Sarah Brady, champion of gun control, buys a gun
March 30, 2002 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Sarah Brady, champion of gun control, buys a gun for her son. The Secret Service, who you can bet are armed, violate federal and state law to keep legally carried arms away from Dick Cheney in Utah. Kofi Annan gets in trouble for machine-pistol carrying guards shortly after the UN's international Small Arms Destruction Day. Diane Feinstein admits the need to feel armed. Rosie O'Donnell wants people to tote guns to protect her son. One of Ted Kennedy's guards brought a machine pistol into the Capitol. I'm not meaning to make a Memepool type linkfest, but these things are extremely under reported, and I'm interested in what people think of the apparent hypocrisy to be found in the people who want to make you defenseless but feel above their rules themselves. Is this defensible? How?
posted by jammer (60 comments total)
 
I'm aware that this is a sensitive topic, and I hope this post isn't construed as trolling. I'm seriously interested in how pro-gun-control people feel about things like this. I promise not to get out the napalm if everyone else does the same. :)
posted by jammer at 8:15 AM on March 30, 2002


This is one of the better Front Page Posts I've seen in a long while. It's well researched and to the point. Kudos!

I have yet to go thru all the links, but the definition of hypocrisy fits like a glove in these particular instances. It's sad that in a society that has lax gun control laws, even those who are pro gun control feel the need to protect themselves. Too many guns=no real security for anyone.
posted by ashbury at 8:41 AM on March 30, 2002


Here's a good link about the efficacy of the Brady Bill. It is pretty balanced with lots of links to statistics.

I don't think it's hypocrytical for Sarah Brady to purchase a hunting rifle -- just because you want to run background checks on gun purchasers (the link above states that since the Brady Bill became law, 300,000 gun purchasers have been denied because their either convicted felons or currently under indictment).

I also don't think that it is hypocritical for Ted Kennedy to have bodyguards who carry Uzis. I'm not afraid of trained professionals carrying weapons. Especially to protect a "rich...liberal...playboy" who happens to be a senior senator.
posted by zpousman at 8:42 AM on March 30, 2002


Pro-gun-control and anti-gun-ownership are two different things, jammer. My view on gun control is quite simply: 18 years old, licensed and liability-insured, just like your car. Ok, ok; maybe convicted felons and seriously (as in previously institutionalized) mentally ill people are excepted, but I think absolutely anyone else meeting those 3 requirements should be allowed to own a gun, period. You wouldn't believe how ridiculous it feels being labeled 'pro-gun-control' with that kind of stance.
posted by boaz at 9:08 AM on March 30, 2002


I'd take issue with the phrase "people who want to make you defenseless," but this is a fantastic post--no troll here.

However, I don't see what these particular instances have to do with anything.

(1) The technicalities of whether Brady skirted any laws have yet to be sifted through--and while she's been a strong gun control activist, I've yet to see any law suggested by her (or any legitimate gun control spokesperson) that would ban the sale of standard hunting rifles like the one she purchased.

(2) I won't defend the actions of the Secret Service, except to say that (a) they've always acted on the fringes of the law, and (b) we are involved in a so-called "war".

(3) If the UN broke any laws in the Annan situation, that speaks much more about UN/US relations than it does about US gun control laws.

(4) The Feinstein link is a tremendous stretch. She admits 7 years ago that nearly 20 years prior she had carried a gun, and this gun-lobby group asserts that she "presumably still does". Spare me.

(5) Who's Rosie O'Donnell?

(6) As for the Kennedy link: " it's a shame that Mary Jo Kopechne couldn't swim"? There's a reliable source for ya. I won't dignify it with further comment.
posted by jpoulos at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2002


liability-insured, just like your car

Jeez, this is an incredibly good idea and I feel really dumb for not having thought of it until now. In fact, it would make gun control laws kind of moot because insurer's rules would undoubtedly be more strict than the current law. Of course criminals wouldn't get insurance but then criminals don't obey gun control laws either so the insurance would have to apply to gun supplyers/manufacturers as well.
posted by plaino at 9:20 AM on March 30, 2002


whoops. hit post too soon

My point is, I'm not sure what the fact that a few gun control supporters (or people tangentially related to them) have made some questionable decisions has to do with the viability of gun control in general--if that's what you're getting at.

