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K-Mac

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms

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the US is by far the freest nation in the world.

David, there are countries in the world that have no laws on their books banning light bulbs. There are countries where nuclear power plants can be built and oil wells can be drilled. There are countries where there is no taxation.

I don't dispute that the United States is one of the freest nations in the world, and in some respects it may well be still THE freest, but I have to disagree with an unqualified "by far the freest."

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I don't dispute that the United States is one of the freest nations in the world, and in some respects it may well be still THE freest, but I have to disagree with an unqualified "by far the freest."
There can be no question that the US is not a "completely free" nation. In terms of freedom of speech, the US is worse off than, say, Norway or Iceland (and a bright line can be drawn separating Norway and the US from Sweden and Canada, a line labeled "hate speech laws"). So in some specific respect the US may not be as free as some other nation. My judgment is that overall, that is, integrating all aspects of freedom and respect for individual rights, the US remains the freest nation on Earth. You may have a different judgment -- which nation(s) would you propose may have a better claim to being the freest nation? I'm interesting to see how close those competitors are in terms of overall freedom.

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I'm interesting to see how close those competitors are in terms of overall freedom.

How free are Hong Kong (unfortunately now part of China), Dubai (obviously part of UAE) and Ireland in terms of overall freedom? I know that each one enjoys a substantial amount of economic freedom.

"Who are the freest nations in the world and why?" is an interesting question that should probably be split into a different thread.

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The ranking I like is the State of World Liberty Project at

http://www.stateofworldliberty.org/report/rankings.html

They include data on both economic and individual liberty from the Cato Institute, Freedom House, the Fraser Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

2006 results:

1 Estonia

2 Ireland

3 Canada

4 Switzerland

5 Iceland

6 Bahamas

7 United Kingdom

8 United States

9 Cyprus

10 New Zealand

11 Luxembourg

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My judgment is that overall, that is, integrating all aspects of freedom and respect for individual rights, the US remains the freest nation on Earth. You may have a different judgment -- which nation(s) would you propose may have a better claim to being the freest nation?

Keep in mind that the words I objected to were: "by far the freest." That would mean that the U.S. is much freer than other countries by a great majority of the criteria. That used to be true once, but right now, the U.S. is pretty much in the same league with the European socialist democracies--still a bit better than them, but all too eager to close the gap.

As for picking the overall winner from among a bunch of nations that are roughly in the same league, I think that would be an idle occupation. Each of us has his own hierarchy of values, and a corresponding set of weights for the various criteria--plus, each of us is likely to include many non-political factors as well when choosing a place to live and do business, which will vary by the industry and the person.

I would agree to say, though, that America is by far the most freedom-loving nation in the world. There is no other country where so many people understand why it's important for individuals to be able to keep and bear arms. There is no other country where such a large minority of people grasp that rights are not something granted by the government. There is no other country where Atlas Shrugged is the second most-read book. Perhaps I'm an optimist when I say that 30% of Americans will, some day in the not too distant future, fully understand and support the principle of individual rights--but if I said that about any other nation, I would not be an optimist; I would be deluded.

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I'd strongly question the credibility of any report that puts Canada and the U.K. ahead of the States.

I think what puts the US down on that list is the human rights violations(Guantanamo etc.) + the fact that economically the US does have a lot of public spending and quite a lot of trade protectionism as well. But all in all, i think its the massive human rights violations that the US governent does around the world that brings them down on the lis

However, the US is "by far" the freest country in the world "ideologically", iow. americans value freedom, happiness and success way more than in most other countries. So, for a rational individual, the US is still "the place to be" in todays world, if you want to be happy and succeed, even though the economic policies of some other countries may be more in alignment with "freedom".

Ireland is a really conservative, catholic country, and even though they have made massive economic reforms, id guess Ireland is not the place to go if you value freedom. You will not find people who live in a way that is consistant with what their economic policies are, and as most non-US countries in the world, success and individualism ranks really low on the scale of good/evil.

Estonia is a young market-economy, and has done some massive economic reforms. They are suffering from a very common post-soviet syndrome, where the people dont really seem to grasp why individualism is good. Its like they have turned into the caricatyre-like "capitalist pigs" that the soviet propaganda accused the western world of being, instead of really grasping why communism was bad and what individualism really means.

