Sam Harris writes what is a surprisingly good article on guns and gun control, at least for the first three-quarters of the article:
Coverage of the Newtown tragedy and its aftermath has been generally
abysmal. In fact, I have never seen the “liberal media” conform to
right-wing caricatures of itself with such alacrity. I have read
articles in which literally everything said about firearms and
ballistics has been wrong. I have heard major newscasters mispronounce
the names of every weapon and weapons manufacturer more challenging than
“Colt.” I can only imagine the mirth it has brought gun-rights zealots
to see “automatic” and “semi-automatic” routinely confused, or to hear a
major news anchor ominously declare that the shooter had been armed
with a “Sig Sauzer” pistol. This has been more than embarrassing. It has
offered a thousand points of proof that “liberal elites” don’t know
anything about what matters when bullets start flying….
Most liberals responded derisively to the NRA’s suggestion that having
armed and vetted men and women in our schools could save lives. Some
pointed to a public-service announcement put out by the city of Houston
(funded by the Department of Homeland Security), in which the
possibility of having guns on the scene was never discussed. Several
commentators held up this training video in support of the creed “More
guns are not the answer.” Please take a few minutes to watch this footage. Then try to imagine how a few armed civilians could respond during an attack of this kind. To help your imagination along, watch this short video,
in which a motel clerk carrying a concealed weapon shoots an armed
robber. The situation isn’t perfectly analogous—the wisdom of using
deadly force in what might be only a robbery is at least debatable. But
is it really so difficult to believe that the shooter might have been
helpful during an incident of the sort depicted in Houston?
Unfortunately, after that very good start, he then hits the home stretch and goes badly awry with regards to the Second Amendment:
One of the greatest impediments to actually solving the riddle of guns
in our society is the pious concern that many people have about the
intent of the Second Amendment. It should hardly need to be said that
despite its brilliance and utility, the Constitution of the United
States was written by men who could not possibly have foreseen every
change that would occur in American society in the ensuing centuries.
Even if the Second Amendment guaranteed everyone the right to possess
whatever weapon he or she desired (it doesn’t), we have since invented
weapons that no civilian should be allowed to own. In fact, it can be
easily argued that original intent of the Second Amendment had nothing
to do with the right of self-defense—which remains the ethical case to
be made for owning a firearm. The amendment seems to have been written
to allow the states to check the power of the federal government by
maintaining their militias. Given the changes that have occurred in our
military, and even in our politics, the idea that a few pistols and an
AR 15 in every home constitutes a necessary bulwark against
totalitarianism is fairly ridiculous. If you believe that the armed
forces of the United States might one day come for you—and you think
your cache of small arms will suffice to defend you if they do—I’ve got a
black helicopter to sell you.
It never ceases to astonish me that a document written by a group of individuals who successfully engaged in an armed rebellion against their own government is so often interpreted to mean literally everything but what it quite clearly means. Harris reveals his customary ignorance of history here; I would recommend that he consider more closely the complete inability of the US military to confiscate the weaponry of the Afghan people and its relative vulnerability in the USA compared to its bases in Afghanistan.
I’d also recommend that he think hard about the obvious lesson of Oslo. The hundreds of thousands of caches of small arms throughout America will not suffice to defend any one individual from the armed forces of the United States, but then, what is defending the armed forces of the United States from millions of armed individuals?