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Confession of a Liberal Gun Owner

Why an Obama voter made it a point to acquire one of those guns that politicians argue about.

In the months following the tragic shooting in Miami, Ordinary Times hosted several discussions on the Second Amendment and gun control policy.1 This essay is not an attempt to add to that discussion, or to set out my interpretation of the scope and limits of constitutional rights. Indeed, I was hesitant to submit it given that the policy questions have already been debated to death. Notwithstanding, I’ve noticed that a consistent flash-point, both here and when I’ve discussed the matter with people I know, is whether or not anyone needs a firearm, and in particular why any individual might chose to own an “assault weapon.” I don’t love that term, but don’t mind using it for purposes of this essay.

A little over three years ago I purchased a semi-automatic center fire rifle with a detachable magazine, a weapon which included within the federal assault weapons ban, and is now prohibited in my home state (previously owned rifles were “grandfathered” in). In the spirit of mutual understanding and good faith debate, I thought it might be helpful if I told the story of how I came to own this particular firearm, and why I keep it.

I did not grow up in a household with guns. In fact my mother abhors them. My initial exposures to firearms were through my uncle, who remains an avid collector and hobbyist, and my grandfather who had a passion for hunting, fishing, camping, and all types of outdoor activities. Starting around the age of eleven, trips to the shooting range became occasional parts of visits or camping trips with my extended family. This is where I developed basic competency with all types of firearms, and learned proper handling ethics and etiquette.

Though I enjoyed these excursions, I did not buy a firearm until long after I legally could. Technically I had inherited a few shotguns and hunting rifles from my grandfather when he died, but they remained in storage. I always thought I might buy a firearm for recreational purposes one day, but it seemed like a foolish idea when living in college apartments and houses with multiple roommates. I didn’t have full control over the space, and though I always trusted the people I lived with, it wasn’t unusual to come home to find people I hadn’t met before on the premises. My lifestyle at the time was just not consistent with the level of care I felt was necessary to prevent a theft or an accident.

I didn’t start seriously entertaining the idea of purchasing a firearm until I was living in a more stable situation after completing law school. A friend had returned from the military, and invited me to the range with him, rekindling my interest in target shooting and other outdoor activities. Even then I never felt like buying a gun was a top priority. There was always something else to spend my money on (not least massive student loan payments). It was about this time that the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. Though gun control legislation failed at the federal level, it quickly became clear that Maryland would pass new restrictions of some kind. Ultimately the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 became law.

I started getting calls from my uncle, suggesting that if I was going to buy something I should do so before the new laws went into effect so as to avoid the additional hurdles. Initially I was hesitant. Though I was comfortable around firearms, I had never been responsible for ownership and all that goes along with it. While still torn about whether to make the official transition to gun owner, I began writing my state representatives about the proposed bills that were starting to take shape. E-mailing state legislators is a habit I picked up in law school after writing a law journal style paper on police militarization. A bill to monitor SWAT team deployment was proposed after a high-profile botched raid in 2008. Once I realized that, unlike federal representatives, state reps write back, I began weighing in with them on any given issue that interested me. The proposed gun control laws were no different.

The responses I received from my state Delegates and Senator were disappointing. I was hoping for clarity on how they thought the measures in the proposed legislation (in particular the “assault weapon” ban and limiting magazine size) would decrease firearm related homicides in the state. Instead of facts and details, I got vague generalities about values, safety, and the needs of law enforcement. Maybe coming of age politically during the Bush years made me cynical, but it seemed obvious to me that they weren’t really concerned with balancing rights and tailoring policy to a desired end. Though their intentions may have been good, the practical effect (in addition to building Martin O’Malley’s resume for his presidential campaign) would be more arbitrary submission to the authority of the state. It would create more reasons for law enforcement to put people in prison who had done nothing wrong, all without making a meaningful dent in gun violence in those communities most impacted. As an act of dissent towards this type of politics, I purchased a rifle that would soon be banned.

Though I now own this weapon, I have made a conscious effort not to fetishize it. I’ve become proficient with it on the range (as well as a bit of a hobbyist), and keep it safely stored at all times. I do not desire to ever find myself in a confrontation involving firearms. I’m not afraid of crime or my neighbors, and I have no interest in using firearms to intimidate fellow citizens. What I am generally worried about is the cavalier attitude about legislation touching on constitutional rights that my representatives expressed. For me, keeping the rifle is my little picket sign protesting against politicians that appeal to concerns about safety in order to chip away at individual autonomy without even trying to grapple with causation or unintended consequences.

When I read posts like Adrian’s, I ponder what would have to change for me to cease my protest. Maybe if we reined in the SWAT teams, or the police stopped doing things like this, it wouldn’t feel as necessary. Even better would be if I felt I could trust that appeals to safety and security were made in good faith, and wouldn’t inevitably be used as an excuse to enable mass incarceration, surveillance, and attacks on a confident and free polity. Unfortunately, absent very unlikely changes in how our politics and government operate, I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel comfortable discarding my metaphorical picket sign.

I want to reiterate that I do not expect this essay to change anyone’s views on policy related to firearms, or the Second Amendment, and I’ve deliberately tried to steer clear of those issues. My hope is only that it can serve to show why someone (an Obama voter even!) might see value in possessing a firearm of the type in question. I’ve said before that I believe the gun debate (much like the abortion debate) is so intractable because each side feels it can’t trust the other. If this post can improve upon that dynamic, even if only in this little corner of the internet, it will have served its purpose.

Image by gunman47 Notes:

  1. BL: In fact, starting in January of 2013, we hosted a firearms symposium prompted by (if I recall correctly) the mass shooting of at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and there is a more-or-less running discussion on Guns in America for a long time here, with intense flare-ups of posts and exchanges in the wakes of other prominent mass shootings, most prominently including the murders at a church in Charleston and a nightclub in Orlando. []

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I'm an attorney in the greater Washington, DC area. When not busy untangling obscure questions about the American healthcare system I spend my time pondering law and public policy, working on the perfect dead-lift form, and praying that my dedication to the Washington Redskins doesn't result in a heart attack.

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433 thoughts on “Confession of a Liberal Gun Owner

  1. My father gave me my first gun when I was roughly 14. It was a Winchester .22. He first made me disassemble it, clean off all the rust with steel wool, and examine all the parts. I sanded down the stock and varnished it. Then put it back together with his help. He took me to a range and taught me to shoot. He was quite emphatic that you should always consider what was behind your target, and take great care with where the gun was pointing. He often pointed out gun accidents and how they could be avoided.

    He had a 12-gauge and a .410 shotgun. The thing I saw him use them for the most was killing moles in the yard. He hunted duck when I was younger, but he stopped that when we got some pet ducks. He had a .3006 rifle, he hunted deer with it, to some success. And he had a semi-auto handgun, I don’t know what kind. That kind of surprised me.

    I don’t want to ban guns. I don’t own any guns. They don’t fit my life, or where I live. Politicians are bland and deal in platitudes because they don’t want to offend anyone. Which is because we voters are so prickly and prone to make mountains of molehills. I don’t think universal background checks would be a bad thing. I don’t think 10-day waiting periods are bad things either.

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      • And this leads to my greatest concern, which is the erosion of trust. The problem isn’t the policy, it’s our lack of confidence in the people carrying out the policy. Trust isn’t black and white. “Trust but verify”, Ronald Reagan quoted a Russian proverb when signing Salt II. If we could do that with our own government, we’d probably feel a lot better.

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        • One of the common arguments against firearms training requirements is that once in place, people will push for training requirements that are so high they’d exceed advanced police or military requirements.

          I’ve never heard of such happening, and I’m pretty sure that such requirements would be struck down even by judges who are hostile to gun ownership, but I also see people arguing we should train police better so they can shoot a gun out of a bad guys hand, or shot them in the leg.

          People get weird ideas from Hollywood.

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          • This is why I referred to the abortion issue. I don’t have a problem in principle with some basic training that is cheap or free, and easily available for all who are lawfully permitted to own a firearm. The challenge becomes whether or not what is being set up is really about safety, or if it’s an arbitrary obstacle to doing something policymakers would prefer you didnt. Even if it’s originally about the former it can easily become the latter.

            When everything feels like a zero sum game and no one trusts each other the easiest response is to oppose everything.

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            • OK, take it from a guy who actually thinks the 2nd Amendment should be thrown out, I wish people in favor of gun control were as extreme as I am because I see it as the only way we’re going to get murder rates close to the rest of the First World.

              But, unfortunately, even most “anti-gun” people just want to speckle over the really bad parts, but in general, allow people to buy all the guns they want for whatever reason, so we’ll continue to have thousands of people needlessly die a year for a right thought up by people 250 years ago with little upside.

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              • I learned to shoot when I was in elementary school, fired a lot in the Army, own a gun, and I STILL think we should regulate guns pretty much the way they do in Britain. Yes, I really enjoy shooting but, so what, the system we have now kills kids. No one’s hobby is worth that.

                And I am really tired of children in my city dying because a lot of people have really stupid ideas about guns.

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            • Exactly.

              I’m sure there are people out there who think our training requirements for driving a car need to be increased to a point approaching “Professional Stunt Driver”, but very few politicians take them seriously.

              But people like Jesse actually have powerful voices in congress, and even if they aren’t willing to go as far as Jesse is, they are willing to go far enough to cause serious distrust.

              Which is a shame, because there are some relatively basic things we can do to seriously cut down the number of shootings, but we can’t as long as the two radical wings have any kind of political sway.

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              • Notwithstanding that that is a fairly uncharitable reading of what said, I would argue that Second Amendment absolutists have also a big voice in Congress.

                Plus, i could argue that “your” side, is “willing” to entertain “reasonable” regulations in theory, but that in practice, you will never find any regulation to be “reasonable enough”, so you will never agree to any actual proposal.

                And there’s of course, the fact that any and every regulation is presented in bad faith.

                Buy you are totally sincere in that you will support “a reasonable regulation”, just “not this one”.

                BIG NOTE: I believe, you, personal you , personal you , and other personal you(s), would indeed support a reasonable regulation. So, think outside the box idea, why doesn’t the NRA present some “reasonable regulation” just to unlock the impasse

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                • I believe the reasoning, as noted below, is that while a regulation might be reasonable “in theory”, they are all the first step in a slippery slope towards total gun confiscation.

                  As Congress cannot actually bar future Congresses from considering new legislation, no actual law or regulation can ever be ‘the final word’ on anything, which means their argument is — of course — absolutely irrefutable.

                  Any such legislation could indeed be the first step towards dystopia. Of course, it might not. But you can’t prove it. Who knows what gun hatred lurks in the minds of Democrats?

                  Thankfully, only with guns is this an issue, otherwise Congress couldn’t get anything done.

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                  • This!

                    It’s where I take my fellow travelers to task. Politics is a never ending sport that requires participation. No one gets a ‘one & done’, even if it is protected in the constitution (see the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. Amendments; I think the 3rd is the only one not regularly having it’s limits explored).

                    If you don’t want the latest gun law to advance down the slope, get busy calling your reps.

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                    • You realize I’m actually FOR a lot more gun regulation, and think the Heller decisions was wrong, right?

                      That I was pointing out that, in my experience listening to the more pro-Second Amendment folks, no regulation can possibly be reasonable because a future Congress can use it (either directly or as an excuse) to do “more”.

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                      • We’ve gone around this maypole enough times we have a good feel for each others positions.

                        Doesn’t mean I can’t agree with you that a specific regulation is not, per se, a ride down the slope, or that a slope is a foregone conclusion.

                        That said, InMDs point elsewhere about how other areas of criminal law have taken us to some pretty dark places should stand as signpost that there is wisdom in considering what exists along with what you want. Putting more on the pile is easy, creating a pile that won’t come crashing down on your head requires work & planning.

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                          • It’s pointless to say, “Hey, we regulated X and it resulted in some really significant societal negatives that it will take generations to undo, perhaps as we debate regulating Y, we should take a hard look at how X went off the rails and try not to repeat the mistakes.”?

                            Imagine if we’d kept prohibition in mind as the Controlled Substances Act or certain UN Treaties were being debated? What is that old chestnut about repeating history?

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                            • Seems to me that the framing here is somewhat wrong. Having a police force that systematically errs on the side of excessive force is a bad thing even in a night watchman state. If we’re worried about tamir rice and slippery slopes, the worry should be specifically about whether or not a change in the law will encourage the police to behave in more abusive ways. Drug criminalization, like prohibition before it (and also child pornography laws, prohibiting prostitution, and other crimes that tend not to produce a victim that will seek out law enforcement resources) has that tendency. Does banning gun ownership? Perhaps.

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                              • This, and will additional laws be used to target undesirables for (perhaps) undeserved prosecution. I’ve had arguments where people state, unequivocally, that they are fine with an proposed or existing law even if it harshly punishes a person who wasn’t causing any harm, just because they don’t like guns/gun owners. Similar attitudes fueled the drug war and the rise in police violence (because drug users are bad people and deserve bad ends).

                                I’m also thinking along the lines of , in that careless over-regulation may result in a more aggressive black market.

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                          • It’s all about trust…for which I have none, given my state’s reps behavior. That, by default, leaves only absolutism. Why is it so hard to believe that you’ll be screwed over a second or third time after the first?

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                • I didn’t say anything uncharitable about Jesse, he himself said his preferences would go much further than what other gun control proponents want.

                  I also conceded that both extremes have big voices talking for them in congress.

                  I’ve laid out, in many previous posts & comments what I would support, and I’m certainly not beyond considering other options, but at the same time, I understand where the pro-gun extremists come from. Take this post, it lays out the basics pretty well. What I would suggest, what I have suggested, is to earn some trust*, look over the existing federal and state regulations and identify stuff that has minimal efficacy with regard to reducing shootings but has significant impacts on non-violent owners. I can come up with a quick list if you’d like. Then offer to roll those back/over turn them in exchange for something that could work (an actual compromise, as it were). There is an awful lot of stuff out there that was passed out of fear or expediency, but with little to no evidence it would do anything, so the field is ripe with low hanging fruit that can be removed easily to achieve a better political outcome.

                  As for the NRA, they don’t offer because they don’t have to. Once upon a time they did offer up suggestions and lobby for regulations, but the current mood over there is to roll things back, not add to the pile.

                  *I put this on those who want new laws because they want new laws. They are asking for the support of those who would be impacted, it’s on them to offer something up in exchange.

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                  • Sorry , the type of absolutists who believe that the initial National Firearms Acts of 1934 is a “compromise” considering it was so controversial in 1934 that is passed via voice vote in both houses of Congress are never going to trust somebody who actually seems to care about the rights of gun owners like say, Joe Manchin or Pat Toomey, let alone a gun grabber like me.

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                    • I think you misread that. The NFA of 1934 was just the first data point of his argument (although calling it half the cake is a stretch). It imposed a restriction (transfers of full auto weapons require the payment of a tax) without providing a benefit (what does a person get for their $200 besides government approval to transfer the weapon?).

                      Taken alone, the NFA isn’t a big deal. It’s annoying, but given the context of the time, it wasn’t unreasonable nor was it an over-reach of congress’ authority.

                      But it wasn’t a compromise, it was an exercise in government authority.

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                • @j_a
                  Completely seconded.

                  There have been very few national gun control measure even *talked about* being introduced in the past decade, and almost all of them qualify as ‘reasonable’. (1)

                  All of them have been introduced by the left, and all of them have been shot down by the right, and all of them were gigantic horrific ‘Government coming to seize your guns’ bills according to the NRA.

                  , every time we talk about this, you claim there are fanatics, that there are absolutist, on both sides. The problem is, exactly one side is stopping reasonable laws.

                  They might be using absolutists on the other side as the excuse, but it’s nonsensical one…people don’t get to claim ‘Every single person on the other side does not have a perfect viewpoint and some want to go to far’ as an excuse to not ever do anything. That isn’t slightly how politics works, because that literally is never true. (If everyone had identical viewpoints, there wouldn’t even *be* sides.)

                  Absolutely nothing is stopping the right from proposing reasonable laws on their own. Hell, *their own supporters* are in favor of most of the things Democrats want.

                  The problem is that the NRA has backed them into a corner where they aren’t even allowed to admit that they’re *allowed* to regulate any of this.

