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The Founding Fathers’ “Unalienable Rights”

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For more than two hundred years, the fundamental principles set out in the Declaration of Independence have been a popular rallying cry in American politics. We see this especially with issues which seem to go to the heart of United States law, such as women’s suffrage, civil rights, abortion and gay marriage. While it is tempting to look to the Founding Fathers as the ultimate constitutional authority, it is good to bear in mind that those worthy gentlemen could not possibly have conceived of many of the controversies which occupy us today. So before reaching for one’s “unalienable Rights… Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, it is wise to consider both the historical context of the Declaration, and the background and outlook of those who wrote it. In this light, the document is seen to have been given a much broader interpretation by subsequent generations than was originally intended.

Notwithstanding the commonly held perception of them as the idealist leaders of a massive popular revolution, the 56 signatories to the Declaration of Independence were members of an elite group taking advantage of an extraordinary political opportunity. The Founding Fathers were, without exception, wealthy men of property who, under normal circumstances, would not have espoused radical ideas. They saw themselves as the natural leaders and caretakers of their society, and had come to view British rule as a barrier to increasing that power, and therefore to the welfare of the American colonies. Persistent atrocities by the British, and a series of popular uprisings, had by 1776 mobilized enough opinion against the mother country for the landed gentry to feel confident in exploiting it.

This is not to say that the majority of people were necessarily in favor of severing links with Britain. Howard Zinn, in A People’s History of the United States, argues that the Founding Fathers acted as much to deflect popular resentment away from their own abuses of power as to further their desire for freedom to act without British influence. The central concept of the Declaration of Independence is based on the philosophy of John Locke, who outlined mankind’s fundamental democratic rights to life, liberty and property. In drafting the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson changed “property” to “happiness” as a concession to popular sentiment. This more abstract language was calculated to appeal to the public mind, and to guard against those who felt that the privileged upper classes already had too much property.

It is clear, then, that the Founding Fathers were thinking of these “unalienable Rights” as applying principally to themselves and men of their own standing. This was a natural outlook for men of that time, and they would no more have considered their application to women, slaves, Indians or the lower classes than we today would consider giving the vote to children. They could not have anticipated the social upheavals that would lead to the broader inclusion of these groups into American life.

Although such struggles have historically focused on the Constitution, its interpretation and amendment – the Declaration of Independence is, after all, not a legal document – they have all invoked the language of the Declaration to add impetus to their campaigns. It speaks of “Life” (basic human rights), “Liberty” (freedom) and “the pursuit of Happiness” (the opportunity to make something of oneself, no matter what one’s station in life is) – rights which campaigners have usually claimed were envisaged by the Founding Fathers but subsequently denied to large sections of society by those in power. At the turn of the last century Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leading light of the women’s suffrage movement, admonished members of Congress: “Either these doctrines [of the Declaration of Independence] are true, or you can give no reason for your own possession of the suffrage except that you have got it. If this doctrine be sound, it follows that no class of person can rightfully be excluded from their equal share in the government”.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous speech at the Washington Monument, claimed that in authoring the Declaration, the Founding Fathers “were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir”. By appealing to the nation’s constitutional soul, rhetoric like this was an effective tool for the women’s and civil rights movements in furthering their goals. Seen from a present day perspective, it is natural to couple the rights now enjoyed by women, African-Americans, the poor and other formerly disenfranchised groups to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

Many issues faced by society today give the Declaration a relevance far beyond what its authors conceived, including two that are currently the most emotive and divisive: abortion and gay marriage. The debate still runs as to whether the cornerstones of the document apply to fetuses (Does “Life” mean the right to be born?) and same sex couples (Does “the pursuit of Happiness” include access to a privilege traditionally extended only to a man and a woman?) The fact that the Declaration speaks of “unalienable Rights” – rights that cannot be taken away by humans from other humans – reinforces those who believe that their cause is just.

