[Ed: Welcome to new author Victor Chen, MD who adds the cross-cultural perspective of an Asian-American to valuing the Second Amendment and why we all should. Think Chris Cheng, Top Shot winner & NRA commentator. Part 2 will follow.]
I’d like to address why the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is so important to me and to Americans like me. I think it is important I talk about this first, because many gun control advocates feel that even if a specific gun control law is truly pointless, petty or useless, it is still worth it “just in case it saves one life”, because to them there is no downside, there is no negative to enacting as many guns laws as possible.
There is no cost to the gun control side because these laws infringe upon a right they do not themselves exercise. However, unless there is actual benefit, then the laws are not worth the cost—eroding the RKBA.
The Second Amendment is not about hunting, or even home defense, though these are fair uses and an understanding of Threat Scenarios is important when discussing this topic. It is about civil defense. The Founding Fathers did not risk their lives to secure our right to hunt delicious deer.
My family came from China. My grandparents fought on the side of the Nationalists against the Communists and lost, having to flee to Taiwan afterward. They saw first-hand what oppression and tyranny is. Did you know that the Communist Chinese Constitution purports to grant many of the same nice-sounding rights as the American Constitution, such as the rights to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to due process? Of course, we all know after the Tiananmen Massacre that the Chinese Constitution is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Unlike the Chinese government, the U.S. government is built carefully, purposefully and, precariously, upon a system of delicate checks and balances. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is the final check, a “doomsday provision”, a check when all other checks have failed. It serves to defend the “security of the free state”, from threats both within and without. The U.S. is very unlikely to become tyrannical or to face invasion today, but it is critical to have a failsafe. Tyrannies happen, and on the day when democracy dies, it will be to thunderous applause.
Not every country that bans guns is a tyranny. However, every tyranny has banned civilian ownership of arms since antiquity. Whether it is Iran, North Korea, or Communist China, no authoritarian regime has ever tolerated civilian ownership of arms. Those regimes fear guns in the hands of citizens with good reason. In the end, the person with the gun does the talking and makes the decisions. If the State wants to oppress and you are armed, they are forced to treat with you, attempt to disarm you, or kill you. If you are already disarmed, you have no say. Disarmament is a necessary precursor to the government requiring, for example, forced sharing, also known as communism.
It is rare and humbling to me that the United States government trusts its citizens enough to have guns I would not want to live in a country whose government did not. It is unique, special, and makes me very proud to be an American. I am awestruck by the courage and humility of our Founding Fathers. I would keep this thing that makes our country special and unique. It infuriates and bewilders me that so many of our citizens do not treasure this rare trust, and are so eager to throw it away just for the promise of safety. This is a right that our Founders risked their lives to secure for us. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would sacrifice freedom for security will find themselves with neither”.
If people do not like our Second Amendment, no other country in the world has the same social compact, and they are welcome to emigrate. There is only one United States with its Second Amendment, and if it is destroyed, there is nowhere else to go. We must defend it vigorously.
We firmly believe the right to keep and bear arms ultimately defends all other rights. It is what gives the U.S. Constitution “teeth”. It separates the U.S. Constitution from the Chinese Constitution and while functioning, prevents it from ever becoming “just a piece of paper”. It is a constant reminder to our government that they govern at our pleasure. Government exists to serve the People. The People do not serve it. Unlike in the British Commonwealth, Americans are not subjects and we do not kneel.
Gun Control Can’t Prevent School Violence
1.) You can’t legislate evil: Criminals and “bad guys” by definition do not obey laws. A person who commits mass shootings has already committed murder. Someone who has no regard for human life, and no concern for breaking the law against murder, will have no compunction against breaking any existing laws against owning guns. Or, if they cannot get their hands on guns, they will use some other method. According to the FBI’s own statistics, hands, fists, and feet killed more people than the rifles that anti-gun people want to ban so much.
Out of all firearm murders, long guns (rifles and shotguns) are used in about 2% of cases. Semiautomatic rifles, such as the much-maligned AR-15, are used in a much smaller percentage. School mass shootings are horrific and sensational, but in statistical terms the deaths they cause are rare compared to other cases of death.
Terrorists in France proved that you can kill a large number of people with trucks, or obtain fully automatic rifles (which are already largely illegal in the U.S. and obviously France) if they want to (November 2015 Paris attacks). South Korea, which has strict gun control but the world’s highest suicide rate, proves that you can find a way to kill yourself without a gun if you really want to. People who are serious about suicide will find a serious method. If guns are not available, they choose the serious method customary in their area. People who want to do harm to others or themselves can always find a way. If my child were run over with a car, would that be better than if he was shot?
2.) Making guns illegal does not make them disappear, it just makes us less safe
You can’t un-invent guns, just as you can’t un-invent drugs. Luckily you can catch users more easily now with a saliva drug test. In 1971, the United States declared a “war on drugs” that ended in disaster and failure. 45 years later in 2016, nearly 64,000 people died of opioid overdoses. That’s just one class of drugs, not including meth or alcohol, responsible for almost twice the number of all firearms deaths that year (about 36,000).
