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I'm sure the NRA will have something to say about this
April 4, 2008 7:51 AM   Subscribe

As the Supreme Court ponders the Second Amendment, The New England Journal of Medicine weighs in once, twice, three times.
posted by TedW (147 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
You can bet the result will look like this: The Second Amendment gives no absolute right to gun possession, but the DC handgun ban goes too far and is overturned. Film at 11.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:55 AM on April 4, 2008


. . . a lady?
posted by brain_drain at 7:57 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow the Amicus filings for the Respondent (the guy who wants to own the gun), are hilarious:


Disabled Veterans for Self Defense

The Pink Pistols and Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberties

Foundation for Free Expression (me shooting you is my First Amendment right to free speech--I'm expressing my dislike).

Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership

Second Amendment Sisters, Inc.

Organizations and Scholars Correcting Myths and Misrepresentations Commonly Deployed by Opponents of an Individual-Right-Based Interpretation of the Second Amendment, also known as OSCMMCDOIRBISA

Here's the funniest fact of all:

The United States has filed in favor of Petitioner. That's right, Bush is for the handgun ban.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2008


weapons of mass destruction = bad
weapons of individual destruction = good
posted by DU at 8:11 AM on April 4, 2008


In case anyone mentions John Lott.
posted by goatdog at 8:20 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would love to know what purpose lethal weapons have over non-lethal weapons, other than the killing part. It would seem any self-defense goal could be met with non-lethal guns. If lethal handguns were taken off the market, there would be a rush to make better and more effective non-lethal weapons. Non-lethal weapons would improve quickly. Incredibly, there are states that ban the sale of non-lethal weapons and permit the sale of lethal weapons.

It is interesting that if I build a device with the primary function of killing people that I would never be allowed to sell that device. If that device is a gun, however, I am okay. There are few arguments that are weaker than "because that is the way it has always been." If that is the most compelling argument for the legalization of lethal handguns, then that is rather pathetic.
posted by flarbuse at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


The third link to the NEJM is rather stupid, I think. The author is arguing that since (in his opinion) a right to keep and bear arms would be bad from a public health standpoint, the court should rule that no such right exists. Which is bullshit; the right exists or does not exist regardless of its effect on public health.

If they can decide you don't have a right to bear arms despite what it says in the constitution, they can decide you don't have a right to free speech or free religion despite what it says in the constitution. We don't recognize only those constitutional rights that don't make us uncomfortable. If you think guns are a blight on society the only correct course of action is to lobby to have the second amendment repealed, not to ignore it completely.

My guess is that it is inevitable that the second amendment is correctly recognized as an individual right and thus arguing we should ban guns despite the second amendment is an ultimately futile task.
posted by Justinian at 8:25 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


That's right, Bush is for the handgun ban.

Not exactly. Paul Clement, the Solicitor General, filed a brief in support of upholding the ban, because he is duty-bound to defend the constitutionality of acts of Congress. This caused a big ruckus among conservatives that resulted in Cheney taking the unusual step of filing a separate brief attacking the constitutionality of the ban. It's fair to assume that Cheney's brief is a better reflection of Bush's views than Clement's.
posted by brain_drain at 8:27 AM on April 4, 2008


If that is the most compelling argument for the legalization of lethal handguns, then that is rather pathetic.

No, the most compelling argument is that it's in the Constitution and if you start ignoring the bits that you don't much like, why shouldn't I or George Bush or James Dobson start ignoring the bits that they don't much like.
posted by Justinian at 8:27 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


note that the bits they don't much like will most likely have to do with that whole freedom of religion stuff, or the whole right against self incrimination, or equality of the races or whatever. The Constitution of the United States is not a buffet table where you can pick and choose what you want unless you pass an amendment yourself.
posted by Justinian at 8:28 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


THEY TERK OUR JERBS!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:36 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, the most compelling argument is that it's in the Constitution

Which brings up the necessary argument that the Constitution is severely flawed and far too difficult to amend.

But that's how those who benefit from it like it.

Great links. Thanks for the post.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:36 AM on April 4, 2008


No, the most compelling argument is that it's in the Constitution and if you start ignoring the bits that you don't much like, why shouldn't I or George Bush or James Dobson start ignoring the bits that they don't much like.

I have terrible news for you.
posted by Skot at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


I have terrible news for you.

I know, I know. But if we start ignoring the bits we don't like, we lose any moral authority to argue against the other guys ignoring the bits they don't like.
posted by Justinian at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2008


But if we start ignoring the bits we don't like

You mean like the words "well-regulated?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


The standard of journalism in the first link is real fun. I especially like the part where they assert that "in 2005, in this country, 30,694 people died from gunshot wounds [...] nearly 70,000 more people received treatment for nonfatal wounds [...] Another myth is that defensive gun use is very common. The most widely quoted estimate, 2.5 million occurrences a year, is too high by a factor of 10". Hmm, 2.5 million divided by 10 is 250,000, and about 100,000 people were hurt by guns in the same year: put another way, "guns are used defensively more than twice as often as they wound or kill". Wow, that's a convincing anti-gun point, all right. Obviously, people who believe that guns are commonly used in defense are crazy, but people who believe that guns commonly kill are correct.

Even if you're convinced by their source for the "factor of ten" number, which has been debunked, their line of argument seems to support the opposite conclusion...

Also, as these doctors well know, no one ever dies from drug overdose now that drugs are illegal; I'm sure gun fatalities will follow once handguns are similarly banned. Wait, you mean that even after handguns were entirely banned in D.C., "Homicides rebounded in the late 1980s with the advent of "crack" cocaine"? That is to say, the handgun ban didn't keep people from shooting each other, given a reason? Again, it seems that they're arguing the opposite point.

At any rate, I can't wait to have another War on Something -- the logistics involved in banning 65 million handguns (all to save just 30,000 lives per year, more than half of which are suicides) will make the Drug War look like a walk in the park!

And as far as "collective rights" go: as soon as we start seriously discussing whether the First Amendment should apply only to those affiliated with state-approved churches and news organizations, I'll take the "they only meant members of the militia!" argument seriously. Sorry, but I refuse to believe that the authors of the Bill of Rights listed a bunch of inalienable rights pertaining to individual persons, and then stuck a collective right in as #2 and conveniently forgot to clearly label it as such. I'm with Justinian on this -- if you want to repeal the 2nd Amendment, then repeal it already... if you can get 3/4 of the states to agree with you, that is.
posted by vorfeed at 8:40 AM on April 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


"Freeze!" responds Peairs. Yoshi does not understand the idiom. He approaches the house, repeating his statement about the party. Peairs shoots him once in the chest. Thirty minutes later, Yoshi dies in an ambulance. Bonnie Peairs would later testify, "There was no thinking involved."

[...]

His lawyer summarized Peairs's defense as follows: "You have the legal right to answer everybody that comes to your door with a gun." A Louisiana jury acquitted him after 3 hours' deliberation.


This. This is why the US in general, and gun nuts in specific, scare the crap out of me.
posted by splice at 8:40 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


You mean like the words "well-regulated?"

The first clause has nothing to do with modifying the right, it's just a reason for recognizing it.
posted by Justinian at 8:42 AM on April 4, 2008


If lethal handguns were taken off the market, there would be a rush to make better and more effective non-lethal weapons.

Has this happened in countries where there are total bans?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:46 AM on April 4, 2008


You mean like the words "well-regulated?"

First, I'd argue that guns are "well-regulated" in this country. The background check system certainly counts as Federal regulation of arms, and if it doesn't, then the now-defunct assault gun ban (funny how the predicted violent apocalypse never happened when that one quietly expired) clearly did.

Second, if you're upset about ignoring words, then I wonder why you ignored the fact that the adjective "well-regulated" in the Second Amendment modifies the word "militia", not "arms" nor "the people"?
posted by vorfeed at 8:50 AM on April 4, 2008


I say disarm the masses; what could possibly go wrong?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:54 AM on April 4, 2008


Just a reminder--the court case is about handguns, not guns in general. DC residents can buy shotguns, rifles, muzzle-loaders, whatever. Just not pistols.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:55 AM on April 4, 2008


Disarm the masses, and I could take over the country with a butter knife. My hero is Dogbert!
posted by dwivian at 8:59 AM on April 4, 2008


Which brings up the necessary argument that the Constitution is severely flawed and far too difficult to amend.

Severely flawed? How so? Because it doesn't read like your personal policy preference platform?

Too hard to amend? Again, this sounds like something akin to "I can't get the stuff I want in the Constitution." The Constitution imposes a hurdle to amendment, and for good reason: it should not be desecrated by factious interests that spring up from time to time (Or would you prefer we have a flag desecration amendment and various other "popular" and pointless wedge political amendments).

If anything is important and holds broad enough support, the Constitution can be ameded as such. See it's history for evidence of the same.

You can bet the result will look like this: The Second Amendment gives no absolute right to gun possession, but the DC handgun ban goes too far and is overturned. Film at 11.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:55 AM on April 4


Well, the weasel word there is "absolute." There are no absolute rights.

What the opinion is likely to say--with Kennedy as the king-maker yet again--is that the 2nd Amendment protects individuals' right to bear arms as a fundamental right, apart from the issue of militias. And with all fundamental rights, it can be infringed upon if the infringement passes strict scrutiny. So they will say the machine gun ban passes strict scrutiny but the DC handgun law does not.
posted by dios at 9:01 AM on April 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


> Disarm the masses, and I could take over the country with a butter knife

*holds up a board with a nail in it* "Say hello to my leetle friend!"

Yeah, that's right...two separate pop culture references in one line.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2008


> This is why the US in general, and gun nuts in specific, scare the crap out of me.

You think you're scared? Just imagine how piss-your-pants afraid of the entire world people who think the appropriate response to a teenage guy wearing a Saturday Night Fever-style white tuxedo (long the preferred outfit for muggers, rapists and burglers) ringing your doorbell is "Get the gun."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:17 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


... You mean like the words "well-regulated?" ...

... Second, if you're upset about ignoring words, then I wonder why you ignored the fact that the adjective "well-regulated" in the Second Amendment modifies the word "militia", not "arms" nor "the people"? ...

Because to the authors, "well-regulated" meant well-trained and prepared to fight, and yes, they were talking about every day people being prepared to fend off hostile powers. Who is the militia? The founders believed that the militia is composed of every healthy man from 16 to 60.

The kinds of regulations we have on firearms today (whether today's society likes them or not) would have the framers of the Constitution extremely disturbed. Any argument to the contrary is disingenuous. Read any of the writings of Jefferson, et al.
posted by knave at 9:23 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Kind of a derail, but I hate the phrase non-lethal weapon. As far as I know, no one has created such a thing. Less-lethal weapon seems to be the appropriate term.

I would love to know what purpose lethal weapons have over non-lethal weapons, other than the killing part.

None, but the killing part is sufficient reason to need them for emergencies. If someone is angry enough (or on enough meth), they may not be incapacitated by pepper spray, tazers, or bean bag shotgun rounds. I've talked to cops with the stories and broken bones to back up that point with anecdotal evidence.

Another point could be made that someone trying to deter an aggressor with a lethal weapon could be a greater deterrent to violent action than if they were holding a non-lethal weapon. I don't think that's a very practical point for debate though.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2008


I would love to know what purpose lethal weapons have over non-lethal weapons

Well, from the standpoint of why it's in the constitution, it's most likely because a non-lethal weapon wouldn't be particularly useful in overthrowing the government or helping to repel an invading force. The second amendment really isn't there for the purposes of arming people for personal self defense.
posted by quin at 9:25 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


You think you're scared? Just imagine how piss-your-pants afraid of the entire world people who think the appropriate response to a teenage guy wearing a Saturday Night Fever-style white tuxedo (long the preferred outfit for muggers, rapists and burglers) ringing your doorbell is "Get the gun."

