More calls for stricter gun laws.
October 28, 2002 10:45 AM   Subscribe

More calls for stricter gun laws. Would new gun laws help or would criminals like John Mohammed just ignore any new laws and find a way to acquire more weapons anyway? [more inside]
posted by jasontromm (164 comments total)
 
There was an interesting exchange between Nina Totenberg and Charles Krauthammer on Inside Washington.

Totenberg: "If we think we're going to fight the war on terrorism without some sort of significant gun control, we are crazy. This was a military weapon, a copy of a military weapon. There is no reason to have such a gun, there is no reason not to have fingerprinting of these weapons so that we can tell what gun fired it."

Krauthammer: "Let me tell me assure you of one thing: Terrorists will find guns whether they're legal or not. It will make no difference. Al-Qaeda doesn't observe gun laws."

Who do you agree with, Nina or Charles?
posted by jasontromm at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2002


Well, I don't know, but Charles' argument is stupid.
How does he know this? Does he sell illegal guns to terrorists?
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:54 AM on October 28, 2002


If people want guns, they will get guns, no matter how many laws there are. If they can't get guns, they'll get knives, if they can't get knives, they'll get boards with nails in them. And someday we'll create a board with a nail so big that it will kill us all.
Seriously though, being someone who's never owned a gun, nor had the inclination to, I can say that if I really wanted a gun, I've had lots of opportunity to acquire them, legally or otherwise. And I live in Canada; where gun owners are tattooed, tagged, and fingerprinted sixteen times on the way to gun ownership.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:57 AM on October 28, 2002


In random discussions on this topic I've wondered two things:

1. Why isn't education on gun use more accessible? I'm a strong supporter of stricter gun control, yet I think education is always better than ignorance.

2. Would finding a way to slow production of certain firearms make any difference? It may be difficult, probably impossible, but if there were fewer guns to buy in the first place they would be both harder to buy and easier to keep track of.
posted by valval22 at 11:01 AM on October 28, 2002


Right, but because there are ways to illegally get guns even if there are laws in place to prevent it, we should abandon all pretense of gun control and just make it OK to let whomever buy whatever?
Where's the baby? Oh, I just emptied the bath.
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:02 AM on October 28, 2002


I can assure you, if the US stops making and supplying the weapons to terrorists then they won't have them. They don't make Smith & Wesson, Glock, H&K, Mossberg, etc. are not companies based in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are in "developed" nations. I own guns. I use guns for recreation, etc. and I say that there is absolutely no reason for anyone outside of the military to have a military style weapon and no, terrorists and criminals will not have those weapons if they are not legally sold, because they will have to learn to make them themselves (unless of course our government gives them to them as is often the case).

Can anyone give me a justifiable reason why anyone would need an AR-15 outside of the military? If you can, I would really like to hear it. I really would. Oh, and "they're fun" is not enough here, please!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:03 AM on October 28, 2002


I love it that the gun lobby uses the "well, criminals can always get guns, so they should be available to everyone" argument....but that these people completely balk when the same argument is used by drug legalization advocates, namely, that drugs are massively available everwhere illegally, so why not make them legal? Anyone else notice the disconnect here?
posted by pjgulliver at 11:04 AM on October 28, 2002


Well, let's see Nina says, "There is no reason to have such a gun." I disagree with that. Where I come from, a Bushmaster is commonly used for sport hunting. I know some people who eat more venison than beef so they have a need for such weapons.

Nina also says, "there is no reason not to have fingerprinting of these weapons so that we can tell what gun fired it." Here she shows her complete ignorance of any kind of weapon. What happens when you change the barrel on your rifle? It changes the so-called fingerprint. What happens if you replace the firing mechanism? It changes the so-called fingerprint.

I agree with Charles when he says, "Terrorists will find guns whether they're legal or not." If they can't buy them here, they'll buy them overseas. We may not know for sure whether Al-Qaeda obeys gun laws or not but we can take a pretty good guess. ;-)
posted by jasontromm at 11:08 AM on October 28, 2002


More calls for stricter gun laws.

Politicians will simply drag their feet on any meaningful gun control debate until the furor over the sniper attacks dies down and the public once again loses interest. It's far too much of a hot button issue for them to deal with.

(See Shootings, Columbine)
posted by mathis23 at 11:19 AM on October 28, 2002


gulliver, as an NRA member and a card-carrying Libertarian I support the use of guns and the legalization of marijuana. Just thought you might want to know.
posted by jasontromm at 11:19 AM on October 28, 2002


I can assure you, if the US stops making and supplying the weapons to terrorists then they won't have them. Smith & Wesson, Glock, H&K, Mossberg, etc. are not companies based in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are in "developed" nations. I own guns. I use guns for recreation, etc. and I say that there is absolutely no reason for anyone outside of the military to have a military style weapon and no, terrorists and criminals will not have those weapons if they are not legally sold, because they will have to learn to make them themselves (unless of course our government gives them to them as is often the case).

Can anyone give me a justifiable reason why anyone would need an AR-15 outside of the military? If you can, I would really like to hear it. I really would. Oh, and "they're fun" is not enough here, please!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:22 AM on October 28, 2002


Gun laws and the sniper:

MeFi thread number one

number two
posted by matteo at 11:25 AM on October 28, 2002


jasontromm, since you've sided with Charles on this, let me ask you a few questions.

You argue (and I agree) that shotguns are common and useful for hunting, but do you see any reason to own a high-powered, high caliber rifle? Any reason to have semi-automatic handguns when hunting? How about fully automatic machine guns?

I'm of the mind that guns should be legal for citizens, when used for hunting or sport. That usually means they have three-foot-long barrels and shoot one or two shells at a time.

What I don't see any civilian purpose for are automatic weapons and weapons capable of piercing tank armor. If terroists will still find them, and you want to stick to that argument, as mentioned drugs, prostitution, and heck, even weapons of mass destruction should be legalized, since terrorists have the tendency to get their hands freely on them.
posted by mathowie at 11:25 AM on October 28, 2002


If Ted Nugent can kill deer with a crossbow, I think it's hard to argue that you need assault rifles to hunt. It may make hunting easier, but it's not necessary.
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:29 AM on October 28, 2002


(and I don't see why anyone would need guns except to hunt or to shoot at little bits of paper...)
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:35 AM on October 28, 2002


Guns are for wussies. Me, I'm old school. I just wrestle the fucking deer to the ground.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2002


Where I come from, a Bushmaster is commonly used for sport hunting.

I suppose when it comes right down to it, you could use an M1A1 Abrams for sport hunting too.

Where is the line?
posted by mathis23 at 11:38 AM on October 28, 2002


pollomacho - my dad has an AR-15, and I posed this question to him.
The answer...ready for it...
Because Clinton and the gun grabbers want to take them away.
Wow. Can't argue with logic like that, eh?
Said father let one of the grandkids handle the fucking thing with a round in it.
My Military siblings think he's an idiot.

Anybody out there have a better reason to own an AR-15?
posted by 2sheets at 11:39 AM on October 28, 2002


Fabulon7: (and I don't see why anyone would need guns except to hunt or to shoot at little bits of paper...)

I think there might be a few of the law enforcement types that would disagree with you.
posted by blogRot at 11:39 AM on October 28, 2002


Guns are for wussies. Me, I'm old school. I just wrestle the fucking deer to the ground.
posted by Ty Webb


Wrestling deer is for wussies, I just give em my crazy mofo look and they gut themselves an' leap into my cookfire.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:42 AM on October 28, 2002


I just wrestle the fucking deer to the ground.

I setup a high director's chair, a stiff martini, don my silk smoking jacket, and lambast the deer with catty insults.

"Oh, you can tell he's had horn work done"

"Honey, wearing carmel colored coats is soooooo last year."

"I've seen better looking hind quarters on my pool boy"

Eventually they get so demoralized they turn to sleeping pills or cocaine, after which I simply place the OD'ed deers on my hood and drive home.
posted by mathowie at 11:43 AM on October 28, 2002


If people are going to break laws why have ANY for that matter? Then we would actually need automatic weapons in every home! Oh, well if terrorists are going to have them anyway then let's just be sure to make it as easy as possible!

You can take down MANY more deer than a family could possibly eat with a bolt action rifle or a shotgun in places like South Carolina, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Colorado. I'm still wondering why a civilian model M-16 even justifies production. A .223 is not even a very good round for hunting any kind of game, well except maybe the two legged kind...
posted by Pollomacho at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2002


Pollo:

I'm not going to get too in depth into the whole constitutional angle, but my personal belief is that "we the people" should be allowed to posses weapons equal to that of the military.

Yes, this includes automatic weapons and destructive devices, etc. But with that, I also feel that we need to enforce the existing laws and make the punishments stiffer for criminal use of firearms.

I may be biased, I spent a number of years working in the firearms industry, but I feel that there may be a time that "we the people" may need to take up arms to defend our land from enemies "foreign or domestic."

I'm not the one who murdered ten people... why should I be punished?
posted by darian at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2002


Please, I hadn't even realised that I was hoping that I didn't have to point out that I didn't mean the police shouldn't have guns.
Although, as an aside, the police force of St. John's Nfld. did not have guns until a few years ago. I was in town a few weeks after they started packing heat. Most of the citizens were not pleased about it. They didn't understand why the cops needed them.
So, you see, it's not entirely absolute. Look at England--how long was it before their regular police started carrying firearms?
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:55 AM on October 28, 2002


So by your reasoning darian we should have a tactical nuclear weapon in every home?

There is a line somewhere that divides what are reasonable "arms" and what are destructive to the community at large so much so that there ought to be restrictions.

From my perspective Gun ownership should not be outlawed but certainly should be regulated to the fullest extent possible.
posted by aaronscool at 12:03 PM on October 28, 2002


Why oh why does everyone want to take away my right to get high and shoot shit?

I'll be good, I swear!
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:15 PM on October 28, 2002




I'm not going to get too in depth into the whole constitutional angle, but my personal belief is that "we the people" should be allowed to posses weapons equal to that of the military.


so you feel that individuals should be able to purchase tanks, bazookas, stinger missles, atomic bombs? That's just stupid. Nice country you live in, where a heavily armed kill-crazy rampage happens about two, three times a month.
posted by sic at 12:17 PM on October 28, 2002


And if you're pro gun and pro-law, why won't you agree to registering guns, and providing some sort of tracking mechanism (such as ballistics fingerprinting) for each gun? Law enforcement agencies want this to help them solve crimes.

Just because someone can get around the law, doesn't mean it's not a good law. Most people can't install a new light switch in their houses. The number that can change a gun barrel is not doubt even smaller.
posted by Red58 at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2002


Although it has become cliche in these debates, it holds true-
If I want to drive a car, I have to take a written and field test, have my eyes checked, and my records are checked for any outstanding fines, warrants, etc.
If I want to drive a truck, I have to take more tests, pay more fees, and agree to piss in a cup on demand.

I have to take out an insurance policy.

Any vehicle I own must be registered, and in many states must be certified to be in safe working order and equipped with safety equipment.

My records are cross-referenced with other states to help prevent my skirting the system.

But I can buy all the guns I want and it's none of your business.
posted by 2sheets at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2002


Oh, and good thing you didn´t get too into the constitutional angle, where it is clearly stated that "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."

A gun club is not a WELL REGULATED MILITIA!
posted by sic at 12:20 PM on October 28, 2002


Gun control does one thing -- It prevents law-abiding citizens from acquiring firearms. If you don't feel that innate desire to obey the law, then there are plenty of other ways to acquire weapons.

Criminals, terrorists, and psychopaths will always have access to firearms. No legislation can prevent that. The only thing legislation can do is prevent people from purchasing firearms for self-defense and other reasonable (and legal) purposes.
posted by oissubke at 12:21 PM on October 28, 2002


5.56x45mm (.223) is a poor choice for deer hunting, as it makes the deer suffer by bleeding out slowly. 7.62x51mm (.308 - the round most commonly used by any kind of real sniper) would be a better choice for hunting deer. For coyotes going after your herd, however, the AR-15 is the perfect weapon - plenty of followup shots with a 20-round preban magazine, and 5.56 has a wonderfully flat trajectory. There are real uses for these weapons, albeit mostly for ranchers.

How are the criminals going to get guns if we outlaw them? Answer: many .50cal rifle shops are operated out of what amounts to an overgrown garage business. The results may look crude, but they work and can kill you from a 1000m away (or about 10x what the DC sniper was pulling). Making bullets is very much a garage phenomenon simply because with care almost anyone can produce highly effective results, not just the 3-4 best engineers in your local Montana militia chapter.

Fabrication is in the hands of the people, and as long as this is the case outlawing semi-automatic rifles (nevermind that the sniper's results could easily have been replicated with a bolt-action rifle such as are still legal even in England) because of incidents like the sniper defies basic logic. Nevermind that the borders are demonstrably porous (thank you booming illegal drug industry). Fingerprinting is not just a hopeless task but is outright humorous due to the ease of circumventing it with files for riflings and changing barrels/firing pins.

What should change in current legislation: handguns need even more stringent regulation, and an upgrade of the punishments for their use in a crime would be welcome. These weapons are (unlike rifles) easily concealed, easily carried, and easy for a robber or gang member to run away from the scene of a crime still carrying. The majority of gun deaths are directly caused by this class of weapons and they honestly need to be nailed down. Matt, not to get on your case but the phrase 'semi-automatic handguns' is almost meaningless in this case - almost all handguns manufactured and sold today are semi-automatic, and revolvers fire just as quickly in sequence. The only real difference is number of rounds between reloads and length of time to reload (there are reloading devices for revolvers that negate this).

I'd almost prefer an outright ban of handgun ownership at this point, and simply tell 'home defence' people "screw you, a shotgun is a better choice anyway", but frankly Bill Gates' bodyguards have a legitimate interest in having access to concealed handguns. The situation is problematic.

As 'cool' as 5.7mm/4.6mm weapons are, the almost complete ban on them for civilian use needs to stay in effect.

