Renewed Calls for Gun Control

Recently here in southern Arizona renewed calls for increased gun control have predictably begun in response to the now infamous attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords (and others) in Tucson last month.  The fiancé of one of the victims that was unfortunately killed during the heinous attack, Kelly O’Brien, has started lobbying state lawmakers to ban extended capacity magazines for handguns as a preventative measure to future violence of this sort (as reported by Tucson’s ABC affiliate, 8 February 2011).

This reaction should not be altogether unexpected.  Past events have demonstrated that when evil people commit unthinkable acts of violence with a gun, legislative measures and lobbying are sure to quickly follow (e.g., the Brady Campaign).  While any decent person can empathize with – though certainly not fully appreciate – Ms. O’Brien’s grief and frustration, such feelings are not acceptable justification for substituting logic and reason with emotional gratification in a free society of individuals that intend to remain that way.

And that is exactly what such gun control measures represent.  We Americans are notoriously shortsighted and demand instant gratification in most situations, which is precisely what we achieve when we base decisions that are impactful to individual civil liberties purely on emotions.  While many gun control advocates tout the need for “commons sense” gun laws (as if the United States does already possess thousands of them) common sense quite clearly demonstrates that said laws, old or new, only affect those of the populous that are willing to obey them.  Such measures collectively indict the law abiding public rather than target and punish individual criminals.  Does anyone honestly believe that a single person who already possesses felonious criminal intent towards another will simply change his or her mind once they realize that only ten-round magazines are legal in this state?  If criminals cared as much about gun regulations and laws as much as many gun control advocates apparently think they do, the Columbine massacre would not have happened at all – Harris and Klebold violated almost twenty firearms laws when they put together their arsenal, and then added another one for good measure when they committed mass murder.   I mean, this is so obvious as to be almost (tragically) comical.

As the nation with the most guns laws and regulations in history, America illustrates just how little impact more of them have on actual violent crime.  Contrary to the declared message of much of the anti-gun movement, even from those who possess the best and most innocent intentions within it, reality does not support such claims otherwise.  The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of the mid-1990s, in part a result of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, did very little to measurably fulfill its declared intent in application.  In fact, the annual violent crime rate perpetrated with weapons covered under the ban stayed virtually unchanged in America from before the ban’s implementation through the end of the decade (both rates were below 1% of total yearly homicides by the way).  The need for such legislation was so rampant that the Clinton Justice Department prosecuted a whopping 8 individuals in 1997 and 1998 for violations of the ban.  The sad truth is that these weapons were just scary looking, and thus had to go in the minds of some.  Like so many other instances of emotional decision making, it was primarily about the instant gratification that could be derived from a certain projected image rather than the actual substance of the issue.

But for the sake of the argument, let us say we implement the ban.  What happens next?  Are there any people who really believe this will solve the declared problem?  What happens when a person with a government-imposed ten-round magazine limitation brings two guns?  What if he/she brings one but still kills or wounds ten people?  Do we then cut down the capacity to six?  How about when six people are killed or wounded?  I think we can all see where this is going…  But perhaps a better characterization is in order.  Far more Americans are deprived of loved ones annually due to vehicle-related incidents than firearms-related ones.  Perhaps we should consider collectively banning capacity-related design and performance elements of automobiles in response to this reality, such as maximum speeds, maximum horsepower, or maximum weights (e.g., SUVs and large pickups).  Such ridiculousness is sure to eventually follow once we begin condoning such allegedly preventative rationales.

As a free citizen who desires to remain self-determinant and unbound, there is of course another bone of contention that I have with this point of view.  I fundamentally reject any notion that government representatives ought to be able to do anything that its citizenry cannot.  In practice such concepts breed an environment of double standards and legal elitism that is potentially fatal to the already naturally precarious relationship between a government and the willing governed.  If a police officer can carry a higher capacity firearm, which presumably would remain the case despite such a proposed ban, then this would violate such a principle.  Police officers certainly need the capability to defend themselves and others, but so do citizens.  Do we not possess a natural and/or divine right to defend ourselves, our families, our property, and others?  Of course we do, and only a truly ignorant person would assert that we can rely upon the police to realistically facilitate this for us (unless, of course, we are willing to submit to a police state).

But truly, why stop at the magazines?  If we are to believe that the implement rather than the person is the root of such evils or the cause of so many shattered lives then let us institute an outright ban on all firearms in America, despite the obvious constitutional implications.  If we are to suppose that limiting how much ammunition an evil person can expend has a direct correlation to public safety, then it follows that an absolute ban on all weapons would clearly eliminate such evil behavior entirely, correct?  Well if one wishes to see just how effective a complete ban on firearms might be in preventing violent crime one needs only to take a close look at the near narco-state to our immediate south; or Washington D.C., where in the fifteen year span immediately following the capital’s 1976 virtual ban on handguns the homicide rate rose 200%, nearly twenty times the national rate which also rose slightly despite increases in regulation.  Or one could scrutinize more controlled environments, such as prisons, where murder, rape, and violent assaults are still quite prevalent despite the complete absence of firearms.  Clearly, the real problem is not the implement but the evil that resides within some members of society.  To illustrate this point further, consider this:  if murder were hypothetically no longer illegal in the United States how many of us would immediately run out into the street and kill someone?  I feel fairly confident of what the answer is and I am also quite sure that this demonstrable aversion to evil is not something that was created in us as a result of our government making such behavior punishable by law.

