July 26th, 2006

Let’s Complicate Some Issues!

One thing that would really improve political discourse, and maybe even lead to some better results, would be for all of us to stop oversimplifying issues. Our culture has fallen into a bad habit of trying to turn nearly every subject into a simple duality, with two opposite positions and no gray areas, no third or fourth or fifth possibilities, no troubling ambiguities. It makes life easier in the short run. We don’t have to think, all we have to do is try to yell louder than the obviously evil or crazy people on the other side. But it doesn’t work most of the time. There aren’t many issues that are really that simple, because if they were, they wouldn’t be issues. The only way either liberals or conservatives can turn them into such exercises in obviousness is to omit big parts of the picture, and that guarantees that we’re not seeing it accurately.

One example close to my heart is gun control. I find myself on the opposite side of this issue from a lot of liberals, and agreeing with some conservatives with whom I disagree on nearly everything else. It puts me in the position of voting for candidates I dread seeing take office, because though they stand for nearly everything else I believe in, some of them are pretty stridently advocating ending or drastically reducing a freedom that means a great deal to me. And yet I can’t vote for their opponents, because they’re equally determined to wreak havoc on a number of other freedoms I also value very highly.

As George Lakoff pointed out in his new book and in the excellent interview Austin did with him, it’s a question of how we frame the problem. To listen to the two sides (that false dualism), it sounds as if two completely different discussions are taking place because they’re framing it so differently. So the first step would be to boil it down to what it’s really about, what’s underneath the details, what’s at a deeper level than guns or abortion or whatever else we’re upset about.

In the case of gun control, it’s a matter of the tradeoffs between freedom and security and between the rights of the individual and the community. There are people who would argue that no one should have guns, period. Why? Because they want everyone to be safe. There’s nothing wrong with that—it’s a noble idea. But complete safety is impossible. On the other side of the divide, some would argue that there should be no restrictions on gun ownership. Why? Because they want everyone to have as much freedom as possible. Nothing wrong with that either, and that’s also impossible.

The solution that a democracy hopes to find is a balance, a degree of safety and feeling comfortable on the one hand and a degree of freedom and feeling unfettered on the other hand that everyone can accept, even if it doesn’t satisfy the most extreme desires at either end of the spectrum. So the question is, how much control should a government be able to exert over its citizens in order to carry out its obligation to try to protect the community at large from individuals who would otherwise run amok? And how much freedom is an individual entitled to, despite the fact that it reduces the feelings or reality of safety or comfort of the neighbors? This is the same question that causes people to come to blows over whether the neighborhood association should be able to tell someone what color they can paint their house, whether a liquor license will be granted at a given address, whether a street should have speed bumps, and so on. When it comes to guns the feelings about both freedom and safety/comfort are more visceral and intense.
So what would be a reasonable compromise? Well, maybe we could look at other situations that have something in common with this one and are being handled more or less successfully and see whether we could adapt those solutions.

Guns are very dangerous. They are also very useful for self-protection and hunting for food, and for people who enjoy target shooting or other recreational gun sports, a great deal of fun. They’re deeply embedded in our culture, at least in large parts of it. Guns are a big part of what many people think of as the American way of life.

What else does this describe? Well, cars, for one thing. Cars are very dangerous; they are very useful, and for some purposes, necessary, and to a lot of people a source of great pleasure. Cars are as deeply embedded in American culture as guns. Hell, they name cars after guns, along with warships, edged weapons, and predatory animals, and you could probably find a gun named after a car although I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

So how do we handle cars? Not ideally, but we have a way that works. We don’t say, “Cars are dangerous, so we can’t let you have them because you might hurt someone else or yourself with them.” Neither do we say, “There are no restrictions on owning and operating cars, because this is a fundamental American freedom.”

We have some pretty stringent rules. Before we let someone own or drive a car, we require that he or she demonstrate the ability to do so safely and competently and get a license documenting that accomplishment. We require cars to be registered and maintained in safe condition, and we require people operating them to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance. We make it a serious crime to operate a car when drunk, high or just too tired. We have speed limits, traffic signals, and other controls on how and where we can drive. But we pretty much guarantee that unless someone has demonstrated that he or she can’t be trusted in a car, that person can buy and drive any car that he or she has the money to get, and can drive it anywhere and in any manner that is not against the law in order to protect the community.

Gun owners strongly resist the idea of having to register their guns, because they have the very reasonable fear that if they are registered, sooner or later someone from the government will show up to confiscate them. I say that’s a reasonable fear, because there are a fair number of politicians who advocate exactly that. You can bet that very few people would want to register their cars if they thought that might lead to their being arbitrarily taken away, either.

So—would it work to treat guns the way we treat cars? Place restrictions on their possession and use to protect the public, but guarantee that as long as they’re used responsibly, ownership will not be threatened? That might be a Constitutional amendment worth taking up. The Second Amendment is a marvel of ambiguity, and it would be good to clear it up.

Personally, I would have no problem with complying with any of the restrictions I mentioned about cars when it comes to my guns. I’ve undergone decades of training and I did go through a licensing process to get my concealed carry permit; any time I buy a gun, I submit to an instant background check that for all intents and purposes, lets someone somewhere know I just bought another one; and I accept the fact that I can only shoot them in legally sanctioned places in a carefully controlled manner. Further, owing to their portability and potential for theft, I accept the fact that in order to be a responsible gun owner, I need to keep them locked in a safe when they aren’t in my direct personal control, i.e., in my hands, on my person, or within reach. I keep them unloaded except when I’m going to use them, I don’t point them at anything I don’t intend to shoot, I don’t put my finger on the trigger until I’m ready to pull said trigger, and I have to make sure of what’s behind my target so I don’t shoot through it and hit someone or something that shouldn’t be subjected to that danger. I don’t drink or use recreational drugs anyway, but if I did, I wouldn’t shoot under the influence, and I don’t go shooting if I’m not rested. Although I have a concealed carry license, it has restrictions on where I can take a gun, and I don’t take one where I shouldn’t (places that sell alcohol, schools, government buildings, anyplace posted as not allowing them, Native American reservations, national and state parks, and some other odds and ends). If we did require liability insurance for gun owners, I’d qualify for the “little old lady from Pasadena” rate.

Within those limits, my personal opinion is that I ought to be allowed to own and shoot any gun I want and can afford, again as long as I am responsible and safe with it. George Lakoff talked about automatic weapons as a problem and as legal restrictions as a solution. That’s not valid—he was talking about gang members using them to shoot people, and those gang members don’t buy their guns legally anyway. I could legally own and shoot a machine gun if I chose to pay a fairly hefty fee and if I passed a fairly stringent background check, and I think that’s the way it should be. That’s already too limited for me; the government banned the importation or manufacture of any new machine guns for the civilian market years ago, so the ones that already exist are all there are, and they keep getting more and more expensive. To argue that I shouldn’t be able to own a machine gun because I don’t need it for hunting or target shooting makes no more sense than arguing that people shouldn’t be able to buy fast cars because no one really needs one. Should we put a ban on manufacturing any more Corvettes, so that only those already on the road could be sold or resold? Actually, that would make more sense, because a performance car is a lot worse for the environment than a machine gun.

With guns, as with cars, the freedoms they help provide are important ones. In America, we’re free to pick up and head for the other side of the country if we want, but unless we have the means to do so, that freedom is meaningless. One of the telltale signs of a totalitarian system is tightly restricted domestic travel. When I was a teenager my family went on vacation in Mexico, which was certainly not North Korea but not exactly as free as we’re used to here either. It struck me as weird and creepy that every hour or so, we’d come to a roadblock where people in uniforms and sunglasses with guns would carefully look us over and inspect our papers before letting us go on our way. I’d never seen anything like that here (I have now, which doesn’t make me happy). I want to be able to take it for granted that if I can afford to do so, I can get in my car and drive to Maine, Washington, or Florida without needing an internal passport or having to justify my trip to anyone.

The freedoms that guns provide are, if anything, even more visceral. I know that if I’m carrying my .45 I can protect my family and myself in situations where it would be patently unrealistic to think that the police could get there in time, even if I was able to call them. I don’t look for trouble, and I go out of my way to avoid it, but if I get cornered in a situation of last resort, I’ll have the means to protect myself. And the private ownership of guns has historically been a safeguard against tyranny, and something that tyrants hated. When the Minutemen fired the “shots heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord, they were fighting British troops who had been sent to their communities to confiscate their guns. The rifles they owned were pretty much the state of the military art at that time—obviously, that’s no longer the case. I don’t have a Blackhawk attack chopper, an M1 tank, or a rocket launcher, and I don’t know anyone who does. But the weapons we do have would be enough to give any would-be President-For-Life pause. And that’s the way it should be. I tend to be suspicious of bumper-sticker philosophy, since it lends itself to the kind of oversimplification I started out talking about, but I agree with the sticker that says, “I fear the government that fears my guns.” What it really boils down to is that guns are a potent form of raw power. Mao said that power comes from the muzzle of a gun—it’s only one form of power, but in that limited sense he was right. So the question is how much power should individuals have, and how much should be reserved for the government? Personally, I think that equation is already far out of balance in favor of the government.

So perhaps part of the solution is an explicit, formalized tradeoff in which gun owners would accept certain requirements and restrictions in return for guarantees of certain freedoms, in perpetuity.

