On Fort Hood number two, high school stabbings, liberty, and yelling fire in the theatre

A comment I noticed on NPR the other day garnered an interesting insight into the relation between freedom and gun rights:  there may have to be a large increase in armed personnel at Ft Hood to protect people from gun violence.

In order to be safe, we may have to tolerate a much greater presence of armed authorities than we normally think of tolerating.

I am reminded of the night streets of Montego Bay back in 1984, when I first ventured beyond U.S. boundaries. On every street corner stood a military type    armed with an automatic weapon. Somehow I never thought of Jamaica as being comparable on the Freedom Scale to the U.S. in those days. But, then, the Second Amendment wasn’t such a hot topic back then.

Or maybe the “right to bear arms” has nothing to do with freedom–other than the freedom to sell arms, which the NRA will surely support.

As some of you know, I personally think the debate about the original meaning of the founders when they adopted the Second Amendment with reference to militias has been so sullied by advocates of gun rights that the only viable hope of  removing the issue from constant and repetitive public exposure through shootings is to repeal the Second Amendment altogether and to begin the debate anew. But this Fort Hood story points out a difficulty I hadn’t anticipated before.

At the  same time it shines a light on the “right to bear arms” that might  have potential for solving what has become a tragic and perplexing problem.

It is an accepted truism of the discussion surrounding the debate around the right of  free speech that  common sense limits it so much that no one–despite the First Amendment–has the right to yell out “Fire” in a crowded theater unless he/she honestly thinks he/she has detected evidence of a fire. To endanger  the masses in the theater through the potential of a panic without legitimate cause was not the  founders intent and it is not protected by the first Amendment.

Why isn’t a similar kind of common sense test routinely applied to the Second Amendmennt?  I see no common sense argument for carrying concealed weapons, or huge clips. I do, though, see  reasons to worry very much about freedom in the presence on every street corner of a military type armed with an automatic weapon.  That seems too me to be the logical conclusion of current thinking about the ‘right to bear arms.”

If the logical conclusion the some nut on a careless whim might endanger people in a theater through the exercise of “free speech” is enough to negate that concept in the one case, why isn’t the corresponding concern valid in the case of “the right to bear arms?”  It’s not as if carrying was ever going to protect us from the tanks and airplanes of the government.  In fact, when we have military types with automatic weapons on every corner, how will the “right to bear arms” have served us?

My aversion to handguns and light arms of every sort comes from two simple facts: the first one too use them is usually the last–or nearly so–and the ease of use and range of death dispersal is huge.

The kid that went berserk in a Pennsylvania High School last week would have almost certainly qualified to get a gun, no matter the amount of regulation the court currently were to allow. But, thank God, he only carried a couple of knives. If he’d been armed like the kid at Sandyhook, the death toll would have been much larger and he certainly would not have been stopped by an assistant principle.

Where”s the sense in that?

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One Response to On Fort Hood number two, high school stabbings, liberty, and yelling fire in the theatre

  1. Dallas Smith says:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-VT) proposes adding five words to the 2nd Amendment to clarify the founding fathers intent: …the right to bear arms shall not be infringed WHILE SERVING IN THE MILITIA.

    Your description of the proliferation of arms pretty much describes the tribal area of Pakistan, where everyone MUST carry a gun for protection against everyone else who’s carrying.

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