Gun Laws – Over My Dead Body!

By: hawkgrrrl
February 22, 2011

Today is another joint post by jmb275 and Hawkgrrrl.  This time, it’s a topic on which the two of us generally disagree:  guns.  Hawkgrrrl thinks most people who want guns are exactly the people who shouldn’t have them, and  jmb275 - well, loves his guns.  Read on to see what we think and to compare with what you think.

Hawkgrrrl:  I suppose most of my feeling stems from my dad having had a gun in the house when I was a kid, and me being freaked out by that.

jmb275:  Yeah, we’ve got lots of guns in the house.  I have 3, my dad has, oh, I dunno, 15 or so.  Of course they’re all either in gun safes or have locks on them.

Hawkgrrrl:  I think if you want to kill someone, you should have to do it the old fashioned way.  You need to get your hands dirty.  You should have to look a person in the eye, as the light slowly fades out.  Guns make it too neat and removed.  I could probably shoot someone with a gun, but I couldn’t, say, step on their neck until they died.  I think guns are why we got Hiroshima.  We get too removed from the killing, and it seems more like a strategy or a number – too high level to be accountable for it.
jmb275:  I actually think this is a very valid point.  Same thing holds for bombs, missiles, and more recently drones.  Here are a few counterpoints:
  1. At some point we have to realize that with the good comes the bad.  We wouldn’t have nuclear fusion without knowing how to make hydrogen bombs.  We wouldn’t have automated robotics without knowing how to build wartime drones.  We wouldn’t have explosive chemicals without knowing how to make guns.  All these things can be used for good or evil.  Many of the greatest things that save lives and promote peace are the same tools that kill and promote violence.
  2. Being removed from the killing has an upside in that we reduce our risk of being killed. (Though I would be much happier if we weren’t a warring species and didn’t have to have this conversation in the first place).
  3. Though you may dislike guns, in general, it’s all we have as citizens to protect ourselves from our gov’t.  I am one of those old school peeps who thinks that we ought to have some leverage over our ever-increasing gov’t.  If our right to gun ownership is taken away we become defenseless (though perhaps even with guns we are defenseless against our advanced professional military).
  4. I like my guns!!
Seriously, though, this is a very good point you bring up.  I have always felt that guns were not the problem, people are the problem.  Guns do make it easier to kill, but so does drain-o and fertilizer!
Hawkgrrrl:  Your point on #3 brings me to another reason I don’t like guns:  because paranoid nut jobs want them (present company excluded).  The fact that people still think they might need to rise up against the government to keep a domestic governmental intrustion at bay just sounds barking mad to me. 
jmb275:  Seems like a bit of a rash generalization. There are millions of gun enthusiasts who aren’t paranoid who want access to guns for hunting and recreation, and there are millions of paranoid nut jobs who don’t want to kill people. The population of the earth is increasing, and there are bound to be more (in quantity not percentage) nut jobs. I think the key to dealing with nut jobs is to address the nut jobs, not to take away everything from everyone with which they might hurt themselves or others.  
Hawkgrrrl:  In serious, though, the fact that people still think they might need to rise up against the government to keep a domestic governmental intrustion at bay just sounds barking mad to me.  It was a very prevalent attitude in the early years of this country, and it now seems quaint and out-of-touch to me.
jmb275:  This feels like a “we’re so enlightened now that we couldn’t possibly have an oppressive gov’t which we would have to overthrow.” I can’t help but wonder if the folks across the pond thought similarly in the late 1700′s. Given the past 100 years and the insane number of crazed governments who oppress, murder, and steal, this feels like the BEST argument to me. Look at the recent rash of oppressive governments overthrown at the hands of insurgents - and rightly so! Right now, at this very moment, there are oppressive regimes in China, Africa, South America, North Korea, etc. I’m not convinced that we’re really THAT much more enlightened (if we were, perhaps such nut jobs wouldn’t exist).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning any hostile insurgency any time soon, but the people maintaining their right to own weapons as a THREAT against an oppressive regime is just good wisdom it seems to me.  Think about the converse where a gov’t has complete and total use of force against its people.
Hawkgrrrl:  I don’t see how US citizens having guns protects anyone in North Korea from governmental oppression.  Ideally, you would allow people IN oppressive regimes to have guns and people in peaceful democracies to not have guns.
jmb275:   Which oppressive regimes started out as oppressive regimes?  No oppressive regime is going to grant its citizens the right to defend themselves after the fact. That’s why it was an original right, and is worth protecting. It’s worth protecting because although we don’t need it right now, this minute, we don’t know what the future holds. Think of it as a small insurance policy against future threats. There’s certainly a difference between living in fear and wisely protecting oneself.
Now perhaps we’re thinking about this on too large a scale (since it’s not my federal gov’t that I fear breaking into my house). But consider police abuse. That’s a pretty big problem too (particularly in CA) and seems to be getting worse. When the gov’t cannot be trusted to act ethically, what is the recourse? I’m not saying shooting a policemen would be the answer, but the threat of a homeowner having a gun and protecting his family against an abusive police force is a reasonable disincentive to maintain.
Hawkgrrrl:  The constitution seemed to be designed, not to protect individual gun rights, but to protect the rights of states to form militias.  So it wasn’t about Zeke protecting his acre of scrub-land in Arkansas from tax collectors, but about keeping federal government small and more removed, providing more power to state government. 
jmb275:  Well, this is the great debate. Personally, I read it as an individual right to bear arms, and find it surprising so many see if otherwise.  “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  I don’t think “People” in this sentence means “States.” But I know there are plenty of smart constitutional scholars who land on both sides of this coin.