                  1) And the one I can think of that was stupid, the terrorist watchlist one, was indeed stupid, but it was stupid in a way that it was *extremely hypocritical* for the right to object to.

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                  • I will reiterate that there is a lot of unreasonable gun regs out there, mostly at the state level (what exists at the federal level is mostly stuff that annoys FFLs and manufacturers, not owners, with a few exceptions). The pro-gun side has called out the kinds of regs that bother it, and I agree that a lot of what they dislike is mostly DA candy, with little efficacy towards reducing violence or crime. It might not make sense that rolling back state regs would allow for support for federal regs, but I think it would because the overall weight of all the current regs would be reduced, which means support could be built in some pretty key areas, like the Northeast and CA.

                    It would also rebuild trust that the goal isn’t to merely regulate ownership out of existence, but to actually strive to reduce violence.

                    As long as the NRA/GOA/etc. can bang the drum that the goal is to raise the costs, or to make it so riddled with legal pitfalls, as to make ownership nearly impossible, they are going to be able to rally the faithful. You may find it ridiculous, but that is the reality of it.

                    If you want their support & co-operation for new regs, you need to give something up. If you don’t want to give anything up, you’ll need to build support in direct opposition to them. How’s that working for you lately?

                    Now, if there is an obvious cooperative effort to remove the more egregious regs and the pro side is still being extreme reactionary, I’ll switch sides.

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                    • PS The NRA/GOA/etc. don’t speak for all gun owners. Perhaps combined, they might speak for a slim majority of them.

                      I mean, here in WA, there was a voter initiative to create extreme protection orders. It passed with 70+% support, and there was almost zero opposition to it because, IMHO, it was a well written law that took into account the rights of gun owners as well as trying to meet the goal of the order.

                      Stuff like that is possible, if both sides talk and respect each others positions.

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                      • I don’t like initiatives, but I will point out that the NRA can’t fund primary challengers to individual voters.

                        In all reality, that same exact bill would likely never pass even in the Washington Senate or House if Republican’s controlled it because the GOP caucus would be dominated by Eastern Washington wackadoos.

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                    • It might not make sense that rolling back state regs would allow for support for federal regs, but I think it would because the overall weight of all the current regs would be reduced, which means support could be built in some pretty key areas, like the Northeast and CA.

                      Fundamentally, that entire premise seems broken. It’s Congressmen from *conservative* states that shoot down all gun control, and those states *don’t have onerous regulations*.

                      As long as the NRA/GOA/etc. can bang the drum that the goal is to raise the costs, or to make it so riddled with legal pitfalls, as to make ownership nearly impossible, they are going to be able to rally the faithful.

                      The NRA is an irrational pile of lunacy that will always be able to invent some reason that the Democrats are going to take everyone’s guns. Reducing regulations will not change that, and they will not, at any point in time, offer any sort of trade.

                      Their fundamental belief is that any regulation of guns, in any manner at all, is unconstitutional, outside a few minor exceptions. They will not budge from that belief.

                      If you think otherwise, I don’t know how to convince you.

                      If you want their support & co-operation for new regs, you need to give something up.

                      I live in *Georgia*. It’s legal to carry guns in *bars* and *airports* here.

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                      • Congressmen from *conservative* states that shoot down all gun control, and those states *don’t have onerous regulations*.

                        What is your goal? Mine is to find ways to build enough trust that the more moderate pro gun side is willing to support effective regulation. Since that side has zero trust in the opposition & is fine with the status quo, Proactive action on the part of pro regs is a good way to build trust across the pro gun population, and the states are rife with low hanging fruit.

                        This is politics, plain & simple. You want something, what are you giving in return.

                        It’s legal to carry guns in *bars* and *airports* here.

                        Please explain, with examples, why this is disturbing to you. Unless it’s legal to drink & carry in bars, I’m at a loss.

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                        • Its easy to build trust with some gun owners, the apocryphal “responsible hunter/ target shooter”.

                          But for a lot of others, the desire for guns is tied to a lot of fear and distrust, not of the gun control folks, but other Americans in general.

                          If a guy’s view of society is such that he needs to carry a handgun into Walmart just to buy toilet paper, its kinda hard to build any sort of trust.

                          Because, you know, his neighbors are kinda untrustworthy, murderous rabble who can only be kept in check with a gun.

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                        • What is your goal? Mine is to find ways to build enough trust that the more moderate pro gun side is willing to support effective regulation. Since that side has zero trust in the opposition & is fine with the status quo, Proactive action on the part of pro regs is a good way to build trust across the pro gun population, and the states are rife with low hanging fruit.

                          Why exactly would things having changed in *some other state* have convinced moderate pro gun representatives to work with anyone?

                          ‘Hey, some other people in my party removed some of the horrible restrictions in my state.’

                          ‘So…you removed restrictions my state has never conceived of having, and that I didn’t even know you guys had? And, honestly, looking at this, you still left plenty of horrible ones.’

                          This is politics, plain & simple. You want something, what are you giving in return.

                          You can’t give things to representatives of *another state* by repealing one of *your* state laws.

                          Please explain, with examples, why this is disturbing to you. Unless it’s legal to drink & carry in bars, I’m at a loss.

                          It *is* legal to drink and carry in a bar in Georgia. It’s not legal to carry *while under the influence*, but it’s perfectly legal as long as you remain under 0.08 BAC.

                          Of course, legally, that’s almost complete nonsense, because breathalyzer tests are legally *searches*. Our state, like most, have implied consent to that ‘search’ for people *driving*, and can demand they take a test, (or just punish them if they refuse), but if someone is in a bar, with a gun, and over the legal limit, I’ll be damned if I know how the cop can prove that without getting a judge to issue a search warrant and force a test.

                          This is assuming that cops are wandering bars looking for drunk people with guns in the first place, which is not true. I’m not sure to what extent cops have a right to patrol bars…they can check for underaged people, but they almost certainly do not have the right to ask people if they have a concealed weapon.

                          And, on top of that…no one has any idea what exactly is supposed to happen if people *do* drink too much and now legally are in possession of a gun they can’t legally ‘carry’, but certainly can’t just leave laying around. Even in Georgia it’s illegal to randomly leave guns laying around on the ground…for *now*. I’m sure that will be legal soon, because 2nd amendment, bitches! *fires guns randomly toward ceiling*

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                          • OK, I’m back, did you have a good holiday? I did, avoided cooking this year, went out to a Brazilian Steakhouse, saw Moana (good movie, btw), visited with friends & family, etc.

                            It *is* legal to drink and carry in a bar in Georgia.

                            OK, I agree that is disturbing. If a person is carrying, then they shouldn’t be drinking alcohol. Using a firearm accurately requires fine motor skills and judgement that get impaired too quickly with alcohol.

                            You can’t give things to representatives of *another state* by repealing one of *your* state laws.

                            You are assuming the wrong mechanism is in play. Gun owners in, say, Montana or Texas won’t be impacted much by what laws exist in NJ or NY. But the people in Virginia, or Pennsylvania, they’ll care.

                            Additionally, if the pro-reg side did take action to remove bad regs in states that are famously anti-gun, it could build trust across the country, because gun owners will have less reason to feel as if the pro-reg side is “out to get them”*.

                            Alternatively, the pro-reg side could get behind federal laws that strengthen things like the FOPA (a law NY & NJ routinely ignore and never get penalized for), or supporting a federal carry permit, or recognizing out of state permits in a manner similar to drivers licensing, or amending the NFA to remove suppressors, or some of the other stuff you suggested. The NRA/GOA/SAF all have legislative goals on their websites, plenty of options to pick from. And let’s keep in mind that right now, the GOP controls both houses and technically has the presidency. Trump is no friend to gun-rights, but the likelihood he’ll veto pro-gun legislation is not a given.

                            *This is what makes this all such a PITA. Gun rights/control has moved so far out of the realm of public policy and so firmly into culture war territory. This is why I was asking what your goals are. Do you want to find a way to move forward with sensible policy, or do you simply want to be able to dictate the terms of surrender? I think you, personal David, are just fine looking for places where you can give to get, but there are plenty on the pro-reg side that simply refuse to budge and are just as pig-headed as the pro-gun absolutists, so honestly both sides are stopping better regulation from happening, because neither extreme is willing to compromise and only wants to dictate the terms of surrender.

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                  • The problem is, exactly one side is stopping reasonable laws.

                    What gun laws would you view as too onerous? Better yet, what laws would you support that enable gun ownership? Perhaps banning these gun-free zones which turn into mass murder shooting ranges? Something else?

                    If the answer is “nothing”, if the very definition of “reasonable law” must always mean restriction of gun rights and not enabling them, and your core beliefs are that individuals don’t have the right to a gun, then imho it’s easy to believe whatever laws you pass won’t be enough and you’ll always be back for more.

                    It’s the whole Russia-needs-land-to-give-up-in-a-war problem. Sooner or later the NRA will lose. Gun laws will be passed, either because there’s a mass murder or because the Dems get control. When that happens, the NRA will lose territory, and where they end up depends on where they start. If you know you can lose a hundred miles then you want the border far from the capital.

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                    • What gun laws would you view as too onerous? Better yet, what laws would you support that enable gun ownership? Perhaps banning these gun-free zones which turn into mass murder shooting ranges? Something else?

                      There’s plenty of reasonable concessions. Deciding that people walking around carrying guns in a school is going to stop a shooter is not one of them.

                      A problem I’ve heard mentioned before is transportation variations between states. So here’s a law: A Federal regulations covering interstate transport of guns, saying ‘If you place an legal, unloaded gun in a trunk or place inaccessible to the driver or any passengers, you are always legal for transport through a state, regardless of state law. If the gun is not legal in the state, you must additionally disable it by disassembly or putting on a trigger lock. This law is intended to cover personal transportation through a state, and thus you get a max of three not-legal guns per person, and have some sort of duty to prove you’re just passing through.’

                      Another problem: States sometimes set very close, but *not* identical*, regulations. I.e., one state might allow a shotgun barrel to be 1/8th of an inch shorter than the other. This doesn’t appear to help *anyone*, and it would be a good idea to create some sort of voluntary *national standards* that states can pick between. I.e., don’t have the Federal government set the length, but have it say ‘States, please pick this length, this length, or this length, instead of some weird fractional length. We have made a wide range of possible regulations, with options stretching across what every state currently has, and if your regulations are *exactly one of the lines*, you get a bribe, erm, Federal money.’ (1) Same with magazine limits…one state shouldn’t have 9 and one state 11 and whatever. Just…everyone who wants a limit should just pick ten, or whatever.

                      And, of course, we could remove any dumbass regulation of suppressors, which serves no purpose at all and is basically built on random TV myths about ‘silencers’. That would be good.

                      But the question isn’t what laws *I* would like. I am not a gun owner. I have very little ideas what sort of things bother gun owners.

                      The question is why the *gun-rights* people haven’t proposed these laws, in exchange for something. Take one of the gun control policies that seems reasonable, and *attach those things to it*.

                      It’s worth pointing out that not only do Republicans *not* do this, but they refuse to even *consider* voting for any gun regulations *at all*, which means those bills *get no input from them*, and we end up with dumbass stuff like the assault weapon ban.

                      1) This would, in theory, make it much easier to track what is legal where. Otherwise, the NRA has to spend all their time and effort updating that app where you can put in your gun and they tell you where it’s legal and under what circumstances and all the various state laws…oh, man, I almost kept a straight face during that. Of course the NRA doesn’t do that sort of thing.

                      If the answer is “nothing”, if the very definition of “reasonable law” must always mean restriction of gun rights and not enabling them, and your core beliefs are that individuals don’t have the right to a gun, then imho it’s easy to believe whatever laws you pass won’t be enough and you’ll always be back for more.

                      If you want to know my *actual* position on guns, what I think the ideal world would be, I’ve stated it a few times here: No removable magazines. All magazines are internal and limited to 6 bullets.

                      That’s it. That is basically my *only* restriction.(2) Hell, people can have fully-automatic guns, if they don’t understand the dumbness of fully-automatic weapons with six bullets. And, yes, at some point there might be cleverness like ‘external infinite clips’ or trying to sell people belt-loading guns or other nonsense that try to get around this, and need future laws to handle, but that’s not really my point.

                      The point is you get 6 bullets. If you do not kill what you are trying to kill in 6 bullets, you now have to pause and spend ~10 seconds pulling out or attaching a clip and sliding bullets in and *then* you can start shooting again.

                      The problem is, this rather involves replacing almost every gun, so is unlikely to work as a solution. I’m just saying it to explain I am not against guns.

                      (I will also note that six is my starting position, and it would be possible to negotiate me almost triple that. Don’t read too much into ‘six’.)

                      2) I’m also not a fan of high-velocity low-calibre hobbyist guns that aren’t very good at any legal purpose, and would like those to go away, but those are mostly being pushed by the insane NRA and their insane conspiracy theories, and in my ideal world everyone would have seen them as the idiots they are.

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          • Well, I think the “shoot/no shoot” decision could definitely use more work. For instance, with Oscar Grant. However, I don’t endorse the ideas you’re highlighting. Shooting guns out of someone’s hands is something only the Lone Ranger did, or maybe Gene Autrey. Though, I’ve never seen anyone I know, liberal or otherwise, ask for that. I’m sure someone has. It’s a big, big country.

            I’ve talked to officers who will plainly say, off the record, “that was a bad shoot, and it happened because of factors X, Y, and Z”. But they don’t want to go on record criticizing a fellow officer. And that’s the lack of trust.

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            • As far as I understand (and I might be very wrong), when the use of guns is authorized in police operations in the U.K., the engagement rules are “if at all possible, aim to maim, not to kill”, like shoot at legs, arms, not at chest, head.

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              • From what I understand, the police with guns in the UK are highly trained and experienced shooters, and are only called out for very dangerous situations (like SWAT teams in the US should be).

                Beat cops are trained to shoot center of mass.

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  2. Excellent essay and, yes, it’s very important to not fetishize The Gun.

    A lot of that has to do with seeing it for what it is, though. Part of that is reading the 2nd Amendment and realizing that it has little, if anything at all, to do with “hunting”.

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    • We’ve spoken a lot about different political cultures here lately and I don’t deny that there are parts of what might be called gun culture out there that fetishize the firearms themselves. I find them… unhelpful and I think they are who most advocates of stricter laws see themselves as arguing with.

      Part of the point of posting this is to mitigate that somewhat if at all possible. It isn’t fair to ask the other side to moderate themselves and not also put myself out there as well.

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    • Actually, if you want to be Originalist at all (lol – what an idea), XVIII century people, and the Common Law, assumed that hunting was a reserved and regulated activity. Unauthorized hunting (poaching) was a criminal activity, severely penalized.

      If the Founding Fathers wanted to change that concept, they could have written it in the Constitution, or at least in a statute. But this newly found right to hunt is nothing but an emanation of the penumbras of something something.

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        • What? Are you crazy? Is there anything in the Amendment that you can see that could be read as if it pertained to, for conversation sake, a militia?

          As far as I can see, there’s an inkblot (like the one that covers the Ninth Amendment, according to the late Legal Genius Bork), and then the bit about “the right to bear arms…..”

          And as far as I remember, that’s what Scalia thought, too.

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            • I’ve found these:

              http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2016/06/24/choosing-a-side/#comment-1163535

              http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2016/06/24/choosing-a-side/#comment-1163535

              http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2016/06/24/choosing-a-side/#comment-1163535

              I’ve discussed it elsewhere also. I flatly reject the individual rights view of the 2nd Amendment if only because it conflicts with my view on how the Constitution was structured and the fact that a private individual right to own firearms would have been a state level concern not a federal one.

              That said, gun control ranks very low on my list and I couldn’t care less what law abiding citizens own or use so long as it’s lawful. Want a fully automatic weapon with a 88 round high cap mag? Have at it.

              I also think Heller was rightly decided but on the wrong grounds.

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              • ” the fact that a private individual right to own firearms would have been a state level concern not a federal one.”

                The Tenth Amendment has been de facto invalid for over a hundred years now; as far as rights are concerned there’s no difference between state and federal levels.