Ireland and Estonia are actually good examples of what is so bad about libertarianism. They have just "inserted" the policies, without understanding why the policies are good, and the people of those countries do not live in a way that is consistant with what would lead people to support those new economic reforms

Therefore, id rather live in the US(and may move there once i graduate), where i am surrounded by (more or less) rational, individualistic people than in a country with better policies but a population who does not understand them or live in a way where i can strive and succeed.

Its much more important what the people in a country are like, than the slight differences in policies. After a while, if the people are rational, perfectly rational policies will also strive, but there is very little value in living in a country with "good" policies but an irrational population

Edited by JJJJ

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Who is "the rest of us" that would stand up to fight for individual rights? The "rest of us" voting for Obama? The "rest of us" voting for McCain? The "rest of us" voting for higher and higher taxes on the rich (i.e., anyone who makes more than the median income) to redistribute their wealth to the poor of the whole world? ...

Yes, this is exactly what I mean by, "the rest of us." There is no miscommunication here. While I agree that many Americans are misguided, I still believe that most oppose to having more of their freedoms taken away. (And who votes for higher taxes? I, personally, have never met anyone that wants to pay more taxes. There are a few who call for that and many politicians who vote for it, but very few average, mainstream Americans want more taxation.)

We Americans are spoiled children when it comes to our freedoms, and once pushed too far, people will resist. This Pew Research Center Study is just one example, and a good one, that I saw recently. Personally, I believe the Environmentalist movement is getting ready to experience a huge backlash as a result of higher energy prices, and it's gonna be funny as hell to watch. Not only will it be entertaining, but it will provide Objectivists with all types of ammunition with which to present and defend our ideas.

The whole reason I came looking for this thread again, was to post this article. http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns/08070...r-bear-arms.php It's nice to know that there are still people who know what the Second Amendment is really about. The more I've pondered David's post about me being crazy for thinking I may need my guns one day to defend myself against a tyrannical government, the more crazy I think he is. Surely the Founding Fathers didn't think that some crack addict would kick in the door to my apartment to rob me, and that's why I'd need a gun?!

So do you think that individual rights stem from the beliefs of the Founders or Framers?

Uh, no. Why do you ask? I simply asked if you disagree with the people who came up with the Second Amendment. They had good reason to include gun rights in the Constitution, reasons neither you nor I have ever had the displeasure to live through. I'll take their word for it as I'd rather not experience it for myself; however, I will be prepared for such an occasion.

Edited by K-Mac

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Maybe the way to think of the right vis-a-vis tyranny is that it's a reserve power that we retain just in case it's ever needed, not that we actually foresee needing it. Constitutional history is replete with such examples. The British monarch hasn't denied the Royal Assent to a bill passed by Parliament since 1708, but retains that power nonetheless. No U.S. President has ever been removed from office by impeachment and conviction, yet that power certainly exists, though its use unforeseen. The point being that in matters of constitutional provisions, some of which account for outlying contingencies, it would be mistaken to demand that their ongoing justification depend upon foreseeable events. It's enough that as a general proposition, the people ought to retain the power to throw off tyrannical government, which necessitates the right to keep and carry guns.