Hawkgrrrl:  I was wondering if your views have changed at all due to the Tuscon shooting?  For me it clarifies my specific objections. I feel there should be some better waiting period and psych evaluation.
jmb275:  About the shooting in Tuscon. It is, of course, a tragedy. But responsibility for that tragedy lies with that individual. That gun did not shoot her, he did. Why would we then not seek to find solutions for the person and those like him rather than fighting over whether or not we should tighten the clamp on the tool? My position on guns has always been that we ought to teach people about them, how to use them, how not to use them. This would reduce the number of accidents, as well as impress the power associated with them in the minds of individuals. I do think some gun control is necessary, but much like the drug war, I think it is aimed poorly and implemented horribly. Making it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns does not solve the problem we have (I think that’s clear to everyone). Personally, I think we need to focus more on mental health, education, and the gun black market (most of which does not originate within the US).
Hawkgrrrl:  Not directly related, but IMO citizens don’t need any form of automatic weapons. Hunting and even small firearms I could agree to with the proper background checks and waiting period.
jmb275:  You’re right they don’t NEED them? Does anyone NEED them? Why don’t we get rid of all of them? I would most definitely support that. But alas, Uncle Sam seems to think he needs them to “protect” us (aka seek out enemies on foreign soil).  
Hawkgrrrl:  The other thing I might caveat is that gun owners should be responsible for any crimes committed using their guns, including if their gun is stolen due to the owner’s negligence.
jmb275:  Absolutely not! I have to draw the line when we consider prosecuting someone for something they didn’t do. It’s fair that they hold SOME of the responsibility, but not all. Otherwise, we better start holding Oppenheim accountable for the a-bomb, Browning for all crimes committed with their guns, all pharmaceutical companies for prescription abuse, etc. etc. etc. As soon as you start holding people accountable for acts they didn’t commit, you’ve opened a floodgate of potential ills.
Hawkgrrrl:  Well, not charging the gun owner with murder if a murder is committed, but serious consequences.  Here’s what I suggest.   A manslaughter charge if the owner’s gun is used in either a homocide or suicide. Criminal facilitation charge if used in assault or armed robbery.  I would also say that anyone charged in a gun-related offense is no longer eligible for a gun permit. I know my stance is not very libertarian, but people don’t slaughter a crowd of innocents with their bare hands.
jmb275:  I’m torn on this issue. I would probably agree with you in the end due to the gravity of the crime. But it’s not clear to me that someone who didn’t actually DO anything should be locked away when there are plenty of people roaming free who ought to be locked away. Negligence is a tricky business, and sometimes I think we’re a little too quick to hang people for mistakes in the name of negligence. If most of us were held to the same standards we expect from others, we’d all be put away!
Hawkgrrrl:  The million dollar question then is how would you determine if someone was fit to have a gun?  What controls would you put in place to keep the risks low?
jmb275:  I think requiring a waiting period is reasonable. I also think requiring training would be great. Currently that is NOT a requirement (it is for CCWs though). That seems like the simplest oversight in my book. Make people wait, check their background, but don’t require them to actually learn how to use a gun safely. Ridiculous!  At the end of the day, when faced with security or liberty (and I think the issue ultimately boils down to this), I think humanity is better off with liberty. I know that implies some people will die unfairly, and there will be incidents like at Tuscon. I would sincerely hope that if one of my relatives was shot in this manner that I would still be able to see the value of liberty in this context.
Hawkgrrrl:  I still don’t think there’s a very reasonable solution on how to keep the mentally ill from having guns in this country.  Depending on the illness, we almost force them to fend for themselves on the street…The homeless are just another byproduct of the same issue – we haven’t got a good method for dealing with, diagnosing, or handling the mentally ill as a society.  Our desire for individual freedom puts people at risk from the actions of those who are mentally ill. 
jmb275:  If you want to keep the mentally ill from having guns, help the mentally ill. Provide easy access to therapy, make prescription drugs more affordable, create watch groups, etc.  I think we need to look at the causes of this problem rather than only trying to address the symptoms – and I think most of these things are symptoms. Why are people mentally ill? Some of it is genetic, some of it environment. For the environmental causes, I think we again resort to religion and preaching (to me this is religion’s primary function in this world). Encouraging strong families (especially good strong fathers) is paramount to fixing mental illness IMHO. As for the genetic part, there is little that can be done to fix the cause, so we have to address the symptoms.
Hawkgrrrl:  Is it appropriate to force someone to get help? Or to force them into hospitalization just to prevent actions they might commit?  Probably not.  Yet they also probably aren’t fully responsible for their actions.  It’s a catch-22.
jmb275:  Yeah, this is a tough one. It probably is justified in some cases. I would err on the side of individual rights, but there are certainly times when its clear someone is a threat. In this case, yes, I think we are obligated to deal with them using force if necessary.
Here are a few key points of our discussion:
  • Gun rights can be a protection from governmental oppression and police oppression.
  • There’s legitimate disagreement over the original intent of gun rights (individual rights vs. states’ rights to form militias).
  • Gun limitations we can agree on:  waiting periods, gun handling training required, and criminal prosecution for crimes committed with one’s gun due to negligence on the owner’s part.
  • To prevent gun crimes like Tuscon, we need to deal with the mentally ill much better than we do today.