Reflecting on this concept, Ms. O’Brien also spoke about the inherent need to temper rights with responsibility.  On this point I agree as illustrated above.  But then she compared banning extended handgun magazines to the crime of yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater while relating it to the responsible exercise of free speech.  This is where our momentary agreement comes to a screeching halt.  First, this is an inappropriate apples-to-oranges comparison because the latter example is an individual action, whereas banning an item for production and purchase collectively preempts the judgment of the citizenry and their free exercise thereof.  If this line of reasoning were morally acceptable, then we could ban people from being Muslim in order to prevent any of them from making the individual decision to engage in Islamic terrorism.  Second (and most importantly), the responsibility needed to temper civil liberties is possessed, developed, and wielded solely by the individual person and cannot be issued by the government.  One either conducts one’s self responsibly and morally, or one does not.  Limiting access to a thing has absolutely zero bearing on this truth as the Prohibition Era and War on Drugs has so profoundly illustrated.  The reality that everyone needs to recognize and embrace if our free society is to survive indefinitely is that the government cannot legislate morality, and destroys individual liberties to varying degrees whenever it tries.  Lastly, I would submit that it is incredibly irresponsible for someone to seek the erosion of another’s individual rights based on an emotionally-derived theory that the factual evidence not only does not support, but outright disproves.

To be fair I do not have direct knowledge of what Ms. O’Brien’s perspective is, other than being quite obviously and understandably bereaved.  But to me, she is either dangerously naïve or is nefariously politicizing a tragic event to facilitate a grander agenda.  Hopefully it is the former, but this split is also true of many gun control advocates that are not tied to the recent events in Tucson that will attempt to use this incident to achieve their goals.  If their agenda is to completely disarm the American people, then at least display some strength of conviction and integrity and announce this intent openly so that appropriate, informed public debate can be conducted.  Otherwise, we must stop allowing our individual rights to be eroded via emotional, knee-jerk reactions before it leads to erosions of rights that even the anti-gun crowd might have some heartburn with.

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  1. #1 by Packrat on February 25, 2011 - 7:58 AM

    Banning firearms is illogical. If tomorrow all firearms disaapeared, day after tomorrow, some on would start making more. Google “zip guns” or “Viet Cong weapons”. If Ngyuen could make a fire arm with a file and pieces of metal, or the gang member could make one with a small metal tube, what could some handyman make with a good drill press and lathe?

    • #2 by The Observer on February 25, 2011 - 2:16 PM

      Packrat,
      I agree – banning something will not ultimately prevent its proliferation. We cannot kill the free market while the demand still exists; the market simply shifts to a “black” one in most cases. International criminal enterprises bear this reality out clearly enough, though one would not likely need to even fashion their own homemade weapons to have access to them I am sure.

      Evil folks come in all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds. No collectively characterized group of people possess a monopoly on immorality, which is precisely why I think it is an unprincipled, mistaken approach to preemptively vilify or target individual citizens who have demonstrated that they have and will continue to follow the law. There simply is no profile that can be generally applied to accurately identify or characterize bad people, which will no doubt be the subject of a future post soon enough…

  2. #3 by Roger on March 31, 2011 - 2:37 PM

    Guns aren’t the problem. Criminal are the problem. Having said that neither do I don’t see gun ownership as a litmus for being a patriot. The greatest, most powerful weapon a patriot can have is the vote – and the will to use it. A weapon is nothing but springs and levers and a chemical reaction. It’s a ‘thing’. My patriotism isn’t hooked to a weapon but to the belief in ideals. Is another American chooses to not own a weapon that doesn’t make him or her less of an American. I don’t like this dieification of gun ownership as some sort of yardstick. There are other amendments in the Constitution that are far more important than the 2d – like the 1st. Now some of you will say I can’t secure the 1st without the 2d. I say you are wrong. I can speak anytime, any place. Use of a weapon to defend democracy only comes when everything else has failed and not before. For what its worth…

    BTW – voter, retired Army, and gun owner by order of importance.

    • #4 by The Observer on March 31, 2011 - 5:11 PM

      Roger,
      We agree mostly on this point. From my perspective, guns are not about power but about freedom – the freedom to exercise one’s fundamental right to self-defense by modern means (if this were the 15th century I would no doubt be discussing swords rather than guns). Being free and being a patriot is not exactly the same thing. I subscribe to the school of thought that just because I don’t like something, or don’t agree with something, doesn’t make it my right to try and deprive others of their right to possess, support, or pursue it – whatever it may be. Nor is it conversely acceptable to force things that I do enjoy or support upon others that they may not. I happen to be a firearms advocate but recognize and respect the fact that many people do not like guns or choose not to possess them for any number of reasons. I try to do my supporting or detracting through sharing ideas and open discussion, such as from this platform, so as to try and convince others of the attractiveness of my perspective; sometimes it works, other times it does not – and so be it. In this specific context, my yardstick for measuring a given person’s support of freedom is not whether he/she owns guns but whether they recognize and support my right to own them even if they do not like them or possess any themselves. That is a subtle, yet hugely important distinction. Sadly, it is my experience that most Americans ignore the fact that everyone has a right to be who they want to be even if others do not particularly like it – on either side of the aisle.

