2nd Amendment Response #2

January 25, 2011

My friend Sean Bonner who I have known for 13 or so years just wrote me a note sharing his thoughts on the 2nd Amendment. Sean and I have similar political leanings and we both love punk/ hardcore music, and good art. We don’t agree on gun control. Check out Sean’s reasoning for supporting hand gun ownership. I don’t agree with all of his points, but they are well argued and I think civil debate is a very healthy and necessary part of democracy. I have monopolized this debate so far, so I will comment on a few of Sean’s points at the end.


Hey Shepard,

After following that little back and forth on your site about your
recent 2nd Amendment poster I thought I’d drop you a quick note, you
know, just to throw another crazy idea or two into the mix. You know
that I, like yourself, am a vocal proponent of the 1st amendment. I
also firmly believe the 2nd amendment was put in there to protect the
1st. Now, since I actually read what you wrote, I know you aren’t
against the 2nd amendment, rather you feel handguns should be
restricted to law enforcement use only. I have to disagree with you on
this for a few reasons.

I should preface this for anyone who doesn’t know me by pointing out
that my politics are extremely left leaning and I’ve been a vegan for
over 18 years. I’m morally opposed to hunting in all forms. I’m also a
gun owner.

The first and perhaps most obvious is simply that we all know making
something illegal doesn’t stop people from using/doing it, it only
stops law abiding citizens from using/doing it. Criminals, by their
very nature, aren’t too concerned about the law. Someone planning to
murder someone else probably isn’t going to be too concerned that
having a handgun might be illegal.

But that’s the oft repeated argument that goes on and on. I have two
others for you.

1. Abuse of power. When one person is given power over another person,
while it’s always hoped that the person in power will take that
position seriously and responsibly, we all know it’s far more common
that it’s abused. People in power are constantly being busted for
abusing it, and I can’t imagine what kind of abuses might happen in a
world where only law enforcement were allowed access to handguns. That
set up would create such a division of power, such an us vs them, it
would be bad. Not for criminals, because they’d still have their
handguns as previously mentioned, but for all the honest law abiding
people. They’d suddenly be at the mercy of armed overlords. That
sounds less than awesome to me.

2. Best tool available. We know the 2nd amendment grants people the
right to own guns. But it’s not the right to own guns for hunting.
It’s not the right to own guns for skeet shooting. It’s the right to
own guns to protect (a) themselves and (b) their families, and should
the need arise, against (c) a tyrannical government. Remember, the
people who wrote this amendment had just risen up and freed themselves
from the tyranny of just such a government, something they wouldn’t
have been able to do unarmed.

That said, it’s 2011 and I’m going to go ahead and say point (c) is a
pipe dream held only by a bunch of neocon survivalists out in the
woods. Governments today are too heavily armed and embedded, I don’t
think there will be any people’s revolt in the US’s future. So
ignoring point (c), we have the right to own guns for points (a) and
(b), and the simple fact is the best tool for that job is a handgun.
Handguns are easy to operate, easy to safely secure in your house,
easy to safely hide on your body should you need to. It’s not really
that much of an argumentative point honestly, if long guns (rifles,
shotguns, etc) made better personal protection devices, police offices
and security guards across the country would we walking around with
those on their side. But handguns are the best tool, and therefor the
best choice. I don’t believe the majority of people, should be denied
the best choice because the actions of a few. I shouldn’t be denied
the best tool to protect myself because some asshole out there used
that same tool for something malicious. I don’t think rocket launchers
are the best tool for protecting yourself, thus I’m not advocating
people be allowed to buy rocket launchers.

That’s my opinion anyway.

But more importantly, I’m writing this to you not to change your mind.
We all have our opinions and I trust you’ve thought about things and
come to the conclusion that makes the most sense to you, and I’m not
self righteous enough to think I’m the only one who can come to a
reasonable conclusion. I’m writing more to illustrate that two people
can disagree on a subject and still be friends. That people can hold
very strong beliefs that oppose each other and still have a civil
discourse and have respect for the other person, and the other
person’s opinion.

It’s incredibly disheartening to see the state of affairs these days
when two people can’t just disagree, they have to insult and demonize
the other person for having a different viewpoint. Or threaten to not
wear their T-shirts.

Anyway, sorry this turned into a longer diatribe than I’d intended to
write, but I just wanted to throw that out there as well.

It’s definitely complex and I don’t even know that there is one right
answer, because many viewpoints make sense in different situations. I
think one thing I wanted to say and forgot was that proper education,
like with many things, can make a huge difference for the better. It’s
stupid that I have to physically prove that I know how to operate a
car safely to get a license but I can buy a gun after answering a few
multiple choice questions. Anyway, Thanks for listening. Talk soon!
Take care,


Funny, I have said that a simple test like a driving test would help. We are on the same page there. -S
-Shepard Fairey

OK, I’ll keep it short…ish on my rebuttal.
Only criminals will have guns.
I disagree that handguns need to be available to everyone, because otherwise only criminals will have them. If handguns were in shorter supply like they are in the UK, I think there would be fewer handgun related deaths like in the UK. If you’ve ever seen the pubs let out in London, you know there is not a lower homicide rate in the UK because they are less prone to drunken hostility. I think most things there are settled with fists, not guns, largely because guns are scarce. Most people in the U.S. killed by handguns are killed by someone they know, not random criminals who deviously acquire guns.

Abuse of power.
I agree that abuse of governmental power is a problem. I’ve been beaten up by the cops and had cops point guns at me several times… no fun. I think the cops need to be paid more so that fewer low I.Q. hot-heads will get police jobs. We need a better pool of applicants. The Black Panthers used to carry un-concealed shotguns as a deterrent to harassment from the Oakland police. To most people this represented an escalation in hostility, even if it was justified, and resulted in more tension and violence. I’d rather see a balance of power based on mutual respect rather than mutual fear. I’d also prefer to see problems of abuse of power dealt with democratically at the ballot box. I think the most insidious abuse of power comes not from armed police, but from corporations armed with economic influence. Corporate manipulation of legislation will only decrease when campaign finance policy is reformed. Only then will politicians look at policy that creates the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

I won’t even ponder the survivalist rationale for guns, because as much as I hate bureaucracy, I think we need government and structure. We just need to shape it based on aspiring to the virtues of humanity, not our fears. I may just be more optimistic or naive than Sean. I certainly would not want to live in the world of Mad Max without a weapon, but I’m doing my best to prevent that from being the direction the world is headed.
Thanks for caring.

To keep up with Sean check out www.seanbonner.com