Excellent, too bad we can't ban cowardice.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:26 AM on April 4, 2008


The first clause has nothing to do with modifying the right, it's just a reason for recognizing it

Tell me, do gun nuts all have terrible diets? I ask this because I imagine when as children, your mothers told you "because you should eat healthy and grow up strong, you should eat as many vegetables as possible." And then you decided because the first clause wasn't a modification of the second, it meant you had the right to eat shitloads of candy. Obviously your mother didn't actually mean she wanted you to eat right.

Sheesh. It's amazing how, in an argument essentially about you insisting you know more than me what someone "meant" 200 years ago and vice-versa, you breathlessly suggest that this line said by those same people is merely a piece of advice as your excuse to subsequently ignore it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:26 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


. If the point of the Second Amendment is to allow the body of the people to resist an oppressive government, isn't the Amendment entirely obsolete?

they can call it obsolete when the u s army manages to disarm the iraqi militias

i wonder if the new england journal of medicine has calculated what the casuality rate would be if millions of gun owners refused to give up their guns to the government
posted by pyramid termite at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2008


The kinds of regulations we have on firearms today (whether today's society likes them or not) would have the framers of the Constitution extremely disturbed. Any argument to the contrary is disingenuous. Read any of the writings of Jefferson, et al.

I'm afraid I don't have time to read any of the writings of Jefferson, et al right now, so could you explain this for me, please?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:31 AM on April 4, 2008


No, it's cool, just join the others in showcasing your ignorance of American history. Fucking echo chamber in here.
posted by knave at 9:34 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tell me, do gun nuts all have terrible diets? I ask this because I imagine when as children, your mothers told you

Gun nut? Boy, you're quite an asshole, aren't you?

I don't own a gun. I've never fired a gun. In fact, I've never even seen a gun that wasn't being held or holstered by a soldier or law enforcement officer or on TV. I'm not a gun nut; I'm somebody who actually thinks the Constitution is a good thing, on balance, and that ignoring what it says because you don't like it is a recipe for disaster.

But go ahead with the whole "being an asshole because someone disagrees with you" thing. How is that working out for you?
posted by Justinian at 9:35 AM on April 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


Tell me, do gun nuts all have terrible diets?

From the pictures I've seen, many do.

"because you should eat healthy and grow up strong, you should eat as many vegetables as possible." And then you decided because the first clause wasn't a modification of the second, it meant you had the right to eat shitloads of candy.

This doesn't make any sense as stated. If we're going to go by analogy with the Second Amendment and Justinian's interpretation, then it really doesn't matter why mom wanted us to eat our vegetables, we're just going to do it, not pig out on candy. A better formulation would be, "Because eating healthy is important to growing up strong, I'm not going to stop you from eating vegetables". Under this, I would indeed have the right to eat shitloads of candy. On the other hand, if I chose to eat vegetables, then there's not a whole lot ol' mom could say about it.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:38 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Exactly right, adamdschneider.
posted by Justinian at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2008


so could you explain this for me, please?

Jefferson liked to say stuff like this:

And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

From this we can assume that he was the kind of person who believed that if the government stops being representative of it's people, then the population should rise up and overthrow it. It is to this end that he wanted everyone to have the right to own weapons capable of staging such a rebellion.
posted by quin at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Some of you seem to still not understand the well-regulated militia clause. I explained it last time we discussed this case.

Look at the text:

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.

The operative clause is the bolded section. It states that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. That is the instruction to the government. The prior clause about the militia is merely a re-affirmation of the importance of the militia clause.

So if you wanted to unpack the clause, it could be read something like this:

Congress shall make no law infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms because, as we noted in Article I section 8, militias are very important to protect the country and to provide for the security of a free State.

I included some of the discussion from the oral argument in my last comment on it that was applicable from Justice Kennedy.
posted by dios at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


Define "arms". It doesn't say "pistols" or "personal weaponry"; it says "arms". I really believe the Second Amendment was intended to give the people power to keep a tyrranical government in line. Back in the day, that included muskets, pistols, and possibly cannons. But in a modern context, "arms" means not just handguns and assault rifles, but everything: M1 Abrams tanks, A10 Worthog Assault aircraft, shoulder-fired missiles, and nuclear ICBMs. That's "arms". And that's what would be required to go toe-to-toe with the US Military. (Of course, you can go toe-to-nutsack with assault rifles, IED and unconvential tactics, ala Iraqi resistance, but most of that stuff is illegal too.)

Now, OF COURSE I don't want Cletus -- my angry, alcoholic neighbor -- to have access to machine guns and nukes. That would be insane and a far greater risk to me and the general citizenry than to an Government Gone Wild. Nobody wants that. But I do think that's what the Constitutional framers intended. They just couldn't forsee how incredibly potent modern weaponry, modern "arms" would be. The Second Amendment is obsolete.

So it's gonna be a gray area, with constant battles over where to draw the line. Maybe it comes down to assault rifles over here, maybe handguns over there. I, for one, would prefer that NOBODY has handguns, including cops, but then I live in a nice, access-controlled building, I'm a pretty big guy (so I'm seldom viewed as a target), and I'm a pretty nice guy (so I'm not going around starting fights). I can completely sympathize with the single mom living in a high-crime neighborhood with poor police response, who just wants to protect herself and her family; she should have that right.**

There's not a great answer, and so the battle rages on.

** Although I do think the fantasy of fighting off home-invaders -- kpew! kpew! kpew! -- is pretty ridiculous. Far greater chance that Little Jimmy is going to kill himself with that handgun than anything. Oh, so you put a trigger lock on it, unload it, and store the ammo somewhere else to keep Little Jimmy safe. And now it's useless for your home-invasion scenario. Nice.
posted by LordSludge at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


The NRA can suck it.
posted by zzazazz at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2008


No, it's cool, just join the others in showcasing your ignorance of American history. Fucking echo chamber in here.
posted by knave at 11:34 AM on April 4


What is it about this issue that makes otherwise polite posters act like dicks? I asked a sincere question, the least you can do is give a polite refusal. If you would instead care to point me to some of the writings you say make your point for you, I'd be more than happy to read them, as this is a very interesting topic for me.

You made a statement that I found unclear, and I asked for clarification. You implied distilled knowledge that I can't replicate at this moment. By the time I could read Jefferson's writings (let alone the et al), this debate would be over.

I'll ask again, even more politely. I am ignorant of your meaning here. Could you please clarify how you think our modern gun control laws would disturb the framers? Would they think we go too far or that we have done too little? I found your original statement very ambiguous.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:46 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


In fact, handgun purchasers substantially increase their risk of a violent death. This increase begins the moment the gun is acquired — suicide is the leading cause of death among handgun owners in the first year after purchase — and lasts for years.

While I'm generally against personal gun ownership (since I'm the only person I exercise control over, it's a policy that extends to only one individual), I'm fairly surprised that this is the sort of understanding of risk and causation that passes muster at the NEJM.
posted by nanojath at 9:48 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


adamdschneider, I inferred hostility from your question, due to the attitude of the vast majority here, and the typical way these threads go. Sorry.

LordSludge, dios, and quin have all made good points in the direction I was hinting at. The authors of the constitution believed Americans are born with the right to have "every terrible implement of the soldier." LordSludge also makes the good point that arms have evolved significantly since then, but if the 2nd amendment is considered "obsolete," then why has it not been amended?

I'm not going to be able to summarize dozens of papers and writings for you, but I can point you toward the Federalist Papers, if you want more background on the process of writing the Constitution.
posted by knave at 9:52 AM on April 4, 2008


It is unlikely the original framers could have foreseen the massive epidemiological disaster that is uncontrolled, unfettered gun ownership.

It seems the best we can hope for is an amendment, or legislation on the level of a Constitutional amendment, to rationally manage disease vectors and add rational controls in high-impact areas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2008


Thanks, knave. I do have a copy of the Federalist Papers, but it's one of the numerous books on the pile that I have yet to read. Does this mean that private ownership of cannon was sanctioned in the early republic? I would not say that the Second Amendment is obsolete, but if relatively ineffective weapons like machine guns pass the strict scrutiny test that dios alluded to, I doubt that more significant systems like tanks and nukes would slip into private hands. Legally, anyway.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:57 AM on April 4, 2008


the massive epidemiological disaster that is uncontrolled, unfettered gun ownership.

That's a rather bold statement. Do you have anything more substantial to back it up? Not snarking here, it's just that the numbers quoted so far in this thread hardly seem to justify this somewhat over the top comment.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2008


Isn't it funny how these same people don't give a crap about the first amendment, yet the slightest imagined breach of the second amendment has them screaming bloody murder.
posted by mike3k at 10:04 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Isn't it funny how these same people don't give a crap about the first amendment, yet the slightest imagined breach of the second amendment has them screaming bloody murder.

Can i ask what the hell you're talking about?
posted by knave at 10:05 AM on April 4, 2008


There is a decent article on the second amendment at wikipedia. I don't know how important the historical context is, it seems like the legal rulings on the second amendment come down more to current attitudes. I also suspect that the majority of the founding fathers would have supported it as an individual right, but that referring to them as some kind of unanimous block on any subject is foolish.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2008


the fetish for private ownership of guns -- that more often than not will end up hurting an innocent person, often in the family, more than hurting thieves/assailants) is one of those extremely baffling American traits that one learns to kind of shrug one's shoulders at, like the passion for monster truck races, NASCAR, mega portions no human could possible eat in one sitting, and the like.

it's part of what makes America pretty unique. And scarier, of course, but then, as pointed out above, there is simply no will from the people at large to seriously change the laws -- it's actually the opposite, if one remembers poor Bill Clinton and his troubled assault weapon ban back in 1994. Guns are inherently popular -- especially outside of urban areas, one assumes -- and gun ownership is quite clearly now seen as a right by millions -- backed by a powerful corporate lobby. And it is indeed very complicated to ram through legislation that effectively takes rights away from people.

it works on both sides of the political spectrum -- liberals should learn to live with that fact, that there will be very likely never be, in America, gun-permit legislation similar to those of most European countries or, God forbid, Japan. But conservatives should also learn to live with the fact that even if McCain gets elected (or, like, instated by the Supreme Court) and Roe v Wade gets reversed, abortion will at least in some States (not in most of the South, one fears) remain legally available in some form. Because by now too many Americans -- millions -- see it as a right, too. So it's difficult to imagine both a nationwide ban on private gun ownership and an eventual nationwide ban on all abortions.
posted by matteo at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Isn't it funny how these same people don't give a crap about the first amendment, yet the slightest imagined breach of the second amendment has them screaming bloody murder.
posted by mike3k at 12:04 PM on April 4


I could turn this around on you and question: "Isn't it funny these same people don't give a crap about the obvious and literal reading of the second amendment, yet the slightest limitation on their overly-expansive view of the First Amendment--unbounded by the text, the original understanding, and the purpose of the First Amendment--has them screaming bloody murder, even when private citizens are "censoring" them?"

Or, we could just talk about the issue instead of talking about the people who are taking positions with respect to the issue.
posted by dios at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Clearly, we need to give fetuses the right to bear arms to protect themselves from abortion doctors.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:13 AM on April 4, 2008


** Although I do think the fantasy of fighting off home-invaders -- kpew! kpew! kpew! -- is pretty ridiculous. Far greater chance that Little Jimmy is going to kill himself with that handgun than anything. Oh, so you put a trigger lock on it, unload it, and store the ammo somewhere else to keep Little Jimmy safe. And now it's useless for your home-invasion scenario. Nice.

Not all households have children. Also, there are plenty of electronic gun safes which are suitable for homes with children, yet still provide nearly instant access to a loaded weapon. I have this one. It bolts to the floor, opens in about a second with a six-press code, and has an alarm which locks the system for 5 minutes and loudly sounds if the incorrect code is entered more than twice. It costs about $60 online. I don't have kids, but I am committed to keeping my guns out of unauthorized others' hands... for all values of "unauthorized others".

