Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Live Long & Prosper

Not for these people. First this. Then this. And now this.

Despite being married to an American & having lived in the US for several years in a typical suburban neighborhood, & pretty much assimilated into the lifestyle there, I still don’t get the obsession of some Americans with the “right to bear arms” portion of the Constitution.

My husband has tried explaining it to me from the perspective of American history & how, when the constitution was first written, it was meant to protect the citizens from tyranny. I can understand that scenario back in the 18th & 19th century, when lawlessness was rampant & there were no proper law enforcement agencies in existence or available to those living in remote areas of the country.

But now, in the 21st century, I don’t get it. I know that there ARE responsible gun owners. But there are also nutsos out there who, due to warped reasons of their own, decide out of the blue, that he needs to kill some people.

Then there are kids out there as well, hormone-ridden, angst-filled youths, trying to get by in the stressful times of modern day living, who have easy accessibility to their parents’ guns or rifles, who one day decide that it would be cool to use their fellow schoolmates as target practice.

I guess having been brought up with Asian values which places society above self (for the most part, anyway), it’s hard for me to support this “right to bear arms” argument. If I had to choose between that & an innocent’s right to live, it’s a no-brainer.


nofearSingapore said...

Hi aliendoc,

It is extremely shocking isn't it?

I am a great admirer of liberty and democracy ( & all that jazz), and I know USA is a large country and the incidents involving firearms are but a distortion of the actual situation on the ground.

NRA advocates would of course cite the millions of guns used for hunting only and kept locked up securely as stipulated by the law of the land.

But it is still shocking, isn't it!

What's the count now? one columbine high a week?

Why does anyone need a archaic law written for the 1700's? NRA sounds like politics at its worst!

BTW, the incident ( before the Amish school), struck close to my heart as my older boy is a sophomore in U of Wisconsin.

So, in S'pore too, we should scrutinise laws and policies and rescind/repeal/change all anachronisms not relevant to the 21st century!



aliendoc said...

Yup, agree!

igakunogakusei said...

I suspect proponents of the gun trade who have hefty investment stakes in it must have provided some funding for presidential campaigns. It's obviously a no-brainer; the official excuses given have been almost inconceivable and completely unjustifiable in any sense.

Anonymous said...

I must disagree very alarmedly!!!

A situation where the government regulates *all* the heavy weapons and the citizens effectively have none is a very bad situation. That is how coup d'etats occur. That is how you have situations like Thailand, China and the Soviet Union.

Do you know what the Bolsheviks did before launching the October Revolution? They confiscated the weapons of their enemies. In Chile, Pinochet forbade factory owners from possessing firearms, so that when he launched his coup in 1973, it is a massacre.

It's not about "when lawlessness was rampant & there were no proper law enforcement agencies in existence or available to those living in remote areas of the country."

There *was* a police in the 18th and 19th century. The second amendment was *not* created for the "Wild West" scenario. In fact, when it was written, it was also meant for crowded cities New York and Philadelphia. The tyranny came not from crime, but from the government. The first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought because the British tried to confiscate weapons from the weapons caches stored at Lexington and Concord.

" By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard 'round the world. "

Perhaps also:

One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm!


How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again."

(Memorised revolutionary poems in third grade, lol.)

The night is legendary and ingrained in American culture. I consider it the "minute man" amendment. Why? If the government goes bad - if everything else fails - the citizens have the right to rise up and revolt. Asian values?

Asian values? Revolution *is* an Asian value! Mind you, in fact, the entire concept of revolution that arrived with the Enlightenment borrowed from the Chinese idea of the "Mandate of Heaven" - a French Jesuit missionary reported this on his visit to China, and it led to the demise of the idea of "divine right of kings" - ie. a king has the right to rule no matter what because he has authority from heaven. Following this came the French Revolution of 1789.

Please do change your perspective! I consider this a very alarming sentiment for an intelligent person like you, especially since you are assimilated into American culture! It is because people become apathetic and fail to realise what the actual purpose of the amendment is, that becomes the danger.