Currently, rifles aren't really the problem. I think repealing some of the stupider 'it looks scary' laws would be a smart choice simply for the sake of honesty and consistency in legislation, but I realize that's an unrealistic goal in the current political climate. If it became a problem, a complete ban on private ownership of automatic weapons, and 'drop-in' conversion kits to upgrade AR-15s to fully automatic weapons (thus effectively making them real M16A1s) might be a good idea in the future. Currently obtaining these weapons (not to mention silencers) is about as difficult as buying a car - that might be due for a change.
posted by Ryvar at 12:29 PM on October 28, 2002


The constitution also says that we have freedom of the press, does that mean that kiddie porn is justified? One person's rights end where an other's begin. Why should I be punished by having to duck behind my car for three weeks so that Ted Nugent's "constitutional right" to take out a deer with a .50-cal is upheld. In the US we have an armed militia under an elected (lets not go into that) civilian command, as a matter of fact we actually have a four part militia, called the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. They are commanded by a private civilian, his name is George. This militia was establish by another guy named George to protect us from "enemies both foreign & domestic" that they do, usually fairly well, thus, our Constitutional Right to form a militia to bear arms has already been taken care of. If you are suggesting that you personally need a military firearm to protect yourself from this militia, then you are guilty of sedition and should count yourself as a member of that group of enemies of the state, but I don't think that that's what you meant. How exactly do you mean that prying your AR-15 from your very living hand is in any way a punishment? Who are these enemies that want to harm you so badly that you need armor piercing rounds or black talons or fully auto assault rifles? Hell, why stop with them, why not a vulcan cannon or mounting some sort of surface to air system on the family station wagon? Look, I keep and use guns for sporting purposes. I don't want to punish anyone lawful nor stand in the way of feeding their family, protecting themselves or from having a good, safe time with some gun sports, I just don't understand why I have to be punished by having to dodge rounds from some gang bangers semi-auto SKS or a sniper's .223 when I go to the Home Depot, just because there is some supposed threat to our lively hood!?! Who is threatening you/us? Have you called the police? Your congressman? The National Guard? Should the jack-booted thugs start marching, please by all means call me, I will bring my hunting rifles and shot guns and we'll do our best to stop them, but I just don't see that happening any time soon. Come on the kids in Red Dawn could do it with their deer rifles, why can't we?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:29 PM on October 28, 2002


Tactical nuclear weaponry couldn't be applied effectively in a domestic situation, so no, I don't fel it would be necessary to have that to keep even with the military forces. The point is to be able to stand up and be able to fight for your freedom should it become necessary... not to obliterate the entire ecosystem of a nation.

Why should OWNERSHIP be regulated? Why not just make the punishments for their abuse more severe? That way, the good, law-abiding citizens who enjoy firearms can posess and use them without hassle... but the criminals are punished.
posted by darian at 12:33 PM on October 28, 2002


BEST.BUMPER.STICKER.EVER

"If they outlaw guns, only the outlaws will shoot their children by accident."
posted by machaus at 12:34 PM on October 28, 2002


On a related but tangential topic, did you all know that toy stores no longer sell toy guns? I was innocently putting together my Trinity (Matrix) costume for a Halloween party this weekend and could not find toy weaponry ANYWHERE. I was told by a 16-year-old at Toys R Us that no one carries them anymore. What is childhood without destructive weapons? Am I misremembering that when I was growing up in the 80s, there were aisles upon aisles of toy firearms in stores like Toys R Us? When did this change happen, and why?
posted by anyasar at 12:36 PM on October 28, 2002


As for .50cal weapons, Pollomacho - nobody commits crimes (all of one that I'm aware of) with those because lugging a 30lb weapon (plus 1/3lb. *per round*) away from the scene of the crime makes it rather difficult to run.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of deaths due to handguns every year. Shouldn't the focus lie on the source of the problem?
posted by Ryvar at 12:38 PM on October 28, 2002


anyasar

Just buy a real gun, it is much easier, just try not to load it

ps Please post pics of self in Trinity costume
posted by matteo at 12:43 PM on October 28, 2002


I think the Arizona shootings that just happened might actually be more relevant to this question than John Muhammad. John Muhammad is someone who has committed other crimes besides the DC shootings (robbing a liquor store, immigrant-smuggling, assault, etc.) It seems likely that he could find an illegal gun relatively easily.

The Arizona nursing student who shot up his professors, on the other hand--maybe he would have thought twice about what he was doing if he had to have, for example, a gun-training course and exam analogous to what one would need to have to buy and drive a car in the US? (Or, failing that, perhaps someone would have noticed that he was as crazy as a truckload of batshit?)

Maybe not, but I'm often surprised by how many of these workplace/school shootings happen with Brand New Gun
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:45 PM on October 28, 2002


Al-Qaeda doesn't observe gun laws.

Well, I don't know, but Charles' argument is stupid.
How does he know this? Does he sell illegal guns to terrorists?


How does he know? Any one can look it up:

Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics: Firearm Use by Offenders
  • Purchased from a retail store 8.3%
  • Purchased at a pawn shop 3.8%
  • Purchased at a flea market 1.0%
  • Purchased in a gun show 0.7%
  • Obtained from friends or family 39.6%
  • Got on the street/illegal source 39.2%
79% of the guns were obtained from sources that no gun laws can regulate. I am not saying "No Gun Control whatsoever ever" but new laws do nothing but prevent law-abiding citizens from buying guns that they have a constitutional right to.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:45 PM on October 28, 2002


Look at England--how long was it before their regular police started carrying firearms?
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:55 AM PST on October 28


Our regular cops still do not carry weapons, and - as far as I can tell - that's how most Brits want it to stay. Gun crime has increased in the past few years, but I don't particularly feel less safe: I don't associate with drug dealers or criminals, and I have never heard a shot fired.

Criminals do get hold of guns in this country, and they do hurt folks (prolly, I'm not sure, rival gangsters). But even tho our cops don't wear a gun as part of the uniform, the ones issued to the back-up patrols now on 24 hr standby seem to kill enough citizens, anyway.

There was a time in the - what - 18th Century, when Gentlemen did carry (ceremonial) swords, I believe. Maybe they felt safer then. I wouldnt: unless everyone had one, I would see it as a disguised aristocratic social control technique.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:48 PM on October 28, 2002


Why should OWNERSHIP be regulated? Why not just make the punishments for their abuse more severe?

I think it has something to do with deterence not working.
posted by boltman at 12:49 PM on October 28, 2002


Funny how the NRA just rachets down their rhetoric an order of magnitude or two while a nut reduces the population of the DC area to a fearful herd of deer.

Odd that Chuck Heston was nowhere to be found in the media either. And it never occurs to our "fourth estate" to march up to his door and stick a mike in his face and ask him how the right to gun ownership is in anyway helping the average "citizen" in such a crisis. The NRA professes to abvance the gun rights of Citizens (as opposed to everyone in in the US who can as easily buy a firearm).

as an NRA member and a card-carrying Libertarian

The genius of the NRA is that it convinces people like this MeFi'er that they are in existence to help the common (wo)man preserve their "constitutional" right to buy guns when in fact, they represent first and foremost the Gun Manufacturers and the continued right to manufacture and sell as many guns as the market will bear, all related costs to society be damned.

Its that kind of a sick joke only a Manson, or Chapman or Berkowitz or Mohammed.

In a related note, the line to see Bowling for Columbine was around the block this weekend, so hope springs eternal.
posted by BentPenguin at 12:51 PM on October 28, 2002


Thank you Ryvar for answering the justification question. Varmint plinking would definitely be a good use of a semi-auto, light weight, but ranged weapon. Not completely sure it justifies their manufacture on a broad scale as I'm pretty sure (though I could be wrong) that most folks who buy them are not ranchers out to protect the herd from coyotes. I also live back east where one shot from your hunting rifle seems to run off the coyotes for miles around, even if you miss.

I am curious though about a couple of postings, the old argument that "If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" So say all the assault rifles and .38 specials are banned, who's house is supposed to be broken into for somebody to get one of these? In countries where the law abiding don't have guns, the criminals don't have many either, a few, yes, but if you pull a gun, you are in serious sh*t from the word go.

As for porous borders, the guns come from here for the most part. If they can't be made and sold here, then they aren't made and sold. How many MP-3's get sold in Germany? You think the Chinese sells that many SKS's in China? You think Colt would still make AR-15's if they couldn't sell them in the US? Who would buy them elsewhere? There aren't enough foreign nations with liberal enough gun laws and even fewer with enough cash for more than a couple of sales a year. Sure some stolen military gear or some raided stockpile somewhere would leak in, but why make it that much easier to have these kinds of weapons? Who has the advantage now? Certainly not the law abiding or law enforcement!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:55 PM on October 28, 2002


I just don't understand why I have to be punished by having to dodge rounds from some gang bangers semi-auto SKS

And what are the odds that weapon was obtained legally?

Personally i'm against new anti-gun laws, i'm for legalizing some currently illegal drugs as well. I'm for stronger punishment for crimes committed with a gun.

You aren't going to stop criminals from obtaining weapons, and law enforcement can't always protect you.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:56 PM on October 28, 2002


Meanwhile, there are thousands of deaths due to handguns every year. Shouldn't the focus lie on the source of the problem?

Not that I necessarily disagree with you, but you could also go over the top and mention how few people die from nuclear weapons each year... yet there's still a lot of focus on getting rid of them.

79% of the guns were obtained from sources that no gun laws can regulate.

Actually, that's not necessarily true. Those stats show that ~85% of weapons involved were second hand, but they couldn't have materialised out of nowhere. Control would surely have an effect on volume, by restricting first-hand access to weapons. (Of course, this wouldn't be reflected in percentages such as these.)

prevent law-abiding citizens from buying guns that they have a constitutional right to

All very wishy-washy in a way. You see, my argument would be that this shouldn't be a right, and therefore citizens carrying weapons wouldn't be law-abiding. Problem solved.
posted by digiboy at 12:56 PM on October 28, 2002


Red58, re: ballistic fingerprinting...

My reservations for more "registration" is that it provides a list should there come a day that mere possession of firearms is illegal. If that fear was not present, then I wouldn't have any problem with that sort of thing.

As for the ballistic fingerprinting, it really wouldn't be effective. It is simpler than just changing the barrel... all you need is a properly sized drill bit or specialized bore brush.... (which i can guarantee will be marketed and sold if they do go to ballistic fingerprinting) It's a novel idea, and could be something that the start implimenting with manufacturers as they move forward, but the sheer number of those "grandfathered in" wouldn't let it be effective for many many years.

2sheets, re: licenses...

The right to keep and drive cars isn't in the Constitution.... but I personally feel that there should be mandatory safety training for EVERYONE about firearms. perhaps a one day class during the senior year in high school or something. Thye don' have to go shooting or anything that could compromise beliefs about weapons... but they would be taught about proper and safehandling of weapons, and told horror stories of natural selection at work. Sorta like watching "Red Asphalt."

sic, re: constitutional angle...

United Sates Code, Title 10, Chapter 13-The Militia, Section 311 "Militia: composition and classes-(a)The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are commissioned officers of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are- (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."

_I_ am the militia... and possibly even you.


Ryvar, re: drop in conversions...

The drop in kits are already illegal. The BATF classifies the drop in autosears just the same as an automatic weapon. Also, even though the autosear is a drop in part, there is still a minor amount of gunsmithing knowledge required to install the trigger group and fullauto bolt and bolt carrier.
posted by darian at 12:57 PM on October 28, 2002


Gun control does one thing -- It prevents law-abiding citizens from acquiring firearms. If you don't feel that innate desire to obey the law, then there are plenty of other ways to acquire weapons.

Criminals, terrorists, and psychopaths will always have access to firearms. No legislation can prevent that. The only thing legislation can do is prevent people from purchasing firearms for self-defense and other reasonable (and legal) purposes.
posted by oissubke at 12:21 PM PST on October 28


Huh?

I would have thought that in most states - correct me if I'm wrong, I write at some distance - the right to bear arms is protected, and licenses were easier to obtain for the 'law abiding' - they'd have the cleanest records, right?
Plus: Can you spot the contradiction in this sentence - "The only thing legislation can do is prevent people from purchasing firearms for self-defense and other reasonable (and legal) purposes."...if the legislation says it is illegal to purchase a gun, then the purpose cannot be deemed legal, can it? Wouldn't one or the other be struck down? Only asking...
posted by dash_slot- at 1:04 PM on October 28, 2002


Much of this talk focuses on banning assault or military style rifles. Perhaps the current ban on importation could be strengthened to include sale or possession. However, it would be politically impossible to extend such a ban to bolt action hunting rifles. A large caliber bolt action deer rifle would have been even more deadly than the .223 used by the DC area snipers. Such a ban would not have prevented these shootings. Better background checks and might have, but what if the next sniper has no criminal record and no restraining order? Since gun murders with rifles are relatively rare, I would prefer to focus gun control efforts on the main culprits, handguns.
posted by caddis at 1:06 PM on October 28, 2002


Actually, that's not necessarily true.

How do you figure? 79% of the guns came from sources that have no regulation what so ever. There is law that can stop me, a normal citizen, from buying a gun legally, and turning around and to sell/give to my criminal brother/buddy and him to use it or reselling it.

Most criminals don't want the police to be able to trace the weapon. Why would you go into a gunstore/show where you have to show proof of who you are, and therefore leave a record of who bought the gun.

my argument would be that this shouldn't be a right, and therefore citizens carrying weapons wouldn't be law-abiding.

Well, thankfully it is a right here in the United States.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:07 PM on October 28, 2002


err that should be: There is no law that can stop me,
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:08 PM on October 28, 2002


79% of the guns were obtained from sources that no gun laws can regulate.

Gross and incorrect assumption:

Obtained from friends or family 39.6%

And where did they get them?


Purchased at a pawn shop 3.8%

Purchased at a flea market 1.0%

Purchased in a gun show 0.7%


You have just said that these sources of sale cannot be regulated? I'd like proof. That leaves 39.2% that were obtained illegally (stolen or purchased on the street). From this fact you leap to the conclusion that no laws can affect these sales. That is an assumption. Since that 39.2% also includes guns stolen from homes, I ask, could they be stolen if the guns weren't in the homes to begin with? No. Where are the street vendors getting the guns? Aren't you assuming that the source of these weapons is illegal from the get-go? Prove that please.


but new laws do nothing but prevent law-abiding citizens from buying guns that they have a constitutional right to.

I'm not a fan of gun-control laws, but this specious and weak-minded argument really makes me sick. 1) It assumes that all gun-control legislation is the same, 2) it assumes that gun-control legislation prohibits legal acquisition instead of facilitating legal acquisition by more clearly defining the legal circumstances under which a "law-abiding" citizen can own a gun, 3) it assumes that people are of two-types "law-abiding and criminal". We ain't born that way, and many a "law-abiding" gunowner has destroyed public property for fun, or popped his kid by accident, or whacked a spouse in fit of rage. Wouldn't it be nice to actually catch some of these formerly "law-abiding" criminal types? 4) it relays on the 2nd amendment agreement with private gun ownership as a given rather than a legal process in dispute.

Sorry there, Steve@L, but why don't you try coming up a good argument instead of parroting the NRA?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:10 PM on October 28, 2002


This reminds me a bit of the "if you're against abortion, don't have one" argument. Although not a big fan of guns, this seems like really terrible time to start hacking away at yet another constitutionally-protected right with laws that, it seems most agree, will be miniscually (don't think that's a word) effective at best. Police states begin with citizens giving up guns. A unarmed public is a lot easy to push around than an armed one. *Insert other gun-related civil liberties enthusiast rhetoric/ slogan here* darian, totally with you on the required class for gun safety. Right on.
posted by anyasar at 1:13 PM on October 28, 2002


OK. Can anyone site to me the last time citizens had a legitimate disagreement with a local/state/federal government in the US that the only recourse was through the use of gun violence? And that afterwards it was declared that the citizens were in the right? I don't think one exists.

