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Heller v. D.C. Decided
June 26, 2008 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Heller v. District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court's first actual interpretation of the Second Amendment, has just come down. In a 5-4 decision, the Justices ruled D.C.'s comprehensive handgun ban to be unconstitutional. Antonin Scalia writes for the majority.
posted by Navelgazer (364 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
A quick description from the Court's syllabus:

1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense at home.

2. The Second Amendment right is not unlimited. The Court's opinion should not cast doubt on concealed-weapons prohibitions, laws barring possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws barring firearms in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, and laws imposing conditions on commercial sale of arms.

3. D.C.'s handgun ban and trigger-lock requirement violate the Second Amendment. The total ban on handgun possession prohibits an entire class of arms that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any standard of scrutiny, that ban falls. The trigger-lock requirement makes self-defense impossible. D.C. may use a licensing scheme.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:51 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here is a link to the oral arguments for this case back in April. For those interested in the "militia" part of the clause, this transcript provides some very interesting discussion of what that actually meant during the time the 2nd amendment was written.
posted by jsonic at 7:51 AM on June 26, 2008


From what I've been reading lately, this likely means several states will join the open-carry states, and I live in one of them.

I was raised with guns from several sides...gun safety & rights, marksman training, hunting, indiscriminate gun use, mountain man stockpiling...and I'm not sure how I feel about this.
posted by batmonkey at 7:53 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


On one hand, I'm not too fond of handguns.

On the other hand, I'm not too fond of people deciding the Constitution doesn't matter.
posted by oaf at 7:53 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


I never understood how liberals or progressive types could be for a handgun ban.

How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?
posted by plexi at 7:54 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Relevant youtube link
posted by fuq at 7:54 AM on June 26, 2008


double post
posted by matteo at 7:56 AM on June 26, 2008


speaking of amending second things..

double?
posted by dubold at 7:56 AM on June 26, 2008


double post

This one seems to have more background info in it…
posted by oaf at 7:57 AM on June 26, 2008


In the same minute, this one should stay, it's a lot better.
posted by Mitheral at 7:58 AM on June 26, 2008


This ricochet his a more critical strike.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:02 AM on June 26, 2008


This is the better of the two.

I was happy to see this ruling. It honestly seems commonsensical to me: some regulation is ok; too much regulation is not. There is a lot of room to argue about where that dividing line should be, without having to deal with the extreme of an outright ban.
posted by Forktine at 8:02 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yay, this is fun! I get to post in both threads, since they are the same!

Question for the legal eagles: Scalia mentions quite explicitly the right to own a gun "to defend the home." Could DC interpret that to mean that it is legal to outlaw handguns in public places? Is this decision simply the start of an extended back-and-forth between city and State, or do people expect this to be the end all decision and no more cities will attempt such bans?
posted by billysumday at 8:03 AM on June 26, 2008


We had to shoot twice to get the target.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:03 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Could DC interpret that to mean that it is legal to outlaw handguns in public places?

Lots of places already outlaw carrying handguns in public places. While some states allow carrying concealed handguns in public places if you have a permit. A few others, like VA, let you "open-carry" a handgun (on your hip for example) in public without even needing a permit.
posted by jsonic at 8:06 AM on June 26, 2008


Relevant wikipedia link.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:06 AM on June 26, 2008


You watch: almost all of the people taking the DC government's side who you'll hear quoted in the media over the next week are going to say nothing but "but guns are bad, so we need to ban them!" All with no reference whatsoever to the Constitution or law. Sorry, but that's a policy argument and belongs in a legislature, not a court. If legislatures really want to debate that, then they need to refer to Article Five.

Justice Scalia's opinion is narrow enough that it leaves room for the states to figure out for themselves how to regular firearms without effectively banning public ownership. Some states will ban them in public, others will not. Decisionmaking will be in the hands of local legislatures, which is as it should be. There probably will be some back and forth while lower courts and the states/local government figure out how they want to handle it in their own circumstances.
posted by pandanom at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


While some states allow carrying concealed handguns in public places if you have a permit. A few others, like VA, let you "open-carry" a handgun (on your hip for example) in public without even needing a permit.
posted by jsonic at 11:06 AM on June 2


I can't decide which is better, laws mandating concealing the weapon if you take it out in public, or laws mandating that it be carried in the open.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?
posted by rhymer at 8:08 AM on June 26, 2008


I never understood how liberals or progressive types could be for a handgun ban.

Just like there are libertarian and authoritarian conservatives, (think Ron Paul vs. Dick Cheney) there are also libertarian and authoritarian liberals. It's not as noticeable because the democrats have been out of power for so long, but Bill Clinton (for example) definitely fell on the authoritarian side.

What's interesting is that Historically the 'progressives' were total authoritarians The ACLU started as a response to the policies of Woodrow Wilson (who was a Huge racist, by the way). It was the progressives who really pushed prohibition. Their goal was to improve society, and they really had little regard for civil liberties and stuff like that.

So it's really ironic that the 'modern' progressive movement would take that name, mainly because the word "liberal" has become a bad word, associated with the 1960s and 1970s. Yet, as far as I can tell the modern "progressive" movement has the same views as the mid-century liberals, which is fine. I just think the use of the word progressive is kind of ironic.

Either way, it's no contradiction to be both progressive and authoritarian, unfortunately.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on June 26, 2008 [14 favorites]


If McCain wins the election -- or if he is selected by the Court, 2000-style -- the Roberts Court will be for conservatives what the Warren Court has been for liberals; it's probably too late for them to restore slavery and segregation, but from Miranda to Roe, they're all going down, you mark my words
posted by matteo at 8:08 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I can't wait to read the opinion to find out what five lawyers say my constitutional rights are! Yay, lunchbreak!
posted by resurrexit at 8:09 AM on June 26, 2008


How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?

Very easily. Nothing curtails freedom of speech or civil rights faster than a bullet. The rights you mentioned above are notable because none of them give you the ability to limit someone else's freedom, or do them grievous bodily harm.

I tend to be on the fence when it comes to gun control, but:

[a] class of arms that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense

...is the most willfully naive statement I've heard in a while.
posted by phooky at 8:09 AM on June 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


I've only ever seen one non-uniformed person openly carry a firearm and it scared the piss out of me when I did. It was when I was working at the local airport; he got out of a helicopter with a pistol stuck down the back of his pants and his shirt tucked behind it to deliberately expose the weapon. From this experience, I have a hard time understanding how open-carry can be conducive to having a relaxed, generally good-natured society.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:10 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm curious as to where all the "personal defense" stuff comes in. I mean, if we are going to ignore the first phrase "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" and simply focus on the second then why bother confusing the issue with personal defense arguments?

I own guns because they're nifty from an engineering standpoint and they're fun to shoot. Personal defense has never entered into my thoughts when it came to guns, so under Scalia's reasoning does that mean I *don't* have a right to own my guns?
posted by sotonohito at 8:10 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Scalia's reasoning

lol
posted by oaf at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2008 [16 favorites]


and of course, keep in mind that school shootings, and gun violence in general, must be blamed on videogames and rock music -- the same videogames and rock music that kids in the rest of the developed world play and listen to, but strangely their countries only have a tiny percentage of America's appalling gun violence. if you somehow indicate the existence of a possible link between almost nonexistent gun laws and gun violence you're shrill, authoritarian, and a bad person. please don't be authoritarian and campaign against Grand Theft Auto instead.
posted by matteo at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else bothered that it was such a close decision? Shouldn't constitutional issues be a bit clearer than that?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's probably too late for them to restore slavery and segregation...

Yes, I'm sure Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are just itching to restore slavery. Thomas in particular.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:14 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


...is the most willfully naive statement I've heard in a while.

How so? Is there a different class of arms that people favor over handguns for self defense?
posted by quin at 8:14 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's probably too late for them to restore slavery and segregation, but from Miranda to Roe, they're all going down, you mark my words
posted by matteo at 11:08 AM on June 26


Miranda and Roe will never go down ever, no matter how much conservative pundits want it to. The wealthy and powerful (i.e. that actual judges and politicians) want to ensure that they can get abortions as it suits them, and they rely on the high probability of cops screwing up complex miranda requirements as a last resort/escape hatch for when they or their families get arrested.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


plexi asked:
"How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?"

It's not a desire to curtail "someone's" ability to own a gun. It's a desire to make certain all people who wish to do so are capable of possessing a deadly weapon with full knowledge and capability in how to appropriately store, use, and not use the weapon.

We are so far removed from the daily gun use common when the Constitution was written, where your gun was used for securing food, warding off immediate threats not governed by other laws, protecting your newly established territory from those who wanted to take it by force, and, okay, making sure the new government of freedom was able to flourish.

Further, impulse control is nowhere near where it was back then. And people with random anger issues are far more prevalent (if only because of the odds inherent in population boom).

Because we can't indiscriminately trust every person to use (or not use) a gun appropriately, there has to be some level of qualification and certification.

Personally, I wish that weren't so. I wish families raised every member to be responsible, aware, and competent. Also: able to be calm in an urgent or terrifying situation. Every child should be raised to know what guns can and cannot do, what wounds are created by what guns, and how to negotiate stressful or scary situations without a gun, and this should be refreshed for each development level.

That's not going to happen, though. We can't even teach kids to read for bias anymore, much less teach them when a gun is an appropriate choice.

So, gun control.
posted by batmonkey at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


If Scalia wrote the majority opinion do the pages stick together?
posted by three blind mice at 8:17 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a sensible enough decision from a policy perspective. As with the First Amendment, it's subject to all sorts of restrictions.

From a legal perspective, I don't really get why half of the Second Amendment has no meaning. Self-defense is a great thing, and all, but the Second Amendment ungrammatically ties the right to bear arms to a "well-regulated militia." None of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights have a preamble or other surplusage.

Gotta sort through it, but it sounds like a realist opinion, accounting for the place firearms have in American history and culture more than a strict reading of the text of the amendment.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:17 AM on June 26, 2008


blue_beetle: Interestingly, this term there have been surprisingly few 5/4 decisions, but the really controversial ideological issues have of course broken on 5/4 ideological lines. This one, yesterday's decision on the death penalty for child rape, the decision on Habeas for detainees and (less obviously) today's FEC decision being some obvious examples. The Court remains a fundamentally political body, though most commentators feel Roberts has made it less so.
posted by The Bellman at 8:18 AM on June 26, 2008


How so? Is there a different class of arms that people favor over handguns for self defense?
posted by quin at 11:14 AM on June 26


Shotguns and hunting rifles are probably not uncommon. Someone who hunts won't necessarily own a handgun. But I think the original comment referred to the fact that people don't necessarily by handguns for self-defense. They often buy them to look cool, feel their oats when they squeeze off a few rounds etc.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:18 AM on June 26, 2008


I hope they remember this when Obama takes office and HBO starts showing reruns of The Pelican Brief.
posted by troybob at 8:19 AM on June 26, 2008


How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?

1. Because handguns (some limited target shooting aside) are designed to hurt and kill people.

2. Because your free speech, civil rights and abortion rights are unlikely to curtail someone else's very basic right to stay alive. The same cannot be said of handgun ownership.
posted by rhymer at 8:20 AM on June 26, 2008


Wow, while Chicago is in the middle of a shooting epidemic this summer the SCOTUS delivers this bombshell.

How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?

This is a pretty nutty question. How can someone who is for human advancement and human rights suddenly support the cheapest and most effective way to murder fellow humans? I think this dialogue is in favor of a "government vs us" 18th century worldview instead of the real worldview of "us vs us." Chances of me getting shot by the feds are pretty low; by my fellow citizen, pretty high.

Ironically, its crap like this that makes me take on the conservative view of "Why even have a federal government?" 5 lawyers shouldnt be able to put my life at risk with their policies. They havent liberated people, theyve tied the hands of state and municipal governments. Oh the irony.

I also think its hilarious that Scalia thinks that a gangbanger with a handgun is the modern equivalant of a "well regulated militia."
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:21 AM on June 26, 2008


If McCain wins the election -- or if he is selected by the Court, 2000-style -- the Roberts Court will be for conservatives what the Warren Court has been for liberals; it's probably too late for them to restore slavery and segregation, but from Miranda to Roe, they're all going down, you mark my words.

Matteo, you must have the memory of a fly. Did you read the SC ruling yesterday on the death penalty case involving children? Tell me what was conservative or constitutional about that (and I'm not for the death penalty)? This court seems fairly well split more often than not so I don't get your hysteria.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:21 AM on June 26, 2008


I can't wait to read the opinion to find out what five lawyers say my constitutional rights are! Yay, lunchbreak!

You actually make an interesting point, but it certainly goes both ways. You could say the same about Roe v. Wade -- many conservatives complain about that case being a prime example of the Constitution meaning what seven judges (in that case) say it means. The argument is actually more compelling in Roe, which rested largely on a previously-unidentified "penumbra of privacy" throughout the Constitution.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:21 AM on June 26, 2008


ibmcginty: I'm gonna guess no one in this thread has read the decision yet. For people actually interested in the issue, the "well regulated militia" clause is, of course, the real question. Scalia isn't stupid and he is at least nominally a strict constructionist, so I'm sure he deals with that question -- even some liberal scholars have offered work-arounds for the language -- but I don't know how yet, so I wasn't going to engage in the LOLLIBERULS debate.
posted by The Bellman at 8:21 AM on June 26, 2008


The wealthy and powerful (i.e. that actual judges and politicians) want to ensure that they can get abortions as it suits them, and they rely on the high probability of cops screwing up complex miranda requirements as a last resort/escape hatch for when they or their families get arrested.

I'm not convinced that abortions will be inaccessible to the wealthy and powerful, Pastabagel, even if they are illegal.

As to Miranda, the wealthy and powerful depend more on prosecutorial forebearance than procedural niceties. That thing is gone, as Scalia and Thomas have tried to do in the past.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:23 AM on June 26, 2008


On the one hand, I definitely fall on the libertarian side of liberal. I grew up with guns in my extended family, and enjoy shooting them, and appreciate that for many they're an important symbol of independence.

On the other hand, I now live in a nice, safe neighborhood predominantly filled with good Catholic immigrant families and college students. I do not live in a place like Chicago's South Side. I think that local communities need to retain a great deal of autonomy and discretion with regard to gun licensing. For many, handguns are not a symbol of independence. They represent the death and fear and stupid macho crap that tears their neighborhoods apart. Banning them is not just a practical measure, it's an important statement of values and beliefs that has the support of a vast majority of the populace.

On the other other hand, I grew up in DC, and used to pick up 9mm shells from the gutter on my way to school through the projects. I guess the SC Crew hadn't heard about the gun ban.
posted by xthlc at 8:25 AM on June 26, 2008


This court seems fairly well split more often than not so I don't get your hysteria.

John McCain is sixteen years younger than John Paul Stevens.
posted by oaf at 8:25 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Roe . . . rested largely on a previously-unidentified "penumbra of privacy" throughout the Constitution.

Uh, I think you're thinking of Griswold for the "emanations and penumbras." Contraception != Abortion.
posted by The Bellman at 8:25 AM on June 26, 2008


I found this to be a pretty simple issue, isn't it? Local government ought to be able to legislate controls over what guns are legal and their legal use. But it can't simply say, "no guns". And I think that's what the Supremes stated today.
posted by JWright at 8:27 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because your free speech, civil rights and abortion rights are unlikely to curtail someone else's very basic right to stay alive. The same cannot be said of handgun ownership.

And without armed defense, none of those other rights really exist. They're privileges you can lose when armed people say, "That's enough."
posted by codswallop at 8:27 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


on a previously-unidentified "penumbra of privacy" throughout the Constitution

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" seems more like umbra to me.
posted by oaf at 8:27 AM on June 26, 2008


We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.

This is deeply weaselly non-reasoning to deflect "That means I can have my machine gun!" by saying that, no, you can't carry a G36 around because you haven't been carrying a G36 around. If you had had a G36, you could have one, but because you didn't have one, you can't.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:28 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe the Supreme Court should have limits to the amount of time any judge could serve or perhaps select judges for any particular case from a pool. It would make it harder for any president to pack the court with judges who adhere to their views and perhaps even lower their case load since you are no longer assured of how the court will rule.
posted by tommasz at 8:28 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think this dialogue is in favor of a "government vs us" 18th century worldview instead of the real worldview of "us vs us." Chances of me getting shot by the feds are pretty low; by my fellow citizen, pretty high.

huh? Statistics please. I think the dialogue is in favor of the Constitution - that is what the supreme court is mandated to do. I realize they've veered off course now and then but to suggest they rule based on today's politically correct, poll-driven environment is just naive.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:28 AM on June 26, 2008


From a legal perspective, I don't really get why half of the Second Amendment has no meaning. Self-defense is a great thing, and all, but the Second Amendment ungrammatically ties the right to bear arms to a "well-regulated militia."

Read the oral arguments for this case. Both of the lawyers and the Justices had some long exchanges about this very point. They also had a discussion of other parts of the Constitution that pertain to militias and who gets to control them (State vs. Congress). This is particularly important when determining to what extent legislatures should have the ability to control or disarm militias based on the types of gun laws they pass.

They also discuss how the term "bear arms" actually has a specific meaning, not just the general idea of having a gun, and was used is legal documents the predated the U.S. This is very relevant to what type of arms are allowed, as well as what types of restrictions are legal.
posted by jsonic at 8:28 AM on June 26, 2008


Banning them is not just a practical measure, it's an important statement of values and beliefs that has the support of a vast majority of the populace.

On the other other hand, I grew up in DC, and used to pick up 9mm shells from the gutter on my way to school through the projects. I guess the SC Crew hadn't heard about the gun ban.



Ack! It's not remotely practical then, is it?!
posted by codswallop at 8:28 AM on June 26, 2008


resurrexit: "I can't wait to read the opinion to find out what five lawyers say my constitutional rights are! Yay, lunchbreak!"

More like your naturally endowed rights protected, from government violation, by the Constitution. Amirite?
posted by Science! at 8:30 AM on June 26, 2008


How can someone who is for human advancement and human rights suddenly support the cheapest and most effective way to murder fellow humans?

Some people think that human advancement and human rights are best preserved by empowering government and others believe that the same goals are advanced by limiting the power of government.

This decision limits the government's power so conservatives and libertarians are generally pleased which is the same reason liberals are generally displeased.

MORE POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
posted by three blind mice at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2008


Question: Would the Supremes have cast their votes the same way in the '90's? The '80's? The '70's? At a time when there was less gentrification within the city limits and/or the crack-cocaine explosion of the '80's?

As a pansy-assed liberal, I don't feel comfortable about the idea of civilians brandishing their weapons -- sheathed or not -- in public. If they're illegal, that just mean that there will be fewer accidents.

I'm just not sure that the Justices would have voted the same way after the '68 riots.

[I just love the way that we have to repeat the same damn lessons over and over again in this country. I was 1 year old at the time of the riots and 7 at the time of the Watergate hearings, and I recognize both as cautionary events. Mofos who were adults in '67 and '74 and now in the Executive Branch seem to have missed the lesson, along with their draft notices.

I'm half-convinced that the Red Lectroids are working their conspiracy.)

posted by vhsiv at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2008


How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?

1. Because handguns (some limited target shooting aside) are designed to hurt and kill people.


Abortions kill people.

2. Because your free speech, civil rights and abortion rights are unlikely to curtail someone else's very basic right to stay alive. The same cannot be said of handgun ownership.

Owning a handgun "curtail[s] someone else's very basic right to stay alive"? It takes a great deal of hoop-jumping to get to that point.

The truth is, banning guns is the same as banning gay marriage or banning abortion --> it is putting moral restrictions on individuals.
posted by plexi at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


huh? Statistics please.

j.p. Hung: are you really asking for statistics that show someone is more likely to be shot and killed by a criminal in a gun-related crime than by the federal government? because that would just be silly...

This ruling is just what I expected. No more, no less. Still, looking forward to reading the actual decision to see the rationale for ignoring that bizarrely controversial, dependent "well-regulated militia" clause.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:33 AM on June 26, 2008


Some useful quotes from the majority are here. This one gets at what I was writing about above: “The prefatory clause does not suggest that preserving the militia was the only reason Americans valued the ancient right; most undoubtedly thought it even more important for self-defense and hunting.”

Scalia's rationale is, because the Second Amendment codified a pre-existing right, the limiting language in the first half of the amendment is legally meaningless. Plausible, but I haven't read the whole thing yet.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:34 AM on June 26, 2008


Pastabagel writes "Miranda and Roe will never go down ever, no matter how much conservative pundits want it to. The wealthy and powerful (i.e. that actual judges and politicians) want to ensure that they can get abortions as it suits them, and they rely on the high probability of cops screwing up complex miranda requirements as a last resort/escape hatch for when they or their families get arrested."

