Kevin disputes Den Beste’s argument that the 1st and 2nd Amendments are the most important, saying the 6th Amendment is more important than the 2nd:

. . . no matter how fond you are of your guns, I hope that everyone recognizes that the right to a speedy and public trial is far more fundamental to freedom and liberty than gun ownership. Any country that has both a free press and a fair court system is probably going to muddle along pretty well regardless of their gun laws, but countries without either of those — Iraq, just to pull an example out of a hat — is a tyranny regardless of whether everyone owns an AK-47 and knows how to use it.

I agree with Kevin’s point that an above board justice system is more important than gun rights, and even agree that it’s possible to have a democratic society minus gun rights. But I disagree with Kevin and some of his early commentators on the utility of the Iraq case study. I don’t see that Iraq demonstrates much, except that people who aren’t organized to fight tyranny don’t fight it, with or without guns. But it would be a hell of a lot easier to fight tyranny—and to get organized to fight it—with guns.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    But as usual, the devil lies in the details. I think it was Ed Asner (it was one of the leftie loons) that made the case that Castro was right to kill all those defectors last month.

    After all…. they received a fair trial. The law in Cuba says that defectors will be killed. And they were. They had a one hour trial, they were found guilty and shot. It was, in the whacky leftie’s eyes, both speedy and fair. The whacky leftie continued to make the case that Castro was no worse than Bush who refused to stop Texas death penalty cases. (Taking the moral relativism game to a bizarre new low.)

    (To make my point obvious for the liberals reading…)

    WHO DECIDES what is a “speedy and fair” trial?

    The answer is the government that is not ousted by people who believe in the second amendment.

    And THAT boys and girls is why the second is more important.


  2. The Second Amendment is the poison-pill clause. Being aware of man’s avarice for power, our worthy forefathers made explicit the right to keep and bear arms. It puts the government on notice that the whole shebang is not only important, but backed by the only argument to which tyrants pay any attention.

    For what it’s worth, nitpicking over which is the more important clause misses the point. Depending on your circumstances, any one could be more critical than the others. The fundamental issue is that the government is the servant, and if the people elected, appointed — or however they managed to get inside &mdash think differently, then we have this little document that states, in pretty much straightforward terms, exactly what they cannot do. And should we forget our history, or neglect to teach it to our children, it is recorded therein to what lengths we will go to preserve our notions of the way things ought to be.

    It is important to remember that the Constitution is a list of rules drawn up for the hired help. The particular clause that’s “most” important is implied. It’s the one that says this is what We the People are willing to put up with. I wish more of us remembered . . .

  3. Speech. Then guns. Then everything else. They got it right.