The idea that privately-owned guns are instantly deadly if not rendered useless is refuted by hundreds of years in which the vast majority of them have been safely used as intended. The vast majority of guns do not harm anyone, and guns can easily and affordably be made safe for homes with children while still being useful. That goes double if you actually teach your kids about guns and gun safety, instead of allowing someone else (i.e. TV) to do it for you.

on preview: gun ownership is a "massive epidemiological disaster"? We have over 223 million guns in this country, which kill just 30K a year, and that's a "massive disaster"? Oh, come on. I only wish massive epidemiological disasters had a fatality rate of less than a hundredth of1%! Hyperbole much? Or maybe you have a different definition of either "massive" or "disaster", in which case I suppose you make a habit of screaming "I WOULD LIKE A MASSIVE HAMBURGERORICAL DISASTER PLEASE! AND A RATIONALLY-MANAGED HIGH-IMPACT SHAKE!" at the McDonald's drive-through window.
posted by vorfeed at 10:15 AM on April 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


Eh, I don't think the Federalist Papers has much to do with this issue. At the time it was written Madicon and Hamilton were actually opposed to the idea of a bill of rights, i.e. to the first ten amendments. The closest the Papers come to gun ownership is the discussion of standing armies -- a lot of people were afraid that standing armies would militarize the culture and erode civil liberties, and wanted to rely on militia, although it's not clear to me quite what the difference is. Hamilton and Madison however wanted to allow for a standing army, and they generally argued in favor of centralizing power, so I'd guess they would tend to want more of a state monopoly on weapons and less reliance on militia, i.e. less reliance on the people's capacity for spontaneous violence.
posted by creasy boy at 10:22 AM on April 4, 2008


From the second NEJM article:

In fact, interpreting the Second Amendment is a genuinely difficult task, precisely because we have to determine the relation between the first clause, sometimes called the Amendment's preamble, and the second, sometimes called its operative clause.

I give little credence to people who pretend that the interpretation of the Second Amendment is some herculean task. It is not. It's basic English, easily understood by fourth graders.

I don't believe that the constitutional argument should come first and foremost in this debate; what's most important are the results to the people. But if you're going to go the constitutional route, don't get tripped up over grade-school grammar. The New England Journal of Medicine, by jumping on this tired bandwagon, has given up great credibility and exposed its motivation as political rather than pragmatic.
posted by yath at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does this mean that private ownership of cannon was sanctioned in the early republic?

Yes. Not only sanctioned, but encouraged. For example, the way they dealt with foreign attacks against civilians back then wasn't "maintain a multi-trillion dollar military-industrial complex that can handle anything", instead it was sometimes "find some merchant ships that already have heavy weapons for self defense, and pay them to go on offense".

Of course, giving heavy weapons to civilians is only one way to address civilian-government power imbalances. The other way is to take those weapons away from the government. A disarmed populace wasn't in the original plans for the United States, but then neither was a massive federal standing army.

http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1480.htm

One of Madison's quotes sounds too appropriate today: "A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

With that perspective, it must have seemed inconceivable that the country would ever face a threat so dangerous that the federal government would need to maintain a massive centralized military yet so innocuous that the citizens would be urged to make no contribution beyond going shopping.
posted by roystgnr at 10:25 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't believe that the constitutional argument should come first and foremost in this debate; what's most important are the results to the people.

That's not how the government of the united states works, though.
posted by Justinian at 10:25 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or, we could just talk about the issue instead of talking about the people who are taking positions with respect to the issue.

Fucking A-men.
posted by Flem Snopes at 10:32 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


the massive epidemiological disaster that is uncontrolled, unfettered gun ownership.

That's a rather bold statement. Do you have anything more substantial to back it up?


Here's a pretty good illustration of the situation.

Overall, I find myself in LordSludge's camp. The more you read of the writings of the framers, it does seem that the NRA-style interpretation of the second amendment is likely to be correct. However, those dudes lived a long time ago, in a different country. The scenario that armed citizens were meant to prevent, the arrogation of state powers by the Federal government, has by-and-large already happened. It's obsolete.

The NRA-interpretation also opens the way for all sorts of weapons beyond handguns, and very few would wish that. So, the status quo is that sensible legislatures try their best to regulate arms without violating the constitution. This is a half-assed approach. It's time to have the debate properly and re-amend or delete the second amendment as appropriate. Given the level of recent political discourse, I won't hold my breath.
posted by Jakey at 10:33 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


All that gun bans do is disarm law-abiding citizens. Criminals will still have their guns.

Just look at how ineffective campus gun-bans have been with the recent college massacres. The bad-guys ignore the ban, and the law-abiding folks are left with no way to defend themselves.

I understand that some people have an innate hatred/fear of guns. Feel free not to own one. But please stop trying to keep the rest of us from owning them. In the off-chance that I get attacked, I'd much rather have the ability to defend myself instead of relying on the mercy of the attacker.
posted by jsonic at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2008


Creasy boy, Hamilton's opposition to the bill of rights was not an opposition to the rights expressed in the bill, but rather an opposition to the idea of enumerating said rights for fear that inherent but non-enumerated rights would be disregarded.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:39 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jakey, are you taking the postition that the second amendment should be replaced by a new constitutional amendment, or that the Supreme Court should hand-wave it away? I could agree with the former, but not the latter.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:42 AM on April 4, 2008


> They just couldn't forsee how incredibly potent modern weaponry, modern "arms" would be. The
> Second Amendment is obsolete.

Yep, that's why the world's small-arms-carrying irregular and guerilla forces, from the Viet Cong to Al Sadr's militias, are so easy for modern big-power mechanized armies to wipe out. Got it.

(pyramid termite already pointed this out just a bit upthread; it's like talking to a stone, isn't it, pt?)


> The scenario that armed citizens were meant to prevent, the arrogation of state powers by
> the Federal government, has by-and-large already happened. It's obsolete.

Now that kind of obsolete I, unhappily, agree with. Guns don't resist oppression, people resist oppression. If the people lack the desire to be citizens no amount of weaponry will make any difference.
posted by jfuller at 10:42 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


BrotherCaine: yeah sure, I didn't mean he was opposed to every individual right. I see how I phrased that badly. Still my impression would be that, since Hamilton and Madison were both at that point centralists and argued for allowing for a standing army rather than relying on the militia, they wouldn't necessarily have been on the NRA-side of the debate. However, once the bill of rights gets written and ratified it's a different matter; then we're stuck with those amendments whether we like it or not.
posted by creasy boy at 10:43 AM on April 4, 2008


Just look at how ineffective campus gun-bans have been with the recent college massacres.

A campus gun-ban doesn't prevent criminals from obtaining and using guns on campus, because there is nothing much stopping a criminal from getting a gun off-campus, where there isn't a campus gun-ban.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on April 4, 2008


But conservatives should also learn to live with the fact that even if McCain gets elected (or, like, instated by the Supreme Court) and Roe v Wade gets reversed, abortion will at least in some States (not in most of the South, one fears) remain legally available in some form

Actually, no. Congress is well capable of crafting legislation that will bar abortion nationwide, should Roe v. Wade become inoperable. The simplest way is to do it the exact same way that Congress was able to make national seat belt laws.
posted by eriko at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2008


A campus gun-ban doesn't prevent criminals from obtaining and using guns on campus, because there is nothing much stopping a criminal from getting a gun off-campus, where there isn't a campus gun-ban.

Even if you ban all guns tomorrow, there are millions of them in the U.S. already. Criminals will still be able to easily obtain them even in the face of a nation wide ban.

As support, just look at the drug war. Drugs have been illegal for decades, and the government has spent billions in trying to keep them out of the country. Last time I checked, drugs were still quite available. Guns would be still be available for criminals too, even if they are completely banned.

Guns bans just disarm law-abiding citizens.
posted by jsonic at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2008


So it's gonna be a gray area, with constant battles over where to draw the line.

It's my understanding that back in the day you would have been considered a swell patriot if, as a private citizen, you could have afforded to keep a few cannon around the house as a precaution against the British or against your own government becoming a tyrannical one. It also seems obvious to me that the framers weren't such idiots as wanting everyone to have a doomsday device. There is a middle ground here.

The stats are pretty clear that handguns, as opposed to long guns, are the problem as far as crime is concerned precisely because they are concealable. Most military experts would agree that rifles are far more useful in combat than handguns. To my way of thinking the line should be drawn at a point that gives an individual or two very little destructive power but gives an organized group of say, 1000+ a lot of destructive power. I'd be completely in favor of a nationwide handgun ban and confiscation program with severe penalties in exchange for a government program that heavily subsidized the sale of ONE standardized semi-auto military rifle to any citizen that wanted one. City handgun bans don't work because there is an ample supply a few miles away. A nationwide handgun ban would take a generation or two and wouldn't be 100% effective but it could turn handguns into something enormously expensive and risky to own as opposed to something any kid w/ $50 can buy off the street. And yes, I think there is a reasonable argument that a nationwide handgun ban could be made far more successful than the War on Drugs.

The cost of handguns as crime tools seems to vastly outweigh the benefit of handguns as a self-defense tool and tyranny deterrent in my opinion.
posted by well_balanced at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


What the opinion is likely to say--with Kennedy as the king-maker yet again--is that the 2nd Amendment protects individuals' right to bear arms as a fundamental right, apart from the issue of militias. And with all fundamental rights, it can be infringed upon if the infringement passes strict scrutiny. So they will say the machine gun ban passes strict scrutiny but the DC handgun law does not.

Then why bother to grant certiorari? SCOTUS took the case just to overturn the DC gun ban? No way.
posted by three blind mice at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2008


Oh yes, why do they ALWAYS insist on including suicide stats as gun-violence stats? Counting suicides(56%) as "gun deaths" really doesn't lend weight to their arguments. Most people understand the difference between shooting yourself and shooting someone else.
posted by well_balanced at 11:05 AM on April 4, 2008


A well regulated Viewpoint being necessary to the security of a free MetaFilter, the right of the people to hold and believe asinine stereotypes shall not be infringed.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't it funny how these same people don't give a crap about the first amendment, yet the slightest imagined breach of the second amendment has them screaming bloody murder.

I'm a two sport star, I go totally apeshit when anyone tries curtailing either of them. Which is why I'm staying out of this one.
posted by Scoo at 11:37 AM on April 4, 2008


Oh, who am I kidding?

The Right to Own a Bazooka by the always excellent Peter Bagge. What I wouldn't give to live next door to Peter Bagge!
posted by Scoo at 11:39 AM on April 4, 2008


liberals should learn to live with that fact, that there will be very likely never be, in America, gun-permit legislation similar to those of most European countries or, God forbid, Japan

This isn't necessarily a liberals vs conservative thing. I go back and forth on this issue and I'm practically a commie pinko, politically speaking.
posted by LeeJay at 11:40 AM on April 4, 2008


But I do think that's what the Constitutional framers intended. They just couldn't forsee how incredibly potent modern weaponry, modern "arms" would be. The Second Amendment is obsolete.

I just don't understand how anyone can take this mentality and apply it only to the second amendment. If your thesis is "take a snapshot in time and apply the Constitution to only those things that existed in 1787," then fine, run with it. The cost is, of course, that things like television and the Internet won't fall under those free speech clauses, and any surveillance method invented in the last 250 years is exempt from being an invasion of privacy. There are sweeping generalizations made all over that document, because its authors had the foresight to recognize that enumerating the things that needed protection was utterly impossible without clairvoyance. Since I don't hear anyone complaining about radio being far more powerful than the newspaper, I'm left with something of a sour taste in my mouth.