And if you want to talk about gun control opponents making bad decisions, this guy was actually in this.
posted by jpoulos at 9:25 AM on March 30, 2002


My view on gun control is quite simply: 18 years old, licensed and liability-insured, just like your car.

Makes perfect sense, which is why Bill Clinton was ridiculed by the right for proposing the idea in the first place.

* Being a negligent driver puts society at harm. Being a negligent gun owner puts society at harm. We punish and take away the licenses of bad drivers; we should punish and take away the licenses of bad gun owners.

* Insurance premiums are market-dictated. Accordingly, the less responsible an owner is with his/her gun, the more it costs to insure that owner. Thus there is an economic as well as a legal incentive to act responsibly.

Would it be horribly anti-libertarian of me to suggest the licensing/insuring protocol for other personal actions that put society at risk? What if you had to apply for a license to drink alcohol, for instance? And instead of taking away drivers licenses of DUI convicts, we took away alcohol licenses?
posted by PrinceValium at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2002


As we all know, Canada has a very low percentage of people who own guns, handguns in particular. In my experience, Canadians in general don't see the need to own a gun, so it's difficult for me, as a Canadian, to understand why there is a need for the average individual to have a gun to begin with. The way I see it, if you have a gun it will get used, and somebody will get hurt, be that an innocent victim or a guilty person.

I do understand that certain people need protection, so guns in the hands of qualified people who are doing a job is okay with me.

I also understand that it's written into the American Constitution, so most people take it for granted that it's okay. On this particular point I have to say that the world is a different place than when the Constitution was written, and perhaps the need for the individual to own a gun has also changed. When the population was smaller and the dangers of war and revolution affected people immediately, having a gun was probably a wise decision. Nowadays, owning a gun almost seems counterproductive to what was intended by the Constitution.

As to hypocrisy, even Sarah Brady felt a little something as she bought the rifle. I got the impression of shame. Didn't you? "I can't describe how I felt when I picked up that rifle, loaded it into my little car and drove home," she writes.
posted by ashbury at 9:34 AM on March 30, 2002


Oh, that word hypocrisy... heh heh.

Nah, you can't characterize gun-control advocates as "people who want to make you defenseless" and then say "I'm not trolling." And that Rosie O'Donnell link is pretty silly. I'd hardly interpret her statement as a recanting of her position on gun control.

Anyway, that Kennedy link is just hysterical. It cracked me up. But even better was:

Republicans don't disarm Republicans
Republicans support gun rights
Republicans trust Republicans - with guns
Disarmed, but not silent

--Utah Gun Owners Alliance. These are the people who protested against the gun ban at the Olympics, by the way. When did Utah get so incredibly dangerous and scary?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:43 AM on March 30, 2002


Great post. The only example of hypocrisy that I see there is Rosie O'Donnell, though anyone who was looking for serious policy prescription from her in the first place needs to put the pipe down.

While I don't own or plan to own a gun, I recognize that America has a vibrant gun sub-culture, and that the vast majority of gun owners are very responsible about their weapons. If guns were outlawed, these are the people who would be punished; criminals would still be able to obtain them.

It's a cliche, but I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, between O'Donnell's anti-gun hysteria and the NRA's second amendment fundamentalism. Like an automobile, a gun is a tool that can kill. It's incumbent on the government to provide for some procedure to ensure guns are used responsibly. This very clearly falls under "providing for the common good."

I've gone shooting with a friend of mine who is a gun enthusiast, fired off his Glock at a range in North Seattle. Damn that was fun.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:52 AM on March 30, 2002


My view on gun control is quite simply: 18 years old, licensed and liability- insured, just like your car.

And training. Mandatory gun-handling training.

(I also believe there should be mandatory driver training.)

