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The 2nd Amendment
Even more than for COVID, the USA's gun-control laws confront irresolvable political conflicts on how much protecting lives should restrict liberty. President Biden stated in his January 2020 inaugural speech that COVID had killed more U.S. citizens than World War 2, as a justification for more trillions of spending. Yet since the Supreme Court's 2008 Heller decision defined limited rights to bear arms in self-defense, firearm fatalities in the USA have already mounted to exceed all U.S. deaths in World War 2; and in 2023, firearm fatalities will exceed U.S. deaths from both World Wars put together. Yet even so, Congress invests virtually nothing in reducing firearm fatalities, and has trouble passing any gun-control legislation at all.
The NRA originally supported Federal and State gun regulations, until the New York Times published on Kellerman's research, "Gun in Home? Study Finds It a Deadly Mix" (October 7, 1993). In the decades since then, the NRA has increasingly fought gun control in court. Many legislation attempts fail, while gun deaths continue to rise.
Many citizens vehemently attack or defend the 2nd Amendment as some kind of 'blank check' to own guns. Very few have got as far as understanding what Constitutional rights to guns actually exist now. The 2008 Heller decision explicitly extended the 2nd Amendment to grant limited rights to arms for self-defense. Immature debates on absolutist interpretations abound while people continue to die wrongfully.
Although the 2nd Amendment's wording itself doesn't provide rights to arms for self defense, the Heller decision distinctly confirmed that right, just as the Founding Fathers intended so, in accordance with Locke's theory of state of nature. While one might be led to believe that would result in more interest in the rationale for the decision, it hasn't, for reasons discussed later. Here is the Heller decision's first paragraph:
The Heller decision also specifically stated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited, in its astonishingly ignored 2nd paragraph:
This Supreme Court decision considers limits in exactly the order of the number of deaths each limitation would reduce. First it mentions limitations on the rights of the mentally ill to own guns, because suicide is the leading cause of firearm fatality. Then it mentions use of guns by felons, and the marketing of evermore lethal weapons. CDC and FBI data confirms these priorities are still applicable in 2021, but at the current rate of improvement, firearm fatalities won't even be flat for half a century.
Limitations on gun ownership by the mentally ill are dogged by privacy rights, and efforts in that direction have made no progress at all. The Supreme Court also has not stated how much the government should restrict gun purchase or ownership by felons, leading to interminable reversals of opinions in expensive and largely misunderstood lawsuits. Despite lawmakers' attempts at the federal and state levels to restrict dangerous gun ownership, and despite efforts to take evermore dangerous firearm products off the market, fatalities have continued to increase at the same steady rate of 2.3% annually. After adjusting for population growth, the rate is still increasing at 1.5%, and at the current rate of change, annual gun deaths won't even start going down for 50 years.
Note: I get alot of accusations that I just made up the firearm casualty numbers. The FBI and CDC spreadsheet data for the above extrapolations are shown below, and I will provide the spreadsheet to anyone asking for it.
Disinterest in The Founding Fathers' Intent
While working on this topic for the last six years, I naively assumed people were ready to consider issues arising from promulgation of authority from natural rights to Constitutional rights. What I actually witness is ongoing arguments about the last four words of the 2nd Amendment, 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.' All 27 words already exceed the capacity of virtually all Americans for rational argument. As things are, it's absurd to expect that America as a nation could ever understand Locke's argument from a state of nature, derived from the natural law described on thisa site.
With reference to firearms, the framer's original intent was as follows. Without restriction by government, some people violate the natural state of nature with aggression, which interferes with judgment by a just and loving God in the afterlife. Therefore government has authorities to restrict liberties, but itself cannot restrict liberties more than those defined by Constitutional Rights. Authority for common law promulgates from Constitutional Law; for which authority promulgates from the Natural Rights defined by Natural Law; for which authority intself promulgates from God. Under such promulgation, all efforts should be made to protect life while permitting self defense.
However, in modern times, there is no promulgation of authority via natural rights to Constitutional Rights any more. Instead, the USA has adopted a view of legal positivism. According to legal positivists such as Austin and Hart, law is simply right because it says so, and needs no other authority but its own history. That means, when new problems such as mass shooters appear, there is no precedent for the government reaction. All such events simply widen the partisan divide. According to the Framers, the NRA and other parties would all want to save life too; but there are no longer any shared ideals as those which led to the framing of the U.S.A's natural rights.