A statement issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops condemns modern society’s disregard of these core rights: “We deplore the fact that our nation is at risk of forgetting the promise made to generations yet unborn by our Declaration of Independence: that our nation would respect life as first among the inalienable [sic] rights bestowed on us by our Creator”. Essayist Brian Elroy McKinley, a former fundamentalist Christian, rebuts this by arguing that a fetus does not enjoy this protection: “You cannot have two entities with equal rights occupying one body. [. . .] giving a ‘right to life’ to the potential person in the womb automatically cancels out the mother’s right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

Use of the Declaration on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate is just as vigorous. Law professor Chip Lundgren points out that marriage is one way for people to pursue happiness and that the state has no right to stand in their way. Anti-gay marriage activists take a different view. A piece on the conservative website Citizen Soldier argues that homosexuality is immoral behavior and therefore does not qualify as an unalienable Right endowed by the Creator.

We may never know to what extent the Founding Fathers anticipated their Declaration being used and interpreted by later generations, although some of America’s fundamental social revolutions were already under way when it was written. Jefferson wanted to include a passage condemning the African slave trade, but was overruled. First and foremost, it was a political treatise, designed to address a situation that was of grave importance at that particular time, and not what might happen after independence had been gained. But its arguments – particularly the core principle set out in the preamble – while compelling, could be understood to mean different things by whoever read them. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution was an attempt to enshrine them in law by decreeing that no-one could be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without good cause – a return to the Lockean idea around which Jefferson had skirted.

But the fact remains that for long periods of history, and in consequence of the prevailing social climate, this protection has been unavailable to large sections of the American people. Acknowledging the deficiencies in the Founding Fathers’ worldview during a 2004 debate on the Federal Marriage Constitutional Amendment, Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) observed that their ideals “signaled only the starting points, not the finish lines” to civil rights for all. The fact that almost everyone still regards the Declaration of Independence as an enshrinement of everything good and right is what ensures its continued usefulness and relevance to all Americans.

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About Dr Dreadful

  • Clavos

    Dread man: most impressive.

    You know more about America’s formation than most Americans; hell, more than most BCers!

    Although we cannot know how prescient the Founding Fathers, and especially Jefferson, were, their understanding of human nature in the context of societal and governance issues, was profound.

    Just those three unalienable rights embody the essence of the ideal in human existence.

    So much more all-encompassing than “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Well crafted and written DD. I was not as interested in American history as I was in history overseas, but I agree with your assessment that the authors of the Declaration of Independence represented the landed gentry taking advantage of an unusual opportunity…

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    The social/economic background of the framers doesn’t much matter, because they did manage to hit on principles which transcend class and wealth. The basic principles expressed in the declaration transcend the document and the limitations of the framers and human law in general.

    The document is a product of the philosophy of the time. It is because the framers were educated and widely read and had the experience of living in a relatively free society that they had been exposed to the ideas of Rousseau and Locke and Montesquieu and other contemporary philosophers.

    But consider. Even more than the declaration, the works of Thomas Paine embody the ideas of the revolution including the rights to life, liberty and property, and Paine was NOT a rich man and was not even born in America. His father owned a tavern he was largely self-educated and he came to the US penniless after a bankruptcy. Yet in America his words were taken seriously and were enormously influential.

    Dave

  • moonraven

    Am I missing something?

    Where’s the POINT of this piece?

    Are you saying that there should be a NEW declaration, or a new constitution?

    Just what ARE you trying to say?

    This is an OPINION piece, not a wikipedia entry, according to its classification. Where is the opinion?

    I already know all about the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Declaration….

  • Dr Dreadful

    MR,

    Go back to the main Politics page and read the blurb…

    I’ll grant you that it doesn’t fall squarely into the Opinion category. There are a limited number of choices for posting in the Politics section: it can be Opinion, News, Satire or Review. Opinion seemed to fit closest, and apparently Dave* agreed with me.

    * Now don’t start…!

  • Nancy

    It does that sometimes, Doc. No worries – we don’t think you did it deliberately.

  • Nancy

    BTW – superexcellent analysis. Good job, Doc. I like getting an “outside” opinion; sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, or if you’re a US native, taking for granted certain povs as givens, when in fact they weren’t at all.

  • moonraven

    Doc, You did not answer my questions.

  • Dr Dreadful

    [sigh] OK, MR. My point is that everyone invokes the nation’s founding documents – the DoI, in this discussion – as support for their political arguments, and it’s interesting that these arguments can be diametrically opposed – pro-life vs. pro-choice, for example – and still each make a good case with the help of the DoI.