Another part of the solution is education. When most people didn’t have cars and had never even ridden in one, they were scary, and a lot of people wanted to ban them. Familiarization eased their concerns. I’ve watched my wife go through a similar process with guns. She had very little experience with them and was kind of spooked with having them around, but rather than simply say, “They’re evil! Get rid of them,” she said, “I want to learn how to handle them safely and use them competently.” She did so, and though she has a very healthy respect for the dangers they pose if treated recklessly, she doesn’t lose any sleep over their presence. One of the problems with this issue is that so many of the people who yell the loudest know the least about what they’re talking about. Makes me think of the Web site where some smartass has a live cam sitting watching a rifle—one of the notorious assault rifles at that—that is loaded and cocked, but sitting in front of the camera with no one touching it. It’s been there for a long time, and that rifle hasn’t gone off yet. A lot of legislators and voters base their opinions about guns on appearances or on sensationalist news coverage of isolated incidents. For example, I could walk into a store tomorrow and buy two rifles, a Colt AR-15 and a Ruger Mini-14. They are functionally identical—both are semi-automatic, meaning you get one shot per pull on the trigger; they both use detachable magazines, meaning you can quickly reload them with anywhere from five to a hundred cartridges; they have the same kind of sights and about the same effective range; they even fire exactly the same ammunition. But the Colt looks sinister—it’s the civilian version of the M-16 we’ve seen a thousand deranged criminals and terrorists using in TV dramas; whereas the Ruger has a respectable-looking wooden stock and looks kind of tame – a kinder, gentler looking semi-automatic rifle. One got classified as an assault rifle, and was illegal to buy from partway through the Clinton administration until a few years ago, and the other didn’t get that classification and had essentially little more restriction placed on it than a BB gun. Why? Because the Colt has a black plastic stock and a pistol grip, neither of which make any functional difference whatever. This makes no sense. This is the kind of law passed only by people who either don’t know what they’re doing or are cynically counting on the voters not to figure it out. Would we want some cars being banned because they’re painted the wrong color or have a stick shift instead of an automatic transmission?

Although gun control is my pet issue—partly because I really do not want anyone trying to take away my guns if I haven’t done anything to demonstrate that I’m not a responsible owner; partly because I don’t trust that I will always be able to count on the police to protect me and the government to respect my civil liberties; partly because in this area, a lot of liberals who normally think in what Lakoff calls a “nurturant family” mode suddenly go all authoritarian and “strict-father,” and I think they’re unthinkingly betraying their own principles out of intellectual laziness; and partly because I know a lot of sensible, moderate, enlightened people who vote Republican because and only because they are afraid the Democrats will take their guns if they get into office—there are a swarm of comparable issues. On each of them, a lot of us liberals are jerking our knees rather than thinking, and betraying the principles we claim to uphold; and we’re losing credibility and voters by doing so. It’s too much to ask the majority of the voting public to suddenly start reflecting on the nuances of social questions, when they’ve never been taught to do so and all the media they’re being exposed to are yelling at them to just keep chanting simple-minded slogans and treating every issue as a kindergarten yes/no question. But we here at BIO, and other blogs, are trying to be leaders. We need to lead by example. I believe that if we get some analysis with some meat to it out there on a number of issues, and point out to the public that a lot of politicians and most of the mainstream media are assuming they’re morons and treating them accordingly, we may be able to get more people to start actually thinking. And I believe the more thinking that happens, the more people will start voting more progressively, because I really believe that our values are in tune with those of most Americans.

So maybe we can start with gun control. If not, let’s pick another issue. But no matter where we start, let’s try to really boil things down to the true paradoxes that lie at the bottom of all real controversies, and looking first for common ground and then for acceptable third paths.

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Posted in General, Politics, Current Affairs, Miscellaneous, DailyFeatured, Gonzo's Grab Bag, Police State



68 Comment(s)

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  1. steve Says :

    “There are no restrictions on owning and operating cars, because this is a fundamental American freedom.”

    Hmmm..  There is some nutcase in the California Assembly (help me here Ken) that wants driver’s licenses for illegal aliens and guess what, as crazy as that sounds with all the terrorist things going on in the world today, some liberals in our state AGREE WITH THE MAN!!!!

    I am like, Holy Hell, when I hear this on the radio.  Granted this isn’t about ownership per se, but it leads the horse to it because once you have a license, you have an address and when you have those things you have car ownershipand no one knows you are illegal along that chain.  I hate to say it but that is what has happened since we cater to other languages on our driver’s test.  The signs on the road are in English, especially those “Amber Alert” ones they put everywhere.  The one’s near Sacramento all say Flex Your Power Today.  What does that mean to a Spanish Speaker…  What about that illegal person who gets in accident with no insurance…  Here we go…  It sucks!!!


  2. Craig R. Harmon Says :

    Great post!

    I’m not sure I understand you point about the second amendment being a marvel of ambiguity. Granted our militias are all officially part of the governments of the states and the federal level so, strictly speaking gun ownership is no longer essential to a well regulated militia. On the other hand “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” couldn’t be clearer in my opinion.

    Part of the problem is that, unlike most of the rest of the bill of rights, the second amendment has never been included, at the state level, via the fourteenth amendment and so each state can regulate gun ownership as it sees fit. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that but I would much prefer that the the right of the people be protected everywhere, not just where people can manage to hang onto that right.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with having to show a basic competency with fire-arms before being allowed to be licenced. We could have learner’s permits so that those who wish to own and carry guns could gain knowledge of their use, care, safety as well as competence before hand. People shouldn’t be allowed to run around with guns that they’re not competent to use any more than incompetent drivers should be allowed to drive. They’re dangerous. I don’t know about the insurance thing. Where could you find an insurance company willing to indemnify gun owners and if you could, would the insurance be affordable? After all, the second amendment doesn’t say anything about the right of the people who can afford insurance to keep and bear arms.

    Just some thoughts.


  3. Dusty Says :

    Steve..since they can’t get a Drivers Lic most of them ARE driving without insurance…just thought I would point that out. People need to get from point A to B steve..so they are going to drive with or without a license.

    I own a gun and they are going to have to pry it out of my cold dead hands if anyone wants to take it away from me. I own it for most of the same reasons you do LJ. I am always at a loss to describe why I favor a limited form of gun control to those who want a total outlawing of private gun ownership. My gun isn’t registered, so I do not worry about this issue when I vote. Gun control only works if every gun is registered..right?

    We know they aren’t. And I doubt we could figure out how many unregistered guns are out there.

     Interesting post..it made me think.

     

     


  4. steve Says :

    Yeah but Dusty… that’s where the problem lies because if we do give them a license, they may not have insurance anyway.  So if you have a license to drive, it doesn’t guarantee that they will get insurance.  It’s a sad truth, you can’t just come here illegally and have the expectation that they will have insurance.  I know people living illegally in this country through my line of work.  Trust me, if you ask for a license they shrug their shoulders and say, “No English”.

    I own a gun too.  Safely tucked away totally unloaded.  I can get it loaded in a minute if I wanted.  I brought down from my parents hoom a year ago.  We have had numerous break ins on our cars.  We were robbed at our last home.  Stole all my guitars, tv componenets, jewelry, cash and some autographed photos.  Freaking bastards!!  They wouldn’t find my gun now since I brought it down. 


  5. And Another Thing Says :

    In order to purchase a firearm one must provide enough information that it is essentially registration.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I took the required course for a North Carolina concealed carry permit.  No problem with that, either.

    However, try finding a place to PRACTICE.  I like to target shoot, and could legally do so in my back yard.  But, it is a fairly built up neighborhood, and despite the law allowing it, I believe I’m being a responsible gun owner by insisting on finding a more suitable place to shoot.  Law enforcement have their own facilities, but cannot share them with citizens for insurance concerns.  So, how can one maintain their own proficiency, safely, and within the law?  It has to do with the behavioral control that our society has become obsessed with.  Recent articles about Chicago banning guns, smoking, goose liver, and fatty french fries.

    My family and I visited Washington D.C. in late June this year.  We stayed in Alexandria, which meant I was legally carrying my pistol in Virginia.  But, D.C. itself does not recognize the permits of any state, and firearm possession is illegal.  Logic dictates that D.C. must be a very safe city.  Right after we returned home there was a rash of murders, being committed by very young gangs, including armed robberies right on the National Mall.

    I wrote a post a while back about gun control: http://theuphillslope.blogspot.com/2006/04/fear-reason-and-gun-control.html#links

    Thanks for the post; some good thoughts.


  6. Jersey McJones Says :

    LJ,

    There may be some - some - oversimplification of the issue on the Left, but on the Right, there is only simplification and dualism.  Most one the Left are smart enough, and ambivilant enough, about the issue, to know that guns aren’t going anywhere and it would be wrong and unconstitutional to take all the guns away anyway.

    And to say that the 2nd amendment is ambiguous is false statement on the face of it:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    There’s nothing ambiguous about that.  The “militia” is the armed people of the United States and the governent must regulate that militia (don’t want private armies with tanks running around out there, do we?) as long as the right itself is not infringed.  Very simple.  Making someone register their gun or have a gun license is not infringement.  It doen’t keep them from owning the gun.  Just by making licencing and registration free, and wait times as short as possible, that problem is solved.

    Also, the constitution says nothing about the MANUFACTURE and SALE of guns.  Therefore, the government, if it weren’t run by sleazy cons, could well and easily regulate said activities.  Manufacturers are overproducing the sorts of guns criminals want and shady dealers are selling the guns to the criminals willy nilly.  Again - THERE IS NOTHING IN THE CONSTITUTION TO PREVENT THE GOV’T FROM PUTTING A HALT TO THAT IMMEDIATELY.