      On another note, whether or not the 1st or 2nd Amendment takes precedence over the other is irrelevant to me as I believe they are all equally important to an individual’s freedom and at the very least were all equally ratified in good faith as a collective, open contract between the government and the governed. I believe that ignoring and/or disregarding any portion of a binding contract between two or more parties is unacceptable and delegitimizes all elements of said contract, thus rendering it worthless. Remember – the Constitution does not grant individual rights it merely documents them (and certainly not exhaustively). These freedoms are rightfully ours by virtue of our humanity; the Constitution is a willing agreement that serves to outline the government’s responsibility to protect and safeguard our God-given (or natural, if you prefer) rights in exchange for civil obedience from the populace and willing acceptance of the powers granted to the government within. It was and is a bilateral agreement but all too often we lose sight of this fact.

      • #5 by Roger on March 31, 2011 - 9:02 PM

        Interesting points. Let me be blunt. You say you have a right to self-defense,and you do. But defence against what? One of the things I love about this country is the level of safety that means I don’t have to go around armed. The argument is “what if I’m mugged?” Never happend to me and simply doesn’t happen often enough to justify carrying everywhere. I don’t HAVE to carry a weapon around and those that feel they do worry me. I don’t know they have any judgement; I don’t know that they have good weapon skills. I have seen a guy with a concealed carry permit pull on another, unarmed guy because he was yelling at him in a parking lot. His life wasn’t in danger! He was annoyed and wanted to one up the other guy. These are the guys I worry about. The one’s that think just because they CAN carry they HAVE to in order to defend themselves against some unnamed threat. This isn’t Afghanistan, it’s the United States and we don’t live like that. Then there’s the guys who think they need a weapon because the government is going to come get them. Please. People who see a ‘need’ to go around armed worry me because I question their judgement and maturity and consider them paranoid. I feel more threatened by them then I do the government or gangs. Hunters? No problem. Sport shooters? Sure. Some guy who wears a pistol on his hip when he goes to the car wash? No. And yes I do have a concealed carry permit. It’s in my night stand with my pistol. And both remain there because I would be amazed if I ever really needed them.

        I agree with your position on our rights. All of them are precious and that means all, not just the 2d. And, to be honest, I don’t feel any of they are in jepardy. There are so many watch dogs out there its near impossible to tinker with them. Which is how the system was designed. And I trust the system. I swore an oath to protect the system and never took that back. I vote but I respect the outcome of the election whether my guy/gal wins or not. Again, that’s how the system works. If you can’t suppor your guy losing then you can’t support the system. The level of harsh rhetoric on both sides is another thing that worries me. Hopefully we’ll see some maturity in that area soon.

      • #6 by The Observer on April 1, 2011 - 12:23 PM

        Wow, you certainly hit on a number of points there. This is excellent, exactly the sort of intellectual intercourse I had hoped for when I started this blog. I will try and respond to your points as concisely as I can to address each one, but this will no doubt be quite verbose…

        First, I have always maintained that safety is largely an illusion. The only people one can truly rely upon for personal safety are themselves, and even that does not cut the mustard if evil is truly determined as it so often is. Yes, America is much less dangerous than other areas of the world but there is no unilateral or simple explanation that fully characterizes why this is. There are simply too many variables that contribute to this environment to properly list here, though I would submit that our relative embrace of self-defense principles contribute to some measurable degree (which is at least partly why right-to-carry states tend to have statistically lower violent crime rates than those that are more restrictive).

        I certainly recognize that I am not necessarily in danger everywhere I travel, every time I travel, but I have always been of the belief that I would rather have something and not need it than need something and not have it (much like my cell phone or my “emergency” credit card). I also wear a seat belt whenever I drive, though surely you would agree that I am not statistically in danger of being involved in a serious car accident every single time (or even most times) I get behind the wheel or in another’s vehicle? But more on automobiles shortly…

        Believe me when I say that I agree not everyone has good judgment or reasoning skills. But this fact alone is not enough to abridge the free exercise of someone’s rights. I happen to think that many, if not most, Americans lack the proper reasoning skills or intelligence to make the appropriate decisions at the ballot box but they nonetheless can vote – no matter what I think. We also allow those same people whom you deem too irresponsible to carry firearms to sit on a jury and judge another person’s fate (and by extension the fate of his family as well). People are far more dangerous with vehicles than they are firearms in this country and yet obtaining a driver’s license comes with much less legal or regulatory scrutiny than current federal firearms regulations, all this despite the fact that driving is not a constitutionally-protected fundamental right of the people. As far as bad judgment goes, it is also not exactly as if police officers are devoid of this classic human trait themselves yet they can carry everywhere they go, even when they are off duty in many cases. As I mentioned in the initial post, I do not support arrangements in which the government can do something that its free citizenry cannot.

        Besides, the examples you articulated are actions and we already have laws that cover those actions. To reference your example, pulling a gun on someone without cause (as reasonably determined by said jury in our system) is already illegal. It is absolutely antithetical to freedom for a government (or anyone) to preemptively punish someone for a suspected lack of judgment when an actual act to that affect has yet to be perpetrated – or at the very least, compelling evidence supporting the assertion that impending nonsensical behavior is imminent has not been obtained. This approach is tantamount in my mind to Orwellian thought crime.