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                • The way I understan it (fwiw) is that the bill of rights circumscribed federal power as it relates to state power and not individual rights. SO!, states would have the authority to effectively ban guns, but (obvs) not the fedrul.

                  Same with speech, and so on.

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                  • A state could have have established its own official religion and people would not have had recourse in the federal courts, as the BoR did not apply to the states.

                    On guns, my high level hypothesis is that states could have (and did) regulate the ownership of firearms but if banning them outright (something that I don’t think would have been done) interfered with the federal government’s Militia power, it would have been unconstitutional if only because of the Supremacy Clause and Art 1 Sec 8.

                    The Feds couldn’t pass a law banning private ownership of firearms. No authority unless we want to toss it into General Welfare like everything else ;)

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                • The Tenth Amendment has been de facto invalid for over a hundred years now; as far as rights are concerned there’s no difference between state and federal levels.

                  The first part I agree with. To the extent the second part is true, it has everything to do with the 14th Amendment and not any of the twelve pre-Reconstruction amendments.

                  Should it have been incorporated? I’d say yes, but the 2A proponents try to argue that the individual right was part of the original design. I used to believe that. I don’t anymore, largely because of the two posts I published here about 18 months ago.

                  I view the Constitution more through the lens of 18th Century states rights than the more modern individual rights view.

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  3. Good post InMD! Your rifle is akin to my carry permit. I carry a concealed firearm so very rarely that the permit isn’t really useful, but it is valuable as a signal to my politicians that I care enough to go through the process and pay the fee every 5 years.

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  4. Excellent post InMD (I thought you were a doctor from Indiana!)

    My mothers family is/was super liberal, based in the bay area. And yet there were more than a few duck hunters in the bunch, with all that entails.

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  5. I’ll add my voice to the chorus: good post! I’ve got no truck with the NRA, but like you I think my party doesn’t reflect much on the empirical evidence available or the real constitutional issues involved when they talk, think, or act re: guns.

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  6. Even better would be if I felt I could trust that appeals to safety and security were made in good faith, and wouldn’t inevitably be used as an excuse to enable mass incarceration, surveillance, and attacks on a confident and free polity.

    I don’t have any principled opposition to gun ownership, but I really, really, don’t understand the quoted passage

    Do you mean that the regulations in place in the U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Switzerland, etc. are just an intermediate step into the long-term plan of rounding Brits and Canadians and Swiss people into concentration camps?

    If not, why the hyperbole? I cannot discuss whether a regulation is reasonable or not, if every single regulation is just a further step towards the Gulag.

    Because of course, I don’t want to be in the Gulag either. Does that mean I MUST be against restrictions on bulk purchases of machine guns?

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    • Yup, this. Even supposedly moderate gun owners fall into this hyperbole. I mean, are people in Japan not free because of a lack of easy access to hand guns? I mean, even with 300 million guns, it seems to not have impeded the NSA doing what ever the hell it wants.

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      • for the record I do not think that people in Japan or European countries arent free, and I would strongly disagree with anyone who takes that perspective. There is a very different legal and cultural history there and it is not my business to tell them what is and isn’t right with regard to the firearms policies that work for them.

        I would also agree that the best cure for what the NSA is doing doesn’t and probably can never realistically involve firearms, but I could see how new restrictions (like all criminal laws) justified expansion of existing or new programs I think are wrongheaded and illiberal.

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    • Thank you for reading and I am absolutely happy to unpack that a bit. First, I do not think that any and all proposed regulation is a step on the way to the gulag. You can see some of my comments above laying out new laws or stricter laws that I am either amenable to, or could be convinced to support under the right circumstances.

      My concern is about going further down a similar kind of path that the war on drugs and war on terrorism has already taken us. That would mean things like new exceptions to the 4th amendment, new reasons for the state to start watching, and incarcerating people (no doubt with all the usual class and racial overtones already in the justice system), the kind of thing that I think we’ve already allowed to become far too normalized. The intent of the passage is to provide that context for the decision. If I lived somewhere where that sort of policy wasn’t so prevalent, it’d be easier for me not to feel like hyper-vigilance is necessary on all fronts.

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      • I appreciate the response, but it’s not enough for me. I would describe your position closer to libertarian than liberal.

        If I’m unpacking your position correctly, the starting point is unlimited gun ownership (*).

        Then, it’s the obligation of those of us proposing regulations not only to explain why those regulations are in many cases a de minimis burden (really, do you need your submachines guns now?, a week from now is too much of an imposition?) or are common sense (mandated gun training and a certificate is a reasonable expectation in a society where the vast majority of the people don’t learn to hunt with their dad to bring meat to the table because they live in cities and they get their meat in supermarkets), but also to guarantee that such regulations will never, ever, ever, run amok. How, pray you, can I prove something will never, ever, ever, happen? Yet, absent that proof, your position is that gun regulations “might be” the road to the Gulag that the War on Drugs or the War on Terror is.

        Curiously enough, the Venn Diagram of War on Drugs/NSA Domestic Snooping supporters correlates well with the Venn Diagram of Second Amendment Absolutists, who tend to include a lot of people that are afraid of the Other. Witness the support of legal interpretations that assume the presence of guns is enough probable cause for a stop and a search, or enhance criminal penalties when there is a gun in the vicinity.

        (*) more below, about what “unlimited” might mean to real life Second Amendment fundamentalists, which probably don’t include you,

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        • Just a reminder to remember who you are talking to, and to not that person with a broad brush just because they can understand the roots of a position far removed from your own. I can already feel the heat building regarding positions no one here truly holds.

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        • My position may sound libertarian but I think that is more a result of the broader mainstream left backing away from civil liberties as an important part of their policy platform, something I also see as a mistake. The roots of my concerns come from the problems I see in how law enforcement and the criminal justice system actually work in practice, not how I’d like like the world to be.

          That means that when we talk about restrictions I’m also thinking about things like how many more people are going to have to go to jail for a long time, or how many people who havent done anything violent are going to wake up to a SWAT team coming through the door at 4AM, or find out they got put on some secret list that means they can’t travel? How will that play out in a society that already has all kinds of serious inequities? Who are we making value judgments about when we set up systems that result in the wealthy being able to exercise important rights due to their ability to navigate the system but not people with lesser means?

          Regarding law and order conservatives, I have no qualms about calling them on their hypocracies on this issue. I’m not among them, and my views on economic policies probably make me a Marxist of some kind in their view.

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          • I’m all for severely limiting the NSA, decriminalizing all drugs (and legalizing weed and going Portugal way with other ones), massive criminal justice reform that would set tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of jailed people free, and so on, and so forth.

            But, I still don’t consider your ability to own something, whether it be a gun or a toaster, a civil liberty issue.

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              • Now we’re into theories of constitooshunal origins and intent and so on.

                Pretty explicitly, seems to me, the Bill of Rights was intended to circumscribe federal power (not governmental power). Even on a charitable reading, the 2A at best accords individuals a right to arms which the federal cannot violate.

                States, tho? Ehhh…… Which means it ain’t inviolable.

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            • Jesse Ewiak:
              But, I still don’t consider your ability to own something, whether it be a gun or a toaster, a civil liberty issue.

              Sure it is. Try banning the possession of toasters. Someone gets busted using a toaster. Someone sues. Someone argues that their use of a toaster is done privately and does not endanger the public health, safety or welfare of the community. The state comes up with no reason to ban toasters other than it felt like it.

              State loses.

              Take toasters and substitute same-sex sodomy and you have Lawrence v Texas.

              The double standards…geez.

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          • Yeah. Well said.

            It’s like the people calling for tougher gun laws imagine doors in Idaho being kicked in, when, really, it’ll just be more doors kicked down in Baltimore, more Tamir Rices, more Amadou Diallos.

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                  • No. It was legal for Tamir to carry a gun. Ohio is an open-carry state.

                    (Insert argument about “brandishing” here.)

                    But the Tamir Rice problem will not be resolved by passing even more gun laws.

                    It’ll just take away the “but Ohio is an open-carry state!” counter-argument off the table. (Insert different argument about “brandishing” here.)

                    You know all of the stories from the 90’s about cops breaking in to apartments but releasing stories about how “well, we did find several grams of drugs” to turn a blatant civil rights violation into something that would get people to say “well, I guess it was a drug bust.”

                    Imagine the same thing happening, only finding a handgun in a hatbox in the closet.

                    Meanwhile, doors in Idaho *STILL* aren’t getting kicked in.

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                    • So maybe the killing Tamir Rice doesn’t have squat to do with gun laws.

                      There is a common thread here that you haven’t mentioned, why you and I and most of the people on this site don’t have a personal experience with getting shot or beaten.

                      The awful abuses that Radly Balko documents illustrate this thread, and cast it into a different light, a somewhat darker hue, if you will.

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                      • So maybe the killing Tamir Rice doesn’t have squat to do with gun laws.

                        Nope.

                        But the gun laws you want will result in, among other things, more Tamir Rices.

                        And then you won’t be able to say “So maybe the killing of those Tamir Rices don’t have squat to do with gun laws”.

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                        • By that logic, ANY laws will result in more Tamir Rices. In fact, having laws at ALL results in Tamir Rices, because without laws we wouldn’t need police, and if we had no police, they couldn’t have shot Tamir Rice.

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                          • I think the point is, any extra law you come up with, on the margins, will increase the likelihood that something like Tamir Rice happens. Particularly if that new law prohibits something that is both dangerous and that a shit ton of people are likely to attempt to hang on too after its made illegal. So the point is, when doing your cost-benefit analysis of implementing a law, you need to account for that. Murder laws still pass the test. Laws prohibiting alcohol pretty clearly don’t. Laws prohibiting firearms may or may not.

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                            • Tamir Rice died because the police saw him as a threat, because he was young black and male.

                              Whether we increase laws, decrease laws, or have none at all, Tamir Rice would have been shot by someone, somewhere, for something.

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                              • “Whether we increase laws, decrease laws, or have none at all, Tamir Rice would have been shot by someone, somewhere, for something.”

                                Do you want there to be more reasons why shooting Tamir Rice wasn’t illegal and none of the cops were punished for it?

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                                • The people hold power in most of America, white middle class people, tend to view young black males with fear and suspicion.
                                  Not in every instance always, but young black males are always a few degrees farther towards “threat”.

                                  So Tamir Rice, large for his age, was already only one angry word or gesture away from having the “threat-shoot-to-kill” symbol over his head.

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                                  • I see what you’re saying but I think your initial statement went too far, stating that it was an inevitably he would be shot and not specifying by whom. It could easily be read as, “One of his gangbanger friends would have done it if the cops didn’t.”

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                                • He means that Jaybird’s argument is that police are currently more likely to commit an unjustified shooting–through malice, carelessness, or incompetence–because they know that there are all kinds of ways to avoid getting in permanent trouble over it. Creating more strict and wide-ranging gun laws just adds another set of excuses to the cop shooter’s toolbox; removing those excuses makes it more likely that a bad-shooting rap will stick, thereby encouraging police to be more careful/better trained/less openly malicious and thus reducing the number of police shootings.

                                  Chris’s counterargument is that cops just shoot people anyway and worry about excuses later, that the number of available excuses only matters to them ex post facto.

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                  • I think we’d have different definitions of “illegal gun” that we’d have to hash out, but otherwise I’d be fine with that, or making it a misdemeanor.

                    Honestly, one really big give that would help the whole ‘trust’ thing would be making all non-violent gun crimes into misdemeanors that don’t disqualify you from ownership. Stuff like “improper transport” being a felony violation in a lot of states really does irritate people and make them unwilling to support more effective measures.

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                  • They don’t believe you. You really want total confiscation. If you’re not a 2nd Amendment absolutist, that’s your ‘real’ goal.

                    I’m serious. I’ve had a number of conversations about guns and gun rights, and one very common theme is that they believe I’m lying about what I want.

                    “I’m for universal registration and insurance requirements” == “So that I’ll know where all the guns are when I seize them”.

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                    • Morat,

                      I think i understand the broad contours of your firearm insurance proposal from reading bits and pieces of it before. I also think I must be missing something. Are there a significant number of victims of gun violence that would be able to pin liability on someone but simply don’t because that person is essentially judgement proof? If there isnt a significant number of those people, what does the insurance proposal accomplish?

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                      • You make it strict liability. Your gun, you’re liable, no matter what — innocent accident, deliberate homicide, etc.

                        If the bullet came from your gun, you’re on the hook for damages.

                        If it’s stolen, you have a limited window to report it (based on a ‘reasonableness’ standard — if you’re out of town for a month, for instance, the clock starts on your return).

                        Now, there’s lots of guns and not that many gun crimes. So unless your guns keep ending up causing damage (personal or property), or your guns keep ending up stolen, your insurance rates should be pretty low — even if you end up collecting quite a few.

                        On the other hand, if you can’t seem to hold onto your guns or you keep having ‘accidents’ — well, continuing to own a gun will be a pricey proposition.

                        *shrug*. The whole point of ‘insurance’ is simply to try to fix things in an NRA-friendly, free market way.

                        I’ve been assured over and over that most gun owners are very responsible, so this is a very simple way to suss out the ones that aren’t — and using objective, actuarial methods by private organizations rather than subjective, political ones.

                        (And hey, maybe I’ll stop reading about “tragic accidents” involving guns and children. Because it’s never a ‘tragic accident’. It’s negligence. )

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                        • Again, I am totally fine with this, and think arguments against it are more than weak. Insurance is a great way to deal with certain externalities (is that the right term here?).

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                        • Sure then what do you with poor folks that can’t afford insurance? Strip them of their rights? Or your inner city criminals that don’t buy insurance? I know, gov’t subsidized insurance.

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                          • I’d be very surprised if the actuarial analysis resulted in a burdensome premium for a person with no history of losing weapons or being a victim of theft of a weapon.

                            Rights come with responsibility, & there are more responsibilities to owning a firearm than merely knowing the 4 rules. Requiring liability insurance is a great way to encourage those responsibilities without having to heavily regulate them.

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                    • Maybe you are telling the truth but I think other liberals are lying and I won’t trust them or help them with their incremental steps forward a gun ban, no matter how reasonable they call them.

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                      • Hell, it starts with the claim of the all knowing social objectivity, then moral rent seeks actual dollars by insurance companies from there. It’s a clusterfish humping a bad idea, at best, on a good day.

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                • I realize you’re trying to be clever, but yes. I mean, our current criminal justice system is terrible but it’s still better than world where anybody can have a gun whenever they want for whatever reason they want.

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  7. Well said and welcome to OT. I have some similar experiences with firearm ownership that I need to put to paper. in the OT tradition, I will have to write a piece to respond to your points above.

    Again, thanks for sharing and putting the idea in my head!

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  8. The Second Amendment extremists have it exactly backwards. They think the amendment was about resisting the government. In fact, the framers distrusted a standing Army; they were looking back at Cromwell. He was able to suspend English democracy for years simply because he was a popular leader with an Army.

    So, we didn’t really have an Army for decades, and the militia was seen as a safe alternative. For any threat the founders could imagine, a small Navy and a militia were sufficient.

    Of course they turned out to be very wrong about that and eventually we did build up a small Army.

    It’s also important to realize the term “bearing arms” does not literally mean “owning a gun”. It means “serving as a soldier”. Hunters do not bear arms. Target shooters do not bear arms. The concept of bearing arms is closely related to the concept of citizenry.

    So, the 2nd amendment was really saying: We don’t have an Army but we’re going to have a militia consisting of all free white men. So, no government can take away the right of those free white men to keep their weapons on hand. They will be needed if there is a threat.

    This whole thing became obsolete more than a century ago once we decided to have a real Army.

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    • Their distrust of the use of a Standing Army against the citizenry is shown also in the Third Amendment, which is nothing but making sure the Dragonnades (a hundred years before) will not be possible in America.

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    • To riff off of this…

      The resisting government explanation of the 2A has to be one of the most idiotic things I ever heard. Right. They distrusted centralized power so the solution was to enshrine an individual right within the same power they distrusted to ensure that centralized power they distrusted didn’t act badly.

      Uhhhhh…yeah. That right there is what I call the General Welfare argument of the 2A.

      I guess they didn’t read the Federalist Papers where Madison and Hamilton discussed interposition.

