Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I should let this go, but I see that Geoffrey Dickens of NewsBusters is upset at Chris Matthews for saying this about a recent tweet from Florida Senate candidate and wingnut favorite Marco Rubio:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: ... Take a look at what Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio of Florida posted on his Twitter page after watching those scenes that we've been watching. Quote: "I have a feeling the situation in Iran would be a little different if they had a 2nd Amendment like ours." Wow! Things would be different if the protestors had the Constitutional right to bear arms?! To fight back against the Iranian Guard? I hadn't thought of that. Then again it wouldn't really be a non-violent protest, would it Mr. Rubio, if the non-violent protestors were walking around with guns!

What Rubio wrote was preposterous, but was it preposterous because nonviolence is the key to the Iran uprising? Nonviolence may be tactically appropriate for the protestors up to a point, but I don't think a lot of us have a huge problem with the fact that they violently attacked Basiji goons who had intended to intimidate them through violence.

No, I'll say it again -- what Rubio wrote is ridiculous because it's ridiculous to talk about a country like Iran and then toss in an utterly incompatible counterfactual: What if the rulers of this repressive regime let people freely own guns? If the rulers of this repressive regime let people freely own guns, it would be because they're not repressive in a hundred other ways. And if they weren't repressive in those ways, the uprising almost certainly wouldn't be necessary. It's absurd to imagine a regime that's repressive apart from one massive weapons-based exception.

I'm having trouble letting go of this because Rubio's idiotic logic (which is certainly not his alone) is the foundation of virtually all pro-gun thinking in this country -- and that thinking helps determine so many of our gun laws.

The basic idea is this: free societies don't remain free because core documents and laws enshrine institutions and practices that sustain freedom, or because an insistence on sustaining freedom is culturally transmitted. Not really. Freedom is sustained by one thing: private ownership of firearms. A Second Amendment would make Iran free. Repeal of the Second Amendment would, inexorably, make America vulnerable to tyranny. The gun is the panacea, the magic ingredient, the disinfectant that instantly cleanses a society of all repression.

This is the gunners' way of satisfying themselves that there's a philosophical justification for their Walter Mitty fantasies (that they buy guns not because they like them but because they need them to fight off evildoers and tyrants). It utterly ignores the fact that many free nations don't have liberal gun laws, just as it ignores the fact that it wouldn't be all that hard for a determined government to repress even armed citizens, using superior levels of armaments (not to mention a hundred other manifestations of tyranny, possibly including confiscation of the very weapons it had previously allowed citizens to own).

NewsBusters' Dickens harrumphs that Matthews is "completely missing the point that our Founding Fathers understood that it is much harder to repress a free people that is armed." What the hell does that have to do with Iran? Iran's populace isn't "a free people." Iran is not a free society in its totality. America is a free society in its totality -- and so are Canada, Japan, and the nations of Western Europe, which have restrictive gun laws. Guns aren't the linchpin of freedom. But don't you dare tell a gun absolutist that.

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