  • moonraven

    So what?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Whatever.

  • moonraven

    It’s not a question of whatever, doc; it’s a question of IS THERE A PROBLEM AND IS THIS SOMETHING THAT YOU PERSONALLY FEEL PASSIONATELY ABOUT.

    Obviously, there is not a problem and you don’t feel passionately about anything to do with this topic.

    You just wanted to see your nombre de guerra in print–anywhere.

  • Nancy

    Ignore her, Doc. She’s got permanent PMS.

  • Nancy

    He HAS got a POV & he’s expressed it. Like I told Nalle, MR – don’t project your foibles onto everybody else. Not all of us are hyped to see our names on an article byline. You just like to bitch about everything & everybody for no reason. If you don’t like the article, don’t read it.

  • moonraven

    I kept waiting for the punchline, fatso, and it never arrived.

    That’s a legitimate beef.

    And, advice to the ignorant: women my age do not have PMS.

    But we do have sex lives–which you do not.

  • Nancy

    You’re even nastier than usual today, MR; like a scorpion in a bottle. And about as effective. Calling names … sinking kinda’ low, MR; getting desperate are you? You’re getting more & more like your buddy, JOM, every day: juvenile, petty, & malicious. Have a nice day.

  • moonraven

    Every day is a nice day, because I do not live in the US.

  • Dr Dreadful

    This is true.

  • moonraven

    You are living in hell and you don’t even have the brains to put on the AC, doc.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Some women her age have nothing but PMS.

    Dave

  • troll

    …trying to decide – is that last ageist and misogynist or just one or the other

  • Dr Dreadful

    Now, now, troll – he did say “some”…

  • moonraven

    Dave has never had carnal contact with a woman. How would he know?

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    He has kids, moonraven, so unless there’s been a scientific development in Texas that the good ole boys are keeping to themselves, they were created the same way as yours.

  • moonraven

    He SAYS he has kids.

    I won’t be stupid enough to believe ANYTHING Dave says.

    For all we know, he is an android escaped from one of the games he spends his time with when not jerking off on this site.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    That’s right, he is. And you are a CIA mole testing US citizens for loyalty whilst being bummed by Michael Hayden.

  • moonraven

    And you are a silly brit–that’s what we call a pleonasmo….

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Not a word I’ve come across before but according to Babylon it means excessively wordy or redundant. I can think of others not too far from this comment to whom such a word could more accurately be applied.

  • moonraven

    You live in Spain, supposedly.

    Do you not speak any Spanish?

    How could you not know a basic term like pleonasmo (one of the first I learned when I learned the language)?

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Moonraven, I don’t think “excessively wordy” or “redundant” would be considered basic terms in any language, unless of course the topic of conversation was you, in which case they would indeed be some of the first terms to be acquired.

  • moonraven

    Well, pleonasmo is basic to Spanish.

    Apparently you are just another Brit who spends his time speaking English in Spain.

    Hasta la vista, pendejo.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Here’s a word that’s basic to English. Bollocks. It describes many of the things you say, usually in the sentence “That’s total bollocks”. It describes your last comment perfectly.

  • moonraven

    Monopolizing the site still, huh?

    Why not masturbate that teeny toy someplace else?

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Ah, yet more wit and wisdom from the trojan mule. How I laughed at the sparkling wit and funny repartee.

  • gonzo marx

    nice and thoughtful piece of scribbling, Doc…

    /golfclap

    ignore the birdbrains, imo

    Excelsior?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “nice and thoughtful piece of scribbling, Doc…

    /golfclap

    ignore the birdbrains, imo”

    Finally!!

    A comment not dominated by ego and bile. Jefferson shoulda put that into the DOI also along with, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – the inalienable right to read a blog site without it being littered with comments filled with ego, bile and viciousness…

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    So are you asking me to delete a large proportion of all your comments, Ruvy?

    Man, I’m on fire tonight. As Goldberg so impressively says: “Who’s next?”

  • Dr Dreadful

    Dave #3:

    The economic/social status of the Founding Fathers matters very much, because in their society you were not free unless you enjoyed the privileges that came with wealth and/or an important family.

