For years I’ve been watching the slow and steady acceleration of mass shootings happening across the country. From Columbine, to San Ysidro, to Killeen, to Virginia Tech, to Newtown, to … the list is nearly endless. After each one of these shootings, there is a predictable push-and-pull in the media: someone will bring up the need to regulate the sale of guns and someone else will counter with the constitutional right to bear arms.
Personally, I think the right to bear arms is a good one, though I have never owned a gun. I think there are a number of reasons that people can and should own guns. I would be happier still if we went back to the real reason the constitution preserves the right to bear arms, which has nothing to do with protecting your home or defending yourself if the government comes for you. If they come for you, chances are they’ll take you no matter how many or what caliber guns you have.
No, the reason we have the Second Amendment is to stop the nation from feeling the need to form a standing army. That’s why the amendment starts with the whole ‘well-regulated militia’ before the whole ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed’ thing. The idea was that if the country was in peril, a citizen army would rise up, like the Minute Men, and repel the invaders. In that way, the government would have no army it could call on at any time, and the general citizenry would have to agree to the military action being taken.
If the right to keep and bear arms was still in the context of the well-regulated militia, I can guarantee you we would not have spent a decade of blood and treasure in Iraq in an effort, apparently, to spawn a new terrorist state to terrify the American people into wanting to spill more blood and treasure.
No, the argument about guns is never held like that, it’s always about the ability to protect my home or to stop a bad man with a gun in a mass shooting (which statistically never happens).
So much passion is put into protecting the absolute right of people (even potential terrorists on no-fly lists) to get guns that it amazes me when barely a whimper is heard when, to me, a far more important and fundamental right is threatened.
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This is in from The Intercept: Due to the clear and present danger to all of us and our children in their bedrooms, the government and ‘top men’ are proposing that we have to start censoring the Internet.
It sounds reasonable, right? If ISIS is recruiting and inciting people to violence in the name of their extreme agenda, then we should shut off their ability to share those abhorrent ideas. I’m not sure exactly sure how that works across international lines, but note that North Korea and China have both set up Internet walls to keep ideas they don’t like out. Well, North Korea kind of just has their own little Internet, really.
But of course, just like in other areas of the war-on-terror, the efforts cannot be restricted to ‘over there.’ They will have to be ‘over here’ as well. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and any other board, chatroom, or site the government decides is sharing ‘dangerous’ ideas is liable to be shut down censored or shut down. A lot of the what the government does will also be done with secret subpoenas that forbid the services to admit they are monitoring or censoring.
And as we’ve also seen, the government is not always over-scrupulous in using powers it got for one reason confined to that activity. How long before anti-terrorist legislation becomes anti-drug, anti-cult, anti-opposition, etc.
The right of people to carry guns should be maintained in a sensible, regulated way. The right of people to share ideas, even if we disagree with them, should remain inviolate. If we lose the right to share ideas, then we lose the right to have opposing ideas. If we lose that, then we cease to be free in a much more real way than the loss of gun rights could ever make us.
Everyone knowns the word surveillance, which is when those in power watch everyone below them. Not so many people know the word sousveillance (Even my spell checker doesn’t know it!), which is when the people ruled watch the rulers.
Right now we are living in an age when the government is fear-mongering to make us accept total-surveillance in the name of our safety. What we really need is total sousveillance, total transparency of those in charge and how they are acting in our name and for our benefit.
Bitcoin can be one part of the solution. Imagine a world in which all government transactions happened on a public, immutable blockchain. We could know every cent that went to every politician, where it came from, and what happened to it.
Eventually I can envision a time when we will have a decentralized government by consensus administered without the need for trust just the way a Bitcoin transaction can happen across the world between two people who have never met with 100% confidence.
Before we can get there, though, we have to fight for and preserve the rights we still have left. Protect your right to free speech!