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A Pistol is What You Use . . .

. . . to fight your way to a real gun.

I got to hear a few snippets of the Heller arguments today on NPR. In the intro, the reporter described a handgun as “the easiest method of self-defense.” I expect some ignorance of firearms from Eastern intellectuals like NPR reporters and most Supreme Court justices, but I also expect a guy like John G. Roberts, Jr. from the heavily-armed state of Indiana to know a little bit about firearms.

Chief Justice Roberts asked, “does it really make sense to say the best self-defense arm is a rifle, as opposed to a pistol?”

It’s a silly question. For home defense, a rifle is not the best weapon. But neither is a pistol. The danger with either is that the projectile might go through (or past) an invader and through anything and everything else in your house, including your loved ones and pets, drywall and siding, winding up in the house next door or across the street.

The best home-defense weapon (bear in mind that we’re talking about home defense, not concealed carry) is a 12-gauge shotgun. (There’s some debate about whether the best home-defense load is birdshot or buckshot.) In the enclosed spaces of a home, shotgun pellets are going to do serious damage to anything they hit, but aren’t going to keep going like a heavier and faster pistol or rifle bullet would.

The DC law at issue in Heller allows the possession of a loaded shotgun in the house with a trigger lock. It’s patronizing for the government to tell us how to keep our weapons secured, but keeping a trigger lock on a loaded shotgun is a reasonable safety measure. It takes a second to unlock the trigger lock, and then you’ve got the ideal home-defense weapon.

If the Second Amendment were about home protection, DC’s law would, I think, be reasonable.

Edit 3/20/2008: on further reading, it appears that DC’s law requires the locked shotgun to be unloaded. An unloaded locked shotgun is damn near useless. DC’s law might as well outlaw the possession of anything that goes “boom.” It wouldn’t even be reasonable if the Second Amendment were about home protection.

But the Second Amendment wasn’t written to allow us to protect ourselves against garden-variety home invaders or street thugs, or against rabid squirrels or foreign invaders. If indeed it provides an individual right, the Second Amendment was written to allow us to protect ourselves against tyrants and their agents. It was written to protect us against a government run amok and its street thugs and home invaders. In order to guard against the possibility of tyranny, the people should be at least as well-armed as the government agents.

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