    You’re right about Paine’s humbler origins, though. I’ve visited his father’s tavern in the town of Rye, Sussex. It’s no longer a pub, I seem to recall, but it certainly ain’t much of a place. Paine was something of an anomaly, all the more remarkable as a man because his personal habits and behavior were so outrageously slobbish.

    If the Revolution had been led by people (other than Paine) of a lower social class, the Founding Documents might have ended up looking more like the Constitution of Soviet Russia – and even that whole affair was got up by middle-class intellectuals.

  • gonzo marx

    @ Doc in #39 – i dunno about all that, Doc

    we are talking about the Enlightenment, Freemasons and Deists..as you noted, influenced by Locke and others of said ilk

    but is IS a tribute to the Power of their thinking and Reason that those sentiments have grown and expanded as our society has matured…the very fights we are having now, that you spoke of in the Article are proof indeed that the Experiment ain’t quite dead yet…

    when we stop seeing MORE ways to express the Rights of the Individual, or if the current crises inherent in parts of our government trying to infringe on said Rights continues unchecked…

    THEN it “Houston, we have a problem…”

    just my one sixth billionths of the World’s opinion…

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior?

  • Zedd

    After witnessing our home owners association meeting this week, I have a new found respect for the elite who framed these timeless documents. I was ready to storm the streets in favor of the installation of a monarchy, upon realizing that these same people will be voting for our President in a few months :o)

    Being that the founders were simply human, I wonder who the dunderhead was among them. I’m sure there was some idiot who kept coming up with off topic nit-pics, who never got the long range implications of what was going on. I’m sure there was some guy who was more into the rules of order in the meetings, who kept halting everyone to say “who would like to second that” totally lost to what the big picture was.

  • bliffle

    Patr of the reason is that they wrote pure poetry. Consider lines like this:

    “we find these truths to be self-evident…”

    They didn’t say dumb prose like “throughout history people have had these rules” or something equally dumb.

    “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

    “When in the course of human events…”

    Read through their writings and they sing with the beauty of the English language. It is no accident, for those men were widely acqainted with the words as well as the ideas of western culture and knew that only poetry could evoke the fullness of ideas so complex and profound. No amount of legalistic wrangling by the likes of, say, Petraeus and Crocker, with their plodding CYA obtuseness could be their equal.

    Read it and weep. Weep with joy at the clarity and spirit of what was said by those men, whose equal we haven’t seen in all these years.

  • Zedd

    Biffle

    I beg to differ. Speaking in such a manner was much like hip hop today. It was what was in style. They were no different than today’s wise men.

    What may be different is who we choose to lead us vs who would have been in a position to lead then.

  • Clavos

    “Speaking in such a manner was much like hip hop today.”

    The souls of Jefferson, Madison, Paine, Franklin, etc. are weeping…or, dissolving in uproarious gales of laughter.

  • duane

    Hahaha. Zedd, you are a pistol. Keep ‘em comin.’

  • Egbert Sousé

    We the People of the United States, you know what I’m sayin’, in Order to form a more perfect Union, you know what I’m sayin’, establish Jizzle, insure domestic Trizzle, provide for the common dizzle, you know what I’m sayin’…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    ahem…point of Order

    it’s a false Analogy, imo

    hip hop is an aural sub-culture, the Founders were all Literary types…

    therefor different kinds of Poetry entirely, one about the rhythm and notes…sounds rule, the other about the Words themselves…allusion and allegory

    just a Thought…

    the Tizzle of Dizzle fo’ shizzle!

    Excelsior?

  • Dr Dreadful

    I don’t know which is funnier: Zedd’s analogy or Egbert’s attempt to reproduce hip-hop slang.

    There’s a Saturday Night Live skit in there somewhere…

  • duane

    The Declaration of Independence

    (sung to the tune of Bring the Noise a la Gonzo #46)

    One verse only. Yes, too much time on my hands, but not enough to do the whole thing….