What are your thoughts about this discussion?  Any points you agree or disagree with?  Discuss.

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61 Responses to Gun Laws – Over My Dead Body!

  1. Ryan on February 22, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    In my opinion, the “protect ourselves from the government” argument doesn’t hold water. When was the last time anyone heard of a government, or the police being influenced in any way by an individual or small group with a gun? Versus the last time a criminal or crazy guy killed a cop with a gun? Even with our current lax laws, the resources they have are so superior to what we’re allowed, as to make it useless in resistance. It might have worked when muskets and cannons was the best you could do, but in this day and age guns have lost their relevance.

    It’s true that we need to have better mental health resources, but I don’t see the connection between that selling assault rifles and semiautomatic handguns.

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  2. Paul 2 on February 22, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    As long as no one takes away my right to be shot, its all cool. This right is multi-pronged: the right to be shot by the insane, the right to be shot by criminals, the right to be shot by angry relatives and/or disaffected or ex-members of my ward, and most sacred of all, the right to be shot by accident.

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  3. Mike S on February 22, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    1) I don’t think my having a handgun will mean anything if the military of our country actually decided to “oppress” me. I may as well have a baseball bat.

    2) There is no reason for 30-round clips, semiautomatic weapons, or hollow-tip bullets to go deer hunting with your son.

    3) We can argue all we want about “protecting ourselves from our government”, but it seems a week argument. If you look at the top ten countries with firearm-related deaths, we are the only “First World” country. They are: South Africa, Colombia, Thailand, Guatemala, Brazil, Estonia, Mexico, United States. Philippines, and Argentina.

    It seems that other first world countries like Japan, essentially everyone in Europe, Canada, etc. have reasonable political systems without everyone carrying (and dying from) guns.

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  4. Will on February 22, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    “I think if you want to kill someone, you should have to do it the old fashioned way.  You need to get your hands dirty”

    Except when they have a gun and you don’t, you’re dead

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  5. bbell on February 22, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    #3,

    I hate to say it but your comments about not needing hollow point bullets to hunt deer are ignorant. Deer are killed far more humanely and easily by hollow point type bullets then a metal jacketed round. Non hollowpoint bullets are rarely used for deer hunting for this very reason and are considered unethical to shoot deer with. I suggest when people blog that they not make authoritative statements when they are not aware of the facts. It never ceases to amaze me how people that favor gun control get the facts about guns so wrong so frequently.

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  6. bbell on February 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Field and Stream magazine posed this very question to its readers. Is it ethical to use a FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) rounds for deer hunting?

    http://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/hunting/deer-hunting/deer-hunting-tips/does-anyone-hunt-fmj-full-metal-jacket-rounds-assumin

    The answer is that some states do not permit by law deer hunting with non-hollow point type bullets. Even if not illegal its very unethical as FMJ rounds tend to wound deer not drop them in their tracks. This is because FMJ bullets go right thru the body of the deer without causing a large wound channel. The hollow point rounds expand and create a large wound channel. Trust me. I have dropped a few deer in their tracks with hollow point ammo.

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  7. AdamF on February 22, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    bbell – Isn’t that what blogging is for though? People get some things wrong, in this case about hunting, and you are here to clear it up, which is part of the usefulness of the process of blogging. Can’t we allow for some mistaken “authoritative statements?”

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  8. Jeff Spector on February 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    I completely agree with Hawk and Mike S on this.

    Maybe, we should write a screenplay about how the gun owners of America save the country from the military who go mad with power. Of course, there will be many deaths from citizens being caught in the crossfire (with hollow-point bullets and semi-automatic weapons) rather than the military shooting them.

    Bruce Willis as the mad general, Charlie Sheen as the hapless President of the US and Heidi Montag as the stripper turned heroine with Spencer Pratt as the drug-addicted husband, who figures it all out in the end.

    Music by Justin Beiber, Kanye West and Lady Antebellum.

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  9. Ryan on February 22, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    #5
    What type of bullets are most humane for hunting is a red herring. Aside from the fact that people use all sorts of different bullets (and even arrows) to hunt, I don’t think the type of bullets are at issue. The fact that nearly anyone can go to a “sporting-goods” store and buy an easily-concealable assault weapon is the problem.

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  10. bbell on February 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    #8,

    There are no or very few easily concealable assault weapons on the market right now. In the gun culture an assault weapon is a semi-auto military style rifle. They typically cost $1500 and are rarely used in crimes. Rifles have to have a certain legal barrel length to be sold in the US. This barrel length makes them very difficult to be concealed. I have one in my possession and its not very concealable.

    I reiterate my earlier point that its difficult to debate gun issues with people that are ignorant of basic facts about firearms

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  11. Paul on February 22, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    I remember still the first time I heard someeone use the “protect myself from the government” idea. I was in my late twenties and my jaw nearly fell out of my head.

    Where were those gun toting, rights-saving folks when the Patriot Act was passed, restricting rights of Americans?

    When I think about the few cases of folks with guns in standoffs with the “government”, I can’t think of any where I didn’t side with the government.

    Last I looked, our government is still elected in free and open elections.