It strikes me as facile to apply this bizarre set of criteria to one amendment (to say nothing of the schizophrenic split that crops up from interpreting 'the people' as having a wholly different meaning in the second amendment than it does in the other 26), solely because of an ideological split between the parts of the Constitution you agree with, and the ones that empower Cletus to own firearms. I won't argue for making automatic weapons available to anyone on the street, because it would be an insanely bad idea on its own merits, but I'm not going to go willfully misrepresenting the ideals of the framers to make that argument.
posted by Mayor West at 11:43 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't believe that the constitutional argument should come first and foremost in this debate; what's most important are the results to the people.

So much for a nation of laws and not men.
posted by ryoshu at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't it funny how these same people don't give a crap about the first amendment, yet the slightest imagined breach of the second amendment has them screaming bloody murder.
posted by mike3k at 12:04 PM on April 4


But I do give a crap about the first amendment. I give a crap about them all. Not all gun owners are freerepublic.com members, you know. I was an NRA member for one year, but I actually read the stuff they sent me, and I found it hysterical (not in the ha ha sense, either) and repugnant.

I do not support any small arms bans, handgun or otherwise. I do not, however, really see anything wrong with a national registry (does not infringe the right to keep and bear). I am also a big supporter of mandatory safety, marksmanship and basic tactics training for gun owners (does not infringe the right to keep and bear arms). In fact, fuck it, why not a well-regulated militia? Let's have everyone between the ages of 18 and 45 perform a mandatory one weekend a month + two weeks a year service in the National Guard, with no possibility of being sent for overseas service unless you specifically volunteer for such. Issue everyone a rifle like they do in Switzerland.

For the record, I also don't see much wrong with prohibiting violent felons from owning firearms.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just look at how ineffective campus gun-bans have been with the recent college massacres. The bad-guys ignore the ban, and the law-abiding folks are left with no way to defend themselves.

I swear to Christ I will change my stance and support any and all laws allowing the complete and total right to possess handguns on the sole condition that the exception is made that anyone who says this is deemed too stupid to be allowed to have any.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:59 AM on April 4, 2008


I give a crap about them all.

I have a fetish for the third amendment. Don't tread on me.
posted by ryoshu at 12:08 PM on April 4, 2008


Just look at how ineffective campus gun-bans have been with the recent college massacres. The bad-guys ignore the ban, and the law-abiding folks are left with no way to defend themselves.

I swear to Christ I will change my stance and support any and all laws allowing the complete and total right to possess handguns on the sole condition that the exception is made that anyone who says this is deemed too stupid to be allowed to have any.


I say this all the time, and am considered to be of above average intelligence. You're saying that I'm too stupid to own a gun... I'll need more than your say-so to go along with this. Please elaborate.
posted by Scoo at 12:12 PM on April 4, 2008


Still my impression would be that, since Hamilton and Madison were both at that point centralists and argued for allowing for a standing army rather than relying on the militia, they wouldn't necessarily have been on the NRA-side of the debate.

True. But being a centralist wouldn't invalidate bearing arms as an individual right, but rather as a collective right. Which means if they supported the second amendment at all it would be in the sense that Dios articulated above.

Hamilton and Madison were not the sole voices for or ratifiers of the constitution however, and trying to pick an choose which founding fathers would or would not support the second amendment as an individual right seems like a recipe for endless back and forth.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:15 PM on April 4, 2008


And yes, I think there is a reasonable argument that a nationwide handgun ban could be made far more successful than the War on Drugs.

I'd like to see you make this argument, then. Handguns are far more commonly owned than drugs -- the current estimate is that 29% of all American households contain at least one handgun, and it's estimated that between 30 and 40 million Americans own one. In contrast, the current estimate is that only 14.8 million Americans use illegal drugs.

IMHO, criminalizing twice as many people as we do in the War on Drugs, all to stop less than 15,000 non-suicide deaths per year, is ridiculous in the extreme. Strong gun control is not going to work in America, period. No, not even if we limit it to handguns only. It can't work, not unless we first go through an unprecedented demographic shift, because the sheer number of guns is simply overwhelming, and public support for their illegality is largely nonexistent.

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand (though I no longer agree with) the ideological desire to ban guns -- hell, I was pro-gun-control myself, once. But then I argued with somebody on the subject, and decided I had better get educated about it... and upon doing so, I quickly realized that the numbers don't add up. Forget the ideology, forget all the moral positions and the partisan bickering on both sides, and look at the numbers. If you can tell me how we're going to enforce a ban on something that's in 29% of households, yet harms only 100,000 people per year, all without the support of the majority of the public, then maybe I'll change my mind. Until then, I don't believe that strong gun control in the United States is rational.

If we really want to save lives, we'll have a much better chance of success if we concentrate on mitigating the root causes of violence and suicide, rather than fetishizing and criminalizing guns.
posted by vorfeed at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


dios said: What the opinion is likely to say--with Kennedy as the king-maker yet >again--is that the 2nd Amendment protects individuals' right to bear arms as a fundamental right, apart from the issue of militias. And with all fundamental rights, it can be infringed upon if the infringement passes strict scrutiny. So they will say the machine gun ban passes strict scrutiny but the DC handgun law does not.
Then why bother to grant certiorari? SCOTUS took the case just to overturn the DC gun ban? No way.
posted by three blind mice at 1:02 PM on April 4


Pardon? Are you suggesting that the mere granting of cert somehow indicates a different ruling?
posted by dios at 12:21 PM on April 4, 2008


I swear to Christ I will change my stance and support any and all laws allowing the complete and total right to possess handguns on the sole condition that the exception is made that anyone who says this is deemed too stupid to be allowed to have any.

What don't you grasp about this most basic of logic?

The police are not omni-present. If a criminal is threatening your life, then it will take the police at least a few minutes to respond (assuming you can even contact them in the first place).

I'd much rather be able to defend myself for the few minutes before the police arrive, instead of passively hoping that Mr. Bad Guy doesn't shoot me like a fish in a barrel.

If at least some of the law-abiding students at those Universities were carrying a concealed firearm, then they would have had the ability to immediately intervene in the Bad Guy's attack. Instead, due to the ban, they were unarmed. Mr. Bad Guy doesn't care about gun-bans. And guess what happens when an armed Mr. Bad Guy attacks a group of unarmed people: massacre.

But I guess that's OK with you, as long as gun-bans make you FEEL safe.
posted by jsonic at 12:31 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I guess that's OK with you, as long as gun-bans make you FEEL safe.

You really think I'm the one with the delusional sense of self-security here, don't you? That's really interesting. No joke.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:53 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


While I do feel the Second Amendment, as originally intended, is obsolete, I'm not convinced that further amending the Constitution is the answer. ("not convinced" != "utterly opposed"... I just wanna hash it out a bit.)

I'm thinking the line between what's a legal weapon and what's not *needs* to be blurry. Barring some global catastrophe, technology will continue to advance, and weaponry, including personal weaponry, will grow more and more fearsome and potentially destructive. I reckon we're just as ill-equipped, now, to legislate regarding weaponry 100 years in the future as the framers were regarding current weaponry.

How do we write laws concerning implanted polymorphic plasma disrupter units when we don't even know what in the hell they are yet?

Hmmmm... maybe just remove that bit about the "well-regulated militia"? Nobody takes that seriously anyhow... And insert something about "personal weaponry" -- a vague claus that will undergo constant scrutiny and reinterpretation.

on preview... Mayor West, I think we're mostly in agreement, in that the Constitution is necessarily vague on a lot of points, but...

I won't argue for making automatic weapons available to anyone on the street, because it would be an insanely bad idea on its own merits, but I'm not going to go willfully misrepresenting the ideals of the framers to make that argument.

How do you square banning automatic weapons with upholding Cletus's Constitutional right to bear "arms"? Keeping in mind that "arms" were intended to resist a tyrannical govt. -- I would think automatic weapons are a staple item of any "militia".

jfuller: that's why the world's small-arms-carrying irregular and guerilla forces, from the Viet Cong to Al Sadr's militias, are so easy for modern big-power mechanized armies to wipe out. Got it.

So they're all using weapons that are legal within the US? -- that is, handguns, shotguns, and semi-automatic rifles? No, of course not. They're using machine guns, mortars, rockets, IEDs... -- anything they can get their hands on and NONE of which are currently legal for private citizens (those who would resist a tyrannical govt., per the 2nd Amendment) within the US.

Please note that I'm not arguing that small-arms-carrying guerilla forces are ineffective, per se, as you are inferring. You're of course correct that reality and recent history dictates otherwise. I *am* arguing that the US citizenry is powerless to defend itself using currently LEGAL weaponry (handguns, shotguns, & semi-auto rifles) something the Viet Cong & Al Sadr certainly were/are not doing. And I believe that if they did, indeed, limit themselves to what weaponry is legal in the US, there wouldn't be much of a fight.

And that's what we're talking about here, in this context of a Second Amendment discussion, is what weaponry is LEGAL for the American citizen to own: Can the US populace effectively resist the modern govt.'s armed forces using currently legal weaponry? I say no way in hell, but the alternative (letting Cletus own a bazooka) is even worse.

Furthermore... why is it okay for you to own a handgun, but it's not okay for me (and Cletus) to own a bazooka, machine gun, or nuke? If I may paraphrase: Thermonuclear weapons don't kill people; people kill people.
posted by LordSludge at 12:56 PM on April 4, 2008


Even if you ban all guns tomorrow, there are millions of them in the U.S. already. Criminals will still be able to easily obtain them even in the face of a nation wide ban.

This is missing the point entirely. I apologize that I wasn't clearer with my response, so I'll be direct: Basically, it is broken logic to assert that the relative inefficacy of any one jurisdiction's particular gun laws renders the entire system of gun laws useless. Particularly symbolic gun laws such as the campus ban, which in any case can only render punishment after the act of shooting people. It may be more useful, for example, to look at Virginia's NRA-sponsored loopholes in gun trafficking that render its weapons laws impotent.

Or, to extend the notion of managing gun abuse as a disease, that township A does not quarantine in the face of an outbreak, does not mean that township B should not, nor does A's irresponsible behavior imply that the general strategy of quarantine of the infected does not successfully contain the spread of infection. In fact, we know the opposite is true.

Not to be facetious, but the sooner gun ownership is connected metaphorically or even literally with lead poisoning, and seen in that light as an epidemiological matter -- i.e., as a disease, with its associated vocabulary of transmission and vectors (arms dealers), occurance rates (violent crime rates), etc. -- we can also discuss, in a rational way, disease avoidance and cure.

One of the problems in having this discussion is that a hysterical subset of Americans begin that conversation by first seeing Constitutional law as inviolate, despite a history of amendments that suggest otherwise, even before consideration of all the other serious issues and social costs that motivate having said conversation in the first place.

It would be as irrational to focus on various interpretations of a Constitutional amendment that, say, protect riding a horse-and-carriage or other colonial-era form of transportation, and suggesting that seat belts interfere with that right to ride a form of transportation. No sane human being argues that the invention of seat belts restrict what is generally accepted as the right to operate an automobile. Yet, the very same reasoning is applied to controlling gun ownership (e.g. suggesting licensing, training, safety mechanisms, etc.) and we have shrill invocations of Federalism as a defense for the status quo.

Citizens should remember that the code of law serves man, not the other way around. Some forget that fact is why this country was founded in the first place. If a set of laws maintain and enforce disease-like conditions in society, then those laws are broken and need repair -- or members of a sickened society probably won't stick around too long, in the course of history.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:59 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


LordSludge: How do you square banning automatic weapons with upholding Cletus's Constitutional right to bear "arms"? Keeping in mind that "arms" were intended to resist a tyrannical govt. -- I would think automatic weapons are a staple item of any "militia".

Actually, on net, I'm not opposed to automatic weapons being owned by private citizens. I'm in favor of some of the more sensible regulatory measures in place (it's pretty tough to get ahold of a weapon if you're a convicted felon, for instance, and that seems like pretty sensible policy), but in general, letting people who aren't obviously sociopaths or violently inclined have access to the same firepower that the military does seems like a good last-ditch safety harness for stopping tyrannical government. I should have emphasized the part about 'anyone on the street' in my original comment, in retrospect.