Wealthy people have never had a lack of options when it comes to abortion.

damn dirty ape writes "How can someone who is for human advancement and human rights suddenly support the cheapest and most effective way to murder fellow humans? "

Even at $5 a gallon diesel is a way cheaper way of killing someone than a gun.
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Excuse me while I kiss the ground.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:35 AM on June 26, 2008


If they're illegal, that just mean that there will be fewer accidents.

It would also mean that Mr. Joe Criminal can be quite sure that you're NOT armed. Banning guns simply disarms law-abiding folks. It doesn't keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

And if you think banning guns would significantly reduce the availability of guns for criminals, then just look at the drug war. It's been laying waste to america for decades, yet drugs are still readily available. The same would be true for guns.
posted by jsonic at 8:37 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I never understood how liberals or progressive types could be for a handgun ban.

How can you be for freedom of speech, civil rights, abortion rights, and yet simultaneously want to curtail someone's ability to own a gun?

You can exercise your free speech, etc, all you like but it doesn't hurt me any. If you exercise your Second Amendment rights on me, I could become dead. It happens a thousand times a year. I've been shot at myself a couple of times, both times by ignorant strangers (one of them was just shooting all around, not at me).

There is some level of weaponry we'd both agree needs government regulation (i.e. flame throwers, bombs, germ warfare, etc) and some level we'd both agree does not (slingshots, BB guns, etc.) The fact that you can't see why my line isn't precisely the same as your line makes me think you haven't spent any time trying to think about it.


Now, if USAians weren't really into killing people, mostly with guns, I might not care so much. But it's impossible to turn on a television without seeing endless violence, mostly coming out of the barrel of a gun.

Without turning off your television, I don't think you could possibly understand what your society and your attitude to violence look like to people who don't in fact see a lot of people being killed.

I don't have a TV. A typical experience for me when I'm hanging out with normals who have a TV on is that there's a particularly horrid murder on the box and I flinch, leading to:

"Are you OK?" "That women just got shot in the eye! On the TV!" "Oh, OK" (gives puzzled look).

When I saw families on TV right after the Virginia Tech massacre, I hate to say this but one of my first thoughts was (unplanned), "But I thought this was what you people liked! Isn't this what you're always watching on TV?", and in the movies, and in your music and video games and...

So feel free to go on about your Second Amendment rights, but please realize that we are aware that you basically just like to see people get shot.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:38 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank God.

Maybe one good thing has come of this administration.

Now, for those of you in D.C., get a gun permit quick before a new, horrendously restrictive measure is passed locally that makes it damn near impossible to get a permit. They can't ban them anymore, but they will do everything possible to make it hard to own and keep one.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2008


Fascinating in this opinion is the distinction between 'arms' and 'weapons'. I actually think the opinion leaves open the banning of 'weapons', i.e. machine guns, M16's etc. Personally, I think it odd to ban handguns, but see no problem with banning assault weapons, etc.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2008


We have mixed feelings about guns; we also have strong feelings for or against guns; and we seem to be at a crossroads as to drawing line as to what weapons are ok to possess and which might not be, what strictures might or might not be placed on ownership, and on and on...
Me? I dislike guns but have fired all types during military service; have a son who has three guns but now locks them up very carefully since becoming a daddy; know a guy who shot a would-be burglar with a shotgun when he knew the guy was not a serious threat and then claimed he was sure the guy was out to kill him (the perp had a record so the cops didn't care about his death though the black community was outraged): in sum: all sorts of claims and counter claimns can and are made. Why not let all citizens be armed and then do away with the military so we can call up our citizens when needed to fight for our country?
posted by Postroad at 8:41 AM on June 26, 2008


(btw, the "you" shifted to meaning "you, inhabitants of the US", rather than, "you, the poster" in the second half of that post.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:42 AM on June 26, 2008


school shootings, and gun violence in general, must be blamed on videogames and rock music

No, no, no. School shootings are the fault of government for not letting all the other students have guns in class.
posted by inigo2 at 8:43 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Postroad: " Why not let all citizens be armed and then do away with the military so we can call up our citizens when needed to fight for our country?"

Because we'd get our asses kicked around the globe by any group of people who didn't like us and was willing to get together and practice fighting a couple of times a month. In this world, at this time, standing armies are a necessity.
posted by Science! at 8:45 AM on June 26, 2008


Now, if USAians weren't really into killing people, mostly with guns, I might not care so much. But it's impossible to turn on a television without seeing endless violence, mostly coming out of the barrel of a gun.

This is a myth based on television programming from 30 years ago. The A-Team isn't on the air anymore. Please identify for me on this 2007-2008 programming lineup where you see this endless violence. I see endless reality shows and police procedurals whose stories begin after the shots have been fired. TV may be grotesque and it may wallow in death, but gun violence is surprisingly rare.

Also, We know that what happens on TV isn't real. The reason Americans are shocked by things like the VA Tech massacre is because they are conditioned to seeing violence as a pretend make-believe thing that is never real.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


but see no problem with banning assault weapons

What exactly is an 'assault weapon'? It seems that when people use this term, what they really mean is "guns that look scary". But that sounds too embarrassing, so they call them 'assault weapons'.

When you take a look at the Assault Weapons Ban that was passed during Clinton's term, and expired a few years ago, it really is comical. 'Assault Weapons' and normal firearms are pretty much the exact same guns, with the exact same internal mechanisms. But the one that is painted black is termed an 'assault weapon' since it looks scarier.
posted by jsonic at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2008


No, no, no. School shootings are the fault of government for not letting all the other students have guns in class.

Yeah, exactly right! And the best way to ensure the security of international flights against the threat of terrorism is to require all the passengers to carry guns.

See how much guns just inherently make us all more secure as long as everyone's packing heat?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've come round over the years to the view that if something's in the Constitution, it's in the Constitution for better or worse. Whatever the details, a rough and ready right to bear arms as an individual is in the Constitution, in my view, and it can't be got rid of without an amendment.

Now all we need is for people to be more ready to contemplate amending the constitution.
posted by athenian at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008


Slightly off topic, but as a DC resident I'm glad they've confirmed my 2nd Amendment rights while doing nothing about my complete lack of Article 1 rights. In fact, I'm so glad, I'm going to take my new gun right over to my Congressman's offic...

Rats.
posted by zap rowsdower at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oops, programming lineup here.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008


So feel free to go on about your Second Amendment rights, but please realize that we are aware that you basically just like to see people get shot.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:38 PM on June 26


Argumentum ad Hominem

Translation: "Argument against the man", Latin
Alias: The Fallacy of Personal Attack
Type: Genetic Fallacy

Exposition:
A debater commits the Ad Hominem Fallacy when he introduces irrelevant personal premisses about his opponent. Such red herrings may successfully distract the opponent or the audience from the topic of the debate.
posted by plexi at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


damn dirty ape writes "Wow, while Chicago is in the middle of a shooting epidemic this summer the SCOTUS delivers this bombshell. "

Cripes this is a constitutional decision. What possible effect should some localized violence have on this decision?

lupus_yonderboy writes "When I saw families on TV right after the Virginia Tech massacre, I hate to say this but one of my first thoughts was (unplanned), 'But I thought this was what you people liked! Isn't this what you're always watching on TV?', and in the movies, and in your music and video games and..."

So fans of slasher flicks subconsciously want to be stabbed to death? This argument makes no sense, make believe is specifically for things we don't want to do for real.
posted by Mitheral at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


So feel free to go on about your Second Amendment rights, but please realize that we are aware that you basically just like to see people get shot.

How's it feel up there? Good? Can I get you a pillow? That perch looks a little uncomfortable.

You can exercise your free speech, etc, all you like but it doesn't hurt me any. If you exercise your Second Amendment rights on me, I could become dead.

That's disingenuous. I would not be exercising my second amendment rights if I shot you. I would be breaking the law. The right is to bear arms, not shoot people.
posted by milarepa at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


TV may be grotesque and it may wallow in death, but gun violence is surprisingly rare.

Really? Surprisingly rare? The US has the highest rates of gun violence in the world by every count I've seen.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:51 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why not let all citizens be armed and then do away with the military so we can call up our citizens when needed to fight for our country?

I'm not quite sure if that's serious or not, but supposing it is.

Giving someone a gun without training does not make them a soldier, in exactly the same way as giving someone a car without training makes them a driver.

I'd be completely up for a "well-regulated militia" but it's always indicative to me that people who love guns dismiss that phrase in the Bill of Rights as "meaningless".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:51 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Roe . . . rested largely on a previously-unidentified "penumbra of privacy" throughout the Constitution.

Uh, I think you're thinking of Griswold for the "emanations and penumbras." Contraception != Abortion.


No, the first commenter was right. Roe did rest on a penumbra of privacy.

So did Griswold, which was before Roe. But that doesn't mean Roe didn't also.

Saying "contraception isn't abortion" is ridiculous -- it's not like the penumbra methodology could apply only to contraception just because it was first applied to contraception. Legal principles apply to multiple contexts.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2008


Same Gun Dealer Supplied Northern Illinois University and and Virginia Tech Killers
posted by destro at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I saw families on TV right after the Virginia Tech massacre, I hate to say this but one of my first thoughts was (unplanned), "But I thought this was what you people liked! Isn't this what you're always watching on TV?", and in the movies, and in your music and video games and...

So feel free to go on about your Second Amendment rights, but please realize that we are aware that you basically just like to see people get shot.


This is one of the most morally reprehensible things I have seen in a long time. Take a step back and listen to what you're saying. If this is what passes for the moral high ground, I'll take the low road.

In regard to the actual decision, I don't read it to mandate open-carry, and it does specifically note that many states' restrictions and regulations on gun ownership and sales are constitutional under the Second Amendment. This seems to be a reasonable non-extreme interpretation of the Constitution, to me.

I do enjoy that Scalia quotes an amicus curiae brief from a bunch of professors of linguistics.
posted by miss tea at 8:54 AM on June 26, 2008


Owning a handgun "curtail[s] someone else's very basic right to stay alive"? It takes a great deal of hoop-jumping to get to that point.

Yeah, someone else owning a handgun may result in me getting shot and killed. Now, you can say that, for example, cars kill a lot of people, but they're very useful and they're not actually designed to kill people.

So please do feel free to remind me what handguns are designed to do and the numerous other practical uses to which they can be put.
posted by rhymer at 8:54 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd be completely up for a "well-regulated militia" but it's always indicative to me that people who love guns dismiss that phrase in the Bill of Rights as "meaningless".

It's not meaningless. It points out a reason why the right to keep and bear arms exists. It doesn't imply, however, that that's the only thing you're allowed to do with them.
posted by oaf at 8:55 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


So feel free to go on about your Second Amendment rights, but please realize that we are aware that you basically just like to see people get shot.

You can go to hell.

Seriously, how can you say something like that? I don't want to see anyone, anywhere shot. Guns exist and will never ever go away. You ban them, criminals will still get them and be confident in the knowledge you can't resist. Things like the Wichita Horror won't even be newsworthy. Evil governments will be completely confident in their ability to do whatever they feel like to their subjects. Don't make me Godwin this by mentioning the Warsaw Uprising. Personally, I want cops to be afraid of doing no-knock raids on random houses and wrong addresses. I damn sure want criminals to be afraid of entering my house. Will they know I'm armed? No, but I want them to consider the possibility and decide it might not be worth the risk.
posted by codswallop at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


"I never understood how liberals or progressive types could be for a handgun ban."

Liberal progressive here. Most of the liberals and progressives I know are opposed to handgun bans, as am I.
posted by Ragma at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2008


The truth is, banning guns is the same as banning gay marriage or banning abortion --> it is putting moral restrictions on individuals.

While we celebrate the right to shoot others in cold blood, a decidedly American institution, I heartily look forward to our new-found heroes in the Supreme Court defending the Constitution with respect to many other critical issues:

• Supporting the impeachement of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney for their illegal war, started under false pretexts, and — given knowledge we now have that Bush and Cheney intended to attack Iraq during their first administration before election — the impeachment of Supreme Court justices who voted for Bush in the Bush v. Gore case of 2000 for conspiracy to conduct an illegal war

• Reaffirming a woman's right to reproductive health care by defending Roe v. Wade and not allowing "partial-birth", "feticide" and other anti-choice legislation to chip away at this fundamental Constitutional right of privacy

• Strengthening the 14th Amendment, specifically the Equal Protection clause, by assuring GLBT citizens of the United States that they are equal under law and can expect the same rights and protections afforded to heterosexuals, including marriage and estate

Let's see Scalia and the rest of the gang who voted for this to put their money where their majority mouths are.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2008 [11 favorites]


Legal opinion question: does the fact that DC is a federal district have anything to do with how this ruling may or may not apply to states? Or is that going to end up being decided by further litigation?
posted by aramaic at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2008


I've come round over the years to the view that if something's in the Constitution, it's in the Constitution for better or worse.

Ironically, it's really irrelevant whether you've come around to this. The whole point of things being in the Constitution is that they're not susceptible to whatever most citizens happen to believe at any given time.

It's a little like people who are on the fence about whether evolution or global warming is real, as if their opinion could change the facts.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seriously, how can you say something like that?

If you look at his posting history, you'll realize it's largely trolling.
posted by oaf at 9:01 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


rhymer: "Owning a handgun "curtail[s] someone else's very basic right to stay alive"? It takes a great deal of hoop-jumping to get to that point.

Yeah, someone else owning a handgun may result in me getting shot and killed. Now, you can say that, for example, cars kill a lot of people, but they're very useful and they're not actually designed to kill people.

So please do feel free to remind me what handguns are designed to do and the numerous other practical uses to which they can be put.
"

You can use them to very gently hammer very soft nails.
posted by Science! at 9:01 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


So please do feel free to remind me what handguns are designed to do and the numerous other practical uses to which they can be put.

You can open a beer can at fifty paces. Very handy. Those pull tabs are murder.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, while Chicago is in the middle of a shooting epidemic this summer the SCOTUS delivers this bombshell.

So how is Chicago's gun ban working out?
posted by ryoshu at 9:02 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Personally, I want cops to be afraid of doing no-knock raids on random houses and wrong addresses.

Err, okay. I'm sure they have fears everytime they do any raid. Of course, more people with more guns means more police thus more situations like these. You've just increased the number of watchers and they're going to assume youre armed. Your raid scenario now ends with a shooting because the cops are more scared than usual about you being armed. Oh well, enjoy.

I kinda like this decision because it further cements the Bush trainwreck legacy and continues to expose the moral bankrupcy of the American conservative movement.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:03 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


The gun-happy crowd don't necessarily enjoy seeing people shot; they more enjoy the fantasy of it--particularly on the discovery the Viagra can only do so much, and those penis-enlargement pills don't work as advertised.
posted by troybob at 9:04 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I kinda like this decision because it further cements the Bush trainwreck legacy and continues to expose the moral bankrupcy of the American conservative movement.

I really don't think when people catalogue the main failures of the Bush administration, they're going to say: "How horrible, he appointed judges who believe the 2nd Amendment says people have a right to bear arms!"
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:05 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


So please do feel free to remind me what handguns are designed to do and the numerous other practical uses to which they can be put.

Handguns are designed to kill people. If someone is trying to kill you, it is absolutely your right to defend yourself and kill them. Handguns are one way in which to defend yourself.

Someone owning a handgun does NOT impact or curtail your right to live. Unless you are trying to kill them, then the gun owner has EVERY RIGHT to curtail your right to live.
posted by jsonic at 9:05 AM on June 26, 2008


How's it feel up there? Good? Can I get you a pillow? That perch looks a little uncomfortable.

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

That's disingenuous.

No, it isn't. You can claim it might be poor reasoning, it might be factually incorrect, or inconsistent, but I sincerely meant what I said (and how would you know anyway?)

I would not be exercising my second amendment rights if I shot you. I would be breaking the law.

In many cases you would not.

In many states, if you can prove that you felt threatened, you get to kill me if e.g. I'm trespassing, whether or not I was an actual threat, whether or not you took any steps to verify if I were an actual threat.

The right is to bear arms, not shoot people.

The right to bear arms gives you the ability to shoot people. The Second Amendment puts the gun in the neighbor's pocket: if he then shoots me, the Second Amendment gave him the ability to do that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:06 AM on June 26, 2008


So how is Chicago's gun ban working out?

How are the various a nuclear anti-proliferation treaties going? Just because Israel, Pakistan, and Iran have the bomb doesn't mean that we'd all be better off if every nation had the bomb.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:06 AM on June 26, 2008


It would be really nice if more people indoctrinated on both side of this issue would slow down and read the opinion. Big bad mean ol' Scalia (I actually find the man to be rather vile. It's just a shame he's so fucking bright.) is reaffirming your right to be armed in the face of tyranny. As quaint as it may seem to some as we sit back and watch what is in many ways a perfect storm of events in the US leading us into some very new territory, is the affirmation of that right really a bad thing? Really?
posted by paxton at 9:07 AM on June 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


You ban them, criminals will still get them and be confident in the knowledge you can't resist.

Look, I'm all for defending gun rights and I still find all of these kinds of pro-gun arguments childishly simpleminded and disingenuous. As I pointed out here, America, which has historically protected gun ownership more than most countries, has far higher rates of gun violence than other industrialized countries in the world.

The hard facts in reality simply don't conform to this wild-west ideological fantasy that ready-access to guns is the only thing standing between us and innocent citizens becoming lambs to the slaughter. If you or anyone else making these arguments could cite a single, you know, credible fact to support the argument, I might buy it. But the reasonable sounding-ness of an argument isn't proof of it. It's got to stand up to scrutiny, and those arguments just don't.

So why lie? Why not just make the argument on an honest basis. We've always enjoyed the right to own guns, and to consider giving up any rights we've enjoyed in the past is a bad idea in principle. The other arguments are all just so much unnecessary self-rationalizing dribble, although growing up in a very gun-friendly family myself, I know it's all a part of the cherished cultural mythology that swirls around gun ownership.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on June 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


I kinda like this decision because it further cements the Bush trainwreck legacy and continues to expose the moral bankrupcy of the American conservative movement.

The problem is we'll likely be stuck with the selective, narrow interpretations of Bush's conservative court for the next 15-25 years. That legacy is the giftiges Gift that will keep poisoning our country long after Bush is forced to leave office.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:09 AM on June 26, 2008


The right to bear arms gives you the ability to shoot people. The Second Amendment puts the gun in the neighbor's pocket: if he then shoots me, the Second Amendment gave him the ability to do that.

Would you say that having the legal right to own a big, sharp kitchen knife also gives you the right to stab someone with it?

I'm not a big fan of guns. I have no desire to ever use one, and I despise hunting. But a lot of people in this thread are not even trying to think about the legal issues and principles at stake here.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:09 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


America is so delightfully and dangerously mad that is almost poetry when lawyers circumscribe the allowable insanity.

The country with the most massive and high tech military that has rained for profit death on the world practically non-stop since WWII quibbles over hand guns. Concealed or Unconcealed, locked or unlocked. Semi, fully, non automatic. However shall America defend itself?

Sower, meet reaper.
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 AM on June 26, 2008


is reaffirming your right to be armed in the face of tyranny.

Fat suburbanite with a 9mm is not stopping a mechanized division. Ever. 1 million fat guys wont either. The idea that some basic firearms will over-throw a tyranic government is a historical fantasy. Either you have foreign aid smuggling on-par military weapons or you end up like Saddam's Iraq - powerless to stop those in power even with everyone owning an assault rifle.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:10 AM on June 26, 2008


You can go to hell.

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

I don't want to see anyone, anywhere shot.

Perhaps you personally don't, but USAians as a whole most certainly do. As I said, watch the TV, listen to the music, moves.... If USAians don't want to see other people get shot, who's watching all these top-rated, ultra-violent shows and movies?

I did clarify after my post that "you" referred to "residents of the United States as a general group" not any specific individual here.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:11 AM on June 26, 2008


Blazecock Pileon : While we celebrate the right to shoot others in cold blood,

We aren't doing any such thing. As has been stated repeatedly, exercising your right to bear arms by owning a handgun is not the same thing as cold blooded murder. No matter how many times people try to conflate the two.

a decidedly American institution,

It's not. The rest of the world has been doing it very efficiently for years as well.

Beyond that, I completely agree with your other hopes for SC decisions.
posted by quin at 9:11 AM on June 26, 2008


The right to bear arms gives you the ability to shoot people.

Disingenuous. The right to bear arms is not what gives you the ability to shoot people.
posted by oaf at 9:12 AM on June 26, 2008


I can't wait to read the opinion to find out what five lawyers say my constitutional rights are! Yay, lunchbreak!

What alternative do you propose? Someone has to make the final call on constitutional questions. If you just don't like these five particular judges, then I get your point, but if you think someone or some entity other than the Supreme Court should decide constitutional questions, then you have some explaining to do.
posted by brain_drain at 9:14 AM on June 26, 2008


So please do feel free to remind me what handguns are designed to do and the numerous other practical uses to which they can be put.

As to what handguns are designed to do, that's pretty self evident. They are designed to turn an otherwise harmless bullet into a projectile.