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  12. Aaron L on February 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    I’ve got a question for the peanut gallery. What can we realistically do to keep guns out of the hands of criminals? I don’t see how banning them or even regulating them more will accomplish this. Criminals obviously don’t respect the law, and most will likely have access to guns no matter what regulations the government enacts. Maybe we need a different solution like stiffer penalties for offences in which firearms are used. We could balance out the strain on the prison and court systems by letting all the pot smokers go free. ;)

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  13. jmb275 on February 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    I gotta be honest. The discussion is not even worth having. This issue is so burdened with political tripe, hyperbole, and quick judgment as to destroy any possibility of rational discourse.

    As far as I can tell, there isn’t a whole lot of good research on the pros and cons of gun control. There are states in which there is little to no gun control, yet they don’t have the same problems as many states with strict gun control. There are countries in which everyone has a gun at home, yet people aren’t killing each other with guns. But for the research that has been done, it would seem to me that strict gun control, including the banning of guns, does NOT lead to less crime, less homicide, or less suicide. On the contrary less gun control often leads to reduced total crime (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics#Arguments) however, crimes of passion using a gun go up (which of course are the ones the news spreads virally).

    If you want to take away a freedom expressly granted by the constitution I think you need to demonstrate that it will be effective. So far, as far as I can tell, there is little that shows that strict gun control laws are effective at obtaining their goals.

    I maintain that the right to keep and bear arms is a right worth protecting for many reasons.

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  14. mapman on February 22, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Your old-fashioned way of killing people seems silly to me. It’s not like people didn’t have weapons before guns were invented. Before that there were bows, slings, etc. Those seperate the killer from the killee just as much as guns do. If we somehow were able to take everyone’s guns away, they would probably just start shooting people with longbows.
    Besides, people still do kill people by getting dirty. When I used to live in California I heard several stories about people who had got killed in stabbings.

    The problem isn’t guns. The problem is that people are so violent.

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  15. jmb275 on February 22, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    BTW, perhaps we should write a screenplay in which a country slowly (over the course of 30 years) takes away the rights of its people to bear arms, then elects a seemingly reasonable leader to save their ailing economy, turns the whole country into an authoritarian cult, and starts concentration camps to murder those the leader doesn’t like, begins a world war in which millions more are killed, all in the name of building a super race.

    …oh wait, that play has already been written. But that happened SOOO long ago and those folks were unenlightened anyway, I’m sure it could never happen again.

    Again, I maintain that the right to bear arms is worth protecting.

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  16. Jeff Spector on February 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    jmb,

    “BTW, perhaps we should write a screenplay in which a country slowly (over the course of 30 years) takes away the rights of its people to bear arms”

    It is not clear that the people in your example had the right to bear arms or that their guns were taken from them.

    A more dangerous thing was that books were burned and people were killed solely because of their religion. And the right to free speech and association was lost.

    Since most of the world does not covet and love guns the way the US does, you’d need to point to examples in the more civilized countries more like ours, where not having guns cause that kind of a problem. UK? Canada? Switzerland?

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  17. FireTag on February 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    And then there’s that annoying D&C 45:68:

    “And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.”

    Please be sure and post when Zion’s ready. The clock is ticking. :D

    More seriously, the argument should not be about the need to protect yourself against government, although one should note that insurgencies all over the world seem quite able to stand up to military grade weapons with civilian grade weapons. Knowledge of weapons making and weapons stealing would both have to be suppressed, not just the weapons initially in the hands of civilians.

    But chaos before or instead of the rise of tyranny seems more likely. Even if we limit “chaos” to the inability of government to police violent crime in parts of its territories.

    My wife had a gun stuck in her face by a mugger in New York. My brother-in-law drew his Colt to stop a mugging while he was running on a high school track as exercise in Arizona. My grandfather used a deer rifle to stop a violent home invasion in Detroit. There used to be a saying that a gun liberal was just a gun conservative who hadn’t been mugged yet.

    It can never happen to you until it does, and I don’t think I have a right to say that other people don’t have the right to carry arms to protect themselves, even if I never carry a gun myself.

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  18. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Jeff — Re: Switzerland, you are aware that the Swiss are armed to the teeth, and just rejected a first tentative step towards gun control?

    The Swiss don’t murder each other, because they’re Swiss. Certain American populations murder each other, because they’ve adopted the Southern folkways of a bunch of cantankerous transplanted Scots-Irish honor-culture herdsmen.

    I don’t own a handgun, and frankly wouldn’t mind seeing them restricted a bit more. (I’d like to see permission to own a handgun restricted to those who can qualify for a concealed weapons permit — the logic being that if you can’t be trusted not to shoot the $#@#$ who cuts you off in traffic, you can’t be trusted not to open fire when you come home and find your wife in bed with your boss.) But overall, my opinion of gun-control advocacy is shaped by an impression that it is largely a matter of misdirection — an attempt to deflect responsibility for America’s elevated murder rates, away from the cultural currents that are the real causes.

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  19. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    My grandfather used a deer rifle to stop a violent home invasion in Detroit.

    And there’s a good argument against banning handguns alone (as opposed to long guns): Setting off a high-powered rifle in a residential neighborhood is a very dangerous thing. The round tends to go through the bad guy, through your drywall, through your kitchen, through another layer of drywall and stucco, through the neighbor’s wall, into heaven knows what. With a handgun, it tends to stop somewhere in the thorax of the guy who needed shooting. Much safer.

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  20. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I think guns are why we got Hiroshima. We get too removed from the killing, and it seems more like a strategy or a number – too high level to be accountable for it.