Beyond that, does anyone know of statistics that show the number of crimes prevented by "law abiding" citizens who use a gun in the crime prevention? Like a table of statistics that show the number of little old ladies who pack heat and use that to foil a mugging/break in? I would like to see that list, and the amount of economic activity preserved through the owning of guns, compared to the number of wrongful deaths from fire arms each year and an estimate of its cost to society.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:18 PM on October 28, 2002


To clarify something about the tired "You don't need an assault rifle to hunt deer" argument: The purpose of the right to bear arms isn't so that we can go hunting. Hunting has nothing to do with it.

We have the right to bear arms so that we can kill people if it becomes necessary. If there's a war, if there's a terrorist attack, if our government turns against us, whatever -- the purpose of the right to bear arms is so that human beings can protect themselves from other human beings.

I'm not a gun nut. I don't even own a gun. I've only fired a gun three times in my life and got no particular thrill from it. I'm just tired of hearing the same misguided, uninformed argument over and over.
posted by oissubke at 1:19 PM on October 28, 2002


You're right, the odds that an SKS was manufactured, shipped and imported legally by gang bangers is nil. Those rifles are sold mainly by the crate to gun dealers who sell them $100 a pop at gun shows (yes, that cheap I've seen/used them) then they are stolen or borrowed to be used as gang bangers' weapons. If they were illegal they would possibly have never gotten past the dock, plus if they'd shown up anywhere along the chain (gun show, someone's car, etc...) then it would already be a crime, before it can ever be used in a crime.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:19 PM on October 28, 2002


pjgulliver, no stats, but here is a nice example.
posted by jbelshaw at 1:22 PM on October 28, 2002


Another point. I think history has amply indicated that even in countries where gun owning is forbidden, there is always a way to obtain firearms to assualt the government if that absolutely becomes necessary. Look at Northern Ireland, ETA in Spain, the Balkans, Afghanistan during the 1980s, etc. This is not to mean that I believe that the violence perpatrated by these groups is correct. I don't. But if you all are so worried that some day a corrupt and fascist Federal Government will behave so horrifically that the only possible recourse is violence against the state, look at history. There is always a way to perpatrate violence against a state gun laws or no gun laws. Having firearms availble easily to the average government does not insure that we live in a just and equitable society. Rather it creates an atmosphere of paranoia and fear, and is a cancer eating at our society (gun violence, not gun owning.)
posted by pjgulliver at 1:28 PM on October 28, 2002


I think those that are comparing the arguments for/against the legalization of drugs with the arguments for/against gun control have a valid point, but Iit don't think it's as black and white as what I've heard so far. I am for the legalization of marijuana and against the legalization of harder drugs for the same reasons that I'm for a complete ban on handguns, but would continue to support the availability of rifles and shotguns.

Handguns are like hard drugs - the societal cost of having them freely available overrides the average citizen's right to purchase them. Rifles and shotguns are like marijuana - their relative cost to society is too small to justify the huge economic expenditures, and assaults on personal liberty, that it would take to keep them unavailable to the general public. (Ryvar's arguments above about how easy it is to produce a workable, if not pretty, rifle in your garage are spot on.)
posted by edlark at 1:30 PM on October 28, 2002


Sorry there, Wulfgar!, but why don't you try coming up a good argument instead of parroting the Brady Campaign?

I ask, could they be stolen if the guns weren't in the homes to begin with?

The point you are dancing around is that if we ban guns, then there will be no one to steal them from... Well too bad, over Heston's dead body... Gun ownership is a right. It has been up-held time and time again.

it assumes that people are of two-types "law-abiding and criminal"... many a "law-abiding" gunowner has destroyed public property for fun, or popped his kid by accident, or whacked a spouse in fit of rage. Wouldn't it be nice to actually catch some of these formerly "law-abiding" criminal types?

That is a great idea! We should change things... People should be guilty until proven innocent! Right, comrade?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:32 PM on October 28, 2002


Lastly. For all of you who feel guns are necessary to prevent a totalitarian government, and that they would be a good means for dealing with such a government, think again. Neither Chile, Argentina, or Brazil has significant gun control legisalation during the 1970s and 80s. However, that did not prevent military juntas from gaining control of all three countries during this period and commiting henious crimes once in power. What eventually defeated these regimes? Not a mass uprising by gun owning citizens. Rather, the slowing of economic activity, mass civil disobediance and protests, and spectacular foreign policy missteps on the part of these regimes. Direct violence payed not part.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:33 PM on October 28, 2002


And if there's a war or terrorist attack, my gun is supposed to do what exactly? Me having a legally available assault rifle at home is supposed to shield me from that? When exactly is my government supposed to start turning against me so far that I have to have a legally obtainable assault rifle to fight them off? Maybe we should all just carry around these weapons waiting for the odd chance that a terrorist walks up and announces his purposes.

On that note, terrorists don't need guns. Banning guns will neither help nor hinder guys like Tim McVey or the Queda from killing us if they want to. Our law enforcement and military will (or at least will try), and I support them having what ever kind of guns that will help them do that work.

If it is necessary to kill people, we have those people to do it for us, otherwise killing is not legal, nor is it our jobs as private citizens, so why do private citizens need guns made specifically for killing people? I do have guns, I get thrilled when I get to use them and I am tired of the same misguided paranoid justifications for why these things flood our streets.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2002


jbelshaw, while I have no doubt that occasionally guns do prevent societal harm, such as your story indicates, I have only ever seen anecdotal evidence to this effect. Never have I seen or heard a pro-gun advocate use real statistical evidence to back up his case, and I have read a fair amount on the subject in addition to seeing both Wayne LaPierre and Charleton Heston speak on the subject.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2002


Living at the right place, wrong time, I was comforted by the fact I had the means to defend myself and the love of my life, but nonetheless grateful that I ever needed to.

The AK 47: when you absolutely, positively gotta kill every mothafucka in the ROOM! Accept no substitutes.
posted by blogRot at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2002


The point you are dancing around is that if we ban guns, then there will be no one to steal them from... Well too bad, over Heston's dead body... Gun ownership is a right. It has been up-held time and time again.

Speaking of dancing, how exactly does your claim of "rights", (which isn't for you to decide though you consistently behave as if it is) argue against the idea that guns won't be stolen if there aren't any to steal? You're not arguing or debating, your just blustering, and that's the whole problem with the debates concerning gun-control.

That is a great idea! We should change things... People should be guilty until proven innocent! Right, comrade?

Straw man, Steve, look it up. Do I really need to point out that you still haven't defended your earlier comment at all? Naahh, I think you can figure that out all on your own.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:44 PM on October 28, 2002


The drug/gun equasion debate is a bit off, drugs are not constitutionally protected, however free speech/press is, so I'd say that hand guns/assault rifles are the kiddie porn of the gun world.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:44 PM on October 28, 2002


Wulfgar!: If you re-read my post, you would see that I did answered your charge....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:49 PM on October 28, 2002


Get a constitutional ammendment, with popular support or go away. It is incredible to me that people are such polar opposites on these issues. Guns are the same as drugs and abortion. If you wish to ban guns, then you should not have a problem with abortion being made illegal. Both sides make the same tired arguments. If you want freedom, you have to let other people enjoy theirs.
posted by thirteen at 1:50 PM on October 28, 2002


The U.S. is overflowing with cheap, unregistered hand-guns.

I have two questions for y'all:

How many jokes have you heard involving the incompetency of the DMV?

Which are more closely regulated, through registration, licensing, and insurance, in the U.S.: automobiles or hand-guns?
posted by zekinskia at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2002


We'd better get rid of cheap handguns, and quick: We can't have the poor walking around armed, can we?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2002


I for one welcome our new Citizen Militia Overlords
posted by pjgulliver at 1:57 PM on October 28, 2002


I really dislike the whole "driving is a privilege" argument. When I do drive a car, I am not going "Wheeeee" with the pure pleasure of it all. It is not a privilege anymore than anything else I do. Things are legal, or illegal and to put them into special categories to more confidently argue sucks. I am inclined to have less restrictions on people, and do not support the paperwork and hoops required to do anything these days. Making it hard for me to exercise my rights is not a noble goal.
posted by thirteen at 1:58 PM on October 28, 2002


More Guns= Less Crime
posted by trharlan at 2:00 PM on October 28, 2002


*We'd better get rid of cheap handguns, and quick: We can't have the poor walking around armed, can we?*

Some of these assault rifles are the most expensive weapons on the market, others are the least, either way they are unnecessary in a civil society. Cheap handguns would be a pretty lousy way of the proletariat overthrowing the aristocracy anyway, they would mainly just use them to shoot other proletarians.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:02 PM on October 28, 2002


The point you are dancing around is that if we ban guns, then there will be no one to steal them from... Well too bad, over Heston's dead body... Gun ownership is a right. It has been up-held time and time again.

Wrong. The Second Amendment- not the right to own a gun- has been held up time and time again. The Supreme Court has never ruled specifically that individuals as opposed to "well-regulated militias" (for example, the National Guard) have the right to bear arms. With the exception of John Ashcroft's recent insane policiy changes, it has never been Federal policy nor Supreme Court mandate to declare gun ownership as an individual right, hence why the NRA lobbies Congress to oppose new regulations rather than suing against current ones on their allegedly unconstitutional grounds.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:02 PM on October 28, 2002


I'd like to see the thoughtful libertarian elements in England & Australia weigh in on how they feel about the level of gun control in their counties, especially given the reported recent rise in breaking & entering & personal violence in those countries, and the individual's limited ability to protect themselves on their own property. It would be instructive to hear the complaints of those who are subject to more restrictive regulation.

Part of this discussion is based on a false premise, promoted by the media:

1) A .223 (or 5.65 Nato) round, while possibly accurately described as "high-powered" (at least in comparison to the powder charges on other ~.22 caliber rounds) is definitely NOT "high-caliber," an attribute more appropriately reserved for something over .30 - .35 inch in diameter;

2) Anywhere I've lived (NM, TX, TN), a .223 round IS NOT considered a hunting round and IS NOT legal for deer hunting. It may be legal as a varmint round (gophers, prairie dogs, etc.) - but not for taking game.

Setting aside fully-auto weapons (machine guns & pistols) and other ATF Class III weaponry/destructive devices (missles, tank rounds, mortars, bazookas, sawed-off shotguns, mines, etc.) which are already (& rightfully) heavily regulated, taxed and licensed, with significant penalties for illegal possession & misuse, the crux of the argument is that old bug-a-boo, What the hell did they mean when they wrote the 2nd amendment?"

Constructionists will affirm that the intent was to, by law, ensure that the citizenry would be able to have means to protect themselves from the internal threat of a tyranical government, a topic of some interest to the Framers at the time. This, almost certainly, was Thomas Jefferson's and the Anti-federalist's position....supported by their letters and writing of the day.

"Moderates" & revisionists would maintain the "well-regulated militia" caveat, presuming that right to bear arms only is meant to allow formation of a defense against an (presumably) external threat against the State (or states). Therefore, in this day & age, with the advent of the national guard & standing armies (a subject of much concern to the Framers, BTW), the argument is that the need & intent is no longer valid.

Most people who care support one of these two positions (or some permutation of them if I have expressed them inadequately for you). My unscholarly assessment is that the Bill of Rights was written with the express purpose of protecting the people from abuses by the government, at the behest of Anti-Federalist arguments & was written to ensure the rights of the citizenry, both individually & collectively. Not incidently, our ancestors have fought, bled & died to protect those rights. Before we give/sign them away, we would do well to ask ourselves why they were considered so important to enumerate in the first place, and fight for in the second.

The NRA (of which I am a member) has damaged its position and credibility in the past by attempting to soften for squeamish public consumption the argument by trying to characterize semi-auto high capacity assault rifles, etc. as "sporting arms" just like any other weapon, with innocuous uses like target shooting, etc. While seemingly done in order to try to make the "gun culture" more palatable to concerned non-gun owners and swing voters, I think this was a poor long-term decision in that it undermines the real argument by attempted sugarcoating. You either believe in the Right or you don't - we need to get down to resolving that argument and not all this peripheral misdirection on both sides, designed to appeal to emotionalism, not reason.

If in fact you are concerned about preserving ownership under argument #1 above, then by all means you should have access (whether you avail yourself of it or not) to at least weapons of somewhat comparable capability to what you may be facing from criminals, other crazed gun nuts, or the authorities who come to take you away, who will be armed with APCs, full-auto weapons, sniper HRTs, all sorts of stuff you can't get legal access to. I doubt a case can be made that the Framers intended the citizen be placed in the position of having to bring the equivalent of a knife to a gun fight. Otherwise, why bother with a Bill of Rights at all, when you would have had to depend on a benevolent central govenment to protect said rights for you?

The 2nd Amend. is, frankly, extremist in nature, in that it establishes the right of the People to defend themselves from their government, by force if necessary, and ensures them under law that they will in fact have access to some weapons to do so. A "Revolutionary" concept, pun intended. The fact that the anti-gun lobby prefers to attribute 2nd Amend. support to paranoid extremists in no way acknowledges that there was reason for paranoia among the Framers when they wrote the Bill & there may indeed be reason for paranoia today.

How many of those posting as "anti-gun rights" also are concerned about the erosion of civil liberties under the provisions of the Patriot act & Bush's administration? Please explain why if you really are so worried, what, in the end analysis, would/could you do about it if we slid into totalitarianism, if you had no means other than to bark at the train as it goes by? How do you response to concerns about the real possibility of registration leading to confiscation - certainly there is ample precedent historically.

If you're concerned about some Orwellian nightmare developing in our political landscape how incredibly stupid is it to intentionally divest yourself & others of any tools to combat it, even if that might only consist of some last act of defiance that may spur others to action? Would you rather be waving your wanker at the authorities as they cart uyou and your family away or take more affirmative action? How many of those so vociferous in defense of the 1st Amendment are seemingly so ready to shitcan the 2nd?

If the national debate shifted to an agreement that the right to bear arms is an inviolable individual right, that might form the basis for an agreement as to how to approach more reasonable means to deal with safer firearm ownership & control. As long as the opposition denies this as a fundamental right, they themselves are guilty of fostering the very extremism they accuse the NRA & its supporters of. It's classic confrontational, "blame" politics, and is ALL about getting votes, not working towards a solution that serves all parties interests.

The fact is, freedom is messy - if you want someone to clean it all up nicely for you so you don't have to expend any effort, and so everything is all nice and logically consistent you're in the wrong place - although there are plenty of political whores happy to sell you and your rights down the river for a few votes, and plenty of well-intentioned idiots to help them do so.