I suppose that, eventually, there has to be a line drawn somewhere, as I can't really square with the idea of someone owning, say, small-yield nuclear weapons. It's a blurry line, though, and I think you're right that it has to be. I get a little knee-jerky when I see separate standards of care applied to different parts of the constitution to support a particular opinion, is all.
posted by Mayor West at 1:07 PM on April 4, 2008


You really think I'm the one with the delusional sense of self-security here, don't you? That's really interesting. No joke.

Oh, so you don't actually have an argument. It would have been nice of you to mention that before we responded.

I'm not expecting a gun to be a cure-all for defense. But it would sure be better than an empty hand in the off-chance I ever need one.
posted by jsonic at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2008


Mayor West, I totally hear ya, and your point about selective temporal/technological Constitutional re-intepretation is well-taken. One relates to massively improved destructive power, the other (say, 1st Amendment, for the sake of argument) relates to massively improved mass communication -- which could harness a the entire country's destructive power. And it has: witness Iraq. Crap. There's a difference there... but what?

I gotta crunch on that a bit, cuz it's too much for my little brain to grok just now. My synapses hurt.

Where is Orsen Scott Card when you need him?
posted by LordSludge at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2008


BrotherCaine, I should have been more clear in my statement. I believe that what the courts are currently doing amounts to handwaving on the constitution. If you're going to amend the constitution it needs to been done in the appropriate manner. The constitution was intended to be a living document, but of late it has been seen as inviolate. This is not helpful, as what results is wholesale circumvention of parts of the document by those in a position to do so. This devalues the entire concept of the constitution. If you want to do something that is currently unconstitutional, then go out to the public and argue your case as to why the constitution should be changed, and muster the support to change it.

Returning to the discussion at hand, I don't think that the argument that there are already lots of guns out there is really of any relevance. That's just the same as saying 'well, I wouldn't start from here' when someone asks you for directions. The point of the argument is whether it is desirable to have (relatively) unrestricted gun ownership or not. If not, then you have to decide how to get from here to there. It shouldn't matter how hard the road is. If you're prepared to invade and dismantle other countries because you don't like how they go about their business, you should be prepared to put in a hard shift to fix your own.
posted by Jakey at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, so you don't actually have an argument.

My argument was pretty much all covered in the thread about why giving tons of college students guns is a dumb fucking idea from about two weeks ago; go play there if you're so interested. I imagine you're not, as there's likely not a force on this earth that will strip you from your mental disposition toward desiring guns on the off chance you will win the probability lottery of having the vastly smaller statistical likelihood of needing to use it on an actual criminal or assailant than that that of either deliberately or inadvertently using it on yourself or a loved one. In the mean time, if you're going to suggest I'm a pussy for my beliefs on having deadly weapons as a security coping mechanism I'll continue to passively snark at the death of irony. Good luck, and may your good fortune continue as it prevents your children from not being among any of the several thousand shot every year as a sacrifice toward the pursuit of defending twenty more hypothetical college students.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: I appreciate what you're saying, re: hysterical subset and all, but speaking of gun ownership as a disease isn't really going to help the debate. It's a pretty insulting and alienating way of looking at it. I know what you're trying to say and I still don't like it.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Basically, it is broken logic to assert that the relative inefficacy of any one jurisdiction's particular gun laws renders the entire system of gun laws useless.

Sorry, but it's perfectly logical to state that banning guns does not solve the problem of criminals using guns illegally. The University massacres are a very potent demonstration of this in a small scale. Scale up the ban to state-wide or nation-wide and the result is the same.

All that is accomplished by banning guns is ensuring that law-abiding citizens will not have the ability to defend themselves when confronted by law-ignoring criminals with guns. This is exactly what 'gun-nuts' are upset about. In the name of 'protecting society', these gun-banning -folk are actually ensuring that law-abiding people are less able to protect themselves.

The solution I see is two-pronged: strict law enforcement to TRY and keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals AND personal gun ownership to allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves in the inevitable cases where the strict law enforcement fails.
posted by jsonic at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


When all 50 states enable legally assisted euthanasia by medical doctors I will gladly give up my hand gun. REALLY
.
posted by notreally at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2008


...speaking of gun ownership as a disease isn't really going to help the debate.

Agreed, and I'm (mostly) on his side of this! And, alienation aside, it doesn't address the transitional concern of armed criminals vs. unarmed law-abiders after the law-abiders have all turned in their weapons and the criminals have not.

Note that the distinction is largely artificial -- every "criminal" was, at some point, "law-abiding". And most don't believe they are wrong-doers. I think of myself as "law-abiding", but I can think of a couple cases where I may well have murdered somebody, in the heat of the moment, had I had a handgun on me. There, but for the grace of God, etc...
posted by LordSludge at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2008


I imagine you're not, as there's likely not a force on this earth that will strip you from your mental disposition toward desiring guns on the off chance you will win the probability lottery of having the vastly smaller statistical likelihood of needing to use it on an actual criminal or assailant than that that of either deliberately or inadvertently using it on yourself or a loved one.

Ok, well it's obvious you've got some emotional baggage to deal with here. It's impressive that you honestly believe that violent crime is so statistically rare that sane law-abiding citizens would never really benefit from the ability to protect themselves.

You can hurl all the ad-homs you want, but you've still got to face that FACT that banning guns only disarms the innocent folks.

Regardless though, please don't call my boss and try to get me fired simply because I disagree with you.
posted by jsonic at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Returning to the discussion at hand, I don't think that the argument that there are already lots of guns out there is really of any relevance. That's just the same as saying 'well, I wouldn't start from here' when someone asks you for directions. The point of the argument is whether it is desirable to have (relatively) unrestricted gun ownership or not. If not, then you have to decide how to get from here to there. It shouldn't matter how hard the road is. If you're prepared to invade and dismantle other countries because you don't like how they go about their business, you should be prepared to put in a hard shift to fix your own.

I disagree; the number of guns in America has direct relevance to this discussion, both in terms of concrete policy and theory. In fact, I'd say that widespread gun ownership in this country is the chief way in which Americans have already answered the question of "whether it is desirable to have relatively unrestricted gun ownership or not". You may not like their answer, but 40% of American households have spoken.

As for "it shouldn't matter how hard the road is", theoretically, no, but in terms of policy? Policy is a trade-off, and "how hard the road is" is certainly of relevance when deciding which policies are most likely to pay benefits. This is why gun control is such a red herring issue in this country. We have serious, systemic problems that contribute to our high rates of violence (such as poverty and poor education), and we could be addressing them directly. But no, first we have to sally forth on an epic quest to kill the Big Bad Guns giant, and then everyone will be safe. Well, sorry, but I intend to keep pointing out that the giant is actually a windmill -- I know it's not very much fun, but I think government needs to be led by reason and empirical data, not by fantasy and wishful thinking. The fact that the vast, vast majority of guns do not harm anyone is absolutely relevant to the question of whether or not we should eliminate guns!

And for all the "OMG you think you're gonna shoot back against a school shooter lol" comments I see: as unlikely as that particular scenario may be for any given person (though it has happened in the past), it is WAY less of a fearful, reactionary, unlikely fantasy than that of an America without personal arms.
posted by vorfeed at 2:27 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


jsonic writes "Sorry, but it's perfectly logical to state that banning guns does not solve the problem of criminals using guns illegally."

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong."
posted by mullingitover at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2008


“I *am* arguing that the US citizenry is powerless to defend itself using currently LEGAL weaponry... Can the US populace effectively resist the modern govt.'s armed forces using currently legal weaponry? I say no way in hell...”

*sigh* Battle of Athens
Why does everyone assume in any conflict all the military is going to be on one side using the full might of the war making machine against the civilian population? Seriously, does anyone think they’re going to drop napalm on downtown L.A.? Shell Brooklyn with tactical nukes?
If you want to hold ground you have to use infantry. It’s that simple.
Joe Hunter can screw up an infantry unit’s whole program with a good deer rifle. Hell I just referenced the Warsaw uprising under the Nazis in Poland. Those Jews had some gas and bottles and had to scavange weapons from one of the most disciplined and well trained fighting force of that age.
And in the end, the Nazis did shell all the buildings flat and massacre them all because, y’know, they’re Nazis. And (importantly) it wasn’t a domestic engagement.

But - if you need to subjugate me and you can’t hurt me too badly doing it, but I can kill you if I want to, I’m going to win no matter the disparity in our weaponry because you can’t bring all your force to bear.

Still that’s a very unlikely scenario. And there are numerous other/better reasons for individual gun ownership (economical personal security (not everyone can afford a bodyguard) and lack of police response among them) and there are reasons to regulate gun ownership (obvious to people here).


But as it sits - look at how it’s being done NOW.
Not in theory, not in the ideal - RIGHT NOW - police in D.C. are going door to door looking for permission to search people’s homes to look for guns.
Got that?
Cops. Knocking on your door. Asking if you’ve got something to hide. Looking to search your house. Because maybe you’ve got a gun.
Guns are a public health hazard therefore the search is not unreasonable, right?

And really - why interpret the 4th amendment to modern standards? By “houses” the founding fathers meant the more common expansive manors wealthy landowners dwelled in, not “domicile” or “apartment”.


“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the Body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.” -Thomas Jefferson, August 19, 1785
posted by Smedleyman at 2:46 PM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


It seems to be begging the question that if guns were banned, *nobody but criminals*, including the police, would be armed. That's absurd.

It's also some pretty intense handwaving to argue that the framers intended for Joe Wingnut to be heavily armed. The second amendment puts weapon ownership in the context of a state militia, in a time when the federal government was intended to be a loose wrapper for states which were effectively small countries. In that context, of course the federal government wouldn't interfere with the rights of the states to defend themselves. That would be like failing to guarantee that the military could be armed.

If you're in the national guard, and I completely support the idea of a strong state national guard, by all means you are entitled to carry a weapon. Heck, make national guard service compulsory. But the idea that there's a god-given right to own a Desert Eagle in order to "fight crime" is laughable. Most firearms in the US are used for genital augmentation.
posted by mullingitover at 2:50 PM on April 4, 2008


So. . . we should try to be more like Switzerland.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:59 PM on April 4, 2008


When all 50 states enable legally assisted euthanasia by medical doctors I will gladly give up my hand gun. REALLY
.
posted by notreally at 4:40 PM on April 4


Um.
posted by oaf at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2008


"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong."

Yes, and someone acting as though there could be no cause for the difference in gun death rates between Finland, Japan, and America, except for the difference in gun ownership, is totally not guilty of that, yes? If you think your graph actually sheds some light on the subject, then please explain the 2x jump in gun fatalities between Denmark and Belgium; between Sweden and Austria; between the US and Switzerland; between France and New Zealand... I could go on, as the data is pretty much all over the place. In fact, if you take out the US (an obvious statistical outlier), the correlation is not particularly strong. Studies which have examined data like this have concluded that gun ownership rates are only one factor in gun death rates, and that social and economic factors can outweigh them.

When you look at homicide rates, as opposed to gun death rates, the correlation is even weaker. Canada, Finland, and Norway have hardly any homicides, despite the fact that a great percentage of Finnish, Canadian, and Norwegian households own guns (in the Canadian case, even handguns are common). This page has a very good explanation of why comparisons of international homicide rates don't tell the whole story.
posted by vorfeed at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2008


Guns for all! (boooo...)

Very well ... no guns for anybody! (boooo...)

...

Hmmm ...

Guns for some, and miniature American flags for others! (YAAAAY...!)
posted by jabberjaw at 3:37 PM on April 4, 2008


I know this is a total derail, but what I would like to see is a Second Amendment challenge to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Even if we accept that the second amendment protects an individual's right to own arms, I think a case can still be made that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" applies directly to the right of gays to serve openly in the military.