Self defense would be the #1 reason why most in D.C. would want to own one. It doesn't get more practical than being able to protect yourself and your family from those who would do you harm. So they've got that going for them, which is nice.

Hunting is another. I've hunted with handguns, and many others do too. Sure, you can also to it with a shotgun or rifle, but it's nice to have options.

Target practice is a third reason to have a handgun. It's really, really fun to shoot handguns at stuff. Done properly, it's harmless fun and inexpensive to boot. I don't own a handgun right now, but when my boys are old enough- maybe 10 or so, I'll be buying one and taking them shooting at my local range. I hope fathers in D.C. will now be able to do the same.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 9:14 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to read the opinion to find out what five lawyers say my constitutional rights are. /Ironic

Sorry, forgot to close my tag.
posted by resurrexit at 9:15 AM on June 26, 2008


Perhaps you personally don't, but USAians as a whole most certainly do.

Proof that living in America doesn't make you an expert on Americans.
posted by oaf at 9:15 AM on June 26, 2008


Jaltcoh: "Ironically, it's really irrelevant whether you've come around to this. The whole point of things being in the Constitution is that they're not susceptible to whatever most citizens happen to believe at any given time. "

Gotcha! I'm not even a citizen! I'm a perfidious European! (runs off cackling)

Ahem. Anyway...

While your point is largely true, things in the constitution are susceptible to redefinition, and have been redefined over the years. Admittedly the decision of nine people in bat costumes is more relevant than what citizens think, but even so.

What I should more accurately have said was that, though a fighter on the principles when younger, I have come round to the idea that the battle around the big constitutional issues is properly fought in the legislature through proposals for constitutional amendments, not through the courts. It was the abortion debate that really made the penny drop for me: watching the difference between the British and American debates on abortion limits showed the benefits of having elected people take such morally charged decisions.
posted by athenian at 9:16 AM on June 26, 2008


And if you think banning guns would significantly reduce the availability of guns for criminals, then just look at the drug war. It's been laying waste to america for decades, yet drugs are still readily available. The same would be true for guns.

If we banned the possession of handguns, wouldn't that drastically reduce the manufacture of new handguns (and replacement parts and ammunition)? And I imagine such legislation would include some method for current law-abiding owners to turn over handguns for amnesty and/or money and also increased rights for law enforcement officers to seize handguns. Wouldn't these measures result in a decrease in the supply of handguns and thus increase the price of, and thus decrease demand for, black market weapons? Smuggled guns and sub rosa manufacturing could be problems, of course, but I have a hard time believing the overall effect wouldn't still be a net decrease.

The drug trade is a difficult comparison, I think, because the efficient manufacture of handguns requires substantially more capital investment.
posted by mullacc at 9:17 AM on June 26, 2008


does the fact that DC is a federal district have anything to do with how this ruling may or may not apply to states?

That distinction is only used when it's convenient.
posted by inigo2 at 9:18 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


but if you think someone or some entity other than the Supreme Court should decide constitutional questions, then you have some explaining to do.

I think we just flip a coin to determine outcomes and then let the Postmodern Generator write the opinions.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:20 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I still think the quickest route to strong gun control is for gays to infiltrate and take over the NRA.
posted by troybob at 9:21 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I still think the quickest route to strong gun control is for gays to infiltrate and take over the NRA.

The Pink Pistols filed a brief opposing the DC rules.
posted by aramaic at 9:22 AM on June 26, 2008


If we banned the possession of handguns, wouldn't that drastically reduce the manufacture of new handguns (and replacement parts and ammunition)?

If we banned the possession of drugs, wouldn't that drastically reduce the manufacture of new drugs (and paraphernalia and ravers)?
posted by ryoshu at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gotcha! I'm not even a citizen! I'm a perfidious European!

No, you didn't gotchme -- my point is even more correct if you're not even an American citizen!

But the fact that you're European does cast an interesting light on it. Britain doesn't have a real constitution. France keeps having one constitution after another, and they're not as fundamentally important as their civil code. Etc.

There's no reason to expect citizens of European countries like those to be as reverential toward our Constitution as is appropriate given its place in our legal system. But just as I don't expect the French or British to bow to my view of their system, neither should Europeans expect their opinions to hold much sway for Americans when it comes to their laws.

Of course, one manifestation of this is that Americans are dramatically more concerned about protecting the right to say what you believe. Your country has no equivalent of our First Amendment. You might like it this way. But I'm pretty happy with the way we do it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:24 AM on June 26, 2008


I mean more from the other side...arm all the gays, and all of a sudden the evangelicals would find an anti-gun bible verse...
posted by troybob at 9:25 AM on June 26, 2008


It's not. The rest of the world has been doing it very efficiently for years as well.

I'm sorry, but that argument doesn't fly. What other industrialized country can claim violent crime rates (associated with gun usage) that the United States has?

Or is the ironic argument that Third World countries run by dictators or suffering from civil wars are violent too, and that the United States should now expect nothing better than to emulate the violence of a gun-laden Third World hellhole?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:25 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gun's don't kill people. Americans do.
posted by rhymer at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2008


I never understood how liberals or progressive types could be for a handgun ban.

Because we live here, not in Wisconsin, where gun violence is directed at deer.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Would you say that having the legal right to own a big, sharp kitchen knife also gives you the right to stab someone with it?

I'd say it gave you the ability to kill someone. I just got a lovely big sharp knife for my kitchen myself, but I got it to chop vegetables.

There are a couple of knives in my house that have tasted human blood in anger (mine, in one case). If there were a gun in my house, I'd likely have been killed five years ago.

But these arguments baffle me. You really can't see the difference between a kitchen knife and a firearm?

My neighbor is a nutcase (though he loves me) and certainly has been violent in the past. If I found out he'd got a gun I'd be seriously worried. If I found out he'd bought a kitchen knife I'd not.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:27 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"The Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

— From Justice Scalia’s Decision

Because we live here, not in Wisconsin, where gun violence is directed at deer.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:26 PM on June 26


You think my attitude toward personal liberty was carved from the quiet woods of Wisconsin? I live in San Francisco. Oakland is just a carjack away.
posted by plexi at 9:28 AM on June 26, 2008



No, it isn't. You can claim it might be poor reasoning, it might be factually incorrect, or inconsistent, but I sincerely meant what I said (and how would you know anyway?)


I said it because I assumed you were being purposely daft. Turns out you're just naturally that way.
posted by milarepa at 9:28 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


You really can't see the difference between a kitchen knife and a firearm?

You must not have seen what I said about guns in the comment you're responding to.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:29 AM on June 26, 2008


I hate this shit. I don't give a rats ass if you have guns, just keep them away from me and my family who are committed to a way of life that doesn't have guns in the equation. The majority of Americans don't have guns of any kind. Guns=Unecessary for us.
posted by Xurando at 9:32 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Banning guns simply disarms law-abiding folks. It doesn't keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
posted by jsonic at 11:37 AM on June 26


I come from a country with a fair amount of gun control (Canada). Lots of people have hunting rifles; very few have handguns. Canada has just as much violent crime as the US (measured on a per capita basis), but because that violent crime is more often committed with knives instead of guns, fewer people die, and also, we have many fewer accidental gun deaths. That's all good for Canada, but I don't see how the genie could ever be put back in the bottle in the US. There are too many guns around. So this decision seems reasonable to me even though it would be insane in a country that already has strict gun control laws.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:32 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


and that the United States should now expect nothing better than to emulate the violence of a gun-laden Third World hellhole?

If that's what it takes to amend the constitution then that's what it takes.

My neighbor is a nutcase (though he loves me) and certainly has been violent in the past.

This is what scares me primarily. Easy access to guns by the mentality ill, religious zealots, etc is the real tragedy here. There's no mental illness test on the FOIA application. Crazies live among us everywhere. Nutters have been shooting people for a long time. This decision might make it worse.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:32 AM on June 26, 2008


It's a little like people who are on the fence about whether evolution or global warming is real, as if their opinion could change the facts.

If the Constitution was the equivalent of a body of "the facts", there wouldn't need to be a Supreme Court of nine Justices to interpret the document. No need to drag evolution and global warming deniers into this, most of whom, it should be said, are associated with supporting the right to shoot people in the first place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2008


Please, learn the meaning of the word "disingenuous", OK?

You can't be meaning the dictionary definition of "saying something different from what you believe" as I'm saying exactly what I believe, and anyway, you have no way to know what I really believe.

I wrote:
Perhaps you personally don't [like to see people shot], but USAians as a whole most certainly do.

Oaf wrote:
Proof that living in America doesn't make you an expert on Americans.

So explain it to me! If USAians don't like to see people shot then who's watching all these movies and TV shows with all these people getting shot?

posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2008


I agree that Constitutionally, we should not restrict access to firearms. But I also agree that too many handguns out there is not beneficial to our society. Therefore, we need to reduce demand for handguns. Stuff penalties for crimes committed with a firearm are all well and good, but I think we may have more success if we go with the carrot instead of the stick.

Therefore, I propose that all crimes committed in a suitably complex and confusing manner without the use of a firearm be made perfectly legal. Hate your husband? Well, you can't just shoot him. But if you come up with a fiendish plan to kill him by mixing chemicals in his shampoo, deodorant, breakfast cereal, and post-work scotch that added together will poison him while you are miles away, then you just may get off scott-free!

If caught, you must submit the details of your Perfect Murder Plot to a review panel. They will then score your plot based on the COLUMBO Scale:

C - Complexity. How complex is the murder plot? Does it involve rare chemicals or perfect timing?
O - Originality. Just copying a plan from CSI: Miami will not do. Your murder must be fresh and original.
L - Luck. How much of a factor did luck play in you getting caught? The luckier the arresting officer had to be to uncover your plan, the better for you.
U - Under Your Influence. How many people were needed to finish the plot? The more the better, mastermind.
M - Motive. Are you the last person anyone would suspect? We sure hope so.
B - Bullet Proof Alibi. The stronger your alibi, the higher your rating.
O - Optioning. Can you story be turned into an episode of a police drama, movie-of-the-week, or best of all, a feature film?

If the killer averages at least a 75 points over all the scores (drop the lowest), they get off.

For example, if a man is enraged with jealousy and kills his brother with whatever's convenient, he'd be scored poorly. (C: Simple 10pts; O: Oldest story in the Book 10pts; L: Investigator is omniscient 10pts; U: Just one guy 10pts ; Motive: Boring 10pts; B: he was right there! 10pts; O: Mel Gibson may be interested 40pts = 15 pt average). If the same man tried something involving a newly invented anthrax strain and a host of disguises, then he may have a shot.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2008 [19 favorites]


Nutters have been shooting people for a long time. This decision might make it worse.

What in this decision changes the ability of felons, the mentally ill, etc., to get gun permits?
posted by oaf at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2008


Jaltcoh: Perhaps I am insufficiently reverential about the US Constitution, and as you correctly point out, Britain has no codified constitution, though I would argue (somewhere off this thread) that it does have a constitution.

But we do have First-Amendment-style rights, in Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, not to mention Articles 5 and 9 of the 1688 Bill of Rights.
posted by athenian at 9:35 AM on June 26, 2008


(oops, sorry for the trailing italics. the last sentence was mine.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:35 AM on June 26, 2008


I'm with ROU; the interpretation of Heller requires deep tautology. Guns which are legal can't be banned, but illegal guns can be. The dumbest part is that the Court goes to great lengths to establish that militia service was one of those lawful purposes for owning weapons; Heller banned short barreled shotguns because they weren't used by the military. This would logically imply that military type small arms belong in the protected list.

They also bizarrely chose to ignore the fact that people could and probably would use currently banned weapons for the same purpose (defense of home) if they were allowed to. For example, I used to have a shotgun for that exact purpose. I'd probably have kept a short barreled shotgun if it were legal. I know rednecks who would keep AK47s for "self defense" and "militia" purposes, and they wouldn't be lying. Their heads are filled with strange fantasies about terrorists or home invasions showing up at their rural doorsteps. Hell, I know people who do, right now for these same reasons, keep semi-auto modified AK47s and would love to have them converted back to full-auto.

There's also a problem of identity from the colonial era. The people were expected to show up at the militia with weapons which were militarily useful. The firearms that people kept for their other purposes happened to be militarily useful, in fact the rifled arms of the colonials were in some cases superior to the muskets used by the British regulars. The sets {firearms kept for civilian purposes} and {firearms useful for military service} were identical (or near identical) to just {firearms}, and so discussion and law regarding one regarded the other. That's not true anymore, and so we (and the Court) find ourselves having to draw distinctions totally external to the document and the context in which it was written.

Similarly, if "unconventional" weapons can be banned, then a law drafted in 1800 forbidding the keeping of multi-shot weapons would have been legal right through to today. Can the law ban all new weapons because they are by definition unconventional? Back date it to 1791 and you've banned 95% of weapons today. If Alabama chooses to make RPGs legal, does that make them conventional and protected nationwide?

The argument by appellants that the availability of long weapons for home defense means that you don't need pistols gets unfairly dismissed. Sure people currently do use handguns mostly, but handguns being a preferable weapon isn't enough justification; people might prefer Uzis if they had the chance. The court chooses not to acknowledge the idea that long guns carry most of the use of the handgun but without the huge social cost of handguns. Handguns are overwhelming used by criminals because they are easy to conceal and carry. DC thinks that handguns are a special class of dangerous weapon of use mostly to criminals; the Court even cites all the way back to English common law where such weapons were forbidden in its arguments that the right is an individual rather than collective one.

At least they upheld the licensing scheme, mostly because it wasn't challenged. DC just needs to make the license really really hard to get in a uniform way.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I never understood how liberals or progressive types could be for a handgun ban.

Many of us aren't. I live in DC and - Holy Strange Bedfellows, Batman! - I support this decision. I believe in gun ownership by citizens for the following:

The military is armed.
The cops are armed.
The right wing is armed.
The thin veneer of civilization in the event of riot, "offical" junta, a 9/11 type event, or the "Rapture". (We left behind heathens are liable to go beserker.)
The criminals are armed.

Speaking of which, in the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Xmas last there were 8 muggings at gunpoint in my "very desirable" neighborhood, most about three blocks from my building. We sometimes hear firearms discharged on weekend evenings. Yep, that gun ban is really working. Higher crime stats in the District than in MD or VA where gun regs are loose to looser.

This will not be a stampede however. The ruling says handguns can't be banned, guns can be kept in the home loaded. DC still has restrictive registration laws, the chief of policia has to approve/disapprove the application within sixty days, unless the investigation is hampered (whatever that means), then she must respond within 365 days. I will be applying for a rifle and handgun permit as soon as the procedure has been announced. How manly I'll be when I get my Winchester 94!

If I want to get a handgun today I'd have to do it the old fashioned way: buy it from one of the thousands who have them illegally.
posted by aiq at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2008


You'll shoot yourself in the eye kid!
posted by destro at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2008



I hate this shit. I don't give a rats ass if you have guns, just keep them away from me and my family who are committed to a way of life that doesn't have guns in the equation.


This also bothers me greatly. Does this decision mean now I have to go buy a gun, learn to shoot it properly, and carry it everywhere because Scalia thinks we live in the wild west. If you want a MAD scenario with everyone armed all the time to stop 'bad guys' then just making carrying fucking mandatory and be done with it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:37 AM on June 26, 2008


What other industrialized country can claim violent crime rates (associated with gun usage) that the United States has?

Several. (Don't get me wrong, the US is high on the list, but it's certainly not alone.)

Because we live here, not in Wisconsin, where gun violence is directed at deer.

To be fair though, the deer in Wisconsin are the enemy of all that is good.
posted by quin at 9:38 AM on June 26, 2008


Please, learn the meaning of the word "disingenuous", OK?

"Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating," according to American Heritage; that just affirms my use of it above, and it's a pretty good descriptor of most of the comments you've made in this thread.

If USAians don't like to see people shot then who's watching all these movies and TV shows with all these people getting shot?

America makes, the world takes.

Firefox wants to replace "USAians" with "Asians" or "Ephesians." You might want to see if that word's even in a dictionary.
posted by oaf at 9:40 AM on June 26, 2008


Yep, that gun ban is really working. Higher crime stats in the District than in MD or VA where gun regs are loose to looser.

To be fair, most of the guns in DC are coming in because the rules in MD and VA were loose. Rhetorical question -- is the best solution to that getting rid of DC's rule, or strengthening the rules in MD and VA?
posted by inigo2 at 9:41 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Several. (Don't get me wrong, the US is high on the list, but it's certainly not alone.)

Industrialized, not developing countries. Or, again, is the argument that the US should strive for gun violence rates of Third World and developing countries?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:42 AM on June 26, 2008


But we do have First-Amendment-style rights, in Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, not to mention Articles 5 and 9 of the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Your country doesn't protect free speech the way ours does. Our country has more expansive protections of free speech. This is widely recognized.

And while you might have a constitution, it's an awfully strange one, isn't it? I mean, where is it? Can you show it to me? Ours is right here, very short and simple. It doesn't change very often, and it puts heavy constraints on what the government can do to people.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:43 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jaltcoh wrote: You must not have seen what I said about guns in the comment you're responding to.

Sure, here it is again:
The right to bear arms gives you the ability to shoot people. The Second Amendment puts the gun in the neighbor's pocket: if he then shoots me, the Second Amendment gave him the ability to do that.
Would you say that having the legal right to own a big, sharp kitchen knife also gives you the right to stab someone with it?

I'm not a big fan of guns. I have no desire to ever use one, and I despise hunting. But a lot of people in this thread are not even trying to think about the legal issues and principles at stake here.


Seems like my response is bang on:

1. I'm talking about "ability", you're talking about "right".
2. An example involving "kitchen knives" is not applicable to "guns".

If there's a specific legal issue I or someone else has missed, please let us know.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:44 AM on June 26, 2008


Jaltcoh: I'm glad you like your constitution and think it's better than mine. This is not really on-topic though, so I think we'll just need to disagree.
posted by athenian at 9:46 AM on June 26, 2008


The majority of Americans don't have guns of any kind. Guns=Unecessary for us.
posted by Xurando at 5:32 PM on June 26


The percentage of Americans reporting they have a gun in their homes has hovered around the 40% mark since 2000.
posted by plexi at 9:47 AM on June 26, 2008


The fact remains that the presence or absence of an enumerated right to keep and bear arms has no bearing on an individual's ability to keep and bear arms.
posted by oaf at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


In a perfect world...yada, yada.

I grew up with them, can shoot pretty well, do the uber safety bit, but I was a gun control guy once upon a time. I just don't think the country will ever go along with gun bans. One of those 50 - 50 deals like abortion access.

I would also offer that clinging to gun control has cost the left politically. Ann Richards lost the Tejas governorship to Dubya because she was "out-gunned". She meant he got her on gun control.
posted by aiq at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your country doesn't protect free speech the way ours does. Our country has more expansive protections of free speech. This is widely recognized.

Did you even read what you linked to? That article is about a case in Canada, and has nothing to do with speech laws in the UK.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on June 26, 2008


And someone favorited that. Amazing!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on June 26, 2008


Rhetorical question -- is the best solution to that getting rid of DC's rule, or strengthening the rules in MD and VA?

Sorry, my last post was in response to this.
posted by aiq at 9:50 AM on June 26, 2008


An example involving "kitchen knives" is not applicable to "guns".

No, it's an applicable analogy. If you really believe your legal principles, you should be willing to apply them to any kind of weapon.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:52 AM on June 26, 2008


Jaltcoh: I'm glad you like your constitution and think it's better than mine. This is not really on-topic though...

The fact that our constitution is clear, concise, and unchanging isn't relevant to how to interpret the 2nd Amendment? I think it's pretty relevant.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:53 AM on June 26, 2008


"Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating," according to American Heritage; that just affirms my use of it above, and it's a pretty good descriptor of most of the comments you've made in this thread.

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

But I'll bite. In what way am I not being sincere? In what way am I not being candid, straightforward, etc? Do you think I actually like guns, and I'm teasing

If USAians don't like to see people shot then who's watching all these movies and TV shows with all these people getting shot?

America makes, the world takes.


I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean. I'm sitting in the US. Had I a TV and I turned it on one evening, I'd see countless people getting killed in different ways. Yes, you see this in other countries but a heck of a lot less - and a lot of that is exported US violence as you seem to be saying.

Firefox wants to replace "USAians" with "Asians" or "Ephesians." You might want to see if that word's even in a dictionary.

Please suggest a better word for "the inhabitants of the United States of America". There are a lot of other people in "American" other than "the inhabitants of the United States", you know.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:54 AM on June 26, 2008


To be fair, most of the guns in DC are coming in because the rules in MD and VA were loose

Highly suspect. You CANNOT buy a gun in a MD or VA gun store unless you are a resident of those states OR you are having the gun shipped from the gun store to a federally registered firearms dealer in your state. On top of that MD, at least, has a 7 day background investigation and a limit of 1 gun per 30 days for handguns. The 1 gun per 30 days is an attempt to keep people from buying a bunch of guns legally, and then selling them illegally.

