I've been reading through the Heller decision (also known as The District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court case last summer that decided handgun bans were unconstitutional) and it has been *very* enlightening. I consider myself well read on gun laws, statistics and all that, but man, this is good stuff. Both sides have good arguments, this is one of the few times I've actually understood the reasoning behind a 'Lets ban all guns' argument, as presented by the Stevens [don't completely agree with] and Breyer [see much more eye to eye with] dissents. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, nice and concise with the full majority and dissenting opinions.
But its had me wondering about various facts, googling around to see what data I can dig up, and what opinions I can find. I stumbled across two great quotes tonight I just had to pass on.
The first is Ghandi, in his autobiography:
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." (page 238 according to the site I found it on)
The Act in this case is referring to (I believe) the Indian Arms Act of 1878. This act made it impossible for a non-British citizen to get a weapon unless they could prove they were loyal. Something about making sure British rule (which was in place by force) wasn't overthrown by the legitimate subjects, or some such. So, we can see that Ghandi recognized that even though he preferred non-violent means, a population without arms cannot fight against an oppressor.
The second is another bastion of peacefulness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso:
"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result. But at some other body part, such as a leg." (Seattle Times, May 15, 2001)
This was apparently in response to a question about a student turning a gun on another student. I will let go the argument for giving students the right to carry, but just focus on his words. Here we see a (mainly) peaceful man arguing on behalf of the right to use guns in self defense.
Amazing how even those who choose non-violence recognize the inherent need for weapons in our culture.