    ————–

    First Verse:

    George! how low can you go?
    Despot! as ev-ah-body know.
    Creator say, rights are unalienable
    Fo’ man or animal, ain’t debatable
    G! public enemy number one
    Big G said, Tax! and we got pissed
    Yo ass in da way o’ my pursuit o’ happy-niss
    And liberty’s what the Dictator G dissed
    Now they want us in a cell cuz we gonna rebel
    cause a dawg like me said, well…
    …Johnny Locke’s a prophet and I think you ought to listen to
    What he can say to you, what you ought to do.
    New government now, power to the people, say,
    It’s a polity, G, no inequality
    Thirteen is back, all in, were gonna win
    Check it out, yeah y’all, c’mon!
    Here we go again.

    Chorus:

    Sep-a-rate! Declare the cause!

    ——————

    Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll hang on to the day job.

  • Zedd

    Alright itty bitty ones, Clavos you can ignore, this wont mean much to you…

    What I meant by what I was saying is that there is a style of “being” in every era and every culture.

    I would propose that it would be just as difficult for Jefferson to speak like a hip hop artist as it would be for a hip hop artist to master Jefferson’s manner. There is a complex cultural foundation that has a historical bases for either of the conversation styles.

    It was easy for Jefferson to be Jefferson because that is what he and his “boys” did.

    As for the commentary on hip hop culture by middle aged White men…. Why?. You simply don’t know what you are talking about. Lets not even bother to contest that.

  • STM

    But Doc, if they’d just waited a while, they would’ve got all that stuff anyway, and their flag would’ve been much nicer :)

  • Dr Dreadful

    Tell me about it!

  • STM

    “Read it and weep. Weep with joy at the clarity and spirit of what was said by those men, whose equal we haven’t seen in all these years.”

    Quite, but they did bugger up the writing of the second amendment :)

  • Dr Dreadful

    [sigh]

    You just had to say it, didn’t you, Stan?

    Incoming…!

  • Clavos

    Oh, Jeez, all the bots are picking up “Sec…Am…” as we speak.

    Heads up!

  • Irene Wagner

    A history fact here about abolition: One of the earliest proponents (through pamphleteering) of this idea was Benjamin Rush–one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Northern States and Southern states were so at variance on this issue that they set it aside for a time. First things first. King George III’s abuses being the first.

    Thanks to the Christian politician William Wilberforce, Dr. Dreadful, your country of origin got the matter settled before the United States did.

  • Irene Wagner

    Oh are we talking about Amendment 2 then. I’m a Christian quasi-Pacifist. Governmentally enforced disarmament of a population is anything BUT Pacifism. I wouldn’t have anything to do with such a thing.

  • gonzo marx

    duane in #48 – masterful and completely enjoya ble!!

    /golfclap

    speak Truth to Power, G-money

    nuff said

    Excelsior?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Amendment Deux has been done to death. Why not let’s talk about some of the other interesting amendments, like the Ninth that STM is so keen on.

    Or the Fourteenth – especially that pesky first clause about citizenship which seems to upset the anti-immigration crowd so…

  • zingzing

    damn duane. that was nice. elbert, not so much.

    i suppose the hip-hop/founding fathers analogy is a little weak, but it does prove its point. language was more flowery then, that’s for sure. political language these days speaks “to the people,” and is much more simple and straight-foward because of it. it’s not that politicians want people to understand… it’s just that they don’t want to go over their heads too obviously, while, of course, not saying anything at all.

    today’s politicians rarely write their own speeches, and those speeches are so committeed that only the lowest common denominator of language makes it through.

    hip-hop, of course, to those who don’t know, is much more complex than a few phrases and sticking a random consonant before “izzle.”

    go watch the “my philosophy” video by boogie down productions on youtube for an interesting perspective on what hip-hop should be.

  • STM

    Irene: “I’m a Christian quasi-Pacifist. Governmentally enforced disarmament of a population is anything BUT Pacifism.”

    No, Irene, much better to be the most violent society in the developed world, with the highest rate of gun homicide (four times that of the next highest, New Zealand) in the developed world, largely down to the easy availability and proliferation of firearms, largely due to the second amendment.

    Who’s talking disarmament anyway. Control is the key. I’m sure the founding fathers, when they drew this thing up, wouldn’t have been countenencing bazookas and rapid-fire weapons for every second American.