America tried making drugs illegal, tried to punish dealers and users. It didn’t work, because we didn’t fix the core issue: demand. Where there is a demand for drugs, drugs will appear no matter how illegal you make them. Society has a disregard for life and a penchant for violence, and bad guys will always somehow get them, while law-biding citizens will be defenseless. By comparison, medical errors killed 250,000 in 2014.
California already has some of the strictest, most draconian, useless, and onerous gun laws in the country. For instance, it bans the owning of magazines holding more than 10 rounds. I have never heard of a criminal or mass shooter who decided to obey the 10 round magazine law. “I want to kill a bunch of people, but I don’t want to get into any more trouble!” The only effect this law has is to disadvantage law-abiding citizens against criminals.
Making it more difficult to own guns and protect ourselves legally will NOT make our children safer. It is the equivalent of trying to solve drunk driving by making it more difficult for sober people to drive. “How many more drunk drivers have to die before you give up your keys?” Or “how many more women have to be raped until you castrate yourself?” It is absolute nonsense.
These laws make me less safe, because I am less able to defend myself against criminals who don’t care to obey them. They make it less safe for the 90 pound woman to defend herself from a 250 pound abusive ex-husband who has sworn to kill her. No matter how hard you wave that restraining order in his face, it will not be as effective as a gun. They make it less safe for the rural person for whom police response is an hour away. They make it less safe for the underprivileged minority person living in a gang-infested inner city area to defend himself from criminals but cannot afford onerous gun control fees and hurdles.
3.) Gun control has racist roots. It was originally a means to prevent slaves from rising up, and later to prevent blacks from defending themselves against whites.
As previously mentioned, all tyrants understand that you cannot enslave an armed people. Disarmament is a prerequisite to enslavement. Slave-owners of the Antebellum South understood this perfectly. They could not allow slaves to own guns in order to prevent a slave rebellion. After the Civil War, many southern states passed “Black Codes” that infringed upon the right of blacks to own guns and defend themselves against whites.
Many southern states enacted gun control laws that were enforced differently for blacks and whites, or written in a way to disproportionately affect blacks. When Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to apply for a concealed carry permit, he was denied due to an intensive campaign by the FBI to neutralize him as an effective civil rights leader. Condoleezza Rice became a self-described “Second Amendment absolutist,” because of her experiences growing up in Birmingham.
Gun control disproportionately affects minorities and poor people who do not have the resources to pay exorbitant taxes and fees to exercise their RKBA, much less hired armed security or live in a safe, gated community. It disproportionately punishes those who live in the poorest, criminal-ridden neighborhoods and most need to be able to protect themselves.
Today, gun control has morphed the RKBA into a primarily white, upper-middle class option that is deeply racist and classist. There are plenty of high-crime, poverty-stricken neighborhoods that police seldom patrol. There are poor, rural areas where police response cannot be rapid. Wealthy anti-gun progressives living in their gated communities telling at risk people they shouldn’t have guns to protect themselves is the self-defense equivalent of telling them to “have the maid do it”. It is an absurdly out of touch, privileged, ivory-tower perspective.
4.) America is not Australia, the U.K., Canada, France, Japan, or Germany:
The U.S. has very different demographics, culture, and history than those countries. Yes, those countries have very strict gun laws, and low levels of violence. They also have homogenous populations with high levels of socioeconomic development, and they did not start their gun bans with over 300 million guns already in circulation. There are countries like Mexico, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries with very strict gun laws, yet horrific gun violence.
Mexico and Venezuela have strict gun control yet they have horrific gun violence. The U.K. and Japan have strict gun control, and have much less. The controlling variable is thus not gun control laws—it is the socioeconomic development. Poverty, hopelessness and disregard for human life breed violence. If an imaginary town were made up of 10,000 psychiatrists and all with guns, very few are likely to get shot over 10 years. If the same town was populated by 10,000 violent felons and there was even one knife among them, someone would get stabbed by morning. It is about people, not laws.
5.) Inanimate objects do not kill people:
You ask, how would I feel if a “crazed gunman” killed my children at their school? I would be enraged at the killer, the same as if he had killed my children with a knife, a car, a bomb, or his bare hands. For every other murder weapon we blame the person, yet it seems it’s always the gun’s fault. The moment my gun loads itself and kills someone, I will be the first to turn it into the police department.
7.) Sometimes it’s not worth it to “save just one life”:
Should we ban all motorcycles because they are risky? Sky-diving? Rock climbing? Scuba Diving? Sugary sodas? Where does it end? One can be protected from cradle to grave by exercising total control but it’s not a life worth living. Claiming that having a gun in your home makes you more likely to die from a gun is disingenuous. You are more likely to die from attack with any object you have than by one you do not.
—Victor Chen, MD is a board-certified psychiatrist practicing “behind enemy lines” in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is proud to be a “AAA”: Armed Asian-American. He is passionate about the right to keep and bear arms, and believes “scary black rifles” are necessary to the security of the free state.