The Second Amendment in general, and the phrase "keep and bear arms" in particular should be understood in light of the history of the militia as an institution in Britain. In the context of revolutionary America, and 17th century Britain, possessing arms as a private citizen and military service were so tightly intertwined that the present day ambiguity wasn't really an issue.

17th century England saw laws enacted that excluded large groups from the right to own arms and serve their state. Property ownership requirements for bearing arms passed by Parliament in the latter part of the century essentially restricted military service to the aristocracy and the wealthiest members of the merchant class. King James II completely barred Protestants from firearm ownership and the profession of soldiery.

These very real infringements on the rights of the people to keep and bear arms were no doubt considered by the founders. To the revolutionaries willing to lay down their lives for the principles, among others, of all men being equal and of the inalienable right to religious liberty, laws creating a sectarian, aristocratic military would have been abhorrent. This, I am convinced, was at least in part motivation for the Second Amendment. After all, a government by, for and of the people could never be secured by such an exclusive institution.

It would seem to me that it is pretty straightforward that this intent is directly applicable to the modern context of a large standing army that excludes a certain minority from serving their country, which was certainly one aspect of bearing arms, as the term was understood when the Second Amendment was penned.

Don't even get me started on how the Air Force is a de facto Evangelical Protestant institution.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:39 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


What ARE the actual statistics on successful home-defence as related to gun posession?
How much is hopeful, rhetoric and how much is actual, genuine, successfully defended my home against a valid and not merely percieved threat?
posted by tabubilgirl at 4:42 PM on April 4, 2008


It seems to be begging the question that if guns were banned, *nobody but criminals*, including the police, would be armed. That's absurd.

Nobody said the police wouldn't be armed (did they?), but if guns for private citizens are outlawed, how could you be anything but a lawbreaker for owning one?

Man, that (as in this thread) does it. I'm totally reading the entirety of www.guncite.com. I started to way back when I first got interested in gun control (wanted to get a VEPR in Cleveland, which I could do now but couldn't then), but left off at some point. There's a lot of info there.
posted by adamdschneider at 4:42 PM on April 4, 2008


“it's also some pretty intense handwaving to argue that the framers intended for Joe Wingnut to be heavily armed.”

Other than, y’know, directly quoting them you mean?

“The second amendment puts weapon ownership in the context of a state militia, in a time when the federal government was intended to be a loose wrapper for states which were effectively small countries”

(speaking of guncite)
So it doesn’t matter that revolutionary war officer and judge George Tucker said the right of the people to keep and bear arms is without qualification to their condition or degree, that the militia clause wasn’t intended to restrict the right to keep arms to state sanctioned bodies but was to be applied broadly?
Doesn’t matter that founding father contemporary William Rawle (who prosecuted the Whiskey Rebellion even) said that no clause in the constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give congress a power to disarm the people and if any state attempted it the second amendment would be the appeal (and the federalist papers expound on the right of the people to keep and bear arms as individuals - plus - a militia system, to secure the freedom of a state)?
Doesn’t matter that there’s (practically archaic) case law (Andrews v. State of Tenn) showing the right to bear arms is for citizens not citizen-soldiers?
Doesn’t matter that there’s modern case law (U.S. v. Emerson) that spells out that the “function of the subordinate clause was not to qualify the right, but instead show why it must be protected” and exists independently of the existence of a militia?

In terms of practice, the Green Mountain Boys were in no way a militia when they started. They were running a civilian guerilla campaign against New York over the New Hampshire grants. They didn’t become the Vermont militia until later. And *then* Vermont became a small country (in 1777).
No, the second amendment is about individual citizenry.
Is there some reason why there should be an amendment to protect the right of the government to have firearms?

Oh, I get the argument in terms of state militias/state’s rights.
But given the recent changes by the Bush administration to the Posse Comitatus laws and the deployment of guardsmen overseas, that’s pretty much a dead issue. States might have the right to guardsmen having guns, but the president has overriding authority as to where they direct those guns. So moot point there.

In practical terms the cast of the argument is either the 2nd amendment protects individual firearm ownership, or it does nothing anymore and is a useless relic.

If it does protect individual firearm ownership, as I think it does, then the argument is a matter of degrees. Which I’m happy to entertain.
Intimidating people into searching their homes to take their guns away when the legality of the property is still in dispute - yeah, not so much.

And yet - not a peep from the pro-gun folks on the encroachment of the 4th amendment. Guns are just SO BAD.
(and it’s not a left/right thing - the ACLU has done some nice work in D.C. handing out “We don’t consent to search” signs and such.)

[expletive deleted] - well, Jefferson had some issues with homosexuals, but he could be a prick. Still, there weren’t, strictly speaking, criminal laws specifically against homosexuals. Oh, there were sodomy, buggery and other laws, but that included men having sex with women. So it wasn’t generally thought of - homosexuality - as separate from other human sexuality.
Bit of a catch-22 really.
Still, it’s always been the churches (whether Jupiter or Jehovah) pushing to make sex only about procreation and politics. So separation of church and state laws should do nicely. And really - depriving any minority of human rights is generally indefensible anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:47 PM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


vorfeed, I don't at all disagree with your statement that there are other aspects to the homicide and violent crime rate that the US is experiencing. I also agree that poverty/inequity and education are major contributors. I absolutely agree that those should be tackled as a priority. But, by the same token that you argue that those aspects cannot be ignored, it seems clear to me that the endemic presence of guns is a contributing factor. As such, it also needs addressed along with the others in a coordinated strategy. The practicalities of addressing it are massive, but that should not be a deterrent. As I mentioned previously, the US makes great virtue of its determination in the face of adversity when it comes to violent intervention in other people's business. As a country it needs to show similar courage in dealing with its own problems.
posted by Jakey at 5:06 PM on April 4, 2008


But as it sits - look at how it’s being done NOW.
Not in theory, not in the ideal - RIGHT NOW - police in D.C. are going door to door looking for permission to search people’s homes to look for guns.
Got that?
Cops. Knocking on your door. Asking if you’ve got something to hide. Looking to search your house. Because maybe you’ve got a gun.


No, they aren't. There were plans in place for this to happen but it appears to have been both delayed and modified from the original plans.


“I *am* arguing that the US citizenry is powerless to defend itself using currently LEGAL weaponry... Can the US populace effectively resist the modern govt.'s armed forces using currently legal weaponry? I say no way in hell...”

*sigh* Battle of Athens


US populace does not equal “battle-hardened GIs." Also, according to statistics up thread only between 10 and 13 percent of Americans own a gun.
posted by lilacorlavender at 5:38 PM on April 4, 2008


Just droping by to tell the odd posters referencing Iraq re: yeah but we can still take on the army.. You got that wrong.
Yes, you did.
Small arms will get you nowhere against a modern military, especially the US's. Most US casualties in Iraq come from IEDs, ie, high explosives. Which are available over there because Saddam's shells and landmines stockpiles were left unguarded, and hence pillaged by teh insurgents.
You don't have access to high explosives. So, good luck against body armor, APCs, and M1. Oh, and good luck finding some AA weapons.. Enjoy being raped by A10s, AH64s, JDAMs and Predators.
Oh and.. Good luck with a handgun against the average soldier.
posted by vivelame at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2008


But, by the same token that you argue that those aspects cannot be ignored, it seems clear to me that the endemic presence of guns is a contributing factor. As such, it also needs addressed along with the others in a coordinated strategy.

Naturally. However, it's pretty tough to see 65 million handguns, of which less than 0.1% ever harm anyone, and conclude, "we must ban all handguns to prevent harm". Sorry, but a total ban simply does not follow from what handguns actually do in this country, and I've made that abundantly clear elsewhere in this thread, so I must conclude that you want a ban for other reasons. Feel free to enumerate what those reasons are. Otherwise, if you really want to "address this in a coordinated strategy", you can start by working on solutions that both mitigate handgun violence and respect the rights of the overwhelming majority who own handguns and aren't violent. Community policing, for instance, has been shown to be effective in combating violence, unlike gun control.

The practicalities of addressing it are massive, but that should not be a deterrent.

As I said above: yes, in this case it really should be. We don't need any more idiotic law-enforcement War on Something crusades in this country; one has done quite enough damage. At some point, we need to start putting practicalities above these sorts of empty moral platitudes. Unless you can show me that strong gun control is a) workable and b) leads to a desirable outcome, I'm not buying it. Hint: I don't think of enriching the prison-industrial complex as being a "desirable outcome".
posted by vorfeed at 6:18 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


While some of the sentence parsing upthread is rather scary, I believe that the framers intended the general population to be armed. The historical documents basically indicate that point of view; it goes along with the concept that government is accountable to the populace.

That being said, I think that the long-guns vs. handguns debate is a good and needed one. Effective concealable guns did not exist at the time the Constitution was written. Modern citizens rarely, if ever, have the need to conceal a weapon if the only purpose of that weapon is self-defense. ( In fact, open-carry is probably much more effective.)

Limitations on handguns and private ownership of military weapons can be discussed and regulated without offending the spirit of the Second Amendment, in my opinion. I also believe that if the Founding Fathers were confronted with modern-day handgun violence statistics of citizens shooting citizens, they would have realized that the only really sensible way to curtail it would be with legal penalties stiff enough to make people think twice before using guns against each other.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:19 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Modern citizens rarely, if ever, have the need to conceal a weapon if the only purpose of that weapon is self-defense. ( In fact, open-carry is probably much more effective.)

How do you conveniently carry a rifle into the supermarket or movie theater?
posted by Justinian at 7:02 PM on April 4, 2008


The language is very spare. So I think laws denying firearm ownership to felons who have completed their sentence is ........uhhhhh...not right. How is that wrong, please.
posted by wrapper at 7:09 PM on April 4, 2008


How do you conveniently carry a rifle into the supermarket or movie theater?

Exactly.

(You don't. And if you do, everyone will be aware that you are armed.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:01 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm not a big fan. Anyone who wants to make a big deal and let everyone know they are CARRYING A BIG GUN!!!!11!!!1 isn't someone you wan't carrying in the first place.
posted by Justinian at 8:18 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm totally uninterested in intentional firearm death stats. If you are going to make a correlative link (or better yet a causal one), make one between per capita death from all causes and firearm ownership. Why should I care if people are killing each other with knives, arson or guns if the rate is the same?

As it is, even when you subtract out all firearm homicides, America's per-capita homicide rate is still higher than the world average. We're a violent people.

All that is somewhat irrelevant to me though, because I believe the second amendment should be interpreted as Dios mentions above, and until the constitution is re-amended any gun-control regulation needs a narrow definition. Also, we will probably never have the political will in this country to change the second amendment without some kind of major catastrophe.

Until then, if you want to save lives, work on banning personal transport heavier than a wheelchair.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:38 PM on April 4, 2008


"No, they aren't. There were plans in place for this to happen but it appears to have been both delayed and modified from the original plans."

Ah, right. "Police now say the program will be entirely volunteer -- officers will only search homes by appointment at the request of the resident."
Wonder why they delayed it. Oh, right, intense opposition from residents in D.C and other places like Boston where it's introduced.

Still - you think it's a good idea?

"US populace does not equal “battle-hardened GIs.""

Neither does terrified Jews trapped in a ghetto with nothing but molatov cocktails. Neither does Nokhcho guerilla fighters in the Chechen war. You learn fast and a very small group of vet can organize a group pretty fast (countless examples - hell wtf do the Green Berets do?).

"yeah but we can still take on the army.. You got that wrong."

Yes, because I've actually been in combat and extensively studied military history.

"Small arms will get you nowhere against a modern military, especially the US's."

I know, no one uses assault rifles anymore.

"You don't have access to high explosives."

Really? (checks garage) sure looks like I have a lot of precursors.

"Enjoy being raped by A10s, AH64s, JDAMs and Predators."