    There are two schools of thought on this anway. One is that was designed to keep a standing militia of people armed with muzzle-loading muskets.

    A bit different to what it’s become, wouldn’t you reckon? Ultimately, IMO, unless you do something soon, it will be the undoing of America. 300,000 million legal firearms and God knows how many illegal ones can’t be good for any society claiming to be civilised.

    And these days, you do have a standing militia of the citizenry. It’s called the National Guard.

  • STM

    Doc, the ninth is just a nod to the laws and unwritten constitution of Britain that America had before it became independent, and allowed for decisions regarding rights to made at law going forward (the way they have been for the past 200-plus years; the founding fathers were great fans of Blackstone’s treatises, and much of American law is still based upon them, which is why all our legal systems and laws are virtually identical, of course with minor differences).

    That is why America is still known as a society founded upon common law.

    Some Americans think the constitution is the whole of the law of the US, but it isn’t, never was, and wasn’t designed to be so (the wording of the 9th makes this quite clear). It was put in the constitution for a very good reason: the founding fathers understood intrinsically that societies need to evolve, and that remaining rooted to nothing but the constitution would spell big trouble.

    I know people will think I’m stirring again, but I do like to challenge perceptions, especially when they are wrong :)

  • Clavos

    Now, about that flag….

  • STM

    No actually, Clav, you guys have a perfectly good flag. A very nice one in fact, despite the fact it has no Union Jack.

    Which was just a minor oversight, obviously.

  • Irene Wagner

    STM–The National Guard is NOT “the people.” “The people” is “the people.” The National Guard, when the government’s powers are in check, works fine. When the government’s powers are not in check, it becomes just one more tool (including police and military) of oppression against a DEFENSELESS population.

    ***

    “Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion . . . in private self-defense. ” –John Adams

    ” . . arms discourage and keep invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. … Horrid mischief would ensue were [the law-abiding] deprived of the use of them. ” –Thomas Paine

    “[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…[where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” –James Madison

    ****
    THAT’s what U.S.’ founding fathers intended.
    ****

    Disarmament of private citizens came several steps ahead of rounding up Jews and homosexuals.

    “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.” Adolf Hitler

  • Irene Wagner

    STM: 300,000 million legal firearms? The US population is only 295 million. That’s over 1000 legal firearms per person, STM! I don’t know where YOUR getting your statistics from, but I wouldn’t trust them! You’ve probably been falling for a lot of the other doctored up statistics, too! And the gun control movement uses PLENTY of those.

    But we’ll go with your bogus statistics and it still won’t matter.

    300,000 million legal firearms and God knows how many illegal ones can’t be good for any society claiming to be civilised.

    It’s a lot better than 0 legal firearms and “God knows how many illegal ones.”

    Ask the inhabitants of Washington DC. Compare the violent crime rate there (after handguns were outlawed in the city) with the violent crime rate for the rest of the country.
    Get some REAL statistics, first, though.

  • STM

    Sorry Irene, but the statistic is not bogus. That’s the figure – 300 million.

    What I don’t understand though in relation to your views is, if that is so, how have so many other societies managed to remain free and peaceful without guns. The answer is not in rule of gun, but rule of law. Which you have also.

    I know too with absolute certainty that I don’t have the same level of fear as you do in the US in relation to gun crime or crime in general.

    I can never work out how Americans think that 2 + 2 = 5 when it comes to guns. Fact is, the US has by far the highest rate of gun homicide in the developed world, way above New Zealand which has the closest figure, and if some Americans are too deluded to work out that it might have something to do with the proliferation and unconditional acceptance of guns in the US, who am I to knock it?

    You might think that allowing just about anyone to have a gun is about freedom, but for me, that’s not freedom. Freedom is being able to live a live that’s not constantly tainted by fear.

    It’s your business of course, but while you want the rest of us to believe you are a truly civilised nation, that one fact alone tends to lead to some doubt. It’s an aspect of American life the rest of the developed world finds really hard to understand, and I guess you are judged accordingly.

    I am not against gun ownership BTW, just the uncontrolled proliferation of firearms within the community.

    And what might have been right 200 years ago isn’t necessarily right today.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Just to clarify, Stan, so Irene can relax her eyebrows:

    You wrote “300,000 million”. In other words (or numbers), that’s 300 billion.