    Except that Hiroshima followed hard on the heels of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where modern war relapsed back to the Stone Age. Young Americans and young Japanese did their fighting exactly as you prefer — up close and personal, hand to hand, “watching the light go out,” etc. If anything, that was what desensitized America to the point where the decision to use atomic weapons could be made as (relatively) lightly as it was.

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  21. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    The constitution seemed to be designed, not to protect individual gun rights, but to protect the rights of states to form militias.

    1. The Supreme Court thinks differently.

    2. Is there any other amendment, in the Bill of Rights, where a reference to a right held by “the people” refers to a collective right, as opposed to an individual one?

    For instance, when the First Amendment addresses “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” does that mean that the federal government could permit only state-organized public assemblies, and prohibit political gatherings of individual citizens?

    Or the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures….” You understand this to refer to the right of individual people, no?

    Or take the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Note that “people” and “States” are referenced separately. They’re not the same thing.

    3. Is the collective interpretation of the Second Amendment consistent with the writings of the people who drafted it on the subject of the right to bear arms?

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  22. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Not directly related, but IMO citizens don’t need any form of automatic weapons.

    Which is why they are, for all practical purposes, illegal in the U.S., and virtually never used in crime.

    A modest proposal: Before anyone is permitted to fire off an opinion on the subject of gun control, there should be a waiting period, and a test to make sure the person has a reasonable handle of the relevant facts. The number of people who don’t know the difference between an automatic and a semiautomatic, or who think you can just go down to Big 5 and buy a fully-automatic machine gun, always astonishes me.

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  23. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Of course, there will be many deaths from citizens being caught in the crossfire (with hollow-point bullets…)

    Hollow-point bullets are actually better at avoiding collateral damage. They don’t overpenetrate or richochet.

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  24. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    The problem isn’t guns. The problem is that people are so violent.

    Yes. America’s non-gun murder rate is higher than many European countries’ overall murder rates. It’s those damned Scots-Irish again.

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  25. Mike S on February 22, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    I stand corrected on the hollow-point bullets, perhaps mostly pointing out my ignorance. I meant hollow-point bullets like the Black Talon or other types designed to pierce armor, etc. I don’t really see the need for them in hunting.

    That’s besides the point, but I stand corrected.

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  26. Mike S on February 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I do think a big problem is our violent nature. Having served my mission in Europe and having talked to a number of Europeans over the years on travels there, they do think we are backwards. We get all up in arms about a woman’s breast on a newsstand or in a movie. We rate the movies more restricted and cover the magazines.

    At the same time, we think nothing of exposing our kids to violence in movies, video games, etc. We have “Guns and Ammo” uncovered on the magazine rack. Etc.

    They are the opposite. They consider nudity natural. People sunbathe topless, even in parks on the side of the road in capital cities. There is nudity on TV (at night).

    But violence will get a very restricted rating over there. Perhaps we, as a culture, are focused on the wrong thing. They have fewer violent deaths. And they also have a lower teenage pregnancy rate, etc.

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  27. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Where were those gun toting, rights-saving folks when the Patriot Act was passed, restricting rights of Americans?

    Have you read the PATRIOT Act?

    One of the problems for democracy when society and government become ever more complex, is that most people just don’t have the time to become familiar, beyond a general sense, with all the issues they are supposed to base their votes upon. The theme that the PATRIOT Act represented an unprecedented intrusion into liberty got established early (possibly due to its Orwellian-sounding name). But if you pop the hood and compare its provisions to the authority the government already had…yawn.

    Take the National Security Letter/administrative subpoena provision of PATRIOT — the “library records” provision (that doesn’t actually reference library records) that had everybody freak-o a while back. For the life of me, I could never see what the problem was. Used to be, a federal prosecutor could basically just reach into his drawer, pull out a blank grand jury subpoena, and order someone to produce records. PATRIOT actually added a layer of civil-rights protection when administrative subpoenas are used in counterterrorism investigations — they can only be used pursuant to court order, not just served unilaterally by a prosecutor, as is the case in garden-variety criminal investigations.

    I’m sure government will find a way to abuse the procedure — it always does. But if we opposed laws because of the possibility that they could be abused, we would have to oppose *all* laws.

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  28. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    I meant hollow-point bullets like the Black Talon or other types designed to pierce armor, etc.

    Black Talon isn’t armor-piercing.

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  29. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Re: the old saw about Europeans’ and Americans’ attitudes towards public expression concerning violence and sexuality, the unspoken argument seems to be that we here in the colonies should be more European in out outlook: More porn and topless sunbathing, less shoot-’em-up movies.

    How about “none of the above?”

    In Iceland, hard-core porn is full-on illegal. It doesn’t seem to have any effect on Icelanders’ levels of personal violence. (Which is shamefully low, given their Viking heritage…I mean, that the descendants of Egill Skallagrimsson should flop so pathetically on the basketball court, shouting “Foul” like some wretched Eurotrash soccer player, is just embarrassing.)

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  30. bbell on February 22, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    #25,

    This is the third factually incorrect comment made by gun control advocates on this thread. Three strikes and your out. Black Talon rounds are special hollow points.

    AP rounds are pretty much illegal already in the civilian market. There is some debate over what constitutes an AP or armor piercing round however.

    Please Please lets get our facts straight and then we can have a rational discussion.