Edited by Seeker

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I still believe that most oppose to having more of their freedoms taken away. (And who votes for higher taxes?
At the same time, most (overwhelmingly) support "being safe" (good bye habeas corpus, warrants are optional), and being safe also includes being safe from need, want, and the consequences of our actions. Or the actions of others, like what happens when you invest unwisely, or at least in error.
The more I've pondered David's post about me being crazy for thinking I may need my guns one day to defend myself against a tyrannical government, the more crazy I think he is.
If you could point out what exactly it is that I said that leads you to believe that I think that you are crazy -- even after this statement -- I would be happy to explain why nothing that I said could possibly be interpreted as implying that you are crazy. Wrong, no doubt, but not crazy. I have no idea how many cats you own. You could also try to support your accusation that I am insane, if you don't mind, assuming you were serious.
Surely the Founding Fathers didn't think that some crack addict would kick in the door to my apartment to rob me, and that's why I'd need a gun?!
Surely you don't think the Founding Fathers -- who are not exactly relevant to discussions of the Second Amendment -- have any relation to your right to own a weapon, and surely you don't think that your right to own a weapon, or a frying pan, has some prerequisite of demonstration in terms of "need". This is the fundamental error of the conservatives, that they see the right to gun ownership as being somehow a fringe-right, intrinsically in doubt and thus in need of special defense, as contrasted to the right to own a house or a drill press. Why in the world would you persistently try to reduce the argument for a right to own weapons to an under-developed need-based theory of man's rights?
Uh, no. Why do you ask?
Well, you keep trying to reduce the basic political issue to the specifics of the Founders and Framers. I've been trying to persuade you to get off the 2nd Amendment horse: that your right to own weapons doesn't come from or depend on anything quirky in the political history of the US. It comes from the proper nature of government and law, period. It is a good thing that that right is in fact recognized at such a fundamental level (unlike the right to keep your earnings, for example), and an even better thing that the Heller court took a relatively positive step (for them, bunch of pansies) in the right direction. But the 2nd Amendment is really not that important in understanding the relationship between freedom and the government of the United States, and is totally irrelevant in understanding what is going on in Zimbabwe. The US is not even a little like Zimbabwe: I don't know how to persuade you of that. Maybe you could remind me of the concrete analogies between freedom in the US and the brutal dictatorship of Zimbabwe, so that I can get your point.

To refresh your memory, you made this juxtaposition: "The primary reason I own a gun (the first and foremost reason) is for personal protection. The fundamental reason for the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution, is to protect men from government.". I reminded you that this is not the proper derivation of the right to bear arms, and then asked "So you disagree with the Founding Fathers?" Now I'm quite aware that a question is not the same as an assertion, so if I were to say "So, have you stopped murdering babies?", that doesn't literally assert that you do habitualy murder babies, but it strongly suggests it. Same with your question: you question contains an unsupported presupposition. Actually, a number of them. Be that as it may, please note the parallelism in your question and my response question:

You: "So you disagree with the Founding Fathers?"

Me: "So do you think that individual rights stem from the beliefs of the Founders or Framers?"

So, I simply asked if you think that individual rights stem from the beliefs of the Founders or Framers. Can I now ask why you asked whether I disagreed with the Founders or the Framers?

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If you could point out what exactly it is that I said that leads you to believe that I think that you are crazy --

I beg your pardon...it was this that I was thinking of...

I maintain that it is irrational for a person to exercise that right to bear arms only on the mythical presumption that the government will come to get you.

And I don't think it's irrational to believe that a tyrannical government can be kept at bay by an armed society. I think you're being irrational if you don't think the US could ever come to that.

I've been trying to persuade you to get off the 2nd Amendment horse

Well, since my post was about the Second Amendment being challenged in court, perhaps you should start another thread if you do not wish to discuss the Second Amendment.

The US is not even a little like Zimbabwe: I don't know how to persuade you of that. Maybe you could remind me of the concrete analogies between freedom in the US and the brutal dictatorship of Zimbabwe, so that I can get your point.

You don't need to persuade me since I never said that and I've already said this...

I never said the current state of the US is the same as the current state of Zimbabwe. Never.

Again, the only thing I was comparing is the inability of the people of Zimbabwe to defend themselves against their government and what could happen here if the gun control freaks have their way. I was simply (or so I thought) making the point that the US could be going down a scary slippery slope if SCOTUS were to have upheld the DC ban.

Now you've talked me in circles and got me off on other tangents, but that was the only point I was making in my initial thread. When I see the populations of other countries unable to defend themselves against government tyranny, it makes me glad I have a gun so I can at least make a reasonable attempt to protect myself and my property. I really didn't know if SCOTUS would have the balls to defend the Second Amendment, and it was a scary thought to think that my ability to defend myself may very well have been done away with. Then some day, I could be like the people of Zimbabwe, and running scared and helpless...only I wouldn't have the US Embassy to run to. I think that right has nothing to do w/ the Constitution, the Framers or the Founders, you or anyone else; however, that's not what the court case was about, and my post was about the case, preserving our right to bear arms and how that can further prevent the US from ever being in the situation the Zimbabwean people find themselves in.

why you asked whether I disagreed with the Founders or the Framers?