    New York’s fine Mayor Bloomberg recently went after shady dealers et al, showing what is going on here - dealers who consistantly have their weapons showing up in crimes, strawmen taking background tests, etc.  One of the dealers (in Georgia, sur-prise sur-prise!) had the audacity to sue Bloomberg over the remarks!  This guy knows that the simpletons  - the real simpletons in this debate - on the Right will stand behind him, and so honesty and humility can go the way of the victims of the crimes his guns were used in.

    And to pile simplification on top of simplification, the Righties will say, “But guns don’t kill people - people do!,” and, “It’s ILLEGAL guns - not legal ones!”  Well, #1 guns make killing, and the commision of all sorts of crimes, from rape to robbery, a lot easier, and #2 almost “illegal” guns start out “legal.”  Most guns used in the commmision of crimes are produced right here in the US and sold “legally” as far as the dealers and manufacters can ostensibly claim to know.  It’s the perfect plausible deniability… for the consumption of idiots.

    And finally, as with almost every issue the Right holds sacred - from abortion to science to guns and religion - the minute a Righty is personally effected by the issue, they come around.  James Brady (guns).  Nancy Reagan (embryonic stem cell research).  Dick Cheney (gay marraige).  And so on.   

    So, you can phrase the issue however you like, but it is disappointingly disingenuous to say that the Left wants to take your guns away or that they oversimplify the issue.  It’s a lie.  The Right just needs yet another non-issue to rabble their idiot base.

    JMJ


  7. Muther of Invention Says :

    JMJ

    Well spoken.


  8. Nate Says :

    Hear hear! It’s about time we start acknowledging that complicated issues are in fact complicated, and that having talk show hosts frothing at the mouth for one side or the other simply is not good for the country.

    Even the use of the black and white terms “liberal” and “conservative”are a method of subsuming complicated issues and values under the umbrella of one symbol, or word.

    Unfortunately, until we all collectively turn off Michael Moore and Ann Coulter and whoever else, they will exist. Our issues are too important to be sensationalist entertainment.


  9. Alexander Says :

    I’m coming from the other side of the great divide (libertarian/conservative) and just wanted to applaud your sentiment that complex issues deserve thoughtful and deep review, rather than false duality.


  10. Kevin Russell Says :

    Jersey McJones wants to complain about oversimplification and dualism and then proceeds to exercise both liberally.

    Regardless of who or what the militia is (and it’s clear by examining our Founding Fathers’ writings that it is the general populace), the 2nd Amendment guarantees the people that their right to gun ownership shall not be infringed.  The whole point of the amendment guaranteeing the security of a free state is to prevent totalitarianism from creeping in.  So why then would the government be in charge of the people who are going to keep it from overstepping its bounds?

    Also to imply that the Amendment doesn’t protect the right to manufacture or sell guns so those things can be regulated is like saying that we have freedom of the religion, but if the government wants to regulate their publication of Bibles (or the equivalent books for other religions) then that’s okay.

    Jersey says that manufuacturers are “overproducing the sorts of guns criminals want…”  First of all, they aren’t overproducing them - it would be financially stupid to manufacture items that aren’t selling.  Secondly, they’re the sorts of guns criminals want for the very same reasons that they are the sorts of guns that law-abiding citizens want - effective weapon for a reasonable price (that almost sounds like the essence of capitalism).  Then Jersey says that “shady dealers are selling the guns to criminals willy nilly.”  That’s just silly.  FFL holders are heavily regulated and must thoroughly document every gun that passes through their control.  All guns sold by a dealer require a records check and the dealer must maintain records of those checks.  A look at the evidence will reveal that most guns used in crime are stolen or otherwise used without the owner’s permission (kid takes Dad’s gun, etc.)

    Gun owners are right to fear abuse of mandatory registration.  Many American politicians want to use registration to seize guns.  Many members of the UN want to use mandatory registration to seize guns.  Many times in the past, people have been told that they must register their guns and no confiscations will follow, only to find their gun declared illegal a short time later and government officials knocking on their doors to collect their guns (see the UK and Australia as prime examples).

    If we enforced the 2nd Amendment the same way that we enforce the 1st, school children would have mandatory marksmanship training and would need to own their own guns to have a chance at passing the classes needed to get into college.


  11. Jessica Says :

    This is the first time I’ve ever visited this blog before. I just felt like I needed to comment to let you know how well spoken (written?) you just were, and how well you pressented the issue. I’m fairly liberal, and I pretty much hate guns. I’d be a happier person if we could get rid of them in this country. I’ve never voted for something or someone solely because of a gun control issue, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance. I like watching them in movies, but in real life, no thanks - my father has had a gun pointed as his head three times in his life, and while granted they were owned by people who probably didn’t purchase them legally, it has not exactly fed into any kind of positive feeling about them. I have what is probably more than a healthy fear of them - but other than the above mentioned, I have had no real contact with them. My stance on gun control puts me in an odd situation considering my great love of the US Constitution and constitutional studies.

    Anyway, reading your post was kind of enlightening. At least, to see the issue portrayed with some kind of a middle ground. It still made me squirm a little, but honestly, it is a compromise I would be more than happy with. I personally will probably never a gun, but that’s my own personal choice. If someone wants one, the that’s her/his personal choice- a choice that is back by a guaranteed freedom. I just want to make sure the freedom to own a gun doesn’t have much of chance of hurting me or those I care about (as long as they don’t attempt to rob a convenience store or something). Licensing and education sounds good - unfortunately there’s not much support for education of any kind in this country, and lord knows, I wish licenses for driving were harder to get sometimes the way I seem some people drive their cars. However, it’s a step in the right direction- a compromise. Which is after all what democracy is all about. I’m just pretty sure if anyone proposed any kind of amendment to amend the second amendment, it’d be an uphill battle, no matter how fair it is because of knee jerk reactions that people (like me) tend to have about this issue.


  12. marcus Says :

    Well put LJ. I’ve often tormented myself with similar feeling about the pervasive “intellectual laziness” of which you speak. It’s one of the reasons I quit politics very early on in my studies and became a scientist instead. In science, accountability and evidence are required. In political circles, I was the odd-man-out due to my insistence upon talking about the gray areas of issuses- basically, trying to bring accountability and evidence into political discussions. 

     One of the root causes of the problems you’ve talked about is the loss of political ideology. I know some would characterize liberalism and conservatism as ieologies, but they’d be wrong in 2006 America. Liberalism and conservatism were born as ideological methodologies- a means to interpret the Constitution.  Politicians have for the past 50 years prostituted the key emotional/viceral issues of debate (civil rights, abortion, gun control, etc) as a means to force voters to choose teams. As a result, liberalism and conservatism have devolved from ideologies into mere platforms. Neither requires thoughtfullness or introspection. You need only subscribe to a few key positions and your vote can be counted on.

     I think that much of our problems have been brought on by a failure to adapt to new communication technologies. Today, every iota of our politicians lives appears at a whim. Pre-TV, -internet, -BLOG america was quite different. How would the public have reacted if they saw firsthand the torment and self-doubt that riddled Abraham Lincoln throughout his presidency. Such characteristics eliminate political candidates from contention in 2006 America. Self-doubt and trepedation about ones desicions are seen as weaknesses today. Previously these would have been out of the public’s eye. But in actuallity, we should embrace leaders who question their own decisions and fear failure. I just don’t know if this will ever succeed in a shallow world where character is measured by persistence/stubborness instead of thoughtfullness.

     

    mw

     


  13. Carolina Color Says :

    “There may be some - some - oversimplification of the issue on the Left, but on the Right, there is only simplification and dualism.”

    Who is being disingenuous?  Thank you for the gracious allowance of the word “some”.  Our Democratic politicos are just as guilty of “simplification and dualism” as the Right is when it comes to furthering their ambition.  Until bystanders such as ourselves on BOTH sides start showing that we understand the issues and not just the froth that comes out of their mouths the polarization will continue.  A good start for Democrats would be taking our heads out of the sand.  Conservatives, they can….well, gee, they could do the same.

     


  14. JSacharuk Says :

    “There are no restrictions on owning and operating cars, because this is a fundamental American freedom.”

    Actually, it isn’t. It’s not enshrined anywhere in your constitution, nor in our (Canada’s) charter of rights.

    However, it IS your right to TRY to be certified to operate a vehicle. Until you’ve shown yourself to be incapable or dangerous, you can have a go at it.

    This may seem pedantic, but it’s an important distinction. My rights don’t change if I’m sick, in jail, mentally ill or whatever. However, my privileges — like driving a car — may very well hinge on my mental state or criminal record.

    To address the general idea of the post, though: this is what happens in a two party system. Things are immediately seperated into two sides, black and white, right and left. You’re not allowed to hold the same opinion as your opponent, because that seems like an abdication of the rest of your ideas. It’s marginally better here in Canada, but our multi-party system has problems of its own. I rather favour the coalition systems practiced by many European nations.


  15. Estragon Tain Says :

    JMJ-

    Good post, and being of a political opinion very similar to the poster (and I think yourself, for the most part) primarily agreeable.  There is one misconception I feel inclined to point out, however: 

     

     Also, the constitution says nothing about the MANUFACTURE and SALE of guns.  Therefore, the government, if it weren’t run by sleazy cons, could well and easily regulate said activities.  Manufacturers are overproducing the sorts of guns criminals want and shady dealers are selling the guns to the criminals willy nilly.  Again - THERE IS NOTHING IN THE CONSTITUTION TO PREVENT THE GOV’T FROM PUTTING A HALT TO THAT IMMEDIATELY.

     This paragraph betrays a very fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the constitution.   