(How is Rosie hypocritical? Her big beef has always been with the wingnuts and untrained losers out there who are allowed to pack heat. Her bodyguard is a trained professional, with probably better gun-handling skills than the local cops. The referred page has a single mangled, out-of-context, and emotional quote: it's hardly worth the paper it's not written on.)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:55 AM on March 30, 2002


I won't take the time to read much of this but I would point out that there is a big difference between wanting to buy and own a gun and gun control laws. It is possible to have strict laws (as in Connecticut) and still be able to buy a gun (my son, a former marine, owns two. Note then that many people are not against owning a handgun but they do want limits on the type of guns allowed and the restrictions that go along with buying, selling, owning guns.
posted by Postroad at 10:10 AM on March 30, 2002


Sarah Brady advocates background checks and other licensing requirements, and she appears to have made a good faith effort to follow them when purchasing the rifle. How's that hypocrisy?

Her feeling of squeamishness at making the purchase doesn't mean she was guilty of anything other than being uncomfortable around guns, which is understandable given her history.

You missed one great example: Columnist Carl Rowan owning an unlicensed handgun after writing pro-gun control columns.
posted by rcade at 10:17 AM on March 30, 2002


How is Rosie hypocritical? Her big beef has always been with the wingnuts and untrained losers out there who are allowed to pack heat. Her bodyguard is a trained professional, with probably better gun-handling skills than the local cops.

I'm pro-gun control, but I can see the hypocrisy in O'Donnell's position.

If you encourage women to take their husband's guns away and suggest that police are the only people who should be allowed to own guns, it's hypocritical to hire a gun-toting bodyguard for protection. Are celebrities and rich people the only ones who should be able to protect themselves with a gun?
posted by rcade at 10:25 AM on March 30, 2002


It isn't hypocritical or inconsistent of Rosie to hire a private police service after making the statement that only the police should carry guns.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:42 AM on March 30, 2002


For those proposing gun "operator" licensing and insurance requirements analogous to those in place for cars, be aware that your proposals are fundamentally broken because (once again, sigh) driving a car on public roads is a privilege, not a right, while gun ownership is a right.

I looked for more diplomatic ways of saying that, but none held on to the essential truth of the situation.
posted by NortonDC at 11:53 AM on March 30, 2002


Body guards are not there to add to the general level of law enforcement, they are there to protect their client.

If it came down to enforcing the letter of the law or protecting their client, where do you think their actions would go?
posted by NortonDC at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2002


If it came down to enforcing the letter of the law or protecting their client, where do you think their actions would go?

hopefully the former.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:09 PM on March 30, 2002


It isn't hypocritical or inconsistent of Rosie to hire a private police service after making the statement that only the police should carry guns.

I think it's rhetorically suspect to call bodyguards a "private police service," but even if you accept that premise, why should celebrities and rich people be the only ones who have a right to defend themselves with guns (by hiring a private policeman to do it for them)? Is that what Rosie took to the streets for -- the Million Monied Mom March?
posted by rcade at 12:17 PM on March 30, 2002


gun ownership is a right

Not according to the Supreme Court.
posted by boltman at 12:19 PM on March 30, 2002


Seems like the issue was that shotun barrels must be at least 18 inches long, boltman. It's not really a keep and bear arms thing.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:47 PM on March 30, 2002


boltman, don't be an ass. "Right" is not the same as "absolute, unbounded right." You have a right to free speech, but you do not have the right yell "fire!" in a theater.

Gun ownership is a right, driving on public roads is a privilege. Priveleges have to be earned, rights are inherent in the person.

To clarify the body gaurd/police thing, imagine an on duty body gaurd has a client in a crowd while that crowd is being fired into by a gunman. The body gaurd's duty is to protect the client and only the client, with his/her own body if necessary, while the police officer's duty is to protect the whole crowd by stopping the shooter.

Police: protect the crowd, stop the shooter.
bodygaurd: protect the client.

Those priorities would diverge in this situation. The bodygaurd would not have a reason to go after the shooter if the client could be protected without doing so by removing the client, positiong the client to the rear of the crowd, etc.
posted by NortonDC at 12:48 PM on March 30, 2002


Miller is traditionally interpreted by the courts as holding that the Second Amendment is a right granted to the states to have militias, not a right to individuals to bear arms.