    I reckoned you were using hyperbole. Or was it just a typo?

  • STM

    Lol. Thanks Doc. Typo. No wonder she rounded on me like a wounded croc.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Chris, if you’re going to delete the preceding duplicate comments, leave the first one up. It looks like Stan’s inner gentleman got the better of him…!

    (Or his inner simile generator!)

  • STM

    I thought that since I was terrorising Irene about gun laws, perhaps a croc with a .303 up its blurter might not have been quite the right term.

    So I whacked in the other one instead, and look what happened.

  • Irene Wagner

    Yer’ vanquished STM, you’re the wounded croc, admit it! I turned the full force of my private eleventy bazillion handgun arsenal on you! And I won!

    Fact is, as legal gun ownership has increased in the US in recent years, victims of violent crime (those actually raped and murdered when assaulted) has decreased. In order to compare the effectiveness of firearms in one country, you need to compare the violent crime rates before and after in the SAME country, otherwise you have a bogus control group. For example, comparing Japan (fairly homogenous, with no gangs) to the US (multicultural, with many gangs, who would murder one another with switchblades were there no guns available) is not at all scientific.

    Again, I’m a Christian (quasi-Pacifist). I’m not a gun nut, but I believe that required disarmament of individuals in IMMORAL as well as unwise. Read the Adolf Hitler quote again. There’s considerable fear in the US (especially with the recent erosion of other rights, habeas corpus and protection from various forms of domestic espionage) that new gun control measures year after year are likely to be the thin end of the wedge, prying away anything that looks like freedom in the end.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I turned the full force of my private eleventy bazillion handgun arsenal on you!

    Irene has just demonstrated conclusively that there is no need for widespread public gun ownership in America. She has more than enough for everyone!

    ;-p

  • STM

    Zzzzzzzzz. Come on Irene. That’s bollocks. The US is NOT Nazi Germany. Explain Britain, then, or Australia, or Canada, etc, where gun laws are quite tough (but you can still own one if you are prepared to go through the process, and where there are controls on just what you can own), and if I’m correct, these are true bastions of representative democracy, freedom and rule of law – just like the US. Perhaps more so these days, in some respects, depending on your point of view.We haven’t turned in Nazi Germany and are in no danger of doing so.

    That whole argument is spurious. Rule of law is what keeps us free, and in the US, you are rapidly heading to the point where it is rule of the gun that is taking over on the streets.

    You know as well as I do that most illegally owned guns in the US started out as legal guns. Often, it’s just a case of transporting legally purchased weapons across state borders, with no tracking, where they are then flogged off for three times the price to criminals.

    When will you guys wake up to reality? Never, I suspect, and like I say, at some point in the not-too-distant future, the proliferation of guns will be your undoing and will lead to a complete breakdown in rule of law. The US, compared to how it was even just 40 years ago, has become a giant shooting gallery.

    Which is sad, because the US in most – most, not all – other respects is a beacon for others to follow.

  • luke

    if the founding fathers were in it for their own interest, why would they be so against federal power and for small, local, state power? why would they allow blacks to vote and be against slavery? why would both whites and blacks ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1987 and 1788? as i see it, the only fuss anyone could have with the founding fathers is that they did not allow women to vote, and i’m sure there reasons for that are actually legit, not because they thought them unequal.

    these are great men, true beacons of morality and freedom, responsible for creating the longest lasting constitution in the history of man that the world has envied for over 200 years now.

  • moic

    The federal government shouldnt make a decision regarding gay marraige or abortion… why dont we let each church, each clinic, and each individual make all those choices for themselves??

    • moic

      …………………. The constitution is a philosophy organized into sections and subsection, and instructions on how to live by that philosophy…. it is a similar to any other constitutional document that has been passed in other countries around the world. The philosophy is(in metaphor): “Take care of your own backyard let let your neighbors handle theirs. don’t go knocking on their door and tell them how long their gras can be or what color to paint their house”. No more thought is required. If it doesnt stop you from living your life to the fullest, leave it alone. If it does stop you, by all means tackle that obstacle… and then leave it alone