Sure. I asked because I think the Framers had good reason to include the Second Amendment in the Constitution. You seem to think it's irrational that an armed population may have to defend itself against its own government. I'm curious if and why you disagree with people who have been there and done that.

I'm going to watch fireworks which will be far more productive than this conversation. Happy Fourth! :P

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The other thread on the second amendment reminded me that I never got to fully respond to the comments below.

[When I am talking about owning guns] I'm talking about when a person or entity physically confronts you and intends to do you harm or kill you, you have the right to defend yourself.

Note that the important context here is that the circumstances you described constitute an emergency. That is, a situation when the government, who rightfully should possess a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force, is practically unable to protect your life. This is a legitimate reason for a citizen to own a gun and this corroborates why individuals have a moral right to arms for emergency self-defense.

You all sure know how to get off track from the original post. :)

This emoticon suggests that David and I must have been out of touch with reality to write our earlier responses. Needless to say, I emphatically disagree. Nevertheless, I think it is illustrative to explore the philosophical error that lead to the lengthy exchanges in this thread.

For the rest of you, when the government is out of control and physically attacking people (as in Zimbabwe), don't expect your neighbors to rush to your rescue. We've probably only got enough guns and ammo for our own households.

I think this passage, in consideration with my original statement, nicely reveals the source of the disagreement. My original claim is that guns alone ultimately cannot protect oneself from bad ideas. Whether or not you did so consciously, you responded assuming the following package deal:

Either:

I.) One believes that guns alone cannot protect one's freedom AND one is against private gun ownership.

OR

II.) One believes that guns can ultimately protect one's freedom AND one is for private gun ownership.

Needless to say, there is no dichotomy between alternatives (I) and (II). Nowhere in this thread will you find David or I taking a stance against private gun ownership. Yet, this false assumption is evidently what led to this thread "getting off track".

Anyway, I wanted to identify this error because it is unfortunately very common (well beyond the scope of this forum). For the reasons cited at the beginning of this post, individuals do have a moral right to guns for emergency self-defense. However, to properly defend this right and to properly apply this principle to actual law, one cannot fall victim to false dichotomies.

Edited by DarkWaters

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I never said that the current state of the United States is the same as the current state of Zimbabwe. ... [T]he only thing I was comparing is the inability of the people of Zimbabwe to defend themselves against their government and what could happen here if the gun control freaks have their way.

Rephrased, the issue here is as follows:

Do you believe that the essence of the government of the United States and the essence of the government of Zimbabwe are the same?

If not, then how can we induce lessons from the current relationship between the people of Zimbabwe and their dictatorial government that we can apply to the relationship between the people of the United States and the U.S. government?

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This is a legitimate reason for a citizen to own a gun and this corroborates why individuals have a moral right to arms for emergency self-defense.

Okay. I agree. (I do not recall anyone in this thread disagreeing with that?) Also, this wasn't my point in starting this thread. My point was, when the government goes out of control, an armed population is a good thing. The government systematically disarming its people to prevent their ability to defend themselves is a problem and always has been.

This emoticon suggests that David and I must have been out of touch with reality to write our earlier responses.

No, it doesn't. It suggests/represents the frustration and confusion I feel when I post about one thing and people respond as if I posted about another. It makes me go cuckoo.

I think this passage, in consideration with my original statement, nicely reveals the source of the disagreement. My original claim is that guns alone ultimately cannot protect oneself from bad ideas.

I don't know that anyone in this thread has said otherwise? :P My original claim is that when it comes down to you or the person threatening your life, it sure is nice to have a gun on your side.

Anyway, I wanted to identify this error because it is unfortunately very common (well beyond the scope of this forum).

I'm not sure what error has been identified? Frankly, I'm confused and stunned as to why some people don't understand why a gun could possibly have to be used to defend yourself against a government.

Rephrased, the issue here is as follows:

Do you believe that the essence of the government of the United States and the essence of the government of Zimbabwe are the same?

If not, then how can we induce lessons from the current relationship between the people of Zimbabwe and their dictatorial government that we can apply to the relationship between the people of the United States and the U.S. government?