The only loophole around this are the periodic gun shows that allow private-to-private gun sales. I'm not sure if those transactions are restricted to state residents only or not.

So it might be possible for a DC resident to purchase a gun in MD of VA, but it is CERTAINLY not as simple as crossing the border, finding a gun shop, and going home armed.
posted by jsonic at 9:56 AM on June 26, 2008


The fact that our constitution is clear

If it was clear, there would be no purpose for a Supreme Court.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:57 AM on June 26, 2008


If you really believe your legal principles, you should be willing to apply them to any kind of weapon.

Which is why you can buy guns and nuclear weapons in the United States. Or, no, you can't.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on June 26, 2008


Wait. You don't own a TV?! Oh my god. You should totally mention that whenever possible.
posted by milarepa at 9:58 AM on June 26, 2008 [13 favorites]


This is what scares me primarily. Easy access to guns by the mentality ill, religious zealots, etc is the real tragedy here. There's no mental illness test on the FOIA application. Crazies live among us everywhere. Nutters have been shooting people for a long time. This decision might make it worse.

This opinion explicitly states that controls on who can purchase a firearm are constitutional. If you'd like to change the rules of your state call your congressperson.

It's actually likely that this opinion might make it somewhat easier for states to implement rational controls on gun purchases-- given that Scalia himself has endorsed such measures, it will be difficult for the loony right to accuse the loony left of trying to ban all guns if they try to introduce such limits.
posted by miss tea at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2008


Guns are a very, very useful tool if you're looking to kill something. Realistically, of course, "something" means "someone". The vast majority of Americans are unlikely to ever have to fight a bear to the death.

Right now, I don't have any need to kill someone, but I'm not confident that this will never, ever be the case. I own a gun. I own a lot of things that I hope that I'll never have a reason to use. A first aid kit. An emergency supply of drinking water.

The last time I called 911, it took the police four hours to show up. The last time the police were called to report that I had been the victim of assault, they never showed up at all. There are things that the police are good at doing, and there are things that the police do poorly. Protecting individuals from immediate threats is one of the things that police tend to do poorly, and that under normal conditions. In an event of a large-scale catastrophe, I would expect their response to be even less adaquete.

I own a gun. It doesn't mean that I enjoy watching people get shot. It doesn't mean that I have some sort of sexual fantasy about shooting people. It doesn't mean that I'm not as horrified by violence as anyone else. It's a reasonable response to living in a world where bad shit can happen to good people.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2008 [18 favorites]


An example involving "kitchen knives" is not applicable to "guns".

No, it's an applicable analogy. If you really believe your legal principles, you should be willing to apply them to any kind of weapon.


First, as I said, a kitchen knife is not primarily a weapon. It may be used as a weapon, but so may hammers, saws, pillows, bleach, and that sort of thing. Do you really want to extend your argument to any physical object that might be used as a weapon? I think not.

And your statement is not tenable even if we restrict ourselves to weapons proper. Do you really believe the same legal principles apply to atom bombs, germ warfare, flamethrowers, machine guns, sub machine guns, semi-automatic weapons, hand guns, swords, hand knives, BB guns and Mace?

The law, and most adults, recognize that real-world issues are continua and have not just shades of grey but all colours. We all draw the line somewhere: if your neighbor was making nerve gas in his basement you'd call the cops in a second.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:03 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I look at guns like I look at cars, a powerful mechanical object. If you are trained and a good operator then owning and using one is not a huge issue. You do not have a constitutional right to own a car however, even though it probably has more of a practical impact on the majority of people's lives than owning a gun ever will.

Therefore I have no real issue with gun ownership if it is regulated sufficiently, such as cars, but I feel that inclusion of said ownership as a constitutional right (especially in the current culture) is a tad on the absurd side.

Is there any other country which expressly sanctions firearm ownership in their founding document? Seems a bit.... odd.
posted by edgeways at 10:04 AM on June 26, 2008


In what way am I not being candid, straightforward, etc?

You are conflating the right to own a gun with the ability to kill people. One does not depend on the other.

Had I a TV and I turned it on one evening, I'd see countless people getting killed in different ways.

Only if you wanted to. (That's Pastabagel's link again.)

a lot of that is exported US violence

It wouldn't be exported if it didn't sell.

There are a lot of other people in "American" other than "the inhabitants of the United States", you know.

The English word for "an inhabitant of the United States of America" is "American." You can't change that any more than I can decide that "beagle" is a term that applies to all members of Canis lupus familiaris.
posted by oaf at 10:05 AM on June 26, 2008


Wait. You don't own a TV?! Oh my god. You should totally mention that whenever possible.

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

The reason it comes up a lot in this thread is because I'm trying to explain why I find the massive amounts of violence in the media so very obvious. Sorry for being repetitive.

I find I have to explain that I don't have a TV frequently in my life: people start talking about some TV show or star I've never heard of, typically.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:07 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait. You don't own a TV?! Oh my god. You should totally mention that whenever possible.

I own a TV, but it's really tiny, I got it for free, and we can't actually watch anything because you can't get any over-the-air stations here. The last time it was on was January 5.

How many points do I get for that?
posted by oaf at 10:09 AM on June 26, 2008


It's actually likely that this opinion might make it somewhat easier for states to implement rational controls on gun purchases

States have already implemented many restrictions on gun purchases. Just look at the application to buy a gun in most states. If you were convicted of a felony, been commited in the past, are an "habitual drunkard" (I always chuckle at that one), etc... then you are not allowed to purchase a firearm (specifics vary by state). After that, the gun store takes your info and immediately calls an FBI hotline for an immediate background check. On top of that, many states have an additional 7 day background investigation, also known as waiting periods. On top of that, many states restrict how many firearms you can buy each month. This sounds kind of silly at first, but its effective in keeping you from bulk-buying guns and illegally selling them.
posted by jsonic at 10:09 AM on June 26, 2008


Industrialized, not developing countries.

Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand are all considered Newly Industrialized countries and all have a higher per capita gun violence homicide rate than the United States.

This comparison doesn't make the US gun crime rates any better, mind you. But it's certainly not only "a decidedly American institution".

I don't think a gun ban will ever work in the US anyway. There are just too many firearms here, and I don't think most people realize how long guns last. Even if they pulled the plug tomorrow, there are plenty of firearms that would be in perfect working condition a hundred years from now. I think the way we are going to improve our numbers is going to have to be through changing the way people react; to move beyond our first instinct being to reach for the gun.

It might also help for people on both sides of this issue to stop vilifying each other and arguing through hyperbole. Legally owned guns do not equal murder any more than legally owned sports cars equal felony speeding. And people trying to reduce the number of gun related crimes are not automatically trying to trammel over the constitution.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on June 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


yes, jsonic, I know. I was specifically referring to the states that do not currently have those types of restrictions.
posted by miss tea at 10:13 AM on June 26, 2008


I'd like to live in a world without guns and I think there are many people who feel the same way. Are we doomed to live forever feeling like we have to defend ourselves? Will we always be worried about not being able to get rid of tyrants? (not that we seem interested in doing anything about our current leaders...)

If we're not going to always be afraid and defensive, how do we move past this point?
posted by sineater at 10:13 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


If folk dancing is outlawed only criminals will be folk dancing. What's up with all the gun violence in Estonia? And they don't even have second amendment rights in Estonia.
posted by Xurando at 10:15 AM on June 26, 2008


I own a TV, but it's really tiny, I got it for free, and we can't actually watch anything because you can't get any over-the-air stations here. The last time it was on was January 5.

How many points do I get for that?


I award you 3. You lost out on 7 points though because I felt you questioned how cool you were. The affected, I-don't-own-no-tv swagger is what earns you the most points.
posted by milarepa at 10:15 AM on June 26, 2008


Aww.
posted by oaf at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2008


In what way am I not being candid, straightforward, etc?

You are conflating the right to own a gun with the ability to kill people. One does not depend on the other.


And that's not candid, straightforward, etc. how? Disingenuous means, "Saying something you don't mean." How am I doing that? As I said above, I might have my facts wrong, I might be making a logical error, or my reasoning might have a hole in it, but I'm saying exactly what I mean.

(And what I said was that the right to purchase a gun gives you a consequent ability to kill people with a gun.)

The English word for "an inhabitant of the United States of America" is "American." You can't change that any more than I can decide that "beagle" is a term that applies to all members of Canis lupus familiaris.

Unfortunately, if you check a dictionary you see that this word has a second meaning, "the inhabitants of North or South America".

Since my argument is only to do with the inhabitants of the United States, not of any other country, I needed a word that was unambiguous.


Argumentum ad Hominem

I'm sorry I wasn't clear the first time, but I have kept explaining at least twice subsequently that I meant "inhabitants of the US," not, "the people in this thread" - it's a little hard to read that paragraph any other way, unless I'm talking to someone who makes movies, TV programs and such, but I'm sorry I wasn't clear.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:19 AM on June 26, 2008


How am I doing that?

Because you did it on purpose.

(And what I said was that the right to purchase a gun gives you a consequent ability to kill people with a gun.)

And I'd still have the latter without the former.
posted by oaf at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2008



Aww.
posted by oaf at 1:18 PM on June 26 [+] [!]


I believe in you. Keep practicing that swagger and you'll get it.
posted by milarepa at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2008


Will we always be worried about not being able to get rid of tyrants?

Yes. But best of luck with that.
posted by resurrexit at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2008


to move beyond our first instinct being to reach for the gun.

Is that REALLY the first instinct for us americans?

This 'americans are gun-violent' theme is certainly based in established murder rates, but might it be possible that this gun-violence is NOT evenly distributed across the nation?

Are there points of concentration for these gun-murder rates, such as drug ridden city centers, that hold a disproportionate share of the gun-murders?

It might be possible that people arguing against gun bans due so out of an honest desire to protect themselves, and not from an intense innate desire to be violent, as some imply in this thread.
posted by jsonic at 10:24 AM on June 26, 2008


Oh, and why am I so down on "disingenuous"?

It's because it I'm being dishonest, and I'm extremely protective of my good name.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:25 AM on June 26, 2008


Is that REALLY the first instinct for us americans?

No, but clearly it is the first instinct of people who are represented in gun violence numbers. There are other countries who are as well armed if not better than the US, who have considerably less firearm related violence. What is it that makes them different, and what can we in the US do to better emulate them?
posted by quin at 10:30 AM on June 26, 2008


Oaf:

How am I doing that?

Because you did it on purpose.


Yes, I said something I believe, and meant to say, on purpose. Yes. I'm not being "disingenuous", I'm not being dishonest about what I mean. OK?


And jsonic:
It might be possible that people arguing against gun bans due so out of an honest desire to protect themselves,

Absolutely, I have friends like that. It's a reasonable stance. If it were just my friends, I'd be all for it.

Unfortunately, I also believe that the USA and its inhabitants are obsessed with guns and killing and it's obvious from its media and USA's extremely belligerent world presence, where dozens of countries have for example been bombed by the US military in my lifetime alone. "How can you have a US President who isn't pro-war?" as I heard a supposedly middle-of-the-road commentator say in the last election.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2008


So it will remain somebody's legal right to carry a handgun now right? Whats the problem with this? If somebody really wants to act out in rage and hurt/and or kill somebody with a gun I don't think weather its legal or not is going to have anything to do with it. I would be really interested in seeing the rates of handgun murders in this country with a legal licensed firearm against those murders that occurred with a illegal handgun.

I also don't think banning it would make that much of a difference either, look at drug use in this country how many people have used any type of drug to the amount of people that own a handgun. I am going to be that there is a lot more people that use illegal drugs then own a handgun.
posted by lilkeith07 at 10:34 AM on June 26, 2008


Wow, what a great idea. God knows that if there's one thing that every impoverished, crime-ridden city needs more of, it's handguns.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:35 AM on June 26, 2008


There are other countries who are as well armed if not better than the US, who have considerably less firearm related violence. What is it that makes them different, and what can we in the US do to better emulate them?

Perhaps if we had a list of such countries we could think better about it?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:35 AM on June 26, 2008


quin: I'm looking over that list, there really aren't any countries with a comparable development (using the human development index as a rough guide) and gun violence. Barbados comes closest, after which follow Uraguay and Mexico.

If you take the CIA factbook as your guide instead of the HDI, those three are moved down to developing nation status, and South Africa becomes the only comparable nation as far as gun violence and development goes.
posted by Weebot at 10:37 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


If somebody really wants to act out in rage and hurt/and or kill somebody with a gun I don't think weather its legal or not is going to have anything to do with it.

This is the part that people like lupus_yonderboy and David Miller just don't understand.
posted by oaf at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2008


As someone who lives in the DC area I am left to ponder these issues:

With the rampant gun violence already in DC, when most of the combatants are already armed to the hilt, what will this mean when we are agreeing to arm more people? What we see now is lots of innocents being caught in cross fire from handguns. Now we can look forward to more cross fire.

Knowing that their intended victims are armed has not deterred any of these shooters in any way so far. Arming more people (no matter what they're stated "good intentions" are), will no likely deter them either.

And in a complicated yet related note, the District government struggles with budget limitations that merit a a mefi post just to describe them all. The District police have to provide coverage for crime in the city as well as for protest crowds that are drawn uniquely to this city. And then there are lots of extra attractive targets here (monuments and politicians) that require guarding. The burden is huge, the budget is insufficient to cover all the crime now. Let's see what happens with MORE guns. All you folks who think more guns are needed here should take a walk around the city.

With all the rules about what can and cannot be brought into government buildings around here now, it seems hypocritical to say "you can have gunsout there, but not in here with us" (the SC judges that is). Even the "good people" can not have them inside the govt buildings, and gov't buildings are known to be places where bad people would like to go with handguns.

Most things in life are not black and white. As a liberal who is pro-choice but not pro-abortion (I get to choose but I don't think that abortion is a good choice to have to make), and pro-I get to end my life when I want to, but I don't get to take anyone with me, I am in fact pro-gun control. And for all the reasons that you hear all the time: the number of accidental deaths, hand guns are not used for hunting, how easy access to guns makes it easier for someone to act out in fear or anger that might be controlled if it was harder to get the gun.

DC gun control laws would have worked if similar laws were in place in surrounding states. But the guns flowed easily in from VA and the Carolinas.

This is just too sad.
posted by Red58 at 10:43 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps if we had a list of such countries we could think better about it?

Switzerland comes to mind.
posted by quin at 10:43 AM on June 26, 2008


That article is about a case in Canada, and has nothing to do with speech laws in the UK.

Given that Margaret Thatcher's government could ban Gerry Adams's voice from being broadcast on radio and television when he was an elected member of the House of Commons, I think it's pretty safe to say that free speech rights in the UK aren't what they are in the US.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:46 AM on June 26, 2008


Wow, what a great idea. God knows that if there's one thing that every impoverished, crime-ridden city needs more of, it's handguns.

Well, banning handguns sure hasn't worked out, crime-ridden-wise, for D.C. It might be possible that disarming law-abiding citizens isn't the solution to gun-crime.
posted by jsonic at 10:47 AM on June 26, 2008


Scalia assumes his conclusion.
The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be rephrased, “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
...
FN3. As Sutherland explains, the key 18th-century English case on the effect of preambles, Copeman v. Gallant, 1 P. Wms. 314, 24 Eng. Rep. 404 (1716), stated that “the preamble could not be used to restrict the effect of the words of the purview.” J. Sutherland, Statutes and Statutory Construction, 47.04 (N. Singer ed. 5th ed. 1992). This rule was modified in England in an 1826 case to give more importance to the preamble, but in America “the settled principle of law is that the preamble cannot control the enacting part of the statute in cases where the enacting part is expressed in clear, unambiguous terms.” Ibid.Justice Stevens says that we violate the general rule that every clause in a statute must have effect. Post, at 8. But where the text of a clause itself indicates that it does not have operative effect, such as “whereas” clauses in federal legislation or the Constitution’s preamble, a court has no license to make it do what it was not designed to do. Or to put the point differently, operative provisions should be given effect as operative provisions, and prologues as prologues.
FN4. Justice Stevens criticizes us for discussing the prologue last. Post, at 8. But if a prologue can be used only to clarify an ambiguous operative provision, surely the first step must be to determine whether the operative provision is ambiguous. It might be argued, we suppose, that the prologue itself should be one of the factors that go into the determination of whether the operative provision is ambiguous-but that would cause the prologue to be used to produce ambiguity rather than just to resolve it. In any event, even if we considered the prologue along with the operative provision we would reach the same result we do today, since (as we explain) our interpretation of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” furthers the purpose of an effective militia no less than (indeed, more than) the dissent’s interpretation. See infra, at 26-27.
Volokh's article compares the text of the Second Amendment to amendments from other (state) constitutions. I've yet to see an explanation of why the framers of the Bill of Rights chose to insert a preamble only into one amendment-- there was none even in the First or the Third. Could be out there somewhere, I'm not an expert on this stuff. But this on its own doesn't seem too persuasive.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:47 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


If somebody really wants to act out in rage and hurt/and or kill somebody with a gun I don't think weather its legal or not is going to have anything to do with it.

I think this idea is one which is important for many people who advocate gun control. Guns make it *too easy* to kill someone in the heat of the moment. Most murders are not premeditated.
posted by sineater at 10:48 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are other countries who are as well armed if not better than the US, who have considerably less firearm related violence. What is it that makes them different, and what can we in the US do to better emulate them?

Distribution of wealth and infrastructure. Dollars to donuts, if you find a country that has comparable levels of gun ownership but lower rates of gun violence, it has a more even distribution of wealth and a better managed infrastructure.

Want to find a solution that will make both sides of the debate (excepting the extreme fringes on either side)? Want to keep your guns and lower your rate of gun violence? Look to Switzerland, America.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:51 AM on June 26, 2008


I've found two candidates only, Switzerland and Israel - but I can't see that either model is applicable to the United States.

Both places rely on universal military conscription and intense training, sustained with occasional follow-ups over people's entire lives. Both of them have extremely strict regulations on gun ownership, you need very specific licenses that need to be renewed, the government controls the distribution of guns and ammunition entirely.

You can be charged in either country for improper use of a firearm even if you never endangered anyone, there are incredibly strict rules on exactly what you can and cannot do with the weapons you've been issued.

These are "well-regulated militias" in the best usage of the term.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:53 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most murders are not premeditated.

All murders are premeditated. Malice aforethought is a part of the definition of murder. The premeditation might not be very long, but it's definitely there.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:55 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


DC gun control laws would have worked if similar laws were in place in surrounding states. But the guns flowed easily in from VA and the Carolinas.

If that were true, then why isn't VA overridden with gun-murders as well? The real problem with DC that causes this violence is the drug trade combined with concentrated poverty. Banning law-abiding citizens from owning handguns will NOT fix that problem.

And it's kind of absurd to think that banning handguns will keep someone who is willing to murder other people from obtaining a handgun. All the ban accomplishes is disarming the law-abiding citizens of DC who actually have a need to defend themselves.
posted by jsonic at 10:56 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gawd, another retarded politics thread filled with bad-faith argumentation, question-begging and ad hominem fallacies.

Quick points:

The moronic maxim of "If guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns," which has been paraphrased above, misses the point of the legislation—that FEWER criminals will have guns. Whether this is effective in reducing gun violence is an epidemiology question, not one that can be argued by pure deduction from principle.

The argument that somehow the fear of guns prevents crime or police abuse must be supported by data if it is to be taken seriously, and data on gun crime and crime prevention in the US is notoriously unreliable. But just because it feels like an emotional truth to assert that police will be less likely to perform no-knock raids due to an armed populace does not make it so—it's easy to see that as an increase in the likelyhood of gun violence from both sides. There's a reason that a lot of police departments support gun bans, and it isn't that they're all fascists.

The right to bear arms is not the right to use those arms, though it does increase the likelyhood that poor judgment will lead to more shootings. But if you want to curtail those negative effects, legislation should focus on them, not on the protected right to own guns.
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on June 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oaf wrote:

If somebody really wants to act out in rage and hurt/and or kill somebody with a gun I don't think weather its legal or not is going to have anything to do with it.

This is the part that people like lupus_yonderboy and David Miller just don't understand.


On the contrary, that's the nub of my argument. If somebody really wants to act out in rage and hurt/and or kill somebody with a gun, the illegality of it won't stop them, but not having a gun in the first place certainly will.

I would also say that I believe that someone who is properly trained with weapons is going to be a heck of a lot less likely to pull out a gun in an argument just because they're angry.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fat suburbanite with a 9mm is not stopping a mechanized division. Ever. 1 million fat guys wont either. The idea that some basic firearms will over-throw a tyranic government is a historical fantasy

Yeah, I don't get this one either. If this is still a compelling argument for weapons in the hands of individuals, then surely it's an argument for those weapons keeping pace with the government's. What argument is there for limiting the types of weapons an individual can own at all if they're supposed to be protection against the increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons in the hands of the potentially tyrannical state?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2008


'Please suggest a better word for "the inhabitants of the United States of America". There are a lot of other people in "American" other than "the inhabitants of the United States", you know.'