Rant, rant, rant......
posted by Pressed Rat at 2:04 PM on October 28, 2002


First since everyone is getting constitutional the right specifically is:

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.

This is not entirely clear even from a literal perspective.

Nowhere does this amendment state that all citizens of the U.S. have the right to own a rifle/pistol/assault weapon.

Key points often muddied by Pro Gun lobby:
"Arms" is a general term that can mean anything from a knife to a crossbow to a rifle on up to a tank or trident submarine.

"Well regulated militia" does not cover all people with U.S. citizenship and especially not folks on their own private property. Literally this could restrict this right to only those defined as "Organized Militia" under the law posted above as an "unorganized militia" most certainly would not fall under the term "well organized".

"Bear Arms" does not mean or specifically imply ownership. Quite literally it means operation and use of.

Basically the second amendment does not specify (but is often interpreted) that individuals have a specific right to gun ownership much less ownership free from strong regulation.

All of this being said I support law abiding citizens ability to own and operate firearms for the two following purposes. 1. Hunting (aka subsistence usage) and 2. Home and property defense.

I strongly believe that anyone who wishes to own a firearm should go through a similar level of training, registration and regulation as is required to operate a motor vehicle.

I also believe that crimes that involve guns should face much stiffer penalties and that anyone who takes an active role in trying to obtain a gun illegally or use an illegally obtained firearm in a crime should face the harshest penalties.
posted by aaronscool at 2:06 PM on October 28, 2002


I'm not saying that I agree with vehicular licensing. It's a comparison: if we are forced to have such hoops and paperwork for cars, which are made to move people around, then IMHO we'd better have hoops and paperwork for guns, which are made for seriously injuring and killing people.

It's like Marijuana vs. Alcohol: if alcohol, which has more health problems related to it, causes immediate death due to alcohol poisoning and drunk driving, and increases the chances for violent, abusive behavior is legal, then marijuana, which has virtually none of those problems, should be legal as well.

I don't claim to know whether alcohol should be legal, or whether vehicles should be registered, but given that those things are both true, I believe that marijuana should be legal and guns should be registered.

The biggest example of idiocy, to me, is that you have to send in a form to the DMV stating that you've sold your car, and you are no longer liable for what damage it may cause, injury or property, otherwise you'll get your ass sued. With guns, you just give it away/sell it and there are no fines, jail sentences, etc. at all?!?! What the fuck is that all about?
posted by zekinskia at 2:08 PM on October 28, 2002


Making it hard for me to exercise my rights is not a noble goal.



Yes, but I assume that making it harder for someone to put a cap in your ass might be. Personally, though, I think you made the most important statement earlier:

Both sides make the same tired arguments.

The problem with these tired arguments is that they stifle debate before it ever starts. I agree with moderate efforts at some gun-control legislation. But as soon as any efforts are proposed, the "I have rights by my special knowledge of the constitution and the will of the prophet Charlton Heston" crowd shouts down any review what-so-ever of the holy second amendment.

on review ... What Pressed Rat said.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:08 PM on October 28, 2002


trharian, you're completely wrong too. Higher gun ownership can be both directly and indirectly related to higher murder rates. (also here and here)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:09 PM on October 28, 2002


Interesting trharlan, thanks for the post. However:

1) "Analyzing 18 years of data for more than 3,000 counties, Lott found that violent crime drops significantly when states switch from discretionary permit policies, which give local officials the authority to determine who may carry a gun, to "shall issue" or "right-to-carry" laws, which require that permits be granted to everyone who meets certain objective criteria." So, first, Lott's main finding wasn't that more guns necessarily prevent crime but that when gun permitting is applied on objective standards rather than personal official violence drops. That hardly strikes me as revolutionary, and seems to be a logical statement that I would agree with.

2) Though Lott found reduced crime rates in jurisdictions with right to carry laws, versus jurisdictions without such laws, that doesn't prove that more guns equals less crime. Rather, it demonstrates the national scope of the problem. As long as I can easily drive over a local or state border and purchase a gun, this is a national problem. Therefore, ok, if you arm little old ladies and women (the demographic groups Lott appears to use as an example) in one jurisdiction, sure, they will prevent crime. They will prevent crime because guns are still massively available to criminals, because they can travel outside of a jurisdiction to make purchases. But no one is talking about creating a situation where we should allow only criminals to have guns. Rather, gun control advocates envision NATIONAL not REGIONAL gun control, which will vastly shrink the total available weapons, thereby removing guns from both criminal and citizen hands.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:10 PM on October 28, 2002


edit: that's higher unregulated gun ownership.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:11 PM on October 28, 2002


_I_ am the militia... and possibly even you.

I guess this just proves that these debates are absurd. If someone is, for instance, gung-ho on protecting his "right" to own deadly weapons he or she will simply edit out the parts of your constitutional argument that support your point of view. I guess it´s easy to interpret a WELL REGULATED MILITIA as the entire male populace of the united states between 17 years and 45 years of age.

And by extension, no woman or anyone over the age of 45 should have access to deadly weapons (according to the consitution).

So we need these weapons to protect ourselves from the government if they turn against us. But the government will always have access to more weapons than we. For instance if I have my AK-47 and my wife has a stinger missle and my kids have grenades, the goverment will always have tanks, bombers, an army, etc. So it seems to be a moot point. If our goverment turns against us, we will die just as quickly as afghanis or iraquis. Better to watchdog our goverment so that they don´t turn against us instead of arming our families (and the odd psychopath) to the teeth.
posted by sic at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2002


The point you are dancing around is that if we ban guns, then there will be no one to steal them from... Well too bad, over Heston's dead body... Gun ownership is a right. It has been up-held time and time again.

So your counter-argument to the point is what? It's currently deemed a right, so neener-neener-neener?

That is a great idea! We should change things... People should be guilty until proven innocent! Right, comrade?

Of course, we should also arm entire nations, create people's armies and spread distrust of centralised government. Right, comrade?
posted by digiboy at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2002


Number of firearms in the US: 223 Million

(Source: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Guns Used in Crime, 7/95, from ATF data)

You may rejoice or lament this, but there is not much you can do about this fact.

Some sensible gun control legislation might help around the edges, but that's about it.
posted by probablysteve at 2:26 PM on October 28, 2002


Way to go digiboy!
posted by pjgulliver at 2:27 PM on October 28, 2002


Of course sensible gun control would do more than help around the edges. Even if 98% of those who own guns currently refused to register them (or whatever) after the construction of new legislation, you can bet the bulk of those people would keep those guns far more out of sight an innaccessible than they would be otherwise. And if being caught with or commiting a crime with an unliscened gun became a serious crime, that would also begin to eliminate both guns and those who use them to perpatrate violence.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:29 PM on October 28, 2002


Wait, the last time I looked around, the US was a Republic. Why are there so many posts about our government vs. us. Is the government some sort of alien creature outside of ourselves? No, We the people of the United States make the laws and elect officials and create the miles of red tape and hoops to jump through. If the government starts to turn we can turn it back. I think that's what the rest of that ratty old piece of paper in the archives says at least, but everyone seems to be stuck on a couple of paragraphs in the back.

So anyway, some folks have been talking about how easy it is to make a gun. I posted about Tim McVey and his truck bomb. Now if said government "turned against us" don't you think that a resistance of 250 million people with truck bombs and home made guns would have some say so? I mean it worked in Red Dawn, it works in Africa every couple weeks, why not here?

Anyway, I just thought this was interesting:

*How many of those so vociferous in defense of the 1st Amendment are seemingly so ready to shitcan the 2nd?*

You could just as easily reverse this!
posted by Pollomacho at 2:31 PM on October 28, 2002


aaronscool: "Bear Arms" does not mean or specifically imply ownership. Quite literally it means operation and use of.

i think that the word keep as in 'the right of the people to keep and bear Arms...' covers that aspect.

That said, i agree with your (and others) assessment that training prior to firearm ownership would be a good thing.
posted by quin at 2:34 PM on October 28, 2002


Can anyone give me a justifiable reason why anyone would need an AR-15 outside of the military? If you can, I would really like to hear it. I really would. Oh, and "they're fun" is not enough here, please!

Nothing that the DC Sniper did was augmented by the fact that he was using an AR-15. In fact, the AR-15 was a poor choice in general for the application. He could have bought an old 8mm Mauser bolt-action that would have been more accurate and fired a more lethal bullet for around $75 - so the fact that he blew nearly a $1,000 on an AR-15 is pointless.

To be blunt, why is it that the AR-15 is taking all the blame for these actions? It is immobile and lacks conciousness. It is incapable of aiming and firing itself and it has no political/religious agenda. Since the REASON that Muhammed sought to kill in the first place was in support of Islam, do we think that banning Islam is a good idea? An ideology was the cause of the deaths, not the presence of a weapon. If there were no guns available, he would have used a bomb or a knife. The desire to kill is not created by the presence of available weaponry or because that weapon happens to be in some sort of "pseudo-military configuration", it is created by an individual making the choice to kill. The choice to kill comes first, the choice of weapon comes second. Once the person has elected to kill, they WILL find a weapon or a means to accomplish that task - and there is NO way you will ever prevent this from happening. Don't fool yourself, the illusion of safety that more gun laws would provide is not worth the price of a nation of people disarmed.
posted by RevGreg at 2:49 PM on October 28, 2002


_I_ am the militia... and possibly even you.

That's a great tagline for the next Charles Bronson / Chuck Norris movie
I mean it as a compliment
posted by matteo at 2:58 PM on October 28, 2002


How many of those so vociferous in defense of the 1st Amendment are seemingly so ready to shitcan the 2nd?

You could just as easily reverse this!

I'm a tenth amendment man, personally.... :-)
posted by oissubke at 2:59 PM on October 28, 2002


The desire to kill is not created by the presence of available weaponry or because that weapon happens to be in some sort of "pseudo-military configuration", it is created by an individual making the choice to kill. The choice to kill comes first, the choice of weapon comes second. Once the person has elected to kill, they WILL find a weapon or a means to accomplish that task - and there is NO way you will ever prevent this from happening. Don't fool yourself, the illusion of safety that more gun laws would provide is not worth the price of a nation of people disarmed.

It is my firm belief that you are absolutely wrong in this arguement. Many gun deaths are the result of no pre meditation but SPECIFICALLY because some hot head had access to a gun at the exact wrong time. The fact is it's much easier to grab a gun and make a rash decision to threaten, hurt or even kill someone than it is to do the same act with a knife.

I think fewer people who have used a gun in anger against someone else would have had the stomach to do the same with a knife.
posted by aaronscool at 3:14 PM on October 28, 2002


It is my firm belief that you are absolutely wrong in this arguement. Many gun deaths are the result of no pre meditation but SPECIFICALLY because some hot head had access to a gun at the exact wrong time.

That's absolutely right. It's a well-documented fact that crimes of passion simply did not occur until the invention of the modern firearm. Previous to the entry of the death-dealing abomination into society, individuals typically had time to reconsider their thoughts and feelings, and to realize the sanctity of human life.

You can ask any criminologist or social historian, and they'll tell you the same.
posted by oissubke at 3:21 PM on October 28, 2002


of course, we should also arm entire nations, create people's armies and spread distrust of centralized government. Right, comrade?

Hmmm I don't remember the Soviet arming the populous, or being against a large centralized government... Must be that New History that you are reading...


You know what I do find amusing? That the same people who are for every other personal freedom, are not for this freedom. That they contradictorily belive that a citizen can not handle a firearm, yet can handle hard drugs. That the government has no right to tell a woman what to do with her body, but that the government can tell a person how they can defend themselves. That the same people who scream 'Gestapo!' at Ascroft, wish to remove firearms from the populous and put all of their trust in the government that they decry and dissent.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:25 PM on October 28, 2002


That's absolutely right. It's a well-documented fact that crimes of passion simply did not occur until the invention of the modern firearm.

This is not what I said now is it? It's very convenient to discredit this argument but the truth is FAR FEWER instances would occur per capita.

Consider with a gun vs. knife:
--The gun is more likely to "accidentally" become lethal
--The gun is more likely to be used from a distance where you don't have to fear an immediate reprisal, fight or defense from the person.
--The gun is faster and cleaner for the user. Someone has to be pretty pissed off to go through the effort and gore involved in gutting someone else with a knife while they are kicking and screaming in front of you but with a gun you can fire a shot and watch the other person fall down.
posted by aaronscool at 3:29 PM on October 28, 2002


aaronscool: "Bear Arms" does not mean or specifically imply ownership. Quite literally it means operation and use of.

Since you seem to want to adhere to the letter of the law and the right to bear arms is delegated to "the militia", lets not forget that the US Code, Title 10, Section 311 defines the "militia" as:

Section 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are -
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

So, I guess all able-bodied men over 17 and under 45 should be armed and trained ASAP...

quin: That said, i agree with your (and others) assessment that training prior to firearm ownership would be a good thing.

Amen! Nothing annoys me more than seeing people handle/operate weapons in an innapropriate or unsafe manner.
posted by RevGreg at 3:36 PM on October 28, 2002


The gun is more likely to be used from a distance where you don't have to fear an immediate reprisal

Absolutely. That's why it's a good self defense weapon. You think that sane people would defend themselves with something that requires them to get up close and personal with someone trying to attack them?
posted by oissubke at 3:39 PM on October 28, 2002


And a big "booyah!" to Steve_at_Linnwood's last set of comments.

I agree Steve, these are also generally the same people who feel that Saddam Hussein with WMD is acceptable yet they are concerned that the guy next door might own a firearm...
posted by RevGreg at 3:43 PM on October 28, 2002


Oh yeah, RevGreg, I forgot that one... Good point!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:44 PM on October 28, 2002


I'm not for outlawing or restricting the use of guns at all. I resent that you are trying to simplify my argument as such.

I think that all things that guns are lawfully used for should continue to be lawful uses. (Hunting, self defense, property defense). None of these are constitutional protections BUT I support them as appropriate uses none the less.

I also support the position that guns and gun ownership should be tracked as well (and in some cases in a similar manner) as Motor Vehicles are tracked. You should not be allowed to purchase a gun unless you are licensed to use one. You should not be able to sell or transfer ownership of a gun unless you have registered this change. All weapons that are not registered or illegally distributed should be confiscated until their ownership/legality can be sorted out.

It's quite simple really and I'm baffled as to why this is such a problem for people.
posted by aaronscool at 3:55 PM on October 28, 2002


Steve at Linwood, since you seem a little obtuse about this, your ridiculous generalizations are not only offensive to those you think you've pegged, they're completely unsupportable. Your assuming things about the opposition that aren't really true. Nobody lives in the cartoon universe you've just painted with an overly large brush. You're pointing the finger of hypocrisy to people who aren't participating in this thread ('cause they probably don't exist) and ignore the people who are participating. Clearly put, if you can't argue your position without a clownish marginalization of your opponents, then please shut up and let those who can argue it do so. (See Pressed Rat above) Your hurting the cause of every one of us who believe in gun ownership. Do you get it yet?