     

    The US federal constitution is not an express permission slip delineating the rights of the people; when the bill of rights was being debated (witness the semi-famous Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton issue) the side that was against it (Hamilton’s side, IIRC) wasn’t against it because they thought people shouldn’t have those rights- they assumed that they did- they were against it because they thought, at some point in the future, it would be interpretted in exactly the way you are doing here- as an exhaustive list of the rights of the people.  It is very important to realize this is not what it is.

     The Federal Constitution is an exhaustive charter for the Federal government.  It lists everything the federal government is supposed to be able to do.  See the 9th & 10th amendments (they say essentially the same thing- all powers not expressly attributed to the federal government in this document are reserved to the states or the people) for more specific detail. 

     

    So, the fact that the federal constitution says nothing about the manufacture or sale of guns doesn’t mean the government can do what it likes- it fact, it means exactly the opposite. 

     

    Of course, these days, the commerce clause has been stretched beyond all common sense to regulate just about anything the feds want, from guns to drugs to drinking age (though the latter is one of a number of issues the feds govern backhandedly, by blackmailing states into doing their bidding through the withholding of highway funds). 

     

    Of course, the flip side of the whole point that the constitution is a restriction on the feds, not the people, is that it in itself does not apply to the state governments.  Of course, many state constitutions have rules about arms in them as well that are more explicit than the 2nd amendment.  



  16. Yikes Says :

    Now YOURE oversimplifying things.  Most people recognize the complication of issues.  It’s the very few who boil it down to rhetoric.

    As a liberal, I call for a common-sense approach to guns, as I know we can’t ban them.  I’d like to see them all disappear, but I know that’s not reasonable.


  17. Paul Merda Says :

    Great Post LJ!!!  I’m with ya on all of your points….  We have comprimised quite a bit when it comes to owning weaponry, after all, no one but our military and National Guard is allowed to own an M1A2 Abrams. 

    That being said, the Libertarian in me thinks that people have a right to own weapons for whatever reason they cite.  While I think everyone should have the right to arm themselves (if they haven’t proven through actions that they don’t deserve the right), I personally don’t own any myself…  Just liek everything else when it comes to freedom, if you don’t like guns, don’t buy any…


  18. Dusty Says :

    Steve,  how many illegal aliens to you know? I know quite a few. I live in the San Joaquin Valley, home to thousands of migrant farmworkers.

    They get insurance, and its hard as hell for them. They DONT want to break any laws, they have respect for them. I have had to help several of them by registering the vehicles in a relatives name who had a drivers license. If they cause an accident, the insurrance coverage is void of course, but they want to obey our laws. I am tired of your constant blast at illegals. But for some folks ignorance is bliss. 


  19. Bryan G. Says :

    A few things i would like to point out;

     first, @ Jersey McJones

    In the wording of the 2nd Ammendment, “A well regulated militia…”

     the word regulated is not being used in the same form most of us are familiar with.  230 years ago the word held a much different meaning, much similar to the word “equiped”, so the 2nd ammendent isnt saying the Federal Government should regulate our guns, rather, it is saying that the people should be able to be own weapons at least on par with the federal governments.  While obviously im not advocating the private ownership of cruise missles and M1 Abrams Tanks, i believe this is a good case for the private ownership of “assault” rifles, and machine guns.

     The best look at the actual meaning of the 2nd ammendment, is in the original text of it, and the writings of all of the framers….Who all strongly advocated private gun ownership, and the mention of any sort of government regulation (in the modern meaning of the word) was looked at with incredible distaste.
     

    I am personally a rather liberal conservative, but one of my prime voting issues is the 2nd Ammendment.  The way i see it, is that our government was designed with a great system of checks and balances, and one of the last resports and most powerful ones is having an armed populace. While today that may sound paranoid, who knows what the government of 100 years in the future will be like.   

     


  20. Armand Gilbert Says :

    I know exactly where you are coming from, I’m a member of both the ACLU and the NRA.

    We live in a diminished age, and our society that has a heavily ingrained tendency to conch arguments in overly simplistic dualistic terms. This ”technique” has been used it control the population and improve the systems that enable the influential to exploit it.

    Both parties, framing the context of any political diatribe function as two sides of the very same philosophical coin each furthering the instrument of social control in order to “improve” the world by improving their standing in it.

    Ironically enough, both the ACLU and the NRA are directly involved in exploiting this.

    If you think about it you will see that WAR is just an exaggerated form of this very same sociological game in which the participants carry their philosophical argument to its natural bloody conclusion.

    It is unfortunate, but the most educated amongst us are usually most vulnerable to these sorts of intellectual ploys. The illusion of complex justification masks the simple reality of ever increasing levels of social coercion or “slavery” and concomitant sociological warfare.

    Fortunately, the media has worked tirelessly to trivialized our societies spiraling economic, social and intellectual decline and alienated our populous to such a degree that the only real threat we have from the “naked philosopher kings” in Washington right now it that they might just drop have to drop the big one on one of our own cities. If they really want to get this WWIII party started.

    Ironically enough both the ACLU and the NRA are directly involved in exploiting this.

    If you think about it you will see that WAR is just an exagerated form of this very same sociological game in which the participants carry the phylisofphical argument to its natural bloody conclusion.

     


  21. Armand Gilbert Says :

    Sorry the last to paragraphs carried over when I cut and pasted.

     


  22. Ohio Says :

    People any more are stupid and do not want responsibility. Mearly making people register their weapons is not going to do anything. And the only catch all scenario is to ban all fire arms. This is not a knock to the responsible gun owners, but an attempt to hinder gun related crimes. I think that responsible people should be able to own guns, I question it being a right, but that is a debate for another day. But with the portrayal of guns in contemporary media/ pop culture (i.e movies, music, video games) crimes with guns have gotten out of hand. In my city a couple of months ago, there was an all out gun battle for three miles on a major freeway here. I don’t live in NY or LA either. I live in the midwest and the common idea that “he with the gun in the room, controls the room” is getting out of hand. It seems like the cops are having more and more difficulty containing it (gun related crimes) in the city. And all anyone can do is sympathize with the gun owners, shrug their shoulders, and say ,”well, it’s their right.” I just find this appalling and there needs to be something else done. It is a shame that the responsible have to suffer for the apathetic, my comments are not meant as a knock to responsible gun owners. I agree with responsible gun owners and wish everyone would be as responsible as they are. But the bold truth is that most people are not, I personally beleive most are stupid and incapable of running their own lives, and that they need to have more blockades put in place just to make it safer for everyone else. Why can’t they put serial numbers on bullets, or a serial number somewhere on the gun that cannot be removed? why not make bullets a thousand dollars apeice or just make guns in general more expensive?


  23. JVoss Says :

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I really like they way you put this.  I tend not to be in the middle, I guess, on quite a few issues.  I tend to try to look at more of the issue then what our media and politicians try to spoon feed me.  This is one of my pet peeves for both political parties, because both do it liberally.  


  24. Ken Rachels Says :

    “So perhaps part of the solution is an explicit, formalized tradeoff in which gun owners would accept certain requirements and restrictions in return for guarantees of certain freedoms, in perpetuity.”

    That is PRECISELY what the second amendment to the US constitution was intended to do.

    Unfortunately, the enforcer of the guarantee is the more powerful party to the agreement. As a result, findings contrary the federal government’s preferences do not get enforced.

    Even if the U.S.Supreme Court paid attention to the Constitution rather than to biased precedents, the executive branch can say, “so how many divisions [of military force] does the [court] have?”

    All in all, you can’t trust a government that claims exclusive use of force to honor any agreements.

     

     


  25. Jersey McJones Says :

    Thanks, Muther.  Love the nick, by the way!

     

    Nate, to compare Michael Moore with Ann Coulter is as to compare Voltaire to the Marquis De Sade.  Stupid.  Really, really stupid.

     

    Kevin,  you wrote, “Regardless of who or what the militia is (and it’s clear by examining our Founding Fathers’ writings that it is the general populace),…”

     

    That’s exactly what I said.

     

     “So why then would the government be in charge of the people who are going to keep it from overstepping its bounds?”

     

    WELL REGULATED.  Who does the regulating?  The Marquis De Sade?

     

    “Also to imply that the Amendment doesn’t protect the right to manufacture or sell     guns so those things can be regulated is like saying that we have freedom of the religion, but if the government wants to regulate their publication of Bibles (or the equivalent books for other religions) then that’s okay.”

     

    But they do have the power to regulate publication.  That’s what copywrite and labor and tax and workplace laws are all about.  Where have you been?

     

    “Jersey says that manufuacturers are “overproducing the sorts of guns criminals want…”  First of all, they aren’t overproducing them - it would be financially stupid to manufacture items that aren’t selling.”

     

    Ah, the sleazy bait ‘n switch I see!  Of course, you knew exactly what I meant – that the manufacturers are producing a number guns with the express understanding that the “legal” market could not sustain them, but the criminal market will make up the difference – but you had to go sleazy on me, huh?

     

    “Secondly, they’re the sorts of guns criminals want for the very same reasons that they are the sorts of guns that law-abiding citizens want - effective weapon for a reasonable price (that almost sounds like the essence of capitalism).”

     

    No, criminals want guns and ammo that are made to be lethal to humans, as opposed to say salt-shot like farmers use to keep the riff raff out of their barns, and easy to conceal.

     

    This is either a lie or a display of ignorance.  

     

    “Then Jersey says that “shady dealers are selling the guns to criminals willy nilly.”  That’s just silly.” 

     

    I gave the link, Kevin.  Why don’t you try top refute it?  Oh, wait – you can’t!  IT’S BEEN FRIGGIN PROVEN.  Silly.

