Righting some wrongs

There are a lot of misconceptions held and wrong claims made by those opposed to guns. Most of the people are my fellow liberals.

In this post, I set out to right a few of these wrongs. I do this because well-intentioned but misguided knee-jerk responses to a problem often do not fix anything, and may even make the situation worse. This is nowhere more true than when creating new laws to constrain the rights of citizens.

Is it so? The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms.
No, it is wrong! The right to bear arms is a pre-existing, natural right; the Second Amendment just prohibits the government from infringing that right.

Is it so? The purpose of a semiautomatic “assault rifle” is to kill as many people as possible, so only the army needs these.
No, it is wrong! This is almost the only type of rifle you’d expect to find in a police car, for example. It is a fine weapon for defense against armed assailants, and is used in only a tiny fraction of unlawful homicides.

Is it so? There are more gun-related suicides/murders in states and countries with more guns.
No, it is wrong! It’s a straw man argument; the actual suicide/murder rate is the truly relevant fact. Japan and Hong Kong have virtually no guns and a very high suicide rate. The US has vastly more guns per capita than any other country, but is fairly average for overall homicide rate (#108 in the world, #4 in the OECD, #7 in the G20).

Is it so? The AR-15 is a high-powered, murderously dangerous weapon. Only crazy people buy such a weapon.
No, it is wrong! The AR-15 is a fairly ordinary, medium-powered, semiautomatic rifle. Maximum lethality is not its aim; it fulfills a variety of design goals including portability, accuracy, and so on. It is by far the most popular rifle among ordinary gun owners because it is reliable and easy to shoot. Many hunting rifles shoot far more powerful cartridges than the AR-15.

Is it so? Britain has a low murder and violent crime rate because they have banned guns.
No, it is wrong! Britain has always had a low murder rate, even when guns were virtually unregulated. And Britain’s violent crime rate is one of the worst in the world.

Is it so? The Second Amendment guarantees only that militias have the right to be armed, and that individuals do not.
No, it is wrong! It would be strange indeed if nine of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights protected the rights of individuals, and just one (the second) were not. Freedom of speech, religion, assembly, freedom from self-incrimination and from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to a fair trial — these are all individual rights and not “collective” rights of the state. And the Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment too is an individual right.

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