(ps, whether you get it or not, I am actually trying to be helpful. For the record, the above opinion is exactly why I cancelled my membership in the NRA.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:55 PM on October 28, 2002


Pressed Rat: You wanted to hear from a libertarian in England. Well I live in the UK, and I'm liberal, and I love the fact that we have gun control. After a right tit wandered into a junior school in Scotland and executed a class of children, we rightly banned handguns. Our police forces don't carry guns as a matter of course.

The other night, someone broke into my car outside my house and stole my stereo. Had I seen this happening from my window I would have run out without hesitation and confronted him. The chances are the very worst that could have happened to me was I'd get stabbed, and the most probable occurence is he runs away/we get in a fistfight. I'm pretty happy about that. If guns had been available, I might well have shot him -- and I really don't think he deserved that for breaking into my car, however much it pissed me off at the time. More likely, however, is that I'd never have left the house, for fear he shoots me. (That, incidentally, is exactly what my US girlfriend said when I told her the tale: 'there's no way you should go outside, you'd get shot. I live in fear of being shot').

If someone tries to mug me on the street, it's my strength versus theirs, not my strength versus a bullet. I've only *seen* one handgun on the street in my life, and I've never heard a shot fired in anger.

I think that's a pretty damn good thing, and I support our laws wholeheartedly.

And, since handguns are totally illegal, I have no idea how I'd get my hands on one. Not 'it'd be tricky' or 'hmmm', but ' I have no idea.' I wouldn't know where to start.

That's why, when someone gets shot, it's front-page news. And ten times out of ten (not that I can think of ten times, actually) the person getting shot is another criminal. I'm fine with that.
posted by bonaldi at 4:56 PM on October 28, 2002


And if being caught with or commiting a crime with an unliscened gun became a serious crime, that would also begin to eliminate both guns and those who use them to perpatrate violence.

Commission of a crime with a gun is currently a serious crime. Are you suggesting enhanced penalties for committing a crime with an unlicensed gun and some lesser penalty for committing the same crime with a licensed gun?

Perhaps we need to increase the penalties for committing a crime with a gun -- licensed or unlicensed.

As for licensing, even in a fantasy world where gun licensing legislation were to pass and there was 100% compliance (and even throw in 100% balistic fingerprinting for fun), this might stop a few criminals from getting guns and it might help solve a few crimes. But it won't make a serious dent in gun violence; it won't change the fact that the country is saturated with 223,000,000 guns.

Drugs are illegal too (you're even supposed to register them with the government by purchasing a tax stamp I believe) and there are some pretty harsh penalties too, but when I was at NYU the guys in Washington Square always seemed to be offering to sell them to me.

I've got nothing against sensible gun control laws (I don't own a gun, never have and don't expect to so from a purely parochial standpoint what do I care), just don't think they are going to change things in any appreciable way.
posted by probablysteve at 5:01 PM on October 28, 2002


---
Must be that New History that you are reading.
---

*yawn*

So, your response to this part of my comment is what, exactly:

> > The point you are dancing around is that if we ban
> > guns, then there will be no one to steal them from...
> > Well too bad, over Heston's dead body...
>
> So your counter-argument to the point is what? It's
> currently deemed a right, so neener-neener-neener?

Troll

Leon Trotsky (1918, just before setting up the Red Army):

"We must ensure armed defence of the Soviet Republic against the beasts of imperialism.

In these terrible days every honest citizen has the duty to be a worker and a soldier.

The next few days will see the introduction of a law on universal compulsory military training.

The Republic places upon experienced instructors the duty to render every citizen, in town and country alike, capable of answering the first call to go, arms in hand, to the defence of the homeland."

Quite.

---
You know what I do find amusing? That the same people who are for every other personal freedom, are not for this freedom.
---

Surely then, by that logic, it would imply that the converse would also be true. Should that be amusing as well?

---
I agree Steve, these are also generally the same people who feel that Saddam Hussein with WMD is acceptable yet they are concerned that the guy next door might own a firearm...
---

The (perhaps selfish, but understandible) logic being that the guy next door with a firearm poses a more immediate danger to you and your family than Saddam Hussein... or the bogeyman.
posted by digiboy at 5:34 PM on October 28, 2002


Wulfgar!: Dance, Dance, Dance, we all know were you stand...

I stand by my statements. It is the same group on the left that advocates 'hands off' to the government on every freedom but this...

I must have really hit a nerve for such a response...

digiboy: If this bores you so much you need to yawn, there are other threads to look at...

'compulsory military training' is hardly arming the populous... I belive that would be called conscription... He was advocating a strong military... But hey you get an 'A' for effort...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:40 PM on October 28, 2002


The (perhaps selfish, but understandible) logic being that the guy next door with a firearm poses a more immediate danger to you and your family than Saddam Hussein... or the bogeyman.

As opposed to the not-so-selfish logic that Saddam Hussein poses a MUCH greater threat to a MUCH greater number of people than every bogeyman...ooops...legal gun owner in the United States combined.

By the way, I love the "not in my backyard but screw the people over there" attitude.
posted by RevGreg at 5:46 PM on October 28, 2002


I stand by my statements. It is the same group on the left that advocates 'hands off' to the government on every freedom but this...

I must have really hit a nerve for such a response...


I think your vague generalizations about people who are pro gun reform are dittoheaded over simplifications.

If you've touched any nerve its that you've failed to understand at any level what people who want better control over firearms really wants and surprise surprise, it's NOT taking your gun away...
posted by aaronscool at 6:02 PM on October 28, 2002


[P]eople who want better control over firearms really wants and surprise surprise, it's NOT taking your gun away...

Do you really belive this? I don't. There have been way too many "gun-control" advocates that have said that they want to take all guns away.. I don't have the quotes off hand, but they are there...

Even a MeFi user posted this tonight:

You see, my argument would be that this shouldn't be a right, and therefore citizens carrying weapons wouldn't be law-abiding. Problem solved.
posted by digiboy at 12:56 PM PST on October 28

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:08 PM on October 28, 2002


And those opinions are contrasted by comments like:

My personal belief is that "we the people" should be allowed to posses weapons equal to that of the military
posted by darian at 11:51 AM PST on October 28


I recognize there is a spectrum do you?
posted by aaronscool at 6:12 PM on October 28, 2002


Do not get me wrong, as much as I am for Gun-Rights, I see a need for reasonable control.

I absolutely see a spectrum... Though I fear that there is more weight on the far end of the gun "control" spectrum than there is in the center.

Aaronscool: If you honestly do not wish to disarm the populous, then I have little quarrel with you. What I will fight is those who belive that no one should own a gun, of any kind.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:35 PM on October 28, 2002


So we need these weapons to protect ourselves from the government if they turn against us. But the government will always have access to more weapons than we. For instance if I have my AK-47 and my wife has a stinger missle and my kids have grenades, the goverment will always have tanks, bombers, an army, etc. So it seems to be a moot point. If our goverment turns against us, we will die just as quickly as afghanis or iraquis. Better to watchdog our goverment so that they don´t turn against us instead of arming our families (and the odd psychopath) to the teeth.

I found myself wondering about this myself. Sure you can build "truck bombs" but that takes some time, some resources, whereas the government that so many Americans seem to fear is very well trained. They can overthrow South American governments and make it seem like an act of nature. I am pretty sure that if the "government" decides to get rid of it's citizens, we are all toast.

Up here, in Canada, there are way fewer guns. There are also way fewer gun related deaths...Though still too many. Handguns are for killing people. Do we need them? If it ever comes down to really needing a handgun, I am pretty sure you are f**cked anyway, handgun or not.

My 2 cents.
posted by Richat at 7:15 PM on October 28, 2002


Handguns are for killing people. Do we need them? If it ever comes down to really needing a handgun, I am pretty sure you are f**cked anyway, handgun or not.

This is the kind of blanket ridiculousness that renders these "discussions" utterly moot.
posted by Dreama at 7:53 PM on October 28, 2002


gun "finger-printing" means de-facto gun registration

gun registration will lead to gun confiscation (see England and Australia for real-world examples)
posted by jasontromm at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2002


Steve and others who argue for the right of an armed citizenry as a hedge against unlawful government, you still haven't answered my questions from earlier today.

1) Provide an example from US history where the population had no recourse but to incite violence against the government. This violence caused a positive change in government, and is well recognized as such.

2) Address the fact that globally, the presence of armed insurrection against government (whatever the veracity of the cause) seems to have little or no bearing whether or not the population has a right to bear arms. Yugoslavia in the early 90s, Spain today, and the UK (Northern Ireland) from the 1970s on are all examples of countries where dissident political groups have turned to violence against their government, and often been able to effect governmental change, even though all three countries have (had) strict gun control laws. Brazil, Argentina, and Chile in the 1970s and 1980s, are all examples of countries that had little or no control, yet were still taken over by repressive juntas. And the juntas did not fall from an armed insurrection of a gun toting citizenry. Instead, they fell through protest, civil disobedience, the collapse of economies, and foreign misadventure.

3) Can you provide me with hard statistics that guns prevent enough crime (and therefore preserve more economic activity) when used judiciously by the citizenry (as opposed to the police) to outweigh the significant economic loss and cost to society from the thousands of wrongful deaths and injuries caused by unlawful gun violence in this country every year.

4) Bring the drug and gun question together is not a comparable example. No one on this post has talked about legalizing hard drugs. The only drug mentioned is marijuana. Marijuana, whatever you think of the psychical and psychological effects, does not cause abundant harm to anyone except the user (and even that is debatable.) No one uses pot to kill anyone else. The same can not be said for guns.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:10 PM on October 28, 2002


And this is not to mean I think all guns should be confiscated by the government. I don't. But I do think gun control today is a joke and needs to become more stringent.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:15 PM on October 28, 2002


gun "finger-printing" means de-facto gun registration

gun registration will lead to gun confiscation (see England and Australia for real-world examples)


There is not now nor ever was a "Right to bear arms" in either of these countries. If you wanted to take the "they did it in " approach a case can be made for just about anything. I'm sorry but I don't see how your argument holds any weight.
posted by aaronscool at 8:20 PM on October 28, 2002


Just a little legal point here,

The law defining the militia in 10 U.S.C. Sec. 311 cannot be considered the controlling definition of "Militia" as used in the Second Amendment. Only the federal courts can decide what the Constitution means when it says "militia." 10 U.S.C. 311 was written by Congress, so it is really quite irrelevent to this discussion.

Perhaps the best way one might attempt to divine the meaning of an ambiguous word in a statutory or constitutional text is to look at how the word is used elsewhere in the same text. In the case of "Militia" it comes up in both Article I and Article II of the Constitution:

Art I, Sec VIII

[Congress shall have the power] to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;



Art II, Section II:

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States"

Thus, you can see that the Constitution clearly envisions the militia to be an entity that exists at the whim of Congress and the states and is under the ultimate command of the President. Congress has seen fit to create such a militia -- it's called the National Guard. To the extent that the Second Amendment still has any meaning at all, it might be that Congress can't disarm the National Guard (although the states probably could, since states are not subject to the Second Amendment).

Some parts of the constitution just become obsolete and die out. It's necessary in order to maintain the illusion that the text of 200 year old document can have any relevence to modern American life. If you don't believe me, try bringing a suit against the government for abriging your priveleges and immunities as a citizen under the 14th amendment.
posted by boltman at 8:50 PM on October 28, 2002


RevGreg- I'm a bit confused here. You tried to answer my question about AR-15's by talking about why it doesn't work well as a hunting style rifle. I think this was my point. Why are these things still sold to the public? Why are .38 Specials still sold? The only thing these guns are good for is killing people and they don't even do that as well as some other things.

I'm also confused about how exactly invading another sovereign nation on the suspicion of weaponry they might be developing is the OPPOSITE to "not in my backyard but screw the people over there" attitude. Isn't screwing the people over there exactly what you advocate by dropping troops and smart bombs in their nation?

By the way, I've said it many times here, I own guns, I want to keep mine, so before I get branded as some pinko leftist because I don't get why anyone needs a pocket sized .38 snubnosed or an AK or an AR-15 or a ceramic .45 with caseless ammo that will pass through the best airport security for any good reason that I've heard here tonight or that I don't really want the power of a sovereign nation stripped by the suspicions of another nation, I just want that to be perfectly clear.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:54 PM on October 28, 2002


One last point before I go to bed. Some in the pro-gun camp speak of increased "enforcement" rather than new gun laws being the answer. However, a big part of the problem with the individual rights interpretation of the 2nd amendment is that, if taken seriously, it would greatly hinder the ability of the criminal justice system to deal effectively with dangerous criminals.

Right now, armed robbery is a far more serious crime than mere robbery. Same with the most other felonies. If a court takes the individual rights approach to the 2nd amendment, it may render these criminal distinctions unconstitutional. At the very least, it would prohibit prosecutors for jacking up sentences for felons that were packing heat at the time of the crime but not actually waving the gun around and threatening people. You can't punish someone for exercising their constitutional rights, even if they are doing so in the course of another illegal act. Never mind that packing heat during a serious crime is a pretty darn good proxy for identifying people

THAT'S the main reason that every justice department for the last 40 years (current one excepted of course) has been against the individual rights interpretation. And it seems a pretty good one to me.
posted by boltman at 9:13 PM on October 28, 2002


er, the end of the second paragraph was supposed to say "identifying people that pose a serious threat to the public."
posted by boltman at 9:20 PM on October 28, 2002


PJ:

1. Provide an example from US history where the population had no recourse but to incite violence against the government. This violence caused a positive change in government, and is well recognized as such.


The American Revolution. After the British opened fire on the unarmed Colonists at the Boston Massacre, they had no recourse but to take matters into their own hands. This provided a dramatic change in government for the colonies, by the formation of the United States.

Shays' Rebellion Lead by Daniel Shays against unsettled economic conditions and against politicians and laws which were overly unfair to farmers and working people. They protested against excessive taxes on property, polling taxes which prevented people who could not afford the tax from voting, unfair actions by the court of common pleas, the high cost of lawsuits, and the lack of a stable currency. Their armed rebellion helped move the U.S. government to issue paper money that was gold-backed, as well as further the movement from the Articles of Confederation to the current U.S. Constitution.

Just because it has not happened since, does not mean that it will not be necessary again.

