Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thoughts for Bill Of Rights Day, December 15th, 2013

Today, December 15th, is "Bill Of Rights Day", commemorating the date in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was ratified.  Oddly, this commemorative day was first proclaimed on its 150th anniversary in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who, only second behind Abraham Lincoln, did the most to destroy the Bill of Rights.

The name "Bill of Rights" is itself something of a misnomer.  The Bill of Rights grants us no rights;  they merely codify and protect pre-existing rights:  "Congress shall make no law...", "...shall not be infringed", "...shall not be violated".  They are all prohibitions on actions the government might attempt.  The BoR simply says "thou shalt not".

Note, also, something else about those "rights" (actually, "those prohibitions"):  nowhere do any of them say "citizen", as in "the right of citizens shall not...".  The government is being told "don't do this to anybody", presumably even if they're French...  or Iraqi, even.  Given some of our Supreme Court's recent decisions relating to Guantanamo Bay, it appears those "learned justices" haven't actually read the thing they claim the authority to interpret.  (Not exactly a surprise, I know.)

It's said, and probably 'truthfully', that you can only have rights you are willing to demand.  When the police officer asks "Do you mind if I look around your car?" most of us, knowing our own innocence, respond "Sure, why not?"  If the police officer didn't need to ask, he wouldn't have.  This is your clue to decline the search (others by extension).

It is also said, absolutely truthfully, that you can only have those rights you're willing to let anyone exercise.  As soon as you say "I believe in the right to (here fill in a sample right), but..." you've lost it.  If you admit to circumstances where a right can be foreshortened, you've just burned the right down to the ground.  "IBITR of free speech but... you can't shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theater."  Oops.  What do you shout when the theater is on fire?  "Free popcorn!" doesn't have quite the sense of urgency called for here.  The prohibition on causing panic in the theater is actually a prohibition on lying.  You can speak the truth freely;  you can't slander.  You can keep and bear arms;  you can't murder.  You have the right to do things you should; you never had a right to do things you shouldn't.  More precisely, you don't have any rights to harm others.  Seems somewhat "Golden Rule-ish", no?  Don't do things you wouldn't want others doing to you.  Makes sense to me.


In line with that and with yesterday's commemoration still firmly in mind, today is also "Guns Save Lives Day".

Some background:  back oh... twenty-five years or so ago, someone did a survey to find out how often honest, peaceable folk saved themselves from victimhood because they had a gun.  It wasn't a very rigorous study, so when the figure "2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGU) per year" was announced, everyone snickered.  Ridiculous!

The Clinton-era Justice Department did their own study, this one a little more rigidly controlled.  Their number was 800,000 DGU.

Even this number was too unbelevably high for some people, so a(n anti-gun) Harvard researcher by the name of Hemmenway did his own study, eliminating every instance that might be even-a-little-bit suspect.  Hemmenway eliminated every case where it wasn't certain that a life in danger had been saved.  Hemmenway's number was 80,000 DGU, and even Hemmenway wasn't happy.  When he compared his own pared-to-the-bone number against the 30,000 annual unlawful gun deaths (40% of which are suicides), even he had to admit that it was likely — verging on 'extremely likely' — that guns in the hands of law-abiding folk prevented more deaths than guns in the hands of criminals took — by a factor of 2.7 .

If you're not so anti-gun that you're willing to accept the anti-gun Clinton-era DOJ estimate, then for every person criminally killed each year, 27 violent crimes are prevented, in almost every case without a shot being fired:  "Get lost.  I have a gun and I'll use it."  Problem solved.  2,291 times a day.

The implications of this are important.  Some organizations (Moms Demand Action, Committee to Stop Gun Violence, etc.) would like to see us all disarmed, claiming that this would solve our national crime problem.  That DOJ study, and to a lesser extent the Hemmenway survey, say otherwise.  They say our national crime problem would be horrendous without all those guns in the hands of good people.  What sort of moron would want that?  What sort of evil ghoul would want that?  Not you, certainly.

Happy Bill-Of-Rights Day.  Guns Save Lives.

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