No, I don't think they're the same, presently. I thought I had already made that clear, several times. (Yet another example of things that make me go :wacko: )

I am not sure why you want to "rephrase" my original point to anything other than what I was saying, but all I've ever said is that when you disarm the general population and deny them their gun rights, when the government goes bad, as with Zimbabwe, and there's someone from the opposition party standing at your door with a gun, you have no defense against it, at that point. (You are welcome to talk philosophy with him if you think that defense is more appropriate, at that point.)

If the current trend in America isn't reversed, I believe it could get as bad as Zimbabwe, although I think that would be many, many generations off. To be honest, I'm not all that concerned about this at the moment, because I agree with you that there are better ways to combat America's present state, presently, but I am concerned with the disarming of society in general for the reasons you are seeing in Zimbabwe, no matter how far off we may think it is.

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Again, the only thing I was comparing is the inability of the people of Zimbabwe to defend themselves against their government and what could happen here if the gun control freaks have their way.

I dunno. Maybe I'm naive, but if things got that bad here in the U.S. I honestly don't see the soldiers in the military not simply abandoning their commanders. Do you really think our soldiers (who are composed of our neighbors, family, and friends) would blindly follow a tyrannical government and not excercise a bit of clear-judgement with regards to what they are asked to do? Tyrants stay in power because of their cronies and henchmen, using wealth acquired through force to buy their loyalty. I don't think that would work in the U.S.

Edited by KevinDW78

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Oh, I think the sedition rate would be very high. I think many soldiers would come home to defend and fight for their families. Thank goodness many soldiers own private weapons. Regardless of what I predict sedition rates would be, I still want the right to defend my life against anyone who should try to take it.

Edited by K-Mac

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[W]hen the government goes out of control, an armed population is a good thing.

Not necessarily. When the Abbas administration lost control of the Gaza Strip, was it a good thing that the pro-Hamas majority was heavily armed?

I'm not sure what error has been identified?

The error is that you replied to my posts on this forum as if you assumed that the package-deal (P) is true. Needless to say, (P) is not true.

(P) An individual must have one of the two following positions. Either:

I.) One believes that guns alone cannot protect one's freedom AND one is against private gun ownership.

OR

II.) One believes that guns can ultimately protect one's freedom AND one is for private gun ownership.

If you want, I can provide multiple examples of you replying to both DavidOdden and I as if you perceive (P) to be true. While I still perceive that this is an unintentional error on your behalf, I still think that you should be cognizant of it.

... and there's someone from the [Zimbabwean-esque] opposition party standing at your door with a gun, you have no defense against it, at that point. (You are welcome to talk philosophy with him if you think that defense is more appropriate, at that point.)

You already acknowledged and agreed that I am a firm supporter of the moral right to own a firearm for emergency self-defense. The situation you described is an emergency. Can you please indicate why you think I perceive that discussing philosophy is a viable option here?

Edited by DarkWaters

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Not necessarily. When the Abbas administration lost control of the Gaza Strip, was it a good thing that the pro-Hamas majority was heavily armed?

It certainly didn't make things worse. Hamas was going to take over one way or another.

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Don't bother, DarkWaters, I can read. I've explained my point sufficiently and I'm sorry that some of you don't get it.

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It certainly didn't make things worse. Hamas was going to take over one way or another.

Hamas was able to ultimately grab power due to the wide sympathy for militant Islam in the Gaza Strip as well as several other widely held irrational ideas such as that Israel is solely to blame for the plight of the Palestinian people. However, the fact that Hamas is heavily armed is definitely a bad thing and their state of being armed was certainly instrumental to their hostile takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Needless to say, in a just society, the use of retaliatory force needs to be under objective control. Having an armed dictatorship with a disarmed populace is obviously bad. Likewise, having a weak government with roaming bands of heavily armed thugs is also bad.

I've explained my point sufficiently and I'm sorry that some of you don't get it.

I feel the same way about my point.

Edited by DarkWaters

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Not necessarily. When the Abbas administration lost control of the Gaza Strip, was it a good thing that the pro-Hamas majority was heavily armed?

Not really, but it was also not a good thing that the anti-Hamas minority was probably NOT heavily armed. :)

I see the issue to be more about the right of an individual (rather than a collective "populace") to be able to possess some reasonable means to defend himself against EITHER the tyrannical government or the roving hordes of political misfits. In this day and age, I think firearms are a reasonable, minimal form of protection in that regard.

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