A reader adds his two cents

Just wanted to add this on the “Gun Thing”: I realized one day that I’d never heard a theoretical argument against gun control that wasn’t also an excellent argument against H-Bomb control. Example: “The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.” Then the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear H-Bombs…since an H-Bomb is undoubtedly an “arm” (of the nuclear variety, I believe). “The Second Amendment was meant to ensure that the populace would be armed in case they need to revolt against their own government.” Then we’re definitely going to need those H-Bombs, because our government sure as heck has them… “If Guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns.” Well, if H-Bombs continue to be outlawed then only outlaws (like Al Queda, God forbid?) will have H-Bombs…other than the government, of course, who are apparently just as bad as the outlaws. Either way, I need my own H-Bomb if I’m going to stand any chance of keeping my liberties at all. And yet this H-Bomb is being ruthlessly denied to me. As far as I can see, the Gun Nuts ought to be up in arms, trying to win us the right to go down to Wal-Mart and buy our own private “Fat Man”–in a big white cardboard box, perhaps, with the big copper staples on top. In the sporting goods section, I guess. That way whenever one of our nation’s remaining Timothy McVeighs gets to feeling that his rights are being violated he can go ahead and strike a blow for liberty by setting one off. And if any of our Gun Nut friends should reply to this by saying, “That’s ridiculous. Of course we still want H-Bombs outlawed” I would ask, “On what theoretical basis?” Apparently most of them want to draw the line somewhere themselves–somewhere between the AK-47 and the MIRV (and let the argument amongst them begin!). But this, like the amorous millionaire and his secretary, would just be a matter of “haggling over the price.”

He’s right, of course. It is a mere accident of history that nukes were invented by the State in a time of war. The physics was laying around, waiting for somebody to discover it and it could have been an enterprising private firm. We (wisely) have chosen to keep suitcase nukes out of the hands of private citizens–even very responsible private citizens. My entire point was: this might be a smart idea with slightly less lethal weapons which serve no purpose other than to kill a lot of people at once. It would have been helpful to me, the gun ignoramus, if people more knowledgeable about guns had made it clear that laws are already in place in the US for stuff like fully automatic AK-47s, rather than relexively playing all the “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” tapes. It would also be wise if, rather than collapse into delusions of the Gestapo at the door, we faced the reality that there are 50 million AK-47s in the world and that they are needed by nobody but soldiers, so an international effort to find and destroy these weapons might be a good investment of time and money. Rather like the international effort to police nukes.