2. Address the fact that globally, the presence of armed insurrection against government ... seems to have little or no bearing whether or not the population has a right to bear arms. Yugoslavia in the early 90s, Spain today, and the UK (Northern Ireland) from the 1970s on are all examples of countries where dissident political groups have turned to violence against their government, and often been able to effect governmental change, even though all three countries have (had) strict gun control laws...etc

The point of having an armed population is to prevent the government from getting the idea that it can make a move against the people. To prevent violence, civil disobedience, and the collapse of economies. No one wants a revolution, the idea is to prevent it. If the populous is armed, the government will think twice before attempting to do things with out the consent of the populous. The point is to make a rebellion unnecessary in the first place, not the after thought of "How are we going to get guns now?"

3 Can you provide me with hard statistics that guns prevent enough crime to outweigh the significant economic loss and cost to society from the thousands of wrongful deaths and injuries caused by unlawful gun violence in this country every year


Pick a copy of John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime", Lott is a scholar at Yale Law School, had this book is the compilation of 18 years of research.

A sample:

Lott found that concealed weapons laws caused violent crime to drop by 4.9 percent, murder by 7.7 percent, rape by 5.3 percent, and aggravated assault by 7.01 percent.

I am not going to reprint the book here.

4. Bring the drug and gun question together is not a comparable example. No one on this post has talked about legalizing hard drugs. The only drug mentioned is marijuana. Marijuana, whatever you think of the psychical and psychological effects, does not cause abundant harm to anyone except the user (and even that is debatable.) No one uses pot to kill anyone else. The same can not be said for guns

I never compared guns to drugs... So I will leave that to some one who has.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:21 PM on October 28, 2002


The second ammendment absolutely must not be disassembled or legislatively violated in any way--no ifs, ands or buts.

That said, we've probably regulated firearms about as much as possible without encouraging uneccessary legislation and loophole consequences that would weaken the second ammendment. The primary tool that's been missing from the equation is that gun owners and gun clubs don't tend to rigorously police their own ranks.
I used to advocate requisite military or paramilitary (or comparable) training for gun ownership. But, as we now know, it wouldn't have prevented the most recent serial murders.
I agree that those who can't pass the regs just find someone who'll sell them a firearm in spite of their being "unfit" to carry. So, the only real answer is for more conscientious resale and distribution by gun owners themselves.
Without that, the second ammendment begins to violate the fourth ammendment. Frankly, there are more people who'd prefer not to keep and bear arms than otherwise. So any constitutional challenge that squares those two ammendments off against one another will almost certainly result in our losing the the constitutional power to take up arms in the defense of democracy, if our government becomes tyrannical.
The potential death of democracy...pitiful loss of liberty...
Do any of us really want that sorry b.s. to go down on our watch? I sure as hell don't.

Instead of fighting over ground not shared, it's time to pool our collective resources (on both sides of the argument) and figure out a way to voluntarily quell the danger so we don't find ourselves at the mercy of a much more powerful and pervasive threat.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 1:27 AM on October 29, 2002


---
If this bores you so much you need to yawn, there are other threads to look at...
---

The yawn and the picture represent being bored with your diversionary attempt to troll, not at this thread.

---
'compulsory military training' is hardly arming the populous
---

Not that what I quoted was particularly aimed at you, really, but come on. The Communist Revolution was powered by the belief that the proletariat should be armed, trained and ready to defend itself against any agressors. They didn't take over using mind bullets. Of course, each new doctrine had their own spin that took them further away from the early beliefs and, as you probably know, many in the pro-gun lobby will cite the Soviet Union's eventual (err...) selective gun control laws as one of the reasons to avoid any and all control.

---
By the way, I love the "not in my backyard but screw the people over there" attitude.
---

Indeed. I agree with your sentiments. Regardless, I didn't say this was my opinion or attitude. That's a dangerous assumption to make. I said it was understandible.

---
Do you really belive this? I don't. There have been way too many "gun-control" advocates that have said that they want to take all guns away.
---

Quite, but I also believe that improved gun control would better than the currently flawed system operating in the US. I may not be the model libertarian, but it doesn't mean I hold an "all or nothing" stance - or one that continually moves the goalposts - either.

---
gun registration will lead to gun confiscation
---

You can confiscate guns without a register, too.

---
The point of having an armed population is to prevent the government from getting the idea that it can make a move against the people.
---

I can see the argument, of course, but I still hold that this is a naive assumption.

Just a quick example that comes to mind, so it may well be flawed, but the right to bear arms didn't prevent Japanese-American internment during WWII.
posted by digiboy at 1:52 AM on October 29, 2002


digiboy: Am I reading this correctly? Have you changed you mind? First you say that gun ownership should not be a right, but then you say you think it should be...?

The Bolshevik revolution and Stalinist Russia are two different worlds. Much like communist theory and practice are very different. I think you admitted your self that post-revolution communism has no place for an armed citizens, I mean what do they need weapons for? They were in utopia...

As for Japanese-American internment, I am not expert on the subject myself (Though I have been meaning to do some more reading about it) but the availability of firearms is not guarantee that the citizens will use them... But at least they had the option of using them...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:13 AM on October 29, 2002


Pick a copy of John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime", Lott is a scholar at Yale Law School, had this book is the compilation of 18 years of research.

Yale is the same institution that produced Bush and Bush jr. Nice coterie of psychopaths.
posted by sic at 2:24 AM on October 29, 2002


Dreama: what's wrong with it? Why it is ridiculous?
posted by bonaldi at 2:33 AM on October 29, 2002


There have been way too many "gun-control" advocates that have said that they want to take all guns away.. I don't have the quotes off hand, but they are there...

OK, don't quote them, just give us the names.
Sarah Brady?
Who?

You won't find a serious mainstream gun control advocate who wants to forcibly confiscate

You're a fan of the usual straw-man argument used by the NRA. But regulation is not confiscation.

If you want to scare gun-owners, go ahead

And watch out for Hillary Clinton and Sarah Brady hiding under your bed
posted by matteo at 4:06 AM on October 29, 2002


matto: you are a fan of calling anything you disagree with a "straw-man", seriously, get a new adjective...

You won't find a serious mainstream gun control advocate who wants to forcibly confiscate

Well I guess that depends on what one defines as "mainstream" doesn't it?

If you want to admit it or not, there is a segment of the gun "control" lobby that want to ban all guns, just as there is a segment of the NRA that thinks everyone should have a Howitzer... neither are correct and both should be recognized and dealt with.

How many times when we all have this discussion does a post make reference to England's ban, and point out how nice it is....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:16 AM on October 29, 2002


Give
us
a
name
Steve...

please...

You never do

you never do

What "segment" are you talking about?

Where's the gun-control equivalent of foaming at the mouth Wayne LaPierre "jackbooted thugs" comment? Did Sarah Brady ever say anything like that?

Please.

ps I'm not sure straw-man is and adjective by the way, I may be wrong
posted by matteo at 4:42 AM on October 29, 2002


Like I said: I don't have the quotes off hand...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:51 AM on October 29, 2002


---
digiboy: Am I reading this correctly? Have you changed you mind? First you say that gun ownership should not be a right, but then you say you think it should be...?
---

No, I still believe that gun ownership should not be a right. I also believe there should be strict(er) laws covering other offensive weapons, too.

However, it is clear an all-out firearms ban in the United States is extremely unlikely and groups that are lobbying for one are probably just wasting their time and resources.

I believe strict new controls deemed commonly sensible (note: problem) would stand a greater chance of being passed if they were made as absolute as possible. If so, there would hopefully be less fear of a total ban and the annulment of existing rights.
posted by digiboy at 5:26 AM on October 29, 2002


Here are some quotes I found quickly:

"The House passage of our bill is a victory for this country! Common sense wins out. I'm just so thrilled and excited. The sale of guns must stop. Halfway measures are not enough."
-Sarah Brady, July 1, 1988


"They are looking only to protect gun owners' quote — and I stress that — rights, because I don't believe gun owners have rights. The Second Amendment has never been interpreted that way. Now I am not for taking guns away or denying guns to law-abiding citizens, but I don't think it's a constitutional right that they have, and every court case that's ever come down has shown that.
-Sarah Brady, October 1997

The need for a ban on handguns cannot be overstated. Unlike rifles and shotguns, handguns are easily concealable. Consequently, they are the weapons of choice in most murders, accounting for the deaths of 25,000 Americans in 1991.
- Congressman Major R. Owens, New York, September 23, 1993

Mr. President, what is going on in this country? Does going to school mean exposure to handguns and to death? As you know, my position is we should ban all handguns, get rid of them, no manufacture, no sale, no importation, no transportation, no possession of a handgun
- Senator John H. Chafee, Rhode Island, June 11, 1992

Mr. speaker, we must take swift and strong action if we are to rescue the next generation from the rising of tide armed violence. That is why today I am introducing the Handgun Control Act of 1992. This legislation would outlaw the possession, importation, transfer or manufacture of a handgun except for use by public agencies, individuals who can demonstrate to their local police chief that they need a gun because of threat to their life or the life of a family member, licensed guard services, licensed pistol clubs which keep the weapons securely on premises, licensed manufacturers and licensed gun dealers.
- Congressman Stephen J. Solarz, New York, August 12, 1992

There is no reason for anyone in this country, for anyone except a police officer or a military person, to buy, to own, to have, to use, a handgun. The only way to control handgun use in this country is to prohibit the guns. And the only way to do that is to change the Constitution.
- Michael Gartner, former NBC News President, January 16, 1992

If it was up to me, no one but law enforcement officers would own hand guns...
- Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, November 13, 1998.

My own view on gun control is simple. I hate guns and I cannot imagine why anyone would want to own one. If I had my way, guns for sport would be registered, and all other guns, would be banned.
- Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health

My guess [is] . . . that the great majority of Americans are saying they favor gun control when they really mean gun banishment. . . . I think the country has long been ready to restrict the use of guns, except for hunting rifles and shotguns, and now I think we're prepared to get rid of the damned things entirely -- the handguns, the semis and the automatics.
Roger Rosenblatt, Time Magazine columnist, Aug. 9, 1999


And my personal fav:
The goal is an ultimate ban on all guns, but we also have to take step at a time and go for limited access first.
- Joyner Sims, Florida State Health Dept., Deputy Commissioner, Chicago Tribune, November 7, 1993


This quote from Charles Krauthammer sums up what these people have in mind:
In fact, the assault weapons ban will have no significant effect either on the crime rate or on personal security. Nonetheless, it is a good idea . . . . Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.

and on and on....

I know I could find lots more, but I do have better things to do...

None of these people are on the "fringe" They are all politicians, members of the major media (including the former president of one such organization) or high-level anti-gun organizers....

and they all want to ban guns....

Need more Matteo?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:34 AM on October 29, 2002


The issue is CONFISCATION, ie ATF agents entering your home to take away your beloved shotguns and AK-47's

I didn't read the words "confiscate" anywhere in your quotes (btw, Krauthammer? come on....)

You also quote Sarah Brady as saying
Now I am not for taking guns away or denying guns to law-abiding citizens

thus proving my point

The confiscation thing is just a NRA scare tactic. Anyway, go happily buy your tank, I guess you can hunt quail with that

Btw wahtch out for that Chafee guy, he could ruin your party like Jeffords did...

;)
posted by matteo at 5:56 AM on October 29, 2002


The issue is CONFISCATION

NO, the issue is a BAN, now you are changing your tune.


I quote Sarah Brady as saying:
Now I am not for taking guns away or denying guns to law-abiding citizens

thus proving that she contradicts herself


You picked that out all the quotes I posted?

Come on, yourself...

(What is yout problem with Krauthammer?)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:04 AM on October 29, 2002


John Lott is a pretty wacky guy. Just because he's a research fellow at Yale doesn't mean his work is actually credible. Most law schools have a token crazy right-winger so they can say that they are unbiased polically.
posted by boltman at 6:21 AM on October 29, 2002


Steve, thanks for your response. Sorry I fell asleep before it was posted.

1) The Revolution is not a justifiable example. The Revolution occured by American's against a foreign, non-representative government. Though I see your point on Shay's Rebellion, I would also discount it. For one, both events occured BEFORE the creation of the Constitution (and, incidently, before the enshrining in law of a right to bear arms.) Both events occured before the proper formation of what we may call the United States of America.

2) My point is that the presence of gun control, or no gun control, seems to have no historic relation to the ability of a populace to force a change in government. It seems that the fundemental goal you are arguing for is not "guns for guns sake" but "guns because someday we may need them to change our government." I was saying that history shows us that gun legislation has little or no effect on a populace's ability to force a change in government policy. Please address that point.

3)Steve, I've already addressed lots points above:
1) "Analyzing 18 years of data for more than 3,000 counties, Lott found that violent crime drops significantly when states switch from discretionary permit policies, which give local officials the authority to determine who may carry a gun, to "shall issue" or "right-to-carry" laws, which require that permits be granted to everyone who meets certain objective criteria." So, first, Lott's main finding wasn't that more guns necessarily prevent crime but that when gun permitting is applied on objective standards rather than personal official violence drops. That hardly strikes me as revolutionary, and seems to be a logical statement that I would agree with.

2) Though Lott found reduced crime rates in jurisdictions with right to carry laws, versus jurisdictions without such laws, that doesn't prove that more guns equals less crime. Rather, it demonstrates the national scope of the problem. As long as I can easily drive over a local or state border and purchase a gun, this is a national problem. Therefore, ok, if you arm little old ladies and women (the demographic groups Lott appears to use as an example) in one jurisdiction, sure, they will prevent crime. They will prevent crime because guns are still massively available to criminals, because they can travel outside of a jurisdiction to make purchases. But no one is talking about creating a situation where we should allow only criminals to have guns. Rather, gun control advocates envision NATIONAL not REGIONAL gun control, which will vastly shrink the total available weapons, thereby removing guns from both criminal and citizen hands.

posted by pjgulliver at 6:30 AM on October 29, 2002


Steve,

it can be funny, but I'm kind of getting sick of your habit of putting words in people's mouths (btw I loved your misteriously disappearing user page info, Mr Devil's Advocate)

I wrote:

You won't find a serious mainstream gun control advocate who wants to forcibly confiscate

You're a fan of the usual straw-man argument used by the NRA. But regulation is not confiscation
.

That's what I wrote

Again, watch out for Hillary under your bed

Ps Krauthammer is the right wing's Chomsky, only much meaner and not nearly as smart. I guess you'd complain about somebody quoting Chomsky here right?
posted by matteo at 6:39 AM on October 29, 2002


Gee, I am sure the Brady Campaign, is a great place to get some non-biased information on a author that refutes their core beliefs...

Why don't I ask the Catholic Church how it feels about Darwin... Bet they would say he is a pretty wacky guy too...

PJ: I will contest later... I have been up all night and now have a PoliSci discussion with a left-wing uber liberal Teaching Assistant that I must go to...

Must... retain... strength....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:39 AM on October 29, 2002


Has anyone seen Bowling for Columbine yet?
posted by pjgulliver at 6:43 AM on October 29, 2002


Gee, I am sure the Brady Campaign, is a great place to get some non-biased information

I dunno. What about the NRA website, is that the good place to get nonbiased info?