Also, no law has ever been struck down by the Court as violating the Second Amendment.
posted by boltman at 1:15 PM on March 30, 2002


Gun ownership is a right, driving on public roads is a privilege. Priveleges have to be earned, rights are inherent in the person.

Sounds like a lot of semantic word wrangling to me. If your premise was true there would be zero gun control laws only prosecution after the fact for wrong doing. I don't believe its illegal to actually yell "fire" as much as its illegal to endanger other's lives by inciting a riot.
posted by skallas at 3:27 PM on March 30, 2002


No, skallas, it is a critical distinction. The Constitution and Declaration do not grant people any rights at all, they recognize and guarrantee rights we already possess as human beings. The fact that you have rights is not the result of whimsy on Jefferson's part, it is your birthright as a member of humanity. This is not trivial.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
That part I will assume you know, skallas. The next is just as important:That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.Rights are not gifts from the government. Rights pre-exist governments, and just governments are those that serve to protect humanity's pre-existing rights.

Privileges are not rights, skallas. To cheapen rights by equating them with privileges is to impoverish all of humanity.
posted by NortonDC at 4:21 PM on March 30, 2002


But NortonDC, guns were only invented a couple centuries ago; if gun ownership was really a fundamental right every one was born with, how come so many people were born before it was even possible to own a gun? That seems like a fundamental difference between that and a more universal, timeless right like free speech.
posted by boaz at 4:53 PM on March 30, 2002


This Canadian is still reeling at the fact Utah lawmakers feel it necessary / desirable to pack heat in the state legislature. Please tell me something got lost in translation.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:00 PM on March 30, 2002


boaz - It doesn't say "guns," it says "Arms," meaning weapons.
posted by NortonDC at 5:04 PM on March 30, 2002


I knew that. But that observation begs the exact opposite question, NortonDC. Do you actually believe that a person is fundamentally allowed to own any particular weapon he can afford? Are our Iraq sanctions denying Saddam Hussein his fundamental right to chemical and nuclear arms? How about Bill Gates' fundamental right to bear nuclear arms ('Nothing to do with that antitrust suit, I swear')? And howzabout those felons? I can't believe it's a fundamental right if we can revoke it for dealing some pot. It's kinda hard to argue that a right is considered 'unalienable' when we've already got 300,000 cases of us doing just that staring us in the face. Plus our Iraq sanctions. Plus the existence of 'arms' that either are illegal to own or, get this, require licenses to own.
posted by boaz at 5:39 PM on March 30, 2002


No license is required from the federal government, nor from my state, nor my county.

Saddam we're not terribly worried about, Iraq is another question.

Felons threaten the rights of others, so theirs are curtailed to maintain the maximum flourishing of rights among the populace.
posted by NortonDC at 6:04 PM on March 30, 2002


Saddam we're not terribly worried about, Iraq is another question.

So if the weapon inspectors showed up and Saddam said, "Those are just my personal nukes." I suppose that'd be hunky-dory. You're just playing semantic games now. And Bill Gates is still on the waiting list.

Felons threaten the rights of others, so theirs are curtailed to maintain the maximum flourishing of rights among the populace.

How do you know that? The example I gave was someone dealing pot. That's a felony, yet I dare you to conclusively state that a person convicted of that 'threatens the right of others' in a way that disallowing gun purchase would lessen. If you're only talking about a statistical correlation, then I think you could argue that not knowing how to use a gun is a statistically correlated situation too. Which a licensing exam would solve quite neatly.
posted by boaz at 6:27 PM on March 30, 2002


Very nicely argued, boaz. I salute you.

Altho I am pro gun control and anti-guns in general, here's what I believe the Constitution was after: each individual has the right to protect and defend him/herself. This is, inarguably, a basic right that is contained within "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", which is why the issue of gun control is such a red hot topic for many Americans.
posted by ashbury at 7:31 PM on March 30, 2002


Thank you ashbury. I think I finally get it. Every time I read/hear a discussion about this inexplicable obsession Americans have with owning weapons whose primary function is killing people, I shake my head and avow once more that I'll never understand them.

