The gift of rhetoric isn’t bestowed equally on all humans. If you claim to be a philosopher, as Huffington Post writer Justin Curmi does, you should be able to demonstrate the ability to craft a coherent argument. Spoiler alert: Curmi can’t. His attempt to persuade his readers that the 2nd Amendment needs revision is a logical, rhetorical, and grammatical train wreck.
Here’s his premise: “The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial.”
Self-defense imposes on justice. This poorly constructed clause deserves some unpacking. Situations that justify legal self-defense and use of deadly force clearly impose on justice. Yet Curmi would have his readers pity those who commit crimes, and not the victims of those crimes.
He completely ignores the complex examination that occurs in every use of self-defense. It begins with local law enforcement. If you do exercise your right to self-dense, you will face scrutiny from law enforcement. You may also face a jury of your peers. Many cases are later adjudicated in civil courts, too.
“Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights,” Curmi continues. He can’t properly punctuate this sentence, but he clearly hopes that you, his reader, will appreciate his use of “therefore” as a erudite transition (even though what follows is a logical fallacy).
Note the way he is attacking the firearm, and not self-defense. The tool you choose to use to stop a violent attack is hardly pertinent in a discussion of self-defense. Either you have the right to defend yourself or you don’t. Curmi knows that he can’t possibly make that argument, though.
The next paragraph takes a major shift away from his central argument. For clarity, I will remind readers that Curmi was speaking about the imposition placed on justice by a lawful act of self-defense.
“In addition, one’s mental capacity is a major factor in deciding whether a man or woman has the right to have a firearm. There are two reasons for ensuring mental capacity. First, one of the Five Aims is to ensure domestic tranquility and there can be no tranquility if one does not have the capacity. Second, if one’s brain is distorting his or her reality, they do not have the proper reasoning and deduction skills to use a firearm.”
This paragraph has less to do with self-defense, and more to do with the legal guidelines governing firearms sales. In that tangential babbling, Curmi references The Five Aims (which, I can only surmise, is an allusion to an part of another article he wrote explaining how he would revise the Bill of Rights, using the Preamble of the Constitution as a guide.
In that piece, he asks these questions as a guideline for evaluating how we should form American laws:
Does is promote Justice?
Does it ensure domestic Tranquility?
Does it ensure the common defence?
Does it promote the general Welfare?
Does it secure the Blessings of our Liberty and Posterity?
Curmi argues that “there can be no tranquility if one does not have the capacity.” I don’t need to point out that owning a firearm and using it for self-defense are being conflated for the purpose of Curmi’s fractured logic. But I will.
His basic premise is so thin that Curmi won’t even construct a basic hypothetical situation to support it. I will, though.
“[I]f there is an argument in the reasoning of [the 2nd Amendment] and others, one must filter it through the Five Aims of the USA and the Bill of Rights. This is to ensure that any argument can be answered, avoiding a political divide.”
Filter, we must, Curmi says. Let’s just pretend for one moment that the 2nd Amendment is actually about self-defense, which it is not. Forget that. Filter, we must and filter we will.
Let’s presume a woman shoots a man who is attempting to rape and murder her. The man dies from his wounds. The police arrest her and she is tried by a jury of her peers. During the trial, she is able to show evidence that convinces the jury that the use of self-defense was justified. In this case, how does her use of self-defense stand up to the Five Aims?
Does is promote Justice? Absolutely.
Does it ensure domestic Tranquility? Yes. One less rapist bumps up the tranquility meter.
Does it ensure the common defence? Indeed. She has prevented anyone else from ever facing what she faced. Score one for the common.
Does it promote the general Welfare? Well, I’m not sure why we’re capitalizing Welfare, but I’d say it does. We’re all better off. No one has to foot the bill for incarceration.
Does it secure the Blessings of our Liberty and Posterity? Yes, as self-defense is an inalienable right, and this woman’s liberty is preserved, I would give this one a check mark, too. And she’s free to prosper.
I’ve clearly defended myself against Curmi’s fallacies. But I can’t let a section of what follows escape unmentioned. Let’s look at the beginning of his conclusion:
“Therefore, if we ponder and meditate on the recent events in news about guns, it would be obvious that the current state is incorrect. A gun for civilians is a weapon for a revolution and not for ordinary use. The belief that a gun is a useful tool to protect one is counterintuitive because guns get into the hands of people who use them for horrible reasons.”
What recent events? The current state of what?
And just one gun for all of the civilians? Check your parallelism, Curmi. If citizens are going to revolt, they’ll want more than one singular gun. And wait a minute…. When did we change the subject to revolution?
This last sentence is my favorite. It is so blatantly ridiculous that I won’t opine on its stupidity. “The belief that a gun is a useful tool to protect one is counterintuitive because guns get into the hands of people who use them for horrible reasons.”
Yes, precisely. Guns get into the hands of people who use them for horrible reasons.
In conclusion, I will borrow from Curmi’s own words on why the defense of our constitutional right is so imperative: “if one’s brain is distorting his or her reality, they do not have the proper reasoning and deduction skills….”
I would direct Mr. Curmi, and anyone wanting to read a thoughtful and coherent exploration of self-defense legislation in America to read this article from the Washington Post (no friend of the 2nd Amendment): Self-defense is a constitutional right.