No. We have already resolved this.

"The vast majority of Americans are unlikely to ever have to fight a bear to the death."

These people are doing it wrong.

As for the ruling: MOLON LABE, "shall not be infringed," etc.
posted by Eideteker at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2008


Wow, what a great idea. God knows that if there's one thing that every impoverished, crime-ridden city needs more of, it's handguns.

But that's just the problem. Everyone thinks that. It's easy. Look, three people probably replied to your comment as I wrote this one snarking about how easy it is. Owning a gun "for self-defense" has always been and always will be the easy solution. And most often it's the solution for those who want a solution but are weak or impulsive as they search for one. It's the decision that scared people make, who think they need to protect themselves from the scary, mean, poor, angry, violent, most-likely-not-your-skin-color monsters out there trying to get them.

Buying a gun and saying "oh boy, now I can kill you" is a lot easier than wondering what can be done to reduce crime in the inner city to begin with. And that in itself is a hell of a lot easier than wondering just why those conditions began in the first place. A lot of it had to do with a very immoral business decision some colonists made about 400 years ago. And there's very few politicians- black, white, whatever- who have the balls to actually point that out. It's a fit of irony that the most public figure to actually acknowledge that a massive tension between the wealthy and the poor and blacks and white in America is a primary cause of gun fervor was a Alzheimer's-ravaged Charlton Heston at the end of Bowling for Columbine.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:04 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the opinion yet (and, evidently, neither have many of the people posting), but if it actually does result in "hey, the constitution says you can bear arms, so, state/territory, you can't just flat out ban them without reason", then I'd say that's pretty consistent with the decisions we've been getting out of the court lately.

But, in this thread/talk about this decision, there seems to be two different debates: 1. should Americans be allowed to have guns/should the states be allowed to regulate guns and 2. does the constitution say we can have guns. These are different questions, but people seem hard pressed to discuss them separately. I find this frustrating.

I might think guns should be banned through the whole US. But I might also think that the Second Amendment means that isn't legal. Same thing with abortion: perhaps I find it morally indefensible, but still think it should be legal. But then again, I pretty much think the federal government should do nothing but fight wars, regulate airspace, and print money.

Also: re: violence in TV, aren't the highest rated shows things like Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, Grey's Anatomy, Disparate Housewives, that Nanny lady, the wife swapping thing, Deal or No Deal.... not a whole lot of gun violence on those.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:10 AM on June 26, 2008


rhymer said: Because your free speech, civil rights and abortion rights are unlikely to curtail someone else's very basic right to stay alive. The same cannot be said of handgun ownership. (emphasis added)

Actually, considering how few gun-owners are murderers, it can. But don't let facts get in the way of your hyperbolic rhetoric.
posted by jock@law at 11:10 AM on June 26, 2008


If somebody really wants to act out in rage and hurt/and or kill somebody with a gun, the illegality of it won't stop them, but not having a gun in the first place certainly will.

Yes, but since we can't get rid of all the guns, what do you propose?

posted by oaf at 11:11 AM on June 26, 2008


"Is there any other country which expressly sanctions firearm ownership in their founding document? Seems a bit.... odd."
Seriously? Do you have any idea how this nation was founded?

And yes, we absolutely do have the right to rise in armed revolt against our government.
posted by Eideteker at 11:11 AM on June 26, 2008


that last line's mine
posted by oaf at 11:11 AM on June 26, 2008


All murders are premeditated. Malice aforethought is a part of the definition of murder. The premeditation might not be very long, but it's definitely there.

sorry, I meant to say most killings are not premeditated.
posted by sineater at 11:12 AM on June 26, 2008


'Please suggest a better word for "the inhabitants of the United States of America". There are a lot of other people in "American" other than "the inhabitants of the United States", you know.'

No. We have already resolved this.


You might have, I have not.

Tell me, is this quibbling of any use to anyone? Did anyone really not understand what I meant when I said, "USAian" or why I used it (to emphasize I only meant the USA)? Is the word "USAian" somehow derogatory or misleading?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:12 AM on June 26, 2008


Fat suburbanite with a 9mm is not stopping a mechanized division. Ever. 1 million fat guys wont either. The idea that some basic firearms will over-throw a tyranic government is a historical fantasy

I used to agree with you. Then I read an interesting analysis of how modern fighting armaments such as tanks and fighter planes are COMPLETELY dependent upon the supply chain that provides them fuel and maintenence. In a conventional war, with a delineated battle-front, the military can protect these supply chains by keeping them behind the battle front.

However, in a situation where the military is forced to police a distributed country (Iraq anybody?), these supply chains are exposed. The oponents of some future tyranical government could attempt to even-out the battlefield by knocking out these supply chains. Then it becomes a battle of men with rifles, which the U.S. population has many of. Not to mention that not every soldier would be willing to kill citizens of their own country.

I'm certainly not interested in this happening, but I wouldn't dismiss the capability of armed citizens to fight a tyranical government as "fantasy".
posted by jsonic at 11:12 AM on June 26, 2008


What I propose is that US gun owners be trained and their guns licensed in a very similar manner to US car owners.

I propose the Swiss/Israeli model with compulsory military training for all and then strictly regulated gun ownership.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2008


"And yes, we absolutely do have the right to rise in armed revolt against our government."

I should add that the successfulness of such a venture is up for debate, but the right shall not be infringed. It's up to us to train ourselves and to regulate the government of our free state.

"Disparate Housewives"

I see I'm not the only one who has seen that particular show. =)
posted by Eideteker at 11:15 AM on June 26, 2008


Is the word "USAian" somehow derogatory or misleading?

In that it implies "American" isn't the proper word, yes, the latter.
posted by oaf at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy,

By your reasoning, the people of Hong Kong have an utter desire to run around engaging in kung fu battles and waving swords at each other.

Violence has been an intrinsic element of entertainment for more than two thousand years, simply because the violence represented in American culture is most commonly presented in the form of gun violence, does not denote any relevant subconscious or psychological trait of the American people. The simple explanation is that firearms have been the predominate weapon technology of choice for several centuries now. Along these same lines, when you watch a movie, no one gasps when everyone's main mode of transportation is an automobile.

Lastly, per your pointing out, "American" defined individuals from either North or South America is the secondary, thus, the less common usage of the term. It has been a matter of acceptance by most nations of the world, and their languages, to address citizens of the United States as Americans. More so, citizens of the United States are the only individuals who use the term American to distinctly refer to their nation of origin and not continent of origin. Regardless, if it makes you feel happy to use the awkward and silly construction of USAian, feel free.

In relevance to the subject at hand, its always painful to see Scalia's quality of writing, when compared to Stevens'. For the past few years, for the most part, the elegance and logic of the dissent has seemed to trump the more brutal in your face opinions of the majority. I believe that gun ownership is an inherent right to citizens, but I am not always sure if that right is enshrined in the Constitution. The greatest issue of handguns is not that they exist, it is their distribution network. Criminals have guns because there are plenty of ways to get around the control mechanisms created to prevent their access to firearms. That doesn't include the husband, who has lived a criminal free life, picking up a pistol in a fit of manic rage and killing his family, either. That said, such horrible crimes occur without the assistance of guns, as well.

I think in the end it boils down to being a free people. We think too individualistically and act very often without consideration of others. We're raised and told to act as we will, within social and criminal restraints surely, but the wild impulses of individuality when combined with the natural inclinations of human nature seem to quickly disregard such rules of behavior. A lot could be achieved by simply asking folks to think of others a bit more and trying to instill a sturdier sense of civil responsibility to one's neighbors and family.
posted by Atreides at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2008


If you liked, you could call this a "well-regulated militia".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2008


What I propose is that US gun owners be trained and their guns licensed in a very similar manner to US car owners.

I propose the Swiss/Israeli model with compulsory military training for all and then strictly regulated gun ownership.


That's nice. You're going to need an amendment for that.
posted by Snyder at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What I propose is that US gun owners be trained and their guns licensed in a very similar manner to US car owners."

Oh god no! Have you seen the state of driver education in this country? We can do better, and should (for both guns and cars).
posted by Eideteker at 11:18 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, what a great idea. God knows that if there's one thing that every impoverished, crime-ridden city needs more of, it's handguns.

I am in favor of some sort of "gunfare" or "gun stamps" program to help the economically disadvantaged afford a handgun.
posted by peeedro at 11:18 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's the decision that scared people make, who think they need to protect themselves from the scary, mean, poor, angry, violent, most-likely-not-your-skin-color monsters out there trying to get them.

YAWN-Hominem.

The violence problem in DC is based on a combination of the drug-trade and concentrated poverty. The LONG-TERM solution to this violence will be in working to alleviate that poverty and curtailing the influence of drugs and the crime associated with them.

You harp on gun-owners as looking for "the easy solution" or being "weak or impulsive". Maybe their just smart enough, and not so UTOPIAN, that they realize that solving these fundamental causes of violence WILL NOT HAPPEN OVER NIGHT. Maybe they would like the ability to protect themselves and their families WHILE these problems are being worked on.
posted by jsonic at 11:21 AM on June 26, 2008


Well, banning handguns sure hasn't worked out, crime-ridden-wise, for D.C. It might be possible that disarming law-abiding citizens isn't the solution to gun-crime.

Wow! I just had a crazy idea!

What if reducing gun violence and other violent crimes doesn't have anything to do one way or the other with either banning guns or making them easier to get? What if gun violence is actually more influenced by other outside factors and these arguments on either side are really just a great big stupid waste of time?

I think I just blew my own mind (not with a hand gun, fortunately)!
posted by saulgoodman at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Buying a gun and saying "oh boy, now I can kill you" is a lot easier than wondering what can be done to reduce crime in the inner city to begin with.

Banning handguns (or all guns) and saying "oh boy, now those nasty guns are gone" is a lot easier than wondering what can be done to reduce crime in the inner city to begin with.
posted by Snyder at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


saulgoodman, that is the craziest thing I've ever read. You are speaking madness. Madness!
posted by Snyder at 11:25 AM on June 26, 2008


Wow! I just had a crazy idea!

And so did a whole bunch of other people above you in this thread.
posted by jsonic at 11:28 AM on June 26, 2008


I am in favor of some sort of "gunfare" or "gun stamps" program to help the economically disadvantaged afford a handgun.

Because if there's anything the world's largest arms dealer needs, it's more corporate welfare.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on June 26, 2008


"I'm certainly not interested in this happening, but I wouldn't dismiss the capability of armed citizens to fight a tyranical government as "fantasy"."

There are two problems with that as a justification for handguns—first, handguns aren't effective against rifles. Second, the folks arming themselves are more likely to support a tyrannical government than oppose it.
posted by klangklangston at 11:30 AM on June 26, 2008


What I propose is that US gun owners be trained and their guns licensed in a very similar manner to US car owners.

I propose the Swiss/Israeli model with compulsory military training for all and then strictly regulated gun ownership.
That's nice. You're going to need an amendment for that.


Yes, I am in fact aware of the Second Amendment, you are perhaps being disingenuous by suggesting I was not since I make it clear many times above that I am.

I'm sorry if I misled you - I understand that the residents of the United States of America would never accept it. I was asked what I personally thought.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:31 AM on June 26, 2008


I really don't think when people catalogue the main failures of the Bush administration, they're going to say: "How horrible, he appointed judges who believe the 2nd Amendment says people have a right to bear arms!"

Not to interrupt all the hand-wringing, but the opinion actually is pretty good if you want to write gun control laws that stop short of outright bans. Particularly pertinent to DC's situation is that the decision doesn't in any way address a person having a gun outside their home. So while now the city is obligated to start permitting (and issue those permits absent serious precluding factors) that doesn't give those permit holders the right to take those weapons anywhere other than their home.

So if Mayor Fenty and the gang want to take a moment to exhibit some sanity they can put in place requirements that nobody gets to have a permit without taking a certified gun safety class. They've got the opportunity to do what, as far as I know, no other region has done: mandate that before you can have a gun you demonstrate that you can use it responsibly, and know how to use it. Beyond that they can have strict penalties for carrying a gun around and make violent crime a precluding factor for getting a license.

The only impact this is likely to have on DC is that law-abiding folks who want a gun in the home will be able to have one. The pool of potential victims are limited to assailants, victims of domestic violence, and victims of accidental shooting. Personally I will lose no sleep over the assailants. I'm not convinced that the domestic violence victims will be any different than they would have been before guns were legal in DC homes - they may just have different kinds of wounds. I recognize that opinions on this may differ from mine.

The only people I really worry about in this equation are the kids or others who will get harmed in accidents, but honestly I already worry about them in the other 450 states already. Now we just add another 68 square miles to that. Hopefully DC will try to be a model for everyone else and insure that their population of gun owners are educated and trained.
posted by phearlez at 11:34 AM on June 26, 2008


Wow, who added those extra 400 states when I wasn't looking?
posted by phearlez at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2008


...abortion rights are unlikely to curtail someone else's very basic right to stay alive.

Careful, now. I don't personally believe that a fetus is a person, per se, but that doesn't mean that a lot of people disagree with me (and considering that abortion is one of the most divisive issues on the table, this disagreement can be pretty violent).
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2008


Second, the folks arming themselves are more likely to support a tyrannical government than oppose it.

HA! Haven't read many survivalist forums lately, have ya?

And besides survivalist nuts, dislike for the federal government is pretty well distributed once you step outside of urban centers. You're mistakenly assuming that flag waving war-supporters agree with the gubmint on most other issues.
posted by jsonic at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2008


Yes, but since we can't get rid of all the guns, what do you propose?

Absolutely nothing.

Who am I to decide how you live your life and what you do with your life? Perhaps I'm going down a different road here that will stray off topic so I'll stop with this line, its your life live it how you want it.
posted by lilkeith07 at 11:38 AM on June 26, 2008


klangklangston writes: The moronic maxim of "If guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns," which has been paraphrased above, misses the point of the legislation—that FEWER criminals will have guns. Whether this is effective in reducing gun violence is an epidemiology question, not one that can be argued by pure deduction from principle.

There's an equal amount of handwaving behind that argument, Klang. If police started knocking on the doors of every registered gun owner tomorrow, what do you think the effect on the number of illegally owned weapons would be by this time next year? I'd vote "little," because of the tautology behind our terms: if you own a handgun that isn't licensed, you are by definition sufficiently good at hiding it from law enforcement officers that they have not discovered and confiscated it. Thus, they are probably not going to magically wrench it from your hands now that it's even less legal to own.

The right to bear arms is not the right to use those arms, though it does increase the likelyhood that poor judgment will lead to more shootings. But if you want to curtail those negative effects, legislation should focus on them, not on the protected right to own guns.

Amen. There's something deeply broken about violence in American culture, which I don't think is explained in total by gun culture. If you look at per capita violent crime statistics, the US is a grim scene indeed: we're an order of magnitude more violent than most of our first-world contemporaries, and that can't just be the result of greater ease of committing crimes with handguns. Maybe we should address that, before we get too deeply entangled with gun control initiatives of questionable efficacy.
posted by Mayor West at 11:39 AM on June 26, 2008


I would LIKE to favorite jsonic's EXCELLENT recent comment, but I get the IMPRESSION that it's been written to STAND OUT from the others even WITHOUT my help.

Second: what's with the references to gun-laden Third World violence? If you look at the history of gun-poor Third World countries where the weapon of choice is just a handmade machete, I promise you'll find that isn't an improvement.
posted by roystgnr at 11:40 AM on June 26, 2008


And so did a whole bunch of other people above you in this thread.

On review, I see you were sort of working toward that point. Still, seems kind of whiny of you to call me out like that. I'd expect a little more emotional toughness from a pro-gun guy. /kidding

Still, I think the point you aren't getting is the flip-side of what you've conceded: giving more people guns to defend themselves with doesn't really make them any safer either, if the statistics are any guide. It may make them feel safer. And I'm sure there are isolated cases (anecdotes) where someone successfully defends themselves with a gun, but in most cases, the criminal has the jump on the victim. Not banning guns doesn't really improve the situation either, is what I'm arguing--except possibly making those with guns feel a little safer.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:41 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should address that, before we get too deeply entangled with gun control initiatives of questionable efficacy.

Dunno. Thats like saying "Well, we cant cure your cancer so you shouldnt be interested in these pain relief pills." Treating the symptoms is still a valid concern.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:45 AM on June 26, 2008


I would LIKE to favorite jsonic's EXCELLENT recent comment, but I get the IMPRESSION that it's been written to STAND OUT from the others even WITHOUT my help.

HAVE THEY BANNED CAPS LOCK LUBE SPRAY TOO?!?!
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2008


Boooo!                                        Yay!
  / \                                          / \

\O/\O/\O/            Guns For Everyone!      O  O O  
 |\O/\O/O/                /                 O|\O|O|\O
/ \|  | \O/                                -|-/|O|\/|\
  / \/ \ |             \O/                 / \ /|\ / \
        / \             |                      / \
                       / \

==========================================================  
  
  Yay!                                        Booooo!
  / \                                          / \

\O/\O/\O/       Abortions For Everyone!      O  O O  
 |\O/\O/O/                /                 O|\O|O|\O
/ \|  | \O/                                -|-/|O|\/|\
  / \/ \ |             \O/                 / \ /|\ / \
        / \             |                      / \
                       / \
  
==========================================================  
  
  Yay!                                         Yay!
  / \               Guns For Some,             / \
                    Abortions For Others!
\O/\O/\O/                                    O  O O  
 |\O/\O/O/                /                 O|\O|O|\O
/ \|  | \O/                                -|-/|O|\/|\
  / \/ \ |             \O/                 / \ /|\ / \
        / \             |                      / \
                       / \

posted by rusty at 11:48 AM on June 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


(PS: the javascript preview is not 100% accurate. Just sayin.)
posted by rusty at 11:49 AM on June 26, 2008


Scalia is actually correct pretty much down the line on this one. Which goes to show that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.
posted by Justinian at 11:52 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


The main problem with the Israeli / Scandanavian model is, again, that the government controls access to the firearms and the ammunition for them.

Our 2nd amendment is in place primarily, but not exclusively, to ensure that the government is reminded that they serve at the behest of The People. Granting government control over the distribution of firearms and ammunition weakens this significantly.

Granted, I understand your rationale for regulation of this sort, but it's contrary to the spirit of the amendment.
posted by tgrundke at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2008


Feelings on gun control aside, I would have been disheartened to see this go the other way, with the government deciding it was granting some sort of collective right or granting rights (rather than powers) to itself. That sort of thing seems like it would end about as well as the Commerce Clause.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2008


Guns, cigarettes, and alcohol all fail the "if this product did not exist and was invented tomorrow, would the government allow people to possess it" test.

The government would laugh themselves silly at products that have the effects of those three. When pretty much every weaponry invention occurred (rocket launchers, bombs, etc.), the government didn't allow people to possess it. When pretty much every impairing drug arrived, the government didn't allow people to possess it. Hell the government makes people get a prescription for drugs that cause less harm and have more benefits than alcohol or cigarettes.

So why the ruling? As always, money. People make billions of dollars selling guns, alcohol, and tobacco. In a capitalist society, you are never going to see the government shut down any business that makes billions of dollars. The Supreme Court is left to come up with legal arguments that are based on the Constitution and case law. People in forums like this can have all the arguments they want. And they can even be interesting arguments. But money is what drives this particular case.
posted by flarbuse at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2008


When I read the opinion, I came by figuring there would be a thread here.

Seems to me that about 90% of the people participating in this thread would fail a Civics/Politics 101 course.

From a legal perspective, people can't possibly be surprised by the general thrust of this ruling (I accurately predicted exactly how it would come out in the last two threads about this case--drawing insults from the usual crew after doing so). The only surprising part about this opinion is that the Court did not go further, and good for them for not doing so. There was a narrow legal question that could be answered, and it was. I applaud the Court for not going further and taking the opportunity to opine freely on the general topic, extrapolating to further legal issues or establishing unnecessary tests.

From a policy perspective, those who want to argue policy as a means to critique the opinion, go take even an elementary level civics course and try to grasp that difficult separation of powers issue.

I believe that gun ownership is an inherent right to citizens, but I am not always sure if that right is enshrined in the Constitution.


That's quite a curious position in light of the 2nd Amendment. Don't know how more enshrined something could be. Granted the contours of that right and the level of scrutiny restrictions on that right must pass are things that can be debated. But that it is in fact a right clearly in the Constitution does not seem to be arguable.
posted by dios at 12:00 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


So why the ruling? As always, money.
posted by flarbuse at 1:55 PM on June 26


That. Or, you know, the 2nd Amendment.
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on June 26, 2008


Where's the love for the small American flag crowd?lupus_yonderboy: "
What I propose is that US gun owners be trained and their guns licensed in a very similar manner to US car owners.

