Self-Defense is Not the Issue

A blogger called Justin Curmi is writing about the Bill of Rights. He proposes an interesting lens: that controversies about the Constitution be re-evaluated in the light of the Preamble's "Five Aims." The blogger apparently has dyslexia, so let us excuse minor errors in spelling and grammar. He says that we should ask of any proposed reading the following questions:
Does is promote Justice?
Does it ensure domestic Tranquility?
Does it ensure the common defence?
Does it promote the general Welfare?
Does it secure the Blessings of our Liberty and Posterity?
So when he gets to the 2nd Amendment, he finds that there is clearly a right to keep and bear arms. However, he says, these arms should be kept only for the purpose of revolution. Self-defense should be illegal.
The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights. In addition, one’s mental capacity is a major factor in deciding whether a man or woman has the right to have a firearm.
This is not a terribly-well considered position. First of all, the right to defend one's self is fundamental to the first of the five aims -- the promotion of justice. How can it be just to ask someone to suffer assault, rape, or murder so that they do not deny their murderer or rapist the right to a fair trial? In fact, the right not to be murdered or assaulted is more basic than the right to a fair trial before being punished for one's murders or assaults. This can be seen by a simple thought experiment: in an ideally just world, no one would receive a fair trial for murder because no one would commit murder. However, in the same ideally just world, everyone would have their right not to be murdered actively respected. Thus, the right to a fair trial only comes into play when something has gone wrong. The right not to be murdered is merely a statement of what the ideally just condition would be.

Nevertheless, self-defense is not the real point of the 2nd Amendment at all. The real point of the 2nd Amendment is just what it says -- the security of a free state. A distributed defensive capacity among the citizenry is the best guarantee of a free state, and the state of freedom, against several common threats. It represents a better defense against many forms of terrorism than other options, such as massive surveillance of the population or a vast increase in police controls, because it better respects the state of freedom. It also means that terrorists (to include mass shooters of any stripe) have a harder time predicting where they will encounter resistance.

Thus, the carrying and use of arms defensively ensures all five of the "Five Aims." It promotes justice by reducing the incidence of violations of justice like murder and assault. It helps to ensure domestic Tranquility by making crime more dangerous and costly, which reduces crime rates. It is all about the common defense. The reduction in crime and increase in justice promotes the general welfare. And, compared with increased government control of our lives, it protects our free state against common dangers in a manner more consistent with securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

When you stop your own murderer, it's only by-the-way that you're defending yourself. What you're really defending is the common peace and lawful order. You're doing a just and good thing that will improve the whole society. It is always right to defend a citizen from being murdered, after all. It's merely incidental that the citizen happens to be yourself.


Tom said...

First off, justice is not dependent on government, as he seems to assume. The right to a fair trial is not fundamental; it is merely what the government must give you if you are arrested.

Second, he doesn't argue against police shooting in self-defense. Why not? If we have an absolute right to a fair trial, then the police must be constrained from killing criminals regardless of the situation. No, criminals must be captured to ensure their fair trial, even if it risks far more grave injustices.

Third, the concept of the militia is simply that every able-bodied citizen is responsible for the security of the community. Consequently, the exercise of the right of self-defense is never merely self-defense, but part of keeping the community safe from criminals. The citizenry are part of the peacekeeping force, and their exercise of their right to self-defense is as just as the rights of any other part of law enforcement such as the police.

Tom said...

Yeah, I know, I'm repeating you in my last paragraph. I should have just said: "Third, Grim is right about the common defense." I get carried away sometimes.

E Hines said...

Curmi's argument is far more dangerous than just the 2nd Amendment.

Once again, if there is an argument in the reasoning of this amendment and others, one must filter it through the Five Aims of the USA and the Bill of Rights. This is to ensure that any argument can be answered, avoiding a political divide.

This is a carefully considered, direct assault on free speech. Political discourse must be circumscribed and limited to the parameters and framework [Curmi] will permit.

All of the sake of avoiding that political disagreement.

Eric Hines

Eric Blair said...

Even the posters at the Huffpo are taking his argument apart. Heh.

raven said...

Is it just me, or is the level of "so stupid even repudiating it makes me feel like I am losing brain cells" rising?

Grim said...

I mean, this guy has a BA in philosophy. So he's a little outclassed in this company. The last one was a Ph.D. with two published books.

Ymar Sakar said...

When Casey forcibly disarmed the Iraqis in the Sunni Triangle, AQ just came swarming in and used blackmail to get info, bases, and suicide bombers out of tortured Iraqis.

So if a state wants to be a freehold, they have to allow individual insurgencies to defend themselves, because the state is often too slow or incompetent or just evil to do it.