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      • Dave,

        Have you not read Federalist 28 in which Hamilton compares ability of the people to throw off tyranny in a single state versus the proposed federal government?

        Or Fed 29 in which Hamilton continues with the line of argument that a well regulated militia would be a counterbalance to a standing federal army. Also he states plainly the people at large would be armed in addition to the people in the well regulated militia.

        Or Fed 46 in which Madison begins by reminding the enemies of the constitution:
        “The federal and State governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject; and to have viewed these different establishments, not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.”
        http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa46.htm

        Justice Stevens’ dissent in Heller turns Fed 46 on its head and reduces the people to mere agents of the states.

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      • Moreover the idiot Tenche Coxe wrote a newspaper article that was published while the Bill of Rights was being debated in Congress and explained the meaning of the prefatory clause as well as the main clause:

        “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people, duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which shall be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

        Even the great Joseph Story seems to have been infected with the same idiocy!
        Commenting on Second amendment Story wrote:
        “The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

        Investigating the issue further one readily discovers that the idiocy preceded the Framers. The greatest of idiots, Blackstone himself, taught that in a free state it is unwise to have the military power constrained to one group and solely at the command of the rulers.

        “In a land of liberty it is extremely dangerous to make a distinct order of the profession of arms. In absolute monarchies this is necessary for the safety of the prince, and arises from the main principle of their constitutions, which is that of governing by fear: but in free states the profession of a soldier, taken singly and merely as a profession, is justly an object of jealousy. In these no man should take up arms, but with a view to defend his country and it’s laws: he puts not off the citizen when he enters the camp; but it is because he is a citizen, and would wish to continue so, that he makes himself for a while a soldier”

        See Free state straight outta blackstone
        http://volokh.com/posts/1173488580.shtml

        The idiocy continued as the TN supreme court in Aymette, the same case cited by SCOTUS in US v. MIller, apparently made great fools of themselves in writing: “the free white men have the right to keep and bear arms to protect the public liberty, to keep in awe those who are in power, and to maintain the supremacy of the laws and the constitution.”

        Joseph Story knew the difference between “domestic insurrections” and “usurpations of power by the rulers” and wrote that the second amendment was intended to protect against both. Those who conflate the two are making a Bogus argument.

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        • “the free white men have the right to keep and bear arms to protect the public liberty, to keep in awe those who are in power, and to maintain the supremacy of the laws and the constitution.”

          There’s one word in that sentence that I think is remarkably prescient, and germaine to the Tamir Rice case.

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      • Lastly the silliest aspect of this Bogus argument is that Justice Stevens and others who promote the “only in a state militia” interpretation themselves claim that the second amendment exists to allow the states to resist the federal government!

        You cannot have your cake and eat it too!

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    • The second amendment according to Dan:

      A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and serve in the militia, shall not be infringed.

      The half idiom argument, as the late great justice Scalia remarked, does not fly on this side of the looking glass.

      A Thanksgiving Tale:
      It was the dinner rush at the Hungry Pilgrim, but chef Baron just had to speak to his broker. With cell phone in hand he sped for the walk-in cooler, because (as he often says) that is the best place to keep and talk turkey!

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      • I think all this becomes clear, from a constitutional pov anyway, if you limit the focus of the bill of rights to restrictions on federal power. And if we were to agree on that point, any ancillary considerations of “intent” don’t really matter. IOW, the 2A doesn’t accord an individual the right to bear arms. It merely prohibits the fedrul from impinging on the right of states to do 2A stuff (like grant – or not – a right to bear arms).

        But since that reading of the Constitution was discarded (most likely only seconds after ratification) we’ve been talking about something else. Coherence, simplicity, pragmatics, original intent, contemporary poliltics, and so on. Take your pick.

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        • In the 1875 Cruikshank case the supreme court said:
          “The second and tenth counts are equally defective. The right there specified is that
          of ‘bearing arms for a lawful purpose.’ This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes, to what is called, in The City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 139, the ‘powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was, perhaps, more properly called internal police,’ ‘not surrendered or restrained’ by the Constitution of the United States. ”

          You are correct that the second amendment was originally a restriction only on Congress. However the second amendment recognizes a right of individuals, not of the states.

          The bastardized States Rights interpretation espoused by the Ninth circuit in Hickman v Block (1995) was such BS that even the far left realized it would get overturned in short order, so they revised it themselves a few years later in Silveira v Lockyer (again 9th circuit). The Collective Rights interpretation of Silveira didn’t last long either as even far lefties such a Saul Cornell realized it too was crap -hence the limited individual right “only in service of the state militia” of the Heller dissents. As if no one remembers that the Silveira court rejected the limited individual rights theory out of hand.

          If not for Incorporation theory, the second amendment would have no effect other than to prevent Congress from infringing the right of the of the people to keep and bear arms. Each state then could allow or restrict that right as they pleased. But like it or not, Incorporation is here to stay so hardly seems worth the time to argue about what might have been had SCOTUS never upheld Incorporation.

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          • But like it or not, Incorporation is here to stay so hardly seems worth the time to argue about what might have been had SCOTUS never upheld Incorporation.

            Yes, it’s here to stay (unless it isn’t…). I was just highlighting what you and I agree on: that the pre-reconstruction bill of rights (textually but also wrt SC interpretation) did not accord any rights to individuals. So claims that the 2A DID accord those rights or ensure the protection of an otherwise existing right requires going outside the Constitution to have any bite.

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            • Stillwater,
              The second amendment, like the first amendment, offered individuals protection from infringement of certain rights by Congress. That these amendments did not extend to protection from state action does not mean they did not protect individual rights.

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          • Mike Hansberry: You are correct that the second amendment was originally a restriction only on Congress. However the second amendment recognizes a right of individuals, not of the states.

            You were going to back this up with founding era evidence not modern case law, right?

            Instead of burying me in quotes from the Federalist Papers, try some quotes from the ratification debates, that is, if you can prove that the private right to bear arms was discussed outside of the two or three commonly cited pieces of evidence (i.e the PA dissent).

            Too funny. I don’t think you’d last five minutes in a debate against Saul Cornell on the Second Amendment given your penchant for law office history.

            You’re no different than liberals when it comes to the Commerce Clause in that you got the interpretation you want from the Courts despite zero founding era evidence for it. Get in touch with your Living Constitutionalist. All the cool kids do it.

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            • Dave,
              You brought up the Federalist papers, not my fault that they contradict your argument.

              During the ratification debates, was there any discussion of a Collective Right to keep and bear arms? Was there any discussion of a Limited Individual right to keep and bear arms only in a state militia? No and No. So what was your point?

              Why didn’t you mention that the aspect of Madison’s draft that actually was discussed during the house debates on the Bill of Rights, namely the conscientious objector clause, was still an issue when the Militia acts were debated in congress less than two years later. And that during those Congressional debates Roger Sherman stated his view of the right to bear arms as follows.

              Debates in Congress, first Militia Act:
              “Representative Sherman questioned if Congress could give an exemption to pacifists since “the state governments had (not) given out of their hands the command of the militia, or the right of declaring who should bear arms?”91 He went on to argue that it was the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack made upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made. The particular states, like private citizens, have a right to be armed, and to defend, by force of arms, their rights, when invaded. A militia existed in the United States, before the formation of the present constitution: and all that the people have granted to the general government, is the power of organizing such militia. The reason of this grant was evident; it was in order to collect the whole force of the union to a point, the better to repel foreign invasion, and the more successfully to defend themselves”

              James Wilson commented on the 1790 PA Const. right to bear arms:
              “With regard to the first, it is the great natural law of self preservation, which, as we have seen, cannot be repealed, or superseded, or suspended by any human institution. This law, however, is expressly recognized in the constitution of Pennsylvania. “The right of the citizens to bear arms in the defence of themselves shall not be questioned.” This is one of our many renewals of the Saxon regulations. “They were bound,” says Mr. Selden, “to keep arms for the preservation of the kingdom, and of their own persons.”

              Are we to assume that the right to keep and bear arms of the second amendment had a different meaning than that right expressed elsewhere by the people of that time unless the text expressly states that it has same meaning as elsewhere?

              Other deniers of a broad individual right (see Saul Cornell’s discussion of scribble scrabble) rightly insist that Madison would have also been aware of debates in Massachusetts regarding that state’s provision protecting “the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the common defense”, however Cornell is unable to grasp the import of those Massachusetts debates. Neither Madison’s draft, nor the final text of the second amendment contain the troublesome qualifier (for the common defense) that caused so much disagreement in Massachusetts. Moreover, it should be noted that the “for the common defense” language was proposed in the US Senate but rejected. So even that mild explicit restriction on the right to bear arms was rejected by both Madison and the US Congress. Yet it is insisted by Justice Stevens and others that the qualifier “when in service of the state militia” ought to be read into the text of the amendment

              The deniers are left to stand on the absurd proposition that without qualification the right to keep and bear arms of the second amendment is more narrow than the right to bear arms of the PA constitution and that proposed by the PA Anti-federalists to be part of the US Bill of Rights.

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    • The second amendment according to Dan II:

      A real Army being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

      What the second amendment was really saying is what the federalists said it meant at the time: “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people, duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which shall be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

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      • I don’t know Mike. That sounds an awful lot like military service to me. By the way, are those the same federalists that, if they had their way, would have left the Constitution without a Second Amendment for you to fetishize?

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        • However, I do thank you because seeing how revisionists like yourself have approached the Second Amendment despite the mountain of evidence that points away from it is quite fascinating. If anything, I admire the persistence.

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          • Dave,

            Perhaps you could share some of the mountain of evidence -just one quote from the founding era stating that the right to keep and bear arms of the second amendment is limited to service in the state militia would be more than the Heller dissents could muster.

            Were the PA Minority revisionists?
            Was Tenche Coxe a revisionist?
            How about Roger Sherman?

            Before, during, and after the drafting and ratification of the Bill of RIghts the right to keep and bear arms was spoken of as an individual right. So one can hardly claim the individual rights theory is revisionist.

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            • Before, during, and after the drafting and ratification of the Bill of RIghts the right to keep and bear arms was spoken of as an individual right.

              Then why wasn’t it codified as an individual right in the Constitution?* Eg: “Neither Congress nor a State shall abridge the right bear arms”?

              *The argument on the table is that the BoR was written as an express limitation on federal power, not state power. Maybe the Founding Fathers were just sloppy when it came to legalese??

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              • Stillwater,

                Who doubts that that the BOR was written as a restriction only on Congress? And why should something so plain even be on the table?

                Why do you insist on continuing the silly argument that if provision of the BOR is a limitation only on Congress then the right protected cannot be an individual right?

                Prior to the 14 amendment and Incorporation, the prohibition on abridgements of freedom of speech of the first amendment was a limitation only on Congress, but nonetheless the freedom of speech is an individual right. How can that be?

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                • Why do you insist on continuing the silly argument that if provision of the BOR is a limitation only on Congress then the right protected cannot be an individual right?

                  Because it seems pretty clear that the BoR DID NOT do so. It just seems like a factual matter to me, rather than one of logical possibilities.

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                    • Are you really claiming that the freedom of speech cannot be an individual right because the first amendment is a restriction only on Congress?

                      No, of course not. It’s certainly possible that aliens – or the Creator – imbued individuals with natural rights irrespective of what the constitution says or doesn’t say.

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                        • Yes, we’re talking about what the constitution says. Eg., that the federal gummint cannot make a law abridging freedom of speech (and etc) and all other powers are given to the people and the states. Ergo, as far as the constitution was written is concerned, individuals or states could restrict speech.

                          Look, I’m not happy about that either. {{Damn founding fathers….}} But that’s what the words say, and used to mean.

                          Now they mean something else.

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                            • You’re thinking about it wrong Mike. I mean, I get that you think the constitution protected all those things at the time of ratification, but that’s just not the case. Textually speaking, anyway. A restriction on federal power is not ipso facto a restriction on state power. It’s merely, and very intentionally, a restriction on federal power. To think otherwise turns the purpose of the bill of rights upside down.

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                              • Whoever said a restriction on federal power was a restriction on state power? Both of us have said plainly that the BOR was a restriction on Congress only, and you have noted our agreement, so now you are simply dodging.

                                You cannot answer “Whose freedom of Speech?” because that would give away your game of conflating the nature of the right in question with which level of government that has made the guarantee.

                                Was the freedom of speech of the 1776 Virginia Constitution an individual right?

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                                  • So the first amendment freedom of speech is a state right rather than an individual right?

                                    You do know that Hickman v Block was “revised” by the liberals on the ninth circuit for this same silliness, don’t you?

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                                    • Mike,

                                      Hell, you’re the one who totes agree with me that the BoR merely restricts federal power, right?

                                      If so, those amendments cannot accord an affirmative right to individuals which applies to the states. Unless there’s a secret “and the states too” clause in there somewhere.

                                      Look, this is getting silly. Or maybe not. Constitutional originalism (or whatever) just doesn’t carry as much water as its water-carrying carriers like to think. So I’ll repeat it: a provision limiting federal powers as it relates to the states does not accord a right to individuals without a lot of extra-constitutional analysis being included.

                                      And also: I get the feeling you think I’m arguing something nefarious at the level of substance when my only point is pretty much academic: the BoR does not accord individual rights. Of course, I concede that you disagree with that…

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                                      • Not nefarious, just awfully silly.

                                        Even before incorporation, the first amendment freedom of speech was recognized as an individual right (See Schenck v US, 1919).

                                        The court did not dismiss the defendants first amendment defense for lack of standing. In fact the court admitted “that in many places and in ordinary times the defendants in saying all that was said in the circular would have been within their constitutional rights.”

                                        Whose constitutional rights? The defendants. The first amendment freedom of speech was seen as an individual right even before incorporation.

                                        In Hickman v. Block the 9th circuit asserted that the defendants did not have standing because the second amendment only conferred a state’s right. However this was a bastardization of the meaning of the term state’s right and so stupid that the liberals themselves revised Hickman rather than have it overturned.

                                        By the time Heller made it to SCOTUS, there was no question whether the defendant had standing to afford himself of a second amendment defense, each member of the court recognized at least some individual right regarding the second amendment. And all this before MacDonald in which the right to keep and bear arms was incorporated via the 14th amendment.

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                                        • In Hickman v. Block the 9th circuit asserted that the defendants did not have standing because the second amendment only conferred a state’s right.

                                          Well, to the extent it “confers a right”, which it really doesn’t, something pretty obvious if you understand the Constitution’s structure, the amendment should apply to the parties to the original compact which were the states acting in their highest sovereign capacity. You know, Madison’s theory of the compound compact, right?

                                          Anyway…

                                          By the time Heller made it to SCOTUS, there was no question whether the defendant had standing to afford himself of a second amendment defense, each member of the court recognized at least some individual right regarding the second amendment. And all this before MacDonald in which the right to keep and bear arms was incorporated via the 14th amendment.

                                          Both cases were correctly decided on the wrong constitutional grounds. The 5th and 14th should have been enough but given that it was a gun law and the make up of the Supreme Court, the only way to get the justices to sign off was through an enumerated right. Meh. I still reject the interpretation although agreed the majority. If that’s not good enough for you, so be it.

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                                • Whoever said a restriction on federal power was a restriction on state power?

                                  Terry Sanford, joined by six of his colleagues in the Supreme Court, when they held that freedom of speech and press, as articulated in the First Amendment, were “among the fundamental personal rights and ‘liberties’ protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states” and thus that the State of New York could not take away from Benjamin Gitlow without due process of law.

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                                  • You do notice that the 14th Amendment is specifically quoted in your quote.

                                    Would the 14th Amendment, perhaps, just an idea, think about it, change the Constitution somehow, so that what was constitutionally true after the 14th Amendment was constitutionally false before it? Hence, perhaps they wrote an Amendment to alter the Constitution and the balance of power/rights between states and individuals? Just a though

                                    [ apologies for the snark hehe]

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                                    • I’m quite clear that I’m discussing the Fourteenth Amendment here, and I can forgive your snark. Of course the Fourteenth Amendment altered, by way of limiting, the structural powers of the state governments. That was very much its Framers’ intent.

