Atheists are a small minority in the U.S. Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions. There are probably divergent views.
I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes. It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.
As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion. I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes. Gun control and universal health care.
James, I'm getting back to you on the "militia" = "person" issue.
I found the decision (McDonald v. Chicago) and searched on "militia", looking for nearby mentions of "person" or its synonyms. I saw none.
Alito wrote the Court's opinion and here are a few of his words, describing an action taken in the 39th Congress, shortly after the Civil War:
Disarmament, it was argued, would violate the members’ right to bear arms, and it was ultimately decided to disband the militias but not to disarm their members.
The issue stirs so much emotion that it's easy to see that a commentator might have spoken of a definition that "militia"="person".
I've owned guns for 40 yrs. I've carried one for 25. Whenever I can, I have one within reach or within a few steps.I do so not only for my protection, but for the protection of those around me who may not be able to protect themselves. And even for those do not take responsibility for their own security. And even for those who would strip me of my right to carry. As an ethical adult in a free country I consider it to be my responsibility to do so.
I do not carry a gun because I like guns, I don't. They are loud, destructive, and expensive. I don't carry a gun because I like carrying one. They are dangerous, a burden of constant diligence and responsibility, and they intimidate some people if they realize you have one on your person.
I choose to live in a rural home. When I come home there is no armed guard in my drive way. I can't afford one. If I don't provide for my security no one else will.
I believe my perception of the world to be a sane and rational one. The world, including America, has always been, and always will be, a place where truly dangerous people exist. The town of Mayberry is a myth. That our government will make us safer in exchange for some of our rights is a lie.
That the 2nd amendment is about hunting is a misconception. It is about a citizenry's right to protect themselves against an abusive government in the event that it becomes necessary to do so. We live in a world where freedoms are hard won by the few who can fight for them and defend them. Looking at the big picture of history, one see constant change in cultural, political, and societal realities. The safety and freedom I experience today, may not be my reality next year. Stranger things happen.
I thank you for giving me this forum to express myself, and, if you have read this far (especially if you don't like my position) thank you for allowing us to reach out to each other. I hope you do not think of me as some one to be feared. I'm not. I am some one who has your back whether you know it or not.
And for you who are on my side, I promise, that when my fire arm is taken away, it will be from my cold dead fingers.
David, for all of the reasons you stated so well, I'm on your side.
A gentle-looking white-haired old lady in a senior citizens discussion group several years ago said she feared meeting an NRA member in a state park.
Not wanting to quibble, I didn't ask her if she feared meeting a criminal in a state park. Not wanting to frighten her, I also didn't tell the group I'm an NRA member.
By saying nothing, I guess I denied her remark a dignity it didn't deserve.
I don't own a gun, never have, maybe never will. The last time I saw one it gave me the jitters, so I took a gun course so I wouldn't feel like such an idiot. It helped. I don't fear meeting criminals in any park and have travelled solo at night in many dangerous countries, but I'm a big girl with an even bigger attitude.
But the truest statement in your discourse is this: That our government will make us safer in exchange for some of our rights is a lie.
Following others' lead, here is an attempt to return to the original question in this thread... atheist reasoning on gun control.
In religious circles, the operative question is whether a given idea is or is not consistent with the holy-book. One does not ask whether the idea is good or bad, just or unjust, useful or useless - but merely whether it is biblical or quranic and so forth. The debate is about the interpretation of the book, about the book's author's intent. It is not about first-principles, because those principles are already assumed.
Notice the similarity between the holy-books and the US constitution? Too often, Americans debate laws not in terms of their essential merit, but whether they are constitutional or not. So for gun control, mimicking the religious mindset, the question invariably devolves to the meaning of the second amendment; namely, whether it suggests private ownership of "arms", or only individual possession in the context of a "well-regulated militia". Gun control proponents claim the latter, while gun-rights activists the former.
The atheist viewpoint, as we have seen in this tread, is neither consistently pro nor against guns. But most of us can probably agree that our reasoning for or against guns should be from first principles, from consideration of guns' effect on society, and from questions of whether or not it ever makes sense to take personal recourse to violence. We don't get wrapped up in timidly reverential constitutional scholarship, ceding our reasoning on justice to the all-mighty "founders".