     

    Nice try.

     

    Estragon, I understand the constitution and agree with your assessment.  But if any business is interstate in nature, then the commerce clause kicks in.  I stand by what I say.  You have to look at it this way – the constitution neither delineates rights nor duties other than what is expressed specifically.  But it does say WELL REGULATED and it doesn’t mention manufacture and sale, therefore the government of the people MAY act as such.

    Bryan, “the word regulated is not being used in the same form most of us are familiar with.  230 years ago the word held a much different meaning, much similar to the word “equiped”, so the 2nd ammendent isnt saying the Federal Government should regulate our guns, rather, it is saying that the people should be able to be own weapons at least on par with the federal governments.  While obviously im not advocating the private ownership of cruise missles and M1 Abrams Tanks, i believe this is a good case for the private ownership of “assault” rifles, and machine guns.”

    Nice try.  This is a bullshit excuse for an argument.  Contextual Constructionism should be for clairvoyants, not legal scholarship.  First of all, how the f would the Framers have predicted the future?  And thusly, who the f are you to interpret such meaning in the past?  Give it a rest.  I mean, really – should the gov’t then inspect everyone’s weapons on a regular basis?  That’s what you’re saying, right?  Jesus, that’s a stupid, stupid, stupid – and self-defeating! - argument.

    JMJ


  26. Tom Baker Says :

    Test


  27. Dave P Says :

    Outstanding entry!  Very refreshing to see an issue framed without resorting to denigrating someone’s intelligence.  I think one of the salient points you made (among many) is the issue of trying to compare the process of owning/operating a car with that of guns.  Very nice idea and sounds smart, however, as you point out, how many people out there are admittedly afraid of cars and wish they were banned (I guess a few, but more due to green reasons than fear of death/violence.)  If there weren’t politicos and pundits (as well as a large number of regular citizens) that didn’t admit to wishing to do away with all guns (some on this very forum), I think registration and licensing would be much easier to swallow.

    Believe me, I would feel safer knowing that everyone that (legally) picked up a gun had undergone a course of instruction to teach them to operate the weapon safely.  Who can argue against that?  However, it would have to be crafted such that there was no chance of creating some sort of database of owners, thereby causing the rub.  Not sure if that can be done.

    Now if such level of discourse could be seen in other contentious topics of the day!  Thanks!


  28. Clifford Fargason Says :

    Ohio, there is one problem with controlling gun crimes by banning all firearms and that is that the people who are committing gun crimes are not the sort to give them up with guns are banned.  So the end result is that you have only disarmed the law abiding people, making them more vulnerable to criminals with guns.

    CCF


  29. Doug Says :

    Ohio,

    If a person is using a stolen gun to commit a crime, how is raising the price of guns going to help?  In addition, Washington D.C. has the most strict gun control laws in the country.  They also have the highest rates of gun related violence.

    If you pass laws to take away guns, it leaves law abiding citizens defenseless.  The criminals will still have them - after all they are willing to steal and kill.  What makes you think they will hand over there guns because you passed another law?

    It is already illegal for a felon to own a gun.  We need judges who are willing to put violent offenders away forever not infringement upon law abiding citizens RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS


  30. Dave P,

    As a suggestion, how about a database of all people who have reached the level of competence to own a gun? They will still have no idea if you do own one, but the sellers can check to see if you are registered competent to own the gun you wish to purchase. Nothing like an ideal solution, but the current solution is also far from ideal.

    And I should say I am opposed to widespread gun ownership here in the UK (although we have gone way too far the other way) but America has a different culture about guns, and it would be a waste of political time and effort to try and achieve a ban, even if I thouht it was a good idea. Plus, there are just too many guns in circulation already. The only people who’d hand them in are the law-abiding and generally, they aren’t causing the problems.


  31. Steve's Simplistic Viewpoint Says :

    Steve, (the first comment) - would you rather have undocumented aliens driving without a license? They’re going to drive anyway.

     ”…when I hear this on the radio…(sic)”. Wow. The radio is really a reliable source for honest, unbiased and intelligent information - especially in Sacramento - isn’t it?

     So what you’re saying is that California shouldn’t pass a law that all drivers (citizens, resident or undocumented aliens) have driver’s licenses (which is what the law was proposing)?

    The bill that you mentioned also stated that in order to purchase a car, you had to have a license to drive. (Currently in California, there is no requirement to have a driver’s license in order to purchase a car, btw.) So I suppose it’s okay for an undocumented alien to purchase a car, but drive without insurance or a license. You also had to present a license to register the car as part of this bill that was presented by the “…nutcase…”.

     Maybe my tax dollars should go to educating people (Sacramento hicks like you) as to how to find out what a bill really is about, and also educate Sacramento hicks not to believe everything they hear or see on the radio or television…since they can’t read newspapers, anyway…

     


  32. Dave P Says :

    Paul W (Cranky Brit?) (I like it)

    First off, who decides level of competence?  I know it sounds reasonable, but either one side will claim it is too low (essentially a database of everyone over a certain age) or the other will claim it is too high (defining competence more like a poll tax back in the day; more of a convenient legal measure to prevent someone from voting, or in this case owning a gun.)  My opinion on who is competent will probably differ vastly from someone on the opposite side of the issue.

    Your second paragraph I couldn’t agree more, but if someone thinks an idea is good (like banning guns) then there will be people who think it is good enough to try and accomplish.  Everyone thought going to the moon was too hard, and (unless you are a serious conspiracy theorist) people got together to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task.  Bottom line, it unnerves me to even discuss registration/licensing when there is a small but significant portion of the country that desires to ban guns outright because they don’t like them.

    One thing that would be nice to hear is what has really been the overall effect of the gun ban in the UK.  I can find websites that claim violent crime has gone up, I can probably find them that says various crimes have gone down, etc.  What is the ground truth from your perspective?


  33. Bryan G. Says :

    @  Jersey McJones

    “First of all, how the f would the Framers have predicted the future?  And thusly, who the f are you to interpret such meaning in the past?  Give it a rest.  I mean, really – should the gov’t then inspect everyone’s weapons on a regular basis?  That’s what you’re saying, right?  Jesus, that’s a stupid, stupid, stupid – and self-defeating! - argument.”

     

    You seem to have misread or misunderstood what i said…i have no idea where you got the idea that i believe the framers predicted the future..

    The government inspecing weapons on a regular basis……what?

    im not sure where you got that from, (perhaps when i was explaining the meaning of a well regulated militia?) but no that is pretty obviously not what i was advocating.
     

    Who am I to interpret such meaning in the past?

     

    Here is in in-depth look at the wording of the 2nd amendment by an Expert in the Use of the English language, Roy Copperrud, Professor of Journalism (retired), University of Southern California, and the author of American Usage and Style: The Consensus.

    (just because it is at a pro-2nd amendment url does not change its validity, why would an anti-2nd amendment website post it anyhow?) 

     A short passage from the above link:

    [Schulman:] “(5) Which of the following does the phrase ‘well-regulated militia’ mean: ‘well-equipped’, ‘well-organized,’ ‘well-drilled,’ ‘well-educated,’ or ’subject to regulations of a superior authority’?”

    [Copperud:] “(5) The phrase means ’subject to regulations of a superior authority;’ this accords with the desire of the writers for civilian control over the military.”

    [Schulman:] “(6) (If at all possible, I would ask you to take account the changed meanings of words, or usage, since that sentence was written 200 years ago, but not take into account historical interpretations of the intents of the authors, unless those issues can be clearly separated.”

     [Copperud:] “To the best of my knowledge, there has been no change in the meaning of words or in usage that would affect the meaning of the amendment. If it were written today, it might be put: “Since 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 abridged.’

     

    After reading through the entire document, the point i was making is really not provable, and it is entirely possible i was mistaken. However; the meaning of the 2nd Amendment is still the same as the one i was trying to show. 

     

     

     

     


  34. Well, I suggested it more as a response to your note about being willing to prove you should be competent to handle a gun. I don’t think it’s too hard to draw up a test that you know how to use it, keep it safe, and store it, same as is done with cars. Of course, to the NRA it would be an infringement on their right to own any gun without having to be competent, and to the other side it would be too easy for criminals to get a license. Trying to sort out the detail of good ideas is always the problem.

    As to the crime situation here, I can’t say. Violent crime is reported in the press a lot, but I think the actual figures in the official reported crimes and the surveys of crime experience are down. Although one could be down and the other up quite easily. I think violent crime has been rising, but is still below levels in much of the US, especialy for gun crime. But that’s due to the fact that guns were never easy to get hold of.

    Of course, I’m a fine one to talk as I own a longbow, know how to use it and don’t require any sort of license for what is a very deadly weapon (or it would be if I could hit anything with it, but the burglars don’t need to know that little detail).


  35. However, I don’t think the gun ban itself had much effect. We’ve had incredibly strict rules for twenty years, and these got tighteened even further into a near total ban. It’s still not actually a complete ban as farmers and a few others are allowed to own shotguns and hunting rifles, but they have to jump through a lot of hoops to get them.


  36. Mike Klein Says :

    I enjoyed your article and as someone in the middle of the road on the issue I was impressed with a few of your and others points on the issue. But I too feel you are oversimplifying the issue by comparing a gun to a car.
    While both can beregistered and regulated, that’s where the comparison ends, simply because of the size and portability of the two objects. Yes, you can kill someone with both, but you have a greater chance of being caught and paying the penalty if you use a car simply because it’s tough to hide - i.e cars are registered so that when they find the car, they can trace it back to the owner, and even in a hit and run, there is a chance that the license plate will be seen and reported. Tough to do that with a gun.
    Cars also have keys, electronic security systems and physical attributes (heavy doors, multiple steps to get it running and moving) that make it much harder for a toddler to accidently pick up and use.

