Wednesday, 19 January 2011

2nd Amendment Reductio?

I read an interesting story this morning about a man in Massachusetts, of all places.  To summarize, some loon commented on the Tucson shooting saying, among a few other things,  "1 down and 534 to go" and for that reason had his gun license revoked.  But couldn't we argue that this in violation of the man's second amendment rights if one insists that the second amendment guarantees an individual's right to bear arms?  The whole point of the second Amendment if we're to believe defender's of the "individual right to bear arms" interpretation is that each individual may (should?) be carrying what amounts to an implicit threat to do harm to members of the government should they decide that they don't like what the government is doing.  Surely, the Second Amendment means nothing at all if it allows for the government to remove the arms should they gain any sort of evidence that the individual is considering acting on that threat.

I think this illustrates an odd tension in the Second Amendment as interpreted by the likes of the NRA. It's presented as a tool provided to individuals to help facilitate the overthrow of tyranny, but then we also seem to say, "but if we ever get a hint that you might actually be planning to use the right for its intended purpose,we'll take it away immediately".  And, of course, that makes perfect sense -- we wouldn't expect the government to sit idly by whilst people plot and threaten to do government members harm. But doesn't that suggest a fundamental flaw in the individual right to bear arms interpretation of the 2nd Amendment? Why would you grant someone the means to accomplish X but insist that you reserve the right to take away the means should they ever indicate a plan to use it for its intended purpose? Isn't that a bit like distributing fire extinguishers with the understanding that they'll all malfunction in smoky or warm conditions?

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