An Anonymous Coward writes:
A gunman fired upon thousands of people attending a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night, in a brutal attack that is blamed for at least 58 deaths, police say. In the mass shooting and panic that ensued, 515 people were injured. At least one of the dead is an off-duty police officer who was attending the concert.
Editorializing: Interesting how media always emphasize ISLAMIC terrorists, but downplay domestic terrorism as psychologically disturbed individual lone-wolfs.
Guess I'm late to the show, but I find this argument about pre-existing rights strange. Isn't the the point with just about all goverments to regulate the peoples rights? Take some away and guarante others.
Isn't the the point with just about all goverments to regulate the peoples rights? Take some away and guarante others.
Well, that and guarantee less and less as time goes on and the public becomes more accepting of the taking away of rights. You don't move to totalitarian police state instantly, the frog needs to be boiled slowly.
The point of rights is that they are freedoms that the governments can't take away. When they can, then they aren't rights any more.
That is absolutely not the idea upon which the US was founded. Our "founding fathers" believed that "rights" were things inherent in men which the government could never legitimately restrict. Which is why the Bill of Rights wasn't an original part of the Constitution and was instead added as amendments -- many even argued that it should not be included precisely because by defining rights in law you risk creating the belief that the law is what creates those rights -- as you just demonstrated.
See "Natural Rights": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights [wikipedia.org]
See also Federalist No. 84: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/bor/federalist-84/ [teachingamericanhistory.org]
It has been several times truly remarked that bills of rights are, in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgements of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was MAGNA CHARTA, obtained by the barons, sword in hand, from King John. Such were the subsequent confirmations of that charter by subsequent princes. Such was the Petition of the Right assented to by Charles the First in the beginning of his reign. Such, also, was the Declaration of Right presented by the Lords and Commons to the Prince of Orange in 1688, and afterwards thrown into the form of an act of Parliament called the Bill of Rights. It is evident, therefore, that, according to their primitive signification, they have no application to constitutions, professedly founded upon the power of the people and executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing; and as they retain everything they have no need of particular reservations. “WE, THE PEOPLE of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Here is a better recognition of popular rights than volumes of those aphorisms which make the principal figure in several of our State bills of rights and which would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government....I go further and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.
I think I understand what you say, but I find it difficult to agree. There's two different issues here.
1. Is the right to bear arms a natural right and what do we do if this right contradict other rights. The issue here isn't really guns, it is safety. It could be argued that guns are an essential part of the right to saftey (i.e. self defence). It could also be argued that a society without restrictions on lethal weapons isn't a safe society. Not even the U.S is completly without restrictions and I find it extremly unlikely that less restrictions would make the country safer.
2. Should the law define rights. This is to me more interesting and also where I found it very difficult to agree with your(?) point of view. If the law doesn't define the rights. Who should? And who will ensure that these rights are actual rights and not just a dream. People will never have a fully shared idea about what the rights should be.
It sounds to me like what you describe would lead to an anarchistic world view. I tend to like anarchy (I'm not using the general meaning of the word but refers to the ideologic idea see e.g. Robert Nozick) but find it extremly difficult to implement. The U.S is very far from anarchistic so I suspect that that's not what your ralking about.
Well, I don't personally believe in the magical sky fairies (although I otherwise do tend to agree about this), but it was the view of the US founders that rights essentially came from God:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
I'd agree mostly in the sense that most "rights" are things that you really can't take away no matter how hard you try. Free speech...you can pass all the laws you want, people will say what they think in the privacy of their own home. Freedom of religion...you can't control someone elses' thoughts or beliefs. But the right to bear arms fits that pattern as well -- if people think they need weapons, they will find a way to arm themselves. We've got people building rail guns and tazers out of disposable cameras. We've got 3D printed pistols. Before that, we had zip guns. Before that, we had people beating plowshares into swords.
Yeah, I'm definitely sympathetic towards an anarchist view...I lean towards Anarcho-syndicalism generally. Difficult to implement because it's a social structure as much as a political one -- unlike most governments, it's not something a core group of politicians could impose by force. Essentially, people should act cooperatively in the interest of society without someone forcing them at gunpoint to do so.
I will say that I'm not *entirely* opposed to gun control under our current system, but it would need to be done in a way that applies equally to everyone. The point of the US government was supposed to be that it is "of, by, and for the people" -- ie, the government is not separate from the citizenry. So you can't say that the government gets weapons but the citizens can't. If you want a licensing exam similar to how we regulate driving, that's fine...but every cop with a gun and every soldier must pass that same exam. If you want a blanket ban on certain weapons, fine, but that ban must apply to government agents as well (a pistol ban would actually be a pretty good policy IMO...not much use in war; far from the only or even best option for home defense; mostly good at being small and easily concealed. But that won't stop these mass shootings...)
The other thing to consider is that mass *homicides* in general don't seem to correlate entirely with gun control. China has pretty strict gun control, but they've had some mass stabbings with a body count that exceeds all but the worst US shooting incidents. My feeling is that one has to be extremely desperate to turn to this kind of crime, and the reason much of Europe sees less of it is simply because they have better social programs to prevent people from reaching that point. The US, on the other hand, has a very large and vocal faction saying that your problems are your own, deal with it or die. So I think gun control is totally irrelevant if the real cause of these incidents is that inability to get help.
Where does law come from, if not from dictators at gunpoint? Can its authority be sourced from somewhere else? It can - but doing so comes with some drawbacks and limitations [soylentnews.org]