    I would be for wholeheartedly in favor of gun ownership, if each gun (dreaming here perhaps), had similar obstacles that would be transparent for the owner yet thwart anyone else. Fingerprint recognition ? Electronic keys? If they can put them in cars can’t they put them on the guns?


  37. Doug B Says :

    The forced duality is a sad by product of our two party system, which needs an overhaul.  Tiered voting would be a good start.  I’m tired of having to choose between worst and least worst on the ballots because those who do represent my interests either don’t have a chance of actually winning or come with more party baggage than I can stomach.  


  38. Mike Says :

    I’m curious if there is a difference bewteen the AR-15 and the Mini 14’s ability to be modified to fully automatic that could account for the difference in their being considered an assault rifle from a legislative perspective?

    I like to think our legislators have a clue…   All evidence to the contrary.  But I still like to think that.


  39. Jersey McJones Says :

    Bryan, don’t be coy.  If the meaning of well regulated was well equipped then they’d have said well equipped.  If the meaning of well regulated meant that the gov’t should make sure that the people are well equiped then the gov’t would have to inspect everyone’s firearms to make sure they were well equipped - now THAT’s infringemnet, and that’s why that particular argument is so incredibly silly.

    JMJ  


  40. Dave P Says :

    Well, I am certainly not one who would knock you for owning a longbow (if I could only use a bow without losing a pound of flesh of my left arm).

    I just don’t think there could even be a standard of competence that enough people could agree to.  It would also probably have to be done state by state to escape any sort of infraction of the 2nd amendment (I subscribe to the interpretation that reads freer ownership vice somehow reading it as license for the government to impede ownership).


  41. Jersey McJones Says :

    I’ll knock someone for using a longbow!  It’s disgusting.  What a cruel and nasty sport that is!

    And Dave, what we have NOW is a state by state system and that has uetterly and completely failed.  We need better regulations, stricter law enforcement, and some way (like auto-style licensing and registration) to bring a final end to, “But, officer, my gun was stolen!  I have no idea how it wound up at that crime scene with the dead 15 year old!”

    JMJ   


  42. Chris Says :

    Very well done!  I also find my loyalties on a number of issues cross the predetermined political party lines and get fed up with the duality, good vs. evil/we’re right they’re wrong aspect of politics.  I wouldn’t doubt that in the near future that more viable political parties start appearing on the US political map. 


  43. Jersey,

    What? I do stand target shooting, and I can barely hit those. Anything moving is well out of the question. Apart from the fact that I’m not interested in shooting things that are alive. 

    And Dave, yes, my left arm does turn interesting colours after a session. 


  44. Bryan G. Says :

    @  Jersey McJones

     

    Based on your last response ive concluded that youre not reading through my posts.  So im done debating this with you, and i recomend anyone else about to get involved in a post “war” with him to do the same. 


  45. Jersey McJones Says :

    Relax Bryan, I’m just having fun here.

    JMJ


  46. Dave P Says :

    Well, for one thing I guess I choose to disagree with you about bows.  Whereas I hadn’t mentioned it as a hunter (you can shoot at inanimate targets) it is something I had always wanted to do.  Bow-hunting that is.

    Yes we have a state by state system of regulation.  However, what Paul and I were discussing is the question of how one would set a level of competence required to allow owning a gun.  I think there are many problems with even defining such a level, as no one would be able to agree (just like the rest of your post, I probably couldn’t disagree with you more in that you call for more licensing and registration of firearms.)  My point was that the problem would be even more complicated, as that level of competence would have to be fixed at the state vice federal level.

    I don’t subscribe to the current system as being a utter and complete failure as you do.  First off, such rhetoric is undefined.  Does that mean the government is collapsing, or the US way of life is changing?  In either case the answer is no so I wonder why/what you gauge such complete failure.

    Calls for more regulations and limitations on gun ownership are fairly typically made by those whose aim is complete banishment of guns, so I put no stock on such calls.  By all means I would love to hear of sensible regulation, but I would also like to hear in the same breath how that regulation could never be used to improperly prevent people from obtaining a weapon.  Without that assurance, I have deaf ears to calls for more ’sensible’ regulation.


  47. Dr. Forbush Says :

    This post is great, except for the first comment by steve it frames the argument well and points to a reasonable way forward. I wish people could think about more issues this way and use less emotional arguments. But, emotion brings out the voters so chances are that will never happen. 

     

    steve,

    If you talk about licenses for alliens in a gun control post you aren’t going to get much of an argument. You are off topic.

     


  48. Tin Man Says :

    Perhaps a look from a historical point of view, although we are all much smarter than our forefathers, but even still……

     

     

    # 1939 Germany invaded Poland. The city, as it was its tradition under foreign occupation, soon became the main centre of resistance, but also a major centre of clandestine cultural and academic life.
    # 1943Uprising in the Jewish Ghetto (lasted 27 days) resulting in a total annihilation of this district populated by half a million people.
    # 1944Warsaw Uprising, started on August 1st, lasted 63 days. After the defeat of the Uprising, the city was given a death sentence. The population was expelled or deported to concentration camps. The Germans began the systematic destruction of the town. The cultural losses, including burned-down libraries, museums, collections, churches, palaces and the property of the inhabitants, were incalculable. Some 650.000 people died and 84 percent of the urban fabric was destroyed. The special Nazi detachments set on fire every house and a street after a street. The most significant buildings, such as the Royal Castle, were blown up. The intention was not to leave a single building standing.

    In 1919, facing political and economic chaos and possible Communist revolution after Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the Weimar Republic enacted the Regulation of the Council of the People’s Delegates on Weapons Possession. The new law banned the civilian possession of all firearms and ammunition, and demanded their surrender “immediately.”

    Once the political and economic situation stabilized, the Weimar Republic created a less draconian gun-control law. The law was similar to, although somewhat milder than, the gun laws currently demanded by the American gun-control lobby.

    The Weimar Law on Firearms and Ammunition required a license to engage in any type of firearm business. A special license from the police was needed to either purchase or carry a firearm. The German police were granted complete discretion to deny licenses to criminals or individuals the police deemed untrustworthy. Unlimited police discretion over citizen gun acquisition is the foundation of the “Brady II” proposal introduced by Handgun Control, Inc., (now called the Brady Campaign) in 1994.

    Under the Weimar law, no license was needed to possess a firearm in the home unless the citizen owned more than five guns of a particular type or stored more than 100 cartridges. The law’s requirements were more relaxed for firearms of a “hunting” or “sporting” type. Indeed, the Weimar statute was the world’s first gun law to create a formal distinction between sporting and non-sporting firearms. On the issues of home gun possession and sporting guns, the Weimar law was not as stringent as the current Massachusetts gun law, or some of modern proposals supported by American gun-control lobbyists.

    Significantly, the Weimar law required the registration of most lawfully owned firearms, as do the laws of some American states. In Germany, the Weimar registration program law provided the information which the Nazis needed to disarm the Jews and others considered untrustworthy.

    The Nazi disarmament campaign that began as soon as Hitler assumed power in 1933. While some genocidal governments (such as the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia) dispensed with lawmaking, the Nazi government followed the German predilection for the creation of large volumes of written rules and regulations. Yet it was not until March 1938 (the same month that Hitler annexed Austria in the Anschluss) that the Nazis created their own Weapons Law. The new law formalized what had been the policy imposed by Hitler using the Weimar Law: Jews were prohibited from any involvement in any firearm business.

    On November 9, 1938, the Nazis launched the Kristallnacht, pogrom, and unarmed Jews all over Germany were attacked by government-sponsored mobs. In conjunction with Kristallnacht, the government used the administrative authority of the 1938 Weapons Law to require immediate Jewish surrender of all firearms and edged weapons, and to mandate a sentence of death or 20 years in a concentration camp for any violation.

    Even after 1938, the German gun laws were not prohibitory. They simply gave the government enough information and enough discretion to ensure that victims inside Germany would not be able to fight back.

    Under the Hitler regime, the Germans had created a superbly trained and very large military — the most powerful military the world had ever seen until then. Man-for-man, the Nazis had greater combat effectiveness than every other army in World War II, and were finally defeated because of the overwhelming size of the Allied armies and the immensely larger economic resources of the Allies.

    Despite having an extremely powerful army, the Nazis still feared the civilian possession of firearms by hostile civilians. Events in 1943 proved that the fear was not mere paranoia. As knowledge of the death camps leaked out, determined Jews rose up in arms in Tuchin, Warsaw, Bialystok, Vilna, and elsewhere. Jews also joined partisan armies in Eastern Europe in large numbers, and amazingly, even organized escapes and revolts in the killing centers of Treblinka and Auschwitz. There are many books which recount these heroic stories of resistance. Yuri Suhl’s They Fought Back (1967) is a good summary showing that hundreds of thousands of Jews did fight. The book Escape from Sobibor and the eponymous movie (1987) tell the amazing story how Russian Jewish prisoners of war organized a revolt that permanently destroyed one of the main death camps.

    It took the Nazis months to destroy the Jews who rose up in the Warsaw ghetto, who at first were armed with only a few firearms that had been purchased on the black market, stolen or obtained from the Polish underground.

     

    hmmm……….


