) and WWII (where fast armored vehicles, aircraft, and eventually the atomic bomb defeated any attempt at defense, especially over large fronts).
While I believe, for example, that the best deterrent to terrorism on aircraft is to allow passengers to carry handguns with them...
Bullets tend to destroy electronics, poke holes in pressure chambers, and really really fsck up moving parts. Since you are completely surrounded by all these things on an aircraft and all three are mission critical, even the remote possibility of misfire puts them as more dangerous than the things they are meant to prevent.
Aircraft are much more robust than this. Bullet holes are not enough to cause explosive decompression (it's been tested, IIRC). Any system on an airliner that can be damaged by bullets is multiply redundant, not for that reason, but because it prevents troubles in case of other kinds of mechanical problems. The hydraulic system on the DC-10, for example, was retrofitted to be redundant after one crash where an engine exploded and disabled it completely.
I'm not saying that a stray, or overpenetrating, bullet aboard an airliner is not going to cause damage, or even problems necessitating an early end to the flight. I am saying that that end will, more than likely, be under complete control and using procedures that airline pilots already know how to handle. It certainly won't be as catastrophic as flying the aircraft into a major office building.
Sure, but how many times have aircraft been lost to incidents that would have been prevented by the presence of several guns on board? Not many, that's for sure. Heck, right now I count three, total. What I (and many others involved) am worried about is that misfires plus all the other bad stuff that can happen on board when guns are added to the equation adds up to a greater total potential danger than that presented by the possibility of people taking over the plane. Dead pilots can't land planes, and emergency landings are by definition more difficult than normal landings.
Besides that, it ignores the fact that the terrorists had already won the arms race, legally, when they got on the plane with box knives, which were perfectly acceptable to carry onto planes at the time. Yet, somehow, nobody else had one. Simply allowing weapons into an area doesn't mean that people without criminal intent are going to carry them there.
There have been only four times in recent history (the four aircraft lost on 9/11) where aircraft have been lost in circumstances that would have been prevented by armed passengers. Still, that threat has been responsible for the greatest single erosion of personal civil rights in history. I contend that that is less acceptable a price to pay than simply allowing passengers to arm themselves and deterring terrorism by making it unlikely that passengers will have little choice but to allow themselves to become part of someone's special political statement.
It's a certainty that there were passengers with other knives and similar weapons aboard the four aircraft. Indeed, the passengers aboard United 93 (the one that crashed in Pennsylvania) successfully prevented the terrorists from accomplishing whatever their objective was. The real culprit was that, until 9/11, doctrine among the airlines and the government was not to resist hijackers, but instead to allow them to do as they pleased in the air. Until that time, hijackers had always allowed the aircraft to land safely, and so the safety of the passengers was judged to be improved by not interfering with the hijackers in flight. After 9/11, that idea went permanently out the window. Should the terrorists be foolish enough as to try another hijacking, they will be confronted by passengers, armed with nothing more than their hands, determined to thwart their plans even at the cost of their own lives - for those lives are assumed to be forfeit anyway. In a very real sense, 9/11 screwed up hijacking for purposes other than suicide bombing irrevocably.
I know that, if I were allowed to carry firearms onto commercial aircraft, I would do so. I'm certain I'm not alone.
You're conflating two seperate problems here: that terrorists use planes like missiles, and that people use that as an excuse to take away civil liberties. Allowing guns on planes won't solve the latter, and allowing guns on planes is arguably more dangerous, in total, than the former.
Also, what exactly makes you think hijacking for suicide bombing would be any more successful than any other kind of hijacking? Unless of course you mean packing explosives in baggage - that is to say, not actually hijacking the plane.