I propose the Swiss/Israeli model with compulsory military training for all and then strictly regulated gun ownership.
That's nice. You're going to need an amendment for that.

Yes, I am in fact aware of the Second Amendment, you are perhaps being disingenuous by suggesting I was not since I make it clear many times above that I am.

I'm sorry if I misled you - I understand that the residents of the United States of America would never accept it. I was asked what I personally thought.
"

I think he meant that you'd have to amend the Constitution to curtail our rights to own a gun (the Constitution doesn't protect our rights to have a car), and an amendment to require military service outside of an emergency draft. An idea, if I may say, that is about as anamerican as you can have.
posted by Science! at 12:03 PM on June 26, 2008


That flag quip was for the artwork upthread.
posted by Science! at 12:04 PM on June 26, 2008


Also: "unamerican".
posted by Science! at 12:08 PM on June 26, 2008


Not banning guns doesn't really improve the situation either, is what I'm arguing--except possibly making those with guns feel a little safer.

I don't see anyone arguing that it makes the environment safer, just that one has a right to self-protection, and that firearms are efficacious, and Constitutionally protected, for that role.
posted by Snyder at 12:11 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I read the opinion, I came by figuring there would be a thread here.

And a golden opportunity to insult everyone while in the same comment whining about how people have insulted poor you. Thanks for stopping by!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2008


I think he meant that you'd have to amend the Constitution to curtail our rights to own a gun (the Constitution doesn't protect our rights to have a car), and an amendment to require military service outside of an emergency draft. An idea, if I may say, that is about as anamerican as you can have.

That, more or less, as well as lupus' general insulting and idiotic argument of 'people only care about the 2nd amendment because they LOVE VIOLENCE.'
posted by Snyder at 12:16 PM on June 26, 2008


And a golden opportunity to insult everyone while in the same comment whining about how people have insulted poor you. Thanks for stopping by!

I'm not insulted.
posted by Snyder at 12:17 PM on June 26, 2008


As I pointed out before, gun ownership didn't really help the Iraqis stave off a dictator.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:19 PM on June 26, 2008


From a policy perspective, those who want to argue policy as a means to critique the opinion, go take even an elementary level civics course and try to grasp that difficult separation of powers issue.

I think they can be forgiven for confusing law and policy. They are not alone. Did you read the Court's opinion in Kennedy v. Louisiana yesterday?
posted by Slap Factory at 12:19 PM on June 26, 2008


Did anyone really not understand what I meant when I said, "USAian"

You meant "I mean to write `American,' but I'm sooooooo fucking sensitive to concerns that don't even exist in the real world that I'm going to write 'USAian' instead to avoid insulting those nonexistent Canadians and Mexicans and Costa Ricans who, when you say 'Excuse me, but are you American?' answer 'Yes!' Surely now hordes of American, I mean USAian, men or women will flock to me for slow, sensitive duck-squeezer sex! Surely George Bush and his band of criminal partners will have a really terrible day when they see how forcefully I reminded them that `American' can in principle refer to two entire continents, and not just their country!"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:19 PM on June 26, 2008 [18 favorites]


So it might be possible for a DC resident to purchase a gun in MD of VA, but it is CERTAINLY not as simple as crossing the border, finding a gun shop, and going home armed.

See this article about gun traffic in the US. I'm not saying that you just roll up to a gun-drivethrough window, and pick up a weapon, then drive it back to DC. I'm saying it's easier to get guns in MD and VA -- therefore more guns end up in DC. I'm not sure what's "highly suspect" about that point.

From the article: "Law enforcement authorities traced more than 10,000 guns recovered in Virginia, Maryland and the District last year -- and nearly half came from Virginia, according to federal data released yesterday...

Virginia also was among the top sources of guns recovered by authorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina, the data show. In New York, more recovered guns came from Virginia than from any other outside state -- roughly one of 11 traced."
posted by inigo2 at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2008


I don't see anyone arguing that it makes the environment safer,

Look again, cause at least a third of the thread has been various arguments to that effect. And more to the point, in what sense is a right to feel like you're protecting yourself equivalent to a right to protect yourself? In the absence of evidence that gun ownership actually does increase one's chances of protecting one's family from violent crime, how can it be argued that any real right to protect one's family was ever at stake in this ruling? Is this ruling meant to say you have a right to feel like you're protecting your home and family, whether there's any justifiable basis for that belief or not?

I believe that gun ownership is an inherent right to citizens, but I am not always sure if that right is enshrined in the Constitution.

That's quite a curious position in light of the 2nd Amendment. Don't know how more enshrined something could be.


Yeah, it's such a well understood right, in fact, that the Supreme Court took time out of its busy schedule of helping Exxon save money and sparing the lives of child rapists to clarify it.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:29 PM on June 26, 2008


That's quite a curious position in light of the 2nd Amendment. Don't know how more enshrined something could be. Granted the contours of that right and the level of scrutiny restrictions on that right must pass are things that can be debated. But that it is in fact a right clearly in the Constitution does not seem to be arguable.-Dios

The contours are what I tried and failed to imply in my statement, thanks for clarifying.
posted by Atreides at 12:33 PM on June 26, 2008


Look again, cause at least a third of the thread has been various arguments to that effect.

I personally haven't seen anyone argue that it makes the environment safer, just that gun bans can make situations less-safe. I believe there is a distinction there.

In the absence of evidence that gun ownership actually does increase one's chances of protecting one's family from violent crime,

There isn't an absence of evidence. The 1993 study from the University of Florida of defensive gun use is one of them.

Is this ruling meant to say you have a right to feel like you're protecting your home and family, whether there's any justifiable basis for that belief or not?

I dunno. Do we allow free speech only to those who have the ability to really convince others, and prohibit it to those who only feel like they can enact change, whether there's any justifiable basis for that belief or not?

sparing the lives of child rapists

Yeah, and that statement there is not based on feelings as opposed to evidence, is it?
posted by Snyder at 12:47 PM on June 26, 2008


I have very little problem with the guns themselves. It's more that the people who want them so often tend to lack rational thought. Metafilter is high-quality stuff; look around online and read from people who decide someone deserves the electric chair based on no more information than a drudge headline.
posted by troybob at 12:54 PM on June 26, 2008


dios: You hit the nail on the head. But you do realize this is Metafilter, don't you? The thought process of 90% of the commenters just goes straight from (1) notice that a political issue is being discussed, to (2) express the most far-left position they can think of. Concepts like the "rule of law" and "separation of powers" don't enter the equation.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:56 PM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


one has a right to self-protection, and that firearms are efficacious

You see that right there, that's the debatable point. The empirical evidence says that they aren't so efficacious, in that they cause many unintended (at the time of gun acquisition) deaths and very few preventions of violence or crime.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:58 PM on June 26, 2008


The thought process of 90% of the commenters just goes straight from (1) notice that a political issue is being discussed, to (2) express the most far-left position they can think of.

Classy dude.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:00 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe:

You meant "I mean to write `American,' but I'm sooooooo fucking sensitive...

and this was favorited by brain_drain, milarepa, the other side, miss tea, and oaf.

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

I understood that you didn't like my usage of the word USAian so I stopped. As I pointed out, everyone understood what I meant and the term isn't pejorative. I'd like to politely request that you keep yourself to the matter at hand and please avoid word quibbles and personal insult.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:02 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I applaud the Court for not going further and taking the opportunity to opine freely on the general topic, extrapolating to further legal issues or establishing unnecessary tests.

Did you not see the part where Scalia doesn't simply stop at saying that you can't ban handguns, but starts offering opinions about what sorts of firearms could be banned?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2008


lupus_yonderboy, there appears to be something wrong with your computer. It keeps pasting in the same text in bold over and over.
posted by oaf at 1:04 PM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Or are you really taking me to task for favoriting a comment?
posted by oaf at 1:05 PM on June 26, 2008


that gun bans can make situations less-safe

Sure, why not. Gun bans make situations less safe. So let's stop screening for guns when passengers board airplanes next. We'll all be better off for it.

The 1993 study from the University of Florida of defensive gun use is one of them.

Well, the only studies I find are not without controversy, and even those seem to suffer from a couple of serious, closely related flaws: 1) They rely on self-reporting (i.e., asking a person, 'Did you use your gun to defend yourself?'); 2) Because they rely on self-reporting, they obviously don't include all the gun owners killed while unsuccessfully trying to defend themselves with their guns.

sparing the lives of child rapists
Yeah, and that statement there is not based on feelings as opposed to evidence, is it?


Hey, don't get me wrong: I'm all for the Supreme Court deciding what the states should and shouldn't decide for themselves, aren't you?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:05 PM on June 26, 2008


The thought process of 90% of the commenters just goes straight from (1) notice that a political issue is being discussed, to (2) express the most far-left position they can think of.

...and the thought process of the other 10% goes straight from (1) notice that a political issue is being discussed, to (2) express the most laughably asinine right-wing argument they can think of. Assuming that there is a step 2 at all, of course.

See how that works? Nice, ain't it? Yeah, that's some quality argumentation there.
posted by aramaic at 1:09 PM on June 26, 2008


Classy dude.

Thanks!
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:09 PM on June 26, 2008


(2) express the most laughably asinine right-wing argument they can think of.

Really? Where? By whom?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:10 PM on June 26, 2008


Metafilter is high-quality stuff

Not on this issue, it's not. If I had a dollar for every stupid, uninformed, and/or just plain malicious comment about guns around here, I'd have a nice Bulgarian AK-47 and a stockpile of ammo.

You see that right there, that's the debatable point. The empirical evidence says that they aren't so efficacious, in that they cause many unintended (at the time of gun acquisition) deaths and very few preventions of violence or crime.

This is false. Guns kill around 30,000 Americans per year, over half of them suicides. They injure around another 70,000 Americans. Even the most conservative estimate places the number of defensive gun uses in America per year at over 100,000, or nearly ten times the number of non-suicide gun deaths; the true figure is likely to be somewhere between 300,000 - 500,000 defensive gun uses per year. (saulgoodman, that last link addresses many of your problems with these studies; also, to be honest, I am not sure how it would even be possible to find out the number of defensive uses of guns, other than through the use of self-reporting!)
posted by vorfeed at 1:11 PM on June 26, 2008


Jaltcoh, it's apparently trendy to adapt a far-left position, even when it involves trampling on other people's rights or is just disconnected from reality.
posted by oaf at 1:12 PM on June 26, 2008


I try not to question legal decisions, as I have no interest in becoming a lawyer in order to understand them, but I do get that a lot of what goes into a decision is based on stuff that has nothing to do with the black/white perspective that the media and people too easily place on it. (In fact, were I ever accused of a crime of which I was innocent, I would go for a judge trial because I don't trust most people--including myself--to get the finer legal points and make the appropriate distinctions.)

Something I don't get about this, though: If self-defense is the basis for why gun ownership should not be prohibited, why does this not guarantee that one should be able to carry a gun in any situation in which self-defense might be required? Why is it allowed to be limited to self-defense in the home, considering (I'm guessing) one is more likely to need self-defense outside the home? I'm not saying there are not good reasons for these restrictions--just that I don't see how you can argue the importance of self-defense and yet limit where one can so defend oneself.
posted by troybob at 1:13 PM on June 26, 2008


Oaf: the reason I keep posting and bolding the comment below the page is that about half the comments responding to mine on this page contain some sort of personal insult towards me.

It's a polite way of asking you, and in this case I do mean you, Oaf, amongst others, to please stop doing that.

(And I don't really believe that you think lupus_yonderboy, there appears to be something wrong with your computer - I actually do think you're being "disingenuous" here.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:15 PM on June 26, 2008


lupus, the fact that you say this:

Now, if USAians weren't really into killing people, mostly with guns, I might not care so much.

And then protest about "respectful discussion" when people call you out on it is a bit hypocritical, despite your fig leaf that you were addressing "inhabitants of the US," and not other posters.

Well, the only studies I find are not without controversy,

I never said they weren't, but I feel that saying there is an absence of evidence is wrong.

Hey, don't get me wrong: I'm all for the Supreme Court deciding what the states should and shouldn't decide for themselves, aren't you?

Not if they violate Constitutionally protected rights.
posted by Snyder at 1:15 PM on June 26, 2008


note: Help maintain an insipid, banal discussion by spamming net-nannying whines at other members of the site — not on the issues, topics, and facts at hand.

ps you make disingenuous arguments, too
posted by pyramid termite at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


I actually do think you're being "disingenuous" here.

Your sarcasm filter is broken.
posted by oaf at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2008


if a supreme court decision doesn't convince some people that there is a right to bear arms in this country, i don't know what the hell will
posted by pyramid termite at 1:21 PM on June 26, 2008


Even the most conservative estimate places the number of defensive gun uses in America per year at over 100,000, or nearly ten times the number of non-suicide gun deaths; the true figure is likely to be somewhere between 300,000 - 500,000 defensive gun uses per year.

Yes, but do those figures count when the asshole who was tailgating me, after getting pissed off because I tapped my brakes, pulls up beside me at the intersection and flashes his pistol?

Because I'm pretty sure that asshole would self-report that he was defending himself.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:22 PM on June 26, 2008


Did you not see the part where Scalia doesn't simply stop at saying that you can't ban handguns, but starts offering opinions about what sorts of firearms could be banned?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:03 PM on June 26


There is no holding beyond the limited question of the DC ban and trigger lock requirement. The Court did not expand the ruling beyond the DC's ban to states or other bans. The Court did not establish any rule regarding firearms laws that must be followed. The Court did not eliminate all gun restrictions and in fact stipulated they can exist. The Court did not establish a standard of review, which would necessarily would have required the finding of whether or not a right is fundamental.

These are all issues the Court could have held. But they did not. And bully for them. The dissent and both sides wanted them to go further, but they did not. Whether or not it is the narrowest possible ruling is open for debate. But it is certainly narrow. Given the recent proclivities of the Court (no matter the majority) to rule beyond the necessary issue before it is problematic. This case was the perfect time for some grand pronouncement if the Court indulged itself. Good for them they did not.
posted by dios at 1:24 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


If self-defense is the basis for why gun ownership should not be prohibited, why does this not guarantee that one should be able to carry a gun in any situation in which self-defense might be required?

I won't argue the legal point here, but I'd say that if a large proportion of the population were armed, it means that almost any negative encounter can turned deadly in a moment.

The story I present below is worthless except as an anecdote:

A couple of years ago, I was knocked onto the ground by an SUV turning a corner, I got up and thumped on the side of the car (he didn't even notice me till that point despite a loud thump because he was on a cellphone) and the guy chased me two blocks screaming with rage (and only stopped when I got to the cops, who of course would do nothing at all, even when I pointed to the guy's SUV stopped in the middle of the road).

Had he been carrying a gun, there is no question in my mind that he'd have shot me immediately.

Of course, he might have already gone to jail at a younger age but who wants to be the first one to get it? And his lawyer might have argued that by thumping his car, I was a threat. Only a couple of people saw me get hit - would they testify in court? I doubt it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:24 PM on June 26, 2008


Yes, but do those figures count when the asshole who was tailgating me, after getting pissed off because I tapped my brakes, pulls up beside me at the intersection and flashes his pistol?

If this actually ever happens to you, then memorize the dudes license plate, or at least the make and color of his vehicle. Then call the police immediately. Flashing a gun, even if you have a concealed carry permit, will put you in jail real fast.
posted by jsonic at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2008


Something I don't get about this, though: If self-defense is the basis for why gun ownership should not be prohibited, why does this not guarantee that one should be able to carry a gun in any situation in which self-defense might be required? Why is it allowed to be limited to self-defense in the home, considering (I'm guessing) one is more likely to need self-defense outside the home? I'm not saying there are not good reasons for these restrictions--just that I don't see how you can argue the importance of self-defense and yet limit where one can so defend oneself.

The holding was not that the right is limited to the home-- the holding itself was limited to that issue as it was the basis for the claim of constitutional violation.

I am so excited that I got called out for adding a favorite! Cool!
posted by miss tea at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2008


lupus_yonderboy: I get that it's a terrible idea; I think I'm just not wording my question well. I'm speaking more to the justification of this ruling; how do the justices in favor of it say that self-defense is the big reason for it and yet not assert that, under that same rationale, one should be able to carry a gun anytime, anywhere, because self-defense could be necessary anytime, anywhere? Maybe they want to say that and cannot due to the bounds of the case, but otherwise it seems inconsistent to say that one has a right to fully defend oneself only in the place where defense (again, my guess) is least required.
posted by troybob at 1:33 PM on June 26, 2008


If this actually ever happens to you, then memorize the dudes license plate, or at least the make and color of his vehicle. . Then call the police immediately.

Why? The commenters in this thread have already established that the police and worthless never come thus the need for many hanguns around the house and in your pockets. Oh wait, the police are professional and timely when it comes to "bad gun users" but worthless when it comes to protecting you from any sort of crime.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:35 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why? The commenters in this thread have already established that the police and worthless never come thus the need for many hanguns around the house and in your pockets. Oh wait, the police are professional and timely when it comes to "bad gun users" but worthless when it comes to protecting you from any sort of crime.

Hush, they are here to defend your Constitutional Right to cognitive dissonance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on June 26, 2008


If this actually ever happens to you
it has and i didn't. but i did veer over and almost push him off the road. next time i'll take a more sensible approach and just whip out a pistol of my own. then maybe i'll call the cops later, if we're not both dead.


Geez. This is sad. I still basically believe in gun rights, and I still think the ruling is a good one overall, but not a single one of the arguments on either side really seems coherent or particularly persuasive to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:40 PM on June 26, 2008


Yes, but do those figures count when the asshole who was tailgating me, after getting pissed off because I tapped my brakes, pulls up beside me at the intersection and flashes his pistol?

Because I'm pretty sure that asshole would self-report that he was defending himself.


You know, they probably do. However, for statements like "[guns] cause many unintended (at the time of gun acquisition) deaths and very few preventions" to be true, even the most conservative of those studies would have to have a tailgating assholes:honest self-defense ratio of more than ten to one. For the more realistic studies, it's more like thirty-to-one. Sorry, but I don't buy that.

In general, I don't think numbers are on your side, here. There are 223 million guns in this country, and around 65 million of them are handguns; if the number of deaths really and truly vastly outweighed their defensive uses, either defensive uses would be in the low thousands (pretty clearly ridiculous, given the sheer number of guns), or gun deaths would be at least in the hundreds of thousands, not tens.

Oh wait, the police are professional and timely when it comes to "bad gun users" but worthless when it comes to protecting you from any sort of crime.

Um, what people have been saying is that the police are poor at protecting in-the-moment, even if they may be good at investigating after-the-fact. This case would be an example of the latter, so I don't see the conflict.
posted by vorfeed at 1:41 PM on June 26, 2008


So why the ruling? As always, money.

That. Or, you know, the 2nd Amendment.


I would have been more accepting of this explanation before the embarrassing court decision about medicinal marijuana in California. Scalia has his moments and can be a funny guy, but any chance he had of my believing his positions are purely constitutional interpretation uncolored by personal ideology completely evaporated with that one. That decision essentially said "if you might possibly ever take it over the border of a state, we can put the smackdown on you preemptively," and forever put lie to the assertion that those conservative justices are free of outside ideological influence.
posted by phearlez at 1:41 PM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]



Geez. This is sad. I still basically believe in gun rights, and I still think the ruling is a good one overall, but not a single one of the arguments on either side really seems coherent or particularly persuasive to me.


This is Murrica! We don't need none of your there coherence malarkey.
posted by milarepa at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2008


Now, if USAians weren't really into killing people, mostly with guns, I might not care so much.
And then protest about "respectful discussion" when people call you out on it is a bit hypocritical, despite your fig leaf that you were addressing "inhabitants of the US," and not other posters.


I stand by this statement. The USA exports violence and death all over the world with its huge armies and has for over a century. There are many millions dead, and many countries ruined.

The inhabitants of the USA for the most part venerate the military, glorify violence and believe that the United States' might gives it the right to do as it pleases, militarily, the whole world over. I believe that there are a lot more people who are sick of a military government and an armed society altogether than is portrayed by the mass media, but I still don't believe that we're a majority.

The obsession with massive, deadly violence is expressed in all aspects of the culture: television, movies, music, games.

I am not criticizing the denizens of this site specifically. If the shoe doesn't fit you, please don't wear it. By no means every inhabitant of the US supports its violence - some of the greatest fighters against this, the largest empire, the largest army the world has ever seen, come from this country too. There are many people on Metafilter who are active in this regard.

Humans overall like killing people far too much. No country is blameless. The United States, with its claims of being the biggest and best good guys, should be leading the way in forging peace, but instead it's leading us into the pit.

I stand by my statement above.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2008


You know, they probably do. However, for statements like "[guns] cause many unintended (at the time of gun acquisition) deaths and very few preventions" to be true, even the most conservative of those studies would have to have a tailgating assholes:honest self-defense ratio of more than ten to one. For the more realistic studies, it's more like thirty-to-one. Sorry, but I don't buy that.