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  31. FireTag on February 22, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Thomas: #19

    Yeah, except my grandfather didn’t own a handgun because he expected to be using a deer rifle in the wild, lonely woods of Northern Michigan where the most dangerous thing was a black bear — not in the living room of a working class home where criminals smashed in the front door.

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  32. Jeff Spector on February 22, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    “Re: Switzerland, you are aware that the Swiss are armed to the teeth, and just rejected a first tentative step towards gun control?

    The Siwss are not armed to the teeth. While every male must serve their time in the military and the reserves where they have a weapon in their home. As one of my Swiss colloegue told me, “it’s in the back of the closet and I’m not sure it even shoots anymore.” They are not automatic or even semi automatic weapons.

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  33. Jeff Spector on February 22, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    thomas,

    I do nto see the coorelation between ancestry and the love of guns. Please stop making that association toward violence about certain groups of people based on their hertage. It’s not right and it not nice.

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  34. Jeff Spector on February 22, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    bbell.

    “Please Please lets get our facts straight and then we can have a rational discussion”

    Lighten up already. We can’t have a rational discussion because the reactions on both sides are not particularily rational to begin with.

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  35. FireTag on February 22, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Jeff:

    Since I’m Scotch-Irish on my mother’s side, and also have a lot of British and German in me, it seems I should be the one who’s offended by Thomas’ statements about culture.

    Trouble is, everything I’ve seen on the subject in regard to military history going back to at least before the American Civil War says he’s right. It might be worth a post.

    Some cultures change the rules of engagement: leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone, but commit aggression, and the response is NOT to turn the other cheek.

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  36. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    I do nto see the coorelation between ancestry and the love of guns. Please stop making that association toward violence about certain groups of people based on their hertage. It’s not right and it not nice.

    Some things are true, that are not very nice.

    You subscribe to a religion that declares that the aggregate behavior of groups of people can be traced, in part, to “the traditions of their fathers.” (See Mosiah 1:5, Alma 17:9, etc.)

    I recommend a wonderful book by the historian David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. The book traces the settlement of different regions of the United States by distinct, self-selected cultural populations — East Anglian Puritans to New England, “distressed” nobility and their servants to the Chesapeake and southern Tidewater, Quakers to Pennsylvania, and pugnacious borderland Britons to the frontier and South. Fischer’s thesis is that the cultural mores these groups brought to America, persisted, and informed discrete American subcultures.

    And now the necessary disclaimer, since this always seems to confuse people: The fact that culture tends, on average, to influence the average, aggregate behavior of groups associated with a given culture, does not mean that you can assume that any specific member of that group is thus influenced. For instance, the prevalence of a cultural habit sometimes identified as “Mormon Nice” among Mormons, does not mean that any particular Mormon may not be a complete jerk. (See, e.g., me.)

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  37. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 4:57 PM
  38. dmac on February 22, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Coming from a country that regulates guns and not growing up in the same culture you guys have in the U.S., can I tell you how bizarre it sounds to discuss carrying weapons around or feeling you need them to protect you from the government? Its totally mind-bending to me. I know Australia is similar in many ways to your country but this is one particular ‘right’ I hope we never have.

    Here, to own a gun you make an application and do a written test. You have to have an appropriate secure cabinet to lock them into. To own a hand gun you must do the same, be a member of a pistol range for 6 months and provide fingerprints and andswer a heap of questions. And frankly, I’m more than happy with that.

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  39. Thomas on February 22, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    The Siwss are not armed to the teeth. While every male must serve their time in the military and the reserves where they have a weapon in their home. As one of my Swiss colloegue told me, “it’s in the back of the closet and I’m not sure it even shoots anymore.” They are not automatic or even semi automatic weapons.

    So the Swiss reserves and militia are armed with bolt-action rifles? Hmm.

    (curious, takes a quick Google)

    The Sig 550 is one mean assault rifle indeed. Fully automatic (700 rounds per minute!) during active reserve service, modified to semiautomatic for subsequent militia service.

    Your Swiss colleague may be breaking a regulation, if he’s allowed his weapon to become inoperable.

    The Swiss generally don’t misuse their weapons, for the same reason they don’t litter: They’re Swiss. Places not full of Swiss (or equivalents) will experience different results.

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  40. Will on February 22, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    DMAC,

    And I feel naked when I am not carrying at least one weapon — I almost always have one. The right to carry, is one of the greatest God given rights we have in this country.

    As for the government, when the people fear the Government you have tyranny; and, when those elected fear the people (mostly the right to vote them out of office) you have freedom. With the number of private gun owners, it would be almost impossible for a coup or occupation. The way God intended it, Government by the people.

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  41. FireTag on February 22, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    dmac:

    You mean Crocodile Dundee didn’t actually carry that big knife around New York City? I’m totally disillusioned! :D

    Thomas:

    I was actually thinking of Fischer.

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  42. Jeff Spector on February 22, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    Will,
    “With the number of private gun owners, it would be almost impossible for a coup or occupation. The way God intended it, Government by the people.”

    I always think it is funny when the righties claim that people on the left are crazy. but, here’s to you with this statement.

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  43. dmac on February 22, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Firetag,

    Maybe he acrried that big knife in New York, but here in Melbourne he’d be charged for it! :)

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  44. dmac on February 22, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Sorry, that should be ‘carried’.