But if the argument is actually rooted in a clumsy use of language, a conflation of two completely different ideas, that : individuals have the right to defend themselves and individuals have the right to carry firearms, the whole thing begins to make more sense for me.

The slavish worship of the american constitution would seem to be the problem, coupled with tendency towards doggedly literal interpretation of sacred text (which equally plagues so many self-avowed christians).

Thanks. I finally have a handle on how to think about this...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:58 PM on March 30, 2002


boaz - So if the weapon inspectors showed up and Saddam said, "Those are just my personal nukes." I suppose that'd be hunky-dory. You're just playing semantic games now. And Bill Gates is still on the waiting list.

Read it again. It's not "keep or bear," it's "keep and bear." Can an individual person keep and bear a nuke? Not that I can tell.

Words matter. Treat them well.
posted by NortonDC at 9:03 PM on March 30, 2002


a conflation of two completely different ideas, that : individuals have the right to defend themselves and individuals have the right to carry firearms.

If you do not have the right to the latter, you do not have the right to the former. A gun is about the only thing that allows you to defend yourself at even the most minimal distance from an attacker. Practically all other forms of "defense" (except taser guns perhaps? and they tend to be banned whereever real guns are in the US) are inapplicable unless the attacker is already right on top of you. So it's easily arguable that without guns, you're not really being allowed to defend yourself to any meaningful extent, and thus there very much is a connection between the two concepts.
posted by aaron at 9:12 PM on March 30, 2002


The slavish worship of the american constitution would seem to be the problem, coupled with tendency towards doggedly literal interpretation of sacred text

stravos, that's not true. We blatantly ignore the third amendment all the time.

And an excellent essay on the many ways that the second amendment can, and has been interpreted is The Embarrassing Second Amendment. It might not give you a better understanding of the second amendment, but it may disavow you of the notion that Americans engage in a "dogged literal interpretation of [the constitution as a] sacred text."
posted by bragadocchio at 9:32 PM on March 30, 2002


Read it again. It's not "keep or bear," it's "keep and bear."

I believe you are the one misreading here; the relevant phrase is 'the right to keep and bear arms', which to me means that you in theory have both the right to keep arms and the right to bear arms, not the right to keep only arms that one can bear. Either way, that's irrelevant. Read on...

Can an individual person keep and bear a nuke? Not that I can tell.

I'm no nuclear scientist, but a quick google search on 'suitcase nuke' turned up this article. The relevant excerpt:
The test devices for this design fired in Hardtack Phase II (shots Hamilton and Humboldt on 15 October and 29 October 1958) weighed only 16 kg [emphasis mine], impressively close to the minimum mass estimated above. These devices were 28 cm by 30 cm, Humboldt used PBX-9404 as the explosive.
Ok. I think now I've had the crap sufficiently scared out of me. What say you?
posted by boaz at 9:53 PM on March 30, 2002


boaz, it scares me. The miller case discussed above (and often misconstrued) was about the types of weapons that a militia might typically carry. A sawed off shotgun wasn't of the type, and therefore a civilian didn't have the right to keep and bear it, according to the Court. Neither (thank god) is a suitcase nuke.
posted by bragadocchio at 10:21 PM on March 30, 2002


boaz - I believe you are the one misreading here; the relevant phrase is 'the right to keep and bear arms', which to me means that you in theory have both the right to keep arms and the right to bear arms, not the right to keep only arms that one can bear.

Wrong. For your interpretation to be valid the text would have to read "the rights to keep and bear Arms."
posted by NortonDC at 10:43 PM on March 30, 2002


aaron, can you imagine yourself in a world where guns were mostly inaccessible? In such a world as that, you wouldn't need a gun to defend yourself. You would still be guaranteed your rights and fewer people would needlessly get hurt or killed.

I realize that so many people in the U.S. are armed that it would take years to make a level playing field. It's a state of mind, though: you have to want to be without guns, and all that goes with it. You may find yourself in a better place. . .
posted by ashbury at 6:50 AM on March 31, 2002


Wrong. For your interpretation to be valid the text would have to read "the rights to keep and bear Arms."