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                                      • So you do agree that at the time of the enactment of the BoR those individual rights enumerated therein were protected only vis-à-vis the Federal Government, and that the only protection individuals had, under the Constitution, against the states encroaching their “individual” rights was the Ninth Amendment?

                                        Which, Bork dixit, is as if it is covered with an inkblot. We don’t know what it says or what it means.

                                        P.S. Thanks for taking the snark in good spirit. It sounded better in my head that when I reread it

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                                        • That’s pretty much the size of it.

                                          History bears that out — some of the states had Established religions, for instance, up through the 1830’s. It doesn’t seem that anyone thought to invoke the Ninth Amendment against it, either: I suspect, although it’s impossible to know, that the social price to pay for challenging it would have been far too great for nearly anyone to bear. It may also be that the burden of Establishment upon members of other faiths or closeted atheists was light enough to bear: no state that chose to Established prohibited the exercise of non-Established religions or banned the creation of houses of worship or the preaching of doctrines contrary to the Established churches. There were Protestants in Maryland and Catholics in Massachusetts.

                                          Applied to other spheres, we don’t see a lot of Second Amendment jurisprudence until the government got around to doing a lot of things that implicated keeping and bearing weapons. That just didn’t happen all that much until the twentieth century. And, we wouldn’t expect to see a lot of Third Amendment jurisprudence now, since the notion of quartering troops in private residences is very foreign to our understanding of what it means to have a military.

                                          Caselaw bears that out too — Gitlow v. New York was a departure from most established precedent, and while it was not explicit that it overruled other cases holding that the First Amendment did not apply to the states, subsequent case law credits Gitlow with doing exactly that.

                                          A final thought: it may be that no one thought to invoke the Ninth Amendment early on, or at least was unsuccessful in so doing, because state governments were largely responsive to concerns citizens raised. Notwithstanding cultural and technological differences from the present day, there were simply fewer people whose interests needed accommodation then, and politicians being politicians, an appeal to local representatives may well have gotten most of the serious issues handled without need to resort to high levels of jurisprudence.

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                                        • @j_a

                                          From what I can gather, although I’m really not up to speed on the current literature, the meaning of the Ninth Amendment is very much up for debate with Barnett pulling for the individual rights meaning and Kurt Lash looking more of the federalism/states rights meaning.

                                          My current position on the Ninth puts me in the Lash camp if only by default but I haven’t read the arguments from either one in a long time.

                                          Consider that the right of the people would have included self-rule, a necessary one in a system with dual and possibly conflicting sovereigns.

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                        • Does the first amendment protect an individual right to free speech which Congress may not abridge?

                          Could Congress abridge speech prior to the First Amendment?

                          Take the First Amendment out of the Constitution and Congress still can’t abridge speech since the federal government lacks the sovereign authority to do so.

                          Take the Second Amendment out of the Constitution and Congress still can’t infringe any individual right to bear arms even if the Second Amendment intended it or not since the federal government has no sovereign authority to do so.

                          Those individual rights in the BoR…if the federalists were right (they weren’t but that’s a whole other story), they wouldn’t be necessary.

                          Ditch the whole rights-based perspective. Get in touch with your inner Madisonian. You’ll be way cooler than the rest of us.

                          As it is, the primary motivating factor for the BoR was the Tenth Amendment since the Constitution lacked the express limitation on power in Article II of the Articles.

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                        • I think some care as to causal relationships is warranted here. has made two challenges:

                          Are you really claiming that the freedom of speech cannot be an individual right because the first amendment is a restriction only on Congress?

                          and

                          Does the first amendment protect an individual right to free speech which Congress may not abridge?

                          There may well be an individual right of free speech, and there may well be a restriction on Congressional power. But these two are not necessarily causally related. The second challenge suggests that there is only a coincidence of the individual right and the government restriction. The first challenge, however, suggests that the reason Congress may not abridge that right is because there is an individual right. That may be closer to Ninth Amendment thinking than First Amendment thinking.

                          It may also be the case that a restriction of governmental power is the manner in which an individual right is protected, as the Constitution has been framed. That’s derived from the concept of “negative liberties,” which is that liberties by definition are limitations upon the ability of the government to control an individual’s autonomy. This seems an eminently defensible philosophical and legal idea to me.

                          The notion that certain rights are resident within a human being by virtue of her humanity is grounded in natural law and I’ve no quibble with the proposition that the original Framers were steeped in natural law thinking. The Declaration, written only a few years prior to the original Constitution, is a masterpiece of natural law argument. Note, though, that such a “positive rights” construction very likely goes beyond limitations on the government’s power and now things start to get pernicious. For example: freedom of speech is within the portfolio of natural rights a human enjoys. So the government may not punish a person for exercising her freedom of speech. Fair enough — but how about a corporation? Or another person? Can you contract away your freedom of speech (e.g., signing a trade secrets agreement as a condition of employment) and in the case of a claim by one party to the contract that the other has breached the agreement, is invocation of one’s own natural rights, positively framed, a valid defense to that claim? The answer is, at best, not obvious.

                          Down that road we get into other more dangerous territory. If we frame individual rights positively, it becomes seductive to approach hard questions like this, where individual positive rights must be balanced against one another, by resort to understanding the purpose of a person’s decision to exercise a right. Why do you want to criticize the President? Or, for that matter, why do you want to criticize Goldman Sachs? Or, why do you want to own an AR-15, or why do you want to suppress evidence seized from your car after you were arrested? What legitimate public purpose does the exercise of any of those rights fulfill? That’s a bad place to put your judge in, because now we’re judging that some exercise of rights are somehow more useful than others, and rights are subordinate to other things.

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                          • This is an excellent comment. I think there are two other factors that need to be considered into this discussion.

                            The first is taking ‘s comment about an individual right to owning private weapons being known at the time of the Founding era (and decades before frankly) and asking how it would have been known? The answer to that question is that it was known as a common law right subject to the police power of the state. To the extent a firearm was used in an act of self defense, I think self defense as a natural right more than covers it.

                            So, if we take the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights, I would put private gun ownership in the same place as other natural and common law rights: Section I:

                            I. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

                            I know what Section XIII reads:

                            XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

                            Setting aside the clear military context of this section, I have an even bigger problem with the claim that this covers an individual right:

                            While an individual has a right to use a gun in an act of self defense, bearing arms in defense of the state is not an individual right. It’s not even a collective right exercised by individuals. It is the right of a sovereign people to defend itself against tyranny internally or external threats. A group of individuals just can’t decide to attack the state of Burt because they think that Burt is a legitimate threat to the peace and tranquility of the state of Dave.

                            I posted the quote from the Declaration of Independence for that reason and that reason alone because “the people” in this sense means the people as a sovereign political unit. This would have been perfectly consistent with founding-era thought on popular sovereignty, just like “We the People of…”

                            The focus on the Second Amendment’s individual rights nature falls too much on the side of rights and completely ignores the role sovereignty plays in the constitutional system in favor for a very nationalist perspective that I think flies in the face of Madison’s design.

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            • Before, during, and after the drafting and ratification of the Bill of RIghts the right to keep and bear arms was spoken of as an individual right. So one can hardly claim the individual rights theory is revisionist.

              Before we discuss this, let’s have ourselves a little fun and go back to the Declaration of Independence:

              That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

              Who are “the People”

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              • Dave R: Could Congress abridge speech prior to the First Amendment?

                Not without abusing their legitimate powers. But the fear was that all governments eventually do abuse and attempt to enlarge their legitimate powers. That is why a Bill of Rights was thought necessary, at least by some, to allay the fears of those who would not support the Constitution.

                So does the first amendment freedom of speech protect an individual right?

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                • So does the first amendment freedom of speech protect an individual right?

                  I don’t understand this argument going over and over, in which it seems you. Both are saying exactly the same thing.

                  Amendments 1 through 8 banned the Federal Congress to enact legislation that curtailed certain individual rights AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL.

                  Nothing in the Constitution, until the Reconstruction, limited the plenary power of the states to limit these same individual rights within their territories. We the People notwithstanding, the Constitution was written as a Federal Compact between thirteen Sovereigns, not between The People and Their Government (those were the state constitutions).

                  So, to go to your First Amendment example, your original individual Freedom of Religion did not bar your state to establish an official church, like several did. So is Freedom of Religion an individual right?

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                  • One might be obtuse and ask “what is Freedom of Religion”? That phrase does not appear in the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

                    But of course that would be obtuse. The text makes clear what “freedom of religion” is: the government may not tell you whether, or how, or what/who, or why, or when, or where, to worship. As between you and the government, you are autonomous and the government lacks power to abrogate that autonomy.

                    (Note the negative construction of the right. The Constitution does not purport to dictate what individuals and communities have to say on the subject of worship. Indeed, in other realms (specifically, substantive due process) there is probably a right for parents to raise their children in their own religious traditions. This is, however, one individual controlling the way in which a different individual worships and therefore is a restriction on the second individual’s positive rights.

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                  • J_A: Amendments 1 through 8 banned the Federal Congress to enact legislation that curtailed certain individual rights AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL.

                    J_A,

                    You got it, but Dave and others refuse to admit that the first 8 amendments protect individual rights against infringement by Congress.

                    They argue that since those amendments are only restrictions on federal power, then the rights protected are not individual rights. But that of course is a non-sequitur.

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                    • Re: Individual rights.

                      The term “people” is mentioned in the first eight amendment three times: in the first (assembly), second and fourth. Let’s drop the fourth because “people” is followed by persons so we’re good on the individual front.

                      So we’re down to two clauses where the right refers to the people.

                      Now, again…who are the people referred to in the BoR? Better yet, what people are the ratifying parties?

                      You were wrong the first time when I asked about the Declaration. I’m giving you a second chance to make good.

                      You got it, but Dave and others refuse to admit that the first 8 amendments protect individual rights against infringement by Congress.

                      Actually, the number is much fewer. See, we’re making progress!!!

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                      • Now, again…who are the people referred to in the BoR?Better yet, what people are the ratifying parties?

                        Dave,
                        Really, I was wrong because you said I was wrong? You will have to do better than that.

                        You just admitted that “the people” in the 4th refers to individuals.

                        Is it your contention that 4th amendment rights are not individual rights because of something to do with the ratifying parties and the restriction being only on Congress?

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                        • Oh Mike. I’m doing awesome here.

                          You just admitted that “the people” in the 4th refers to individuals.

                          Nice try. The word “persons” is in the 4th followed by “people”, indicating two distinctly different things. Persons = plural individuals hence the 4th covering individuals. That word is not in the 2nd.

                          Now, why?

                          Again, who are the ratifying parties. Come on. Stop delaying the inevitable.

                          No I didn’t. I referred to “persons” as individuals. That leads to a construction that the Fourth Amendment covers individuals.

                          Is it your contention that 4th amendment rights are not individual rights because of something to do with the ratifying parties and the restriction being only on Congress?

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                          • Dave,

                            4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”

                            The word “their” refers back to “the people” indicating the word “people” in the 4th amendment usage of “the right of the people” is to be understood in the plural sense.

                            So earlier you were talking only about the second instance of the word “persons” in the 4th amendment, ignoring the first mention altogether? Does your copy of the 4th amendment omit the first part? Or are you insisting that “the people” preceding the first mention of “persons” is to be read in the singular sense -as if we collectively own the persons(bodies), papers, and effects mentioned therein?

                            Are you now denying that the 4th amendment protects an individual right?

                            The identification of the ratifying parties does not determine whether the right is individual or not. Who were the ratifying parties to the 14th amendment? Are you really claiming that amendments to the Constitution ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states cannot protect individual rights?

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                            • You are straining to create a meaning for “people” that can’t exist because individuals in plural are addressed as persons elsewhere (see the 5th Amendment). There is no backwards reversion. Persons means individuals in plural. Hence “persons” being seized.

                              I acknowledged “people” in the fourth but explained why the controlling language making it an individual right is the word “persons”. You’re falling back on people because you have no choice. If “people” is seen as something else, your interpretation of the Second completely falls apart, and I think you’re going to have huge problems when you come to the realization that “the People” are the ratifying parties.

                              Which is it? “We the People of the United States” or “We the People of…” each of the states acting in their highest sovereign and independent capacity.

                              No going back. Pick one and run with it.

                              Forget the 14th. People like you are claiming an individual right in the 2nd Amendment going back to 1791 so let’s stay in this time frame for the moment.

                              Are you having as much fun as I am? I think I’m starting to like your spirit. You’re putting up a better fight than i thought you would.

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                              • Dave R: I acknowledged “people” in the fourth but explained why the controlling language making it an individual right is the word “persons”.

                                What do you mean by “it” above?
                                Are you really trying to say that the 4th amendment is an individual right but that “the right of the people to be secure…” is not referring to an individual right?

                                Have you ever heard the phrase too clever by half?

                                Dave R: I acknowledged “people” in the fourth but explained why the controlling language making it an individual right is the word “persons”.

                                Dave,

                                By “acknowledged” are you admitting or not that “the right of the people” in the 4th amendment refers to an individual right?

                                Are you really denying that the word “their” in the 4th amendment refers back to “people”?

                                We are talking about the word “people” because you are denying it refers to individuals in the BOR, except when you aren’t as in the 4th amendment, but you only admit it in that instance because of the word “persons” -right?

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                      • Dave,

                        Were there different ratifying parties for the various amendments which comprise the Bill of Rights?

                        No is the correct answer.

                        Why then do you persist in this mindless argument that some amendments cannot be referring to the protection of individual rights though (as you now admit) others are?

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                        • Mike Hansberry:
                          Dave,

                          Were there different ratifying parties for the various amendments which comprise the Bill of Rights?

                          No is the correct answer.

                          Why then do you persist in this mindless argument that some amendments cannot be referring to the protection of individual rights though (as you now admit) others are?

                          Psssstttt…

                          Go all the way to the bottom of the combox for your answer…

                          You’re welcome…again.

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                • Mike Hansberry: So does the first amendment freedom of speech protect an individual right?

                  Let’s rephrase the question:

                  Did the 1st Amendment alter the relationship between the We the People of the United States and We the People of each of the ratifying states under the newly formed constitutional system?

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                  • No. Why do you ask?

                    In DC v Heller, did Mr Heller have standing to bring a second amendment defense?

                    Yes, because the second amendment (aside from the 14th and incorporation) protects an individual right to keep and bear arms which Congress cannot infringe.

                    When facts contradict you theory, do you disregard the facts or the theory?

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                    • Unlike you, people here, whether or not they like me, have seen my writings on these subjects, and if they think I’m slacking, they can call me out and I’ll produce. These are the kinds of subjects near and dear to my heart.

                      Therefore, to your comment, I will gladly disregard my theory when the facts prove it as such. However, 1) your facts aren’t even close to breaching my theory and 2) I don’t think you fully grasp my theory, which is understandable because I am not throwing it at you all at once.

                      I’ve read many people from Scalia to Barnett to Epstein to Balkin to Ely to Sunnstein to Volokh to Halbrook on the Second Amendment to whoever the hell I’ve come across over the years. Interesting stuff, but it was a journal article in 1980s destroying original intent originalism that turned me on old school original intent so that’s where I am.

                      You wouldn’t run into many people like me because my form of original intent can be ported over into the practice of law, but as a historical matter, it’s pretty clear what happened.

                      Here’s a fact for you: you won’t find much discussion about a collective right to bear arms in the ratification debates; however, on the flip side, what you will find is objections to the Militia Clause on the basis that the people of each of the states wanted to ensure that they were able to maintain adequate control, protect liberty, etc.

                      They didn’t employ the rights language that you do or 99% of the people seem to today. It was discussed in terms of powers and maintaining sovereignty because even after the ratification of the Constitution, the states were sovereign and independent with respect to what wasn’t granted to the federal government.

                      You do know dual sovereignty, right?

                      In DC v Heller, did Mr Heller have standing to bring a second amendment defense?

                      On my originalist grounds, it would have been the 5th.

                      Yes, because the second amendment (aside from the 14th and incorporation) protects an individual right to keep and bear arms which Congress cannot infringe.

                      There’s no language that it explicitly limits Congress, which is what the State Supreme Court of Georgia thought in Nunn v Georgia. Even after Barron, the state court applied the federal amendment to the state law. Go figure.

