hearts and minds

March 5, 2014

The Right to Life vs. the Right to Kill

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an inalienable right that is explicitly supported by our U.S. Constitution. All Americans should also recognize that the people – not corporations – are sovereign in a democratic republic, and only “the people” (not corporations) possess inalienable Constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.

Yet trans-national corporations have been allowed to arise which have not only expropriated the rights of the people, they have also usurped from our government the Constitutional war powers which belong only to government. Corporations have been raising, equipping, training, and employing, both internationally and domestically, armed mercenary military forces that deploy and use weapons of mass destruction, including aerial assault weapons, fully automatic light and heavy machine guns, RPGs, artillery, mass population control weaponry, and highly intrusive, technologically sophisticated surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities. But under our U.S. Constitution, only our democratic republican government has the right to raise, train, and deploy military forces, or engage in armed foreign conflicts.

The point of this essay is to spotlight certain divisive state legislation, designed by corporate lobbyists and right-wing ideologues for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA), which allows people to kill people – including unarmed children! – with impunity. Those laws violate our inherent Constitutional rights – including the rights of those now dead unarmed and innocent children – to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Children, and those diagnosed with mental illness, and those who have ever been convicted of a felony, are generally forbidden or restricted by law in their ability to possess and freely carry a gun. Children, and those forbidden adults, (and other adults who are unable, or simply choose not, to join the new citizens’ arms race and carry a gun wherever they go) are thus unable to defend themselves against violence from most anyone who is armed with a gun.

Yet any of those very many unarmed people can and (with or without intention) sometimes do provoke irritation, fear, loathing, and even extremely biased reactions, in supposedly “normal” adult citizens. So those persons who are unarmed by law are thus rendered unable to protect themselves, both from criminals, AND – now – from other armed strangers who have recently become enabled by, and perhaps willing to hide behind, those ill-conceived, permissive, loophole-ridden, “self-defense”, “castle doctrine”, “stand-your-ground”, “perception of danger”, “presumed innocent” clauses in these laws. But the law – our law – rather than facilitating and excusing killing by excessively liberal right-to-kill legislation, should instead be protecting life – especially the life of anyone who the law itself mandates to be unarmed. The law should also, just as carefully respect and protect the life and the safety of any person (including those who are unable, and those who are morally or ethically or for any reason unwilling, to carry and quickly use a gun, when or if or wherever they think they might be in danger.)

The unarmed person who enters public places, or even in her own home or that of another, has always put his or her faith in human nature and trust in the social fabric of the community, up against the desperate, illegally armed, intentionally violent street criminal. But now, that unarmed person is also forced to put his or her faith and trust up against the degree of self-discipline and competence and judgment – or lack of same – of a growing number of citizens – some of whom are easily offended, angered, frightened, bigoted, upset, or not yet certified delusional – who have obtained the legal right to carry a weapon.

Street criminals have, in the past, been strongly discouraged by sentencing laws, prosecutors, and judges from committing crimes while carrying a weapon, and especially from using weapons during the commission of a crime. Now, however, with anyone in a public place being possibly armed, a criminal – even a pickpocket or thief or street hustler – is more likely than in the past to carry a weapon – for his own self-defense! – and to use it hastily. Being gunned down by a citizen while committing theft likely appears far worse to such a criminal than the legal consequences of being apprehended during the commission of such a crime while carrying, or even using a weapon. So the probability is strong that, with more people carrying concealed weapons, criminals will more likely become armed and prepared to commit violence. This factor, and the one noted in the following paragraph, also puts the unarmed citizen at greater risk.

With the recent unpunished killings of innocent, unarmed children and very young adults by irate, race-profiling, uptight, armed, middle aged white men, who were stalking and/or confronting and provoking people they fear and loathe, the law now provides strong incentive for other law-abiding people – more people – to either (a) shrink in fear from public places and any contact whatsoever with strangers, or (b) arm themselves in public, and prepare for a quick draw and fire, in the event that their mere presence or actions somewhere, sometime, may irritate and “threaten” some unbalanced, hateful armed stranger.

