Bill Whittle and the Second Amendment
Posted by Lissa on May 28, 2010
Good morning all! Happy Friday! Are you looking forward to a three-day weekend? Are you planning a barbecue? A trip to a cemetery? Both?
I was watching/listening to a TRIFECTA podcast on my way home yesterday — first podcast on the iPhone, yay! — and it made me dig out my copy of Silent America. I wouldn’t necessarily say this book changed my life, but it was certainly an eye-opener; it was written by a person who loved America, was proud of America without being blind to her faults, and who thought it was stupid and unnecessary to be ashamed of loving America.
Picking up his book for the first time in a few years, my eyes widened at this passage in his “FREEDOM” essay:
But back to the undeniable domestic cost: When confronted with the idea of banning handguns to reduce this horrible toll, many handgun defenders are tempted to point to the numbers killed on the highways each year — perhaps four times that number — and ask why we don’t ban cars as well.
The logical response is that bans on travel – cars, airplanes, etc. – are a false analogy compared to banning guns because cars have a clear benefit while guns don’t do anything other than kill what they are aimed at.
While that is exactly true, I think it misses the point, which to me is simply this: We’d never ban car travel to avoid thousands of highway deaths. It’s clearly not worth it in both economic and personal freedom terms. We chose, reluctantly, and with many a lost loved one in mind, to keep on driving.
I couldn’t believe it. BILL WHITTLE has missed the point, which is simply this:
That’s right, guns don’t do anything other than kill what they aim at. (Okay, fine, they also facilitate personal responsibility, self-control, camaraderie, self-reliance, the public safety, etc. etc., but shut up, we’re talking about other stuff right now.) Guns are supposed to kill what they aim at. That IS the point.
Ask those two Chicago octogenarians how they feel about their gun killing what it was aimed at. Ask their 13-year-old son grandson [oops] how he feels, too.
Don’t worry, though; Bill Whittle DOES get it, though you may not be able to tell from that one cherry-picked paragraph. Here are some of the following paragraphs that prove he gets it:
But understand this: 11,000 handgun deaths a year, over four years is very roughly 50,000 killed. In Nazi Germany, an unarmed population was unable to resist the abduction and murder of 6,000,000 people in a similar period: a number 120 times higher. Throw in the midnight murders of the Soviets, the Chinese, the various and sundry African and South American genocides and purges and political assassinations and that number grows to many hundreds, if not several thousand times more killings in unarmed populations.
Visualize this to fully appreciate the point. Imagine the Superbowl. Every player on the field is a handgun victim. All the people in the stands are the victims who were unable to resist with handguns. Those are historical facts. [snip]
The history of civilization shows time and time again how decent, sophisticated city dwellers amass wealth through cooperation and the division of labor – only to be victimized by ruthless gangs of raping, looting cutthroats who couldn’t make a fruit basket, sweeping down on them, murdering them and carting away the loot, to return a few years later, forever, ad infinitum. Vikings, Mongols, desperadoes of every stripe – they are a cancer on humanity but there they are and there they have always been.
If civilization is worth having (and I believe it is) then it has to be defended, because the restraining virtues of justice, compassion and respect for laws are products of that civilizing force and completely unknown to those who would do it harm.
He even gets into the “I am the only one professional enough” meme!
You may argue that only the police should be allowed to carry guns. Consider this carefully. Do we really want to create an unelected subculture that views itself as so elite and virtuous as to be the only ones worthy of such power, trust and authority? Have we not clearly seen the type of people drawn to such exclusive positions of authority, and the attitudes and arrogance it promotes?
Furthermore, I can’t see any moral distinction between a policeman and a law-abiding citizen. Policemen are drawn from the ranks of law-abiding citizens. They are not bred in hydroponics tanks. They are expected to show restraint and use their weapon as a last resort. Millions upon millions of citizens, a crowd more vast than entire armies of police, do exactly this every day.
If all of these horrors had sprung up as a result of the invention of the handgun I’d be right there beside those calling for their destruction.
But clearly, this is not the case. In our cowboy past we used to say that “God created Man, but Sam Colt made them equal.” This is simple enough to understand. It means that a villager, let’s say a schoolteacher, can defeat a human predator who may have spent his entire life practicing the art of war. Firearms are what tipped the balance toward civilization by eliminating a lifetime spent studying swordplay or spear play or pointed-stick play. The bad guys have always used weapons and they always will. The simple truth about guns is that they are damn effective and even easier to operate. They level the playing field to the point where a woman has a chance against a gang of thugs or a police officer can control a brawl.
Looking for another book to keep in your bathroom? Pick up a copy of Silent America today.
Oh, and Happy Friday!
UPDATE: P.S., It’s Borepatch’s 22nd anniversary. Go on over and wish him a congrats!