        Certainly you have every right to feel the way you do, but just because you disagree with why people choose to carry does not automatically mean that they are crazy or otherwise unstable. That is a collectivist approach that I reject because it makes no allowance for the reality of the individual. I carry everywhere I can legally, and do so for the same general reasons that I carry a pocket knife or a spare set of car keys – just in case. While I respect your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s purpose, the fact is that self-defense, both from criminals and the government (however improbable), were the reasons it was documented in the Constitution. The Founders articulate this quite clearly in The Federalist papers and via their own historical correspondence. Sport shooting and hunting are mere beneficial side effects of the prohibition on government disarming of the populace. If someone is truly incapable of responsibly carrying a firearm then there is already a legal and civil process in place to address that specific situation; and as you fully trust in the system, this should serve as some level of comfort for you I would think.

        On that note, I support the system as founded and intended; it is the people that I do not trust in. People inevitably succumb to the libido dominandi, corruption, or just plain incompetence (or combinations of all). History illustrates that even the greatest and most benevolent of messages, systems, rules, and institutions can be, and more often than not are, corrupted by man. Governments, religions, and social architectures the world over serve as proof to this point. To that end, I also disagree that our constitutional rights and freedoms are not in jeopardy on a daily basis and it is impossible to “tinker” with them. Our relatively short history as a nation is quite full of examples to the contrary, even beyond the current discussion regarding guns.

        The offensively titled USA PATRIOT Act directly violates the right to free expression and protections against unwarranted searches and seizures (a fact since acknowledged on two separate occasions by federal courts, though it is still implemented law). The writ of Habeas Corpus has been suspended by Lincoln, Roosevelt, and W. Nixon illegally spied on American citizens via not-too-different from current anti-terrorism surveillance programs (see Operation Shamrock) and JFK and LBJ both employed secret wiretaps to keep tabs upon those they feared politically. Both Adams Sr. and Wilson sought, and in many cases succeeded, to criminalize and imprison opponents of their policies who spoke out publicly. This is certainly an abbreviated list for the sake of brevity.

        I do agree that the rhetoric is ridiculous nowadays, and I touched upon that point a little in my Social Division post. That said, I do not believe that the rhetoric in anyway absolves folks of their personal and individual responsibility for their own actions. I get angry at people every day but it does not make it acceptable for me to assault them, nor is it a legitimate social, legal, or civil excuse. I also believe that in at least some cases the rhetoric is purposely catalyzed by politicians and the media for the purpose of furthering our division, thus making it more difficult for the people to unify in common political/fiscal/social purpose against the oligarchy (but that is a detailed topic for a future post).

        I have never failed to vote myself and accept the results as they fall out to a point, but as this is supposed to be a country of the people, for the people, and by the people this does not mean that I have to accept every single idea, policy, legislative proposal, or regulatory proposal that comes along. I am a free person, not a member of a flock that sits quietly and contentedly between the election cycles, simply accepting my fate. As Benjamin Franklin once pointed out, democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner but liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. While a colorful way to state it, what this means to me is that individual liberties are to stand and be protected by ourselves and our government regardless of what the masses’ opinions are.

        Another area we disagree is regarding the use of the word “need” with relation to liberties, and the free exercise thereof. Freedom is in no way predicated on need but rather is intrinsically tied to want. A truly free people are at liberty to pursue that which they want, not just what they need. After all, once we start letting others decide for us what exactly it is that we need, how does that not become corrupted? I am sure that you would not appreciate it if I deemed many of the elements of your life that you enjoy unnecessary. What does one really need in life anyway besides food, water, shelter…? Freedom is about more than merely existing – it is about choosing your own path and being left alone to follow it.

  3. #7 by Roger on April 5, 2011 - 2:16 PM

    (Thought I’d posted this but obviously not. Here you go.)
    I’ll just address some points rather than your entire post. I do have work to do!!

    First, I have always maintained that safety is largely an illusion. The only people one can truly rely upon for personal safety are themselves, and even that does not cut the mustard if evil is truly determined as it so often is.

    OK. When has your safety been in jepordy due to the actions of someone else? If it’s a natural occurance you have the choise of moving away from the natural issue. Safety is not an illusion, it’s a condution you cultivate. When have you had a reason to shoot someone in the US because you feared for you life? Much of the feeling of danger comes from people watching the TV and seeing every bad story in the world. They don’t look at their circumstances and judge the threat from that, the judge the threat from andicdotal stories on the tube. And they are wrong.

    pulling a gun on someone without cause (as reasonably determined by said jury in our system) is already illegal. It is absolutely antithetical to freedom for a government (or anyone) to preemptively punish someone for a suspected lack of judgment when an actual act to that affect has yet to be perpetrated

    You put words in my mouth. I said nothing about the goverment punishing anyone yet you jump to this conclusion and post a defense against something that wasn’t posited. I said I didn’t trust people who feel the need to carry a firearm for the supposed safety. MY feelings. Why did you think I was speaking of the government or prosecution? A fear of government is another topic I mentioned as an unreasonable fear used to justify carrying a weapon everywhere. Paranoia or whatever the motivation is not a good reason for someone to be armed. Danger – real, not imagined danger, is. If the government was oppressing people I’d be armed. If they are doign something I disagree with I’d simply be annoyed.