Sixth Amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right [em mine] to a speedy and public trial,... and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
posted by boaz at 6:55 AM on March 31, 2002


As a strict constructionist, I believe everyone has the right to keep and bear a flint lock musket.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:24 AM on March 31, 2002


w00t! w00t! go boaz. go boaz. it's your birthday... :-)
posted by jpoulos at 8:41 AM on March 31, 2002


Fully explaining parallelism in English grammar is beyond my patience. I will merely show you that the sixth employs it and the second is devoid of it.

The sixth can be rearranged into several valid expressions of distinct rights, each constructed by moving no more than two uninterrupted blocks of text.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
The single lead phrase (In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right) is mated with several parallel following clauses of identical construction, each of which, when independently combined with the lead in clause, forms a complete, independent and grammatically sound expression of a separate right.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
The wording of the amendment is flexible enough that the last phrase (as ordered here) has two available breakdowns. The first is the one shown above and the second is:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
Since both are syntactically correct, both interpretations (that knowledge of the charge is a distinct right or that knowledge of the charge is a part of the character of the trial one has a right to) are available.

This parralellism is absent in the second amendment. It can not be rearranged into complete, independent and grammatically sound expressions of separate rights by moving no more than two uninterrupted blocks of text.

Try it. Applying the same treatment as above to "the right to keep and bear Arms" yields:

the right to
bear Arms
the right to
keep
You only get one meaningful phrase out of that attempt. There is no parallelism available to make the second amendment an expression of multiple distinct rights. It speaks of a single right.
posted by NortonDC at 10:22 AM on March 31, 2002


Not quite. The parallel structure appears to be this:


the right to

keep [Arms]


the right

bear Arms.



However, I'm skeptical of the idea that the disputed interpretation of the Second Amendment is going to be solved by grammarians.
posted by rcade at 11:40 AM on March 31, 2002


rcade - You cannot pick and choose individual words in that manner and still respect parallelism or the original construction.

However, I'm solved by grammarians.

As I said before, words matter. Treat them well.
posted by NortonDC at 12:17 PM on March 31, 2002


It pains me to say this, NortonDC, but you've got a point there. I can see how there could exist 'the right to cook and eat meat' and not have that right abridged by laws that, for example, prohibit eating raw meat. I still think rcade's interpretation captures the intent of the authors better, but I'll grant you have a valid alternative interpretation. However, as I pointed out before, this is not relevant to the example I gave based on the simple fact that it is indeed possible to bear nukes (and chemical and biological agents could fit in a jacket pocket).
posted by boaz at 2:56 PM on March 31, 2002


aaron, can you imagine yourself in a world where guns were mostly inaccessible? In such a world as that, you wouldn't need a gun to defend yourself. You would still be guaranteed your rights and fewer people would needlessly get hurt or killed.

Can I imagine such a world? I can imagine anything. Can I conceive of it as a true possibility with any sense of intellectual honesty? No. First, your example is operating under the assumption that guns are the only weapons out there, and that nobody could threaten me with anything that I couldn't easy deal with by using my bare hands alone. This is patently untrue. Where guns are restricted and/or banned, criminals simply switch to things like knives and baseball bats. (They also become far more active, as they know the chances of their victim being able to defend himself successfully are far closer to zero than they were before the ban. Oh, they also tend to keep on using guns anyway, being criminals that couldn't care less about laws against guns, but I don't want to get into a statistical pissing match here.)

And second, guns simply cannot be made "mostly inaccessible," particularly from those who most want to use them for criminal purposes. You can make a gun by hand if you really want to. You can make your own gunpowder and bullets too. The information is out there and has been for hundreds of years, and will not ever go away. (Granted, your homemade gun wouldn't be the most accurate or safe-for-the-user gun on the planet, but it would work.) So banning the gun would be essentially as effective as banning the chalupa. The law-abiders would stop eating at their beloved Taco Bell, and the lawbreakers would be churning out fried tortillas in their basements by the truckload.

I realize that so many people in the U.S. are armed that it would take years to make a level playing field. It's a state of mind, though: you have to want to be without guns, and all that goes with it. You may find yourself in a better place.