Why don't I ask the Catholic Church how it feels about Darwin... Bet they would say he is a pretty wacky guy too...

The Roman Catholic Church is quite different, in its approach to science -- it's really not like a Fundamentalist Protestant Kansas Church
Modern Catholic doctrine is not really into that literal Noah's Ark stuff -- actually Pat Buchanan got crapped on a lot when he tried to argue that all Catholics must adhere to Creationism. They simply don't have to
posted by matteo at 7:15 AM on October 29, 2002


pjgulliver

I did. I'm not a Moore fan, the Heston interview is too heavy-handed and probably cruel, but it's an interesting documentary
posted by matteo at 7:17 AM on October 29, 2002


matteo: I must concede that I did over look the word 'confiscate' in your post, and quickly assumed you were speaking of a ban.. Most sorry...

You are correct in saying that you will not find a mainstream gun control advocate who wants to forcibly confiscate guns. To do so would be political suicide. All I can do from that point is speculate, but that is worth shit around here.

I loved your misteriously disappearing user page info

Really, what is your obsession with what was on my user page. You act as though you have found some great secret about me, like I am Ashcroft lurking on MeFi.... Get over it.

I guess you'd complain about somebody quoting Chomsky here right?

No. You can quote who ever you would like. Quote Dowd for all I care... If a point it valid, it matters not who the author is. (With biases taken in to account, of course)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:56 AM on October 29, 2002


The second amendment absolutely must not be disassembled or legislatively violated in any way--no ifs, ands or buts

Ok, but what about the 2nd Amendment gives you a personal right to own a gun? Are you "a well organized militia"? If so what part of "Keep and Bear Arms" assumes ownership?

The Constitution is pretty clear in other amendments of the rights to property and ownership for individuals/citizens. In the 2nd Amendment it is vaguely implied with "Keep" but certainly not guaranteed to persons or individuals such as yourself only to a "well organized militia".

I'm not try to say that we should confiscate guns or make them illegal. I'm just pointing out that there aren't any special rights to own guns assigned by the 2nd amendment.
posted by aaronscool at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2002


Aaron,
I'm not a typical gun rights supporter. I have a fairly narrow interpretation of the second ammendment. The broader interpretations actually endanger its viability. So perhaps I should have said that the spirit of the second ammendment absoluely must not be tampered with--period. But there can be no spirit in that ammendment without the credible threat that it poses to tyranny (which means that law abiding citizens should have reasonable access to and use of firearms). I'm not a fan of the fast and loose b.s. that some gun owners play with their "right" to possess firearms. When one over-liberally interprets or practices the second ammendment, it violates a whole host of other constitutional provisions and legislative protections for society.

Lack of a clear and direct solution, however, does not excuse us from defending every letter of our constituion with vigor. The second ammendment is absolutely vital to our democracy in America. I would argue that it is especially pertinent in the age of rampant cronie capitalism and buddy style legislation.
The widening gap between the powerful and the powerless is precisely why the framers wrote that provision in the very foundations of our governmental creed. So tread responsibly and with long-tem vision in mind when dismissing it because you're not thrilled with the way some gun owners conduct their affairs around firearms--that's all I'm saying here.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 11:27 AM on October 29, 2002


Well, if we're supposed to defend "every letter of our constitution with vigor" what should we do about the three fifths compromise! I mean, if each letter is sacred, shouldn't you find it appaling that black people now get to count as a WHOLE person when they vote? And I'm just infuriated that the vice president is picked by a presidential candidate, rather than being the runner-up in a Presidential election. And direct election of senators. That is such a load of crap. I'd much rather have my state legislature pick my Senator. After all, a senator is a representative of a state government, not the people, right?

Come on. You may have a legitimate reason for opposing some forms of gun control. But "It was written two hundred years ago by wealthy male aristocrats living in vastly different nation" is not a good reason. That doesn't mean I think one should trash the Constitution willy nilly. It has proven to be a remarkably adaptable and robust document. But a prime reason for not enacting policy should not be "it was so written." There has to be logic and common sense behind it.

How about this as a potential solution to this deadlock (and I'm not being sarcastic here.) It seems one prime reason gun advocates do not want a stringent ban on weapons is the possibility that the government could eventually become coersive and totalitarian. Well, that possibility, as unlikely as it is, is a lot more imaginable in a society where service in security estabilishments (armed forces, police, ATF, etc) is provided by self-selected professionals, rather than a broad cross section of a nation. To ensure that our own government does not turn against us, maybe you would support a form of national service requirement (a draft.)
posted by pjgulliver at 12:08 PM on October 29, 2002


Well all I'm saying is that without interpretation you cannot use the 2nd amendment as a basis for a right to own a gun. Once you introduce interpretation of the 2nd amendment then you open your argument up to all kinds of different views.

Now on to the meat of your argument. We need guns to allow for the public to counter the power of the federal government. This sounds good until you start to look at real world examples.

Countries with higher per capita gun ownership than the US have not been very successful in overthrowing their tyrannical governments. Look at many African countries like Somalia, the Congo you can even look at Afghanistan as a recent example. Many of these countries whether legally or not had an extremely well armed population. None of them were able to overthrow a tyrannical or chaotic government or maintain local peace.

Again I'm not advocating gun confiscation or bans I'm trying to dispel the myths people us as justifications for the lack of ANY gun ownership accountability laws. I DO believe we need a uniform system for registration of all firearms that includes a requirement for documenting the transfer of ownership in personal sales, training and licensing for the users of firearms. If we had proper licensing I doubt we would need waiting periods or background checks any longer as this could all be part of the licensing.
posted by aaronscool at 12:14 PM on October 29, 2002


The second ammendment is absolutely vital to our democracy in America.

Come now, if the Second amendment was so vital, surely the Supreme Court would have at least heard a case on it in the last 63 years? In United States v. Miller (1939) they refused to find a federal ban on sawed-off shotguns unconstitutional under the Second Amendment on the grounds that sawed-off shotguns had nothing to do with a well-organized militia. They've declined to hear any second amendment cases since.
posted by boltman at 1:34 PM on October 29, 2002


RevGreg- I'm a bit confused here. You tried to answer my question about AR-15's by talking about why it doesn't work well as a hunting style rifle. I think this was my point. Why are these things still sold to the public?

No Pollomacho, I pointed out why it wasn't a good choice as a snipers weapon. We routinely use AR-15 and Ruger Mini 14's (also .223 caliber) to hunt groundhogs and other pesky little vermin on my one friend's farm and they are lightweight have very little recoil (allowing faster reacquisition of target), accurate enough at the 100-150 yard ranges that we shoot and the small bullet is more than adequate for a clean kill on small game. I sure as hell wouldn't want to lug around my bull barrelled .308 for that purpose but if I needed to shoot at 500+ yard ranges from a stationary position and wanted a one-shot kill on a larger animal - it would be my choice (we have a 1/2 mile range set up - I am reasonably good out to about 400-500 yards.)

Different weapons have different uses and the preconception that somehow a "military" weapon is somehow "more lethal" is so absurd as to be laughable. The weapon is only as dangerous as the hands it is in...

Why are .38 Specials still sold? The only thing these guns are good for is killing people and they don't even do that as well as some other things.

So what you are saying is that a person of limited financial means should not have the option of purchasing a cheap handgun for home defense? A home defense weapon does not neccessarily need to be expensive or excessively deadly (my home defense weapon is a $100 Hungarian PA-63 9x18 Makarov caliber automatic), in most cases the mere sound of a gun report will send the criminals packing - and the ultimate goal is to secure the safety of yourself and your family, killing the intruder is not an essential part of defense (although if it happens, so be it.)
posted by RevGreg at 3:48 PM on October 29, 2002


Pj,
Save the dramatic ideological over-extensions for your drinking buddies. You can't expect to find the exactitude of a doctorial thesis on constituional law on a MetaFilter thread. Brevity of medium prohibits the kinds of exhastive qualifiers and philosophical profundity you're hoping for here.

Our constitution is as much a urging for a people to ideals, as it is a provision for the people to reach those ideals. Our constitution and the protection it affords us is "robust" because it is vague. A constitution can be no other way and survive. It must be deliberately worded as to be malleable with the flux of sociological influences, without losing its high-minded intention. And that is why I say we have to fight tooth and nail to defend 'every letter of our constitution with vigor'. It's not an issue of shelf-life--it's a matter of structure.
I don't know how we go about negotiating puzzling and even appalling contradictions or inconsistencies that can be found there, and in the framers themselves. I don't know how it comes to pass that same the man who gave us "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." also believed himself to be inherentely more valuable than men of color. I don't know how that same elegant mind assured itself that it was entitled to own human beings. But there we have it.
These examples of greatness cozied up with vile tradition lead me to conclude that the greater weight belongs to the ideal than to the requisite of purity in practice. It's foolish to negate the higher notes of mens souls merely because they are too flawed to dance to their own music, especially where the ideologoy that drives this deomcracy is concerned. The framers gave us a great liberty and a tremendous burder in the need to constantly evaluate this document ad determine what of it is true ideological essence of this democracy and what of it is prevailing social custom.
Where the second ammendment is concerned, we've legislated around the mores as well as we can without dismantling it as a credible threat to tyrants. If you erode the function, the spirit of it is meaningless. It's a fine line, of course, but that's precisely what the framers intended.

The suggestion that you recommend it's entirely without merit. But I think the mark gets missed when we suggest that that service should necessarily take the form of being tools of government (enforcement/defense related). Not because it isn't vital, but because military and paramilitary agencies are often called upon to supplant their better judgement in favor of official policy. There are some excellent reasons for this, but we need to reopen the channels for everyday men and women to create policy as well as enforce it.

Aaron,
I agree with you; it's a double edged sword. Sometimes the benefit of the second ammmendment can be hard to justify, because we don't often perceive ourselves as being among leaders that would destroy our democracy. But that doesn't mean we should be any less vigilant about the preservation of its integrity--just in case.

I should say here that I don't own a gun (far too tempermental for such snappy lethality). I even shake my head when people use the "defense" argument to keep arms. I've actually experienced the misfortune of having a complete stranger wake me up at 0400, trying to rape me. As it was, I got violently pissed, fought him off and chased him out of my home. But the detectives later told me that that creepy bastard had broken into my home 10 hours before I got home from work that night. If I'd had a gun in the house--he'd have found it (poking around in my house for ten fecking hours) and I'd have been raped--staring into the barrel of my own damned gun. It's just one of many different kinds of situations one could find themselves in with a firearm that was more a liability that a benefit. So, like I said, I'm not the standard fare when it comes to this argument. There are many, many shades of grey that don't often get discussed.
I should also make it clear that I could get an AR-15 fully loaded with 12 power scope and enough amunition to kill a small army with one phone call--no shop, no show, no dealer, no background check, no registry... One phone call. So the argument to form a registry has always paled with me too. It's too easy to bypass, and the people who are buying those weapons legitimately are usually outstanding marksmen with scads of military or paramilitary training. Those folks aren't usually the problem when it comes to firearm violence though.
I think the documentation of personal transfers could probably be more effectively tackled though. This would be where a gun owner should pick up the argument of how useful or likely doing some due dilligence before sale, and documentation (if only to manufacturer) of that sale is...

Boltman,
Sawed-off shotguns are ridiculous and obscenely dangerous. No self-respecting gun owner would defend such a weapon. That's why the court called it the way they did.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 4:54 PM on October 29, 2002


The importance of Miller is not that it banned sawed off shotguns, but that it deemed that the Second Amendment was about government-organized militias, not an individual right to own guns. Because of this decision, and the refusal of the Court to hear any cases on the Second Amendment since, the Second Amendment has exactly zero legal force in the vast majority of this country. The government could confiscate all your guns and there is absolutely nothing you could legally do about it under the Second Amendment. You'd file suit against the government, the government would cite Miller and the multitude of lower court decisions that have developed and exanded its reasoning, and the judge would throw you out of court and maybe even sanction your lawyer for bringing a frivolous lawsuit.

The one exception is in the 5th Circuit (basically Texas), where a handful of wacky activist judges have tried to stir life back into the Second Amendment as an individual right. They found that the State of Texas had violated the second amendment rights of a wife-beater by confiscating his guns after the wife got a restraining order against him. It's really hard to see this case even making it to the Supreme Court, but if it did, I have little doubt that a majority of justices would smack down the 5th Circuit faster than you could say "militia"
posted by boltman at 9:30 PM on October 29, 2002


Boltman,
No sir; Justice McReynolds reversed the finding that section 11 of the the National Firearms Act was unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violated the second amendment, and again deferred the matter to the state: "the objection that the Act usurps police power reserved to the States is plainly untenable". Also, the court's decision did, in fact, consider the type of weapon:

"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense." Citing: Aymette v. State of Tennessee, 2 Humph., Tenn., 154, 158.

The court reasserted their intention to see these matters dealt with by state, rather than federal, courts with the following:
"Most if not all of the States have adopted provisions touching the right to keep and bear arms. Differences in the language employed in these have naturally led to somewhat variant conclusions concerning the scope of the right guaranteed. But none of them seem to afford any material support for the challenged ruling of the court below."
US Supreme Court: 307 U.S. 174

Nothing in this ruling addresses the federalizing of militial intent as prerequisite to firearm ownership. It touches social perspectives for the understanding of "militia", it affirms a states right to regulate firearms, and it certainly dismisses the type of weapon that was being transported illegally as being designed for 'common defense' by any standard--but it does not neutralize the second amendment or a citizen's right to bear arms.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 12:23 AM on October 30, 2002


Speaking as another "English" (Welsh actually but nevermind) liberal, I am proud of our gun control laws for the simple reason that less people die. It fits in with my fuzzy rose-tinted view of Britain as a society willing to give up personal freedoms for the greater good.

I've just spent 10 minutes or so typing figures for the number of homicide rates in the US vs other G7 countries, but it's pointless, everyone knows the statistics.

The link anyway -> Click me

I just want to know why Guns are seen as that important a right. Somewhere around 36000 people die from gunshot wounds every year in America, hey it's a big country, but it's still, that's 36,000 dead people, or a WTC attack every month.

I'm sorry I've done the usual British thing of sneering at your gun control laws and patronisingly pointed out that your country is killing itself. Can someone tell me why it is SO important to have these guns?

And as far as the 222 million active guns making gun control a moot point, you are the most powerful country on earth, you put a guy on the moon in the 60s, if you wanted to round up 222 million handguns to save a couple of thousand lives a year I'm sure you could do it.