    On that note, I support the system as founded and intended; it is the people that I do not trust in.

    Great! Because the system was established and intended to change as the times change. Thats why we have an amendment process, to facilitate change when needed. And I don’t trust people either, whether they are elected officials or the guy on the street. My experiences is that most people are pretty ignorant and ruled by theri emotions, hence my first argument. Also the Supreme Court was established to determine whether a given act was constitutional. The Patriot Act (Yeah, the name sux) was deemed to be legal by the court. If you support the constitution then you support that decision. You can’t opt to not support the Constitution when it supports something you don’t like. Its not set up for your individual satisfaction but to manage the business of governance. Not to assure that you get your way but that the Constitution is followed. If you don’t trust the court and you don’t trust the government they you are essentially an anarcharist who doesn’t believe in the rule of law except when they agree with it. Not an option under our or any other stable system. And neither Franklin nor Jefferson nor Hamilton leaned towards a democracy. They supported a representative form of government. What they may have said philosophically in conversation is different from how they voted and acted in establishing a government. No, you should not be a sheep. But neither should you insist on your way or the highway. YOU don’t run the country. An elected committee does.

    A truly free people are at liberty to pursue that which they want, not just what they need. After all, once we start letting others decide for us what exactly it is that we need, how does that not become corrupted?

    I love this argument. We are not a “truly free” people. Whenever you have more that 2 people involved the group direction will be where the group needs to go, not where every individual needs to go every time. Obamacare is a good example. I don’t doubt there are good, upstanding Americans out there doing without medical care because of the current system. But the cost, both in treasure and politics, are more than what appears the majority wants to support. So those people who ‘need’ help will not get it because someone else says they won’t. The argument for ‘freedom’ is usually an emotional and unsophisticated one (no offence but I said I was blunt) put forward by those who can’t or won’t grasp the complexity of governing 311,085,567 people over a continent plus the demands of a modern world. That doesn’t mean you give up your rights but you do understand someone will get screwed in a representative system. Acutally it happens in families too. And of course it gets corrupted. Then someone will take note, the courts will move, watchdog groups will move, and a correction will be made. Its how the system works, the good of the whole over the desires of the few.

    Ahhh.. That was fun.

    • #8 by The Observer on April 5, 2011 - 7:00 PM

      Hmm… I must admit that I am not sure why someone must actually experience firsthand a situation in which a gun might have been helpful in protecting themselves or someone else before they should exercise their individual right to carry said weapon just in case. I certainly am not going to insist that my wife not carry a pistol simply because she has not been sexually assaulted by a random criminal as of yet. If she chooses to do so or not to do so it is ultimately her decision to make. I guess on this point we are simply at an impasse.

      I am not trying to put words into your mouth, so to speak (in fact, I did not think that I was); I am inferring what I thought was a clear implication that you would prefer people to be limited in their right to carry a weapon (your specific scenario) simply because you believe them to not be of sound mind or possessing sufficient personal responsibility. I am merely illustrating that we live in a nation that at least advertises innocence until guilt is actually proven, not irresponsible until proven responsible. My original post in the first place was centric to the topic of private citizens lobbying government to preemptively limit individual rights without proven cause via due process, which is by definition a preemptive and collective government punishment. I really do not feel this was an out of line inference given that the entire context of the discussion was centered on this point, but for sake of modesty I apologize for the miscommunication.

      I do agree that the amendment process is a great thing that should be embraced to implement change but that process is of course dependent upon state and federal governments following the Constitution faithfully in the first place – a situation that is clearly not happening in many cases. In any event, I am not actually advocating a departure from constitutional elements but rather an adherence to them, so I am not sure we disagree on this particular point.

      As of this publishing, the Supreme Court has not heard a case challenging the USA PATRIOT Act. On this subject I must point out that you are mistaken. The law has been reviewed by two lower federal courts, each with equal constitutional legitimacy in their respective jurisdictions as the USSC, and both have found it be unconstitutional… So under our system, since the USSC has not overturned those findings, the administrations – both the current and previous ones – are breaking constitutional law and federal statutes. No corrections have yet been made, a point in fact, despite all the watchdog groups, media scrutiny, and academic scrutiny. And for sake of the hypothetical argument, it is not as if the USSC cannot be wrong – I submit Plessy v. Ferguson as just one example. Were it not for people who refused to accept oligarchical rulings in favor of civil disobedience (I am not advocating violating laws in the pursuit of freedom), such as Dr. King, the nation would not have experienced the Civil Rights Movement. Again, just one example where individual rights were violated and people refused to accept it.

      Not supporting USSC decisions or laws that are unconstitutional is not the same thing as being an anarchist, and since bluntness apparently justifies rudeness I must point out just how ignorant of a stretch that is. Pointing and counterpointing will always be welcome here but labels are not. Trying to quash a debate by slinging collectivist stereotypes and insults rather than relying on the merits of your argument is rather “unsophisticated.” I agree that this country was established as a representative republic vice a true democracy but it was also established with a Bill of Rights that was supposed to protect individual rights – those representatives’ ideas, decisions, and opinions be damned. This is a fact that all too often gets conveniently overlooked by many in the populace, and of course, within the oligarchy itself. Just because more voted one way than another does not mean that my (or your) individual rights must go out the window if they conflict – not if the Constitution is to mean anything at all. On that point, I agree with the idea that “you can’t opt to not support the Constitution when it supports something you don’t like. Its [sic] not set up for your individual satisfaction but to manage the business of governance,” which is ironic considering your own argument against my right to carry is based primarily on the idea that you think it unjustified from your perspective (that is, assuming I am inferring this correctly).