You *should* have the right to be able to defend yourself in any way you want, should law enforcement fail. And it does fail - you should be able to have it as a last resort. In *some* places, the authorities are still hours away. I've lived in Maine where people rely on weapons for hunting that is their livelihood. In fact right now, the United States has forbidden common citizens from owning machine guns, which I think is unconstitutional and the idea of what "the right to bear arms" is subject to interpretation. If one has a gang of thugs bursting him - your house is your castle - you have the right to defend it with lethal force should you be faced with lethal force.

Why should the state be able to regulate your defense?

Should the state also forbid people from learning gongfu and advanced martial arts, because there are irresponsible people who will use it? Some types of martial arts, *are* actually more lethal than say, a 9mm pistol, especially since using a firearm has a rather limited scope - it's very easy to miss. It is roughly the same logic. The state is infringing on your right to defend yourself should it implement gun control, just as it would infringe on your liberty and your ability by saying, "you cannot learn this!" Is not the latter infuriating? You should conside the former just as infuriating. What is the difference between martial arts skill and a firearm? Both are very lethal weapons.

Should you also trust your government and law enforcement agencies? If so then, ayah, your police is very trustworthy lah. No need warrant to arrest you lah. How come need warrant to search you one. If they burst into your house illegally and find you have illegal drugs without a warrant, that should be legal evidence before a court, never mind all the abuses that could ensue such as intentional harassment or framing (nonsensical!) What do they think this is? 19th century?

I can understand that scenario and need for warrants, habeas corpus and the right to trial, back in the 18th and 19th century, when lawlessness was rampant & there were no proper law enforcement agencies in existence. But now this is the modern 21st century. Police shouldn't need warrant one! Why liddat? It only makes police work more inefficient hor. Think of it - if police didn't have to get warrants for evidence seizures and arrests, then law enforcement would be more effective! The government should have the right to conduct wiretaps on everyone! Cost effectiveness! Internal Security Act lor!

How come need to reelect government also. Already elected what, aren't they good? In this modern 21st century, only interferes with government efficiency. Didn't you hear Lee Hsien Loong? Rather than focusing on efficient administration, if the opposition parties had a strong presence, he would have to spend all his time fixing them instead. That's why we should ban all opposition parties. I understand back in the 18th or 19th centuries when elections were meant to protect the citizens from tyranny, but this is the 21st century, man!

That is your logic. I don't mean to be so vehement - just that feel very strongly about this. The US is already depriving citizens of the right to bear arms. By taking away the right to bear arms - that is only one part of a slippery slope to tyranny. Why do you think it is not applicable in the 21st century, when you have a person like the Bush administration with its Patriot Act, actively threatening liberty at this very moment?

Ayah, to think a sixteen year old has to tell you this!

Anonymous said...

"It's obviously a no-brainer; the official excuses given have been almost inconceivable and completely unjustifiable in any sense."

Time to brush up on John Locke and Stuart Mill. ;-)

Unjustifiable? It is not about responsible gun ownership. It is an emergency reservation - and there will come a time - when a government defaults on its promise and its social contract, and the citizens must rise up and form a new government. All republics eventually decline.

Arms must be in the hands of the citizens in order for that to happen. Consent of the governed - popular sovereignty - why should not common people be bearing weapons, as a safeguard? Why should a supreme state have all the coercive force? I find that very dangerous.

The problem in the United States is not gun ownership - it is social engineering. Think about it in Singapore - the government controls all the weapons. If most of the citizens really were to be discontent with the government, but the government refused to budge, how would one be able to overthrow a tyrannical government? Would that not require citizen arms?

Anonymous said...

Nofearsingapore, you too?! Gosh, all the Singapore reformers who are wary of their government seem to be supporting gun control. It's no U-turn syndrome again. Punish after the fact, not before. Citizens should be bearing the responsibility and pressuring their neighbours to be responsible, not the government.

aliendoc said...

Intellect has nothing to do with it. My viewpoint is one of a 40 plus year old mother of two, who cannot imagine the anguish that those who have gone through, losing a son/daughter/husband/wife to this kind of senseless killing. I understand that you are speaking with the idealistic fervor of a 16 year old. So we are probably looking at this from two very different POV's. Let's just agree to disagree, ya?

