This is Called Freedom

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by Rebecca Baumgartner at 3 Quarks Daily: A little over a year ago, in Allen, Texas, we saw the precise moment when a “good guy with a gun” became a “bad guy with a gun.” It turns out that the line between these two different types of people (and there are only two, we’re told) is as slight as a finger squeezing a trigger. Certainly nothing prior to that trigger-squeeze at the Allen Premium Outlets was illegal. In Texas, as of 2021, someone can legally carry eight guns in public – without a license or permit of any kind.

Under Texas’ recently expanded “open carry” law, you can take as many guns as you want into a library. You can take as many guns as you want into the state Capitol building in Austin. You can take as many guns as you want with you while walking down the street.

This is called freedom.

It’s a freedom that requires you to accept some logical catch-22s, though. For example, the dividing line between a law-abiding citizen exercising his supposed right to bear arms and a mentally unstable man who should never have had a gun in the first place is only discernible after he has killed people. Once someone becomes a gun-wielding maniac, they retroactively never should have been allowed to have a gun. (It’s a shame they don’t have the courtesy to tell us ahead of time that they’re the bad guys.)

You can get around this conundrum if you believe in a world where people are either all good or all bad, and we can tell the difference. Gun extremists believe in a fairytale world split into dark and light. They would have us believe that it’s just a matter of finding out who falls into which camp. The forces for good get as many guns as they want and are trusted implicitly, and the forces of darkness are (somehow, without legislative intervention) kept from getting guns. And then the good guys with guns keep us safe from the bad guys with guns. Just like in stories.

But notably, and tragically, this is precisely what does not tend to happen during mass shootings in the real world. This is not what happened at the Parkland school shooting or the Orlando nightclub shooting. This is not what happened at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, either. The good guys with guns just stood there, scared out of their minds, while people died.

Why would we expect anything different? Having good intentions and a handgun does not magically give you the training, skill, and foolhardiness that it would require to take on someone with a body-armor-piercing AR-15. (This is why it’s profoundly stupid to think that arming teachers is any kind of solution. If trained police officers respond, understandably, with fear and confusion and incompetence, what chance do schoolteachers have?)

The good guy argument is a trick. And we’re too old to be falling for it, over and over again. As Dominic Erdozain says in his book One Nation Under Guns (2024),

“…the status of the law-abiding citizen is preserved by a trick of language. Law-abiding citizens, we are told, have a right to arm themselves against criminals and madmen. When one of them acquires a private arsenal and murders more than fifty people from a hotel room, his status is reassigned, and we are told that he should never have had a gun in the first place. One law-abiding citizen has become a ‘wolf,’ and the concept survives the trauma.”

Too many people think that acquiescing to this childish, distinctly American notion of good and evil is inevitable. They point to the Constitution. Even some gun control advocates hasten to assure us that they wouldn’t dare try to touch the Second Amendment, which has been raised to the status of holy scripture in these debates.

But here’s what too few people are asking: What does the Second Amendment actually guarantee, if anything?

More here.