Vorfeed: Any idea about what percent of cases in which guns were reportedly used defensively were situations that involved armed assailants or direct threats of gun violence?

Because if just chasing off some neighborhood teenager who's rifling through the change in the ashtray of your car with a shotgun counts as a defensive use of a gun, then I think I'd prefer to see fewer defensive uses of guns (especially if it's my teenager).
posted by saulgoodman at 1:52 PM on June 26, 2008


I would have been more accepting of this explanation before the embarrassing court decision about medicinal marijuana in California.... That decision essentially said "if you might possibly ever take it over the border of a state, we can put the smackdown on you preemptively," and forever put lie to the assertion that those conservative justices are free of outside ideological influence.
posted by phearlez at 3:41 PM on June 26


Presumably, you are referring to Gonzales v. Raich. And I get the impression you think it was wrongly decided.

You do realize that those evil "conservative justices" were in the dissent in that case and it was the "liberal"(?) justices that were in the majority? The "conservative justices" were the ones who held that if it is grown and sold in California, then it cannot be regulated by the federal government. The "liberal justices" were the ones who said that the sweet, sweet pot might effect interstate commerce so the feds could regulate it under the CSA.

Oops.
posted by dios at 1:53 PM on June 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


Had he been carrying a gun, there is no question in my mind that he'd have shot me immediately.

An NYC gun ban back then would not have stopped him from carrying a gun and shooting you. An NYC gun ban now won't keep you (or me) from getting killed by an assailant, either.

As much as I'd love to wish all the guns out into the corn, it's impossible.
posted by oaf at 1:57 PM on June 26, 2008


I'd like to wave the flag for a liberal pro-gun standpoint here. I'm not especially in favor of the right to carry guns around at all times for any reason. My view is more in the "the possibility of an armed resistance tends to curtail the worst instincts of the police state" camp. I'll be happy enough as long as we maintain the right to own whatever gun we want and keep it safely in our private posession. If the law says it has to be at home in a locked cabinet, I'm fine with that.

The key thing for me is that you can dress it up and civilize it all you want, but ultimately political power is identical to the power and will to kill those who refuse to comply with your laws. Chairman Mao got one big thing right when he said "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." If We The People are the only legitimate source of political power, We The People must not be prevented from owning the means of defending that power.

Yes, you say, but we do own it -- it's called the organized military. As long as we have a functioning democracy, that's fine. But a national military is an institution with loyalties that, historically, are not always identical with those of the citizenry.

I recognize that what I'm describing is sort of wacky and implausible in the current-day USA. Some sort of military coup? An armed citizens resistance movement? I mean, wtf right? I don't think it's an urgent concern, but I do think that if it ever became a concern it would be surprisingly sudden. So I don't like to see our right to be armed erode, because rights erode slowly but are needed all at once. I also think the right for the general citizenry to be armed helps prevent us ever needing to be.
posted by rusty at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why? The commenters in this thread have already established that the police and worthless never come thus the need for many hanguns around the house and in your pockets. Oh wait, the police are professional and timely when it comes to "bad gun users" but worthless when it comes to protecting you from any sort of crime.

Police can't be everywhere at once. They are not omni-present. Therefore, it might be useful to have a firearm to defend yourself for the time between when a crime starts, and when the police can arrive.

A guy flashing his gun at you in his car can be caught at anytime, if you have his license plate number. The argument you're making really makes no sense.

You understood the difference, but you just had to find a way to snark. I guess it really bothers you that the Supreme Court upheld the Constititution today.
posted by jsonic at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2008


You do realize that those evil "conservative justices" were in the dissent in that case and it was the "liberal"(?) justices that were in the majority?

That happened in Kelo, too. What a shitty decision.
posted by oaf at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2008


Oh snap.
posted by brain_drain at 2:01 PM on June 26, 2008


You do realize that those evil "conservative justices" were in the dissent in that case and it was the "liberal"(?) justices that were in the majority?

Scalia sided with the majority in that Gonzales v. Raich, actually, now that I double-check.
posted by oaf at 2:04 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the nytimes (behind the pay-wall):
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/washington/27React.html

"If there was any doubt that other bans would be in peril, the National Rifle Association quickly put those questions to rest when it announced shortly after the ruling that it would file a flurry of lawsuits challenging restrictions in San Francisco, Chicago and several Chicago suburbs. The law in Washington, which spelled out rules for the storage of weapons and made it extremely difficult for most people in the district to legally possess a handgun, was among the strictest in the nation.

“I consider this the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of providing relief for law-abiding Americans everywhere that have been deprived of freedom,” Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the N.R.A., said in a statement."
posted by jsonic at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2008


You do realize that those evil "conservative justices" were in the dissent in that case and it was the "liberal"(?) justices that were in the majority? The "conservative justices" were the ones who held that if it is grown and sold in California, then it cannot be regulated by the federal government. The "liberal justices" were the ones who said that the sweet, sweet pot might effect interstate commerce so the feds could regulate it under the CSA.

I think this and other examples show that both "sides'" justices are operating under ideologies and policy-making, not logic. In the Gonzalez v. Raich case, aren't the "liberal" justices basically very hesitant to make any precedent limiting the power of the Commerce Clause because that's what they've built, among other things, anti-discrimination laws and the New Deal on?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:10 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


- "impulse control is nowhere near where it was back then" wtf? lol Sorry but your average redneck thug doesn't get into duals like high society gentlemen did back then. So no.

- "Because handguns are designed to hurt and kill people" A taser is designed to incapacitate a person. It was outlaws in England for this reason. Soon after this British boys developed a fashion of stabbing one another outside nightclubs. Fewer deaths would have resulted had the taser been legal. Intent isn't the important issue, consequences are.

In truth, guns are less & less relevant as time passes. Why should I be obligated to learn about guns and incur the danger inexperienced use brings? I suspect this is why liberal supreme courts refused to address the 2nd amendment. Conversely conservatives have now addressed the issue, thus fixing todays interpretation.

I say DC should : outlaw non-rubber bullets, make penalties be 10x more sever when weapons are present, etc. A conservative court will not dare overturn Row vs. Wade, but it will approve "a thousand cuts". Conversely guns may be controlled by "a thousands cuts". And you may get better gun control laws that way.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:14 PM on June 26, 2008


Another interesting link about the controversies surrounding studies of defensive gun use.

Also:

There are 223 million guns in this country, and around 65 million of them are handguns; if the number of deaths really and truly vastly outweighed their defensive uses, either defensive uses would be in the low thousands (pretty clearly ridiculous, given the sheer number of guns), or gun deaths would be at least in the hundreds of thousands, not tens.

Not every criminal use of a gun results in a gun death or injury. I've seen figures in the range of 500,000 or so for non-fatal crimes involving guns. It's not just about deaths, necessarily. Sometimes people just steal your wallet at gunpoint, and that's not pleasant either.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on June 26, 2008


"There's an equal amount of handwaving behind that argument, Klang. If police started knocking on the doors of every registered gun owner tomorrow, what do you think the effect on the number of illegally owned weapons would be by this time next year? I'd vote "little," because of the tautology behind our terms: if you own a handgun that isn't licensed, you are by definition sufficiently good at hiding it from law enforcement officers that they have not discovered and confiscated it. Thus, they are probably not going to magically wrench it from your hands now that it's even less legal to own."

No, there's not, and you're wrong for two reasons: that you've misinterpreted what I was saying, and that you're arguing that gun bans wouldn't decrease supply.

What I was arguing was that arguments about restricting the (currently socially recognized) right to own a firearm and the effect of gun bans or supply-mitigation on people's ability to defend themselves versus the ability to commit armed crimes should be based upon evidence, not upon emotion or tradition; they should be based on fact rather than feeling. And that the best way to study guns as a public health issue is through the tools of epidemiology.

I was also making the point, though I may not have been clear about this, that causal (and even strong correlative) arguments from both sides are highly suspect due to terrible methodological problems—say, that a large body of the data is self-reported and that there isn't any effective way to gauge how reasonable the perception that owning a gun prevented a crime, or that the crime would have been unpreventable absent the gun, etc.…

And the problem with your tautological reply is, beyond simply being tautological, that it ignores the fact that people are caught with illegal weapons fairly often. It's like saying that making speeding illegal doesn't decrease the number of speeders, because people speeding are good enough at speeding that they're not caught speeding. Which is true, until they're caught. People with illegal firearms are effectively hiding them from police already, sure. But then at least a significant percentage of them are caught.

The real problem with all of this is that the vast, vast, vast majority of firearms are used responsibly and legally (if at all), but the consequences of using a firearm irresponsibly or illegally are incredibly dire, and it's impossible to legislate against stupidity and malice.
posted by klangklangston at 2:23 PM on June 26, 2008


1. Someone stated that "all murders are premeditated" because malice aforethought is an element of murder statutes. This is incorrect. Malice aforethought and premeditation are different elements. Under the Pennsylvania rule, premeditation is only an element of First Degree Murder. Under the New York rule premeditation is a factor in both first and second degree murder.

2. It seems most people are falling into either the view that "it's an outdated amendment whose writers never conceived of it being used in modern society," or "the Constitution says shall not, and shall not means shall not."

To quote Chief Wiggam, "the Constitution says a lot of things." The amendment system was created because the authors of the Constitution wanted a dynamic document that would be resilient through time, not the ten commandments. A slave counts for 3/5ths of a person for voting purposes wasn't intended (by all) to be as permanent as though shalt not steal. Read any decent history book to see how many compromises were made just so the authors could get the Constitution ratified. This is one reason why the Bill of Rights came after the Constitution instead of being part of it.

As it stands, the Supreme Court made what seems to be a fairly straightforward reading of the Second Amendment. All that means is that if the people want to restrict the right to bear arms in this way, a Constitutional amendment is necessary. Fine. If enough people want an amendment we'll get one. Right now only about 13% of Americans would disallow all gun ownership, but about half are against the right to carry concealed weapons (see here)
posted by jwucd at 2:31 PM on June 26, 2008


"If this actually ever happens to you, then memorize the dudes license plate, or at least the make and color of his vehicle. Then call the police immediately. Flashing a gun, even if you have a concealed carry permit, will put you in jail real fast."

Bah! Nope! I had the same thing happen to me as to Saul, pretty much—Car was riding my ass when I was doing 35 in a 25. I wasn't willing to go faster, so I tapped my brakes. Car whips past me, pulls in front, slows to 15 and aims a pistol at me and pretends to fire it. I pulled off, they went shooting up the road, and I called the cops. They took a dutiful statement and that was the last I ever heard of it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2008


Vorfeed: Any idea about what percent of cases in which guns were reportedly used defensively were situations that involved armed assailants or direct threats of gun violence?

Because if just chasing off some neighborhood teenager who's rifling through the change in the ashtray of your car with a shotgun counts as a defensive use of a gun, then I think I'd prefer to see fewer defensive uses of guns (especially if it's my teenager).


In the Kleck study, the majority of defensive incidents reported involved a threat or attack on the part of the aggressor. Burglary and assault were by far the most common crimes people used guns to defend against, followed by robbery. Also, the vast majority of cases (over 70%) occurred in or around the home, where people are much less likely to think that crimes such as breaking and entering, trespassing, and the like are harmless acts... yes, even if it is your teenager.

Once again, are you honestly claiming that it's reasonable to assume that spurious defensive uses outweigh honest ones by ten to one at the least, and possibly as much as thirty to one? Or can we just go ahead and admit that guns are used in self-defense much more often than they kill?

Not every criminal use of a gun results in a gun death or injury. I've seen figures in the range of 500,000 or so for non-fatal crimes involving guns. It's not just about deaths, necessarily. Sometimes people just steal your wallet at gunpoint, and that's not pleasant either.

Obviously, and that's a shame. However, as the D.C. and Chicago gun bans have demonstrated, gun control in America (and in some other places, for example England) doesn't seem to have much effect on criminal uses of guns. Ask any ATF agent: the criminal gun market is one of upward substitution. They will carry guns, no matter how steep the cost or difficulty. If guns are banned to the point where it's no longer easy for criminals to steal them from people's homes or buy them on the street, they'll be smuggled into the country just as drugs currently are, and we'll lose all oversight into the gun trade.

As klangklangston points out, we have a lot of guns which aren't being used irresponsibly; I simply don't see how we can get the cat back in the bag, at this point, and given the sheer size of the numbers involved, I'm not convinced that gun control should be a major issue at all. A problem that literally affects less than one-third of one percent of American guns, even if we count your 500,000 non-fatal crimes, is simply not worth banning all guns and disenfranchising millions of people to solve. Instead, we should be concentrating on mitigating the root causes of violence and crime.
posted by vorfeed at 2:44 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, it's an applicable analogy. If you really believe your legal principles, you should be willing to apply them to any kind of weapon.

That's silly reasoning, because:

1) A kitchen knife is not a weapon. It is a kitchen tool that can be used as a weapon. So can flowerpots. A gun, on the other hand, is solely a weapon. That it can be used for e.g. target shooting is secondary to its primary purpose.

2) Not all weapons are created equal. A nuke is more dangerous and deadly than a howitzer is more dangerous and deadly than a handgun is more dangerous and deadly than a knife. Guns depersonalize violence; you pull a trigger and someone else is wounded or dead. Knives require getting up close and personal (which means more likelihood of getting away and/or fighting back), are less likely to result in death, and wounds can be fixed far, far easier.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:44 PM on June 26, 2008


Banning guns simply disarms law-abiding folks. It doesn't keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

If gay marriage were outlawed, only gay outlaws would have in-laws.
posted by erniepan at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


A gun, on the other hand, is solely a weapon. That it can be used for e.g. target shooting is secondary to its primary purpose.

I have a .22 target rifle with a scope on it. It's a really good target rifle, but a pretty shitty weapon at any range and unusable inside 50 feet. I also have a pellet gun for killing rats. It's sole purpose is to kill rats, but is completely useless for anything larger. What about my pocketknife that isn't suitable for dicing carrots, but would probably be serviceable for stabbing someone?
posted by electroboy at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2008


>>"on a previously-unidentified "penumbra of privacy" throughout the Constitution"

>"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" seems more like umbra to me.


It might have something to do with this, as well:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The right to conduct your own sexual affairs and activities in private and have them treated as private matters is one that most would understand as being quite basic.
posted by flug at 3:24 PM on June 26, 2008


I understood that you didn't like my usage of the word USAian so I stopped. As I pointed out, everyone understood what I meant and the term isn't pejorative.

Everyone understood that you are a troll, maybe. Of course it's a perjorative term -- the use of it contains a critique of the term "American" as an appropriation of a term that should belong to all the countries of North, Central, and South America. That may even be a correct critique -- but to deny that it is a critique is one of the ways you are being disingenuous here. And in the context you are using it, it subtracts clarity (because we are not talking about a gun ban in a city called Washington, DC, in Brazil, are we?) -- why the redundant emphasis on nationalism in a thread about a national issue? Was there some widespread confusion on the part of MeFi's overseas membership about which country's politics were being discussed here?

Look, as someone who has lived in a number of countries, my reaction to your posting is that I wish you would man up enough to move somewhere else if you dislike living in the US this much. My approach when living (or visiting) other countries is to behave as a guest. That doesn't mean being silent and refraining from speaking up when necessary -- but it does mean having the basic politeness and honesty to understand why a guest going over the top in criticism is rude. (And when that criticism is, as you tend to do, couched in terms that vary from morally repugnant to disingenuous, it's that much worse.) So yeah, let us know if we need to take up a collection to get you that one way ticket back to paradise. (I'm hardly a "love it or leave it" person, but if you don't like a place, and you have citizenship somewhere else, that sounds to me like a no-brainer of a decision.)
posted by Forktine at 3:34 PM on June 26, 2008


YAWN-Hominem.

You harp on gun-owners as looking for "the easy solution" or being "weak or impulsive". Maybe their just smart enough, and not so UTOPIAN, that they realize that solving these fundamental causes of violence WILL NOT HAPPEN OVER NIGHT. Maybe they would like the ability to protect themselves and their families WHILE these problems are being worked on.


I'm not interested in egging on another round of your passive bullying of everyone who disagrees with you in another gun thread, jsonic, but I find it interesting that my "harping" (translated: one comment) was an "ad-hominem attack" because I noted that people buying guns in inner cities are scared and impulsive due to factors of which a handful you seem to agree with.

"Maybe they would like the ability to protect themselves and their families WHILE these problems are being worked on" doesn't really seem to contradict my original statement that handguns are purchased out of fear and are not the "solution" to the long-term problem causing said fear to begin with.

Do you disagree with my pointing out that race is a major factor in societal tension regarding crime and poverty? Moreover, do you actually believe people are just yearning to purchase handguns on principle, and not because they're afraid of the things they're worried they'd have to use a handgun on? If that's the case then you would sound far more "utopian" than I ever could.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:45 PM on June 26, 2008


It might have something to do with this, as well:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Unfortunately, the Court decided long ago to pretty much flat-out ignore Amendments IX and X.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:54 PM on June 26, 2008


You crack me up, XQUZYPHYR.

You come into a thread calling gun-owners "weak" and "impulsive" and directly implying that they are only looking for an easy way out and are not interested in fixing the real issues of society. Yet you claim I'm the one trying to bully people.

And you keep conjuring this idea of gun-owners as fearful. Guns are just like insurance. They're something you probably won't need to use for defense, but they're invaluable if you do need them. The mindset of gun owners is much closer to the boy scout's Be Prepared motto.

I know you personally like to hate those who don't share your opinion on gun issues. The cool thing about today's ruling is that your opinion really doesn't matter anymore with-respect-to the Constitutionality of individual firearm ownership. It's now on par with the freedom of speech. That's a wonderful thing.
posted by jsonic at 4:27 PM on June 26, 2008


let me demonstrate my psychic powers.
If some of you had your way and banned guns across the US, you would have thousands of mogadishus and ramadis starring whatever mercenaries or federal agents you sent out to collect those illegal weapons.
You have no idea of the thousands of rounds of armor piercing high velocity rifle rounds that are floating around the cities and towns of this nation. (just about any decent rifle can go through most body armor)
posted by Megafly at 4:28 PM on June 26, 2008


It seems to me that there exists a pattern where people arguing against a Constitutional right to bear arms will virtually always invoke the idea that guns are tools of violence and lead to shooting deaths. This strikes me as a pure example of argumentum ad consequentiam.

"Aa Constitutional right to bear arms leads (in their opinion) to bad consequences, therefore there is no Constitutional right to bear arms".

Can someone in favor of banning handguns address this for me? How is it not a logical fallacy of the argumentum ad consequentiam variety? And if this isn't the argument against a Constitutional right to bear arms, why bring up the idea that guns cause violence or lead to deaths or are designed only to kill in the first place? I can't see any reason to bring those things up that does not lead to a logical fallacy in the debate over the second amendment.

Whether guns are bad is irrelevant. Whether more guns leads to more violence is irrelevant. Whether more guns leads to less violence is irrelevant. Whether guns lead to oppression or whether guns prevent oppression is irrelevant. Whether guns prevent more deaths than they cause is irrelevant.

Isn't the only relevant metric in this debate whether or not the Second Amendment grants an individual right or not? How is any of the above relevant to that question?
posted by Justinian at 4:35 PM on June 26, 2008


If some of you had your way and banned guns across the US, you would have thousands of mogadishus and ramadis

We pretty much have this situation in Philadelphia already, without a gun ban. Maybe it's time to rethink unfettered gun access, which clearly isn't working.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:36 PM on June 26, 2008


"And you keep conjuring this idea of gun-owners as fearful. Guns are just like insurance. They're something you probably won't need to use for defense, but they're invaluable if you do need them. The mindset of gun owners is much closer to the boy scout's Be Prepared motto."

And it's easy to argue that gun owners buying guns for protection have made a poor assessment of relative risk, and are also likely to make poor assessments of relative risk in the future, leading them to use guns when guns aren't necessary. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a crackhead about to rape your family.
posted by klangklangston at 4:45 PM on June 26, 2008


You do realize that those evil "conservative justices" were in the dissent in that case and it was the "liberal"(?) justices that were in the majority? The "conservative justices" were the ones who held that if it is grown and sold in California, then it cannot be regulated by the federal government. The "liberal justices" were the ones who said that the sweet, sweet pot might effect interstate commerce so the feds could regulate it under the CSA.

Oops.


Ahem.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

So oops yourself, sparky. The only justice in the dissent on that case who's still on the court is Thomas, and given how little independent thinking he does in most other cases I am little consoled. Alito and Roberts are far more like Scalia than they are O'Connor or Rehnquist.

Also, in the future I'll thank you to not put words into my mouth with that horsehockey "evil" editorializing that I never said. It may suit you and other partisans - on both sides - to think of the world in those kind of terms but I don't.
posted by phearlez at 4:55 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't the only relevant metric in this debate whether or not the Second Amendment grants an individual right or not?

