In today's NJ Star-Ledger, the editors called for a legal ban on assault rifles, declaring, "It's the Guns, Stupid!". I left the following comments:
zemack July 21, 2012 at 10:18AM
And once again, the cry goes up: PUNISH THE INNOCENT! Because of the actions of one evil man, we must violate the rights of the millions of people who did not commit the crime. It is immoral to exploit these evil acts to assault the rights of law-abiding citizens.
The right to own a gun is rooted in our fundamental inalienable individual rights; the right to life, which entails the right to self-defense; and the rights-respecting pursuit of happiness, which could entail hobbies like gun collecting or recreational uses like hunting, competitions, or target practice. We all have the right to own a gun, even those of us who do not avail ourselves of gun ownership (me included). (I have no particular opinion about assault rifles. But make no mistake, the same motive that lies behind the move to ban assault rifles lies behind the move to ban all guns.)
Violating rights is immoral. It is also impractical. The simplistic notion that a law can banish assault rifles is the same mentality that lies behind 1920s-style alcohol prohibition and the modern era's perpetually failed "war on drugs." A law would merely ban legally owned assault rifles.
But the issue of assault rifle legality aside, their is something much more fundamental involved. A belief in the validity of reason and free will is fundamental to justice and a free society, including this country's Founding. The "It's the guns, stupid" mantra is a repudiation of human free will and logic, and thus--as this editorial proves--justice. It implies that we are not responsible for our actions; that an inanimate object causes human action, as if a gun can attack people of its own volition.
The issue is not guns. The issue is the initiation of physical force against others. Those who do--whether with guns or knives or fists or cars or whatever--do so of their own choice and should be punished. Those who don't should have their rights protected.
One final thought: Imagine how much carnage could have been avoided had any of those theater-goers been armed under right-to-carry laws.