  49. sara Says :

    I cannot claim an affiliation with any particular party for exactly the reason the author states above, being there are no black and white issues regarding almost every aspect of our lives. I cannot represent a party that truly believes they are right, and everyone else is wrong, and is not open to consideration or debate. This may seem like a very simplistic response to this article, and I will admit that I am probably not as intelligent or articulate as other people that have responded, but the second amendment is pretty clear to me. It states that we as a people have the right to bear arms, to keep the government from rising up against its’ own citizens. We have the right to bear arms and form a militia to take our government back, should it be truly taken from the people.

    I don’t own a gun, and probably never will. But I think my neighbor and dad, and friends and anyone else would like to own a gun (legally) should be allowed that opportunity.

    The House just voted 322-99 that the police cannot confiscate your gun in a time of emergency. I did not know that was even up for a vote in the first place, probably like most other American’s. It scares me that the government is trying to pass laws making it easier and easier to sieze our private property, and that is just what a gun is when it comes down to it. It is private property, and no one should have the right to take personal property. And even as I write this, I feel like a hypocrite because the argument I’m making still seems black and white.  


  50. Jet Netwal Says :

    Terrific post, LJ. I don’t have an issue with registering guns, nor do I really see much of a problem with developing a set of rules to establish competency. My cub scouts both shoot, and they are learning as much about gun safety as they are about the mechanisms of gun usage. I also think that the amount of resistance to guns of the left is hyped by the right. That boogeyman isn’t nearly what it’s made out to be. The question, as it nearly always is, is who stands to benefit by inflating the boogeyman? We could make some real forward progress as a country if we would stop listening to the agenda-ists and starting talking with each other.

    Thoughtful posts like this are an excellent place to start.


  51. Brad Says :

    Isn’t the larger picture that a well-functioning democracy requires compromise, through reasoned discourse, and while the extremes may be argued, the compromise is generally populistic (with, in the some democracies, the rights of the minority somewhat protected), but nowadays there is a battle for the extreme.  In one nutshell:  all states require a driver’s test, why not a similarly mandated gun safety test?  And things change:  scientists modify theories, and politicians close (or create) loopholes, because of new information or actions.  Maybe, personally, I’m just a person who is willing to compromise, especially if the perceived inconvenience is shared.  I have opinions on both your issues, but am just waiting to be relieved by some action likely to fix at least some of the problems (being that this is an independent study social experiment and consequences often not anticipated).

    Keep us thinking!  and communicating.


  52. Complaint Hub » Blog Archive » Gun control - a sensible approach Says :

    […] Bring it On! » Blog Archive » Let’s Complicate Some Issues! […]


  53. Jim Says :

    Interesting article. You make some good points. However, one thing to remember about car driving tests and age limits is that they were implemented when and where the percentage of people who had them had reached beyond a minimum.

    Before that, anyone who could reach the pedals and the wheel at the same time could go driving.

    The reason driving tests were implemented was to ensure that everyone uses the same rules for driving. (Drive on the right, understand the road signs and lights, etc.) Basically, to know how to drive with other drivers safely.

    This isn’t really equivalent to guns. You don’t need to know how to get across town while carrying your gun, or how to park your gun. There’s really no issue of interference if you and everyone in your town decides to own and carry a gun as there would be all those same people owning and driving a car.


  54. John Says :

    Jim says:

    “The reason driving tests were implemented was to ensure that everyone uses the same rules for driving. (Drive on the right, understand the road signs and lights, etc.) Basically, to know how to drive with other drivers safely.

    “This isn’t really equivalent to guns. You don’t need to know how to get across town while carrying your gun, or how to park your gun. There’s really no issue of interference if you and everyone in your town decides to own and carry a gun as there would be all those same people owning and driving a car.”

    Jim, your reductio ad absurdum is broken. 

    It’s true that you don’t need to know how to park your gun, or how to get to the park with it.  Because neither of those things pertain to the gun. 

    If all you plan to do is own the car and leave it parked, then obviously no training or regulation is necessary.  But we must assume that you plan to drive it, and so arises the issue of interference, and the need to ensure everyone knows and follows the rules.  Because, at some point, you might have to drive the car.

    As such, if all you plan to do is own and carry the gun, then of course it’s not a matter of worry and no cause for regulation.  But again, we must assume that you plan to use it, and thus it IS a public concern that you know what you’re doing and follow the rules.

    If you and everybody in town decides to own and carry a gun, as you say, there IS an issue of interference, and it IS important that there are rules and that people know and follow them.  Because, at some point, somebody might have to drive the car.
     

     
     


  55. nicrivera Says :

    Great post, Liberal Jarhead.

    As a liberal-leaning voter who supports libertarian positions on speech, guns, sex, and drugs, I can certainly emphathize with your view that liberals ought to be more supportive of gun rights.  I’ve written several articles over at the Centrist Coalition arguing why liberals (and everyone, really) ought to be staunch defenders of gun rights.

    Sincerely,

    nicrivera 


  56. Jet Netwal Says :

    Certainly, there are many rules both for the safe usage, proper handling and correct care of a gun. Jim, you make it sound like the majority of people who use guns in this country just pick’em up and start blasting. I believe that in not the case, and further more, that most law abiding gun owners treat their guns carefully.


  57. John Says :

    Yes.  Nobody thinks that everyone who owns a gun just goes about willy-nilly blasting away with it.  That’s not the problem.  The problem arises on the very very rare occasion when they do have to use it.  How do we know that they know how?

    I admit, from time on our highways (and a few mistakes of my own), a driver’s license is no guarantee that the owner is going to follow the rules.  But it does mean that the owner knows better.

    A license for a weapon is the same conceit:  ‘This Person Should Know What They Are Doing.’  I think it’s a reasonable thing to ask.  If you own and operate a piece of equipment that is dangerous (we’re talking ‘leading killers of human beings’ here - cars, guns, heavy equipment, not the lawn mower), you should know what you’re on about.  And I’m sorry, but we can’t just take your word for it.  You need some kind of documentation. 


  58. Bill Lee Says :

    Title X of the US Code, Subtitle A, Chapter 13, Section 311, states the following:

    “(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.” (Emphasis mine)

     The wording of the Second Amendment becomes ever so much more clear.  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”  What militia?  You and I.


  59. Gun Toting Liberal Says :

    Excellent, EXCELLENT article L/J!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You cut right thru the B.S. and make an extremely good argument for our 2nd Amendment; something we all had better protect because we may need them in the end to fight for the rest of those Amendment with the attack upon them by the far right these days.  Blog ONNNN, BRO!!!


  60. TJ Says :

    Here is/are the issue(s) with registration as I see them.  I am a member of no party, however I am a member of the NRA from time to time as I remember to send in my dues.  My beliefs aside, why are we trying to punish a law-abiding citizen for the crimes and stupidity of the ones who are breaking the laws?  As has been stated on this forum and has been upheld in the courts, criminals who have guns are exempt from telling the law (read as handing them in because they are illegal to posess) by the fifth ammendment to the constitution; 

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. ” (emphasis added)

    So, since a criminal is already wrong for having a firearm, he cannot be found guilty for not telling officials he has it.  Hence, no law that forces firearms to be turned in (confiscation) applies to a criminal.  Thus, only the law-abiding citizen is affected by these types of laws.

    Next, I agree that competency is an issue that sounds good, until you try to figure out how to put it to use.  It is an imposibility to have “regulation” on this without having the problems of “confiscation” and ”infringment” come to the surface.  Who determines what “competent” means?  Do we have to have “competency” tests for each different type of firearm we want to own?  What about different models of the same type?  How far does this go?  Indifinately!  How can I be competent in Florida, but not in California?  Now are we talking a Federal Competency?  That is what makes this another imposibility. 

    “So, TJ, how do you think we can fix this?” you might be asking.  While I do not persist to know all there is to know, but I do have a few ideas;

    1. Make gun crimes punishable by severe time in prison.  Not Jail, but Hard Time in Hard Prisons.  This requires some adjustments on current laws already in place to make minimum stays in prison for conviction of ANY crime involving a WEAPON.  Notice I say Weapon, not gun or firearm, and Any crime, not specific crimes.  Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.  This also requires adjustment to what we allow to go on in our prison system(s).  Remove the nice to have stuff that makes prison such a great place to be, cable tv, one man berthing cells, weight rooms, etc.   Instead, pack criminals in so tight with so little to do, that they actually hate being there, so that when they do get out, following full terms in prison then an additional time in “Re-habilitiation” they remember that it was a living hell in there and don’t want to go back.  Make prison what it used to be and, I believe, crime will go down.  When the only “pain” a criminal feels is moving into the local Hilton Hotel and not being able to check out for a few weeks/months/years, they don’t have a problem going back.  Some might even look forward to it. 

    Back to competency for the law-abiding.  The only way I can see to do this with little to no impact to the process of purchasing a firearm, or having a de-facto registration process, is to make criminal the stupidity of those individuals that use them without competency.  To put that in lay-mans terms, if our stupidity causes someone to get hurt, you should be held acountable for the crime.  Thus, if you go out to the woods and just start unloading your ammo into the woods without checking your background, and injur or, Lord forbid, kill someone, you should be held accountable for the crime of negligent homocide or other such crime(s) as the case may be.  If the same ideas of minimum times are used in these crimes, it would be unthinkable to me to not be competent with the weapon of choice, and the safe operation of any weapon as a whole.  My other thought is to require a class that provides the individual with a “competency card” for proof of same.  Of course, this could not be entered into any database without the issue of government oversight and confiscation coming up again.  So without that, it would only be a matter of counterfeit identifactions made to purchase the weapon.  Again, a no win situation.