Yeah, because close air support is not at all blunted by the nature of close combat in an urban area - or we going to use 2000lb gravity delivered bombs converted with screw on fins and a GPS to take out the Sears Tower? Throw acronyms at someone that doesn't know any better. I've actually, y'know, maybe seen an Apache once. Air support in an urban environment, especially close air support where maybe your own guys are there, is mostly used for recon and to direct fire. That's why they (AH64) have all that sensitive communications and sensor equipment. If they do open fire, troops - whether they're flying or pounding the ground - try not to hit any civilians. Try. But that's in other countries, that's not their own countrymen. Maybe their own families.

I do not believe the U.S. government is going to drop bombs on - or chew up the streets, infrastructure and buildings with Warthogs in - it's own cities.
If it does then no, no one's got a chance.
And hell, they've got fuel-air bombs too. Why not drop those?
But then if they're using all that beef - what the hell are you going to do otherwise?

It's entirely misguided and downright ridiculous to think any engagement between the government of the U.S. and it's own people is going to be a straight force proposition. Even foreign wars have political components there Clausewitz. It will be the police first - or troops acting as police to keep order or some such. Then minor breakouts of violence and resistance which force more crackdowns. Which results in more breakouts which results in more brutality and oppression, which leads to an even broader support for resistance. It's a straightforward pattern reiterated many places in many eras.

Ach, I keep getting sidetracked. Look, it's not likely, it's not at all the best or even a great reason to own firearms of any kind. But it is a viable and proven method of "continuation of politics by other means."
Hell, the whole damn gun debate is part of that same struggle and negotiation with power.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:39 PM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, who wants to carry a gun all day? They are heavy, awkward, and require constant alertness while handling. Pepper spray and/or knives are so much more convenient.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:40 PM on April 4, 2008


I'd rather trust my life to a whiffle bat than to pepper spray. There are a lot of people who could gargle with the stuff without too much of a problem. I hope there aren't a lot of people trusting their safety to the stuff; use it on a big guy with ill intentions and all you probably end up with is a big guy with ill intentions who is really pissed off at you.

As to a knife, I'm sure you're a 6'8" John Rambo, but those don't do much for a five foot hundred pound woman (or guy, I guess) confronted with someone whose got a hundred fifty pounds and six inches of reach on 'em.
posted by Justinian at 9:09 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's entirely misguided and downright ridiculous to think any engagement between the government of the U.S. and it's own people is going to be a straight force proposition.

especially considering that soldiers swear an oath to protect and defend the constitution first, after which the president and superior officers are mentioned

of course the great irony of all this discussion is that the anti-gun people are ultimately forced to rely on other people who have guns to enforce their views for them

that and the fact that more people are killed with automobiles, there is no constitutional right to own one, and yet no one ever questions it

not to mention that people don't trust their neighbors with guns, but they do trust their neighbors to elect the uniformed people who ARE allowed to have guns

or that the government will somehow protect them, even though our courts have frequently said that the government has no obligation to protect the people

or that a government that isn't required to protect the people has any kind of real purpose at all except self-perpetuation and the advancement of (insert_favorite_ideology_here)

or that, if only the criminals and police have the guns, then our lives will be run by the criminals and the police - but oddly enough, i repeatedly see signs on this website that people HATE having their lives run by the police and don't like criminals - but they turn around and argue that the police are brutes who electrocute people for minor violation of the laws and the criminals steal from them - but still, they should have all the guns

yes, they mistrust the government and yet they argue fervently for giving the government a monopoly of force

i wonder if these people are ever going to think about what they believe?

but that's the great flaw in 20th century liberalism - people who believe more in the government than they do freedom
posted by pyramid termite at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Small arms will get you nowhere against a modern military"

Not to harm, this just stuns me. Seriously. Vast examples. Hell - the IRA.
Y'know, the Brits have a pretty good war machine, probably #2 in military spending in the world. So their troops have body armor, they've got Harriers, why didn't they just carpet Bandit Country with paveways until they nailed the 'South Armagh Sniper'? (Actually, their body armor pretty much immobilized them and they had so many helicopters in the sky it looked like a parking lot at the airport.)
Why did they focus on infiltration and the use of the SAS and police in counterterrorism roles?

"I also believe that if the Founding Fathers were confronted with modern-day handgun violence statistics of citizens shooting citizens, they would have realized that the only really sensible way to curtail it would be with legal penalties..."

Oh, I think the Founding Fathers were very much aware of handgun violence and citizens shooting citizens in a very direct and immediate way.

But I think yes, one can reasonably discuss and enact limitations on private ownership of firearms without offending the spirit of the 2nd amendment.

There are licenses to be had and so forth. I'd like to see a basic competancy course. I resist any sort of financial barrier because I think poor folks are more in need of personal security and tend to be more disregarded by police and other civil services if they're in high crime areas.
But then, I think I'd like to see more restrictions on drivers licenses, and in the same spirit as firearms ownership, more recognition of driving as a right - philosophically- than a privilege. If someone is demonstrably responsible, I don't think their rights should be curtailed. By the same token - as it is now, the state revokes your DL for all kinds of things- failure to provide child support and so forth. Not that I'm a fan of "deadbeat dads" but it's ridiculous to misapply that power.
And the government has a history of misapplication and encroachment of pretty much anything the people cede to them.

So- while we can speculate what might be done to curb irresponsible firearm usage, we have - even though it's been delayed - a pretty good idea what it is the state WANTS to do to start limiting 2nd amendment rights (step one - limit 4th amendment rights).
posted by Smedleyman at 9:39 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


(er, harp...supposed to be a witty play on words...y'know what with the irish thing and...ok, I'll go sit in the corner now)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:41 PM on April 4, 2008


People should be free to keep their guns in their homes. If they want to carry them in public, they should be in the open, unconcealed, for all to see so that the civilized folks can avoid the gun nuts.
posted by JackFlash at 11:00 PM on April 4, 2008


I think if you polled those who vociferously speak in favor of gun rights, you would find a clear majority who accept/support warrantless searches and indefinite detention of citizens without indictment and would likely be willing to throw over any amendment as long as the 2nd was left alone or expanded.
posted by wrapper at 11:17 PM on April 4, 2008


"Just" 30,000 dead?! Just?! I keep hearing people here use this phrase, just 30,000 dead from guns.

Britain is a very violent place; you're much more likely to get beaten, robbed, etc. than most other places in Europe. Yet they had less than 800 murders in 2005; the UK's about 1/4 the size of America.

Or put it another way. We've entirely changed the way we raise kids because of kids being abducted by strangers. There all sorts of aggressive laws to deal with this issue; kids are kept close to home, taught to be paranoid.... yet there about 50 kidnappings of children by strangers every year in America.

Or put it another way, if I cut off the little finger of each of these people and put it on top of you, you'd be crushed to death by half a ton of little fingers.

I would claim that anyone who can say "just 30,000 people dead" has something wrong with their hearts, if not their minds.

(And please, please do not tell me that even more people would die if you didn't have the guns. No other civilized place has more murder than you Americans; to claim it could get somehow worse is ludicrous...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:37 PM on April 4, 2008


Not to harm, this just stuns me. Seriously. Vast examples. Hell - the IRA.
Come on man, you're not about to glorify terrorism, now??
Snark aside: IRA *had* access to high explosives, machine guns, and mortars.
posted by vivelame at 12:43 AM on April 5, 2008


As to a knife, I'm sure you're a 6'8" John Rambo, but those don't do much for a five foot hundred pound woman (or guy, I guess) confronted with someone whose got a hundred fifty pounds and six inches of reach on 'em.

I'd have used a handicapped person as the example. If you see a tiny filipino with two knives, whatever you do, don't sneer at him. I grant you that a knife is not the same "equalizer" as a gun, but better a knife or pepperspray on your person, than a gun left at home when you need it with you. Better than either case is to maintain some situational awareness when you are out and about.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:47 AM on April 5, 2008


Oh yes, why do they ALWAYS insist on including suicide stats as gun-violence stats?

Because (1) it's violence (2) with guns. A lot of people who attempt suicide don't really want to kill themselves. "Cry for help" and all that. Or they might really want to right now, but if they don't succeed, there's a chance they'll change their minds later. A suicide attempt with pills or cutting your wrists or jumping into traffic is less likely to be successful, but a suicide attempt with a gun is very likely to be successful. As with other-directed violence, guns make it more likely you're going to kill your target.

What ARE the actual statistics on successful home-defence as related to gun posession?

Seems like it would be really hard to measure, outside of instances when you actually shoot someone. I think most data on defensive use of guns (like brandishing one to chase away a burglar) is self-reported, self-serving, and probably inflated. "Cletus, we're doing a survey about gun ownership. That lesbo Hillary Clinton wants to take your guns away unless you can prove you've used them to defend yourself. How many times have you used them in this way?" I'm sure the surveys aren't that obvious, but gun owners are probably smart enough to realize that exaggerating a little helps their cause.
posted by goatdog at 9:23 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


To expand upon what lupus_yonderboy says, lets take the Sly Stallone 'You're the disease, I'm the cure' approach to firearms. I would suggest that, no matter the ailment, any treatment that kills 30k people per annum would be considered unacceptable. If it's the best that's available, the search would be on 24/7 for a better alternative. Yet, according to the gun lobby, there is deemed to be no alternative. We do not live in the late 18th century. It is time to stop arguing about what those guys meant then and decide upon a responsible approach to firearms for the 21st century.
posted by Jakey at 12:14 PM on April 5, 2008


Effective concealable guns did not exist at the time the Constitution was written.

Erm, well, they did have pistols.

legal penalties stiff enough to make people think twice before using guns against each other

Like the penalties for murder?

We've entirely changed the way we raise kids because of kids being abducted by strangers.

You say that like it's a good thing.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:50 PM on April 5, 2008


Jakey, over 40,000 Americans die each year in automobile accidents, and we don't have a constitutional right to drive. Should we tackle that as well?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:15 AM on April 6, 2008


Erm, well, they did have pistols.

That's why I used the modifiers "effective" and "concealable". If you think that the the single-shot muzzleloading flintlock pistols of the 18th century fit that description, then my argument certainly falls apart. ("Hold still sir, whilst I reload. I implore all potential innocent bystanders to please remain in the area, also.")

Like the penalties for murder?

Murder comes in many guises. We are talking about handgun violence. I was referring to stiff "use a gun, go to jail" laws, and the political will to implement and stand behind them.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:01 AM on April 6, 2008


"There all sorts of aggressive laws to deal with this issue; kids are kept close to home, taught to be paranoid.... yet there about 50 kidnappings of children by strangers every year in America."

That's a perfect analogy. There is an argument to be had over whether deaths from guns is worth having the right. Obviously I stand on the other side.

But I consider it exactly equal philosophicaly to the very low incidence of the "stranger in the bushes" and the arbitrary and visibly quite harmful laws enacted and the hidden cost of thinking one has done something about the actual problem of child assault.

You see, while those draconian laws are in place, we now think - boy those kids are safe from even the low incidence of being raped by a stranger or some such.

When in fact the reality is that most children are abused, abducted, etc - most of the crimes committed against children are perpetrated by someone the child knows. A family member, a close friend of the family, etc.

Similarly, a gun restriction may or may not lessen the incidence of deaths by firearm in the U.S. but while it might address that statistict (might - I'm on the other side, but I do recognize there is a dispute there) it will in no way address the very real problems - socioeconomic, mental health, illegal drugs, etc - that lead to that kind of violence in the first place.

And the very real harm there would be - as with child sexual assault - thinking "Gee, we've done all we could" when in fact the law misdirects all the resources, aid, prosecution, and police effort and attention onto what is not the foundation of the problem. And all the while the heart of the problem goes unaddressed. And indeed - while calling for more laws the dismissal of the idea that government is at least part of the problem.

There are very long threads full of outrage on police brutality - I've never understood how one can be infuriated by that, argue that there are systemic problems (and there are) in policing in some places, and yet be perfectly willing to cede all matters of personal security and give the monopoly on it to those same organizations.