Can someone let me know why I'm wrong?

p.s. I believe farmers should have access to firearms like they do in the UK.
posted by fullerine at 3:32 AM on October 30, 2002


Tiger Lilly: You are quite correct if you are saying that Miller does not in itself ban the ownership of guns that don't relate to the common defense. That would have been a rather strange outcome of the case. However, by linking the right to bear arms to "a well regulated militia" it suggested that the rights guaranteed by the second amendment were vested in states rather than in individuals. It also cites the language about militias in Art. I of the Consitutiton which puts the militias at least somewhat under the power of Congress.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "federalizing militial intent." Certainly, states are free to establish an individual right to keep and bear arms if they want, so long as it doesn't conflict with federal law. States are also free to ban guns altogether if they find that to be appropriate.

On a policy level, I don't have a big problem with guns and I'm somewhat skepical of the link between gun control and crime prevention (although I'm even more skepical that guns reduce crime). But it seems self-evident to me that New York City ought to be able to establish stricter gun laws than Montana. We really don't need 2 million ornery New Yorkers walking around the city packing heat. By constitutionalizing gun rights, states and municipalities will lose flexibility to deal with the gun issue on a local basis. Also, federal gun policy is quite reasonable and will remain so, given the power of the NRA. A constiuttional right would just generate all sorts of frivilous litigation and may well screw up modest policies like federal sentencing guidelines, which gives armed felons get more jail time than unarmed felons.
posted by boltman at 6:22 AM on October 30, 2002


Tiger_Lily:

My point was dead on. You used as a sole justification of the second ammendment that it was previously in the Constitution. All I pointed out was that we have modified preceived errors in the Constitution before, and can do so again. It is a living, changing document.

You still have no laid out a case for the right to bear arms. Neither you nor Steve has responded to the sizable evidence that both Aaron and I have written about several times that historically, it appears that a citizenry's ability to overthrown or change an unjust government has little or no relation to the right of that citizenry to bear arms. Please, go back and read the comments and respond with counterfacts, not with hyperbole.

Lastly, I'm for a national service requirement, not a national military service requirement. I think every voting American should have to do a year or two of national service. Whether that service is in the military or as an aid in a public hospital, as a teacher or as a national park ranger, I think there is no better way to build national cohesion than that.
posted by pjgulliver at 6:22 AM on October 30, 2002


Tiger_Lily -- I like your mind.

fullerine - What rational are you looking for? Maybe it's the paranoia of the "thin edge of the wedge" argument about maintaing a line against the erosion of rights - once they're gone, you're not likely to get them back, unless you want to become a criminal by statute. Perhaps we're more obstinate, or maybe it's infantile - or maybe it's the tradition of not wanting to be told what to do. Or perhaps it's a recognition that we are inherently unequal and don't wish to be found at a disadvantage if the shit comes down (i.e., the "God made man, Col. Colt make men equal" argument). I would much prefer my daughters have the option of a gun to defened themselves from a 200+ pound drunk/hopped up perpetrator who breaks into their house, in the end analysis, than for them to have to depend on their screams to elicit help or a call to the police to ensure response rapid enough to interdict a possible life-threatening crime. Tiger_Lily's experience notwithstanding, much of society's membership is unprepared to defend themselves by hand - she was very lucky. We aren't sufficiently tame (or civilized, if you will) down here in the US (apparently) to acquiesce in being told we have no right to defend ourselves, or that we have to depend on the authorities to do so for us -by the time they arrive, it's all too often too late.

I'm not willing to say, "For the greater good of the rest of society, I am willing to forgoe my ability to save the lives of myself & those I love" if I might otherwise have the opportunity to do so. I'm not convinced that that altruistic attitude isn't tantamount to walking accomodatingly into the gas chambers. Perhaps it's recognition that however much we may wish otherwise, the veneer of civilization is actually very thin may need only a momentary disruption to turn things into chaos. Look at the riots in LA, Cincinnnati & elsewhere. In order to make you or others feel happy & more secure should anyone be forced to watch their life's work go down the drain or their home destroyed or family butchered when the lights go out? What's the possibility of that? If it's greater than 0.00, then society's denial of the right to tools to protect oneself is akin to the herd's willingness to sacrifice a sick animal to the predator as lng as the herd as a whole survices. That's OK on National Geographic or the Animal Channel - not so good when you're the one being singled out.

I could make the specious argument about if what we're really concerned about is saving lives then what about statistics on auto & medical malpractice deaths (which far exceed gun deaths) & why don't we then argue for abolishment of autos & imprisonment of doctors - I suppose the difference is that folks perceive a different cost vs. benefit relationship for those.

As an aside, I had this running discussion with my brother (a corporate lawyer and more or a "liberal" than myself on some issues) a number of years back as to what weapon was better for self defense. He maintained that there was no argument for having a handgun, as a shotgun was inherently bbetter if you were worried about home defense - I argued to the contrary. I ended up going out and buying a twelve-gauge pump & he went out and got a .357. I don't know what this points out, other than the perversity of human nature. maybe that sums it up.

I'd support compulsory national service, military or otherwise. I think it might be a very good thing.
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:46 AM on October 30, 2002


For home defense a shotgun is far better than a handgun. It's far easier to use, maintain along with being a much scarier weapon to have pointed at you or to hear being cocked. The real test though is that shotgun will put a man on his back much more effectively than most handguns do.
posted by aaronscool at 11:25 AM on October 30, 2002


Boltman,
I don't think the court was suggesting that the right of ownership was vested in the state. If that were the case, then the ruling itself would be inherently unconstitional, and I'll tell you why I read it that way: If we look at the text of the second amendment:
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.
We find that the framers have drawn what could reasonably be interpreted as a distinction between the "State" and the "people" (assuming, of course, that "the people" comprise the aforementioned "well regulated militia").
Maybe it's a matter of intepretation but I think the fact that the framers didn't just say "the right of the State to keep and bear arms" betrays your interpretation that the State has been vested with the right to keep and bear, rather than the individual. So I think the court was saying two things in US. v. Miller: 1) They find that there's enough grounds, by way of interpretation of the second amendment, to support a states right regulate arms, and 2) Its interpretation of the intention of the second amendment is that the State remain the ultimate arbitor of these matters. In any event, if it were overwhelmingly clear, there'd be no debate--so I can see where you might have a different interpretation.

My tangential remark about the 'federalizing (of) militial intent' was actually freeform thinking, but it was meant to convey that the court did not find that signaling the intent to be a part of a "well regulated militia" is or can be a precondition of ownership, and it seems to invalidate a national registry because it reserves the regulation exclusively to the state.

That aside, I think the second amendment absolutely guarantees New York's right to regulate as they see fit, Montana or the federal government notwithstanding. So, that's good news, eh? Hug New York for me, I've got a much loved brother in Brooklyn.

PJ,
I said once before that the duration of pre-existence was not the condition on which to stand. So you misread me, if that's what you keep coming up with. Fight for the ideal, not the length of time it's been around. One is essential to the foundation of our democracy, the other is a social construct. Anyway, I like your idea about service requirements too. We've completely lost all civic sense in this country.

PressedRat,
Thank you; that's the nicest compliment paid to me in quite a while. Right back at you.

Mkay, kids, I'm off.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 11:54 AM on October 30, 2002


RevGreg - you are going to tell me that the AR-15's and Mini-14's sold in the DC area are for popping off groundhogs? I can assure you that there are simply not that many varmints around here and I haven't really checked into the game laws for killing them here, but I'm pretty sure most of them are protected, but that aside, so what your saying is that semi-automatic "military style" weaponry is necessary so that you're not inconvenienced in your target reacquisition when popping off groundhogs. Please, go buy a .22 long or if that's not big enough a .22 magnum! I can assure you that there is much more inconvenience for the families of people shot by those weapons every night around here. Yes, they are more deadly. Military style weapons are made for less recoil with maximum human damage, that's why you find them so nice for plinking, they are light weight and easily put away, but offer a nice bit of firepower, just what everyone bent on killing needs, sounds like a really convenient weapon to use in a drive by. As for the .38 special:

"So what you are saying is that a person of limited financial means should not have the option of purchasing a cheap handgun for home defense?"

Yes that about sums up my position on that. I would much rather they have a shotgun, especially if they live near me. I really hope that your neighbors or kids don't get a slug through the head through the wall/floor when you let off that warning shot with a Makarov, the ft/lbs. of force on that slug are enough to send it through your house and your neighbors, particularly with the cheap military issue FMJ ball ammo that is usually sold for use in one (please tell me you at LEAST use hollow points). Get yourself a fairly short (and VERY inexpensive) pump shotgun. The shot will stop in the wall and not kill your kids and the sound of that thing charging up is enough to form a nice brown stain in the back of any burglar's pants!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:05 PM on October 30, 2002


the ruling itself would be inherently unconstitional

tigerlily: perhaps in some deep metaphysical sense, but in legal terms there is no such thing as an unconstitutional Supreme Court decision. Under Marbury v. Madison and its progeny, the Supreme Court is the final and authoritative arbiter of what the constitution means. Miller is indeed a bit opaque in its reasoning, but what clearly comes out is that it sees the "well-regulated militia" language as integral to the meaning of the 2nd amendment and that it sees "militias" as being subject to state and Congressional control, rather than as independent protectors against governmental tyranny.

Also, I am relieved that you do not think that the Second Amendment reaches the states, although I am quite sure that the NRA pretty vehemently disagrees with you. If I'm not mistaken, the wacky Texas case I mentioned involved a state law that allow judges to take away the guns of spouse-abusers.
posted by boltman at 12:37 PM on October 30, 2002


Please, go buy a .22 long or if that's not big enough a .22 magnum!

A .22 or .22 magnum to take down a groundhog at 150 yards? Flat terrain, no weeds, no wind and accurate (and lucky) enough to hit it in the head since that is the ONLY possiblity of an instant kill at that distance. 150 yards is the MAXIMUM effective range for a .22 under ideal conditions and we rarely shoot them under "ideal conditions." Add to that the thick hide of a groundhog and a .22 is a very poor choice of weapon. A .22 is more suited to small game birds and squirrels, small rabbits being about the largest thing I'd attempt to put down with that gun and then I wouldn't even attempt that at over 50 yards. We like one shot clean kills and a .22 would not guarantee that under the conditions.

Our reasoning. The groundhogs HAVE to be culled or they dig holes in the horse pastures and if a horse breaks a leg in one of them, it's dog food time. You need to realize that groundhogs do not just walk up to us and ask to be shot and we don't have the time to go out and sit quietly all day and wait for them to come in close. We take our shots when we notice them out in fields while we are doing other work and the shots are usually in the 100-150 yard range and sometimes much farther (I've personally taken many down at 250+, a virtual impossibility with a .22 of any kind.) We are trying to keep clear about 120 acres out of a 500+ acre area...that has already resulted in over 45 groundhogs this year alone (the dogs love 'em for dinner though!)

Military style weapons are made for less recoil with maximum human damage

Incorrect. The .223 round is inherently LESS deadly than the round it replaced (7.62x51 NATO) and it was created to be LESS deadly than other contemporary rounds in existence when it was created. As an aside, military issue ammunition is also inherently less deadly than commercially available hunting ammunition. Both kinds are more than effective on groundhogs but we don't generally use FMJ because of safety issues. If anything, the .223 round has superior ballistics to the 7.62 NATO and makes determining bullet drop much easier and is also somewhat less susceptable to air currents.

I would much rather they have a shotgun, especially if they live near me.

Why would removing pistols and allowing shotguns make things any better? I'd much rather face a criminal if he was carrying a pistol and if shotgun were all that was available, that's what you would then face. A shotgun is great for people who do not shoot much but it also has it's negatives in such situations. It is inherently a bad indoor weapon because of it's size - I'd hate to try to manuver through my house with a shotgun, let along trying to aim and shoot quickly. I pistol, in the hands of someone trained to use it, is a much better weapon.

I really hope that your neighbors or kids don't get a slug through the head through the wall/floor when you let off that warning shot with a Makarov, the ft/lbs. of force on that slug are enough to send it through your house and your neighbors, particularly with the cheap military issue FMJ ball ammo that is usually sold for use in one (please tell me you at LEAST use hollow points).

I plink with $6/50 round Russian FMJ. My carry round costs $20/20 rounds and is frangible - maximum damage to flesh and will not penetrate walls, floors or ceilings.

The shot will stop in the wall and not kill your kids and the sound of that thing charging up is enough to form a nice brown stain

Except for the bb's that don't embed and bounce around the room, depending on the compostion of the room and contents. And what part of me racking my pistol as I tell the person to vacate the premises does not have the same effect?

I can assure you that there is much more inconvenience for the families of people shot by those weapons every night around here.

Not a single person has ever been shot by a weapon. They were shot by a human being with criminal intent. But I think whole crux of MY point would follow this statement...

you are going to tell me that the AR-15's and Mini-14's sold in the DC area are for popping off groundhogs?

Why do you feel that the actions of a criminal in DC are congruent to the legitimate and legal actions of someone 300 miles away? The gun isn't the problem, the criminal intent is. Until you crack that nut, you're blowing wind up everyone's asses with regulations on inanimate objects. Heavy enforcement of current laws would be fantastic instead of creating more laws and spreading the available funding even thinner so that even less of them get enforced.
posted by RevGreg at 5:53 PM on October 30, 2002


The gun isn't the problem, the criminal intent is. Until you crack that nut, you're blowing wind up everyone's asses with regulations on inanimate objects. Heavy enforcement of current laws would be fantastic instead of creating more laws and spreading the available funding even thinner so that even less of them get enforced.

First point criminal intent is not always the cause of death by gun.

Second point, heavy enforcement of ANY laws would be key to their success. This being said some ways to control criminal intent is to make sure that people who legally are able to own and operate firearms are separated from those who aren't.

Standardized national licensing (with training and testing required to get a license) would help in this regard. Also at that point the license could be be used to verify if current ownership is legal.

Standardized national registration for all firearms also would help to weed out criminal intent. In essence everyone should have a title for their firearms. If they transfer ownership they should also transfer the title/registration. This step alone might help stem the flow of illegally bought and sold weapons.

It should be pretty simple nationwide. If you are a law abiding citizen with proper license and registration no problem. If you do not have a license (or it is expired/revoked etc.) or registration your firearms are subject to impound and you are subject to criminal charges.
posted by aaronscool at 6:43 PM on October 30, 2002


This step alone might help stem the flow of illegally bought and sold weapons.

So, you feel that a huge boondoggle program that wastes the time and money of nearly ALL guns owners is worth the trivial amount of control over criminals that this proceedure might bring? Well, then I guess we should piss test employees every day before work. I mean it's only a trivial amount of their time involved and think of the increase in work safety that it would mean?

Once again, I feel that targeting people who are obeying the laws already with more laws is a poor way to attempt to control anything. Those who are willing to break the law will only need to break another one and generally once they get past the first one they don't even pause to think about the rest anyway...
posted by RevGreg at 6:12 PM on November 3, 2002


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