Gun Rights and Urban Legends
In the aftermath of the Connecticut tragedy, I wrote Connecticut’s Slain Children Had Rights Too, in which I had called for severe curtailment of gun rights, Siddhartha Chatterjee wrote a civil response, The Politics of Tears. I presented my counter-arguments in Tears of Reason For Connecticut’s Slain Children to which Chatterjee responded with the following arguments (paraphrased for brevity):
Is it not guilt by association when I discount the Second Amendment based on the unrelated fact that the founding fathers were slave-owners?
I am afraid that Chatterjee has forgotten that my analogy was in response to Chatterjee’s claim:
“America’s founding fathers were very enlightened people and influenced subsequent generations including the architect of our very own constitution. So, if gun right was so bad, why did they decide to protect it by adding it to the constitution…”
It was an unabashed adulation of the actually unedifying founding fathers of America. It was an argument from authority. My analogy simply demonstrated why both are fallacious. I did not reject the Second Amendment based on the fact that America’s founding fathers failed the litmus test of humane behavior. I rejected it because it is absurd. I will provide some reasons in addition to those I already provided:
The purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow citizen militia to overthrow the government if it went rogue. No need to nitpick on this fact. A militia and arms are not meant for satyāgraha. Don’t believe me? Check whether Gandhi asked his followers to bear arms and raise militia. The Second Amendment is a product of the Bill of Rights as well the established practice of arming European settlers to the teeth so that Native Americans could not challenge their hegemony and usurpation of the Native American land.
The founding fathers simply lacked vision insofar as the Second Amendment is concerned and behaved just like the tribal warlords of Pakistan’s NWFP when they advocated that an overthrow by a militia is the way to get rid of a government gone rogue. How does one decide whether the government has turned tyrannical and using what criteria? Is a government that ushered in the Patriot Act tyrannical? A liberal might say so but a religious conservative who prays on knees every Sunday and preys on the non-Christians the rest of the week would not care. Is a government that correctly mandates teaching evolution in schools tyrannical? A scientific-minded person would not think so but a brainwashed Christian would. The founding fathers proposed a Neanderthal-like simplistic solution to a complex hypothetical scenario.
Can any citizen militia overthrow a government backed by a military armed with F22s, nuclear missiles, and howitzers? Do the deluded members of the Neanderthal Rifle Association believe that they could wear their kilts, shout “Hallelujah,” and brandish their shotguns to silence a powerful professional military? I doubt those Neanderthals even care about the US government turning tyrannical. If they really had, they would have insisted on building a nuclear reactor or installing a battery of anti-aircraft guns in their facility just to be consistent with the Second Amendment. I am not encouraging those Neanderthals to try anything of that sort. I am just driving home the point that the true reason for demanding gun rights is something else: The compulsive urge of a violent mind who wants to show the world who the boss is. It sometimes manifests by shooting hapless wolves from helicopters. The Second Amendment is a retarded idea of an uncivilized mind. It is for that reason that I reject it.
One cannot defend oneself unless one owns guns and practices shooting.
It is a myth that guns are used for self-defense. An excerpt of a methodical Harvard study reaches the following conclusions:
- Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense
- Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate inmates than to thwart crime
- Adolescents are far more likely to be threatened with a gun than to use one in self-defense
- Criminals who are shot are typically the victims of crime
- Few criminals are shot by decent law abiding citizens
On the other hand, nearly 10,000 civilians are killed every year in the USA due to civilian ownership of firearms. The twenty Connecticut children who were killed would be awaiting their holidays but for the fact an irresponsible civilian owned guns.
One cannot conclude that Americans are violent based on the testimony of those they exterminated.
Strange logic! By this yardstick, no Nazi should have been punished in the Nuremberg trials based on the testimony of Jewish survivors. Ajmal Kasab should not have been judged guilty based on the testimony and evidence of Indians because they were his intended victims. Does it matter that Native Americans, who numbered millions, are missing from the landscape today? I strongly recommend every reasonable person to read the following highly annotated books to get an understanding of the violence that America’s Christian colonizers perpetrated against Native Americans:
- American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World by David E. Stannard
- Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th Century America by Ronald Takaki
Bans do not work. Guns are banned in school yet one person carried it into a school.
It is an urban legend that bans are ineffective. They are actually very effective. For example, it is very difficult to buy The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie or The Degeneration of India by T N Seshan in the open market in India because they are effectively banned. One must make an extraordinary effort to procure them from the grey market. I urge Chatterjee to buy an AK 47 rifle in the next 24 hours and report back how successful he was. How many Hindus can carry a mūrti of Krṣṇa to Saudi Arabia against the ban? Have you seen attractive young women in short skirts in Afghanistan? Bans work very effectively for the most part. If guns had been banned from American homes, nobody could have carried it into the elementary school in Connecticut. The problem was that they were selectively banned at schools instead of banning them everywhere.
Advocating a ban or suppression of Christianity and Islam makes one a fanatic like Malik Kafur.
In that case those who called for eradicating Nazism or Hitler from the face of this planet must be equated with Kafur. Sitaram Goel warned against the lazy tendency to be fixated on the symptoms while ignoring the root causes. Yet, many Hindus fail to learn that valuable lesson. Why are Christians and Muslims violent? Why are the descendents of Pāṇini enlisting for jihad today? Why have Christians repeatedly committed genocides such as the Holocaust? A responsible critic should trace the answer to the ideologies of Christianity and Islam as I have done. I would eradicate dangerous ideologies to make society better. It is utterly irresponsible to accommodate dangerous ideologies because, as Richard Brodie has shown, they are akin to viruses that destroy the host.
It is irresponsible to argue in favor of gun rights or the Second Amendment. It is uncivilized to use guns whether to kill another human being or animals. This relic of America’s uncivilized past, and the uncivilized Christian present, is hard to eradicate because the short-sighted founding fathers made it a constitutional right. Strangely, the same constitution does not think one has the right to become a physician to save lives. That is a privilege to be earned. It does not however mean that what cannot be easily cured must be willingly endured. I hope one day America would become more civilized and that my countrymen would be ashamed of what their ancestors did to millions of Native Americans, Vietnamese, Japanese, Iraqis, Afghans, etc., and that they would outgrow their fascination for the twin evils of Christianity and guns.
Kalavai Venkat is a Silicon Valley-based writer, an atheist, and a practicing orthodox Hindu.
 Paraphrasing the statement made by a Malaysian Hindu leader in exile.