Save the 2nd Amendment
A Fringe Repudiation of Tom Hastings
Recently Tom Hastings, a well known pacifist extremist, called for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. To be more precise, this great devotee of peace wants us to ” grab it, bring it in the back room, pull down the shades, and end it”.
That is one measure of an “extremist” pacifist. A garden variety pacifist refuses to take part in violence, even to save their family or themselves. An extremist pacifist insists you be peaceful too, and he’s willing to “bring you in the back room”, which we assume means to kill you. Extremists of every stripe enjoy placing ordinary people in precarious positions.
Before I explore Dr. Hastings’ reasons for wanting to repeal the liberty which birthed our nation, let’s discuss how badly off the mark his conceptualization is. Neglect for a moment the fact that the 2nd Amendment is nestled among those rights assured* to the “people”, and that the amendment itself specifies the right of “the people”. Even so, the Amendment isn’t the source of the right, it only assures it.
Dr. Hastings seems to believe it is the 2nd Amendment which allows us to keep and use firearms. He makes a commonly mistaken reference to the 2008 Supreme Court decision in “Heller” which he believes gives Americans rights they didn’t previously have. The Supreme Court has, in the past, neglected the 2nd Amendment, because it wasn’t necessary to the citizen right to keep and use firearms for protection, sport, and recreation. The courts saw that it was a “natural right”. Unlike Dr. Hastings, the court believed that a human being, like a dog or even a rat, has the right to defend her or himself, and that right includes the use of deadly force; tools might be necessary for that. In the past, Americans, who prided themselves on being self reliant, understood that to defend one’s self, one’s family and one’s community was not only a right, it was a duty.
As an extremist pacifist, Dr. Hastings denigrates that important value, and the history behind it, just as he completely neglects the importance of the armed citizen in the formation of our nation.
Hastings somehow tries to blame the 2nd Amendment for state violence. It’s a great long stretch, even a contradiction to his “logic”. The people are angry about police violence, which he blames on the 2nd Amendment (as though the amendment guaranteed cops the right to bear arms), and he wants everyone to surrender their firearms and rely on cops when threatened. It’s very difficult to make sense of, and is only possible if one loses all perspective and finds all firearms, and the use of all firearms, to have the same negative value. People having a firearm by the bed at night, or going plinking on Sunday, are responsible for murderous cops in his formulation.
Hasting’s illogical rant turns to conservatives. Frequent readers know I care for liberals only very slightly more than conservatives, but what Hastings says next stands logic on its head so swiftly one nearly get motion sick. The court supported “Big Brother” against the states in its decision that the 2nd Amendment protected the right for persons to own firearms. Again, neglect that Hastings and his ilk normally rail against state’s rights, and want the feds to run everything from the environment to the family. Even neglecting that, he misses the point. Tom, the government IS Big Brother. Go back and read the book. And, right now, the greatest threat to the right to keep and use firearms is the federal government (unless you live in California.) We have an imperial president who is trying to issue edicts which weaken the right to have and use firearms. It is “Big Brother” Tom wants us to trust our safety and welfare with.
Further, Hastings conflates the NRA with conservativism, as though independents and liberals might not also want the right to defend themselves.
Hastings then tosses out some time honored grist for true believers: the NRA and the firearms manufacturers spoon in bed every night. Not so. Do they have common interests? Yes, of course. Do they disagree? It turns out the firearms manufacturers would do fine with just governments as their customers. The NRA, for example, doesn’t support concealed carry, and has actually sided against some activists in that area. Like many other people who demonize the NRA, and the millions of members it represents, Hastings gives the organization supernatural powers. Pro abortion supports might lobby and use contributions to keep that freedom alive, but the NRA twists arms instead. His language about the NRA grows heavy with adjectives: “We are exhausted … by the NRA/gun industry moral garbage spewing forth every time someone challenges the ubiquity of guns.”
Hastings believes the only path towards national salvation and an end of cop murders of unarmed citizens is to “Repeal the Stupid Second Amendment”.
Being a firearms owner isn’t about hoping to kill anyone, or cause any mischief to the authorities. Most hope to live their lives quietly, contending with bills and work and personal failings. It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful people, a people who wouldn’t even take a scoundrel like Hastings to “the back room”.
The 2nd Amendment is still very important to many of us. For many of is, it is a reminder that we are not powerless, and that we have a responsibility to support the general peace. The 2nd Amendment is like jury duty: good citizens are responsible to their fellow citizens.
Violence of all kinds is on the decrease in the US, regardless Hastings’ assurances that things are getting worse and worse. About 9,000 people are murdered with firearms each year; a very tiny number for a nation of 320,000,000 people. Still, violence of all kinds remains too high. I would agree with a moderate pacifist who was willing to identify the root causes of violence, and work to mediate those causes. But, hoping to cure the nation by bleeding it of rights hardly seems logical.
Season’s greetings, Tom, try to get right for 2015.
*Since our freedoms come from the Creator, the state can’t give us freedoms. The Bill of Rights was intended to codify and assure freedoms, not bestow them.