                      The fact is that a plain reading, one that reads narrowly and within the correct framework of the Constitution’s division of sovereignty between the federal government and the states, rejects an individual right.

                      Yes, I’m asserting that as much as you’re asserting your position, but I’ll get around to that soon.

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                      • Boiled down your argument is that since the second amendment is a restriction on the federal government only, the right of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be an individual right.

                        You have said that the 4th amendment protects individuals -but how can that be since the 4th amendment is a restriction only on the federal government?

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                        • You didn’t properly boil down my argument. I’ll have to see if you answered my question on the ratifying parties. If you didn’t, you need to.

                          Again, stop looking at the Constitution from the perspective of rights. It is putting you at a huge disadvantage here.

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                          • Of course, silly me for reading the Bill of Rights as having something to do with rights.

                            The preamble to the BOR provides the parties:
                            RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.:

                            How does the identity of the parties determine the nature of the rights protected in these amendments? Are you claiming that it is not possible for amendments to the constitution which are ratified by 3/4ths of the state legislators to protect individual rights?

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              • “The people” are those persons residing in an area. It includes natural born citizens as well as others who have strong connection to the community, but does not include those merely visiting or passing through an area.

                Whaahooo this is fun. What is your point?

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                • Mike Hansberry:
                  “The people” are those persons residing in an area. It includes natural born citizens as well as others who have strong connection to the community, but does not include those merely visiting or passing through an area.

                  Whaahooo this is fun.What is your point?

                  My point is that you’re wrong.

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                    • Mike Hansberry:
                      So your “mountain of evidence” is really just a naked assertion that I am wrong

                      Not a naked assertion at all. It seems that in all of your 2nd Amendment, pro-individual rights zeal that you have not applied the same brainpower towards the structure of sovereignty in our constitutional system. I don’t need evidence to make that claim. I can already see it.

                      Read this again. Much of the debate over the Second Amendment revolves around
                      constitutional structure. Forget your Coxe (hehe), Wilson, etc. Absorb as much Madison as you can, especially the Virginia Resolution, Report of 1800 and even his later writings like his Notes on Nullification.

                      You’re welcome.

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                      • Dave,

                        The Articles did not need a BOR because (as you correctly pointed out in the linked post) they operated directly on the states.

                        The Constitution created a dual sovereignty in which the federal government operated directly on the people in some aspects. That is why a BOR was needed for the Constitution.

                        Nothing you have said so far remotely supports your claim that because the BOR was restriction on the federal government only, those rights cannot be individual rights.
                        One does not follow from the other.

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                        • The Constitution created a dual sovereignty in which the federal government operated directly on the people in some aspects. That is why a BOR was needed for the Constitution.

                          The Federalists thought a BoR wasn’t necessary. You seem to take the side of the Federalists when it supports your opinion and ignore them when they don’t. Me, I’m more principled. I’d call myself a moderate anti-Federalist.

                          I get the whole BoR debate. We’ve already been there.

                          Nothing you have said so far remotely supports your claim that because the BOR was restriction on the federal government only, those rights cannot be individual rights.
                          One does not follow from the other.

                          I never made that claim. In fact, if you re-read above, we’re down to discussing two clauses, not all of the amendments.

                          By the way, you can make my strawman a little more buff next time? I’m looking a little small in the lats. Sorry :D

                          Go back and pick up where we were on the Fourth Amendment and people vs. persons. That’s going to be a very fun discussion.

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        • Dave,

          Dave,
          What makes you think that Sherman and Wilson are referring to military service when they wrote about self defense?

          When Sherman refers to “private citizen” do you imagine Sherman is referring to their military rank? Not likely, instead he is referring to citizens in their private capacity, much like the exception John Adams made for citizens using arms at individual discretion for private self defense in his Defense of the Constitutions of the United Stated.

          When Sherman says “every citizen” do you imagine he is speaking only of those in the organized state militia?

          When Sherman says “essential rights” do you imagine he is speaking of a right granted by government?

          When Sherman says “to bear arms, as to resist every attack made upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made” do you suppose he is limiting the bearing of arms to militia duty?

          When Wilson says they are bound “to keep arms for the preservation of the kingdom, and of their own persons” do you imagine that self defense is something different than militia duty or is it part and parcel of militia duty?

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          • Hansberry your putting up a good scrap, but there is not much need.

            Once you pick through the pieces and find the BOR was just written rule of law at the time, all this state, federal, blah, blah government bull doesn’t matter.

            Any government, state, or other social construct not following rule of law is not legitimate. If the thicker heads can’t figure this out with this BOR, it will have to be spelled out more distinctly in the next one.

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            • Joe,

              As we’ve discussed, I have some problems with the whole social v individual construct thing and the topic gets a very confusing right quick, but if you characterized the debate emphasizing pragmatics and consequences I might completely agree with you. (Emphasis on “might” :)

              Which is to say, outcomes matter a great deal. As you already know.

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              • I think you could count the number of people who understand individual constructs here on one hand and still have several fingers left.

                I’m sure that the polarization of the positions will continue until the outcome matters a great deal.

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  9. Interesting post. Couple of things:

    1) I’m going to assume you purchased a tactical rifle, but that point is a little unclear in the post.

    2) This statement was a problem for me, “Though I now own this weapon, I have made a conscious effort not to fetishize it.” What exactly would that look like? I ask because I love, love, love some of my guns. My 12 gauge was an 18th birthday present and I’ve used it in the majority of my hunts. My little .22 Marlin was a gift from my dad also, and it has been with me on every squirrel hunt since I was 16. I carved my initials into the stock while sitting under a big oak tree one day. Lots of memories in that gun. ‘Fetishize’ is obviously used in a negative way here, but what else do you call affection for an inanimate object?

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    • Thanks for reading.

      For point number 1 you are correct. I’m being deliberately opaque on that though for reasons of personal privacy.

      On point number 2 my intent is to address a regular concern that I see raised, which is that people who purchase these types of rifles do so out of a belief that they are a solution to various social problems or see them as a means of intimidation. Im not talking about a soft spot for the shotgun you used to bring down your first buck or something along the lines of the other examples you used.

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      • But even if my hunting guns are okay to be affectionate towards, a lot of guys LOVE their tactical rifles. They’re fun to shoot, and it does make them feel good to have some expertise with a firearm they could use to protect their families someday. I would simply suggest that ‘fetishizing’ is a term coined by the anti-gun movement to make men feel guilty about their gun purchases. It’s similar to when they say that guns are compensation for penis size or something to that effect. They want to shame us. So…I would just caution feeling the need to placate them in your post. You don’t owe them anything.

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        • When i was a teenager, I would lie in bed at night and fantasize about someone coming into my house and threatening my family. So I could kill them. Eventually I got over this. I’ve always considered that a good thing.

          So I like his use of fetishize. And from my perspective, its not necessarily to shame them, and definitely not to make them feel guilty about their purchase of a gun. Its to simply mark myself as someone who believes the world would be a better place if fewer people were driven to dream about vigilante justice, or defending their families at the point of a gun. I also get that there vision of a better world may include more people like that.

          It also sounds a little strange to see you jump immediately into an “us” vs “them” posture, and assume InMD is just trying to “placate them”. I’ll defer to him of course, but I am open to the possibility that InMD actually believes what he says, rather than it being a tactic to gain some goodwill with his opponents.

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            • @switters This actually probably most accurately gets to what I was trying to convey- I don’t see it as a means of administering vigilante justice. That is the concern that I was trying to address.

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          • That’s funny as all the other antis I can think of want to use the the word to shame gun owners in an attempt delegitimatize gun owners. Kind of like coining the term assault rifle. The first step to winning the argument is controlling the language used.

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        • Interestingly I’ve never heard the word ‘fetishize’ used by advocates of stricter laws that way. My intent wasnt to insult anyone who, as in the example you used has learned a skill and discipline they are proud of. What I was trying to convey was more along the lines of ‘I do not have an unhealthy obsession with it.’

          I don’t feel the need to apologize but I do want to reach out to people who don’t agree with me in a way that does not make them feel immediately defensive. I’m in a part of the country that’s largely hostile to my stance on this and, fair or not, I think that puts the burden on me and people like me to try and change their way of thinking.

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          • Perhaps I’m a bit reactive on this topic. Most of the apologetics I read about guns come from responsible folks that have nothing to apologize for (or to explain to the uninformed) so i tend to chafe when i see my fellow gun owners doing so.

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  10. I have owned several guns in my time, and still do. What I’d like to know is why this particular gun? It’s fun to play with, of course, but a bad choice for just about any plausible civilian use. It’s a lousy hunting weapon and if your plausible home defense threats run to burglars rather than an invasion by the crew from a nearby meth lab it’s far more than needed to deal with the threat.

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  11. Now that Trump is elected, does that change anyone’s mind about gun ownership?

    Everyone on the Left still sure we can trust the government’s sanity over multiple centuries?

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      • “It’s that armed revolt continues to be a completely unrealistic and horrifying remedy for government misbehavior.”

        It’s not about armed revolt. It’s about increasing the cost of implementation.

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        • There appears to be a thought that making armed rebellion easier somehow will work to the benefit of the people to water the tree of liberty.

          Yet experience shows from the KKK, to strikebreakers, to the Freikorps, to the murder of abortion doctors that easy access to firearms only works to the benefit of the dominant majority, to suppress the rights of unpopular minorities.

          Insurrection and revolution aren’t magical acts, self-evidently good and righteous. They can be done just as easily for the purpose of crushing liberty as supporting it.

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          • Yet experience shows from the KKK, to strikebreakers, to the Freikorps, to the murder of abortion doctors that easy access to firearms only works to the benefit of the dominant majority, to suppress the rights of unpopular minorities.

            The Klan would agree with you that gun control was a much needed and desirable thing.

            Further, “The KKK began as a gun-control organization. Before the Civil War, blacks were never allowed to own guns. During the Civil War, blacks kept guns for the first time — either they served in the Union army and they were allowed to keep their guns, or they buy guns on the open market where for the first time there’s hundreds of thousands of guns flooding the marketplace after the war ends. So they arm up because they know who they’re dealing with in the South. White racists do things like pass laws to disarm them, but that’s not really going to work. So they form these racist posses all over the South to go out at night in large groups to terrorize blacks and take those guns away. If blacks were disarmed, they couldn’t fight back.”

            http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/07/opinion/gun-control-and-white-terror.html

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            • See, you aren’t really constructing an argument against my comment, so much as trying to stitch together the words “gun control” with “KKK” and cap the resulting scarecrow off with a fright wig.

              Its like, like “Hitler favored maternity care jus’ like Hilary OOOGA BOOGA

              Disarming black folks was a minor point of the KKK, one they scarcely needed.
              They had seized control of the entire legal and political structure such that any white man could just shoot on sight any black man and not fear serious repercussion.

              Kinda like Tamir Rice on steroids.

              Which, is exactly my point.

              The free access to guns after the Civil War made paramilitary groups like the KKK much more lethal and effective at suppressing liberty.

              But even taking your argument at face value, that gun control was a tactic of racist majority to suppress the liberty of the minority, doesn’t that just point out that the problem isn’t gun control, but the oppression of the minority group?
              Because if the majority wants to oppress a minority, don’t they have ample tools, such as voting, to do exactly that?

              So logically we should favor eliminating voting, since that also was used extensively by the KKK to suppress black folks OOGA BOOGA.

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              • The free access to guns after the Civil War made paramilitary groups like the KKK much more lethal and effective at suppressing liberty.

                The KKK effectively owned the local Police and the local Government. Ergo the KKK didn’t need guns to terrorise, they could just use ropes to lynch people with the gov either looking the other way or actively assisting.

                The purpose and history of gun control in that era was to suppress liberty and keep the Blacks down, because having a rope doesn’t do you much good if the other guy has a gun.

                …the problem isn’t gun control, but the oppression of the minority group?

                Sure. But who is going to help the minority group? The gov (largely controlled by racist whites), or Blacks themselves?

                The Racist South is an example of the misuse of gov power which went on for almost a century. You’re insisting that giving the (highly racist) gov the ability and authority to take away guns is going to make things better?

                What type of gun control is going to disarm a KKK member whose day job is being a cop? Why are we supposed to think that he’s going to disarm his racist fellows? Strict gun control in this situation takes guns away from Blacks but not politically connected Whites.

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                • Taking away guns won’t make racism better.
                  Adding more guns won’t make racism better either.

                  Guns aren’t some magical tool that sets things right.
                  All guns do is make confrontations more deadly.

                  It seems like its the fantasy of gun owners, whereby the criminal/ Klan member somehow is armed with nothing but a rope, and the victim magically produces a gun and turns the tables.

                  Except outside of fantasy, that never happens. In any scenario where the victim is armed, the aggressor will almost surely be.

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                  • Well, now that the Republicans have the house, the senate, the White House, presumably the Supreme Court, and a supermajority of governorships and more than half of the legislatures of the states, we can really lean into how we need gun control and the people who think we don’t are living in a fantasy world.

                    (For what it’s worth, I think that somewhere between 2020 and 2028 is your last shot at a centrally controlled Utopia. Better start doing groundwork now.)

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                        • Honestly, I see the pendulum swinging back pretty hard in the next decade or so. You’ll have a shot at getting the glorious gun controlled future you daydream about.

                          But not if you continue to fail to see the cultural differences that exist between your bubble and their bubble.

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                          • If there are cultural reasons for carrying a gun everywhere we go, lets hear them.

                            Like, a Sikh who carries a ceremonial dagger everywhere, or a military dress uniform that has a sword,.
                            Sure, I can see that,.

                            Is that what is being stated here?

                            Because what I am hearing is “its a dangerous world filled with murderous psychopaths and I need to carry a gun everywhere in case a crazed lunatic shows up at Starbucks

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                          • Honestly, I see the pendulum swinging back pretty hard in the next decade or so. You’ll have a shot at getting the glorious gun controlled future you daydream about.

                            I think that’ll depend on how badly the Trump GOP fucks thinks up.

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                            • Go back to 2006 and 2008.

                              Imagine saying “Man… how in the hell could Obama and the Democrats screw this up? And even if they do screw it up a little, how much damage could they do *REALLY*?”

                              2016 is the answer.

                              I suppose “Meh, Trump and the GOP will muddle through but they won’t do *THAT* much damage” is a very real possibility. Let’s hope for that, I guess.

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                              • I don’t think Trump(ism) is a backlash against Obama screwups as much as backlash against “institutional thinking” and “establishment politics”, some of which is very clearly focused on liberals/Dems (identity politics, institutional corruption, THE ACA!!!, etc) but some of which is also directed at the GOP, for similar reasons.

                                Short of a Trump/GOP disaster, I think the pendulum swing back the Dems will require the Dems to have adopted a new ideological approach to politics and policy. I’m not sure what that will look like. But if Trump actually IS a disaster, Dems won’t have to change a damn thing to regain control of national level politics as well as – perhaps! – make inroads at the state and local level.

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                                • “the Dems to have adopted a new ideological approach to politics and policy. I’m not sure what that will look like. But if Trump actually IS a disaster, Dems won’t have to change a damn thing to regain control of national level politics as well as – perhaps! – make inroads at the state and local level.”

                                  I don’t want Trump to be a disaster because I don’t want the nation to suffer first and foremost. I welcome a Democrat return to power but would prefer they earn it then BY DEFAULT. The Dems need to reflect and renew regardless.

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                                  • One option is that the Dems obstruct the GOP along the exact same lines that the GOP has obstructed Dems during the Obama Presidency to maximize political leverage and play the long game.

                                    Another option is that the Dems, irrespective of national level obstruction, change their policy priorities etc. to become more competitive nationally, and thereby play the short game.

                                    A third option is that some Dem Senators vote to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, and cut federal revenue while massively increasing spending, etc and so on, and decide to play Trump’s game.

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                                • Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

                                  But I think part of the “Whats The Matter With Kansas?” syndrome where union members in Michigan vote republican, is that the Republicans have never been in a position to actually do what they have always muttered about privately, i.e., destroy Medicare and Social Security.

                                  That is, they have never been in a position to really screw over the white working class who love those programs. Bush tried in 2005 but had the political savvy to read the signals.

                                  Kansas itself is worth watching, as the effects of Reagan economics hit with full force.