That's the only relevant question for the Supreme Court to decide; it's not the only relevant question for the public to debate. Now that we're clear (albeit not nearly clear enough) that the Bill of Rights allows individuals to be armed, it's entirely justified for people who think that's a bad idea to try to start persuading the rest of us that that aspect of the Bill of Rights ought to be changed. I know there are some ends-justify-the-means types who think the Bill of Rights ought to just be "interpreted differently" without going through the amendment process, and fuck them, but for people who honestly want the Second Amendment to be limited or repealed, this is as good a time as any to talk about it.
posted by roystgnr at 4:58 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


First off, let me thank aiq for being a good sport about his (barely) previous thread being deleted and making his thoughtful points here instead.

Secondly, I'm not a fan of guns. I know how to shoot one, and they generally scare the hell out of me, but I feel like I should clear up what appear to be some common misperceptions around here.

1. While I disagree with Scalia most of the time, he's not a bad writer. In fact, he's generally considered from both sides of the political spectrum to be the best writer on the bench, which is probably why he's the go-to guy for all the conservative Justices. Personally, I think Posner and Kozinsky are both superior to Scalia in this regard, but of the 9 Supremes, Scalia's the guy you want for a clear, unambiguous and readable interpretation of the constitution, even if it's not your preferred reading.

2. I don't know if anybody actually believes this, but I get the feeling from a lot of these comments that there was some possibility that this decision could have excised the 2nd amendment from the constitution. SCOTUS doesn't do that, and can't do that. As much as they may disagree with it, SCOTUS cannot view the Constitution as it exists as anything other than an infallible authority. They can't get rid of the 3/5 rule, nor the text of the 18th amendment. It's up to the other branches to do that. And if the other branches have legislated or executed outside of the bounds of the constitution, SCOTUS must bring them back in bounds, even if they like what the President or Congress has done.

3. This decision is close to exactly what liberal legal scholars expected, and what they wanted as well. The fear was that either the court would strike down gun control categorically (unlikely with Kennedy still there, but possible) or else side with D.C. (entirely unlikely but also possible) and in doing so stir the NRA into their most massive political campaign ever. Lawyers wanted a real interpretation of the 2nd amendment, with enough depth and clarity so that we'd finally know what we were working with.

4. Scalia's opinion truly is entirely reasonable, and far more moderate than at least I expected. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed, but he does allow it to be abridged, and then he outlines how. It's also a victory for state's rights, coming from a federal court, not handing down the law but rather giving states (and Federal districts, natch) the ability to choose for themselves within wide, but well defined, margins.

5. The only things even possible to debate on this issue were the meaning and legal weight of the prefatory clause, and possibly the distinction between "infringed" (i.e. 2nd amendment) and "abridged" (i.e. 1st amendment). Scalia seemed to decide that the prefatory clause was merely a recital with limited or no weight (which has some disagreement) and that infringement speaks to a much more severe action than abridgment (which I'd harbor that the dissent believes as well.) The actual "right to bear arms," was not, and cannot, be up for debate in the Supreme Court, but rather what regulations may be made upon it.

6. The criminals in D.C. already have guns, and I doubt there are many of them who were going to commit robberies and murders with guns who were waiting for the chance to purchase a weapon in the district rather than taking the metro to Roslyn or Arlington. I lived the last year in an awful neighborhood in D.C., and gunfire was the sound of nightfall. This ruling will not likely cause a flood of guns into criminals' hands. If nothing else, guns are generally cheaper on the black market anyway because people are buying them from drug addicts who stole them in the first place.

7. This doesn't mean that other gun crime statistics won't rise. I predict a significant uptick in gun-related domestic violence and a smaller uptick in gun-related rapes. I've got no figures to support this theory, just a hunch.

8. In my experience, whether an urban area allows guns or doesn't has very little to do with the gun-related crime rate. Gang culture does. In the 90's, Houston and D.C. battled back and forth for having the highest murder rates. In general, these were not being committed with knives, poison, lead pipes or candlesticks. D.C. had the fiercest gun ban, and Texas had one of the most lenient. What they both had was a gang epidemic, massive economic disparity, and ghettos side by side with the richest parts of town. Guns do not create gang culture or other crimes. They often create escalation in crime, but the bigger problem is elsewhere, and we're not truly addressing it.

The only parallel I can think of that might (and might not) hold with this and drugs is my argument that, if drugs are legalized, then at least the governments can regulate them and tax the shit out of them. This would take longer with guns than with drugs, of course, because of political interests in something that citizens feel strongly about keeping and something which citizens feel should be regulated or illegal anyway, but it could happen, eventually. Once there's more incentive to obtain a gun legally than to steal one or buy it off the black market, gun control can be effective in its goals. Until then, it will keep sputtering for results and the issue will keep feeding the coffers of gun-control opponents.

Last thing: I can see no possible reason not to force anyone buying a firearm legally for the first time to go to a week-long course not only on gun safety, but the laws on battery, "fighting words," self defense, and all other relevant law that a gun owner need know in order to operate his firearm safely and within the laws of his place of residence. I would also prefer that a marksmanship test be required. I don't know if this exists anywhere in the U.S., or if there would be similar legal problems with enforcing it, but if someone's going to ever fire a gun at another person, I'd like my best assurances that they won't hit someone they weren't aiming for, at the very least.

Okay, really last thing: Citizens of the U.S. have been recognized around the world as Americans even since we took up small arms against the world's greatest military power, won, and ceased being known as colonials. To insist on another, awkward, unpronounceable name that no one uses is an attempt to deny us of our identity, and is inherently pejorative. Do it if you want, as your speech is protected, but others are free to get pissed at you for it as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:02 PM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


I know you personally like to hate those who don't share your opinion on gun issues.

1. Mmmm.... Projection.
2. So are you done making an ad-hominem attack on me for responding to your claiming I'm making an ad-hominem attack on something? Because then maybe you can actually answer my question.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:06 PM on June 26, 2008


we have a lot of guns which aren't being used irresponsibly; I simply don't see how we can get the cat back in the bag, at this point

Unfortunately our society seems uninterested in addressing the practicality of solutions, only the Rightness of them. Teens shouldn't have sex, so we're not going to provide them useful information on how to have sex safely. Society would be better if nobody had guns, so we'll ban them across the board. It's been fun in recent years to beat up on the Bush administration by making jokes about a "reality-based community" but they're not unique in this on the political spectrum, just less competent.
posted by phearlez at 5:07 PM on June 26, 2008


Regarding the second amendment's "a well regulated militia being necessary," the resourceful Justice Scalia opines: "the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right." Charming. The brilliant Scalia strikes again! I'm going to have to work his language into my own daily use:

"While my staying home from work has limited the degree of fit between myself and my professional duties..."

"While my habit of embezzling has limited the degree of fit between the shareholders and their money..."

"While your breaking up with me has limited the the degree of fit between our beliefs about your obligations to me as my significant other..."


Mr. Scalia may have helped to engineer a social policy that will result in more dead Americans, and easier access to handgun than to high-flow showerheads, but at least he's given us a novel and charmingly specious neologism with which we can season our sloppiest arguments.
posted by washburn at 5:22 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


We pretty much have this [Mogadishu/Ramadi] situation in Philadelphia already, without a gun ban. Maybe it's time to rethink unfettered gun access, which clearly isn't working.

Maybe it's time to rethink my sightseeing day trip down there next week.
posted by oaf at 5:34 PM on June 26, 2008


XQUZYPHYR, why don't you ask this guy your question?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:36 PM on June 26, 2008


So oops yourself, sparky

Oh snap.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 PM on June 26, 2008


Navelgazer writes "I lived the last year in an awful neighborhood in D.C., and gunfire was the sound of nightfall."

Is this an exaggeration or is gunfire a routine or even expected sound during the night time hours in DC?
posted by Mitheral at 6:50 PM on June 26, 2008


It is not an exaggeration at all, at least out by RFK. I'd gotten used to it in Brooklyn, to an extent, but it was every night in my neighborhood in D.C., and only got worse as Summer drew on. in early May, I called 911 for the first time in my life when the gunfire was right outside my window. No one was hurt, but it scared the shit out of me. So yeah, D.C. has guns already. I think it's bullshit to believe that homeowners having guns will do much to drop the crime rate, but people should probably be allowed to protect themselves and their families. I just want them to know how to do so properly.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:02 PM on June 26, 2008


2. I don't know if anybody actually believes this, but I get the feeling from a lot of these comments that there was some possibility that this decision could have excised the 2nd amendment from the constitution. SCOTUS doesn't do that, and can't do that.

Navelgazer: I think the possibility some were entertaining was that the court wouldn't rule that the amendment grants an individual right to gun ownership, since, you know, there's that whole clause in there that closely relates the right to bear arms to the importance of keeping well-armed militias.

In fact, up until this ruling, the case law was unclear about whether any such individual right to gun ownership could be inferred from the 2nd amendment. That's why the court bothered to hear this case at all. I still don't think it's settled over the long-term. Once another uber-liberal court comes along in another few decades when the pendulum swings the other way, they'll overturn the previous court's ruling and then we'll be right back to square one. I predict this particular court's decisions aren't going to stand up well under scrutiny of history. Even the ones that are basically sound. Besides, the argument for the majority opinion is all wrong. The argument should be based on this and only this:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:06 PM on June 26, 2008


Roberts's Rules:
In Roberts’s view, the most successful chief justices help their colleagues speak with one voice. Unanimous, or nearly unanimous, decisions are hard to overturn and contribute to the stability of the law and the continuity of the Court; by contrast, closely divided, 5–4 decisions make it harder for the public to respect the Court as an impartial institution that transcends partisan politics.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:30 PM on June 26, 2008


"The United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that the Constitution of the United States guarantees that an individual has an inviolable right to own and use a gun for purposes of self defense. A family in Iraq was just blown up illustrating that principle."
posted by homunculus at 7:41 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]



"As a Constitutional right to bear arms leads (in their opinion) to bad consequences, therefore there is no Constitutional right to bear arms".


Except that's not what I, certainly, am saying. I'm saying there shouldn't be a Constitutional amendment to bear arms, or if there must be, then it should actually--really crazy thought here--take into account the context of the time it was written in, and its purpose. But that's apparently silly.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:13 PM on June 26, 2008


Navelgazer: It [nightly gunfire] is not an exaggeration at all, at least out by RFK.

My personal experience contradicts yours. I lived just west of RFK (one block south and east from where your profile points) from 2000 to 2006 and heard gunfire exactly three times*. The apartment did not have air-conditioning so the windows and doors were open from early Spring to late Fall; when there was gunfire, we'd hear it. Of the shrines I saw on a regular basis all were due to a death involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, except one which was a murder by knife.
*I recognize that neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River are another story entirely. I worked on a Habitat for Humanity project at East Capitol and 49th where we had to replace siding almost weekly because of bullet holes.
posted by peeedro at 9:57 PM on June 26, 2008


Want to keep your guns and lower your rate of gun violence? Look to Switzerland, America.

Switzerland has only a 2% reduction from the US in its ratio of gun to non-gun homicides.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:54 PM on June 26, 2008


Sorry, that was 37% homicides with firearms (Swiss) to the 39% (US) homicides with firearms. A better example might be Finland, which has a higher per capita gun ownership than Switzerland with only 16% homicides with firearms.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:58 PM on June 26, 2008


Speaking of D.C., guns, drugs and crime, here's a current release from the John Birch Society website. (Guns-to-the-people advocacy is near the end of the article.)
posted by telstar at 12:35 AM on June 27, 2008


Late to the party...

How so? Is there a different class of arms that people favor over handguns for self defense?

Yeah: shotguns. Way, way, way more practical for self-defense. They're much easier to aim, and their dispersal pattern (conical) is far more likely to hit someone than a round from a handgun (linear). Additionally, you have more non-lethal options (buckshot, the butt of the weapon, etc.) than with a handgun. Finally, to someone breaking into your home, there's probably no scarier sound in the world than a shotgun being pumped. It's a loud and distinctive. There's simply no comparison between the two in the hands of "normal" folk. Most people don't realize just how difficult it is to hit a moving target more than 20ft. away with a pistol.

Of course, this assumes self-defense is limited to the home. It would be more than a little disconcerting to walk around town and see people with shotguns strapped to their backs/sides. For portable self-defense, handguns still win.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:37 AM on June 27, 2008


I think you mean birdshot or beanbag rounds for non-lethal. Also 20 feet away is ridiculously far for a hypothetical example of the distance you'd have to be defending yourself from. Have you ever in your life gotten in a fight or been robbed where the guy was telegraphing his intentions from that far away? A sawed off shotgun makes more sense than a handgun for self defense, but I'm not sure about a full length shotgun. One nice thing about shotgun shot though is that it presumably won't travel through walls and kill your neighbors.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:00 AM on June 27, 2008


The NRA Song

Guns are neat, Guns are sweet
Guns the tool, what makes you cool.
Guns are fine, Guns are mine
Guns are things, that Jesus brings!

Guns for loonies, Guns for cons
Guns for Moonies, Guns for moms!

Guns are fun for everyone, buy them up by the ton.
Guns for me, Guns for you, Guns for nuts and children too!
Guns at home, Guns at work, Guns at play, Guns berserk!

Tons and tons of great big Guns,
Are tons and tons of great big fun!

I’ve got Guns up my nose ‘tween my ears and by my toes.
I’m no fool, I’m so cool, I take Guns to my school.
I take Guns in my car, to the store and to the bar.
I got Guns in a drawer, in my pocket and on the floor.
I got Guns on the wall, behind the toilet and in the hall.

I got guns in my bed, one is growing from my head!
Get a Gun and get it fast, Gun-Gun shoot-shoot is a blast!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


dirtynumbangelboy > then it should actually--really crazy thought here--take into account the context of the time it was written in, and its purpose.

Yeah. Much of the trouble is the way the Constitution has been fetishized, so that all argument has to use it as a fixed premise, rather than breaking out of the box and questioning its assumptions.

The Constitution is not Asimov's Three Laws or The Ten Commandments. The Second Amendment in particular was written as a political compromise between two long-defunct factions to provide a basis for a militia when, nationally, the USA was newly-formed and needed particularly structured militias to protect against the serious risk of destabilisation from inside and out; and when, personally, for many people guns were genuinely needed for hunting and self-defence.

Hello? Anyone noticed the world has moved on? The USA has been perfectly capable of revising its Constitution to accommodate cultural changes such as the abolition of slavery. Time to remove equally anachronistic assumptions about reasons for gun ownership rooted 200 years ago in a time of semi-anarchy when people were running around in coonskin caps shooting each other in the back.
posted by raygirvan at 9:26 AM on June 27, 2008


Even the most conservative estimate places the number of defensive gun uses...

Unintended irony.

Yes, I've heard a gun nut acquaintance of mine brag that he had used his gun four times to protect himself. Funny, he and I run in the same circles and pretty much do the same sort of things and I've NEVER had to use a gun to protect myself. Would those four "incidents" have been counted in those surveys? I suspect they would. Were they real? I suspect they existed in his head. He's kind of a macho, swaggerer, hence the need to possess a firearm for personal protection against imagined threats.

I realize that what I am describing is anecdote, which is not the singular of "data", but the point I am making is that these surveys are composed of just such anecdotes. Credible? Not compared to the actual mortality statistics quoted by the poster.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2008


Much of the trouble is the way the Constitution has been fetishized

I'm not sure what the Supreme Court is supposed to do besides interpret the Constitution. Are they supposed to decide that the Second Amendment, because it's a relic of the late 1700s, is no longer part of the Constitution?

The USA has been perfectly capable of revising its Constitution to accommodate cultural changes such as the abolition of slavery.

Assuming the traditional, and probably easier, method of amending the Constitution, you need: yeas from two thirds of the Senate, two thirds of the House, and yeas from the majority of each of 38 state legislatures.

Or to put it in perspective, on the wrong day, all you need is 17 senators voting nay to kill an amendment.
posted by oaf at 11:26 AM on June 27, 2008


I'm not sure what the Supreme Court is supposed to do besides interpret the Constitution.

In its context, yes. All laws need to be evaluated in both the context of the time they were written and the current time. Given that (as said above) "The Second Amendment in particular was written as a political compromise between two long-defunct factions to provide a basis for a militia when, nationally, the USA was newly-formed and needed particularly structured militias to protect against the serious risk of destabilisation from inside and out; and when, personally, for many people guns were genuinely needed for hunting and self-defence." the SCOTUS has failed mightily on the first count.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2008


> I’ve got Guns up my nose ‘tween my ears and by my toes.
> I’m no fool, I’m so cool, I take Guns to my school.
> I got guns in my bed, one is growing from my head!
> Get a Gun and get it fast, Gun-Gun shoot-shoot is a blast!
> posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:05 PM on June 27 [+] [!]

Heh. Don't move to Canada, Kirth, that would be a hate crime.
posted by jfuller at 12:00 PM on June 27, 2008


wtf?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:02 PM on June 27, 2008


All laws need to be evaluated in both the context of the time they were written and the current time.

I don't think the Constitution says that. Doing so is up to the Court, and is not automatically part of their mandate.
posted by oaf at 12:44 PM on June 27, 2008


Heh. Don't move to Canada, Kirth, that would be a hate crime.

Moving to Canada would be a hate crime? What if I did it for love?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:56 PM on June 27, 2008


Yeah. Much of the trouble is the way the Constitution has been fetishized, so that all argument has to use it as a fixed premise

actually, yes, in an american court of law, it has to be used as a fixed premise, because, after all, that's what the purpose of the constitution is and what the courts are supposed to do

they are not political debating societies like the house of lords

The Second Amendment in particular was written as a political compromise between two long-defunct factions

which is why you hear so much debate about states' rights these days - your understanding of federalism and anti-federalism and why they are still important today is really lacking

and when, personally, for many people guns were genuinely needed for hunting and self-defence.

some people still think they need their guns for self-defense - and hunting is not some distant, outdated activity in today's USA

The USA has been perfectly capable of revising its Constitution to accommodate cultural changes such as the abolition of slavery.

except that it didn't - i suggest you read the 13th amendment a little more carefully than you have so far

Time to remove equally anachronistic assumptions about reasons for gun ownership rooted 200 years ago in a time of semi-anarchy when people were running around in coonskin caps shooting each other in the back.

a) the american people don't want to and don't feel that they're being anachronistic
b) the american people don't accept advice from ignorant brits whose knowledge of our country, history and government seem to be derived from walt disney and nick at night
c) if we wanted people like you to run our country we wouldn't have rebelled in the first place

---

All laws need to be evaluated in both the context of the time they were written and the current time.

by the people who live in the country that has the laws - that leaves you out

the SCOTUS has failed mightily on the first count.

as already pointed out, the context of federalism vs anti-federalism is still active

not that a person living somewhere else would know that
posted by pyramid termite at 1:43 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


by the people who live in the country that has the laws - that leaves you out

Right, so I can look forward to not seeing you in any threads dealing with Canada?

Somehow I think you'll see that as different.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:17 PM on June 27, 2008


Right, so I can look forward to not seeing you in any threads dealing with Canada?

that would be a lot like asking the red wings to stop playing hockey
posted by pyramid termite at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2008


Alright, so let me get this clear.

Canadians commenting on American affairs: Not allowed!

Americans commenting on Canadian affairs: Allowed!

Is that actually what you're saying?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:36 PM on June 27, 2008


what i'm saying is that we can have strictly cactus relations
posted by pyramid termite at 5:49 PM on June 27, 2008


Look, if you guys could take any of the personal infighting to email, that'd be great. Nobody is banned from talking about Country X They're Not From, and nobody is banned from reasonably disagreeing about different political philosophies or whatever, and nobody is even banned from having a bit of an argument, but this is just kind of spinning away from anything but user-vs-user and you need to cut it out.
posted by cortex at 8:40 PM on June 27, 2008


Seriously, end of discussion, drop it now in here.
posted by cortex at 7:02 AM on June 28, 2008


One nice thing about shotgun shot though is that it presumably won't travel through walls and kill your neighbors.

Good points, all of them... this one in particular.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2008


Too bad it's not true with standard stick framing construction. (Box of truth previously on MetaFilter.)
posted by Mitheral at 9:35 PM on June 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks Mitheral, If I ever go in for the whole home defense craze I guess I'll have to get something other than a shotgun.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:40 AM on June 29, 2008


To celebrate, I went out and shot some handguns for the first time yesterday. I only needed to fire this one once. Not as bad a kick as I'd expected, but a hell of a bang.

Yes, it was paper targets on a proper range, not human targets.
posted by Eideteker at 4:57 AM on June 29, 2008


Eideteker, that is one absurd gun. I thought the .454 Casull was bad. I'm never firing something the recoil from which will make me physically ill all day after one or two shots.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:15 AM on June 29, 2008


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