      What exactly is “my way or the highway” about the stance that people should be left alone to do as they wish provided that they do not infringe upon the individual rights of others? I am confused by this statement because it seems quite clear to me that sentiments such as yours, which seem to insist that to disagree with the direction and decisions of government and even the citizenry in some cases equates to outright sedition or anarchy, indicate a staggering degree of unilateral tolerance.

      I am not really sure I understand where you went with that last paragraph because I have never suggested that life is fair or that people do not get screwed. My other posts paint a different picture entirely. But I do reject the consequentialist approach that the ends justify the means, all for the “greater good.” In the end, whether you agree that individual rights can coexist within our current political system (which by the way I think I agree with you – that they often cannot in reality) or not, I am simply pointing out that the government has no legitimate right to ignore or waive these rights as it sees fit and expect me to snap my fingers and say “aw shucks, better luck next time I guess.” If that is your approach, I pray that it works out for you but I and I alone intend to be my own master and I really could not care less what others think about the greater good. If my words inspire others to seek their own path then I have succeeded at least partially in accomplishing my objective.

      For the record, I am not trying to convince you to carry a gun; perhaps that is the source of the miscommunication. I am simply trying to convince you or any anonymous third party reader to respect my right to carry one, absent the application of due process to remove said right.

      And you are right, that was fun…

  4. #9 by Roger on April 6, 2011 - 9:44 AM

    Yeah, we’re probably done. You have twice now accused me of saying “you would prefer people to be limited in their right to carry a weapon (your specific scenario) simply because you believe them to not be of sound mind or possessing sufficient personal responsibility” when I said nothing of restricting someones right to carry or of punishing them in any way. I expressed personal discomfort with them, which I clearly explained. When you infer I said something I clearly did not dispite my correcting you then we are not holding a reasonable discussion and I don’t have the patience to defend something I did not say. The fact I personally do not trust someone with a firearm is a far cry from saying I would restrict their right to do so since the Constitution is clear that it is their right. I don’t like being misrepresented.

    My last statement: I feel that anyone who attempts to influence others through manipulation of facts is not someone to be trusted in anything. They have an agenda, IMHO. Does that mean I wish their freedom of speech to be inhibited? Of course not. Simply that I as an individual don’t trust their motives. This would have been more fun and effective had you listened to what I said instead of hearing what you wanted to hear and attempting to force a discussion from that. God speed.

    Roger

    • #10 by The Observer on April 6, 2011 - 4:08 PM

      Fair enough Roger. The implications were pretty clear to me, even if unintentional; or perhaps it was just a side effect of the limitations inherent to the medium from which the discussion itself was launched. Either way, I think we covered some good ground for others to absorb and digest as they see fit, so for that I thank you.

  5. #11 by Jim on April 6, 2011 - 7:31 PM

    Observer – I don’t normally post comments on blogs or in general, but for whatever reason I felt compelled to write after reading the exchanges between you and Roger.
    First of all, I’d like to say that I truly enjoy reading your blog and it has caused me to rethink some of the notions I’ve had. The “rights and Entitlements” entry has me a little confused and maybe I’ll post my thoughts to that later but right now I just wanted to express myself and thoughts to you and Roger about your exchange.. – Roger, after reading and re-reading the posts I kind of see where you would think that the Observer is saying your stance is that people should be limited in their “right to carry weapons” I see that you never actually said that (he never really says what you accuse him of either) but since the entry topic is about “gun control” and you state that the people who feel the need to carry all the time worry you – I can see where the Observer might want to reiterate his point. Frankly, I think by shutting off communication the way you did – with a snide comment about manipulating facts (all of the Observers facts – as far as I can tell – are cited) and agendas and not “trusting motives” is weak. As were some of your arguments about the issue. (Patriot act). My recommendation – nurse you hurt feelings, back up, regroup and come back with a stronger argument to support you opinions. I think that is what discussion on this blog is all about. Oh, one last thing (Yes, I’m a hypocrite because here I go with my own snide comment: I took and oath too, and it wasn’t to “protect the system” it was to “defend the Constitution.”) Yeah I guess you’ll call it quits with me too.
    Now back to the Observer (what is your name, BTW?) I’ve praised you enough, I think, and now it is time to – not be contentious really – but to engage your thinking.
    In one of the posts above you state, “Freedom is in no way predicated on need but rather is intrinsically tied to want. A truly free people are at liberty to pursue that which they want, not just what they need.” On one had I can see your point. On another I see that it can’t be this cut and dry. Some people – for example, Afghans, and other creepy MFer’s, like to have sex with boys. ( I hate Afghans – I’m sure the thought police will be after me for that statement – but I have my reasons for the way I feel about them and I’m not going to aplogise. I’m not going to seek them out and commit vilence on them – not in an unoffical capicity that is, but I don’t have smypathy for them. Any of them.) but I digress. The point is – I think the term “God given” or “Natural” right must defined better (if possible) What are these rights exactly? Because they can’t simply be “wants.” Can’t be. Just because someone wants something doesn’t mean they have the “right” to persue it.
    OK, pedifellia is a bad example, I’ll admit, because the child’s rights are being infinged upon.(I was going for an emotional shocker just to grab your attention, I’ll admit it.) but what about other “wants” that don’t necessarly infringe on the wants or rights of another citizen? This may be another bad example, but let’s say I’d like to enjoy a cold one (or two) on my way home from work. Irrisponsible? Maybe. I’m sure my reaction times are lower, but as long as I make it home without getting into an accident – hurting anyone or damaging their property, what harm is done? is it really worse than talking or texting on a cell phone? It is currently against the law to drink and drive, but is it really constitutional to tell me what I can put into my body and what I can do in/with my own property? I’m not saying I do either of these things – I’m just pushing the “freedom is a want” envelope and put forth some extreme examples so we can talk about scope and meaning. Here’s a better example – one that should get the blood boiling on most people – let’s say I like the taste of dog meat. I like to eat dogs and or cats. Is this a “right?” For a weird dog or cat eater is is definalely a “want.” Should they be free to persue it? I hope you understand that I’ve gone for extreme examples here for the purpose of making a point and I don’t condone any of the things I’m mentioned above but I’ve given these examples to make a point and it because I’m interested in hearing your response.