    So, How do we fix the issue?  Who knows?  But the issue in my eyes is that Guns will always be here, they cannot be un-invented, and can be made very easily by anyone with basic metalworking skills.  These won’t be near as safe as the currently commercially manufactured ones available, but they will be here.  Banning guns will not work, regulating will not work, free reign will not work.   Good luck to those trying to find the “middle ground” and make some “common sence ligislation” that will reduce violent crime involving weapons.  If you can do it, I applaud you.  But in reality, this issue is so complex, it can never be legislated in such a way as to appease all sides of this heated debate. 

    Just my two cents worth,

    TJ


  61. Adam Says :

    While the commentary is interesting, its too small of a frame.  You ASSUME you must vote for either a Republican or a Democrat.  Throw that out and the rest is simple; no more following the “issues”, no more discussing the minutia of various bodies of government’s meetings, press releases, diatribes and the like.  Vote for yourself, if you’re eligible for the offices; if not (such as being under 35 for President), vote for someone you know and trust, like a parent or older friend.  If you don’t agree with everything someone is saying, DON’T VOTE FOR THEM.  Vote for what YOU want represented, and nothing else; settling for the most well-funded, well-advertised, well-known candidates is akin to saying that you have to drink either Budweiser or Coors, for the same reasons.  


  62. prayer control & guns in school Says :

    my opinion is that gun control, while not exactly a non-issue, is certainly not one of the top 10 major dilemmas facing our nation, and the same with gay marriage, abortion, evolution, immigration, and everything else that crops up in an election year with the sole purpose of exhorting polarity among voters.   i agree that politicians (and the media alike) oversimplify matters, but most “issues” are merely red herrings intended to deflect attention from the fact that both parties are in bed with big money & big influence, and they’re giving away our liberties and security while we squabble over how many angels will fit on the head of a pin….    this is the real issue, the one many voters desperately wish to address, and its convolutions include everything from taxes to inflation to healthcare to education to global warming, and so on.    i think it’s fair to say that corruption is a bipartisan agreement, and this is why we’re constantly debating such matters as gun control – anything to incite the people to pick a side, while remaining ignorant of the confluence of depravity in washington.


  63. Rob Says :

    Talk about oversimplification! Guns and Cars are not a fit comparason. Cars are made to transport people from place to place, and on rare occasions, they can kill people. Guns are *made* to kill people. Not comprable whatsoever. Now maybe if they designed cars specifically to take out pedestrians, or to undeniably kill someone in an accident, then the comparason between cars and guns might not be so laughable.


  64. TJ Says :

    Rob:

    I agree to some part that cars and guns compared is like apples to oranges.  “Rare occasion”?  Cars kill more people each day and each year than guns.  Yet, there are no waiting periods or one car a month limitations on buying cars.  You don’t have to go through a criminal (and in some states Mental Health) background checks to purchase them.  Why do we need more restrictions on something that kills less than backyard swimming pools or local creeks and rivers?  As a Firefighter I have seen far more drownings, Motor Vehicle Crashes (MVCs) and deaths or injuries from fists than I have seen from firearms.  Regardless of the fact that guns are designed as a weapon and cars are not, guns are not the problem.  A gun doesn’t point itself at a person, place, or thing and pull it’s own trigger.  People are the problem.  You and I are the problem.  We allow these crimes to go virtually unpunished.  We allow our prisons to be hotels with bars at the door instead of actual prisons.  All in the name of “human rights” or “”cruel and unusual” punishment rhetoric.  As far as I am concerned, that crap is the reason we have violent crime, not guns!  Get it straight, the issue is politics and corruption of the government.  The post is about complication of issues, not comparing regulation of apples and oranges.

    Is that complicated enough for you?

    TJ


  65. 2 cents Says :

    I’ve made the gun/car analogy myself.  I’d like to know what others think about some other aspects.

    Road rage?  I like to think I’m fairly level headed and patient, but I have flipped off other drivers 3 times in 25 years of driving.  Probably can’t do anything about this conceal carry equivilent.

    !8 wheelers?  Special cdl liscense.  Here in Chicago you can buy one of those.  Bazookas? Rocket launchers?  I think shooting guns is fun.  I think shooting a rocket launcher would be even funner.  If I took alot of tests, got insurance, could afford one, can I get one?  I’m not gonna use it for hunting or home protection, but c’mon, it would be a blast.

    DUI? The point was made guns shouldn’t be used while drunk.  What blood alcohol content would be the cut off for conceal carry?  At what point can you no longer shoot straight?  I think alot of DUI offenders get in their cars and leave home having absolutely no intention of driving home drunk.

    More to the point, I agree issues get oversimplified to fit soundbite attention spans.  I think maybe using the term “gun control” is also an oversimplification.  I’m not worried about the government confiscating my guns.  I’m not going to say “they will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands” though.  In my opinion, gun ownership isn’t worth dying for, life’s too short already.  Beside, after the gubment leaves, I’ll find a way to get another gun, this one won’t be registered though.

    Good luck with the thoughtful discussion of all facets of an issue.  I know too many actually intelligent people who will generalize and oversimplify.


  66. Clayton E. Cramer Says :

    “I’m curious if there is a difference bewteen the AR-15 and the Mini 14’s ability to be modified to fully automatic that could account for the difference in their being considered an assault rifle from a legislative perspective?”

     
    No.  Federal statute and regulation defines any gun that can be readily modified to fire more than one shot from one pull of the trigger to be a machine gun.  Their definition of “readily modified” has been held by the courts to mean 12 hours of a gunsmith’s time in a machine shop.  There’s no difference between the AR-15 and the Mini-14 in this respect.  If you can readily modify a gun to be full auto, it is ALREADY a machine gun under federal law, and the assault weapon laws accomplish nothing at all.

    My area of specialization is the history of weapons regulation in the U.S.  My second book has been cited in federal court decisions, and a dissenting opinion of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  (See my website, http://www.claytoncramer.com for some of my books and papers.) 

    There’s no question that the Framers would have considered reasonable regulation of firearms ownership compatible with the Second Amendment.  But their definition of “reasonable regulation” would make most conservatives look like gun control advocates.  They passed a law that REQUIRED every free white male citizen from 18 to 45 to own a military weapon and keep it at home–and that law, the Militia Act of 1792, remained on the books (largely unenforced) until 1903.

    Bans on felons in possession?  I can’t imagine that they would have a problem with this current federal law, but remember that lots of felonies today weren’t even crimes back then, and the violent felons, after conviction, didn’t have much chance to get a gun, since dead people don’t buy much.

    The discretionary concealed weapon permit laws that still persist in liberal-occupied sections of the country have an interesting and sordid history to them–originally created after the Civil War as a method for prohibiting blacks from carrying guns and shooting back at the Klan, without directly violating the 14th Amendment.  Later, the same style of laws were found useful for making sure that labor organizers and other political radicals didn’t shoot back when goon squads with official status showed up.  At http://www.lizmichael.com/racistro.htm you can read my Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy paper about the racist roots of gun control. 

    I’m just finishing up a book about the history of gun ownership and regulation in early America (to 1840) which should be out in February of 2007.  I found it very interesting that when colonies disarmed free blacks in the early 18th century (you knew that there were free blacks in just about every colony, and some of them owned black slaves, right?), it was just about always the same year that they took away the right of free blacks to vote (you knew that free blacks could vote in a number of colonies, and in the 1640s, one actually was elected to the Maryland legislature, right?)

    Why do you think liberal is a dirty word to a lot of Americans?  There’s a long history of gun control and disfranchisement being done together–and a lot of the liberals support restrictive gun control–laws aimed not at criminals, but at the law-abiding.  You do know that convicted felons can’t be punished for failing to register a gun, right?  Haynes v. U.S. (1968) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=390&invol=85 decided this based on the Fifth Amendment’s right to not be forced to self-incriminate.  But they also ruled that if you could legally own a gun, you could be punished for failing to register.  So what’s the argument for registration?


  67. Clayton E. Cramer Says :

    “Nobody thinks that everyone who owns a gun just goes about willy-nilly blasting away with it. That’s not the problem. The problem arises on the very very rare occasion when they do have to use it. How do we know that they know how?”

    The interface is simple. The problem with guns is almost never that someone makes a mistake.  Accidents are about 5% of gun fatalities, and most of those involve intoxicants or hunting (or worst of all, both).  Gun murders and suicides aren’t a problem of ignorance or incompetence.

    I do agree that the analogy to a car is quite good.  I would love to have guns regulated like cars.

    1. There is no waiting period to buy a car.

    2. No government prohibits cars because they are too fast, or carry too many people.

    3. My driver’s license from Idaho is recognized in every American state, in every Canadian province–and even when I went to Britain.

    4. I can drive a motor vehicle on my own land whenever I want, and I don’t even need a license to do so.  In a number of states, you need a license to have a gun in your closet, even if it never leaves that closet.

    5. At least so far, no one has tried to sue car makers out of existence by pretending that they are making guns that only drunk drivers would want, or by pretending that the car makers are intentionally making more cars than there is a legitimate market for.


  68. Gnorb.NET » Blog Archive » Le Linkage #8 Says :

    […] Let’s Complicate Some Issues: Don’t you hate it when some nutty left-winger comes up to you to tell you how wrong your conservative values are, and how obviously right they are because, let’s face it, it’s a simple issue? And what about when some nutty right-winger comes up to you to tell you how wrong your liberal values are, and how obviously right they are, because it’s a simple issues? In this essay, the author talks about the complexity of real life issues and why “the only way either liberals or conservatives can turn them into such exercises in obviousness is to omit big parts of the picture, [which] guarantees that we’re not seeing it accurately.” […]



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