                                  When Trump signs a bill cutting off Joe The Plumber’s Medicare and access to insurance, the results will be interesting.

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                              • Imagine saying “Man… how in the hell could Obama and the Democrats screw this up?

                                I think lots of people did, actually. Palinism was on the rise not because of anything Obama (or the GOP, for that matter) did wrong*, but because the interests of large swaths of the electorate had changed. Those folks increasingly rejected the political-institutional structures upon which each party in a two party system conducted politics and policy.

                                *on a certain conception of “wrong” anyway. I look at this election more as a paradigm shift than an internal critique. That’s why I think the Dems are in more trouble than the GOP (well, obviously, given electoral representation, but also ideologically)

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                                • The Tea Party was around for approximately 3 minutes before the political-institutional structures co-opted it.

                                  Trump was something the political-institutional structures was unwilling to co-opt.

                                  Oh, boy. This is going to have one hell of a feedback loop.

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                  • In any scenario where the victim is armed, the aggressor will almost surely be.

                    True.

                    All guns do is make confrontations more deadly.

                    More deadly than hanging by a rope?

                    12 guys with hoods, ropes, and guns show up on your doorstep.

                    Why are you better off if you’re unarmed?

                    If the guys in hoods are the only ones armed, then all they have to be willing to do is kill. If everyone is armed then everyone is in danger and the guys in hoods also have to be willing to die.

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                    • You offer two choices, being a tiny outnumbered minority armed against a mob, and being a tiny outnumbered minority unarmed against a mob.

                      You can’t think of other options we should be pursuing?

                      I mean, if this is your assessment of society, I think it just reaffirms my point about how the underlying fear and mistrust is the really issue, not the guns themselves.

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                      • You offer two choices, being a tiny outnumbered minority armed against a mob, and being a tiny outnumbered minority unarmed against a mob. You can’t think of other options we should be pursuing?

                        Sure, lots of other options. Lots of things have failed in our example.

                        But I don’t see how we can ethically say to someone who is in that situation, “You’re better off without a gun. Yes, you’re going to die without a chance to defend yourself, but our feelings are more important than your safety.”

                        I mean, if this is your assessment of society, I think it just reaffirms my point about how the underlying fear and mistrust is the really issue, not the guns themselves.

                        How often are mass murder and riots in the news?

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                        • But I don’t see how we can ethically say to someone who is in that situation, “You’re better off without a gun. Yes, you’re going to die without a chance to defend yourself,

                          Well, if twelve people show up at their door with intent to kill, then that person’s being armed doesn’t mean a damn thing. THey’re gonna die.

                          On the other hand, why are we focusing on an example where twelve people show up at a person’s door to kill them? If things have gotten that bad – that each of us should be legitimately fearful of TWELVE PEOPLE SHOWING UP AT OUR DOOR WITH INTENT TO KILL – then we should be rethinking the society we live in, yeah? Or our own behavior.

                          Or is this a race to the bottom?

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                          • Well, if ten people show up at their door with intent to kill, then that person’s being armed doesn’t mean a damn thing. They’re gonna die.

                            Finding ten who are willing to abuse or kill someone else is MUCH easier than finding ten who are willing to die to accomplish that. That’s one reason why 911 was such a shock.

                            On the other hand, why are we focusing on an example where ten people show up at a person’s door to kill them? If things have gotten that bad – that each of us should be legitimately fearful of TEN PEOPLE SHOWING UP AT OUR DOOR WITH INTENT TO KILL – then we should be rethinking the society we live in, yeah?

                            Perhaps you’d prefer one killer in a “gun free” bar who kills 50(ish) and wounds another 50(ish)?

                            As for “rethinking society”, I think we’d need to eliminate ISIS, reinterpret a holy book, cure everyone with mental illness, and maybe do something about who can be elected President.

                            If you have a different, more realistic plan, by all means put it on the table.

                            Edit: Add to that list ending the war on drugs.

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                            • Dark, I’m just wondering why you think our policy decisions should be constructed around wildly improbable events. Sure, I’ve seen Clint Eastwood movies where he’s outgunned and kills a dozen people to save his ass. I’m just not convinced that THAT is the cultural or policy norm we should be basing our decisions on. Seems to me that acting as if at any moment twelve people could show up at our door with intent to kill suggests to me that those particular people need to calm the fuck down and act more decently.

                              And ISIS? Really? (You just lost the argument right there, bro.)

                              What’s the old saying? “If you think that everyone you meet in the course of your day is an asshole, then you’re the asshole.” Something like that, anyway.

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                              • Stillwater,
                                Glad to hear you think that Fayette County is wildly improbable.
                                Seriously, this sounds like folks don’t get out to the country very much.
                                (I have had relatives get run off of their farm, in that very gentlemanly, and still quite serious way the southerners do).

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                              • Dark, I’m just wondering why you think our policy decisions should be constructed around wildly improbable events.

                                You’re either narrowing the usefulness of a gun to “10 guys on my door” or you’re ignoring that these “wildly improbably events” show up in the news several times a year.

                                And ISIS? Really? (You just lost the argument right there, bro.)

                                We just had an ISIS thug kill 50 people in a gun-free gay bar. The FBI has his computer(s), he didn’t wipe them, they think he wasn’t gay or conflicted about his sexuality. His motivation was apparently exactly what he claimed at the time.

                                The concept that gun control could possibly have kept weapons out of his hands is absurd, he used them professionally and had months or years to plan. But a group of hundreds of 20-40 year old men? Some of them were former or active military/law-enforcement or whatever. We can only speculate if any of them would have being carrying if it weren’t a gun free zone.

                                What’s the old saying? “If you think that everyone you meet in the course of your day is an asshole, then you’re the asshole.”

                                So because I’m pointing out that these situations Exist, I must be trying to claim that Everyone is in them All the time? Straw man much?

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                                • I think that this points out why gun discussions are so difficult.
                                  They are rooted in radically different ways of looking at society and our relationship to it.

                                  The view being expressed here is one I really just can’t wrap my head around.

                                  The view of government, and of our fellow citizens is so dark, so filled with malevolence and distrust, I can’t see how its adoption could lead to anything productive or beneficial.

                                  I mean, if I were to attend a get together of OT commenters- should I bring a gun in case I need to shoot Jaybird?

                                  Should I assume Kazzy might suddenly lunge at me with a knife?

                                  Should I pack a AR-15 to gun down the cops if they arrive to confiscate someone’s marijuana?

                                  If this sounds crazy to you, this is what it sounds like to me when people assure me how reasonable it is that they carry a gun to Walmart and keep it at home to defend against the government.

                                  I just don’t get it.

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                                  • I mean, if I were to attend a get together of OT commenters- should I bring a gun in case I need to shoot Jaybird?

                                    Unless Jaybird has a history of insanity or radicalism, probably this is pointless.

                                    If this sounds crazy to you, this is what it sounds like to me when people assure me how reasonable it is that they carry a gun to Walmart

                                    Fire last year killed about 2,650 people. Fire alarms aren’t perfect but I have them. I have fire insurance. I’m careful how I use fire. I’d think you’d be nuts to insist that fire can’t possibly be a problem anywhere.

                                    The number of homicides last year was about 15,809, or roughly 6x as bad as fire.

                                    Not only are you insisting that it can’t happen to you, but you’re also insisting that it can’t happen to me. That I don’t live in an area where drug dealing is a problem, that there’s no nest of radicals in the town, that none of my daughters will ever have a stalker, etc.

                                    If that’s you’re claim, then imho you’d be right. I don’t own a gun because imho it’d add more risk than it’d take away.

                                    However, that really should be a personal choice. If one of my daughters picks up a stalker ex-boyfriend, then I may change my mind on carrying. And the people I know who do carry are ex-military, ex-law enforcement, and active hunters. If I had a livestyle which already included having guns around the house, then maybe I’d be carrying.

                                    Let’s reverse the question. What do you say to someone who is living in one of these exceptional situations? Say a woman being stalked whose stalker was arrested in her neighbourhood with a rape kit? Should she have a “dark” view of society and carry, or is she better off (being forced to) not having a gun?

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                                    • What do you say to someone who is living in one of these exceptional situations?

                                      For someone who is living in an exceptional situation, exceptional measures apply.

                                      You do realize, that I live in downtown LA, 3 blocks from Skid Row?
                                      And we regularly take walks along the streets, in fact my wife just walked to MacArthur Park to go shopping, alone and unarmed?
                                      And we leave our apartment door and windows unlocked, 24/7?

                                      I just don’t have the same sense of danger and menace that gun toters do.

                                      For me, this is important. I don’t believe that any society can be civilized or cohesive without a sense of security and safety and trust in each other.

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                                        • The wifeinak and i are going out to dinner in a few. As i repeat various macarthur park song lyrics she is going to look at me like A) I’m weird B) I’m just being myself or C) all the above. Good long term relationships have their advantages.

                                          In related news Glen Campbell has a good version of the song. Not a surprise. Gotta listen to the Donna Summer version after dinner.

                                          Like a striped pair of pants

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                                        • Compare

                                          One doesn’t need to be afraid of fire in order to have fire insurance.

                                          To: One doesn’t need to be afraid of fire in order to carry a concealed fire extinguisher with them at all times.

                                          Or: One doesn’t need to be afraid of getting shot to have life insurance.

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                                          • One doesn’t need to be afraid of fire in order to carry a concealed fire extinguisher with them at all times.

                                            You are the one trying to claim all people who are carrying are doing so because of fear, a dark view of reality, a misunderstanding of reality, and so forth.

                                            Thus far you’ve offered nothing to back up this claim other than Telepathy and a lack of understanding of the mindset. My expectation is that you’ve never actually talked to people who carry to find out what/how they think, whether they understand the odds and so forth. As far as I can tell, fundamentally it’s a gift to you and me. Their insurance may help others.

                                            If you’re serious about society needing to trust everyone, then trust that they know more about firearms than you do and understand that they’re lugging around a piece of metal that they’ll probably never use.

                                            We can talk about the events you claim never happen when they’re less in the headline news.

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                                    • Fire last year killed about 2,650 people. Fire alarms aren’t perfect but I have them. I have fire insurance. I’m careful how I use fire. I’d think you’d be nuts to insist that fire can’t possibly be a problem anywhere.

                                      The number of homicides last year was about 15,809, or roughly 6x as bad as fire.

                                      So you should be careful with guns and insist that everyone around you is careful as well. The analogy to “There are lots of gun deaths so I should go armed” is “There are lots of burnings, so I should carry a flamethrower.”

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                                  • It’s insurance, just like carrying jumper cables or a can of fix a flat when I go to wal mart.

                                    Oddly, you see in the media all the time where folks kill each other all the time over trifling things. So your vision of everyone holding hands and singing together is BS.

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                                    • So your vision of everyone holding hands and singing together is BS.

                                      You have correctly read my vision.

                                      Yep, in all seriousness, my vision of America runs to Bedford Falls, Hill Valley, and Mayberry, rendered thru Normal Rockwell, improved where needed with an inclusiveness and generosity of spirit.

                                      Places where the cops are friendly servants of the people, where everyone knows each other and feels a kinship of citizenship and everyone carries a sense of belonging.

                                      It is both entirely possible and achievable, and all that is lacking is the confidence in ourselves and each other.

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                                • Dark,

                                  You’re talking about the 1% doctrine.

                                  If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.

                                  Which struck me as effing insane back then, and equally so in this context.

                                  BUT!, Cheney seemed to think it made sense…

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                                • No worries Dark, not everyone lives in a socialistic inclined bubble where the default is to hand over whatever means of protection to social bureaucracy.

                                  This is another reason to bring up the idea that some people operate under social constructs and some operate under individual constructs. The other side will always look negative.

                                  The really piss poor part about it is the social constructors control policy, so every X amount of years we will have some major problems. The thing they don’t tell you about the ten men showing up at the door, is that they will be part of a social construct, probably under oath, probably there by written law.

                                  The only limiting factor to socialism is to show it enough of it’s own blood pooling on the ground.

                                  There is some really neglected math going on also. None of the social folks appear to be able to add all the enforcement/military agents and compare that to the other armed portion of the nation.

                                  Hell the social guys don’t even have enough of a head count to pass for a night-watchman state.

                                  ;)

                                  There really isn’t much point jousting against (most!) social constructs folks, they start at ‘all men are social animals’ and disregard that some people live by a different set of parameters. They start at having already claimed social objectivity, social justice, and pretty much think they own the world on those grounds.

                                  The maypole is well traveled but I wish you better luck than I had.

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                                • We just had an ISIS thug kill 50 people in a gun-free gay bar.

                                  This I don’t understand.

                                  Suppose we had twenty gun carrying guys at the bar. Are we to suppose that they would be able to react, pinpoint who the shooter is, and take him off WITHOUT hitting any of the scores of innocent patrons surrounding the gallant gun carrying heroes.

                                  People really watch too many CGI enhanced movies. In real life, the twenty gallant heroes would just add to the carnage.

                                  The only scenario I can imagine gallant gun carrying heroes can take out a sniper is the classic water tower one. We victims are all here, and the bad man is up there, alone, and way over the heads of innocent bystanders.

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                                  • Suppose we had twenty gun carrying guys at the bar. Are we to suppose that they would be able to react, pinpoint who the shooter is, and take him off WITHOUT hitting any of the scores of innocent patrons surrounding the gallant gun carrying heroes.

                                    So you’re saying it’s better to let the bad guy shoot 100 people rather than risk an innocent or two getting hit in a cross fire?

                                    If every one of those twenty had accidentally shot four innocent people, the body count still would have been less than the reality, and people wouldn’t have been left bleeding for hours waiting for the authorities.

                                    As the people in the bar watched the shooter reload for the 10th time, they probably didn’t turn to each other and say “Think about how much worse it’d be if some of us were armed!

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                                    • Just going on for the fun of it….

                                      “If every one of those twenty had accidentally shot four innocent people, the body count stil would….”

                                      Because, of course, all of the twenty will magically know that the other nineteen good shooters are all fighting the lone bad ISIS guy together. At no time would they think that any of their nineteen co-heroes might be a second, third, fourth, …., nineteenth, twentieth, ISIS shooter, and start shooting at each other in all directions.

                                      No, that won’t happen. I guess they were all wearing white cowboy hats or something.

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                                      • Because, of course, all of the twenty will magically know that the other nineteen good shooters are all fighting the lone bad ISIS guy together. At no time would they think that any of their nineteen co-heroes might be a second, third, fourth, …., nineteenth, twentieth, ISIS shooter, and start shooting at each other in all directions.

                                        If I don’t get to assume some Clint Eastwood movie, then you don’t get to assume the keystone cops.

                                        Not all of the 20 will be there, they certainly don’t have the ammo to reload many multiples of times, and they’ll probably think the bad guy is the one deliberately mowing down unarmed people.

                                        And the default situation without them is really, really nasty. Saying it will kill someone, or even a dozen people, is still an improvement.

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                                        • I doubt they will feel great

                                          “Yes, I got three or four bystanders down with friendly fire, but at the end I got the bad guy, so I’m not overtly concerned about the other ones I killed. Even if I had hit a dozen people, is still an improvement”

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                                          • I doubt they will feel great. “Yes, I got three or four bystanders down with friendly fire, but at the end I got the bad guy, so I’m not overtly concerned about the other ones I killed. Even if I had hit a dozen people, is still an improvement”

                                            True. They’ll also have legal problems since the system only covers for police in “friendly fire”. For that matter they’d probably still feel horrible even if they only shoot the active shooter.

                                            But the other realistic option on the table is 100 people shot.

                                            Facing up to that is grim, but not facing up to it is looking at the world with rose filtered glasses.

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                                            • Facing up to that is grim, but not facing up to it is looking at the world with rose filtered glasses.

                                              Then arm up Dark. I don’t think anyone has argued that you don’t have the right to do so. That’s a personal decision. What people object to (seems to me) is your advocacy that the solution to the problem of gun violence is more gunz. (Yikes!)

                                              Not to mention what’s been repeated throughout this thread: that your “arm up!!” advocacy is based on incredibly rare events and a notably “dark” conception of society.