    • #12 by The Observer on April 6, 2011 - 9:50 PM

      Thank you for the kind words Jim. I truly think there was some level of significant miscommunication between myself and Roger that sort of sent that whole thread out of whack. Hopefully that will be a rare occurrence going forward.

      As a veteran of the Afghan campaign myself I can truly appreciate your perspective, but I do not usually extend topics of American values of freedom (at least as I interpret them) to other countries because it took me a long time to fully appreciate that just as much as my way is not for everyone in America, neither is America’s way for everyone in the world. I honestly believe that some folks simply are not ready for our revolutionary (no pun intended) concepts of individual liberty and prosperity. But, I will follow you down the rabbit hole quite willingly nonetheless… 🙂

      I agree that inevitably we will arrive at a gray area when considering this point of view. I believe that we have every right to treat our bodies however we want. That is why I disagree with the illegality of narcotics and other such drugs on principle even though I find them morally repugnant (though I acknowledge that there are some consequences that are not realistically supported in our current societal makeup). I also think that people should be able to take legal drugs that they think may help them even if the FDA feels that they may not be safe (e.g., experimental HIV or cancer meds that may have extreme side effects). We are allowed to use some drugs recreationally (e.g., alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine), we are generally allowed to eat horribly if we want, and can purposely disfigure ourselves as we wish (e.g., tattoos, piercings, etc.).

      But you are absolutely right; there is a blurry region that exists regarding this topic. I certainly do not proclaim to have all the answers, mostly just questions like you. I suppose that is why this is such a good idea because we might be able to discover the answers for ourselves simultaneously. I do believe that I can identify what is a natural right easily enough in most cases but it is much more difficult to identify where the line gets crossed. I suppose there is something to be said about Justice Stewart’s somewhat nebulous characterization of what constitutes pornography when he stated “I know it when I see it” in Jacobellis v. Ohio.

      I think texting and yacking away on a cell phone are not quite equally as dangerous as drinking and driving but I nonetheless concede that they are dangerous activities for those that are easily distracted. Not to digress too far, but I tend to think that people who are distracted while yacking on a phone are also easily distracted by the radio or by their children or other passengers in the car as well. It is sort of ingrained in some people. Your example is certainly not as black and white as, say, the natural right to self-defense. But I generally think that nowadays (not to say this was the case thirty years ago) people who possess individual responsibility will not operate a vehicle when they are impaired and those who do not will, and both will do what they do largely regardless of the law. I think the major difference between now and then is education and awareness, not so much the direct effectiveness of laws (but it could be a chicken and egg type of argument). As an example, my father often drove while drinking regardless of how many times he was arrested but I never do even when I have a tiny drop – and I would continue this trend even if the law were repealed tomorrow. For me, it is not a fear of incarceration so much as I simply think it a basically wrong decision on a moral level. I am certain that you, also, would not get behind the wheel while impaired even if it were not illegal to do so. When these folks do horrible things to other people they certainly must be punished I know you agree. It kind of goes back to my point regarding irresponsible use of weapons; that, too, is punishable by law because the government exists to protect our rights (in this case our right to life or right to be secure from physical harm inflicted by others) but cannot necessarily prevent such incidents. The government can only seek justice for us because we cannot truly legislate morality, I do not believe. The hope is that the moral fiber most of us inherently possess, or the example set via consequences imposed for those who lack some of this moral fiber, is the practicable prevention (if there even is such a thing).

      I think one key distinction regarding drinking and driving is that driving itself is a privilege, not a right – natural or otherwise. I will say that if the Founders had cars back in the late 1700s they likely would have included the right to operate a vehicle in the Bill of Rights, but I am just being facetious now. I simply do not have a great retort to this specific topic I guess, so I must tip my hat to you…

      I am a self-identified dog lover but I think that eating a dog, if that is your thing (not you, but your in the generic sense), is a personal choice. I see no legitimate argument to oppose such actions – of course, provided it is not my dog, as you already touched on. Just because cows are uglier and have less personality does not make them any more or less an animal than the dog or cat. After all, there are plenty of people right here in the good ol’ US of A that count eating cows, chickens, pigs, and fish among the most dastardly of acts.

