Sunday, April 24, 2005

On submarines, warfare, guns, and taking on the NRA

In watching a U-boat show on Discovery Channel today, one discussion was on the immorality of submarines in warfare. In WWII submarines were immoral because it did not allow for rescuing any survivors of a sinking ship, which up to this point was considered the moral law of the sea. Rendering aid is a binding moral code, even of enemy combatants. The point here is the breaching of a moral code.

Segue into guns and Japanese sword culture. The Japanese had banned the gun because using a gun does not require the same kind of courage and discipline that is required to be a samurai using a sword in warfare. And let's remember that samurai culture in Japan had existed for a thousand years before the gun got there.

In warfare, use of a sword is up close, personal, and requires skills that have nothing to do with mechanical technology. Whereas, guns, especially machine guns, is killing at a distance and reduces the human to the machine level where only pointing, shooting, reloading, and preventing jamming are the necessary skills of survival. It does not actually take courage to kill someone with a gun. All that is really required is accurate aim. It is far harder to kill a person or to kill as many without the use of a ballistic or explosive device, but I'm not addressing bombs in this essay. The point here is another example of the erosion of morality in warfare and killing because of technology trumping morality.

This is part of the background for taking on the NRA's assertion that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

While it is quite true that it is a person using a gun that the weapon is made capable of killing people, the use of such a device requires very little moral disciple in order to kill. Particularly when terms like "going postal" or when referencing high school's like Columbine are brought up. The ready availability of such weapons puts a great deal of destructive power in the hands of someone who should not have such access. Try shooting up a post office, an emergency room, or high school with a knife or baseball bat and then see if the fatality rate would be the same as with a gun.

In other words, it is the destructive power of the bullet that does the killing, because if the person with murderous intent were wielding some other weapon they would simply not be able to kill as easily or as many.

I'm not addressing the other argument from the NRA that if guns were outlawed, only outlaws would have guns. That will be for another essay some other time.

For this essay, the issue is owning a gun. The mere act of owning one requires nothing more than its purchase. I'm not even sure one needs to produce a certificate of gun training and saftey to buy one. It especially does not require any moral disciple in the same way that use of a sword by knights or samurai or other warriors required a moral code of conduct while in civil society or on the battlefield.

The only reason to have a gun (as opposed to a hunting rifle) is either out of an artificially created fear against an aggressor, or to instill fear in others. There is no honor, no disciple, and no moral code that goes with mere ownership. It is the gun put in the hands of the insane and ignorant that is a grave danger in civil society and has made war the height of immorality.

Reduced to a soundbite then:

guns = fear and cowardice

The culture of fear that has been created in America leads to shooting first and asking questions later, after it is too late. How stupid can the NRA be?