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                                              • What people object to (seems to me) is your advocacy that the solution to the problem of gun violence is more gunz.

                                                “Gun violence” stats are dominated by suicide and the war on drugs, neither of which seems likely to yield to a gun control solution (unless you count changing suicide-by-gun to suicide-by-something-else as a victory).

                                                The underlying “advocacy” which people are arguing for, and I’m objecting to, is that a gun in the hands of a good person is every bit as much of a problem as a gun in the hands of an active shooter.

                                                To be fair, some argued that “guns + alcohol is bad” which is at least passes some sanity test, but all too often I’ve seen the “more guns=bad” line of thought extended to “people are safer if they’re unarmed, even if there is an active shooter (or lynch mob) trying to kill them”, and we saw hints of that argument at various times here.

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                                                • Gun violence” stats are dominated by suicide and the war on drugs, neither of which seems likely to yield to a gun control solution (unless you count changing suicide-by-gun to suicide-by-something-else as a victory).

                                                  Actually, since many suicides are a spur of the moment thing, and many people that run into troubles to kill themselves then and there tend to not kill themselves after all, yes, not having ready access to a gun will reduce the total number of suicides significantly.

                                                  (Same reason why fencing bridges with wire mesh reduces total suicides)

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                                                  • Actually, since many suicides are a spur of the moment thing, and many people that run into troubles to kill themselves then and there tend to not kill themselves after all, yes, not having ready access to a gun will reduce the total number of suicides significantly.

                                                    There’s an intuitive attractiveness to this line of thought, but I doubt it’s long term utility. A country’s suicide rates isn’t related to its level of gun control. The reality is we’re surrounded by things (ropes, cars, knives, plastic bags, harsh chemicals) which can kill us.

                                                    There are deep cultural (symbolism) factors here. In our culture, we have the whole gun=death thing. Removing guns or whatever symbol is dominate at the moment might help for a while but some other symbol would rise to replace it.

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                                  • Suppose we had twenty gun carrying guys at the bar….

                                    While carrying under the influence is not a crime in Florida — using the weapon under the influence is, with an exception for self-defense — I am disinclined to frequent a bar alongside twenty gun-carrying people who are allowed to drink all they want. As my uncle the Green Beret was known to say, frequently, “Guns and alcohol are a really bad combination.”

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                                    • [sarcasm] You have to weight the odds properly. What for instance are the odds of a gun carrying drunk person entering into a fight with someone else? So close to zero we can even imagine. Now compare those with the very large odds of ISIS attacking my bar.

                                      Any sane, reasonable, person will be so much safer with twenty intoxicated gun carrying individuals in the bar any night of the week. Twice as safe on Saturdays (Fridays are ok because ISIS doesn’t work on Fridays).[endsarcasm]

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                                  • @j_a
                                    The only scenario I can imagine gallant gun carrying heroes can take out a sniper is the classic water tower one. We victims are all here, and the bad man is up there, alone, and way over the heads of innocent bystanders.

                                    Well, that situation is indeed friendly-fire proof, but the ‘heroes’ aren’t going to help much. Trying to use handguns to kill someone who is in a sniping perch high above you is a pretty difficult task. (Unless the theory is that everyone is walking around with *rifles*.)

                                    Assuming that there is some sort of *concealed* path to the sniper, like he’s in a belltower or something, the ‘heroes’ might be able to go after him…but probably should just wait for the police and work on warning people away.

                                    And note it’s pretty easy for the shooter to have barricaded doors and ladders and things, or set up noisy booby-traps that warn him someone is coming.

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                            • Dark Matter,
                              Problem is, guns don’t work well defensively. People should stop trying to say that one can use a gun as a defensive tool.

                              You want me to stop a shooter in a bar? Fine. But give me a sonic weapon. Give me a smoke grenade. Give me something other than a weapon that I have to know where the fucking shooter is. And have decent aim, on top of it.

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                              • You want me to stop a shooter in a bar? Fine. But give me a sonic weapon.

                                I think we run into the issue of “money” on that one.

                                It wouldn’t surprise me if technology eventually changes the debate by introducing new options or making existing ones cheaper… but we’re not there yet.

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                                • Dark,
                                  Sonic weapons aren’t all that costly (my friend got Klipsch to downgrade their maximum volume by submitting a “this is how to make a sonic weapon out of your speakers” blueprint). Portable sonic weapons are a bit more, but really, it’s just a matter of a decently sized explosion.

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                          • Stillwater,
                            You’d be surprised what a decent defensive fortress can do against bullets. I wouldn’t be surprised if one trained person couldn’t hold off 12 people with guns. (Of course, given the choice, I’d rather have some dynamite or grenades inside…)

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                • The purpose and history of gun control in that era was to suppress liberty and keep the Blacks down, because having a rope doesn’t do you much good if the other guy has a gun.

                  Have you forgotten what happened the few times blacks *did* have guns in that era? I talked about it last time.

                  A black guy shoots at a white mob, they burn that house down. Then white people read about this in the newspaper and travel there to have a goddamn race riot over the next month and burn the entire town down.

                  You’re insisting that giving the (highly racist) gov the ability and authority to take away guns is going to make things better?

                  Three points:

                  1) You seem to be imagining that if we set some sort of principle *now*, that, in the future, if the US because super-racist and fascist, that principle will *hold*. That they will be unable to alter that principle.

                  This…doesn’t make a lot sense.

                  If the US government is super-racist, it is, presumable, that way *because the majority of people want that*. And if the majority of people do not want minorities to have guns, they will figure out a way for that to happen.

                  2) You also appear to be ignoring the fact the government *does* have the authority to take away guns, of minorities, and is doing it right now, by simply keeping guns away from felons. And it’s pretty easy to make minorities into felons with selective enforcement of the laws, especially if you can constantly hit them with fines they cannot pay and then arrest them for lack of payment.

                  3) You’d think, if this was actually the logic, the *absolutely most important thing* for the anti-gun-control movement would be to stop police from shooting black people with guns. Not even pretend guns, but *actual* guns. Because right now, the police have effectively outlawed black people possessing handguns, because they are, essentially, threatening to shoot them randomly if they do.

                  Somehow…this doesn’t seem to be on the radar.

                  Also not on the radar: Black people shooting racist cops in self defense and not going to jail. You know, the *exact thing* you seem to think gun laws are for? (That specific thing doesn’t even work for *white people*.)

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                  • Have you forgotten what happened the few times blacks *did* have guns in that era? I talked about it last time. A black guy shoots at a white mob, they burn that house down. Then white people read about this in the newspaper and travel there to have a goddamn race riot over the next month and burn the entire town down.

                    What you mean is “a” black had “a” gun, and the rest of the town enjoyed your gun free utopia.

                    You seem to be imagining that if we set some sort of principle *now*, that, in the future, if the US because super-racist and fascist, that principle will *hold*. That they will be unable to alter that principle.

                    Disarming a population where guns are common is much harder than disarming one where guns are rare.

                    if the majority of people do not want minorities to have guns, they will figure out a way for that to happen.

                    This would be a starkly clear sign that it’s time to get out.

                    And it’s pretty easy to make minorities into felons with selective enforcement of the laws

                    And you think anti-gun laws won’t be selectively enforced?

                    You’d think, if this was actually the logic, the *absolutely most important thing* for the anti-gun-control movement would be to stop police from shooting black people with guns. Not even pretend guns, but *actual* guns. Because right now, the police have effectively outlawed black people possessing handguns, because they are, essentially, threatening to shoot them randomly if they do.

                    The entire police situation is less clear than you’re trying to imply.
                    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/upshot/surprising-new-evidence-shows-bias-in-police-use-of-force-but-not-in-shootings.html

                    http://www.dailywire.com/news/7347/7-statistics-show-systemic-racism-doesnt-exist-aaron-bandler

                    However even taking it at face value, I think the NRA has some awareness that they want to arm black males. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/spencer-critchley/nras-top-priority-arming-_b_3596576.html

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                    • What you mean is “a” black had “a” gun, and the rest of the town enjoyed your gun free utopia.

                      Yes, the best way to stop white people imagining that black people are having a race riot and shooting white people en-mass (Instead of just the one actual shooting) in a nearby town, resulting in them pouring into said town to burn it down is….is for black people to start *actually* shooting at the white people.

                      I’m sure that would have calmed everything down.

                      Is your theory that the population of a small, mostly black town could have *taken over the country*? If not, your premise really doesn’t make any sense.

                      Disarming a population where guns are common is much harder than disarming one where guns are rare.

                      Authoritarian governments don’t need to disarm ‘the population’. There is no reason to do that. Authoritarian governments almost always govern with the consent of the majority.

                      They will enact laws allowing them to disarm the small group of malcontents. (Both majority and minority.)

                      Having non-governmental forces have guns is actually *useful*, because authoritarian often try to co-opt *civilians* into violence against the disliked group. In fact, that works pretty well if *everyone* has guns, then you have *both* violence the government can’t be criticized for, and then when the out-group starts defending themselves, the government cracks down on them.

                      Seriously, I can’t even *follow* how the right thinks authoritarian government works. They seem to think it’s, like, some sort of *invasion*, like it collects an army somewhere and marches into town and seizes control.

                      Newsflash: The government *already* controls your town. (It also, despite what those Jade Helm people think, also controls Texas.) It doesn’t need to do *anything*. Why would it?

                      Authoritarian governments do not *invade* their own country. The government *becomes* authoritarian either by election or by coup, and *everything remains the same for 90% of the people*. Authoritarian governments just pick some group to decide are the enemy.

                      And, honestly, this inability to understand exactly how this works is starting to piss me off, considering who we just elected. We’re not *at* authoritarianism yet, but we’re *very clearly* moving in that direction, and it’s goddamn right that’s doing it.

                      They don’t get to make up nonsense about ‘We’re going to fight the government off with our guns!’ at the same time they’re demanding the government monitor specific religious groups, and run around demanding that political opponents be locked up. The first thing has nothing to do with authoritarianism…and the others are literally defining *hallmarks* of it.

                      The entire police situation is less clear than you’re trying to imply.

                      The article I can read there is a whole bunch of gibber-gabber right wing nonsense, including things like talking about how likely blacks are to be shot by other blacks, and trying compare the percentage of black people subject to strop and frisk to the percentage of violent criminals, which doesn’t even make sense.

                      The main actual point in that is, from what I can tell, is that *when police officers are in a simulated environment*, they get hesitant against shooting black people. Which, uh, is equally likely that they *know* they’re biased, and they *know* they’re being watched, so have decided to stop and think before reacting when it’s a black person.

                      However even taking it at face value, I think the NRA has some awareness that they want to arm black males.

                      LOL. That article is not saying what the NRA *is* doing, it is satirically presenting it *as* the next logical thing the NRA should do. It’s making exactly the same point I am, that if the purpose of the NRA is to fight against the government deciding to kill innocent people, it’s black people who need the guns, and it’s black people the police need to stop shooting because it appears they can’t legally carry guns…and yet, somehow, that’s not what the NRA seems to care about.

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                      • Yes, the best way to stop white people imagining that black people are having a race riot and shooting white people en-mass (Instead of just the one actual shooting) in a nearby town, resulting in them pouring into said town to burn it down is….is for black people to start *actually* shooting at the white people.

                        So you’re claiming that the old South Blacks, faced with the KKK, were better off disarmed and helpless?

                        We’re not *at* authoritarianism yet, but we’re *very clearly* moving in that direction, and it’s goddamn right that’s doing it.

                        The Right only opposes increasing the size of gov when they’re not in power. The Left only opposes the Imperial Presidency when they’re not in power.

                        The first thing has nothing to do with authoritarianism…and the others are literally defining *hallmarks* of it.

                        Using the IRS to repress political opponents hits the radar as a step in the wrong direction, ditto not holding arms of the gov accountable for things like that. Similarly making laws so complex that literally everyone is guilty of something also seems like a bad idea.

                        Expanding gov and gov complexity are steps towards authoritarianism by themselves.

                        The main actual point in that is, from what I can tell, is that *when police officers are in a simulated environment*, they get hesitant against shooting black people.

                        And we’ve got that black economist who wanted to support BLM with his study, and found that adjusted for situation they’re not dying disproportionally. If it’s not racism driving this then, after the police force is remade so they’re proven to be not racist, the number of deaths won’t go down much or at all. The overall situation is horrible, it’s driving all of this, and if we’re not fixing that then we’re wasting everyone’s time and leaving people suffering.

                        and yet, somehow, that’s not what the NRA seems to care about.

                        As far as I can tell, politicians in black controlled areas get elected by supporting gun control.

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                        • So you’re claiming that the old South Blacks, faced with the KKK, were better off disarmed and helpless?

                          I am claiming there is no possible way that firearms could have made their situation better. (Erm, in defense, obviously. I mean, maybe hunting would have helped them economically.)

                          You *also* seem unable to actually explain the useful outcome you think guns would have resulted in. Seizing and maintaining territory? Overthrowing the entire state government? (And presumably nearby ones?)

                          Please state, *specifically*, what you think could have happened if enough black people had guns at that time.

                          The Right only opposes increasing the size of gov when they’re not in power. The Left only opposes the Imperial Presidency when they’re not in power.

                          Authoritarianism is charactorized by some very specific things. The Wikipedia page is useful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authoritarianism
                          1) limited political pluralism; that is, such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups;
                          2) a basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat “easily recognizable societal problems” such as underdevelopment or insurgency;
                          3) minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity;
                          4) informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.

                          First, as I’ve said repeatedly, over and over, here, the size of the government has very little to do with how authoritarian the government is. (*Totalitarian* governments, OTOH, attempt to make the government be everything (Hence the name) so have to be big.)

                          And while it is possible to somehow wedge ‘the imperial presidency’ into *being* the fourth trait of authoritarianism, in reality most of what the Democrats *and* the Republicans actually do that is called ‘imperial presidency’ are meddling with *internal* government stuff, and, perhaps more important, *could be stopped* if legislators would bother. 90% of ‘imperial presidency’ stuff is just ‘the president is getting the executive branch to do something that it wasn’t given the power to do, but is not specifically illegal’.

                          (There were a few iffy ‘national security’ thing Bush that did try to *ignore* specific existing laws, but there were really very few of those.)

                          Trump, meanwhile, *started* with #2, and seems be very #4 also (For example, he seems to think it’s up to him if Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted.) The others can’t really start until he’s in office, although threatening to sue journalists seems like it fits under #1.

                          Using the IRS to repress political opponents hits the radar as a step in the wrong direction, ditto not holding arms of the gov accountable for things like that. Similarly making laws so complex that literally everyone is guilty of something also seems like a bad idea.

                          Dude, you realize that *claiming* that the people the IRS targeted were ‘political opponents’ *literally makes what those people did a crime*, right? Those groups *were not supposed to be political groups*.

                          A few years ago, the IRS was hit with a flood a preclearence requests for 501(c)(3)s that sounded political, *mostly* conservative, but with a few liberal ones.

                          The IRS investigated them based on stupid criteria, like looking at their names and seeing if those names sounded political. (Again, both left and right sounding.) Yes, this was a stupid way to select groups, but stupid is not the same as criminal.

                          The Republican Congress repeatedly demanded that the IRS talk about the *conservative* groups it was investigating, thus creating the idea that it was *only* conservative groups.

                          And, again, in reality, you aren’t really *allowed* to be a political 501(c)(3) anyway.

                          No one investigated anyone’s political opponents (Which shouldn’t have been those groups to start with) and the president didn’t order it.

                          Expanding gov and gov complexity are steps towards authoritarianism by themselves.

                          No they are not.

                          And we’ve got that black economist who wanted to support BLM with his study, and found that adjusted for situation they’re not dying disproportionally. If it’s not racism driving this then, after the police force is remade so they’re proven to be not racist, the number of deaths won’t go down much or at all. The overall situation is horrible, it’s driving all of this, and if we’re not fixing that then we’re wasting everyone’s time and leaving people suffering.

                          By ‘adjusted for stituations’, you mean ‘Black people are more likely to be criminals, so the police *should* be shooting more of them’.

                          Now, I’m going to be charitable and choose to believe you *didn’t actually understand* that was what the article was saying, but please stop pretending that gibberish and racist article has any claim to truth at all.

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