President Obama quoted the second 5,000-word letter I sent him (the first was on the Lockean interpreatation
of natural rights, which he had not heard about before). He very kindly started the speech 'earnestly,' as you will
hear. The portion of my letter he quoted starts 'dead people had rights too' from 27m:45s to 29m:00s. The quote
is only 90 seconds, but is quite famous, because he broke
into tears while quoting me. Of course, NRA fans called them 'crocodile tears,' but even so, it's one of
the rare times a President cried on TV, a rare honor indeed!
Firearm Casualties and Solutions (Sept 2016) - This report was considered by the US House Oversight and Reform committe, resulting in the HR5103 'Gun Violence Tax Bill.' However, due to pressure from Sandy Hook Promise, the House bill used the vastly inflated gun-violence cost estimate from Mother Jones (Miller, 2015; link inside the report's references). The bill and was promptly thrown out. The report provides detailed research and analysis of the questions:
- Does the NRA solution work?
- Are fatalities falling?
- Who is killing whom?
- How well does self defense work?
- Can gun control reduce fatalities and suicide?
- Do more guns mean less crime?
- How many illegal guns are there?
- How much do taxpayers pay for gun violence?
- What new solutions could reduce the casualties?
- Who exactly is dead, who will die next, and what would really make a difference?
The Benthamite Amendment (May 2020) - This is an 'ideal solution' that is impossible in the current political environment. 'Via revenue from a gun-violence excise-tax, low-income households may redee vouchers for first-gun purchases of government-certified self-defense firearms, either from inventories of prior federal gun-buyback programs, or from gun manufacturers. Mandatory safety training is also recommended. This Amendment includes substantiating data, enhancements from NRA representatives; projections from a decade of CDC and DoJ data; and peer review of gun-safety analysis.'
Natural Rights, Gun Rights, and Legal Rights (Jan 2015) starts "Natural law provides very clear answers on the gun rights versus gun control debate. But natural law, as it is invoked in USA's declaration of independence, requires accepting the existence of God, so natural law cannot be taught in American public schools. As a result, 99.9% of Americans on both 'sides' of the gun debate have opinions of the derived constitution that are very flawed. Here is a primer on natural law, and how it applies to gun liberties." In 2015, almost a dozen Constitutional Lawyers and professors reviewed with interest, including Presiden Obama. It resulted in the State Supreme Courts approving city gun-violence taxes in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.
Third Eyes on Guns and Hate Propaganda - A blog describing the bizarre beliefs of the new Tea Partyy arising from NRA hate propaganda, with a historical and psychological explanation of how hate propaganda works. After sending this to John Oliver one Tuesday, he worked all week on a show deriding 'NRA TV,' appearing the on National TV the following Sunday. Johh Oliver agreed with this article's conclusion, also in my brief cover letter, that 'humor is the best possible way to counter NRA's hate propaganda.' the 'NRA TV' channel has since been taken off the air, and the spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, has been demoted.
Are Guns more Dangerous to Owners than Criminals - New findings are presented showing that a gun in the home increases risks of residents being shot to death by 3~4 orders of magnitude more than it is likely to stop a crime. Also, during attempts of self defense, 2 out of 3 firearm fatalities are accidental killings of family or friends, rather than of criminal aggressors. Additional data on domestic violence is presented. Peer reviewed by Dr. G. Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., Professor, Emergency Medicine (UC Davis, CA); Director, Violence Prevention Research Program.
My name is Ernest Meyer, this is my private site, and I make no money from my work. Born in Washington DC in 1960, I earned all-paid schlarshiups to Eton prep, Stowe (Bucks, UK), and Oxford University, where I sat Philosophy, Psychology, and Politics (PPP).
I became a semiconductor analyst, then a silicon-valley engineer. I was a digital architect on the first 802.11 chipset, the first Pentium, the first Japanese cellphone, the prototype Netflix interface, and the first iPhone microprocessor. I retired when Steve Jobs died. You can contact me on LinkedIn at:
Thank you for visiting my site.