Anonymous said...

I would agree to disagree, but I am kind of appalled at the idea that the Second Amendment (a constitutional amendment part of the Bill of Rights) could be considered "almost inconceivable and completely unjustifiable in any sense".

I don't want the tyranny of a standing army. National service is a partial resolution of this, but of course, the PAP could still activate the 60,000 strong professional army to overpower (or control) the reservists should they try to take back the country with a "freak election result".

(Atfer all, most NSmen don't keep their M16s at home; however many US soldiers do in contrast.)

I believe citizens need arms for this purpose. Whether a universal "right to bear arms" is needed is debateable, but it's definitely justifiable.

It's not a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

*in the case of a "freak election result", rather

aliendoc said...

John: if I were living in a country like Afghanistan or Iraq or Rwanda, I would agree that bearing arms is a right & a neccesity. However, having lived in a relatively safe country like Singapore or the USA where I don't live in paranoia, or expect the militia to overrun my home, I still think that the easy accessibility to firearms is causing more harm than good to our children.

Anonymous said...

The militia won't overrun your home. The standing army will - the militia protects you from the central government.

It is like insurance, if you will. Do you expect your house to be burnt down? No. But is the risk significant enough to pay for insurance? Yes.

The United States is not homogeneous - there is this concept called "states' rights", because the original USA were a group of 13 mini-nations that decided to band together as a federation and appoint a central government ("for a more perfect Union".) Hence states have their own separate militia (the National Guard of each state).

There are many lifestyles within the US. You are probably used to the suburban lifestyle. There are a lot of people however, living out West or in Texas, miles away (or dozens of miles away) from the authorities, or perhaps in the Arizona Desert.

What if a wild animal decides to attack your property, your livestock, your children? The robber will be causing havoc while the nearest neighbour is miles away.

Who is to judge what is "safe" and what is not? We should have the right to decide our lifestyle or whether we need a gun for our safety, be it Massachusetts or New Mexico (or even Singapore), to afford the most effective means possible of defending our home, our lives, and what is ours, should the authorities fail to reach us on time.

God forbid that we will ever have to shoot someone with it, but some people view it as a necessary insurance. In the 1930s for example, nearly every member of the Chicago police force was corrupt. Gangsters could just bribe the police force to turn a blind eye while they shot up whoever they wished.

Note that the US' corruption standard is not perfect - Singapore is indeed one of the least corrupt nations in the world in civil matters (not counting politics) - police corruption is virtually nil. In the US however, this is not always the case.

For many years in the South, the police were accused of being biased against the blacks. Some racist group would come to your house and rape your family and the police would not do anything. Why? Because they sympathised with the racists. Now, the situation has changed since the Civil Rights Movement but racial profiling and racial harassment by police is still an issue.

In a situation like that, would you not want to afford a weapon for your own protection? Not everyone lives in an affluent suburb in America. Some live in the inner city, or the ghetto.

Have you ever read "Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry?" Why is there such a fuss over T.J. and the pearl-handled pistol? In fact, people do question him, to paraphrase: "what do we need a gun for?" You will notice that property ownership is also an important theme.

This is exactly the issue. In fact, the rich more often than not, don't bear the weapons themselves - they have security guards to do it for them. They have distrust of the authorities as well, even in the richest neighbourhoods. Why should private security companies be able to bear weapons, but not common citizens?
Most can't pay 50,000 dollars a month for CISCO service.

The common people are left out. The Second Amendment protects them. My home is my castle: I should not have to rely on outside authorities to arrive should I be in immediate danger.

Should we entrust the State with all of our finances, or perhaps make CPF 100%? Why don't we? After all, we pay them taxes to provide for the common good, services and economic return back. But we reserve the right to manage some of our finances for ourselves, if not most of it, because no matter how benovolent the government seems to be, one can never be complacent.

Similarly, the role of the government is to provide for a Common Security and Defence for the People. That is why we have an Army, or a Police Force. That is why we have the Courts. Yet, we don't give all our money to the government as taxes. Neither should we entrust the government with all of our Security.