Am I to understand that the police, paramilitary forces and mercinaries taking firearms from people after Katrina were right to do that and then leave those people to the rapists, looters and gangs - because maybe they would shoot someone in defense of their home and property? It's worth throwing oneself on the mercy of the criminals in order to save their lives?
Much as I like the proposition of turning the other cheek, I'd rather have that be an individual decision rather than forced upon me by government policy.
Those policies create chilling effects - much as surveillance does, much as "man in the bushes" laws do - which is one of the main reasons to oppose it.

I mean, it'd be nice if I could roughhouse with my daughter in the park without people looking at me like I'm a pervert or the feds wondering why I dislike people reading my e-mails or listening in on my phone calls if I'm not a terrorist, or the police knocking on my door asking why I don't consent to search if I've got nothing to hide.

And it's the same thing here, but when the government says listening to phone calls will save millions of lives, they're full of B.S. When they say the need to stop terrorism, well, it's not worth giving up our rights - and we don't know how effective it would be anyway.

But when it comes to giving up personal security in terms of someone owning a firearm - folks suddenly thing the exact same form of argument they've been contesting is the purest wisdom - Gee, why do you need a gun Smed? What are you afraid of pussy? Don't you love America? Why do you want people to die? Oh, sure freedom costs and those who sacrifice liberty for freedom are making a mistake - but the price here is just too high!

Does anyone seriously think those forms of argument become more valid just because someone else - someone with the "right" political views - is using them?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:30 AM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Benny Andajetz: They were concealable. As for effective, it's a matter of degree. You could certainly walk up to someone and shoot him. As for reloading, carry more than one! It was done. Now, I have to wonder if there are any instances of crazy people carrying multiple firearms into the open (or even just one) and shooting at random strangers. I've never heard of such a thing.

Regarding penalties, my point is that I feel it is quite sufficient to have penalties for murder, attempted murder, etc., and that these penalties shouldn't depend on the implement used. Why should they?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:58 AM on April 6, 2008


I would claim that anyone who can say "just 30,000 people dead" has something wrong with their hearts, if not their minds.

Whatever, lupus yonderboy. You brought this up hardly two weeks ago, and you ignored my response then, so I'm not going to bother to repeat myself again. If you can't or won't judge risk and death in a rational manner, that's not my fault, nor does it indicate that anything is "wrong with me". It's not that I don't feel sorry for those killed by guns, or that I don't care about the loss of their lives. It's that disenfranchising eighty million owners of 223 million guns is not a rational response to 30,000 deaths, period. When that's the magnitude of the numbers we're talking about, I think it's perfectly reasonable to say "just" 30,000 dead, especially when you consider the numbers for other common causes of death in this country (see my previous post for analysis). For an implement that's designed to kill, hardly any (as in less than 0.02%) of our guns actually kill human beings in this country, and all of your breathless hyperbole ("crushed to death by half a ton of little fingers", indeed) won't change that fact.

Sorry, but numbers trump emotional blackmail.
posted by vorfeed at 12:28 PM on April 6, 2008


Sorry I missed your previous post, vorfeed; I thought I did at least respond to part of the argument somewhere.

First and foremost, my underlying point has nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with guns. I would have said it in response to "only 40,000 Americans die in automobile accidents a year"; in fact, I do all the time (my claim is that Americans are astonishingly irresponsible in their use of cars and outrageously lenient towards abusers considering the massive death toll).

If you can use the expression, "just 30,000 people dead" and give no indication that you have any understanding of the massive human cost involved then I really think you're unhealthily desensitized.

(Not attempting to derail, but I feel that this attitude of being able to dismiss vast quantities of potentially preventable deaths as an emotionless statistic is how America has been able to simply ignore the millions of deaths that it has caused through wars of aggression in the last 50 years.)



But let's indeed look at cars, which kill 40,000 people a year (or to put it into perspective, have probably already killed someone you cared about...) Point is that cars *are* heavily regulated, even though your average American makes much more use of a car for its primary purpose, transportation, than they make use of guns in self-defense. I *have* no right to a car, and that's a good thing!

Cars are far, far more essential to daily life than guns are. Suppose all cars vanished overnight. America would cease to function. Many, perhaps most Americans would be unable to work, or even eat.

Do also note that your average American spends easily 30 times as much of their life in car as they do using a gun, so guns are easily an order of magnitude more dangerous than cars.

To jump up a level, the point is that the social utility of transportation is far greater than self-defense (and don't think I don't assign utility to self-defense: sure, life would be very hard if our lives were at risk whenever we stepped outside, but most of us would die pretty soon if all transportation were cut off).


Slightly tangentially, in order to really "believe" in the Second Amendment, you have to believe two fairly preposterous things: you have to believe that a bunch of smart, ethical men a couple of hundred years ago were so smart that they were able to make universal rules in the Bill of Rights that were valid for all possible times to come in America, but yet at the same time that apparently meaningful phrases within that document are meaningless and to be ignored.

I'm quite a fan of the framers. I actually believe that "a well-regulated militia" was put in there for a reason, quite specifically to make sure they could keep weapons out of the hands of bozos.

Regardless, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are living documents, documents that have been amended many times, even in living memory, and generally for the better. If Americans were willing to suspend half the Bill of Rights over 3000 dead, one time, they might certainly consider adjusting one single Amendment slightly (Perhaps to "Within a well-regulated militia, ..."?) to deal with the problem of 15,000(*) possibly preventable deaths each year.

(* - I think most of the suicides would simply choose another method...)

By the way, I loved the "one rifle" idea expressed above; it seems logical, perfect for self-defense, and I'm sure that America would never do anything so rational...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:09 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just look at how ineffective campus gun-bans have been with the recent college massacres

You do have to take account of the fact that while guns are banned from college campuses nutjobs are free to purchase them immediately outside. Thats a very different proposition from a national ban.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:15 PM on April 6, 2008


But let's indeed look at cars

that whole argument ignores the possible costs of global warming, i'm afraid

Slightly tangentially, in order to really "believe" in the Second Amendment, you have to believe two fairly preposterous things: you have to believe that a bunch of smart, ethical men a couple of hundred years ago were so smart that they were able to make universal rules in the Bill of Rights that were valid for all possible times to come in America

no, because they also provided a mechanism by which it could be amended

but yet at the same time that apparently meaningful phrases within that document are meaningless and to be ignored.

just because people interpret "well-regulated militia" as a phrase that describes a benefit of the right to bear and keep arms does not make that phrase meaningless

If Americans were willing to suspend half the Bill of Rights over 3000 dead, one time, they might certainly consider adjusting one single Amendment slightly (Perhaps to "Within a well-regulated militia, ..."?) to deal with the problem of 15,000(*) possibly preventable deaths each year.

by that logic, we should ban tobacco, alcohol and overeating too, each of which kills many more people yearly than guns

we tried it with alcohol - it didn't work too well, did it?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:51 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you can use the expression, "just 30,000 people dead" and give no indication that you have any understanding of the massive human cost involved then I really think you're unhealthily desensitized.

And if you can use hyperbolic expressions like "you'd be crushed to death by half a ton of little fingers" to describe 30,000 dead, when the context is deaths among the US population, I really think you're unhealthily innumerate. My stance has nothing to do with "desensitization", and everything to do with understanding the numbers involved, and the context they're involved in. More than 2.5 million people die in this country per year; gun deaths make up not much more than 1% of these. In context, 30,000 is not a particularly significant number, and no amount of overblown descriptions or appeals to emotion will change that.

At any rate, fine. I think you've got zero perspective, you think I'm unhealthily desensitized. We're not likely to agree on this. It's funny, though, that you can understand the "massive human cost" of 30,000 dead, but not the massive human cost involved in punitive governmental measures like criminalizing and imprisoning people in an attempt to ban guns. The main reason why I'm upset about this is the human cost -- hurting tens of millions of innocents to maybe, possibly save tens of thousands is offensive to me, in a massive-human-cost sort of way. The number of gun owners (80 million) is a significant figure when compared to the total American population; 30K simply is not.

Cars are far, far more essential to daily life than guns are. Suppose all cars vanished overnight. America would cease to function. Many, perhaps most Americans would be unable to work, or even eat. [...] To jump up a level, the point is that the social utility of transportation is far greater than self-defense

It's quite possible to live your entire life in the immediate environs of whatever town you're born in. Not only do many people still do so today, even in the first world, pretty much the entirety of human beings throughout antiquity did so. Also, human beings are quite capable of achieving non-frivolous transportation without cars (see: the entirety of human history). Transportation is nice, but you don't find it on the second level of Maslow's pyramid, for good reason. Self-defense, on the other hand, is pretty much a base necessity for survival, then and now. The fact that we've built up an elaborate social system that places greater "social utility" on one rather than the other doesn't change their underlying order. If you don't believe me, think for a moment about what you said earlier -- what, exactly, happens when the system breaks down and people are "unable to work or even eat"? Here's a hint: people start breaking into gun stores, not car lots.

Regardless, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are living documents, documents that have been amended many times, even in living memory, and generally for the better. If Americans were willing to suspend half the Bill of Rights over 3000 dead, one time, they might certainly consider adjusting one single Amendment slightly (Perhaps to "Within a well-regulated militia, ..."?) to deal with the problem of 15,000(*) possibly preventable deaths each year.

Well, if you still think this is really worth doing, then you can indeed amend the Constitution -- if you can get 3/4 of the states to agree with you. Unfortunately for you, as I said above, America as a nation does not want to do this. That's not likely to change any time soon.

And if we're really going to amend the Constitution to "deal with the problem of 15,000(*) possibly preventable deaths each year", we might as well start with tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, and high fructose corn syrup. This is what I mean when I say you've got no perspective: it's not just cars that kill more people than guns. If you really want to go down the road of saving people from themselves, then there are much better and more effective ways than gun control... but I suspect that you're not so eager to go ahead with those, simply because they affect things that you like to do.
posted by vorfeed at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm all for taking guns out of the hands of citizens. We can start with the cops.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:48 PM on April 6, 2008


Jakey, over 40,000 Americans die each year in automobile accidents, and we don't have a constitutional right to drive. Should we tackle that as well?

Well, that's a whole different can of worms that would probably end up an even longer thread :)

The difference being that no-one is suggesting that the situation would be improved if we gave everyone a car, which is the reductio ad absurdum of the pro-gun argument.
posted by Jakey at 2:12 AM on April 8, 2008


the pro-gun argument

There's not just one argument. People have a lot of reasons to appreciated the second amendment. Personally I want the acquaintance of mine with post-polio syndrome who scared off a mugger to be able to keep her gun. I'm fully aware that guns do a lot of harm, and that such harm may outweigh the benefits of gun ownership. However, any analysis of the statistics by either side of the argument seems to be incredibly distorted or inconclusive. I've seen a lot of flawed assumptions just in this thread mixing correlation and causation, and also attributing suicide or homicide to the presense of guns rather than the presence of intent. I suspect that guns inflate the suicide and homicide rates somewhat. However, it is not by an easily quantifiable amount.

I don't think guns are appropriate for every one, and would fully support some kind of operations licensing test like a driver's license. I had my first hunter safety class when I was eleven years old. Even though I'm not big on hunting, or even on guns for self-defense, I appreciate having safer firearms handling skills than the public at large. I've seen people who should know better mishandle guns all the time. It seems like there is an IQ killing testosterone surge whenever someone picks one up. I know you would argue that this supports a ban, but what I think is that it supports educating adults and children to respect the dangers of guns. Such instruction could be done with non-functional replica firearms, and needn't be used as a method to proselytize gun ownership.

If the second amendment were repealed, I'd respect that change, but until such an unlikely event, we have to live with firearms in our culture.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:26 PM on April 8, 2008


*appreciate*
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:27 PM on April 8, 2008


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