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  45. Douglas on February 23, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Federal courts, up to and including the US Supreme Court, have ruled that the Second Amendment is an INDIVIDUAL right, not a state right; therefore, it’s NOT about the ability of a state to form a militia. Rather, the need of a free state (meaning the several states constituting the Union) to form a militia (not the NATIONAL GUARD, which is a FEDERAL entity) which is the armed citizenry is necessary for its security and freedom. Or, as the framers of the Constitution could have put it, citizens of the state are armed while subjects are not. Do keep in mind that since the fall of the Roman Empire, the right to bears arms was reserved for the nobility and their mercenaries (who in all practically were the only who could afford body armour, swords, halberds, and other assorted metal weaponry). Most commoners had to fight with whatever farm implements or hand tools they had, hence farmers fought with pitchforks, pikes, and clubs, and metalsmiths fought with hammers…the evolution of firearms and their wide use by European colonists in colonial America led to a tradition that every able-bodied man (and not quite a few women) were as well-armed as the King’s soldiers. The security and freedom of our several states is EXPLICITLY declared to exist because the individual citizens have the right to keep and BEAR arms and it shall NOT be infringed (compromised).
    I know of nothing in the Second Amendment that precludes ownership of firearm and/or ammunition type based on technology. In fact, both sides commonly used the Land Pattern musket, or “Brown Bess”, excellent against two and four-legged targets. The argument that semi-automatic or automatic weapons aren’t “needed” (e.g., for hunting) doesn’t hold up in light of Second Amendment rights. However, it will take significant political will for Americans to repeal blatantly unconstitutional acts such as the Firearm Act of 1934 and the Handgun Act of 1968.
    Adm. Isoroku Yamamato is supposed to have said (though scholars can’t reliably document where he said or wrote it), “We cannot invade America..there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass”. Likewise the Swiss’ policy of every able-bodied man armed with a state of the art rifle and trained to use it was likely a factor why the Nazis didn’t mess with them.
    A more appropriate line of discussion might be, should Latter-Day Saints arm themselves as the laws of their respective lands allow? I would say, YES, but, we should also trust in a power higher than Smith and Wesson.

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  46. Jeff Spector on February 23, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    “Likewise the Swiss’ policy of every able-bodied man armed with a state of the art rifle and trained to use it was likely a factor why the Nazis didn’t mess with them.”

    Hardly. The Swiss were no match for the Nazi any more than the French, Dutch, Belgs, etc. The Swiss were the bankers of the war and the Germans needed that.

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  47. Will on February 23, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Jeff,

    I appreciate your not resorting to personal attacks; and, I appreciate your example as a moderator.

    Call me crazy all you want, but the facts speak for themselves. No one thought Hitler would have marched through most of Europe committing mass murder. Had the citizens of those nations been armed, at a minimum, he would have thought twice? The same holds true for the Cambodians with Pol Pot; or Chinese with Mao; or the Cubans with Castro.

    Let’s make it more personal. A few years ago some drugged up ex-con assaulted a woman on a train here in Salt Lake. The passengers just sat there. They did nothing. They were paralyzed in fear; and, maybe rightly so. I am not going to judge them. But what I will say is that if one of those passengers, perhaps the one being assaulted, would have had a gun they would have been able to contain this animal. Maybe, we would have been lucky; he would have resisted and would have ended up with his brains splattered on the back seat. In that case, everyone would have won. Instead, everyone lost. The woman was assaulted and all the passengers went home feeling guilty, defeated and helpless. Sometime, a gun makes the fight fair.

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  48. Jeff Spector on February 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Will,

    “I appreciate your not resorting to personal attacks; and, I appreciate your example as a moderator.”

    I tried as hard as I could not to…. but

    “Call me crazy all you want, but the facts speak for themselves”

    No, they don’t. They are not fact only speculation. We don’t have an example in the history of the world where a people, armed to the teeth, repelled their government. It’s never happened. The examples we have are like Egypt where the brute force will of the people made it happen. Not weapons.

    “A few years ago some drugged up ex-con assaulted a woman on a train here in Salt Lake. The passengers just sat there. They did nothing. They were paralyzed in fear; and, maybe rightly so. I am not going to judge them.’

    how do you know one of them didn’t have a weapon? In Tucson, there was a guy, packing heat, who almost shot the wrong guy, but decided not to pull out his weapon. That is as likely, or more likely, than you scenario.

    It is just wishful thinking on the part of gun owners that they are going to “clint Eastwood” the situation and save someone with their gun. It just doesn’t happen very often.

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  49. bbell on February 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    #48

    That is really not true. Your assertion that guns are rarely used in self defense. A few months ago about a mile from my house a homeowner shot and killed a burglar with a shotgun

    See the link. http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html

    This is now the 4th time GC advocates have misstated the facts.

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  50. Jeff Spector on February 23, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    “A few months ago about a mile from my house a homeowner shot and killed a burglar with a shotgun”

    Rare. this is the umpteenth time a gun lover has exaggerated reality.

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  51. Will on February 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Jeff,

    You’re arrogant in assuming we love guns. It’s not the guns I love, but my family. It is tantamount to life insurance. I don’t have life insurance because I love my agent, I buy it because I love my family. I would never forgive myself if I were unable to protect my family. That is why I have a gun. Period.