      My name is Keath. I chose the name ”Observer” as a bit of an homage to the Anti-Federalist papers, to which we owe the existence of our constitutional Bill of Rights. I look forward to seeing something back from you on this and/or any of my other posts. You have certainly achieved your goal of engaging my thought.

  6. #13 by Roger on April 6, 2011 - 9:13 PM

    Ya see, Jim, my comments aren’t based on hurt feelings – this is only the net – it’s based on experience. I’ve had numerous discussions like this and they always end up with manipulated discussion that focuses on an anti-government position painting a picture of insidious plots to “take away our rights”. Every time! I heard this same line under Reagan, Carter, Clinton, all of them and it’s always the same. Some guy sees the gun as the only hope for an America but it’s just an excuse to play Joe Freedom Fighter. I’m walking away from this discussion because that’s the way it’ll end up and I just don’t have the patience to argue when my words will be twisted and the issues confused with half-truths. The next step in the conversation would be to say I’m simply brainwashed from my years in the service and can’t see “the Truth”. I’d hoped for rational discussion but the jump to me wanting to restrict gun rights from me not trusting everyone who can plop down $500 for an SD9 was just too obvious.

    As to my oath, the Constitution IS the system. It’s the play book for how it all works. Do some of the people WE elect in screw up? Naturally and we use the system and vote them out if that is the will of the people. If the people choose to disagree we do not go pout in the cornerbecause our candidate or bill lost. And we politic and vote again. The vote, not the gun is what keeps America great. Does that mean I support gun control? Of course not. It means I don’t see possessing a firearm as anymore a requirement for being a patriot than owning a car. It’s just a tool, like a hammer. That’s it. I believe what I was taught at Bragg – there are no dangerous waepons, just dangerous people. My oath was to the Constitution, whether it let’s me do what I want or not. I’m not going against that system simply because of a minor disagreement or fear if what “might” happen. I choose to deal with reality in the formulation of my opinions and I think anyone who feels the “need” to run around with a pistol on their hip like a cowboy just because they legally can is both lacking in judgement and (in most cases) an accident waiting to happen. My opinion, not a mandate for gun control by the jack-booted thugs of the New World Order (sarcasm intended). Just my opinion so take it as such. Spoken as the owner of several firearms of various types. Just tools and toys.

    Roger

  7. #14 by Benjamin on August 2, 2011 - 4:14 PM

    In the case of the Virginia Tech massacre Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before committing suicide and the January 8, 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting that killed six people, and left 14 others injured, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner there appears to have been many red flags where one didn’t need to be Sigmund Freud to realize something was wrong. Granted hindsight is 20/20 but after Virginia Tech the Arizona police should have kept an eye on Loughner considering his behavour? Both shooters had caused problms in school and had been reported by students and professors alike to responsible authority. From February to September 2010, Loughner had five contacts with Pima Community College police for classroom and library disruptions. Considedring the Virginia Tech shootings had occured April 16, 2007 one would like to think that law enforcement would have been more sensitive to potential violence? However the idea of passing laws to provide a bandaid fix does not address the issue. In my opinion too many times we see reactive laws to situations that could have been foreseen by enforcing laws already on the books. In the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, The more laws, the less justice. Simplified when I see a dog foaming at the mouth I don’t need Louis Pasteur to tell me it’s potential rabies.

    As for stricter gun control laws? no disrespect intended but please tell me how you are going to control the black market? Whether we like it or not there was, is and always will be a black market to supply any need, the only thing that changes is the price and profit goes up.Nothing is more insane than passing laws which cannot or are not enforced. But just my opinion and we all know what is said in regard to that.

    I do not exagerate when I say in just about any big city I can find any weapon I can pay the cash for. A friend who works in DC told me of a gun dealer selling out of the trunk of his car was arrested redhanded, was bailed out BEFORE the arresting officers could complete their paperwork and rearrested 2 days later selling guns again in the same neighborhood? After the descriptions I was given I can give an educated guess that the “dealer” had a few MP5’s, AKs, M16’s, A Dragunov SVD (who would want one of those? perhaps special order?) in short full automatic weapons, not something you are going to buy at the local gun shop easily. Considering these were military grade weapons where was his source of supply? While DC and New York are notorious for having very draconian gun laws, I remember a person who I was visiting who had because he could an AK 74 (and yes I did the function check so I verified it was full automatic) an M16A1 with a few other weapons, all bought on the black market. All the DC laws did was ensure that criminals paid a little more for their weapons, and it made me wonder how many weapons were out there and what kind couldn’t be bought. I like to think this person was joking when told a M2 .50 cal was available.

    In closing to ban or control weapons? easier to try and ban gunpower and all knowledge of gunpowder as one writer commented gang members make zip guns and Ngyuen made his weapons, I recall reading how durring World War 2 Sten guns were made by resistance undergound arms shops. The Nazis were not known for liberal gun laws.

  1. The Gun Control Cycle Continues «

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