You say this as if Canada is a gun-free Utopia.
posted by aaron at 2:59 PM on March 31, 2002


Gun-free utopia? Of course not. I'm 33 years old and have never seen a gun, police weapons not included. Make what you will of that.

Your "if you can't beat them, might as well join them" attitude is what frustrates me the most. Have some backbone and make a decision that is truly important: look, really look at the pros and cons of guns, and, with the most objectivity you can muster, tell me, no, prove to me that having the average individual bear arms is a good and smart thing to do.

I can do without chalupas just as easily as without guns. It's just a decision.
posted by ashbury at 3:36 PM on March 31, 2002


Gun-free utopia? Of course not. I'm 33 years old and have never seen a gun, police weapons not included. Make what you will of that.

I make of it that you've both intentionally sheltered yourself from the gun culture of Canada (which very much exists, but it's fine with me if you're not into it) and been lucky enough to never have been the victim of gun-related violence in Canada (which also very much exists).

Your "if you can't beat them, might as well join them" attitude is what frustrates me the most.

That's not my attitude. I believe Americans have the right to own guns, period. That right would continue to exist even if the level of violence on the entire planet dropped to zero tomorrow. I simply think your argument is not at all realistic, given the nature of humanity and of information.

Have some backbone and make a decision that is truly important: look, really look at the pros and cons of guns, and, with the most objectivity you can muster, tell me, no, prove to me that having the average individual bear arms is a good and smart thing to do.

Translation: "Until you agree with me, you're either avoiding the 'real issues' or you're just stupid." With a little logical fallacy thrown in ("I say X. Prove X not true or I win.") Sorry, I'm not playing that game. I don't care THAT much if you disagree with me or not; you're welcome to your opinion, especially since, as a Canadian, you cannot take away my American rights. If you think you can get guns completely banned up there, and get your entire population to agree with you on it, and that it will actually stop violence, then more power to you, and time will prove one of us right and one of us wrong. Good luck.

I can do without chalupas just as easily as without guns. It's just a decision.

Yes, it is. I personally do not own a gun myself. It was just a decision I made. However, the right to chalupas is not enshrined in the US Constitution.
posted by aaron at 4:57 PM on March 31, 2002


I came on a little heavy there. Sorry.

I'm very aware that there are plenty of guns in Canada. I've been fortunate enough not have seen any, altho I've seen plenty incidents where guns may have been present, just not obvious.

It always boils down to a question of ideology. You believe that your right to bear arms is "enshrined in the US Constitution", and that the 2nd Amendment is completely sensible and right. That's fine. I can't convince you that it's not. I'm not entirely convinced that the 2nd Amendment is wrong, but I do believe that what the 2nd intends is not what the reality of gun use and ownership is today.

Final point. I don't necessarily see banning guns as a realistic objective. Most Canadians, in my opinion, don't see the need to be armed. We don't think that we need to be armed to defend ourselves, therefore gun control isn't a big issue.

I didn't mean to put you in the position of trying to prove that guns are bad, even tho it came out that way. You are quite correct in not wanting to go in that direction. The intention was to make you think about the issue as objectively as possible and for me to think as objectively about your answer. There's no right or wrong in this debate; there's only the question of how you want to live your life.
posted by ashbury at 6:11 PM on March 31, 2002


Gun culture of Canada my ass. If Ashbury is a city kid, it's very unlikely that he'd ever have occassion to see a gun: they're simply not required in cities.

I grew up in the sticks. Our family had several rifles and shotguns: we hunted our food. It was an appropriate tool for a necessary job.

I've friends who've lived in cities all their lives. They've never handled a gun. And there's every chance they, like Ashbury, haven't seen a gun in the flesh. Why on earth would they? They're not an appropriate tool for city living. And since I've moved into civilization, whaddya know, I haven't seen any guns. Quelle surprise.

There is a distinct and real cultural difference between our nations: the USA is far more violent than Canada.

Per-capita, homicides are 3x greater in the USA than in Canada. Further, 2/3rds of your homicides are gun deaths, while only 1/3rd of ours are -- in other words, you are six times more likely to die by firearm in the USA.