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  52. hawkgrrrl on February 23, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    How quirky would it have to be for you to actually protect your family with that gun? Rare circumstances indeed. What if you are taking a shower or going to the bathroom or simply not home when this feared perpetrator enters your home? What if your family is killed by a drunk driver? Outside comic books, most people are neither saved by vigilantes nor the victims of violent crimes. Yes, it can happen, but other threats are far more likely, and there are negatives to having a gun in the home, such as teen suicide.

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  53. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 23, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    another post on gun control and I missed it… was on a bit of a mini vacation to Salinas, CA. my 2nd home kinda… seems pretty difficult to buy a gun there but there’s a lot more murder than my 1st home of Ogden, UT. Anyways it should be up to the gun owner to weigh (and mitigate) the risks as opposed to the benefits of gun ownership. Like anything remotely dangerous really. I’d rather leave that up to the individual than the state but I guess I don’t have a burning need for an overprotective big brother? Probably familiarity with firearms plays into this a lot.

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  54. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 23, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    oh and Jeff instances where regular people have had to use tourniquets or light fires to survive are rare too. You should make fun of that next and then i’ll post some examples. Rarity isn’t an excuse.

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  55. Jeff Spector on February 23, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    rich,

    “oh and Jeff instances where regular people have had to use tourniquets or light fires to survive are rare too. You should make fun of that next and then i’ll post some examples. Rarity isn’t an excuse.”

    Oh, aren’t we being the silly one now. As I stated in my previous post on this subject, it is more likely that that gun will be used to kill another person in anger or by accident than used to protect oneself.

    That is the reason that some people should not be able to own one.

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  56. Jeff Spector on February 23, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Rich,

    “Anyways it should be up to the gun owner to weigh (and mitigate) the risks as opposed to the benefits of gun ownership.”

    What about the innocent people that are at risk from that person owning a gun.

    Who looks out for them?

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  57. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    God does.

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  58. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 23, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    …or people with guns. Check out some history and tell me which option is more reliable.

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  59. bbell on February 24, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    “it is more likely that that gun will be used to kill another person in anger or by accident than used to protect oneself.”

    From #55.

    This is catagorically false. There are perhaps 600 to 800 accidental shooting deaths annually in the US. Plus another say 10K murders with Firearms in the US. When you do the math with 800K to 2.5MM annual instances of self defense with firearms (see my link above)

    You get a ratio (I am including all the firemarm murders here even though lots of them are not domestic murders) on then low end of 74-1 in favor of self defense to on the high end of 231-1 in favor of self defense. The suicide numbers though with guns are sobering but thats another issue.

    Lets get our facts straight

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  60. Jeff Spector on February 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    “This is categorically false.”

    Only based on highly interpreted and opinion-based extrapolated data typical of partisans (on both sides, I might add) who use data to make their point whether or not data does it.

    So I don’t buy it. Those are not facts. they are manipulated numbers.

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  61. Thomas on February 24, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    We don’t have an example in the history of the world where a people, armed to the teeth, repelled their government. It’s never happened.

    What about the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five?

    And I thought “Hardly a man is now alive, who remembers that famous day and year” was just poetic license….

    It’s a common gun-restrictionist theme that the Blackstonian idea of the citizens’ right to bear arms serving as a hedge against tyranny is quaint and outmoded, because of course a .30-06 has poor odds against a tank.

    But that’s not the point. The citizenry doesn’t need to outgun the army. The citizens just need to outgun the police — to create a situation where the ordinary means of keeping order are insufficient, and the regime is ultimately maneuvered into a situation where it has to call in troops and give the order to fire on its own citizens.

    If the order is obeyed, the regime wins, and the surviving would-be revolutionaries go home to mope around and sing “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.” But if the troops don’t fire — the regime ends.

    An armed citizenry is one way an oppressive state can be maneuvered into this kind of all-in situation. Sometimes (as in Egypt) popular resentment is so overwhelming, that unarmed demonstrators alone can make the regime capitalute. Mubarrak didn’t pull a Khadafi, and order his troops to fire on the demonstrators, because he almost certainly calculated they would refuse, and he’d wind up hung up by his ankles in front of a gas station.

    On the other hand, take Tiananmen Square. To maximize their effect, the student demonstrators gathered in one public area. That made it a relatively easy thing for the Chinese authorities to cherry-pick its most reliable soldiers, and machine-gun the citizens who’d conveniently clustered together. What if, instead, citizens, their force multiplied by their being armed, had occupied key government installations across the whole country, putting the government in a position where extraordinary force would have been required to evict them? The government would have had to assign larger numbers of soldiers, broken down into much smaller groups. Could it have counted on all of those groups to do as they were told?

    Also, an armed citizenry acts as a hedge against some of the quieter types of repression that your smarter autocrats like to resort to, a la Hugo Chavez. You don’t necessarily need to send the secret police to break down a dissident’s door — you just make it clear that gee, we’d like to have the police protect you against those people who keep trashing your house each week, but we just have too many other things to attend to.

    This was standard operating procedure for police in the racist South during the civil rights era. It is also why Martin Luther King’s house was a veritable arsenal.

    For me, I do think that an armed citizenry is, per Blackstone, a useful hedge against tyranny. The Founders thought so, and the fact that they lived long ago wore funny hats shouldn’t by itself make the idea ridiculous. If nothing else, the right to bear arms is symbolic of a relationship between the state and the citizenry, and an entrustment to the invididual with final responsibility for maintaining his fundamental rights, that ought to be reinforced. Symbols — as we in the Church understand — are important.

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