Sunday, March 7, 2010

On Gun Rights and "Civil War"

While searching for an article to mull on, I stumbled across one concerning a "liberal" argument for gun rights by extension of a similar argument for bodily autonomy justifying abortion rights and more precisely civil liberties in the sense of freedom of volition. Not to mention the counterpart that is privacy, a right to responsibly behave in whatever way you deem fit as long as it does not interfere with either the public at large or the government in general. And within 10 minutes of reading the article, I thought; why not connect this real issue to a fictional one brought up in comics regarding superheroes and other superpowered individuals (anti hero or otherwise)?

What I speak of in particular is a well known conflict that occurred in Marvel Comics, known by the name Civil War. The premise hinges on the formation of a Superhero Registration Act. While it doesn't do anything like what the government attempts in the tv series Justice League Unlimited which was outright creating a counter force to act against the potential threat that the Watchtower and its associates posed to the world, this act would require all superpowered beings: mutants, mutates and even those such as Iron Man or Punisher, to register with the government as "living weapons of mass destruction". The difficulty comes about when Captain America and others oppose the act by virtue of it violating both civil rights (the pursuit of happiness in particular, I'd wager, but also liberty) and the right to privacy granted as a given to all superheroes with secret identities. But those on the side of Registration, including Spiderman, argue that "with great power, comes great responsibility" and that the Registration would enable superheroes to become accepted by the general public and not be viewed as a rogue threat or a danger to society.

Now I imagine you're wondering how this has any relevance to the continuing debate on gun rights, but bear with me. Imagine you have a single gun in your house. Even a basic revolver or 9mm possesses a comparable level of power to any person in Marvel with enhanced skills or special abilities. You can wound someone, but without proper training, you can just as easily kill them. Now this doesn't mean I'm arguing for more or less gun control by this line of argument. My point is similar to the dichotomy in "Civil War". Superheroes could be very dangerous if they take the law into their own hands and become vigilantes in the strongest sense. An example comes from the series Justice League and DC by association. The Justice League in an alternate timeline overthrew the world government. And this was when it was merely 6 people: Superman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Batman (Flash having died in this timeline). The point is that without self control, restraint and general moderation of one form or another, anything can become an excess or a deficiency, particularly superpowers. You can possess a weapon, but not know how to use it and it becomes useless to protecting yourself or your loved ones. But you can view the weapon as a means to any end, including taking justice into your own hands and it threatens the same lives you meant to protect. So my general thoughts on gun control are similar to if I possessed superpowers. While others might use it in a variety of ways, I choose to take responsibility and not only train my powers, but also use them prudently and within a limit that I enforce upon myself: not only because I think it is necessary for myself, but because it protects the people around me. And similarly if I possess a gun or if in some alternate universe, my hands were considered deadly weapons, I would exercise an equal amount of self control and discipline so that I could both protect people from harm outside myself and from harm that might be caused by myself.

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