Quote of the day—Dennis Pratt

I want to admit upfront that gun ownership can not be a universal human ethic. A universal human ethic is true for all time in all cultures in all situations for all humans. And guns have been around only for 650 years or so. So, by definition, there can be no universal human ethic to “own guns”. Stating it as though there is (which unfortunately is done by both sides of the debate) is a straw-man, making the American position even harder for other cultures to understand.

Gun ownership is not a fundamental human ethic, but a derived right from a universal human ethic — the right of self-ownership.

Dennis Pratt
August 27, 2017
Why does the U.S. think gun ownership is an inalienable right given that literally all of the developed world doesn’t feel the same way?
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]


12 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Dennis Pratt

  1. Just because a belief is widely held doesn’t mean it can’t also be wrong.
    Just because when “teaching ethics” high school teachers go within five minutes to, “would you steal to get money to buy medicine to save a life”, when the students are still working on definitions doesn’t mean ethics isn’t a profitable subject of study.
    Just because Mr. Pratt can’t think beyond the idea of GUNS! doesn’t mean self-defense isn’t a right considered to exist for thousands of years.
    Just because the totalitarian apologists frame the question a certain way, it doesn’t mean that is the logical way to reach a clear conclusion that stands up to critical reasoning.

    • You may have it backwards. Pratt’s argument is that guns are recent technology, while the right to self defense is as old as life itself. (I’ve expressed this as “even mushrooms understand self defense”.) He is thinking beyond guns.
      For example, Jesus clearly spoke for self defense, but he phrased it using the technology of the day. The universal truth is self defense. Which means are effective for self defense, and which one of those is optimal, is subject to change as technology changes.

      • I think you’re right, my annoyance might better be directed at others who more obviously wish to ban guns in the hands of the hoi polloi. To me Pratt seemed to be arguing that since guns are a recent development they need not be considered a required part of the self-defense calculus, in spite of the fact that they require very little strength to use effectively in self-defense, thereby equalizing the strong and weak, reducing the basis for the strong’s rationalization for them wielding power.

        • Given that one can clearly misread his article that way, I’d say it is poorly / confusingly worded. But I think the intent is correct.
          To apply a 1st amendment analogy, his argument is that possession of typewriters isn’t a fundamental right, but rather freedom of speech is. Similarly here: possession of firearms isn’t, but self defense and the use of effective tools for that purpose is. Knives, nunchaku, and ray guns are also covered by the 2nd amendment, just as email and telephones are covered by the 1st.

  2. One just needs to look at the UK. They banned all the effective guns in the name of public safety, and crime went up (big surprise). So now they’re banning knives and bats and other tools that likely were used not only by all humans but many of our more primitive ancestors.

    The right is for self protection, from street criminals and institutional ones as well.

    Just guns are the most effective tool, and the the current battle ground here.

  3. The reason the US derives ownership of firearms to be a right is because it is (in Mr. Pratts’ definition) NOT derived from the right of self ownership, but rather from the universal right of self defense. That and the fact that it isn’t spelled out as “the right of the people to keep and bear guns shall not be infringed” but “the right of the people to keep and bear ARMS shall not be infringed”. And the reason this right shall not be infringed is because self defense is a universal right. And can extend to the defense of the community.

    At least that’s how I see it…

    • if i’m reading Pratt rightly, he derives the right to self defense from self-ownership. his argument seems to be that if you don’t have the right to defend your property against theft or usurpation, then it’s not really yours; so if we each own ourselves, we must have the right to defend ourselves. makes perfect sense to me.

  4. I wasn’t sure how to read it. For one thing, I’ve never heard of a “universal human ethic”. “Fundamental Human Right”, yes, I’ve heard of that. The right to bear arms, which flows from the right to self ownership, which includes the right to self defense, is one of those fundamental rights.

    “Ethics” to me would encompass the treatment of those rights, i.e. the prescribed means of protecting them, but it’s a worthless term unless acknowledgement of the fundamental rights is already in place.

    “Guns” are in the current upper echelon of tools for defense, but they are only one category of “arms” as protected by the second amendment. Two thousand years from now the technology might be something very different, but the concept of the right to bear arms will not have been affected– People in the future have the same right to keep and bear those as we currently have to bear guns, as those in the 18th Century had the same right to bear flintlocks, cannon and swords.

    In any case, as Dennis Preger says, “I’d rather have clarity than agreement”. By definition, we can never have agreement until all concerned parties are clear on what we’re discussing, so clarity is always the first requirement.

  5. Funny how the left always fixates on “GUNS”. The Second Amendment nor the Constitution mention the word guns of firearms. The Right that is enumerated and ostensibly protected is the Right to Keep And Bear ARMS. The definition of arms at that time….and today includes but IS NOT LIMITED to guns and firearms but ALL weapons. Thus the notion that since guns have only been around a few centuries so there is no ‘ethic’ for owning them is a fallacious argument. ARMS…i.e. WEAPONS have been around since before humans could speak…and thus are an INTEGRAL part of human history, nature and our ‘ethos’.

  6. Though it maybe redundant, it must be emphasised that the right enshrined in our Constitution is NOT the ownership of firearms, specifically, but rather the right to keep and bear ARMS — of any nature: blade, bow, or powder; and any size, range, etc., including, but not limited to, artillery.

    • Absolutely, and as others have pointed out, a fair amount of the artillery used on the US side in the Revolutionary War was private property.

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