There are serious adverse consequences of simultaneously, and thoughtlessly enacting extremely permissive right-to-shoot-and-kill legislation, in the context of new, liberal concealed-carry laws. Legislators and governors who have enacted these permissive right-to-kill laws have been negligent in their basic social responsibility to protect the right to life of ALL persons. There was no demonstrated urgent need for such haste in enacting both right-to-kill laws and concealed-carry legislation almost simultaneously. It’s unwisely and unnecessarily provoking a people’s arms race, sowing fear, mistrust, and violence.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms does NOT make people in general less safe and secure today. However, our safety and security IS compromised by the new corporate-motivated legal statutes that excessively liberalize the right to kill – one of the “rights” which corporations, incidentally, have been fraudulently claiming – and exercising, with impunity.

The right to keep and bear arms does not imply (or bestow on a person – or corporation) the right to kill someone. These are two very different issues. The right to kill must not be lightly granted by permissive statutes such as those that have been written, lobbied for, and imposed on society by ALEC and the NRA. The right to take a person’s life must be very closely and rigorously proscribed and limited by government and the procedures of law. Any shooting or killing, by anyone, must be scrupulously investigated, and not lightly dismissed, with the burden of proof on the person using the deadly force. And in order to do that, apparently, we the people must take control of what should be our government away from corporate lobbyists, and divisively ideological special interests promoting wedge issues, that are compromising and negating the sovereignty, the safety, and the inherent rights of the people.



  1. Greetings, Clyde, from a fellow Wisconsin blogger!
    Your title, The Right to Life vs The Right to Kill brought your blog to my attention.
    Love your honest cards-on-the-table philosophy described in “about the essayist.”

    Were you aware of your title’s potential to encompass more than one issue hotly debated in Wisconsin today?
    To the left, the Right to Life vs the Right to Kill addresses gun control.
    To the right, the Right to Life vs the Right to Kill addresses abortion.
    Gun deaths in the US number about 30,000 annually, 2/3 of which are suicides.
    Abortion deaths in the US number about 1.3 million annually. None are voluntary, none are armed.

    You have probably surmised my acquired bias towards conservatism.
    A bias acquired from my family history and experiences, which included fleeing Soviet Communism and flourishing in the atmosphere of freedom and opportunity historically offered by the USA.

    My take on Right to Life vs Right to Kill can be found at http://sytereitz.com/2012/01/abortion-a-much-bigger-deal-than-you-think/ .
    It is good to debate hot button issues rationally and with mutual respect.
    I admire that about your Right to Life post, despite my disagreement with some of the more liberal perspectives represented on your blog. Your essay avoids partisan name-calling that is too common, and argues your views rationally.
    Thanks for an interesting read.

    God bless,
    Syte Reitz

    Comment by Syte Reitz — March 5, 2014 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  2. A good post, Clyde.
    We could simply combine the title into “The Right To Bully”. After all, isn’t that what it’s really all about? It’s the right to tell someone else (by force) to be your obedient slave (my corporate money will determine your value as a human being), wife (you WILL have my children), or subject (my gun says you will behave like I say).

    As another threat, the popularity of concealed carry permits now has greatly increased the risk of accidental shootings by police, who become hyper-alert and armed when they stop someone for a traffic violation, check their driver’s license and find out the driver may be armed. Policies vary by state: some police want you to inform them of a CC permit, while others don’t want to know because it disrupts a normally casual interaction. Be sure to check every state you might travel in if you have a permit, whether or not you carry a gun, the police will have to treat you as though you are armed and dangerous if you have a permit on file.

    Authoritarian violence is supposed to flow DOWN-hill. The concealed carry permit process is really for “privileged white guys” to feel powerful, as is the abortion ban ideology (It’s not about “right to life”: if it was, ‘conservatives’ would stop killing the same children when they reach military age, and they would be a little more concerned about how many billions are about to die because of peak oil civilization’s coming collapse). When people with brown or black skin are allowed to buy guns and carry them legally to protect themselves (after all, they ARE the most under threat from armed violence), it doesn’t fit the Imperial White Colonial mindset. The laws of equal rights for all people are far cry away apart from this competitive consumer culture that emphasizes fear of each other and property rights over simple decency.

    The old news adage that “If it bleeds, it leads.” is now, “If it bleeds, it sells products.”

    Comment by Dan C. — March 6, 2014 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  3. Hi Clyde, Very well said!

    Comment by Mehran I. — March 8, 2014 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

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