We are not ever going to take away all guns, but we can limit the kinds of weapons and the kinds of people who have access to them in reasonable ways. The notion that no restrictions consistent with Constitutional rights can be placed on gun ownership which will improve safety in public places is not sensible. Re-instituting the ban on assault weapons, limiting the size of magazines, registering guns, and licensing owners are all reasonable restrictions. They could improve public safety over time while allowing gun ownership to continue in relative freedom.
So how exactly is that "atheist reasoning"? You are ignoring both the science of statistics and how gun legislations do not significantly change murder rates, and you are ignoring the principal (whether you like it or not) that citizens have the right to armed rebellion. How the hell are "little guns" going to help in an armed rebellion against the most military country in the world? You don't believe in that concept and would like to have it struck from the Constitution? well change the 2nd amendment... But that will never happen right, because the stats show that the passing of anti-gun laws don't prevent little kiddies from dying in schools so changing the constitution would be a double negative whammy.
I like to do as others have asked here... get out of the dogma and look at the facts, as any atheist should do. Fact: yes most other Western countries have lower rates. Fact: No, those lower rates were not the result of passing anti-gun laws. I am a non gun owning Canadian, but I agree with the intent of the 2nd Amendment, to have an armed citizenry. In fact I think we should look to Switzerland as a model for how to run a military... No professional army, just an armed citizenry. It insures they don't spend too much time going around the world shooting citizens of other countries, but don't mess with them at home.
Everything else that gets discussed here is just talk.
Statistically speaking, violence in the USA has been going down faster than in Canada, if people just stop panicking and knee-jerking, within maybe a decade or two, the US rates of violence will be down to the Canadian levels.
Fact: yes most other Western countries have lower rates. Fact: No, those lower rates were not the result of passing anti-gun laws.
What evidence supports your conclusion that gun control is not the reason for lower rates in other countries?
Statistically speaking, violence in the USA has been going down faster than in Canada,
I pointed out the problems with the statistic you posted before, but your response was that you didn't care. The statistics you need to compare are rates of gun-related violence.
No professional army, just an armed citizenry.
Not a sensible proposal at all in today's world.
-Yes I know, you think other methods of murder are totally cool.
-Because anyone calling themselves an atheist should be able to display a modicum of critical thinking.
This is how you demonstrate mathematically that a new law is effective : you have to compare the trend before the measure and the trend after the measure and calculate IF the before and after TRENDS are SIGNIFICANTLY different. Out of the many many stats posted on this discussion, there are simply no stats that show that. Be a critical thinker Allan, look at the math. The mere fact that countries have different murder rates infers nothing at all about the passing of laws, and everything to do with their cultural makeup. But let's not discuss cultural opinions... let's stick to demonstrable math, what any reasonable atheist should do.
Yes I know, you think other methods of murder are totally cool.
You claim to be arguing rationally on the basis of facts and you make a remark like that?
you have to compare the trend before the measure and the trend after the measure and calculate IF the before and after TRENDS are SIGNIFICANTLY different.
You would have to compare the trends in gun-related crimes to see what the effect is, but that may not be sufficient since results would depend on how well the laws are being enforced. Law alone is not enough, enforcement is required and where enforcement is not sufficiently funded you may not see results.
The mere fact that countries have different murder rates infers nothing at all about the passing of laws, and everything to do with their cultural makeup.
That implies the United States is a country with a culture more prone to violence than other developed nations. If that is the case, then we need to do something about the means of violence—stricter gun control.
Relying on one faulty statistic is not sufficient to prove your point.
It looks like Dr. Clark is debating rationally and TNT666 is letting emotion overtake the arguments.
That reminds me of a recent discussion I had with a religious person over the holidays about atheists and Christmas. It was going okay until I came up with some good arguments. Then I got the equivalent of "Yes I know, you think other methods of murder are totally cool."
When you attack like that it shows you are losing the debate or are unwilling to at least ponder seriously the other point of view.
Russell, you and Dr. Clark both missed the paradoxical intention in TNT's post.
My reply to Dr. Clark has my explanation.
A good mind can put up formidable barriers to attempts to get past the mind...to the emotions.
Now, what do you know about people who are without emotion?