Thursday, February 03, 2005


Which is pretty weird in the light of its vast incompetence

Talk of arming pilots can't help but lead to thoughts of 9/11, an evocative anecdote of its own. And that can't help but remind us that, in a cold, dangerous, and often horrifically cruel world, government is not an efficient, or sufficient, protector, the occasional on-the-ball heroic Columbus cop notwithstanding.

In an America where most of the big minds on the progressive end of the Democratic Party are arguing passionately that the only way for the party to revive its seemingly waning fortunes is to vow even more ferociously and tenaciously that they shall be the covering blanket, the succor, the provider, for all Americans' needs great and small�from prenatal care at the start to education and health care throughout to pension provision in our dying days�it is dangerous to acknowledge the inherent limits of government's ability to make everything OK. This doubtless has something to do with Democrats' fervent belief in gun control (even as some of them argue the Republicans are actively creating a theocratic dictatorship, in which guns in citizens hands could be quite helpful, as those who gave us the Second Amendment in the first place understood so well).

It's undeniable down the line: Guns add enormous tragedy and regret to the world�as well as a fair amount of protection from the tragedies and regrets others might impose. They also provide, for many, opportunities to try out an interesting and rewarding skill�and for many others an opportunity for political posturing and sociological pigeonholing and rhetorical policy warfare.

The debate over how and to what extent, and based on what arguments, the state may interfere with its citizens' rights to self-defense�or to hunt for food with efficient tools, or even just to pursue sheer fun and games with explosive projectiles�will never end until we come to a settled decision on whether, and to what extent, our lives are our own property and our own responsibility. The empirical case as to whether in fact the police power of the state can efficiently protect our lives and property is settled pretty much every day in the favor of gun rights...for individuals, regardless of the overall result of studies like the National Research Council's. It's to individuals that guns are often necessary sources of protection and pleasure. Thus, the Justice Department was right, both historically and politically, to note publicly that the right to own guns�and the responsibilities that naturally arise therefrom�belong to individuals, not collectives, and are not to be blithely abridged.

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