Of course, every gun-supportin' red-blooded American would like you to believe that packin' heat reduces crime.

Except that not only are there more robberies (per capita) occuring in the USA, chances are 3.5x greater that a gun will be used in the robbery! So much for the "deterrent" effect.

We could cut directly to a cost-benefit analysis: cost of death and injury by firearms is about $500/citizen in the USA, and only $200 per citizen in Canada.

Any way you cut it, guns are costing America a lot: a lot more deaths, a lot more dollars, and a lot more risk.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:15 PM on March 31, 2002


Ah, ye old lies, damned lies and statistics game. Congratulations, fff, on managing to filter out of your Instanalysis: That America has a many more large, inner cities where most of that crime tends to occur, cities that tend to be run by people with ideologies far closer to yours than to mine (note vast reduction in crime in NYC after the Democrats lost mayoral control to Giuliani); that everywhere gun control is repealed in the US, crime goes down; the utter lack of a relationship between the stats you list; the sins of omission (single example: more likely to die by firearms in the US, since we actually have more? No shit? I suppose you prefer dying by baseball bat? You're equally dead either way); the complete lack of evidence in your stats that the US is more violent BECAUSE OF the accessiblity of guns; etc.

The only part of your self-selected statistical coredump that's actually realistic is that overall, the US is indeed a more violent place than Canada. The reasons why are many and varied, and go back several hundred years. And you haven't touched on any of them, except for the single sentence clause about "a distinct and real cultural difference," an argument you then immediately abandoned to go on your anti-gun rampage.

Oh, by the way, in the United States we don't decide what rights our citizens should have based on monetary cost. Somehow, I doubt Canadians do either.

Thanks for your last post, ashbury. I think you're quite right about the different cultural outlooks. Though I think for many of us in the US, it's as much about Constitutional constructionism as it is a felt need to physically posess a gun for defensive purposes, at least not today with crime rates way WAY down in most places. Like I said, I don't personally have one, but I gave it a good bit of thought, post-Columbine as the Million Mom March started to look like they might do real damage, purely as a move to protect my rights, not my person. Luckily the MMM ended up riling up so many real gun owners that they effectively destoyed the entire gun control movement in the US.
posted by aaron at 7:53 PM on March 31, 2002


not to mention the fact - the large, eerily absent fact - that Canada has a much smaller population than the US, and therefore much fewer people to kill with guns. Of course less people are dead from firearm-related incidents; there are less of us to kill.

that out of the way, in what type of incident do you think your handgun is going to help you? seriously. I'm interested in what "just in case" you bought your .22 for.
posted by Nyx at 11:09 PM on March 31, 2002


I can't leave you people alone for one day, can I?

I'm just here to show that, yes, the second amendment really does say what it says. You don't have to like it, but denying the reality of it gets you nowhere.
posted by NortonDC at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2002


With all this incredibly close reading of the Second Amendment, I'm surprised no one has mentioned if it has been incorporated or not. To my knowledge, it hasn't. Does someone know of a Supreme Court case that would prove me wrong?
posted by skoosh at 4:11 PM on April 1, 2002


NortonDC: My last response was a little unclear obviously. Let me try again: You were right; I was wrong. I wholeheartedly apologize for impugning your grammatical knowledge.
posted by boaz at 7:36 PM on April 1, 2002


Okay.
posted by NortonDC at 7:53 PM on April 1, 2002


Skoosh: no it hasn't been incorporated.

For those of you that haven't studied Constitutional law, that means that it is does not apply to states. (i.e. states can pass any gun control laws they want, including a total ban, unless the Supreme Court says otherwise).

Of course, a big part of the reason why it hasn't been incorporated is because, as I said above, most courts interpret United States v. Miller as holding that there is no individual right to bear arms in the first place, but only a right of the states to have "well-regulated militias", which itself has been negated by the advent of the National Guard.

Here in New York City, I believe that it is completely illegal to own a gun. Why hasn't the NRA challenged this in court? Because they know they would lose.
posted by boltman at 5:02 PM on April 2, 2002


« Older The New Patronage?   |   Yahoo Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments