DC v. Heller

The Supreme Court upheld the appeals court overturning Washington DC’s ban on handguns. I’ll post the link to the decision when it goes up, and maybe offer my thoughts when I’ve glanced through it; until then, here’s a thread to comment on the ruling and other recent SCOTUS decisions. Remember: Civility is nice.

Update 1: .pdf of the ruling, written by Justice Scalia, is here.

Update 2: The juicy part:

Held:
1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
Pp. 2–53.

(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.

Also:

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Update 3: ZOMG! Scalia gives props to a “living Constitution”!

Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.

My head, she is explody.

Update 4: I found this interesting:

A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would not apply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. See National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, 432 U. S. 43 (1977) (per curiam). The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified, which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views. The Second Amendment is no different.

Update 5: Well, just gave the ruling (although not the dissenting opinions) a very quick read through, and in an event sure to cause cranial rupture to everyone who is of the opinion that I believe that anything Justice Scalia says is wrong, period, full-stop, I agree with it in a general sense, and to the extent that I’ve zoomed through Scalia’s ruling, I think his reasoning here is solid and commonsensical. I think he bangs on poor Justice Stevens a bit much, but that’s Scalia for you. I do think it’s important that Scalia noted that there are limits which may reasonably be imposed on gun possession in certain places and by certain people, and on how guns are sold and registered — and I suspect there will still be a lot of skirmishing, legally-speaking, on how those work, and what is Constitutionally acceptable or not.

How will this shake out in terms of gun violence in a general sense? I have no idea, although if I had to guess I would suspect it won’t make a bit of difference one way or another, since the sort of person most likely to put a bullet in someone else isn’t the sort of person who would be concerned whether or not his firearm was banned. I’ve believed for a long time as a practical matter that handgun bans are useless; there are already millions of them and they will never disappear from the American landscape even if there were a Constitutional amendment banning them (which I don’t recommend). You will never not be able to find a handgun if you really want one.

But beyond that I really do believe (as does Scalia, apparently) that the Framers wanted everyone to have the right to own weapons, for defense of home, etc. It’s true that we do pay a price for it, in terms of gun violence (not to matter simple stupidity involving guns, including the tragic examples of when kids pull out mom or dad’s gun and start playing with it — the stupidity there is on the part of the parents, generally). But we also pay certain prices for the expansiveness of our right to free speech and our habeas corpus rights, to name but two constitutionally-enshrined rights we enjoy.

In any event: I basically agree with this decision, although I note the caveat that this is off a quick read, and that I need to read it in more depth. I doubt that reading in more depth will fundamentally change my opinion of the ruling, although it may reveal details I might quibble (or additionally agree) with.

The floor is open for more comments.

287 thoughts on “DC v. Heller

  1. More proof that the Bush legacy is not going to be the war in Iraq. The Bush legacy is going to be the Roberts court.

  2. I will be interesting to see if allowing the general public to arm themselves will end up lowering the crime rate.

    I don’t see how it can get any worse, D.C. has some serious problems, with the ban on handguns and police asking to see your papers just to walk down the street.

    I was there once in the 90’s. it was a surreal place, with all the gov bldgs and fancy statues intermingled with burned out blocks of slums, beggars everywhere and people urinating on the streets. I have no desire to go back.

  3. History can be fickle in what it chooses to highlight, and what it chooses to overlook. Get back to me in twenty years and we’ll compare notes, but I suspect the War on Terror will be still hotly debated, and the Roberts Court rather less so.

    As to the decision, I am relieved, given the other dreck this court has produced in this session. I am simultaneously disappointed that Stevens, Bryer, Ginsburg, and Souter think so little of our rights.

  4. Scalia quickly lost his taste for originalism when it didn’t work the way he wanted, didn’t he?

  5. You’re probably right.

    However — and stipulating that I don’t usually see eye-to-eye with Dubbya’s merry men on anything — that’s the way the system is designed to work.

    The Court is essentially a balance wheel for the rest of the government apparatus. It slows down, and spreads out, change. Changing >>its<< perspective takes consistent, long-term political consensus (as well as some luck).

    The liberal side of American politics has been on the ropes for many years, which is what allowed GOP control to expand and last long enough to affect the Court.

    But there is a silver lining here, I think: : against all odds, Dubbya managed to re-invigorate the liberal wing of American politics. I’ll always be grateful to him and the Dark Prince for that :).

    – Mark

  6. David,

    Did he? Or did he recognize earlier rulings of the Supreme Court (isn’t there a term for that? “Stare Decisis” et non quieta movere) as they related to firearms and their regulation? I’d have been glad to see the Second declared an unlimited right myself, and overturn just about every regulation restricting the ownership and carriage of weapons on the books. Sadly for my druthers, conservative jurists try to avoid such drastic changes in the body of the law.

    It’s a point you might want to consider.

  7. One thing the “collective rights” crowd doesn’t get is the danger their approach poses to the rest of the Bill of Rights.

    If you can effectively negate the Second Amendment by claiming that a “collective right” is satisfied by service in the National Guard, someone else could apply the same logic to the First Amendment and make the case that it, too, is a “collective right”…and that you are only free to exercise it by proxy through a state-licensed newspaper. (Or, you could just go work for them directly.)

  8. Did he?

    Why yes, yes he did.

    Sadly for my druthers, conservative jurists try to avoid such drastic changes in the body of the law.

    I just sneezed coffee through my nose.

  9. I think there is reason to be optimistic that this may cause a small drop in gun violence. As you’ve noted, it’s not like current gun laws are actually preventing criminals from owning guns. But, just as the war on drugs causes violence by creating a black market (http://tiny.cc/2cINI), so must the war on guns. That is, with guns easier to obtain, there may be less violence in their acquisition, and since the criminals using them for other sorts of violence were already able to obtain them, I don’t think we’ll see a large corresponding increase in gun crime.

    Of course, I don’t have any actual numbers, so who knows.

  10. Chris,

    it’ll also have the positive side effect that the law-abiding citizens of D.C. no longer have the legal equivalent of a giant “CRIMINALS: COME AS YOU ARE” sign in their front yards.

  11. What’s interesting is that the majority does not elaborate what the Constitutional standard to be applied in cases of Second Amendment violations will be. (There are three – 1) “rational basis,” which requires only that the law have any, um, rational basis for its enactment, 2) “intermediate scrutiny,” which requires the government’s interest to be important and the resulting law to be substantially related to that interest, or 3) “strict scrutiny,” which requires the government’s interest to be compelling and the resulting law to be narrowly written to serve that interest.) Apparently this is something that the Court will have to figure out in the next case. Also, the majority didn’t decide how much power the states have in restricting guns or whether the 2nd Amendment has been “incorporated” (i.e. whether it applies to the states through the 14th Amendment.)

    So what happens now? The case itself is going to get sent back down to the trial court (here, the U.S. District Court in D.C.) Mr. Heller, and presumably all D.C. residents, will have to be allowed to own guns, but here I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a two or three month stay on a final order to allow D.C. to come up with an actual handgun licensing program. Which will likely be subject to more litigation, since getting common sense government out of D.C. is like getting blood from a turnip.

    I’ll quit with the law student geekery now.

  12. I also just finished a quick read. But all you really need to read to understand it is the syllabus. Understand the preparatory clause and the operative clause, that the preparatory clause doesn’t limit the operative clause, and you’ve got the crux of the decision. i. e. “the people” means all of us, whether we’re in a militia or not.

    As for gun violence, I agree with John. It won’t have much if any effect. People try to hurt other people. Sometimes they use a gun. Sometimes it’s a baseball bat or a kitchen knife.

  13. One of the key issues the case presented is left undecided: that of the level of “scrutiny” to be used in evaluating gun laws. Scalia doesn’t say, though in a footnote attacking Breyer he makes clear that it isn’t “rational basis” scrutiny, meaning that if there’s any rational basis for the law it survives. In other words, rational basis is an “I win” button for the government.

    So it will be intermediate (a balancing test weighted against the government in favor of the individual) or strict scrutiny (where the government almost always loses in layman’s terms), or some hybrid, but that remains to be decided.

    The Court is in essence inviting further litigation of the issue.

  14. I was holding out the chance they’d say the second amendment doesn’t give the right to individuals. One can dream.

    Scalia got it right. It’s sure funny how he rules if it favors his political/moral agenda.

  15. I agree that banning handguns completely would be pointless at this point. The genie’s already out of the bottle.
    Now a ban might make it a little harder to find one. But I know if I wanted a handgun right now(I live in a very small town), I could leave the house and be back with one in a couple of hours. Tops. I’m a law abiding citizen and don’t currently own a handgun, legal or otherwise. Someone with criminal use on their mind could probably get one a lot faster. When you figure a big city, the time rates would be even quicker.
    What this says about our country, who knows? If I lived in a major city, I suspect I would have several handguns, illegal, and be well versed in their use. I’ve owned them in the past and made sure I knew how to handle them safely.

  16. As for Justice Stephens… read some of his dissenting arguments. He needed to be banged on :)

  17. Regarding the gun violence question: The data points to a trend in which more non-felonious citizens possessing guns correlates with lower rates of all violent crime. Comparing American states who have relaxed conditions for gun ownership and self-defense using guns vs. Britain, the states’ violent crime rates have declined, while Britain’s rose significantly as UK citizens’ ability to legally possess firearms has been limited. And, DC’s violent crime rate is significantly higher than the rates of Miami or Houston, which is probably a better apples to apples comparison. (Florida and Texas both have significant protection of individual right to own firearms and “shall issue” concealed carry laws.)

  18. I’ve always wanted to have one of those huge ass WWII German rail guns. I think it takes like 15 guys over an hour just to load and fire it.
    .
    I wonder if they’d let me put in my back yard up there in DC. That would be cool.

  19. Color me unsurprised in the ruling.

    I suspect that the level of gun violence extant today, where cutting someone off in traffic (or merely failing to get out of way fast enough) can easily result in multiple deaths, is not something any of the Founders foresaw. That they failed to foresee it, though, doesn’t make the provision invalid. It just makes it uncomfortable to live with (for some).

    Changes in the level of gun violence in this country won’t come, I suspect, from regulation of gun ownership. It’s only to be solved from the bottom-up, not the top down.

  20. You know, I’ve always interpreted the 2nd Amendment to have another application to it – besides arming a militia or home defense. And that was for the individual (or group) to defend oneself against an oppressive government.

    I’ve always considered that to be one of the Framers’ most insightful points – that the government they were creating might not be perfect in the future and that should a regime come to power that was going to take away basic human rights that the population would not be defenseless.

    Actually the way some rights have been taken away in the past 8 years, the Framers might have been more accurate than anyone thought in this regard.

  21. Rodney G. Graves @ 4:

    So the dissenting justices here don’t think much of our rights, and the Boumedine dissenters (coincidentally 4/5 of the majority in Heller) are all loving guardians of habeas corpus rights?

    Isn’t that just about different people having different ideas about the proper limitations of different rights? Its kind of the point of having a 9 member bench. People are going to have different views, both legal and political, on different things, and judges are no different. We might complain that political ideologies are enshrined for extended periods in the Supreme Court (I think the insane lack of a mandatory retirement age is the main problem here – Hell, I agree with John Paul Stevens on most things but there’s no way an 89 year old should be on the Supreme Court), but divergent legal approaches is kinda the point.

    Calling something “dreck” because it doesn’t conform to your politics, though, is a bit, well, childish. There are always at least two sides, of varying strength, to each legal case. One can, and should, criticise decisions one disagrees with, on reasoned political/legal grounds. And if absurd rhetoric is being used (see: most Scalia dissents recently), that can also be properly criticised. But just saying that certain judges don’t care about rights is both insulting and, essentially, an accusation that they’re in contravention of their judicial oath. Are you sure that’s really what you want to be saying?

  22. David @ 6:

    “Scalia quickly lost his taste for originalism when it didn’t work the way he wanted, didn’t he?”

    I think Scalia considers himself a textualist and not an originalist, to the extent there’s a difference.

    I’m a lawyer, but not a constitutional scholar, and my thought has always been that if you are trying to divine a drafter’s original intent, there is at least a historical record to argue from.

    Maybe I’m being unfair to Scalia, and misstating what he thinks, but it seems to me that his notion that you can divine meaning from the plain language of a statutory or constitutional text suffers in real life from the capacity of words to be ambiguous on their face.

  23. Scotus Blog

    The Court took no position on whether the Second Amendment right restricts only federal government powers, or also curbs the power of states to regulate guns. In a footnote, Scalia said that the issue of “incorporating” the Second into the Fourteenth Amendment, thus applying it to the states, was “a question not presented by this case.” But the footnote said decisions in 1886 and 1894 had reaffirmed that the Amendment “applies only to the Federal Government.” Whether the Court will reopen that issue thus will depend upon future cases.

    Suggesting (I think) that a state can ban handguns…but since DC is under Federal control, they can’t be banned in DC. Am I reading this correctly?

  24. The Supremos have sounded a couple of wrong notes recently, in my opinion, but this ruling is long overdue, and will be long remembered.

    Remember, everyone: Self-defense is a human right.

  25. TransDutch @ 32:

    IIRC, those 19th Century cases also held that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the States, so their value as precedent is dubious at best.

  26. Transdutch, that’s correct as to DC, but as to states, the Court wasn’t called on to address incorporation, and appears to have avoided the question entirely.

    Expect that several lawsuits will be filed in the very near future seeking an answer to that question.

  27. CCJ-in-Weld @ 26

    Maybe I’m being unfair to Scalia, and misstating what he thinks, but it seems to me that his notion that you can divine meaning from the plain language of a statutory or constitutional text suffers in real life from the capacity of words to be ambiguous on their face.

    He did not just use the “plain language”. In fact he surveyed the writings common to the times. He also used State constitutions that were drafted at the same time.

    In all cases he found that the intent was an individual right to keep (own and store) and bear (carry) arms (“weapons of offence, or armour of defence.”)

    David

    Anti-tank weapon for me, I think.

    Scalia specifically states:

    Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

  28. Alan@27 – I’ve also always thought that protection from an oppressive government was a, if not the basis for the Second Amendment too. I’ve never seen anything about self-defense of the individual in the text. This leads to my basic support of the Second Amendment despite being a big pinko lefty in most regards.

    I haven’t read the full opinion yet, but I have a little trouble with the logic of the paragraph JS quotes in “Update 4,” i.e. – the restrictions on free speech for obscenity, etc. were not in the original text, but were decided later by SCOTUS decisions. So it seems like he’s being a little contradictory there. Is it me?

  29. First thing I thought when I saw the decision was: “So, which justice voted both for the individual right to bear arms in DC, and the right to habeas corpus in Guantanamo?” The answer seems to be Anthony Kennedy.

  30. Pegkitty @ 37:

    I think what that quoted section means is that the exceptions to free speech and free press were recognized by the drafters even if they weren’t explicitly written into the language of the Constitution itself. That is, when they wrote “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech….” they really meant “except in traditional ways that are so obvious to us as we write this that it never occurs to us to write them down.”

  31. It really doesn’t suggest anything other then it was “a question not presented by this case.” From what I understand, the legal opinions of a case are confined to the questions asked in a particular case. If you ask the court if a semicolon is correct in a particular place, they will make an opinion about that, and not necessarily say anything about the comma’s you use in the sentence presented.

    Something people might find interesting is that people who pass the qualifications for carrying concealed weapons, are less likely then the general population to break the law.

  32. cofax@26: It is true that the founders likely didn’t expect that gun technology would advance the way it did. However, they very much did foresee that the laws they were writing might not be perfect, and might need to be adjusted due to changing circumstances.

    The method for making those changes was not supposed to be “get the right guys on the court”. The method for making those changes is passing an amendment. If “the right to bear arms” is causing problems, then the way to fix things is not to try to weasel around it or make semantically dubious arguments about the text but to pass another amendment repealing it.

  33. It’s always amused me that the people who fight for certain amendments (1st, 4th, etc) to cover every modern situation because the framers “couldn’t have foreseen it”, assume that those same framers were too daft to consider that weapons technology would make advancements in the years to come.

  34. Pegkitty @ 37: To make that case, you would have to argue that people don’t have the right to protect their own life, and that this was common understanding when the Bill of Rights was crafted.

    Look at the 1st Amendment, it lists restrictions on the government that were not common at the time. Back in the day, everyone could defend their lives, from robbers, nature (bears, cougars and such,) Indian’s. There wasn’t a question that you could disarm an individual and leave them out in the woods defenseless.

  35. The comments on the Miller case were interesting. I believe that if the law on machine guns is challenged Stevens dissent will play a starting role in my briefs against the law which will be ironic indeed. That one is now more wide open then ever I think.

    Over all this does not change many existing laws. Some extreme states/cities (SF, NY, Chicago, MA, etc) are going to see some challenges right away. I see their laws being changed but a lot of restrictions remaining. What it does is set some new guidelines about what is reasonable in that complete bans are not reasonable and that restrictions have to be on a more case by case basis. For example felons are out because they have been adjuticated but random honest people can not be banned from gun ownership.

    It will be interesting to see Obama’s response. McCain’s is already out and is supportive of the Court.

  36. Eddie Clark @ 28 offers:

    So the dissenting justices here don’t think much of our rights, and the Boumedine dissenters (coincidentally 4/5 of the majority in Heller) are all loving guardians of habeas corpus rights?

    The dissenting justices here seek to overturn both the clear language and the intent (as demonstated by Scalia) of the framers. Just as the majority in Boumediene extended a right guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution (applicable to the People of the United States) to persons (enemy combatants) who have never enjoyed such rights in the history of the United States nor in the history of jurisprudence descending from English Common Law.

    Isn’t that just about different people having different ideas about the proper limitations of different rights? Its kind of the point of having a 9 member bench.

    It’s supposed to be about the laws and the Constitution as written.

    People are going to have different views, both legal and political, on different things, and judges are no different. We might complain that political ideologies are enshrined for extended periods in the Supreme Court (I think the insane lack of a mandatory retirement age is the main problem here – Hell, I agree with John Paul Stevens on most things but there’s no way an 89 year old should be on the Supreme Court), but divergent legal approaches is kinda the point.

    Life terms for judges was intended to make them resistant to the political urges of the moment and allow them to prefer the law and the institutions vice the passions of the political moment. Obviously that has worked out less than ideally in practice, but I have yet to see a better method proposed.

    Calling something “dreck” because it doesn’t conform to your politics, though, is a bit, well, childish.

    A legal opinion not consistent within itself is well described as dreck. Defending said dreck because it agrees with your political predispositions is indeed childish.

  37. Coming from a foreign jurisdiction that doesn’t have an analagous historical situation to the US, or courts with a power of legislative review, I’m very much an outsider on this issue. I must admit that I can’t see why a right to carry weapons is needed – most other western countries don’t have one and (I’m not going to get into the gun violence argument) at the very least, they don’t have noticeably HIGHER rates of violent crime than the US. But I’m not going to argue about that – your country, you guys can do what you want… the right to bear arms in the US is one of the few bits of your politics that doesn’t really affect the outside world.

    What I find more interesting is that those favouring more extensive restrictions on guns, or bans on certain types of gun, don’t just argue that the 2nd amendment should be repealed. I know its not likely to happen, but it seems that that is what most really want – isn’t it more intellectually honest to argue that if you want more gun control? That the 2nd amendment is a colonial artifact that no longer makes sense.

  38. Not the last law-suit over this law. Next up, zoning rules (from what I understand, currently DC zoning does not allow gun stores, it’s a violation to buy a firearm in one state for the sole purpose of transporting it to another without being a dealer, so buying a firearm in Virginia or Maryland and then bringing it to DC might violate your license). Oo, that’ll be exciting.

  39. The majority was weak when it opened the door to licensing and registration, but it’s the dissent which is really mind-blowing. They would limit the right to a militia right, which automatically excludes everyone other than males 18-42 years of age. No old people, no women get this right. It’s an absolutely horrible dissent, which, as Scalia notes in his opinion, is grotesque in its’ contortions.

    The name-calling in the opinions is very unusual, as is the amount of argument in the text. Clearly, this was a deeply divided court.

    This makes the upcoming election even more important because the next President will probably get to replace 3 or 4 justices. This narrow 5-4 decision could easily be attacked again with a different balance on the Court.

  40. KIA:

    I think it’s very doubtful Heller will be shoved off the books with any haste, actually; as someone here or somewhere else noted, it’s likely to be the NRA Roe v. Wade in which the core ruling persists, and it’s sniped at from the margins.

  41. Mark @3 wrote:

    I was there once in the 90’s. it was a surreal place, with all the gov bldgs and fancy statues intermingled with burned out blocks of slums, beggars everywhere and people urinating on the streets. I have no desire to go back.

    Well, it’s good to know that you have kept tabs and know that absolutely nothing has changed in DC, nor is there anything remotely unlike what you’re describing there.

    With an attitude like that, we don’t want you back.

    (Do you also think that white collar workers in downtown Pittsburgh go home at noon to change their shirts because of all the coal in the air?)

  42. Alfred @ 44:It will be interesting to see Obama’s response.

    Especially since Mr Constitutional Scholar thought the ban was Constitutional.

    I think your view is generally correct for the short term impacts.

    Countering violence in our society is not going to be as simple as waving a magic wand (ie more laws) and saying, criminals can’t use guns. If that could work, why not just have a law saying people can’t break the law…

    The thing is, most gun owners do support reasonable regulations. Automatic weapons are already highly restricted, you can get them, and it’s a pain to get them, but you can still get them if you qualify. For concealed carry, I’m for requiring a minimum amount of training, and background checks. But these restrictions can’t be so great that they prevent lawful citizens from obtaining firearms or using them for their own protection. Requiring a 50 page test, and a $5000 dollar fee for instance, would be unreasonable. A page or two, and $75 would be in line with getting a drivers license (another tool which can be used to kill multiple people.)

  43. Steve at 41: The method for making those changes was not supposed to be “get the right guys on the court”.

    Oh, yeah, I neglected to add that. The way to change it is to amend the Constitution.

    And if we found it impossible to add an equal rights amendment, just think of the fun and games associated with changing or negating the Second Amendment! I see the NRA rioting in the streets.

    I also don’t see that an amendment would make much difference on the ground: there’s such a huge amount of unlicensed and illegal traffic in weapons now, that it wouldn’t change much even if the Second Amendment went away. Things need to change in other places: social/psychological places, not legal ones.

  44. In any event: I basically agree with this decision

    After casually reading your blog for over a year I have the following reactions …

    1. Who are you and what have you done with John Scalzi?

    or

    2. Your local Democratic Party operatives will be dropping by shortly to revoke your party credentials.

  45. Eddie @46

    It might make more intellectual sense, but Americans hold rightly or wrongly the first 10 amendments on a higher level than the ones that came after.

    It’s also a matter of history that the only amendment that ever restricted rights further (18th) was repealed (21st).

    I think the state-application of Heller will be tried…but I’m not sure it will be tried quickly. Those who would seek to ban handguns on a state level to test it will likely wait until the composition of the court changes.

    Keith @51

    Obama’s view that the ban was constitutional was supported by 4 Supreme Court justices. (And other non-justices who are also scholars…) His view is currently the court’s minority opinion, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    Dissenting opinions have been quoted in the past to support new majority opinions.

  46. Matt@42: “It’s always amused me that the people who fight for certain amendments (1st, 4th, etc) to cover every modern situation because the framers “couldn’t have foreseen it”, assume that those same framers were too daft to consider that weapons technology would make advancements in the years to come.”

    OTOH, people who fight for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution to be the limit of what rights the Framers intended (“X right doesn’t exist because it’s not in the Constitution!”, for example) apparently believe the Framers were completely daft when they wrote the Ninth Amendment, which reads, in full:

    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    Which was a memo from the Framers: “Dear literalists: Get stuffed.”

    As I’ve said to certain limited government types before: I’ll give you the Tenth if you give me the Ninth. Almost like that was the horse trade involved, eh? :)

    Or, to point out a different flaw: What if the Original Intent of the Framers was that the Constitution shouldn’t be interpreted by Original Intent? Given the Ninth, I don’t think that’s entirely rhetorical…

  47. “I have no party credentials as it is.”

    I find your lack of party credentials disturbing.

    (not really)

  48. I’m very pleased with the supreme court decision. What John said earlier is the core of the matter: “…since the sort of person most likely to put a bullet in someone else isn’t the sort of person who would be concerned whether or not his firearm was banned.” The sort of people who would use a gun to commit a crime are not the sort of people who walk down to your neighborhood firearms store to to legally buy a firearm. They generally steal them, or buy them from people who steal them. Banning something like handguns completely only keeps them from the hands of law-abiding citizens, and does little or nothing to keep them out of the hands of hoods and punks.

  49. We may have an interesting case coming out of Florida. It challenges a new law that lets people keep guns in locked cars in parking lots owned by private businesses. The Chamber of Commerce and Florida Retail Federation oppose the law because businesses want to be able to establish rules for conduct on their property.

  50. How will this shake out in terms of gun violence in a general sense? I have no idea, although if I had to guess I would suspect it won’t make a bit of difference one way or another, since the sort of person most likely to put a bullet in someone else isn’t the sort of person who would be concerned whether or not his firearm was banned.

    This line of reasoning has always puzzled me. Sure, if you’re a super villain, you’re going to be able to get a gun anyway. Gun control won’t protect us from Braniac or Mr. Freeze, but it will protect us from the thousands of morons out there who want a phallic enhancement. It won’t get all of them, but it will get many of them, and that’s good enough.

    Perhaps I’m just speaking as a Canadian, but it seems plainly absurd to me that owning a gun would be held to the same standard as free speech.

  51. Michael @ #60: How is owning a gun a phallic enhancement? That’s the sort of fuzzy-headed liberal thought process that’s been slowly pushing me over the fence from democrat to republican.

    What right do you have to tell me what I can or cannot own, as long as I do it in a safe fashion that endangers no one? I carry a concealed weapon every day when I leave my house, and I do it because I’d like to be able to defend myself from some meth-head with a knife who needs cash for his fix from the local bank or 7-11, or some other dangerous person likely to hurt me or someone else if I cross his path.

    And last time I checked, I conceal my weapon on my belt, not in the crotch of my pants.

  52. No party credentials, John?

    You’re not a licensed bikini inspector?

    Not qualified to tap a Keg?

    Incapable of Jamming a righteous mix on the stereo?

    Uncertified as a Margarita Mixmaster?

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think you are welcome in my party, John.

    Eh, who am I kidding, you can come, just bring ice. And watch the fishtank.

  53. @60
    it will protect us from the thousands of morons out there who want a phallic enhancement.

    In any US cities or town you can obtain a gun for a reasonable amount, no questions asked. The dealers are rather shady and the weapons are likely to have the serial number filed off .. but any petty crook, thief or goober can get one.

    Gun control only makes this activity illegal and hard to detect – it doesn’t stop it any more than the War on Drugs keeps kids from buying drugs after school.

    t seems plainly absurd to me that owning a gun would be held to the same standard as free speech.

    Welp, it’s in the document that sets out our rights and privileges. Absurd or not, it’s baked into the foundation of this country.

  54. I just hope I am never in a business being robbed when some would-be cowboy decides to pull out his pistol and “rescue” me. I have a lot better chance of being killed in the ensuing firefight than I would be by the criminals who just want to get their money and get out.

    And this is not far-fetched. Local people who have concealed carry permits have stated that part of the reason they got them was to help stop crimes.

  55. Rodney G Graves:

    I have to ask…since the Constitution explicitly spells out what rights ONLY apply to citizens (voting, holding office, etc), and we’ve always held the same standards for anyone accused of a crime here, no matter their nationality, why is it suddenly Treason to think the same applies for the folks at Gitmo? Hell, we arrested some of them for the crime of fighting an invading army on their sovereign territory (ie, US).

  56. Jamie:

    If you’re going to ask that question (and Rodney, if you’re going to answer it), perhaps it would be better suited in this comment thread. Which is to say this argument does not have to be rehashed in this thread.

  57. Jamie,

    I wasn’t aware we were discussing Treason.

    Do get back to me when you can either quote my position or restate it without such distortions.

    Until then, have a better day.

  58. Your media at work –
    ‘ There were 143 gun-related murders in Washington last year, compared with 135 in 1976, when the handgun ban was enacted.’ Nice how they skipped the two murders a day later 1980s, with murders running over 600 a year in a city of 600,000. Because DC was probably the capital of concealed carry in the nation at that time, even if those carrying the weapons were breaking the law.

    And Scalzi at work –
    ‘But beyond that I really do believe (as does Scalia, apparently) that the Framers wanted everyone to have the right to own weapons, for defense of home and etc.’ None of the Framers from such slave states as Virginia wanted any slaves to have any weapons for any reason. The Framers weren’t stupid enough to think that giving slaves the right to bear arms would make the Framers safer. But that is what a living Constitution is all about – using a penumbra to find a right to personal self defense in an amendment talking about militias.

  59. I consider myself a liberal (progressive?), and I consider this a good ruling. A friend of mine who definitely is a liberal I know considers this a good thing.

    The gnashing of teeth about habeus I just don’t understand.

  60. not_scottbot:

    “The Framers weren’t stupid enough to think that giving slaves the right to bear arms would make the Framers safer.”

    I will grant you that our definition of “everyone” and the framers’ definition (at least the ones holding slaves) is different. I also think that’s fairly obviously to most people having this discussion.

  61. @54

    My apologies, John. I assumed from scanty evidence you were a Democrat.

    Also – I was funnin’.

    Is there _anyone_ who doesn’t think this is ruling is a bad thing? I read blogs written by a politically diverse bunch of people – a quick lunchtime scan shows me no gripes or bitches.

    Maybe I self-select and don’t regularly read tiresome lame people. I’ll login to the HuffPro tonight and see what’s up with those guys.

  62. @73 Edit “Is there anyone who thinks this ruling is a bad thing?”

    My Mac does spell-check – what it needs is a ‘does this make sense’ check.

  63. not_scottbot,

    The issue of slavery was not decided in the courts.

    XIII

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Some would go so far as to say that the unpleasantness between the states of 1861-1865 was the real deciding factor.

    Nor was the issue of citizenship for the former slaves decided by the courts. The reversal of Jim Crow and related Southern “traditions” were the combined efforts of the [then] Republican Congress and the courts.

  64. JJS @ 64: I just hope I am never in a business being robbed when some would-be cowboy decides to pull out his pistol and “rescue” me. I have a lot better chance of being killed in the ensuing firefight than I would be by the criminals who just want to get their money and get out.

    Statistically, you are more likely to be killed by a cop responding to that situation then a “would-be cowboy.” Look it up.

    So, if you’re being raped in the alleyway, please keep yelling, don’t help me, don’t help me.

    TransDutch @ I think the state-application of Heller will be tried…but I’m not sure it will be tried quickly. Those who would seek to ban handguns on a state level to test it will likely wait until the composition of the court changes.

    Already being done in Chicago, where a lawsuit is going to be filled against it ASAP. And what has their gun ban done for the criminal use of firearms? Nothing, since it’s easy enough to go to almost any other state, purchase a gun, and illegally transport it anywhere else in the country. Oh, it has disarmed lawful citizens, so that criminals know that they are free to prey on them without worrying about an armed response.

    And as far as Obama’s opinion goes, it’s more how far under the bus is going to throw his previous view. He seems to have walked back his view of NAFTA, and public campaign financing far enough that he now supports/opposes it after having opposing/supported it.

    We do not need a typical Chicago politician in the White House. And that’s all Sen. Obama is.

  65. Brian – this may shock you, but I also think this ruling was a good thing.

    What may really shock you is that I’m a member of the NRA, and have been since 1985. Not that I agree with everything they’ve advocated.

  66. Hal @56:

    I do not think that means what you think it means. It does NOT give the government (state or federal) the ability to pass at will laws that limit the freedoms of citizens. In fact, it does just the opposite. ‘The people’ has a very specific meaning, and it ain’t ‘the democratically elected government’. While you might have a case on say, EPA rulings, you clearly DON’T on limiting a citizen’s right to possess arms.

  67. Brian @ 73: Is there _anyone_ who doesn’t think this is ruling is a bad thing?

    Do you mean, is there anyone who thinks this is a bad thing?

    Example A:

    An angry Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday called the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Washington D.C. gun ban “a very frightening decision” and vowed to fight vigorously any challenges to Chicago’s ban.

    The mayor, speaking at a Navy Pier event, said he was sure mayors nationwide, who carry the burden of keeping cities safe, will be outraged by the decision.

    I’m sure there will be a number of mayors who this upsets. Can’t have law abiding people taking the law into their hands and defending themselves against criminals can you…

  68. John Scalzi and David at 6: Scalia does not believe in a living constitution. He does believe (per his interview on the Charlie Rose show) that the express rights set forth within the Bill of Rights are properly applied by analogy to the modern day. Thus, email is covered by the First and the government cannot search a house remotely (via heat reading technology) without a warrant, an opinion Scalia drafted.

    What Scalia objects to is the Court’s manufacturing rights (such as Roe v. Wade) or the Court limiting rights (such as the Heller dissent), based on the Court’s perception of good public policy. Scalia is of the opinion that public policy is a matter for the legislature to address and that the Court’s imposition of its personal views does violence to the Democratic process.

    Steve at 41: The Framers actually did envision multiple firing handguns. For example, Jefferson was an avid gunsmith and built proto-type pepper box pistols. The search for multiple shot pistols was an avidly pursued by the powers that be and amateur sportsman. Even during the Revolutionary War, proto-type weapons were bing experimented with, such as the Ferguson Rifle (a breach loading single shot that had a faster rate of fire than a musket).

  69. @ notscottbot #69 “using a penumbra to find a right to personal self defense in an amendment talking about militias.”

    There is no need to “find” a personal right of self defense, for, as the majority recognized, the right of self-preservation predated the Constitution, and the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were not exclusive. Indeed only certain rights were ceded to the federal government, and everything else remained vested in the states or the people. See also The Ninth Amendment “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

  70. Really?

    Do you realize that DC, even with home rule, is still a toy of the federal government, and especially Congress, as laid out in the Constitution?

    That home rule in DC finally meant that majority rule would at least allow some of the benefits of citizenship that most Americans take for granted? I’m quite sure that most citizens of DC are anything but surprised that Scalia et al have again decided that DC’s masters know better. Masters who just happen to have their own police force, in this case, a privilege that people in Anacostia will never have – even after they have again the right to bear handguns. Citizens under a Constitution that forbids them even the opportunity to have their own congressional representatives move to amend it – as DC has no elected congressional representatives, of course. (Except for a ‘shadow’ one – nothing like those penumbras found in the living Constitution.)

    There is a reason why DC was picked for this decision – maybe you need to talk to someone from the Chocolate City – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_City_%28song%29 – written by a Clinton who has always been worthy of respect.

    When Scalia finds a right in the living Constitution for the citizens of DC to actually be able vote for congressional representatives and fully participate in our nation’s lawmaking, then I might change my mind about what Scalia was talking about – just in time for an election, by sheer coincidence, I’m sure.

    Until then, I’m pretty sure Scalia has no problem with with this –
    ‘Trinidad DC Police decides Crime trumps citizens Right to Movement …

    D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area.

    Starting on Saturday, officers will check drivers’ identification and ask whether they have a “legitimate purpose” to be in the Trinidad area, such as going to a doctor or church or visiting friends or relatives. If not, the drivers will be turned away.’

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/04/AR2008060402205.html?nav=hcmodule

    Any bets that the idea that DC’s citizens can now legally own handguns will be greeted with joy in Trinidad, even if they can’t actually get to their own homes without convincing a police officer of their right to do so?

    As for American’s rights to travel without presenting ID and a reason adequate for the police to allow them to continue their travel, Scalia and his Republican friends can’t seem to find even a shadow of a penumbra, so to speak.

    As the death toll starts rising in DC again, I’m sure we will all read about how dangerous cities are, even the nation’s capital, and how only a gun will make us safer in our homes.

    To give a picture of the sort of freedom that Scalia has restored to the citizens of DC, let’s get some background on Trinidad this year –
    ‘Since taking over as chief in December 2006, Lanier has struggled with the issue of violent crime. She has added patrols, revived a unit specializing in getting guns off the streets and changed commanders in six of the city’s seven patrol districts. Last weekend, officers were close enough in one case that they heard the barrage of gunfire coming from a triple homicide on Holbrook Street in Trinidad.

    The program is aimed at the city’s most troubled areas. The 5th Police District, which includes Trinidad, has had 22 killings this year, one more than all of last year. Since April 1, the Trinidad neighborhood has had seven homicides, 16 robberies and 20 assaults with dangerous weapons, according to police data. In many cases in Trinidad and across the city, gunshots are fired from passing cars, victims are found in cars or cars are used to make fast getaways.’

    I’m sure, now that Scalia has given DC’s citizens a right they were deprived of through their own elected government, that the number of bodies in DC will go down, right?

    Or is that the people being gunned down in DC aren’t the sort of people Scalia normally deals with – after all, guns in DC aren’t used for hunting in duck blinds with people who are involved in a legal matter before the Supreme Court. But then, Cheney is pretty much an argument alone for restricting the right of some people to go around armed, even on private property.

  71. re 75 Rodney G. Graves

    You quote my favorite constitutional section: SLAVERY IS STILL LEGAL AS PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME. Only inherited and imported slavery is abolished by the 13th amendment.

  72. A few years ago, a friend posted a link to a discussion of gun rights in the US where someone made basically the same arguments that Scalia presented. Most interesting to me was the historical basis for that amendment… Basically, if you read the earlier state amendments that the Second Amendment was based on, their wording is much more clear in preserving individual gun rights, and the whole “militia” thing is basically just one justification for that right.

    I shocked everyone I talked to after that by saying “Y’know, I think American gun nuts are actually right. They really do have a constitutionally protected right to bear arms.”

    Which is just yet another reason to be happy to live in Canada. :-)

  73. Keith_Indy, “Can’t have law abiding people taking the law into their hands and defending themselves against criminals can you…”

    Well, actually as it turns out, no. That is directly vigilantism. If you would like to rephrase to “defend themselves against direct threats to life and liberty” you’ll have a better argument. Simply because I “know” various random person is a criminal (say, a neighbor down the street, or a few block’s over that’s running a meth lab) and I go to “defend” against them. Then I would be charged with a crime.

  74. It will be interesting to see Obama’s response.

    Here it is: “Inartful”

    I think John Scalvi may have taken over the blog today. I have to admit, this wasn’t the response I expected from Scalzi.

  75. I had much the same reaction to the ruling. I lived in DC for six years, in a neighborhood with a lingering problem of gang violence. The ban on guns had no impact whatsoever, since, as John notes, the kinds of people likely to engage in this sort of criminal behavior aren’t likely to stop and wonder if their firearm is legal. :)

    I’ve always had a common-sense, fairly nuanced stance on gun control. My dad always had hunting rifles around the house. So I have nothing against guns, or knives, or arnis sticks, or little pink fluffballs for self-defense purposes. Outright bans? I’m opposed. Strict regulations? Absolutely yes. We need training programs and tests and licenses to drive a car, ergo, we should have something similar for guns. Will it end all gun violence? No. But many people die each year from car accidents, too. I don’t hear anyone screaming about banning cars.

    I personally choose not to own a handgun (although I do own a couple of knives that never leave the home), on the rationale that (a) I don’t have time to spend at the shooting range learning how to use it properly, and (b) I would very likely be far more likely to use it. And that’s not something I want on my conscience. If nothing else, my martial arts training taught me the effectiveness of avoiding trouble in the first place. :) But it’s my CHOICE. I think people should be able to choose to own a gun, just as I believe people should be able to choose to have an abortion, or not.

  76. Don’t look to popular opinion to justify gun bans…

    The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that a District of Columbia ban on handgun ownership is unconstitutional appears to be solidly in step with public opinion. A clear majority of the U.S. public — 73% — believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns. And almost 7 out of 10 Americans are opposed to a law that would make the possession of a handgun illegal, except by the police.

    not_scottbot @ 85: So are you saying people don’t have the right to defend their lives, or what?

    Really not sure what your point is. DC already has a gun ban and it’s violent murder rate is something like 5 times the national average.

    It is not that high because lawful citizens are denied the right to keep and bear arms. Do you think that somehow lawful citizens that keep a firearm in their house are going to suddenly become crazed killers, because there is no data to support that. In fact, the data would suggest that home invasions and other robberies will likely go down, as criminals don’t know who might shoot them when they illegally enter a dwelling.

  77. Anonymous:

    “I have to admit, this wasn’t the response I expected from Scalzi.”

    Really? Why?

    I mean, I keep telling people that I’m not a doctrinaire lefty, even if it looks that way at a casual glance; I’m not sure why people have a hard time believing it.

  78. It should be stated that just because the SCOTUS ruled the DC law unconstitutional does not mean that suddenly “Castle Laws” are now in effect. In most states, shooting someone in your own home, even under “self-defense” will still see you in handcuffs. Even the NRA training videos make this perfectly clear.

  79. I would be surprised if the emergency response time (fire or police) to casa Scalzi was less than 10 minutes, more likely between 15 and 20. As such, that might be a factor.

    John?

  80. Chris @ 77

    “Brian – this may shock you, but I also think this ruling was a good thing.”

    I ran clean out of ‘surprise’ today – so no, it doesn’t.

  81. Steve,

    No, but it places the legal underpinnings of “must retreat” laws in question, while re-enforcing the “castle” laws and “no retreat” laws already in effect.

  82. Rodney:

    Nah, the local fire department is 2.5 miles down the road. They’d be here pretty quickly. That’s the magic of being in the middle of nowhere in Ohio: it’s small enough and dense enough that even the middle of nowhere is not that far from somewhere.

  83. @ 94 John

    I’m not sure why people have a hard time believing it.

    People like pigeonholing. If you can neatly label a person you don’t have to _think_ about them nearly as much.

    I’m always surprised when I find out people who know me only from what I put on my blog think I’m some sort of raving Republicathug who enjoys driving my enemies before me and the lamentations of their women.

    In reality I like babies, walks in the moonlight and a glass of wine at night, and my politics tend to be all over the map, depending on what we’re talking about.

  84. @Rodney 45:

    U. S. Constitution (applicable to the People of the United States)

    Where did you ever get this idea? Some provisions create rights that inhere in U.S. citizens (born or naturalized) only (and are generally so referenced explicitly) and others are designed less to be individual rights but are instead intended as constraints on government power.

    The Court’s jurisprudence, for example, holds that the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to Due Process, that the Federal Government cannot treat aliens with Cruel and Unusual punishment in contravention of the Eighth Amendment, and on and on.

    You may think that the Court’s holding relating to enemy combatants and habeas is wrongly decided, but your claim that the Constitution’s prohibitions on Government power (and the inherence of rights in individuals) apply only to the “People of the United States” is demonstrably wrong.

  85. ‘The ban on guns had no impact whatsoever, since, as John notes, the kinds of people likely to engage in this sort of criminal behavior aren’t likely to stop and wonder if their firearm is legal.’

    You’re right, which is why increasing the number of guns on the streets of DC is exactly such a wonderful demonstration of how more guns in the hands of more people will make us all safer. Or not.

    Virginia limiting handgun purchases pretty severely in the 1990s, both in terms of people required to have valid Virginia ID (not that people buying boxcutters had any problem with acquiring Virginia ID) and residents of Virginia being restricted to one handgun purchase a month (but you can still buy as many rifles as you wish, because that remains your constitutional right) had nothing to do with the flow of weapons into DC (and NYC), or had any influence on the decline on murders involving weapons.

    Because who cares about anything but abstract principles when people not like you or me are being gunned down on a regular basis.

    Technical note about posting – using Seamonkey, no javascript, cookies, flash, images, after posting, new names/links are filled in the Name and Website boxes – I’m using 1.1.7 on Linux (yes, yes, time to get 1.1.9). Could be some sort of problem somewhere along the line, which might just bear a bit of investigation of, for the technically minded.

  86. Jennifer @ 92: I would very likely be far more likely to use it. And that’s not something I want on my conscience. If nothing else, my martial arts training taught me the effectiveness of avoiding trouble in the first place.

    Actually, the amount of time needed to be reasonably proficient is negligible. A couple of hours a year, and you could shoot a paper plate sized target from within 25 feet. And that is sufficient to protect yourself from an attacker within a range where they would be deadly with gun, knife, or hand. The requirement isn’t to be able to shoot the diamond off a card at 25 yards.

    Your martial arts training also hasn’t turned you into a street thug, ready to fight anyone that cut’s in front of you at Starbucks. Carrying a deadly weapon does the same thing, makes you aware of your surroundings, and that causes people to avoid trouble. At least, statistically, it does that for the majority of legal gun owners. Also, the training course I went through covered the laws regarding deadly force, and went through steps to recognize aggression in others. Half the problem with most people is they refuse to hold their head up and actually look people approaching them in the eye.

    Steve @ 90: I do know the difference, but that is an actual “justification” I have heard for banning guns. Although it’s usually not presented as bluntly. “That’s what the police are for,” is another refrain often heard. Even though the police have no legal duty to actually protect an individual from a crime.

  87. Sorry, John, I didn’t mean to be anon – your reply boxes inconsistently remember my name (or someone else’s, I was Steve H. once.)

    Why did your response surprise me? I simply didn’t expect you to have come to that conclusion. What you presented in your opinion about handgun bans not reducing violent crime is valid and well reasoned – but you have a lot of valid and well-reasoned opinions with which I disagree. I thought this would be another.

  88. Paul S. Kemp,

    Certainly the protections of the Constitution have been continuously extended. Was that the intent of the framers or consistent with the debates surrounding the framing and ratification of the Constitution?

    To the extent that these extensions have resulted from judicial fiat vice legislation (duly signed into law or passed over the President’s veto) or Constitutional amendment, why should they (absent “Stare Decisis” [et non quieta movere]) be more resistant to being overturned themselves than the appeals process overturned in Boumediene?

  89. I find a lot of political punditry misses the mark when it comes to SCOTUS. Supreme court judges have an exceedingly poor record when it comes to complying with the wishes of the president or party that nominated them. That’s precisely because they are appointed for life and are not accountable to any president–or anyone really. Talk of “conservative” judges on the court obfuscates the real issues of interpreting the law, which is much different from creating the law, and it leads people to be surprised when a supreme court judge that they think they don’t like because of a decision they *think* he might make in the future on one particular subject makes a decision that is reasonable and grounded in law and in the constitution. DC’s ban on handguns was clearly unconstitutional, and you have to wonder about any judge that doesn’t understand that.

  90. While I am generally pleased with the decision, several questions remain:

    1. What standard of scrutiny will be used in evaluating other gun laws?

    2. Does the 2nd apply to State action, as does most of the BOR, or does it only deal with federal action?

    There are other questions, but those are the most important, IMO. I have noticed that several groups are promising challanges to other municipal gun bans, so this should be interesting. Thankfully, my state (MI) has laws that preclude municipalities from legislating in regards to possession and carrying arms.

  91. ‘Do you think that somehow lawful citizens that keep a firearm in their house are going to suddenly become crazed killers, because there is no data to support that.’

    Nope – I think a certain percentage of those guns will be stolen by criminals, I think a certain percentage will fall into the hands of children which will then misuse them. At least that is common enough today, so I would expect it to be so into the future.

    I just can’t follow the logic that suggests more weapons will reduce the myriad problems associated with weapons.

    But then, I live in a place where gun murder and gun accidents (notice how nobody, but nobody defending weapons talks about accidents, which also cost a not trivial number of lives a year?) are quite rare, as are the weapons themselves. Unless you go to the local gun club – then you discover that a large number of people store their guns and ammunition at a range. Firearms ownership in Germany is not exactly rare – murders and accidents with them is, however.

    I could make exactly the same analogy concerning sex education, accessible birth control, and abortion. And how more of the first two provably leads to less of the last, while less of the first two provably more of the last. More guns will not lead to less problems with guns, it is just that simple. But who cares about pragmatic arguments based on facts (do check for yourself the number of children that died in the U.S. last year due to firearms being misused) when it is so much more enlightening to discuss principles.

  92. Jennifer @ 92 as answered by Keith @ 103,

    I’m a martial arts instructor. For martial arts to be effective requires that the practitioner dedicate several years to gaining proficiency and then practice regularly (several times a week) to maintain proficiency. I’ve also been licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and have been trained with rifle and pistol (amongst other light, and not so light, arms).

    The wag who stated that: “It was Colonel Colt made all men equal.” was dead on. What would take two or more years in martial arts training is replicable in two or three weeks with a pistol, and requires less practice to remain proficient. Nor is there an advantage to mass and size with firearms.

    I continue to practice and teach martial arts for health and stress relief issues, and because I can take that training (and the field expedient weapons) with me wherever I go.

  93. On the right to defend your home and property with a gun..

    So if someone breaks into my house and I sleep with my gun under the pillow and I wake up and shoot the robber dead am I off the hook because of my right to bear arms?

    Don’t think so.

    I think we have all heard of similar situations on the news..

    Overall the whole gun situation sucks and is completely out of control.

  94. 1) Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A catchy phrase that is proven to be correct by states and countries with higher than normal (if not MUCH higher), gun ownership, yet have lower (if not MUCH lower) rates of gun violence. Violence (be it by gun or not) is a social problem, and should be addressed as such.

    2) Criminals don’t care whether guns are legal or not when they commit a crime, except that they might feel safer commiting violent crime if they know the good guys would be less likely to have their own guns.

    3) Guns are pretty low-tech – the ability to make your own gun would not be a huge barrier if guns were completely outlawed and taken off the market.

    4) Protect the Constitution and Bill of Rights; if you kill part of it, the rest can fall just as easily.

    5) Humans will always find ways to kill other humans, even in large numbers. One could always make a home-made chemical weapon that could kill lots of people with things that you could never make illegal.

    Also, Heinlein would be absolutely horrified by the very thought of overriding the 2nd Amendment. But I also think that even if it was, he’d still have a gun, even if he had to make it himself (see also, “Rational Anarchy”).

    Don’t make the ghost of RAH angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

  95. @Rodney

    Certainly the protections of the Constitution have been continuously extended. Was that the intent of the framers or consistent with the debates surrounding the framing and ratification of the Constitution?

    Ah, that’s skillful framing of the issue but really non-responsive. The protections we’re discussing (in the abstract, I concede) have only been “extended” if they were intended in the first place to apply only to the people of the United States. I can’t see any basis for that claim and decades, if not two centuries, of Supreme Court jurisprudence (from across the ideological spectrum) reach the same conclusion. Restraints on government power are just that — restraints on government power. The individual to whom they are applied is (at least with respect to some provisions) irrelevant.

    To the extent that these extensions have resulted from judicial fiat vice legislation (duly signed into law or passed over the President’s veto) or Constitutional amendment, why should they (absent “Stare Decisis” [et non quieta movere]) be more resistant to being overturned themselves than the appeals process overturned in Boumediene?

    Again, you frame the issue in a way designed to compel the conclusion you want to draw. There’s no basis to claim that the extension of Due Process and freedom from Cruel and Unusual punishment (among other “rights” that benefit folks other than the People of the United States) is the result of judicial fiat (in my experience, all that judicial fiat tends to mean among those who throw it around is that a decision doesn’t accord with their particular policy preferences).

    Still, the short answer to your question is Marbury v. Madison. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what is and what is not Constitutional. That you dislike the decision, think it poorly reasoned, the result of judicial fiat/activism, is of no particular moment.

    Would you have it otherwise? Assume SCOTUS issues an opinion that you and lots of like-minded folks think poorly reasoned and not based in sound legal principles. Should your belief free you from legal sanction should you choose to disobey it? If not, why not? If so, where does that leave us?

    See, the beauty of the Founders vision is that they anticipated almost all of this and established not an outcome but a process by which the messy business of democracy would get sorted out. The Supreme Court’s role in that process is set forth by Justice Marshall in Marbury.

  96. Ray @111:

    Depends on the state.

    In Florida, absolutely. The local prosecutor is required as of last October to prove that the homeowner was not in fear of his safety in order to bring criminal charges, which is a near impossibility in your scenario. And if the person was trespassing with intent of committing a crime, their next-of-kin cannot bring a civil suit.

    In Texas, probably. It used to be legal to shoot trespassers on your homestead after dark without firing a warning shot. I believe they still have a Castle doctrine which does not require the resident to give any sort of warning before defending himself with deadly force inside his/her residence if in fear of his/her safety. Again the prosecutor would have to find evidence of your lack of fear. (Tying a person up before shooting them, for instance.)

    Other states, it is hard to say. In any state with a Castle doctrine, you’re in the clear if the person is breaking-and-entering.

  97. “I just can’t follow the logic that suggests more weapons will reduce the myriad problems associated with weapons.”

    The logic concerns disparity of force. The pistol was hailed as the great equalizer. The hulking thug could no longer count on being able to rob, terrorize, or murder the dapper gent with impunity because the dapper gent might just plug him.

    The same logic operates here. If the criminal has a gun (and they all do if they want them) and the law-abiding citizen doesn’t, then the law abiding citizen is at the criminal’s mercy. If, however, the law-abiding citizen just might have a gun too, then the playing field is suddenly closer to level and the criminal finds something else to do with his time, not wanting to risk getting shot. This has been demonstrated to be true in Florida and other places.

    Now let’s say, hypothetically, that we could, in fact, eliminate ALL guns. A grand wizard appears and magically vanishes all firearms. Poof! You would certainly no longer have “the myriad problems associated with weapons.” In the US at least, getting rid of ALL weapons is about as workable as wishing really hard for that wizard to appear. It ain’t gonna happen. As someone else here said, that particular genie is entirely out of the bottle already. And, frankly, vanishing all guns would re-introduce a whole host of problems once again, not the least of which would be that tyranny of the strong that the great equalizer eliminated.

    As for:
    “I think a certain percentage of those guns will be stolen by criminals, I think a certain percentage will fall into the hands of children which will then misuse them.”
    Switzerland doesn’t seem to have a particular problem with those things, yet by your logic they should.

  98. Ray @ 111: No, it isn’t the “gun situation” that sucks, it’s the criminal situation that sucks.

    I sleep with a gun beside the bed in a drawer. If I heard someone kick down the door, I would get the gun, and the flashlight, and sit and wait. If the intruder is armed, I will shout, THE POLICE ARE COMING, PUT THE GUN DOWN OR I WILL SHOOT. It’s up to the criminal to decide if they “feel lucky.” The wife will use the cell phone on her side to call the police.

    Even then, should I have to regrettably shoot the intruder, I may not be off the hook (though in Indiana, I likely would be.) The sheriff and prosecutor would still investigate the incident to be sure I’m telling the truth. That I didn’t shoot him and put a weapon in his hand. Or shoot him and drag his body inside.

    More likely my gun will need to be used to break up a fight between my dogs and a passing coyote. But, I’d probably grab the rifle in that case.

  99. Though the precise numbers are extremely debatable, at least 10,000 people a year die in the United States by gun violence. I have never seen an argument for the utility of widepread firearms ownership which can stack up against that death toll. The “defense of essential liberties” argument fails in the face of the cost. The “self-defense” argument fails in the face of the statistics, though defenders of gun rights, much like helmet and seatbelt opponents, will always have plenty of anecdotes to the contrary.

    Basically, I think the Founders got this one dead wrong. We dealt with slavery in the Constitution, we can deal with this one. And while I acknowledge your comment about the impossibility of eliminating firearms availability, I refer to the first rule of holes: Stop digging.

    Comprehensive gun control tapering into a ban would be a significant step in the right direction.

    Let me put it this way: Is Athena’s life in a school shooting a worthwhile price of freedom for you? My daughter’s is not, and with rare exceptions, I’m pretty sure the parents and loved ones of the thousands shot every year would agree.

  100. ‘The logic concerns disparity of force.’

    And you are missing the point. If x number of mishaps (children playing with loaded weapons, for example) occurs with y number of weapons, why do you think that 2x won’t equal 2y? This is not hypothetical, by the way –

    Rights and responsibilities – and somehow, in America, no one is interested in responsibility.

    Since no bothered to google –
    ‘”As implausible as it might seem, this is our reality: guns kill 8 children and teens every day in America. In 2005, guns killed more preschoolers than law enforcement officers in the line of duty. It is time to stop this senseless dying among children and teens. Our children will be less vulnerable and our communities safer if guns are less readily available.’

    http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0609-11.htm

    Welcome to the real world, at least as lived in the U.S.

    And yet, this subject is just so lightly skipped over. Those preschoolers didn’t die defending themselves, either, to avoid any confusion about principles. Most died because of a weapon which its owner thought necessary for self-defense.

    I do believe in the death penalty – and those weapon owners deserve it.

  101. Let me put it this way: Is Athena’s life in a school shooting a worthwhile price of freedom for you?

    Shorter Jay Lake: Won’t somebody please think of the chiiiiiillllldreeeeen?

    Emtionally manipulative but false arguments are the hallmark of sloppy and irrational thinking.

  102. Jay Lake:

    “Is Athena’s life in a school shooting a worthwhile price of freedom for you?”

    You know, statistically speaking, she’s more likely to be killed in a car than shot at school. So you might also ask me if her life in a car accident because some drunk asshole was on the road is worth automotive ability to me. And unlike the right to bear arms, the right to drive is not constitutionally protected.

    I can say this fairly confidently: There will never be the consensus in this country to amend the US Constitution to repeal (or substantially change) the 2nd Amendment. So even if the framers were wrong on this one (which I don’t agree with), it’s not going anywhere, and the practical thing is to figure out how best to get people to think and use arms intelligently and safely.

  103. Jay Lake@120
    “I have never seen an argument for the utility of widespread firearms ownership which can stack up against that death toll.”
    The only thing that would eliminate that gun-violence death toll is if all guns were eliminated and no longer available, which elimination is impossible, as you acknowledged.

    However, anything short of total elimination of guns and gun availability just makes things worse. It gives the people with the guns, the law-breakers, a free hand.

    If we go with the hole analogy, you have to include a criminal tossing dirt into the hole on top of you. If you stop digging without getting all the way out of the hole, he’s going to bury you.

  104. Jake @ 120: Though the precise numbers are extremely debatable, at least 10,000 people a year die in the United States by gun violence

    And how many robberies, assaults, rapes and murders are avoided each year because someone had a gun, and the crime was prevented? Anecdotal evidence puts the number in the 100’s of thousands per year in the US. There are no statistics that cover it because a robber isn’t going to report to the police that a gun was displayed by his victim so he choose not to rob him. More often than not the potential victim will not report it either.

    But look at overall crime statistics per capita, and you’ll see that America isn’t nearly as violent as many places in the world, and certainly not how people from other countries would characterize us. You really can’t compare the raw numbers of Germany and the US, since one has 82 million, and the other 300 million. It’s not nearly as simplistic as some people would like to paint it.

    A gun doesn’t have to be fired to prevent a crime.

    And what price would you pay to prevent your daughter from being raped in your house while you watch defenseless after being beaten senseless.

    And why is it that every mass shooting in America stopped because an armed person responded to it, sometimes it is the police, and sometimes it is a private armed citizen.

  105. Anonymous @109 and the same guy (I think) at 121:

    First, you need to put your name or something in the name field when you reply.

    “If x number of mishaps (children playing with loaded weapons, for example) occurs with y number of weapons, why do you think that 2x won’t equal 2y?”

    If this were true and directly related to guns in private homes then Switzerland would have a huge problem. They don’t.

    Kids die from gun accidents because the gun owners are stupid, not because they have guns. Therefore the answer is not to eliminate guns but to eliminate stupidity.

  106. Skar @ 121: And how many of those 3006 children and teenagers were actually children, since teen includes 18-19.

    Drowning kills 3000 people per year. “Children four years old and younger have the highest death rate due to drowning”

    Better start regulating water more strictly…

    In fact, children are more likely to drown then be accidentally shot with a firearm.

  107. I just want point out that I, Skar, did not actually write post 121. I think it was the guy who wrote 109 as anonymous mucking up the reply functionality.

  108. @125:
    America isn’t nearly as violent as many places in the world? That’s true, but only if you compare to countries like Venezuela … even in the link you provided it’s shown that the US rate of homicide is FIVE times as high as in germany. And it is the point of rates (in this case homicides for 100,000 people) to compare countries with different population sizes.

  109. “When Scalia finds a right in the living Constitution for the citizens of DC to actually be able vote for congressional representatives and fully participate in our nation’s lawmaking, then I might change my mind about what Scalia was talking about – just in time for an election, by sheer coincidence, I’m sure.”

    Amen brother. I live in DC. I want my right to vote damnit.

  110. That was way too close for comfort. (The decision, 5-4.)

    Col. Cooper’s 4 Rules:
    1. Always treat every gun as if it’s loaded.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you don’t want destroyed.
    3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
    4. Always be sure of your target, and what is above, below, beside, beyond, and through that target.

    John, I’ll urge you to get Athena good firearms safety training as soon as she’s capable. This is training so that she doesn’t accidentally harm someone with a firearm a classmate finds under a bush, and the like, training.

    The rest of you, too, if you haven’t had it. The skills needed to keep from shooting yourself are much simpler and easier to learn than those needed to put meat on the table or a goblin into a hospital (or grave.)

  111. Eddie Clark @46:
    the right to bear arms in the US is one of the few bits of your politics that doesn’t really affect the outside world.

    You might not want to tell that to Mexico, given how often American guns are being used in their gang wars.

  112. @ Barret #60:

    What right do you have to tell me what I can or cannot own, as long as I do it in a safe fashion that endangers no one?

    See, that’s exactly the point. Your gun ownership does endanger me. It’s a simple fact that if we outright banned guns, fewer people would end up shot. It wouldn’t stop all gun violence, but it cannot be argued that it would not reduce it. It’s insane to say that some people have to accept being shot to preserve the particular recreational choices of others.

    Some here have compared this to car ownership, because people are killed in accidents, but that doesn’t fly. There is a direct, and very large, economic benefit to allowing car ownership, but gun ownership is purely superfluous. You’d all get along just fine without your guns. The proper comparison, if you want to invoke cars, is to street racing.

    Again, I’m speaking from the (non-Usian) perspective of the vast majority of the human race that considers gun ownership to be a privilege, not a right.

  113. I was raised around guns, and taught from an early age how to handle them, and why they must be handled thus. A hollowpoint from Dad’s large-bore wheelgun through a watermelon kind of ground the point home for me.

    I was taught to respect guns, taught the mechanics of how they work, and the simple fact that the thing will not go “bang” unless you make it – and when you make it go “bang”, it’s you’re responsibility what happens. Always, forever, no take-backs, do-overs or protestations of innocence.

    My hands do not ever spontaneously heat to the ignition temperature of gunpowder, therefore if a round leaves the muzzle, I did it.

    Now I live in the UK. *shrugs* There’s a different mindset over here, one I find insane – that by banning things, you will alter the behaviour of people – and I see the disturbing trend’s end-product accelerating. People are no longer materially connected to what they do. They do not see the laws of Cause and Effect, they just see shippable blame. It’s an unhealthy and disturbed set of mental practices that I find disagreeable.

    DC Versus Heller – you could chant that one in a congo line. I know it’s not all the war, but it’s one hell of a good battle to have won. Collectives don’t have rights – individuals do. This is simple, because something that is immoral for one person to do does not become moral just because lots of people do it.

    A bit of clear thinking goes a long, long way – especially when it comes to people’s lives.

  114. Michael Kirkland @ 133.

    I live in a gun-banned country, the UK. I noticed an article in the news about the death-anniversary of a young girl who’d been kicked to death by a bunch of youths for being a goth. Her boyfriend was also severely beaten. Occasionally, a week goes past without a stabbing making the news – but there are so many, not all stabbings make the news.

    Roll that one ’round your cranial vault a few times – there are so many stabbings in the UK, that they aren’t considered newsworthy enough, unless it’s a celebrity – some actor in the Harry Potter movies was stabbed to death at a nightclub, and that made the news. A couple of weeks prior, a guy was stabbed to death at a club about seven minutes walk from my front door, and that barely made the local papers.

    This is gun control.

    There are usually two shootings a month here. Of course, if ever anyone does defend themselves, they’re sent down for it – one ex-serviceman who made “a citizen’s arrest” of a youth who’d been throwing bricks at his house got to spend three months defending himsef against charges of kidnapping while the vandal got off scott-free.

    This is gun control.

    There’s talk of installing “knife arches” (that’s “metal detectors” to the corticate) in all schools and indeed pubs to prevent people from carrying knives. It’s illegal to carry a knife in public without “a good reason” as far as the arresting officer’s concerned. Parents are buying armoured blazers (school jackets) for their young.

    This is gun control.

    It’s even illegal to wear the traditional flat-cap into the pub in Yorkshire, because they interfere with the closed-circuit television cameras’ ability to see your face. The home secretary advises not going out after midnight. People are not safe in their towns, their homes or their person – and are bereft of any legal way to defend themselves.

    This is gun control.

    Gun control leads to the dominance of the brutish, the lawless, and the vicious many. Gun control leads to totalitarian laws restricting and confining law-abiding citizens in an ineffectual and ham-fisted attempt to “make us all safe”. Gun control leads to the delusion that things can be made safe by tougher legal penalties, and by banning items rather than punishing actions.

    This is gun control. I’m living it’s reality. I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy.

  115. “It’s a simple fact that if we outright banned guns, fewer
    people would end up shot.”

    It’s not actually, look at DC. An outright ban on guns did nothing to reduce the number of people who got shot. And saying it over and over, won’t make it so. The opposite is, in fact, true. Look at Florida.

    “It’s insane to say that some people have to accept being shot to preserve the particular recreational choices of others.”

    This is a problematic statement as well. First it stands on the shoulders of the blatantly false statement I quoted first. Second, it’s not a recreational choice, to defend yourself and your home.

  116. @ Skar # 136

    You’re being dense. Of course removing guns from the equation reduces shootings, it’s patently absurd to suggest otherwise.

    Guns are not a defencive weapon. They are 100% offencive. If you want to wear body armor in your home, sure, go ahead, but your neighbours get a say in what weapons you can have.

  117. Michael Kirkland @138

    No, they don’t get a say in what weapons I can have. They simply do not. And that – thank Mercy – is a reaffirmed constitutional right.

    Tell you what – I’m worried you might be a hacker, so I’ll restrict you to a Z-80 machine with 4Kb of RAM. How’s that? No? Also, I don’t like the road deaths, so you’re only allowed to take public transport. I don’t like my health insurance rates, so you have to eat this menu, avoid all these things including alcohol, drugs and smoking – and we’ll test you! – if you want to have a hospital made available should you need it.

    Get the hell out of my house. I’ve already got UKGov here, and they’re making enough of a bad smell as it is!

  118. And, my last post for the evening, Michael Kirkland @137

    Well damn, I would hope that having an armed citizenry would bring about a rise in violence. I would hope that restoring the right to keep and bear arms would result in a short, sharp crackle of gunfire, followed by sweet, blessed silence.

    I would hope that violence initiated by criminals would beget way, way more violence than they would be happy to deal with, that they may realise that violence is not the answer. I would like them to realise the true meaning of this phrase as they suddenly learn that other people’s things are not theirs for the taking, and that other people’s bodies are not theirs for the violating.

    It’d be nice is most criminals could live through the experience, but I’m not bothered either way – they did, after all, institute the violence in the first place. As you sow, and all that.

  119. Michael # 133:

    It’s a simple fact that if we outright banned guns, fewer people would end up shot.

    Simplistic is more like it, certainly not a ‘fact’. Fewer LEGAL guns would result in fewer ACCIDENTAL deaths by kids and other idiots, yeah, granted, but that also decreases one of the most wonderful benefits of evolution: weeding out the idiots. I’m also in favor of removing the stupid warning stickers from electrical applicances and cigarettes for the same reason.

    The thing is, if ciriminals no longer had to worry about a homeowner having a gun, I don’t think you’d see a reduction in gun violence. I don’t want to live in the scenario where criminals have free reign.

    ‘Outright banning guns’ doesn’t get rid of guns; it gets rid of LEGAL guns, which is a pretty important distinction with direct bearing on the gun violence debate.

  120. Paul S. Kemp @113

    Quotes me @ 106
    Certainly the protections of the Constitution have been continuously extended. Was that the intent of the framers or consistent with the debates surrounding the framing and ratification of the Constitution?

    [and responds thus:]
    Ah, that’s skillful framing of the issue but really non-responsive.

    Thank you, and how so? You took issue with my “U. S. Constitution (applicable to the People of the United States)” @ 45 and replied: “Where did you ever get this idea?” which I answered above.

    The protections we’re discussing (in the abstract, I concede) have only been “extended” if they were intended in the first place to apply only to the people of the United States.

    Demonstrably the framers of the Constitution did not consider all humans present within the several states [e.g. slaves and Indians] to be “People of the United States” and they were not afforded the protections of the Constitution. Would you argue that this was an oversight, or otherwise not their intent?

    I can’t see any basis for that claim and decades, if not two centuries, of Supreme Court jurisprudence (from across the ideological spectrum) reach the same conclusion. Restraints on government power are just that — restraints on government power. The individual to whom they are applied is (at least with respect to some provisions) irrelevant.

    Furthermore, there is a distinction between the rights of the people (which the Declaration of Independence informs us the government exists to protect) and the powers of government and the restrictions on those powers which were codified in the Constitution as amended.

    I had continued @ 106
    To the extent that these extensions have resulted from judicial fiat vice legislation (duly signed into law or passed over the President’s veto) or Constitutional amendment, why should they (absent “Stare Decisis” [et non quieta movere]) be more resistant to being overturned themselves than the appeals process overturned in Boumediene?

    Again, you frame the issue in a way designed to compel the conclusion you want to draw.

    And again I thank you, but I am indeed trying to make a point.

    There’s no basis to claim that the extension of Due Process and freedom from Cruel and Unusual punishment (among other “rights” that benefit folks other than the People of the United States) is the result of judicial fiat (in my experience, all that judicial fiat tends to mean among those who throw it around is that a decision doesn’t accord with their particular policy preferences).

    Allow me to define my term then. Judicial Fiat: A decision by a court contrary to the law as written and / or the Constitution as written, or which is clearly contrary to the legislative history or history of the framing and adoption of the Constitution.

    Still, the short answer to your question is Marbury v. Madison. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what is and what is not Constitutional.

    Could that decision not fairly be characterized as the Court awarding unto itself a power not clearly reserved to it by the Constitution? Absent “Stare Decisis,” why should that Supreme Court decision be any more binding upon the Legislative and Executive branches than the Constitution itself?

    That you dislike the decision, think it poorly reasoned, the result of judicial fiat/activism, is of no particular moment.

    True enough, though when a learned man pronounces his fourth point of contact to be his elbow, it in fact remains his fundament that he sits upon. Nor does the fact that other learned men defer to him in this change that reality, nor does the reluctance of subsequent learned gentlemen to correct the error make it any less of an error.

    Would you have it otherwise? Assume SCOTUS issues an opinion that you and lots of like-minded folks think poorly reasoned and not based in sound legal principles. Should your belief free you from legal sanction should you choose to disobey it? If not, why not? If so, where does that leave us?

    I suggest you argue that point with the ghost of John Brown.

    See, the beauty of the Founders vision is that they anticipated almost all of this and established not an outcome but a process by which the messy business of democracy would get sorted out. The Supreme Court’s role in that process is set forth by Justice Marshall in Marbury.

    I think the Founders would be aghast to see how many issues of state and policy are decided by courts, and not the Legislature.

  121. #109 anonymous:
    Gun accidents are a horrible thing. I certainly don’t want to trivialize that, but you are making an emotional argument based on the cause of death being a firearm not on the actual statistical danger as the data in the link that Keith provided show.

    Michael Kirkland:
    If I remember correctly, motor vehicles are the leading cause of death in the US, but you casually brush this off because of what you see as their benefit to society. Apparently to you it’s not number of deaths that is important, but whether the instrument of the deaths is beneficial.

    Some of the pro-gun people in this thread would make it easy to be on the other side of the argument. Thankfully not everyone who supports their right to self protection wants or needs to glorify violence. Taunting people with your visions of violence doesn’t help your argument. And Tumbleweed, your comment about weeding out the idiots was just distasteful.

  122. Michael@138:
    “You’re being dense. Of course removing guns from the equation reduces shootings, it’s patently absurd to suggest otherwise.”

    Ah, removing guns from the equation would certainly reduce shootings. Banning guns, however, is nothing like removing guns from the equation.

    Removing all guns is an unattainable pipe-dream. It’s patently absurd to suggest otherwise. And anything short of removing ALL guns, simply leaves the remaining guns in the hands of criminals. No thanks.

    “Guns are not a defencive weapon.”
    Ridiculous. If a man tries to shoot me, but I shoot him first, am I not defending myself?

  123. @ MarkHB # 139-140:

    Yes, in a civil society, they certainly do get a say.

    Those other dangers you mention I covered in a previous comment. Having a car or a computer provides significant economic benefit both to the person in specific and to society at large. Guns do not. Used legally, they’re nothing more than toys. Go buy an Xbox instead.

    Your comments in #140 prove my point. You may be ok with people shooting each other, but you have no right to put me in the crossfire.

    @ Tumbleweed #141:

    (Almost) all guns are legal from the start. Reducing the supply of legal guns necessarily reduces the downstream supply of illegal guns.

    I do live in a country where guns are restricted (though not as heavily as I would like), and criminals don’t have free reign. Gun violence is extremely rare. I can’t recall ever hearing of a home invasion involving a gun, but there have been a few murders with perfectly legal guns.

    If those guns had been illegal, at least some of those murders wouldn’t have happened. Sure, Mr. Freeze still could have gotten his hands on one if he *really* wanted, but back here in the real world, those murders weren’t committed by super villains. The murders were committed by ordinary people who had hunting rifles for legal reasons.

  124. @ Skar #144

    I didn’t say anything about removing all guns from the equation. Removing any number of them is a worthy goal.

    You’ve made a logical error. Banning guns doesn’t leave the remaining guns in the hands of criminals, it leaves almost all of them in the hands of the police and military. Since they’re the only ones qualified to use them in a fight, I’m perfectly ok with that. If you really want a gun, enlist.

  125. Michael Kirkland @ 138 opines:

    Guns are not a defencive[sic] weapon. They are 100% offencive[sic]. If you want to wear body armor in your home, sure, go ahead, but your neighbours get a say in what weapons you can have.

    No weapon is purely defensive or offensive. Like any other tool, it is how the tool/weapon is USED that is the determining factor. Was the vehicle used to serially run over pedestrians here in the Bay Area some years ago not functioning as a weapon?

    Firearms are the great equalizer, allowing little old ladies to be effectively as deadly as the biggest bad guy out there. Why would you deny the little old lady the means to both defend herself and deter violence against her.

    You should also note that (at least here in CA) body armor cannot be purchased by civilians (may have had something to do with that shootout down in LA some years ago, but I’m not sure).

  126. Breaking my own curfew here…

    Michael, you’re ignoring my point. I live in a gun-ban society. There are many gun murders here, and a huge number of non-gun murders. A huge number. And the only people who hurt by being disarmed are law abiding citizens, such as myself. And my wife.

    People like you work to make victims of people like me. I’ve been burgled so many times, it’s not funny. Last time, they loaded the ground floor of our hourse into the wife’s car, and drove off in it with the keys they stole. The police tell us we’re lucky we didn’t wake up – I’m six-foot-four, I’d’ve automatically been done for assault for defending our home.

    At my wife’s place of work, a car was stolen at gunpoint last week. Last week, in a country where guns are illegal, a no-big-deal car theft was carried out at gunpoint. Cops didn’t even bother trying to find the perpetrator.

    Sorry mush. You’re never going to convince me that she’s better off unarmed. The criminals already have guns. And knives. And the willingness and mindset to use them. It’s only we who want to just work hard and get paid well who are prey.

    You’re bonkers for thinking that it’s as simple as “banning stuff” to prevent hideously antisocial behaviour. That starts with teaching kids the consequence of their actions – not teaching them that Cops Will Save Them, and that Society Will Care For Them.

  127. @135
    Knife crime in London dropped 15% over the past 2 years. Perception is not reality.

    The murder rate in the UK is less than half that of the USA, so we’re either less violent (unlikely) or just lack the means to easily kill each other.
    That’s gun control.

    I’m not commenting on the USA situation. What works here, won’t necessarily work over there.

  128. “…and criminals don’t have free reign.”

    Really? So, if a criminal came into your house, with a gun, he would not have free reign? What, pray tell, would you do to limit his actions?

    “You may be ok with people shooting each other, but you have no right to put me in the crossfire.”

    Ah, so you’re worried about accidentally being shot by law-abiding citizens? There are plenty of areas in the States that have ‘shall issue’ laws from which to draw real world information on just how rational your fear is. I suspect you will find that it’s so rare that no one bothers to track it.

    Irrational fear is not something policy should be based on.

  129. John #123 : You know, statistically speaking, she’s more likely to be killed in a car than shot at school. So you might also ask me if her life in a car accident because some drunk asshole was on the road is worth automotive ability to me. And unlike the right to bear arms, the right to drive is not constitutionally protected.

    “I can say this fairly confidently: There will never be the consensus in this country to amend the US Constitution to repeal (or substantially change) the 2nd Amendment. “

    But as Jennifer Ouellete said: “We need training programs and tests and licenses to drive a car, ergo, we should have something similar for guns.”

    And I may be wrong, but I don’t see many supporters of the 2nd Amendment campaigning for gun ownership tests and licenses. Or rules governing how, where and when to store, carry or fire guns. (For instance, keeping a gun in the bedside table drawer is a perfect recipe to end in the tabloid headlines for shooting by mistake a family member. Or for having your gun stolen by a savvy con and learn one day it’s been used in a murder.)

    Another thing: the argument about “the sort of person most likely to put a bullet in someone else isn’t the sort of person who would be concerned whether or not his firearm was banned” is not very strong. People who don’t have much respect for the law don’t operate in an all-or-nothing mode: if it’s too much bother to get hands on a gun, if they can get away with what they want to do without using a gun, they will, because it makes sense to avoid getting two convictions for one crime. (That’s why the self-defense argument cuts both ways: if the average joe is likely to have a gun, what should criminals do? Get a bigger, faster-shooting, deadlier gun. Or go in groups and surround the intended victim with overwhelming force. Or get hold first of one of his/her loved ones and threaten to kill them if they don’t drop their gun. Or, even simpler, shoot first, rob later. In the words of Terry Pratchett: “Weapons up the ante too much.”)

    But I find it interesting that sober minds think there are already so much guns in the hands of the public that a rational risk-reduction policy would be to make buying legally a gun more easy, the same way as legalizing marijuana would drive buyers from the black market. In other words, there are in this country a lot of people who want guns, period. They will get them, whether it’s legal or not. So better make it legal and keep them somewhat polite.

    (BTW, I wonder if Heinlein thought about it, but the reverse of his famous words about weapons and society is actually true: an armed society has the means to make you polite.)

    So, that’s one of the reasons I won’t be tempted to immigrate to the USA, even if my country becomes unbearable (as it looks likely under the current regime).

    But, hey, as someone higher in the thread said, it’s your country, your constitution, whatever. I’m not voting there.

    Now, I’d be just a tad happier if the Hollywood films that shape the global imagination today would use a lot less guns, but that’s another matter entirely. Or not.

  130. “You’ve made a logical error. Banning guns doesn’t leave the remaining guns in the hands of criminals, it leaves almost all of them in the hands of the police and military.”

    Yeah, this is the pipe-dream I’m talking about. If you have a magic plan to remove guns from the hands of criminals I’d like to hear it. And you ought to tell DC about it, or NYC, hell, tell England. Tell any police force in the world, ’cause they need it.

    What you’re missing here is the fact that criminals with guns will not be affected by your ban on guns. At all.

  131. Irene Delse @155

    Should we have tests and licenses for the exercise of free speech? Should there be regulations as to when, where, and how you exercise your free speech?

    How about tests and licenses and a picture identification required before casting a ballot?

  132. Irene Delse@155:
    “And I may be wrong, but I don’t see many supporters of the 2nd Amendment campaigning for gun ownership tests and licenses.”

    You are. They’re not specifically calling it out in their campaigning because it’s a given.

    “That’s why the self-defense argument cuts both ways: if the average joe is likely to have a gun, what should criminals do? Get a bigger, faster-shooting, deadlier gun.”

    Yup. It’s always possible to up the ante. Unfortunately, in order to avoid upping the ante, you would have to leave it with the criminals having the advantage, since they are free to ignore laws preventing the ante-uppage. You’re other scenarios work the same way. If you arrange it so the criminal doesn’t have to take a member of your family hostage to get you to drop the gun, because you don’t have a gun, it still leaves him free to rape your daughter. It’s just easier for him.

    “Now, I’d be just a tad happier if the Hollywood films that shape the global imagination today would use a lot less guns, but that’s another matter entirely. Or not.”
    Ha. Make better films and shape the global imagination yourself.

  133. @ MarkHB # 149:

    I’m not ignoring your point, I simply don’t accept it.

    All that violence would still occur if you had guns, plus the added violence those guns would cause.

    I’m not going to try to convince you that your wife is safer unarmed. She probably is, but I’ll accept for the sake of argument that she has magical gun powers. My point is that I, and everyone else who is not her, is less safe with her armed.

    She has no right to trade the safety of others for hers, and that’s the absolute best a gun can do. It can’t make the world safer in general, it can only shift danger, and there’s going to be at least some safety lost to entropy.

    If you live out all by yourself in a shack in the woods, then sure, you can make that decision on your own. If you decide to live in a society, it is necessarily a communal choice.

  134. Rodney Graves@157:

    Actually, the Supreme Court recently ruled that Indiana could require picture ID before it allowed someone to vote, if I remember correctly.

    Also, Scalia in his opinion said there was not a problem with “laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms;” one could reasonably suggest that requiring people to enroll in training and safety courses prior to allowing a sale might indeed pass constitutional muster.

    Personally I wouldn’t have a problem with states requiring gun safety and training prior to a handgun purchase; I think that’s fairly sensible. You could even have the NRA administer it.

  135. @ Skar # 156

    What you’re missing here is the fact that criminals with guns will not be affected by your ban on guns. At all.

    Now who’s living in a fantasy world? Of course there will be fewer criminals with guns if there are fewer guns. Maybe not at the same rate as the reduction of guns in non-criminals, but that’s a non-issue.

    Further, you’re ignoring the fact that the fast majority of people who commit gun crimes don’t have secret lairs and fancy costumes. They’re largely normal, regular people who have for whatever reason decided to pick up a weapon and use it. Most of them aren’t criminals before they fired the weapon, and if a gun wasn’t available they’d either not commit the crime in the first place, or be vastly less successful at it.

  136. Michael Kirkland et al. —

    Please do remember that while it’s fine to talk theoretically about the advantages of a gun-free US, back here in the real world the US Supreme Court just affirmed the right for individuals to own weapons (and specifically handguns) per the 2nd amendment, and aside from this polls do suggest that most Americans do support the right of individuals to bear arms.

    Which is to say that the “no gun” arguments, while interesting, have no real practical application at the moment, and perhaps it would be better to frame further discussion in terms of what’s going in the real world, and what will (or should) happen from here on out.

  137. Thank you, and how so? You took issue with my “U. S. Constitution (applicable to the People of the United States)” @ 45 and replied: “Where did you ever get this idea?” which I answered above.

    I took issue with it because it’s demonstrably wrong, or at least it is if one concedes the Constitutionality of the Supreme Court exercising judicial review per Marbury. You’re free to disagree with Marbury (see below) but 200+ years of constitutional law make the Court’s role in our system a settled question for me.

    Demonstrably the framers of the Constitution did not consider all humans present within the several states [e.g. slaves and Indians] to be “People of the United States” and they were not afforded the protections of the Constitution. Would you argue that this was an oversight, or otherwise not their intent?

    Emphatically not an oversight, but also irrelevant to our discussion, though I concede that’s because I credit Marbury and the Court’s role as final arbiter of the Constitution.

    Furthermore, there is a distinction between the rights of the people (which the Declaration of Independence informs us the government exists to protect) and the powers of government and the restrictions on those powers which were codified in the Constitution as amended.

    Of course, as you probably know, the Declaration has no legal status of any kind. It confers no enforceable legal rights.

    Allow me to define my term then. Judicial Fiat: A decision by a court contrary to the law as written and / or the Constitution as written, or which is clearly contrary to the legislative history or history of the framing and adoption of the Constitution.

    Courts make decisions “contrary” to law all the time in the exercise of judicial review. And the notion that one can point to this or that decision as clearly contrary to legislative history, the Framer’s intent, or discussions at the Convention, has alwasy been a fool’s game in my mind.

    Do you think Madison and Hamilton agree on the scope of the Commerce Clause? How does one, without being utterly arbitrary, divine a single intent from the imperfectly recorded deliberations of a collective body? Should we also credit the intent, to the extent we’re able to divine it, of the various state legislatures who actually debated and ratified the Constitution? What about ex post thoughts/observations/letters? And where we have contrary or inconsistent understanding of what a given provision was understood to mean, and thus what the various individuals who discussed/debated/adopted it intended when they voted for its passage/adoptions, how do we decide which to credit? What are the grounds for prefering one over another?

    Could that decision not fairly be characterized as the Court awarding unto itself a power not clearly reserved to it by the Constitution? Absent “Stare Decisis,” why should that Supreme Court decision be any more binding upon the Legislative and Executive branches than the Constitution itself?

    Sure, one could argue as much, but since the decision was handed down in 1803, when most of the Founders were not only still alive but active in the other two branches, one might also fairly conclude that it was in accord with their vision for the system. Otherwise, one might have expected a Constitutional crisis.

    Would you have it otherwise? Assume SCOTUS issues an opinion that you and lots of like-minded folks think poorly reasoned and not based in sound legal principles. Should your belief free you from legal sanction should you choose to disobey it? If not, why not? If so, where does that leave us?

    I suggest you argue that point with the ghost of John Brown.

    Which is my point, as I think you know. You want to claim that Marbury was an illegal arrogation of power and the Court does not have a determinative role in deciding issues of Constitutional law, you’re obviously free to do so. But at this point it’s called revolt. I wish you well.

    I think the Founders would be aghast to see how many issues of state and policy are decided by courts, and not the Legislature.

    Some no doubt would (Jefferson springs to mind), but others, perhaps, would not (Hamilton springs to mind).

  138. Can we have a separate thread for discussing DC v. Heller as a question of constitutional law, rather than discussing the benefits and drawbacks of gun control as a question of public policy?

    I find the constitutional question very interesting, because I think the majority and the dissents all made very good points on their respective sides. But I’ve heard all the policy-based arguments for and against gun control so many times that I don’t really care to wade through a thread discussing it again.

  139. And often it does not, Rodney. The point is, even Scalia agrees some regulation is allowable.

  140. @ John,

    I’m not Usian, so I’m just sort of looking in from over the fence. If you lot want to collectively decide that you want to run with scissors, well, ok. That’s your business. Where I take umbrage is when you shout over to us that we’re some sort of oppressive monsters because we don’t want that sort of thing here.

  141. Michael Kirkland:

    “Where I take umbrage is when you shout over to us that we’re some sort of oppressive monsters because we don’t want that sort of thing here.”

    I’m not aware of having done so, personally. Generally speaking, I’m happy to let folks in other countries do whatever they want to do.

  142. So if someone breaks into my house and I sleep with my gun under the pillow and I wake up and shoot the robber dead am I off the hook because of my right to bear arms?

    No, in MOST states you’re off the hook because you have the right of self-defense, and anyone who breaks into your home in the dead of night can be reasonably presumed to be a threat to you and yours. Having the gun just means being able to defend yourself more effectively.

    The only thing that would eliminate that gun-violence death toll is if all guns were eliminated and no longer available.

    Then people would kill each other with other things. And those less able to use the more physical means of violence (the young, old, disabled) would be more vulnerable. People have trouble believing this, but the turh is that we’re not nearly as murderous a scoiety as we’re made out to be by our television and movie exports. And if you eliminate gang violence from the stats, we’re downright peaceful.

    Guns are not a defencive weapon. They are 100% offencive.

    What a crock. The best defense is a good offense. I’ve used guns on multiple occasions to defend myself, without ever firing a shot. I’m probably alive instead of dead because of it. Why do police carry guns? To defend, not to assault.

    Please do remember that while it’s fine to talk theoretically about the advantages of a gun-free US, back here in the real world the US Supreme Court just affirmed the right for individuals to own weapons (and specifically handguns) per the 2nd amendment, and aside from this polls do suggest that most Americans do support the right of individuals to bear arms.

    Curse you, Scalzi, for bringing a reality to a fantasy fight!

  143. Paul S. Kemp @ 163 states:

    I took issue with it because it’s demonstrably wrong,

    Yet you agree below that the framers specifically and deliberately excluded large fractions of the human population of the several states from the protections of the Constitution as adopted.

    or at least it is if one concedes the Constitutionality of the Supreme Court exercising judicial review per Marbury.

    And we’re back to that learned man declaring his fundament to be his elbow, and a blind faith in judicial inerrancy not supported by even a cursory review of history.

    You’re free to disagree with Marbury (see below) but 200+ years of constitutional law make the Court’s role in our system a settled question for me.

    And for eighty odd years slavery was the law of the land and a settled question. For a somewhat lesser period escaped slaves remained property reclaimable by their owners no matter where in the United States they were found, courtesy of the same institution you seem to place such faith in.

    Demonstrably the framers of the Constitution did not consider all humans present within the several states [e.g. slaves and Indians] to be “People of the United States” and they were not afforded the protections of the Constitution. Would you argue that this was an oversight, or otherwise not their intent?

    Emphatically not an oversight, but also irrelevant to our discussion, though I concede that’s because I credit Marbury and the Court’s role as final arbiter of the Constitution.

    In which case the Supreme Court would have been obliged by “stare decisis” to overturn the Emancipation Proclamation in defense of that curious custom of the states then in rebellion, but not recognized as no longer part of the United States.

    It was not the courts that reversed that most egregious of judicial errors, sir.

    Furthermore, there is a distinction between the rights of the people (which the Declaration of Independence informs us the government exists to protect) and the powers of government and the restrictions on those powers which were codified in the Constitution as amended.

    Of course, as you probably know, the Declaration has no legal status of any kind. It confers no enforceable legal rights.

    Nor Blackstone, and yet he is cited…

    Allow me to define my term then. Judicial Fiat: A decision by a court contrary to the law as written and / or the Constitution as written, or which is clearly contrary to the legislative history or history of the framing and adoption of the Constitution.

    Courts make decisions “contrary” to law all the time in the exercise of judicial review. And the notion that one can point to this or that decision as clearly contrary to legislative history, the Framer’s intent, or discussions at the Convention, has alwasy been a fool’s game in my mind.

    Where a court overturns a law as being in conflict with superior law (a state Constitution, Federal Law, or the Constitution of the United States) and can show the clear conflict between the lesser law as written and the superior law as written and as per the legislative history and/or framer’s intent (of the superior law) is not what I would consider to be judicial fiat. Failing to take those factors into account strikes me as arrogant.

    Do you think Madison and Hamilton agree on the scope of the Commerce Clause? How does one, without being utterly arbitrary, divine a single intent from the imperfectly recorded deliberations of a collective body? Should we also credit the intent, to the extent we’re able to divine it, of the various state legislatures who actually debated and ratified the Constitution? What about ex post thoughts/observations/letters? And where we have contrary or inconsistent understanding of what a given provision was understood to mean, and thus what the various individuals who discussed/debated/adopted it intended when they voted for its passage/adoptions, how do we decide which to credit? What are the grounds for prefering one over another?

    Perhaps we need to reduce the load on the courts such that they can indeed focus on such difficult and weighty issues instead of plucking penumbra from quarters better left unstated?

    Could that decision not fairly be characterized as the Court awarding unto itself a power not clearly reserved to it by the Constitution? Absent “Stare Decisis,” why should that Supreme Court decision be any more binding upon the Legislative and Executive branches than the Constitution itself?

    Sure, one could argue as much, but since the decision was handed down in 1803, when most of the Founders were not only still alive but active in the other two branches, one might also fairly conclude that it was in accord with their vision for the system. Otherwise, one might have expected a Constitutional crisis.

    You didn’t really answer my question, did you? If the Founders agreed with Marbury v Madison, why did they not explicitly amend the Constitution to that effect, instead of leaving it to the whim of future courts bound only by their dedication (or lack thereof) to “Stare Decisis”?

    Would you have it otherwise? Assume SCOTUS issues an opinion that you and lots of like-minded folks think poorly reasoned and not based in sound legal principles. Should your belief free you from legal sanction should you choose to disobey it? If not, why not? If so, where does that leave us?

    I suggest you argue that point with the ghost of John Brown.

    Which is my point, as I think you know. You want to claim that Marbury was an illegal arrogation of power and the Court does not have a determinative role in deciding issues of Constitutional law, you’re obviously free to do so. But at this point it’s called revolt. I wish you well.

    And mine as well, since we are discussing the amendment which is our last best guarantee of the “…right of the people to alter or abolish [a government]…” which you so lightly dismissed above.

    I think the Founders would be aghast to see how many issues of state and policy are decided by courts, and not the Legislature.

    Some no doubt would (Jefferson springs to mind), but others, perhaps, would not (Hamilton springs to mind).

    I think you are correct in the first case and incorrect in the second, but I could be wrong. Could you?

  144. @ John

    I’d not meant to imply you had, and I apologize if I did.

    Some of us tend to rankle a bit at the idea of a “right” to bear arms. Sure, if that’s what you lot want to do, have at it, but it’s not a “right” in the sense of freedom of speech or habeas corpus.

  145. Michael Kirkland:

    Well, see. Here in the US, it’s a right in exactly the same sense as freedom of speech or habeas corpus, because all three are in the U.S. Constitution, which is the foundational document for our laws and national structure. I do agree it is different elsewhere.

  146. I haven’t read this decision, but it’s past time for the Supreme Court to clear up the argument about whether there is an individual right to have firearms. From what I’ve read here, it’s sounds like some issues are still undecided, and hardliners on either side will not be pleased. Others who fall between “let’s ban them” and “no regulations” might be relieved. Sure the hardliners will fight to either “regulate unto oblivion” as Rodney said or fight every regulation as I suspect Rodney will, but maybe other people will feel as I do that maybe we can craft sensible rules.

    As for having guns to fight an oppressive US government, seems delusional to me even if the argument is constitutionally valid. Without a large section of the military on your side, it’d be like a hot knife through butter. Just ask the Iraqi army.

  147. Michael Kirkland @ 172 offers,

    Some of us tend to rankle a bit at the idea of a “right” to bear arms. Sure, if that’s what you lot want to do, have at it, but it’s not a “right” in the sense of freedom of speech or habeas corpus.

    And some of us USAian’s rankle at the idea that someone not of our polity would interfere with the our last best guarantee against an oppressive government.

  148. JD,

    The open question there is which side the Armed Forces, which are sworn to “Uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” (not the government, and as a subsidiary clause, to obey “the lawfull orders of the President and those officers appointed over…”) and the large body of Veterans land on.

  149. Michael Kirkland,

    I don’t believe that Canadians (or Australians) have a freedom of speech. (I could be wrong, but Mark Steyn might be an example worth considering.)

    Our Constitution grants us these rights (speech, religion, habeas corpus) under the law of the United States, along with the freedom to bear arms. Does your constitutional document grant the same?

  150. I generally find many lengths of concordance with you, John, but I am another lifelong [well, adult-long] registered independent who believe that “law-abiding married gays should be able to concealed-carry”, yet may still disagree with you on small points.

    Scalia describes himself as an originalist [as I would describe myself, even if the two of us would differ on the interpretation of the original intent], so I am not surprised he articulated an argument that I have offered on many prior occasions: the original intent of the First Amendment was to enshrine the individual’s right to dissent as much as that of the Second was to enshrine the individual’s right to self-defense; that the vehicles of those dissents and self-defenses need not be, thereby, trapped in the time and technology of the Framers.

    I assent to #82 stevem’s position that Scalia does not support a “living Constitution” but a living people who are not that different in mental composition from the Framers.

    In short, it’s about the quality of steak, not the prettiness of the plate nor the freshness of the parsley garnish.

    JJB

  151. Yet you agree below that the framers specifically and deliberately excluded large fractions of the human population of the several states from the protections of the Constitution as adopted.

    That’s because the one doesn’t have anything to do with the other, Rodney. The issue that is demonstrably wrong is that Constitutional rights apply only to the “People of the U.S.” The Supreme Court has said otherwise. That the Framers excluded some human beings from its protection at the Founding makes no difference whatever. But again, that’s because I credit Marbury and its holding. You don’t, it seems. That’s fine (if odd).

    And for eighty odd years slavery was the law of the land and a settled question. For a somewhat lesser period escaped slaves remained property reclaimable by their owners no matter where in the United States they were found, courtesy of the same institution you seem to place such faith in

    And? You seem to think my view (and Marbury’s holding) that the Court should be the final arbiter of the Constitution confers on it a gloss of infallibility. That’s absurd. The Court gets it wrong more than I’d like. But that’s not the point. The point is that I recognize (as did the Founders, it seems) the need in the system for a final arbiter. The Court simply establishes what is or is not Constitutional, until and unless the holding is overturned — by the Court and only the Court.

    In which case the Supreme Court would have been obliged by “stare decisis” to overturn the Emancipation Proclamation in defense of that curious custom of the states then in rebellion, but not recognized as no longer part of the United States.

    It was not the courts that reversed that most egregious of judicial errors, sir.

    No, but it was the Court that reversed Dred Scott. And Plessy v. Ferguson. And Lincoln was, in fact, concerned that the Taney court would strike down the EP. But none of that has anything to do with what we’re discussing. The Court gets it wrong sometimes and issues odious opinions. I acknowledge as much. So what?

    And as should be plain, stare decisis is a constraint on judicial behavior, not a set of shackles.

    Of course, as you probably know, the Declaration has no legal status of any kind. It confers no enforceable legal rights.

    Nor Blackstone, and yet he is cited…

    This is the difference between persuasive authority and binding authority, a discussion of which has no bearing on the issues we’re discussing.

    Where a court overturns a law as being in conflict with superior law (a state Constitution, Federal Law, or the Constitution of the United States) and can show the clear conflict between the lesser law as written and the superior law as written and as per the legislative history and/or framer’s intent (of the superior law) is not what I would consider to be judicial fiat. Failing to take those factors into account strikes me as arrogant.

    I happen to agree, but I’m unaware of any decision anywhere at anytime that doesn’t use as its starting point the plain language of the Constitution and the legislative history of the particular provision at issue. The only question is the degree to which those are determinative or otherwise outweigh other analytical tools.

    Do you think Madison and Hamilton agree on the scope of the Commerce Clause? How does one, without being utterly arbitrary, divine a single intent from the imperfectly recorded deliberations of a collective body? Should we also credit the intent, to the extent we’re able to divine it, of the various state legislatures who actually debated and ratified the Constitution? What about ex post thoughts/observations/letters? And where we have contrary or inconsistent understanding of what a given provision was understood to mean, and thus what the various individuals who discussed/debated/adopted it intended when they voted for its passage/adoptions, how do we decide which to credit? What are the grounds for prefering one over another?

    Perhaps we need to reduce the load on the courts such that they can indeed focus on such difficult and weighty issues instead of plucking penumbra from quarters better left unstated?

    That sure is a nice way of not answering the question. You keep using one variation or other of the phrase “clearly in conflict withe legislative history and/or the Framer’s intent.” I’m raising a question about just how you would apply that standard. I’d love to hear it. Here: Go forth and determine intent with respect to the Cruel and Unusual Punishment provision in the Eighth Amendment. What is it scope? Particular punishments prohibited or allowed? Shouldn’t we be putting people in stocks in the public square?

    You didn’t really answer my question, did you? If the Founders agreed with Marbury v Madison, why did they not explicitly amend the Constitution to that effect, instead of leaving it to the whim of future courts bound only by their dedication (or lack thereof) to “Stare Decisis”?

    Please re-read my response. I answered the question quite clearly. Yes, one could make that argument. But I find it unpersuasive. You seem to think that the Framers failure to act to amend the Constitution to accord with Marbury somehow suggests they thought it wrong. They might just as easily have thought it exactly right, Marshall’s reasoning unassailable. Either is plausible, though I’d suggest that the lack of a significant constitutional crisis in the 200 years since Marbury suggests that both the Framers who lived through the period and the executives and legislators who came after, all think Marbury sound.

    And mine as well, since we are discussing the amendment which is our last best guarantee of the “…right of the people to alter or abolish [a government]…” which you so lightly dismissed above

    As noted, feel free. Sound the alarums and summon the true patriots. Me, I think Marshall and his contemporaries had it exactly right.

    I think you are correct in the first case and incorrect in the second, but I could be wrong. Could you?

    You bet. And?

    The problem here, Rodney, is that you and I base our positions on fundamentally different premises. You dispute the Court’s role as set forth in Marbury. I do not, nor, seemingly, do the vast majority of Americans alive today and who have lived throughout history(including any number of Constitutional scholars). And you’re free to assert your elbow-fundament quote and think you’re the one with the Real Truth. In my view, we’re talking political theory, not math. There is no Real Truth. There are political preferences, nothing more.

    We’ll be able to go around and around for weeks, but that fundamental difference over Marbury will make our positions irreconcilable. I’m perfectly content with that.

  152. Man, I think I have the italics squared away and I just don’t. Apologies.

    And, too, the Court did not overturn Dred Scott (though it did overturn Plessy with Brown). Constitutional Amendment overturned Dred Scott. My bad. Typing fast and all that.

  153. To touch on some earlier remarks regarding the 9th & 10 Amendments pertaining to “rights enumerated”, John, in light of yours at #172, but the Constitution does not grant any rights at all, which might disconcert some of our foreign brethren [and sistren, to lift from RAH].

    The US Constitution, instead, recognizes natural rights and grants limited powers to government with respect to those rights.

    Thus the significance of the language explicit in the 9th & 10th.

    The tradition in Western culture of natural rights claims precedence from Aristotle and is preserved in the Declaration of Independence.

    Persons have a natural right to life, to speech, to self-preservation, to assembly, and to expectations of privacy in our homes and in our persons.

    [And while I have no truck with dead babies, who the hell is the State to tell me what I am to do with my property, let alone my person, when the State has no ability to compensate for my property or the function of my person. It would be a different story if the State could reliably pluck a conceptus from one person and gestate those cells into a fully functional person in some justification of satisfying such an intrusion and abridgment, but that’s another rant best left unexplored for the nonce.]

    Abridgments of these natural rights are, well, unnatural. We take exception when someone or some entity such as a government tries to shorten our lives or tell us to shut our traps.

    Yet as members of a society, we require some orderly communitarian resolution when such rights of ours conflict with those same rights of others.

    That’s what that glorious yet imperfect invention, the US Constitution, serves to do.

    I’m not sure many indigenous American citizens, yet hardly our cousins overseas, apprehend this peculiar notion of recognized natural rights underpinning our charter.

    JJB

  154. Paul,

    I’m concerned that the court in Marbury v Madison arrogated powers unto itself setting it above the other two branches of government, leaving the sole recourse of a Constitutional amendment (a slow and arduous process by intent) as remedy. That the Founders made amending the Constitution as difficult as they did should set the bar at a similar level for the Supreme Court when it comes to rulings which fall under my earlier offered definition of judicial fiat.

    JD,

    The court stated as a finding that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right not linked to membership in a militia. The next battle will be as to what standard is applied in the regulation of that right.

  155. @ John # 172:

    When you call something a “right”, it tends to imply that you feel anyone, anywhere grossly infringing upon it is in the wrong. The term tends to lift it, in a moral sense, above the particulars of local laws and implies criticism of anyone (or any nation) who disagrees.

    As an honest question, would you, personally, really place the right to bear arms on the same moral level as the freedom of speech, religion, or the right to a fair trial? That seems a bit of a non sequitur from my perspective.

    @ Cassie # 176:

    I don’t know about Australia, but the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms certainly does grant freedom of speech, religion, association and such.

    The Steyn case doesn’t really have any more to do with freedom of speech than a libel suit does. I haven’t read his book, so I can’t say if the claims against him have merit or not, but I don’t believe he’s actually been found guilty of anything.

  156. I’ll answer the question you posed to John:

    As an honest question, would you, personally, really place the right to bear arms on the same moral level as the freedom of speech, religion, or the right to a fair trial? That seems a bit of a non sequitur from my perspective.

    Yes, they are on the same level because they come from the same source.

  157. Skar “The same logic operates here. If the criminal has a gun (and they all do if they want them) and the law-abiding citizen doesn’t, then the law abiding citizen is at the criminal’s mercy. If, however, the law-abiding citizen just might have a gun too, then the playing field is suddenly closer to level and the criminal finds something else to do with his time, not wanting to risk getting shot. This has been demonstrated to be true in Florida and other places.”

    This completely ignores history. Make a better shield, the other side makes a better shield breaker. Your argument works well until the criminal side simply decides to kill first. If I’m a criminal, entering your home or business, knowing you may have a gun, I’m shooting first.

    Also, for the “Florida” example, “post hoc, ergo propter hoc”. The two things I hear about “Florida” (and that you don’t state, but I’ll vocalize)

    1) “Violent crime went down once they had concealed carry.” True. But violent crime also went down in Ohio over the same years and we didn’t have concealed carry. Violent crime, all crime, went down everywhere (FBI statistics) those years.

    2) “Armed robbers picked on tourists, not the residents.” Also true. It wasn’t because they were afraid, but because tourists carry large sums of cash or cash-like currency on their persons. They also had cameras and other items that could be quickly sold for cash. You rob banks because that’s where they keep the money.

  158. Paul,

    I’m concerned that the court in Marbury v Madison arrogated powers unto itself setting it above the other two branches of government, leaving the sole recourse of a Constitutional amendment (a slow and arduous process by intent) as remedy. That the Founders made amending the Constitution as difficult as they did should set the bar at a similar level for the Supreme Court when it comes to rulings which fall under my earlier offered definition of judicial fiat.

    Rodney,

    I understand your view. You’ve stated it well. Obviously I disagree with it, but I appreciate the discussion. Thanks.

    Paul

  159. Paul,

    I understand your view as well, and you have stated your position well. I further agree that we shall have to agree to disagree, and that the discussion has been interesting.

    You are welcome, and I thank you in return for disagreeing without being disagreeable.

    V/R
    Rod

  160. Marbury v Madison? Well, this thread has drifted, but interesting. I probably missed the point, but if there is no judicial review, what happens when Congress passes a law in conflict with the Constitution? Or what if Congress passed a law abolishing one or more of the Bill of Rights? Would that law then stand until a different Congress repeals it? If you don’t like the idea of the Supreme Court deciding what the Constitution means, how are you going to feel knowing it is subject to the whims of Congress?

  161. Michael Kirkland:

    “When you call something a ‘right’, it tends to imply that you feel anyone, anywhere grossly infringing upon it is in the wrong. The term tends to lift it, in a moral sense, above the particulars of local laws and implies criticism of anyone (or any nation) who disagrees.”

    Perhaps to you. When I call something a “right” I mean it to refer to liberties guaranteed to me by the system of government under which I live, since from a practical point of view all other definitions of “rights” are depressingly fungible if someone else with coercive power over me decides I shouldn’t have them, and also because in an even more depressing Rousseau-ian sense, they don’t actually exist. I certainly agree that morally speaking, every person should have the ability to enjoy free speech, free practice of their religion, a free trial, etc, but whether they have a right to any of these, alas, is highly contingent on their location.

    Now, toward the question of whether one’s ability to bear arms is fundamentally on the same moral plane as, say, free speech, well, I think one can make an excellent argument for that, if one believes a primary reason to bear arms is to secure one’s safety and the safety of those whom one calls family and community.

    As it happens, I do personally believe that if someone comes into my house with the intent to harm me or my family, if necessary I should have the ability to a) set the dog upon him, b) work him over with a baseball bat, or c) shoot him, depending on what’s available and appropriate. Or to put it more in a more general, Kantian moral imperative sort of way, I ought to be able to defend myself and my family from the predations of others. So sure, on a moral plane, it’s right up there.

  162. “You know, statistically speaking, she’s more likely to be killed in a car than shot at school. So you might also ask me if her life in a car accident because some drunk asshole was on the road is worth automotive ability to me. And unlike the right to bear arms, the right to drive is not constitutionally protected. ”

    I respectfully disagree with this example. Driving bears a nearly overwhelming social good (ignoring larger arguments about resources, pollution, etc.) which overwhelmingly balances out the impact of road deaths, property damage and so forth from automotive crimes and mistakes. Furthermore, efforts to improve road safety have been extremely successful over the years, in everything from seat belts to airbags to 5 mph bumpers to revised youth driving rules.

    There is no concomittant generally accepted social good to widespread firearms ownership, and to my personal view, really none at all. Furthermore, efforts to manage gun safety are almost universally met with hardline resistance under the “camel’s nose” theory, so we have ludicrous aspects like the gun show exemption to background checks, and a nearly complete inability to mandate trigger locks, gun safes, and all the other potential safety improvements analogous to seat belts, airbags and so forth — all of which were implemented by mandate over objections from industry. The cost/benefit analysis to us a society rests on the anectodal statements of gun advocates about crimes prevented, and legal arguments about the integrity of the Constitution.

    To put it more simply, I agree to participate in the problem of automobiles by owning and operating one, because I deem the social good of my car to outweigh both the direct personal and the wider social risks. I don’t own a gun, don’t want a gun, but I am still just as vulnerable to the personal and social risks of gun ownership.

  163. Steve,

    “If I’m a criminal, entering your home or business, knowing you may have a gun, I’m shooting first.”

    Or you may not enter the home or business in the first place, since you’re not willing to risk your life over the stuff you intend to steal. Taking stuff at gunpoint from an unarmed grandma is an easy evening for a crook…let the grandma defend her homestead with a .38, and it turns into a far more risky equation. In either case, Granny is no worse off than she was before.

    I’m a healthy adult male in good shape. I don’t need a gun to mug and kill a woman half my size and twice my age; she would almost certainly need a gun to have any realistic chance at self-defense. Even if you could magically take away all the guns–and all knowledge about them; people can make improvised firearms with just a little metal shop knowledge and some stuff available at every Home Depot–you’d only disadvantage the few, the weak, and the infirm, and you’d tilt the field in favor of the strong, the brutal, and the young. That’s not a civilized notion at all.

    In any case, the discussion is pretty pointless. Not only can you not stuff the genie back into the bottle–there are hundreds of millions of functioning guns in this country–but you also can’t take a gun off my belt (or put one there) unless I consent to it. Furthermore, with today’s SCOTUS decision, and with the support of gun ownership by a significant chunk of the population, the gun control advocates are now fighting a rear-guard action. It was never a fight they could win, anyway, because they aim to control an object instead of a behavior.

    We’ve done to drugs what some want to see done to guns: blanket prohibition, and draconian punishment. Half the population in jail is doing time for drug offenses, we’ve stomped on civil liberties via RICO and asset forfeiture, and we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting the War on Drugs. Yet drugs are available on every street corner in America, and they’re getting cheaper all the time, because there’s a demand for them, and because the prohibition on them amounts to price control for the dealers, and ridiculous profit margins.

    Do you really think we’d do any better if we started a War on Guns?

  164. Jay @189 says: “There is no concomittant generally accepted social good to widespread firearms ownership, and to my personal view, really none at all.”

    The right to effective self defense is clearly such a good, as is defense against tyranny.

    Even those most devotedly anti-gun admit that society as a whole gives its members the right to defend themselves if attacked. Some (a fraction of Quakers, some others) believe that violent self defense is morally wrong, but they rarely disagree that it’s a fundamental social right – they just chose not to exercise it.

    These goods are generally accepted in the US. 75% of the population believes that people should have the right to own a handgun for self defense. The percentage who are in agreement with the right to use some gun (not a handgun specifically) for self defense is 100% minus epsilon. Around 25% of the population own handguns, and 50% do actually own guns overall.

    It does the discussion no good to fire off rhetoric that so poorly matches the reality of socially accepted norms.

  165. Jay Lake:

    “Driving bears a nearly overwhelming social good (ignoring larger arguments about resources, pollution, etc.) which overwhelmingly balances out the impact of road deaths, property damage and so forth from automotive crimes and mistakes.”

    Eh. I could make a pretty persuasive argument that nearly all of the benefits driving provides a mobile society could have been accomplished through other transportation options (rail, public transportation, etc) without the concomitant toll (no pun intended) of 40,000 deaths and a rather larger number of injuries annually, not to mention the aggregate consumer and environmental cost surrounding driving, a tab onto which one could quite arguably add both the 1991 and 2003 – to – current Iraq wars. If you really want to go down that road, I think one could make a very cogent argument that the cost of the automobile, in aggregate, has been far more detrimental to the overall national health of the United States, and it benefits, while substantial, are not overwhelming and could have been easily provided by other transportation options.

    Nor do I think your assertion that there is no “generally accepted social good” to firearm ownership is evident, not in the least because recent polls suggest a wide majority of Americans polled believe there should be a right to bear arms, which does suggest there is a general acceptance that their presence constitutes a social good. I certainly accept you do not see the social good, and that’s perfectly good; I celebrate your view. But the polls, at the very least, suggest you are outnumbered.

    In any event, whether you agree with the argument or not, and independent of arguments relating to social good and utility, there is the simple fact that statistically speaking my daughter (and yours, most likely) is rather substantially more likely to be injured or killed due to an automobile than by a handgun, inside of a school or outside of it. Commensurately, I am in fact more concerned about automobiles, and the certainty there will be many immediately outside her school on a daily basis, than I am about handguns, and the possibility of someone bringing a handgun into the school with murderous intent.

  166. Jay Lake @189
    “To put it more simply, I agree to participate in the problem of automobiles by owning and operating one, because I deem the social good of my car to outweigh both the direct personal and the wider social risks. I don’t own a gun, don’t want a gun, but I am still just as vulnerable to the personal and social risks of gun ownership.”

    And those that choose not to own and/or operate an automobile are not vulnerable to the personal and social risks of automobile ownership? (I’m thinking of the large numbers of pedestrians/cyclists hit & killed by motor vehicles, subjected to emissions, etc.)

  167. @ John # 188:

    I see your point. When I say “right”, I’m referring to those things I’d be willing to defend for myself and others, whether we’re able to exorcise them without interference or not. In that sense, I agree that our rights are what we collectively decide they are, though I wouldn’t say they stem from any document. Rather, constitutions and laws serve only to ratify the social contract, they don’t necessarily reflect it fully.

    I do believe in a right secure one’s safety, but I feel that right has to end sharply at the point of making oneself a danger to others. Once you cross that line, others have the right to exercise that same right to reign you in.

  168. Michael Kirkland:

    “I do believe in a right secure one’s safety, but I feel that right has to end sharply at the point of making oneself a danger to others. Once you cross that line, others have the right to exercise that same right to reign you in.”

    I have not a single problem with this.

  169. No, Australia has nothing similar to the Bill of Rights or the Canadian Charter. I think the movement to get one was knocked on the head about the same time our attempt to become a republic was subverted by the then-new conservative government.

  170. Steve@184:
    “This completely ignores history… home or business, knowing you may have a gun, I’m shooting first.”

    As for shields and shield breakers, yeah, I covered that @ 158. As for shooting first, it’s just another kind of ante-upping. So, if you are not armed, the armed criminal still comes in and kills you or rapes your wife, except this time he does it without having to worry about missing that first shot. Where’s the advantage to the law-abiding citizen?

    Florida example,
    “Violent crime, all crime, went down everywhere (FBI statistics) those years.”
    I believe it went down more in Florida than elsewhere but I could be wrong.

    However…
    ““Armed robbers picked on tourists, not the residents.” Also true. … rob banks because that’s where they keep the money.”

    This would make your case if the assaults on tourists had stayed the same before and after the change in the law. They did not. They went up. There were tourists before the conceal carry laws went into effect as well as after. Something caused the thieves to change focus. The connection to locals having easier access to self-defense tools seems a reasonable one to make. But then again, perhaps it was sunspots.

    Michael:
    You say you’re of the opinion that the mere presence of legally and responsibly owned guns in a society puts you at risk, (@159) yet you fail utterly to back that up with any relevant examples. I say again, there are plenty of places in the US where they have ‘shall issue’ laws to provide real world examples of what you fear. I live in one of them. What you fear doesn’t happen and it’s ‘not happening’ for all the world to see. That makes your fear irrational, and irrational fear is a poor reason to pass laws. If you had examples of places where legal gun-ownership had resulted in legal gun owners becoming “a danger to others” you’d have an argument. But you don’t…and…you don’t.

    In fact, the places in the US where gun ownership has been most severely restricted are some of the most violent and murderous places in the country.

    You can continue to insist that legislating a ban on guns would eliminate most violent gun crime but in the face of evidence to the contrary, well…

  171. Cassie #176:

    Our Constitution grants us these rights (speech, religion, habeas corpus) under the law of the United States, along with the freedom to bear arms.

    This is a fundamental and important error that, unfortunately, a lot of people make. The Constitution most definitely does not grant us the rights of speech, religion, habeus corpus, and bearing arms.

    The Constitution recognizes our pre-existing rights to these things and instructs the government not to interfere with those rights except under very limited circumstances. The difference between recognizing a pre-existing right and granting a right is a big one.

  172. I hate guns. I would not and do not go to anyone’s house who I know owns a gun. If I see a gun in someone’s house, I leave. Seriously. If I cannot leave for some reason, I make it very clear that they need to remove the gun or I will sit in the car the rest of the night until I can leave.

    I would never let my daughter go to anyone’s house if I knew they had a gun. I would not cut off communications with anyone who owns one, I would just make damn sure they either come to me or we go to a neutral place where there are no guns.

    Now, I understand all the arguments back and forth on this thread about gun ownership. (I am talking about handguns here, btw. Not rifles.) Yes, you may be less likely to be shot accidentally than killed in a traffic accident. But every time you are around a gun, that chance goes up exponentially, at least while you are around that gun. I just don’t think it is worth it to take that chance.

    Criminals will do what they want when they want. They are criminals. You having a gun just makes them more likely to have one, too. And to use it on you quickly, giving you little notice or chance to defend yourself.

    While I (begrudgingly) agree that this decision is probably the correct one based upon the Constitution, there is one interpretation I have always found ridiculous and outright stupidity. Saying you need a gun to defend yourself from the GOVERNMENT? Please. If jackbooted thugs break into your house, you can’t defend yourself against all of them, and they will KNOW you have GUNS jackass, or at least will assume you do. They are not as stupid as you seem to think. They can use grenades, gas, smoke, bulletproof armor, etc, to get in.

    You people who are so GUNG HO should just admit it. You just like shooting shit, and no one will ever tell you differently. I hope you still feel that way after the loaded gun you keep in the bedside table or under the pillow accidentally goes off. Not that it WILL, mind you. But you can’t say for sure it won’t, since that is the whole meaning of the word accident.

    For all of our sake, be responsible. Lock up your guns, use trigger locks, take safety courses, and keep your guns away from me.

    Thanks.

  173. As an honest question, would you, personally, really place the right to bear arms on the same moral level as the freedom of speech, religion, or the right to a fair trial?

    I would, too. The right to defend myself from imminent death or great bodily harm is certainly on par with free exercise of religion, speech, or fair trial. As is the right to use arms in any other lawful fashion that does not infringe on the rights of others.

    There is no concomittant generally accepted social good to widespread firearms ownership, and to my personal view, really none at all. Furthermore, efforts to manage gun safety are almost universally met with hardline resistance under the “camel’s nose” theory, so we have ludicrous aspects like the gun show exemption to background checks, and a nearly complete inability to mandate trigger locks, gun safes, and all the other potential safety improvements analogous to seat belts, airbags and so forth — all of which were implemented by mandate over objections from industry.

    I would say that the thousands of people (some studies suggest that number is even higher) that use a gun in some way to defend themselves would disagree on the benefit. Federal law mandates that all guns sold must come with a trigger lock. Gun safes, for the most part, are very expensive and are out of the range of a significant portion of people with low incomes. Besides, gun accidents are fairly rare. Who would these laws protect?

  174. Cassie @ 183; Mr Teufel @ 198:

    OK, I agree with what John (and others) have said that, insofar as the US is concerned, the 2nd amendment right to bear arms is as much a right as any other right given by the US constitution. I do object to a couple of suggestions, though, that the US “does” rights better than anyone else… just because.

    So one of the examples used was Freedom of Speech. Well, lets see from a practical perspective how freedom of speech in the media, an important (and large) corner of the right to free expression, is handled by various countries.

    http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=11715

    World Press Freedom Index. Australia – down lowish, granted. But Canada is above the US. So is New Zealand. So are 19 other countries. This is not to say the US way of doing things is bad – just an example to suggest that other countries are quite capable of working out how to “do” rights by themselves, thank you very much. And that dark mutterings about stabbings and unfair self defence laws that would all be magically fixed if other jurisdictions would just relax their gun controls are really rather absurd (MarkHB, looking at you).

  175. Nor do I think your assertion that there is no “generally accepted social good” to firearm ownership is evident

    It’s certainly not evident to ME, as on more than one occasion the possession of a firearm probably saved my life. Without, mind you, actually having to fire same. Of couse some might not consider the preservation of MY life a “generally accepted social good.” ;-D

    This would make your case if the assaults on tourists had stayed the same before and after the change in the law. They did not. They went up. There were tourists before the conceal carry laws went into effect as well as after. Something caused the thieves to change focus.

    In particular, it was discovered that armed robbers were keying on rental car plates, which were easy to spot. The state responded by making rental car plates indistinguishable from ordinary plates, and rental car companies quit putting the company stickers on Florida rentals.

    BTW, Stevens’ dissent implies that he sees the First and Fourth amendments as “collective” rights, not individual rights. Senility or what?

  176. Corby at # 201 stated “…there is one interpretation I have always found ridiculous and outright stupidity. Saying you need a gun to defend yourself from the GOVERNMENT? Please. If jackbooted thugs break into your house, you can’t defend yourself against all of them, and they will KNOW you have GUNS jackass, or at least will assume you do.”

    Corby, Rambo is a fiction. Once upon a time, when I was young and muscular and overflowing with testosterone, one of my drill instructors said, “there is no such thing as a tough guy.” One man with one gun, cannot defend himself against the entire government. However, 300 million citizens, with tens of millions of guns lawfully available, can arms and defend themselves from a tyrannical government.

    Heller is a very straight forward decision. The second amendment confirms a free person’s pre-existing right to lawfully arm him or herself to defend life, liberty or property. This serves the happy alternative purpose of restraining government tyranny as Americans, unlike many others in this crazy world, if push comes to shove, are armed in massive numbers so we can resist despotic rule as a people.

    This is exactly what the Founders intended. If people are unhappy with the result, amend the Constitution. What is scary is that 4 Justices, presumably “enlightened”, felt empowered to rule however they darn well pleased. Which is one of the many reasons I am a conservative. If the courts would restrain themselves, seemingly an impossible task, there would probably be a Democrat in the White House a lot more often.

  177. Corby — a good safety class will teach you not to use a trigger lock, as they invite the hazard they’re advertised to prevent. You would be safer advocating a chamber lock, which prevents the firearm from being loaded.

    Michael —

    As an honest question, would you, personally, really place the right to bear arms on the same moral level as the freedom of speech, religion, or the right to a fair trial?

    Yes. Rights are powers held by individuals against both the government and other individuals. Freedom of assembly. Not to be forced to testify. Fair compensation for property taken by the government. There are others, too. There is no right, however, to have the world be the way that one wants it to be (there is one to pursue such a goal, but not of success; too many possible conflicting goals.) If I cannot defend myself and my family, it is not possible for me to defend my community, state, or country. Violence can be the proper response to the end of the state of law — which is what some criminal acts proclaim — and the way to restore the state of law.

  178. Ah, the fantasy world some live in-
    ‘However, 300 million citizens, with tens of millions of guns lawfully available, can arms and defend themselves from a tyrannical government.’

    Shame that the lying thugs planning torture in the White House basement, violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution seemingly don’t meet the standards of tyranny for those armed citizens.

    Oh – the number of legal weapons is in the hundreds of millions in the U.S. And your rights have never been more directly under attack, with secret laws which judges, much less citizens, are not entitled to see unless the government agrees.

    ‘If people are unhappy with the result, amend the Constitution.’

    Oops – the citizens of DC do not have the right to participate in that process. Which I guess means, by your lights, they need to be arming themselves right now, to fight tyranny.

  179. ‘…if someone comes into my house with the intent to harm me or my family….’

    Or perhaps if someone has the temerity to knock on your door on Halloween – because as we all know, fear itself justifies gunning down foreigners knocking on your door after dark, at least in an American court of law.

    Sorry about the double post – something still seems strange with the posting set-up.

  180. I think that one simple point that is being missed here is WHY America is a gun culture? I have lived in Europe and Asia and every country is different and has different attitudes about this issue. Here is the thing, Most all governments from the dawn of time started out as some form of Monarchy. Call it a King, Czar, Sultan, Chief, whatever, the government was whoever was the biggest, baddest, meanest bastard to climb to the top of the heap. Around the time of the founding fathers, this was changing. What changed it was the firearm. Now you didn’t have to spend a lifetime learning the trade of arms and be the biggest dude around to win the throne, if you were being oppressed, no matter who you are, you could load your rifle and fight back. We used the gun to claim our independence and settle our nation. Not the spear or sword but the gun. This was what the founders were looking at. Now jump ahead 217 years. How many monarchy’s are left?
    In our country we as a people have decided that we like to have the responsibility for our destiny in OUR own hands, not some governments. Here in America that means taking responsibility and defending yourself if need be. The founders recognised it and the USSC finally quit being wishy-washy about it and decided on it. You don’t like guns, then take a martial arts class and get good at it, but don’t in the name of your own concept of safety tell me what I can and can not do.
    Dave

  181. I’m a fiery liberal Dailykos poster who thinks the court made the right call here. (There probably aren’t very many of me.) I still can’t stand Scalia (That’s right, Tony, it’s okay to torture people because a fictional TV show that has no basis in reality says we can.) But yeah, for me, in addition to the Consitutional question, it always came down to “private ownership of guns have probably prevented some crimes. How many? I don’t know. If the number’s even slightly more than the number of people killed by guns, it’s probably not a good idea to ban them.”
    That being said, the poster raising the dangers of “collective” thinking seems to have ignored a pretty clear caveat. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…” The 2nd Amendment is the only amendment that begins with a clause that would seem to be both explaining and limiting.

    Rodney@45… sigh. I think the other commenters went round and round with you on this, and you’re probably gone anyway, but the whole point of the decision is that THEY’RE NOT ALL ENEMY COMBATANTS. They are ACCUSED of being “enemy combatants.” Some are COMPLETELY INNOCENT. And they have the right to see the evidence that says they are, and if that evidence happens to be solely the testimony of that neighbor who really doesn’t like them.

    Go read the McClatchy series on the innocent Afghanis and Iraqis who got swept up in the war on terror. And please, just read the opening article. I’m quoting three of the early paragraphs for you:

    “Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as “the worst of the worst.”

    But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo’s Camp Four who hissed “infidel” and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn’t: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

    “He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government,” a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.”

    I honestly don’t know how you’ll process the series. I’d be very interested to hear.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/detainees/story/38773.html

  182. Came late to the party, skimming a lot…

    Regarding banning guns to prevent accidental death:
    It’s exactly the wrong thing to do. It’s completely backwards. Making owning something a crime because when it’s used in a way NOBODY intends, it does harm?
    This isn’t even about deliberate misuse (murder, threat of murder). This is saying “owning this object is a criminal act.” That’s a really important thing to say about an object, and saying it because of accidents is putting the cart before the horse, and putting THAT in front of your drinking water supply.
    Also, an interesting statistic gleaned from another recent SCOTUS action… more than 5000 children are raped every year. We’re talking almost twice as many children intentionally raped, as accidentally shot. Accidental shootings are individual tragedies, not a widespread social ill.

    Regarding realities vs. principles.
    Principles, and their associated high rhetoric are EXACTLY what realities do not change. You (rhetorical ‘you’) say the reality is that too many people are shot, and it’s crazy to let the principle of an armed population prevent action to slow/stop that? I say, as far as I agree in the principle of an armed population, it easily, handily, dramatically trumps realities. That’s what principles ARE.

  183. htom – Chamber locks, then. Sounds great.

    Stevem – Exactly what do you think I was saying? There are people on this very comment log that stated they own guns, or should be allowed to own guns, so they can defend themselves against the government when they invade their homes.

    Good Lord! And people call ME paranoid!

    My mother has said the same thing about defending herself against the government, but she doesn’t even own a gun. Assuming for a moment that she did, I’m not sure how a 60 year old diabetic who can hardly walk and has high blood pressure could possibly stand against a highly trained military, regardless of how many of her there are!

    And lets be clear – if the government wants you dead, you are dead. If they want you gone, you are gone. If they want to invade, they will invade. They invaded Oakland one day – it’s a good thing no one ran outside with their guns to defend their homes – it was a war game. Even though it was publicized (as far as I know), not everyone would have gotten the memo – some nutbar attacking a tank because he didn’t know what was going on would have been all we need.

    The government limits the guns you can have as a citizen because they have BIGGER guns and FASTER guns and MORE POWERFUL guns, so that if they DO invade, they WIN. Those 300 million people with guns would have to all be in the same place for them to make a difference.

    In other words, this is simply a ridiculous argument and is only dragged out to draw attention away from the simple fact that little boys and girls like to watch shit blow up or make loud noises and since they can’t own fireworks or bombs, they decide to own guns.

    I think I’d be more accepting of gun culture if they were just honest about that.

  184. The drive to ban firearms is a symptom of the entire move away from expecting and enforcing personal responsibilty. Far too many people turn to the government to make things right. Government is inherently wasteful, abusive, and bad. It must be restricted and limited at every turn. Power must be pulled to the closest levels that it affects rather than percolating up to the national government.

    Both parties are heinously guilty of consolidating and abusing power. Unfortunately, we have gone too far down this road and the majority of Americans seem to believe the purpose of government is to take care of the people rather than simply to give us a fairly level playing field to make our way in life. No guarantees of success, no handouts to failures.

    BTW – did you see farmers in the flooded midwest stealing flat screen TVs or raiding liquor stores while blaming the government for their problems? Hmmm – the difference between people who have lived at the government teat vs. those who are responsible for themselves.

  185. You know, if I read another person making a completely fatuous, ignorant and implicitly racist comparison between what happened in New Orleans and what just happened in the Midwest, I may have to throw that person into a wood chipper. So don’t feel the need to go there again, Stan. Not in this thread.

  186. Don’t be silly, Patrick M. The dog doesn’t go near the spaceship. It doesn’t like heights.

  187. Stan,

    That’s one thing about America that I adore. It expects adult behaviour from adults, and permits people to grow into adults far more than any other country.

    Not perfectly so, not yet – but this is an important step in the right direction. If you live your life with someone else responsible for all critical aspects of it, then you’re not an adult. If someone else is in charge of taking care of your person, paying for your medical care, providing government housing, educating your children and preparing for your retirement, then that is just childhood writ large.

    To grow and be responsible, one must have the opportunity to exercise that responsibility. To ensure that the medical insurance is paid, that the rent is paid, that the college fees are set aside, that the pension plan is being paid into and that, should someone decide to break in and visit ill on your family, you are prepared and equipped to defend them is to Be Adult.

    Collectivism enforces an extended childhood on it’s populace. By denying individual responsibility and scope for those responsibilities to be fulfilled, it stunts personal growth from dependant child to independant, self-sustaining adult.

    America is pretty much the only country which promotes that individualism, however imperfectly. It’s a rare and wonderful thing, and I think that history will show how such a system is superior to collectivist societies, where “society” is not understood to be a product of it’s individuals.

  188. What I find endlessly confusing about American politics is this idea that “What the framers intended” is in any way relevant to *what the law should be*.

    If you think guns should be allowed then it’s your right to campaign for guns to be allowed and it’s my right to campaign for guns to not be allowed. I don’t see why you feel the need to discover “what the framers intended” or “what the constitution really means” – why not just propose a new law that says “guns for everyone!” and try to persuade people to vote for it!

    Moreover why is “the framers actually meant this” supposed to be a compelling argument? I don’t give a monkey’s arse what the framers wanted; if this is what they wanted then I disagree with them! Since when did the framers get elevated to godhead such that we all have to agree that “what the framers wanted” is the most important thing.

    There are lots of good arguments for letting people have guns (and good arguments for not letting people have guns). You could make those arguments in a compelling way, talk people into voting for your new “guns for all” law – and you might very well win that, and indeed “popular opinion says guns for all” is a compelling argument in a democracy.

  189. Sorry folks, no rail guns, anti-tank weapons or even ray guns. The Court’s decision is limited to weapons “in common use at the time”, which I guess means handguns and hunting guns, but not more exotic weapons. Oh well, I guess my lazgun goes back in the basement…

  190. Marko,
    “I’m a healthy adult male in good shape. I don’t need a gun to mug and kill a woman half my size and twice my age; she would almost certainly need a gun to have any realistic chance at self-defense.”

    Um, there’s these wonderful things call Judo and Akkido. Look into them. You don’t have that much of an advantage.

    Even if you could magically take away all the guns–and all knowledge about them; people can make improvised firearms with just a little metal shop knowledge and some stuff available at every Home Depot”

    Please, can we do that. I would love it that our criminals were attempting crimes with zip guns instead of glocks. So then instead of simple incompetence with firearms, we could also count on just crappy craftsmanship.

    “–you’d only disadvantage the few, the weak, and the infirm, and you’d tilt the field in favor of the strong, the brutal, and the young. That’s not a civilized notion at all.”

    Only in your Wild West imaginations.

    And you ascribing a position to me that I don’t have. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really stated what my position on this ruling actually is. You might be stunned to realize that on most point I agree with John on this issue. However, I think many of the gun advocates are spewing crap based on fantasies not much farther down the road that Ralphie’s dream sequence in A Christmas Story.

    Do you really think that if “everybody had a gun” (not a realistic scenario, also akin to your strawman “War on Guns”) that criminals would suddenly think to themselves, “Hell, this is too dangerous, I’ll go get that paper-hat job down at the McD’s?” Some will drop out (the casual criminals). Most, though, will escalate. That is what history shows.

    And as Chaiman of my Village’s Safety Committee, yeah, I’ve got a big dog (and some experience) in this fight.

  191. Judging from the various historical sources cited in the decision and the dissents, it seems to me that when eighteenth-century Americans were worrying about how they would protect themselves against tyranny, they envisioned state militias as their line of defense against a future tyrannical Federal government. Contemporary Americans who think we need an unrestricted right of gun ownership appear to have a different conflict in mind.

  192. Here are some interesting statistics.

    In last 5 years reported (2002-2006) there were 1139 justifiable homicides by private citizens (as opposed to cops.) 79% of those were with firearms, and 81% of the firearms used were handguns.

    During that same time period there were 1804 justifiable homicides by police officers. 99% of those used a firearm.

    In 2006, there were 1165 children murdered between the ages of 0-16. 43% (509) were murdered with some type of firearm.

    Just looking at 17-19 year olds, 1485 were murdered. 84% of those were with some type of firearm.

    You can see why throwing out a comment about the murder of children and teenagers can be misleading.

    Total murders in 2006 were 14,990, 68% of those were with firearms.

    The leading circumstances for murder, which account for 42% of murders.

    Other arguments 3607
    Robbery 1041
    Juvenile gang killings 865
    Narcotic drug laws 796

    Corby @ 201: I hope you still feel that way after the loaded gun you keep in the bedside table or under the pillow accidentally goes off. Not that it WILL, mind you. But you can’t say for sure it won’t, since that is the whole meaning of the word accident.

    I can say, absolutely, and without any doubts, the only way any of my guns will shoot is if someone pulls the trigger. A loaded gun sitting in a bedside table is no more likely to hurt someone then a rock right next to it, or a baseball bat in the closet.

    In the firearms world “accidental” shootings are VERY VERY RARE. What they are called are negligent shootings. Because by and large, guns do not “go off by themselves.” Someone has to do something to pull the trigger and make them shoot. Gun safety starts with don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you want to shoot it.

  193. Patrick @215, Scalzi @216: Right. Dogs are, rather, uniquely adept at driving the big drilling rig that burrows to the earth’s core.

    Which reminds me — I still need to go pimp for the greatest SF movie of the last 15 years at AMC!

  194. ” I don’t give a monkey’s arse what the framers wanted; if this is what they wanted then I disagree with them! Since when did the framers get elevated to godhead such that we all have to agree that “what the framers wanted” is the most important thing.”

    If you don’t like what the framers wrote, then get the constitution changed. The framers are not a godhead, but their words in the constitution are the law until the constituition is amended. That’s our system. It’s not great, but it is better than any other alternative yet devised.

  195. Steve,

    “Um, there’s these wonderful things call Judo and Akkido. Look into them. You don’t have that much of an advantage.”

    Yeah, body size and weight are no advantage in a physical fight, even among males. That’s why they didn’t bother to split up martial arts contact sports like boxing, Judo, and Karate into weight classes. Oh, wait…

    I have a few years of martial arts experience, including regional kickboxing championships. I am quite aware of what I am talking about.

    “Please, can we do that. I would love it that our criminals were attempting crimes with zip guns instead of glocks. So then instead of simple incompetence with firearms, we could also count on just crappy craftsmanship.”

    There are village metalworkers in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan that can make fully-functioning AK-47 copies with basic materials and tools. Google the term “Khyber pass rifle copies”, and you’ll find that the same people used to make copies of British rifles thatw ere so close to the original that you had to look very closely to spot a difference, down to the proofmarks. Humans are a remarkably crafty species, and all it takes to motivate our crafting skills is the prospect of a profit…like the kind possible when the government bans an item that is in high demand.

    Only in your Wild West imaginations.

    Do me a favor, and blow that “Wild West” smarminess out your southbound end.

    My wife has left-sided hemiparesis (paralysis, in layman’s terms.) She can neither run away from a threat, nor fight back very effectively. Any fully-functional male with even a moderate amount of physical ability could completely dominate her in a physical altercation. Her handgun gives her a force equalizer that instantly levels the field between her and a 220-pound attacker who’s been lifting weights in jail for half a decade. It’s the *only* effective self-defense tool available to her, since most others require some sort of physical strength (impact weapons, martial arts) or dexterity that she simply does not have.

    You want to run that “Wild West” thing by her, and presume to tell her how she can and cannot defend herself and our children in my absence?

    “And as Chaiman of my Village’s Safety Committee, yeah, I’ve got a big dog (and some experience) in this fight.”

    I have my family and myself to protect here. My dog is as big as yours, metaphorically speaking. You want to tell folks how to run their personal safety arrangements in your village, have at it. Just kindly do me a favor and let me determine my own. You don’t live our lives, so you have no basis to judge whether or not we have a “need” or a “purpose” for a gun.

  196. Oh, and regarding the previous post: I don’t claim to have won any championships, I just participated in them. I mostly got my face polished by better guys, which was a pretty good lesson in the differences of physical fighting skill even among males of the same size and weight.

    Apologies to John (who I know hates chain posts), but there’s no way to edit something once posted, and I don’t want to give the impression I’m some martial arts braggart.

  197. I’d vote to repeal or redefine the 2nd amendment. But right now the Constitution means what it says.

    If I can fool myself into believing it doesn’t really mean what it says in one place – others can fool themselves into believing it doesn’t mean what it says elsewhere.

    And sure, the framers didn’t know what would happen in a couple of centuries – which is why they included a way to change the Constitution.

  198. I’m an Australian as such have a fairly different cultural approach to gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. I’m not for banning all firearms but I am for the strict regulation and control of firearms.

    In my opinion there is a clear correlation between firearm availability and violent crime perpetrated with firearms.

    I think that it is not reasonable to argue about which crimes may have been prevented (or not prevented) by reducing gun availability except that if gun availability was reduced then gun violence would reduce.

    There is not necessarily a linear relationship between gun availability and gun violence. There is also not necessarily a direct correlation between gun control laws and decreasing gun availability. However I believe that there is some positive relationship between gun control laws, gun availability and gun related violence. It is certainly not as simple “banning all semi-automatic weapons” leads to 50% reduced gun availability leads to a 50% drop in gun violence but I still believe that gun control laws would lead to a decrease in gun violence.

    In the wikipedia article on gun violence there is a table of data from the United Nations on homicides with and without gun involvement. It is an interesting table relevant to this discussion. One thing I would like to point out is that in the United States in 2000 there were 2.97 shooting homicides for every 100,000 people while in Australia there were 0.31 shooting homicides for every 100,000 people. While I don’t think the whole story could be deduced from comparing Australia’s gun laws to the US’s gun laws I’m confidant that Australia’s gun laws are a contributing factor to the order of magnitude lower shooting deaths per capita.

    Really the question people should be considering is this: Is it worth restricting your freedom to carry weapons to reduce shooting deaths?

    It seems Australians generally thinks so while American generally do not think so.

    Once again this is a freedom versus safety argument. How much safer would you need to be (or feel) before you gave up some of your freedom? What is your safety worth compared to your freedom?

  199. Then Marko, I hope you support your local police department. The best way to help protect your wife and family it to help create a society the reduces criminal activity. I believe you and I have two different ideals of how that is to happen.

    Also, since your wife has partial paralysis, how good is she at drawing the firearm under stress? How often does she shoot the firearm? I certainly hope she is good with situational awareness, a skill that will far outweigh the “force equalizer” of her firearm.

    “I have my family and myself to protect here.”

    Yeah, and I’m just winging my wife and myself out there as a target? I have your safety concerns, my safety concerns, my officer’s safety, not to mention the people who live in my village, their safety to weigh.

  200. Steve,

    the cops aren’t there to protect us, they’re there to catch the bad guys after the fact. We live on a dirt road on the outskirts of a small town, and emergency response here is twenty minutes on a quick day. Our cell phones don’t work in the house because we’re on the side of a hill, and the phone line can be snipped by anyone with a knife. Forgive me for not being willing to bank on the willingness of anyone to give us a time-out while I call 911, assuming the line still works.

    Even with instant communications, the police here are three officers, a secretary, and a chief. They’re good people, but when seconds count, they’re quite a few minutes away.

    “Help create a society that reduces criminal activity”…that’s a great sentiment. I can’t do anything about the crime rate or the fact that some people would rather rob and kill than make a living. However, what I can do is to take steps to ensure they won’t rob or kill me and mine. Guns are a part of that equation–not the entire equation, mind you, but an essential component, because they’re the last resort when all other self-protection measures have failed. I’d never shoot someone unless it was the only way to keep them from killing me, but I damn sure want to retain that option in case all the other safety measures fail.

  201. ‘You can see why throwing out a comment about the murder of children and teenagers can be misleading.’

    Absolutely – now find the statistics for firearm mishaps, since that was at least what I was discussing. That number receives minimal notice in this debate, though in part, because there is a difference between a mishap with a 5 year, a 10 year, and a 15 year old – apart from someone dying, that is, and it not being considered murder. Equally obviously, suicide by firearm is not a problem with 4 year olds, but certainly can be relevant in the case of a 14 year old.

    The responsibilities of those bearing arms is completely shouted out by those proclaiming their rights, though Scalzi at least has a reasonable suggestion in requiring training before being licensed to own a handgun. Even better is requiring weapons owners to store their weapons at a range, and only be allowed a permit to keep one at home with a weapons safe – the cheapest German versions cost 100s of euro, and inspection of the storage safe and weapon are involved.

    Which may be one reason Germany has a rate of firearm death involving ‘murders, suicides, and accidental deaths’ that is a tenth of the U.S, due to guns – according to a study published April 17, 1998 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6166

    As for anyone seriously talking about feeling safe – do you really live in such an awful society? I don’t believe you, personally, but it really isn’t that important. The fact that you think there are people waiting to prey on any but the armed is disturbing enough.

    The idea that people with weapons make us all safer is absurd (reflect on accidents – more weapons, more accidents), a seemingly majority opinion that is as demonstrably false as the idea that abortion rates are lowered through avoiding sex education and making birth control inaccessible.

    Keep talking about rights, and forget about responsibilities. A winning strategy for any group of victims, especially the poor and oppressed handgun owner. Finally, it is now clear that American citizens are entitled to a weapon whose basic function is to kill their fellow citizens without due process of law, in a situation of necessity defined by the hand gun owner.

    Luckily, I get to observe the pragmatic effects of this exercise from far away.

  202. John, I don’t disagree with any of your points about the impact of the automobile and the missed/future opportunities for alternatives. But those arguments are a red herring to the cars-to-guns comparisons.

    Rightly or wrongly, as a society, we’ve accepted both automobiles and guns. As you said about guns, they’re both facts on the ground now. Automobiles enable the design of suburban American life, and kill people in the process. Both of these facts can be changed. Guns kill people, but they don’t enable much except for more killing. As a society, we seem to be unable to come to grips with that fact.

    ’nuff said for me. I have a workshop to go be a pro at, and a Sekrit Projekt to write.

  203. Steve Buchheit @ 220 opines (without bothering to read the back thread):

    Um, there’s these wonderful things call Judo and Akkido[sic]. Look into them. You don’t have that much of an advantage.

    * Less than 2% of the population of the United States have practiced martial arts in any serious way.

    * Of that 2%, less than 10% ever reach a mastery of the basics (Blackbelt or Dan level).

    * Of that (generously) 0.2% who gain that mastery of the basics, only about half continue to practice. While 0.1% is still ~300,000, that still makes them few and far between on the ground, doesn’t it?

    If you had read the back thread you’d have already seen my 110:

    I’m a martial arts instructor. For martial arts to be effective requires that the practitioner dedicate several years to gaining proficiency and then practice regularly (several times a week) to maintain proficiency. I’ve also been licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and have been trained with rifle and pistol (amongst other light, and not so light, arms).

    The wag who stated that: “It was Colonel Colt made all men equal.” was dead on. What would take two or more years in martial arts training is replicable in two or three weeks with a pistol, and requires less practice to remain proficient. Nor is there an advantage to mass and size with firearms.

    I continue to practice and teach martial arts for health and stress relief issues, and because I can take that training (and the field expedient weapons) with me wherever I go.

    A significant portion of the Martial Arts were developed in countries where only the elites were permitted weapons, as a way to counter those armed elites. Sod that game, allow the People to arm themselves as they see fit.

  204. “the cops aren’t there to protect us, they’re there to catch the bad guys after the fact.”

    I often hear that. Your local police will be relieved, that will mean their gas budget will be less, maintenance of vehicles will go down and they’ll need to replace them less often. All they’d have to do is sit back at the office until they get a call (and if they are doing that, see comment about getting involved below). Hell, I’d like that considering how much we’re spending in fuel (serious budget buster, this will be making the news more in August as many departments run out of money in those budget lines, and the reduced tax revenue from this economy really hits).

    We also have a small department, although slightly larger than yours. Rural law enforcement is different, and both the chief and I wish we could have one or two more full-time officers. We don’t like relying on the sheriff for some of our coverage (and we hopefully plugged those holes in our patrol schedule this week).

    I understand that not everybody has the same conditions as we do. However, if you’re that fearful of crime, I suggest moving to a larger community or supporting your council/government to provide more police coverage. There are always options. Unfortunately, the mostly involve increasing funding, which means increasing revenue. As a part of that argument, one of my criticisms of the current administration was the roll back and elimination of federal grants to local law enforcement to add staff (that cut decimated our county-wide drug enforcement task force, just as Meth production began to be the serious problem it still is). But I do recommend getting involved. We always like hearing from our citizens, and we like it when they get involved. Even when we may disagree with them (your local government may be different, I’d rather hear about problems than let them fester).

    As I said above, I agree with striking down the DC law, I don’t agree with all the secondary opinions of the majority. I also don’t agree, and see the logical faults, of many who are celebrating the decision.

    One of the logical problems I see those who support gun rights making in this thread (I don’t believe you have said these, Marko, I’m just giving an example).

    “Making guns illegal won’t get guns off the streets. Because criminals either steal or buy stolen guns.”

    Couple this with, “Having a gun in the home will make criminal activity go down because criminals don’t want to get shot.”

    For those who can see the problems here, let me be didactic.

    If criminals get their guns by stealing or buying stolen weapons (which is true for the most part, BTW), those weapons did not help their original, legal owners keep criminals from robbing them. More than likely, the victims were targeted because they had handguns. Also, since we’re now going to increase the number of homes with firearms (or at least I think that’s what some people are celebrating), and criminals get their weapons from stealing them, you’ve now just given a whole bunch of weapons to criminals. The only blessing here is that the resale price of a stolen firearm went down (supply and demand).

    So we now have more and cheaper weapons on the street in the hands of criminals. Thanks.

  205. Rodney G. Graves, if you’re not pumping a thousand rounds out of your firearm a year, you aren’t trained. Do you think you’d be able to put lead on target while stressed, under pressure, possibly in the dark without keeping up on training? You’re probably in a better condition than most, having taken martial arts. Just like all physical skills, you need to keep up with it (both martial arts and firing).

    Yeah, I’ve qualified for my concealed carry (although I never finished the application with my sheriff’s office). I’ve seen the quality of shooting of those that qualified (out of the 12 in my class, only my wife and I had to borrow handguns, most students had to choose which handgun they wanted to bring). Most of them are in serious trouble if it ever comes to them having to pull the trigger in a stress situation. My money would be on the crook getting away (as long as they don’t freeze up).

    If anyone in this thread thinks just buying a gun is going to keep you safe, you’re deluding yourself. You have to train. And keep up being trained.

  206. MarkHB @ 217:

    Yeah, thats right. You can’t properly be an adult in any country other than America… Is this because of relatively easy access to guns? Or because of the lack of socialised healthcare? Or something else? I’m curious to know so, you know, I can learn to be truly adult.

  207. Let me moderate my comment and say, if you’re not even putting out a hundred rounds down target a year, don’t bother carrying your firearm. A thousand would just be my own higher-standard.

  208. natasha @ 218 opines:

    What I find endlessly confusing about American politics is this idea that “What the framers intended” is in any way relevant to *what the law should be*.

    Ah yes, the “dead white men” cannard rears its empty head.

    Treating this with a seriousness it does not deserve, I offer the following:

    The Constitution the framers endowed us with has served us very well indeed. They anticipated that there would be changes which they could not forsee, and provided a difficult and time consuming method of amending that legal basis (such that momentary passions and fast burning political movements would likely fail to successfully amend that legal basis) for law and government within these United States of America. Having been clever or lucky enough to hit upon such stable system which does indeed protect the rights of individuals, it is useful to understand exactly what they held they were creating, how they created it, and why they made the choices they did.

    If you think guns should be allowed then it’s your right to campaign for guns to be allowed and it’s my right to campaign for guns to not be allowed. I don’t see why you feel the need to discover “what the framers intended” or “what the constitution really means” – why not just propose a new law that says “guns for everyone!” and try to persuade people to vote for it!

    Because a law cannot supersede nor over-ride the Constitution. For that there is a well defined, slow, and painful process of amendment. It requires a supermajority.

    Article V

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

    Feel free to try to amend my rights away, and I’ll do my best to see any such amendment fails.

    Moreover why is “the framers actually meant this” supposed to be a compelling argument? I don’t give a monkey’s arse what the framers wanted; if this is what they wanted then I disagree with them! Since when did the framers get elevated to godhead such that we all have to agree that “what the framers wanted” is the most important thing.

    Duly noted, appropriately filed.

    There are lots of good arguments for letting people have guns (and good arguments for not letting people have guns). You could make those arguments in a compelling way, talk people into voting for your new “guns for all” law – and you might very well win that, and indeed “popular opinion says guns for all” is a compelling argument in a democracy.

    Psst, this isn’t a democracy. It’s a Constitutional representative republic, with democratic election of representatives and senators.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  209. Steve,

    very few cops shoot 1,000 rounds a year. The vast majority only shoot fifty to a hundred rounds once or twice a year to requalify.

    Do you support disarming most of the police on grounds of lacking proficiency?

  210. Marko, qualification is a small part of our training (which also includes things like, how to use the breathelizer to obtain a result that will hold up in court). What the requirements for qualification are (state requirements), we haven’t discussed. I’ll ask our chief how many rounds his officers shoot a year (which should be a multiple of the qualification). If it’s only 200 or less, I’ll move to change that. We had discussed using some village property (owned by our water board, used to dump dirt from our plant expansion) for their range so they could practice more (our local gun club is set up for shotgun, not handgun or rifle, although they permit it if you know what you’re doing).

    Again, see my statement (#238) where I modify the 1000 rounds to at least a hundred.

    When I do something, I do it right. The 1000 rounds a year goes back to some previous firearm training I had. That would be the level I would want if I would go forward getting firearm (100 rounds a month, two months off).

  211. Steve @ 236: My money would be on the crook getting away

    You know what, that’s an acceptable alternative to me. I’m not out to shoot or kill anyone. My only objective is to defend the lives of me and my family.

    Steve @ 235: I often hear that. Your local police will be relieved, that will mean their gas budget will be less, maintenance of vehicles will go down and they’ll need to replace them less often.

    So, you’re involved with your local police force. Can they be sued for not stopping a particular murder?

    The three women sued the District of Columbia for failing to protect them, but D.C.’s highest court exonerated the District and its police, saying that it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.” [4] There are many similar cases with results to the same effect. [5]

    In the Warren case the injured parties sued the District of Columbia under its own laws for failing to protect them. Most often such cases are brought in state (or, in the case of Warren, D.C.) courts for violation of state statutes, because federal law pertaining to these matters is even more onerous. But when someone does sue under federal law, it is nearly always for violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983 (often inaccurately referred to as “the civil rights act”). Section 1983 claims are brought against government officials for allegedly violating the injured parties’ federal statutory or Constitutional rights.

    And let’s look at the facts, at least as they were in 1990:

    Even if all 500,000 American police officers were assigned to patrol, they could not protect 240 million citizens from upwards of 10 million criminals who enjoy the luxury of deciding when and where to strike. But we have nothing like 500,000 patrol officers; to determine how many police are actually available for any one shift, we must divide the 500,000 by four (three shifts per day, plus officers who have days off, are on sick leave, etc.). The resulting number must be cut in half to account for officers assigned to investigations, juvenile, records, laboratory, traffic, etc., rather than patrol. [1]

  212. Keith_Indy, “I’m not out to shoot or kill anyone.”

    Keith, in my book, if I draw my weapon, aim it, shoot it, and if I’m shooting, it’s to kill. If I’ve been pushed to that point, there are no pithy remarks, no, “You’ll live to regret this day, criminal.” There will be a “do not move” command, and if they disobey, I’m shooting to kill. I’m a little old school that way. A firearm is not to be used as a threat.

    Key phrase in the ruling, “to any individual citizen.” Our police force is not your personal body guard.

    As for “the facts” you’re only counting effective police protection as when the officer is in the car, outside your home. Police work is much more subtle than this. In a recent case of industrial theft in my community, if I read the reports correctly, I believe after we began investigation, there was another theft by the individuals. Now, if we had immediately arrested them when we got the tip, that crime would have been prevented. However, they might have gotten off with a lesser sentence. Also, by fully investigating we were not only able to stop, “the big one” (in the criminals words), we nabbed two accomplices that the plant security chief didn’t know about, and the sheriff arrested their fence. We also prevent crime by finding out when people are meeting and conveniently being around (breaks up meeting, and instills the “they know what we’re doing” fear).

    I also get the “they should be in their cars more” line. That would be great. I would love to have the budget for two more officers to actually be able to do that. Until then, police work will involve more intelligence work, paper trail work, surveillance work, and paper work than patrol time. IMHO, when my officers are patrolling the streets, it’s because 1) we ask them to do at least a minimum (or someone called in a suspicious activity report, or their in between appointments) and 2) they’ve run out of the other work to keep them busy.

    So, just to make clear, we prevent more crime by doing other work that patrolling than we do by patrolling. Catching crooks by patrolling is a lottery, and mostly you just nab the dumb ones. It’s much better to do the contact and leg work to find out where a suspect, say someone on an outstanding warrant, is going to be, and then be there to grab them than hope to find them on the street.

  213. Corby:

    You people who are so GUNG HO should just admit it. You just like shooting shit, and no one will ever tell you differently.

    …little boys and girls like to watch shit blow up or make loud noises and since they can’t own fireworks or bombs, they decide to own guns.

    I think I’d be more accepting of gun culture if they were just honest about that.

    Sigh…
    Corby, let’s turn this kind of logorrhea around and see how well it flies. Would you be anything but amused and/or disgusted if I said,
    “You people who are so afraid of guns are phobically neurotic and should just admit it. ‘I’ll go sit in the car until you put your gun where I can’t see it?’ Please. Grow up. I think I’d be more accepting of anti-gun culture if they’d just be honest about their neurotic fears and nanny-state fetishes.”

    No? Didn’t think so.

    As for armed resistance by the populace against an unwanted government being a fantasy, well, you’ll need to rewrite history to get that one to fly. Tell the Japanese in Korea that an armed populace could have no real effect on government. Or any other of a hundred despotic governments that banned private ownership of weapons because they feared an armed populace. Hell, tell it to our commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. An armed populace puts the fear into government, and frankly, that’s how it should be. The government should answer to the people.

  214. oh yeah, forgot to mention, anybody can sue for almost anything. Most competent lawyers can make a case for almost anything. If they’re successful in their suit is another matter entirely.

  215. Steve – Key phrase in the ruling, “to any individual citizen.” Our police force is not your personal body guard.

    Well, exactly, that’s the entire point of being able to defend oneself, with the best means available. And a cellphone and baseball bat is not the best means available. And that’s also the reason people aren’t successful suing governments for not protecting them.

    And what I meant was, I’d rather they ran away then me having to shoot them. Maybe them hearing me rack the slide back on my handgun, or even better, my shotgun, will be enough for them to turn tail. In which case, the gun has served its function of defending me and mine without being fired. I don’t want to kill anyone, but I’m certainly capable of it, and willing to defend my and my families lives.

  216. Eddie Clark @ 237;

    I certainly don’t mean any offence, and I don’t actually live in the US, but I would aspire to being as developed, as a person, as I can. I live with *not* being able to shoulder the responsibility for my safety and the safety of my family, whilst at the same time not having any acceptable other mechanism in place for that defence. Well, not legally. If anyone breaks in here with a gun, I’m screwed and so’s my family. Not a happy place.

    Perhaps I didn’t put my point across as well as I had intended, but I do actually mean every word – to be adult is about accepting responsibility, and to be denied the right to carry responsibilities is to be denied full adulthood.

    I accept that it is not a safe world, that not everyone is fundamentally nice, and that not all criminals are misunderstood folk who didn’t get a good break in life. Having accepted those simple facts, accepting that one needs to be able to defend oneself to the best of the species’ technological abities is a short step. At the moment, I’m limited to the IBM model M keyboard by my bed – in the UK, if I smacked a home intruder with a baseball bat, I would have to prove that I regularly play baseball, otherwise I’d be in serious trouble, you see.

    Which, frankly, is stupid. Removing the ability to materially determine one’s own fate is a societal experiment which has proven itself to be detrimental to civilisation. Any rule system, to work, has to work with human nature, rather than against it. Disarming the productive members of a nation, who believe in the rule of law and that they need to support themselves simply turns them into targets for predators who defy the law. That’s not civilised.

    And worst of all, the notion that by banning items, behaviour can be changed is fundamentally insane. It is disconnected from reality. It does not work. It has never worked. It will never work. It’s wrong-headedness, and leads to a breakdown of the understanding of causality which I find frankly terrifying in an advanced technological civilisation.

    Okay, I’m gonna stop now.

  217. Steve@245:
    I agree with pretty much that whole post. I don’t believe Keith was taking the police to task for not patrolling more. He was simply pointing out that when the predator is in your house, the police are not going to be able to defend you. Therefore it falls to you to defend yourself, and limiting the means by which you may defend yourself only helps the criminal, not the citizen.

  218. MarkHB, above:

    OK, Mark, I actually get your argument now. I don’t agree, but I can see where you’re coming from. Thanks for explaining :).

    …In start contrast to:

    Rodney Graves @ 242:

    who just decided to insult me. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot, Rodney. Feel free to mock my arguments, but lay off the person, yeah? I’m many things, but I’m not an idiot, and I’m perfectly capable of being responsible for my own life. I got through law school, three years of corporate practice, and am currently doing a grad degree in law at one of the top 10 law schools in North America. On a merit based scholarship. The last thing I need is supercilious insults from some random on the internet who knows me not at all.

  219. Eddie Clark @ 251,

    On the internets, no one knows who or what one is except by what they write. If you don’t wish to be mistaken for an idiot mewling child, don’t write like one.

  220. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of what I wrote. Or of most of the people who comment on John’s blog. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. And I’m entitled to be both offended and upset that someone would say that about me on very scant evidence. If your goal was to offend and upset, congratulations, you’ve succeeded. If you were actually trying to enter into intelligent debate, I think you’ve rather failed.

    I’ve been commenting on this blog a while and not had anyone respond to me as rudely as you have. I think I’ll be ignoring your posts in future.

  221. In the wikipedia article on gun violence there is a table of data from the United Nations on homicides with and without gun involvement. It is an interesting table relevant to this discussion. One thing I would like to point out is that in the United States in 2000 there were 2.97 shooting homicides for every 100,000 people while in Australia there were 0.31 shooting homicides for every 100,000 people. While I don’t think the whole story could be deduced from comparing Australia’s gun laws to the US’s gun laws I’m confidant that Australia’s gun laws are a contributing factor to the order of magnitude lower shooting deaths per capita.

    The same chart lists Columbia at 51.8, South Africa at 74.6, and Thailand at 30. All of those countries have very strict laws on the use an ownership of guns. If you are basing your theory on the low Austrailan gun crime crime rate on the laws, then you should look elsewhere. I’ll bet that Australia has always had a low gun crime rate.

    A firearm is not to be used as a threat.

    True, but if you walk around with the notion that every time you draw a weapon someone has to die, you will end up in trouble. Self-defense is only justified if you are at imminent risk of death or great bodily harm. If you are shooting someone that is fleeing, passed out, or otherwise out of action, then you have committed a murder.

  222. Not_Scott at 207: Bush has, on occassion, engaged in unconstitutional conduct per Supreme Court. However, when confronted by the Court, Bush conforms his behavior to constitutional requirements. As the legal process appears to work, there is no need for an armed revolution.

    Corby at 212: An armed population (even if only with ‘light’ weapons) is perfectly able to defeat a highly trained and heavily equipped military. Read some history, much of it recent, if you require support for that position.

    Steve at 238: I agree with the practice mantra. Let me add my personal opinion that you should put at least 500 rounds threw your carry weapon, at least once, before going on the 100 round a year maintenance program.

  223. Eddie Clark @ 253

    Perhaps you missed the rather civil discussion Paul S. Kemp and I engaged in above.

    In comparison your 237

    Yeah, thats right. You can’t properly be an adult in any country other than America… Is this because of relatively easy access to guns? Or because of the lack of socialised healthcare? Or something else? I’m curious to know so, you know, I can learn to be truly adult.

    Does indeed read as the mewlings of a child, and does indeed make, vice refute, MarkHB’s point at 217.

    If you choose to take offense at that characterization of what you wrote, you are welcome to it, and I wish you the joy of it. I find nothing in that comment to commend its author as a source of intelligent discussion.

    Carry on or don’t, engage or don’t.

    Makes no difference to me.

  224. “Corby, let’s turn this kind of logorrhea around and see how well it flies. Would you be anything but amused and/or disgusted if I said,
    “You people who are so afraid of guns are phobically neurotic and should just admit it. ‘I’ll go sit in the car until you put your gun where I can’t see it?’ Please. Grow up. I think I’d be more accepting of anti-gun culture if they’d just be honest about their neurotic fears and nanny-state fetishes.”

    No? Didn’t think so.”

    Sure, I’m fine with what you said. (Except for the words ‘nanny-state’ which are a right-wing construction full of so much irony I won’t even begin to explore it.) I’ll even go further.

    “You people who are so afraid of guns will probably be hyper-aware of them, and observe your surroundings so you don’t get shot or put yourself in areas of town where you will have a higher possibility of encountering gun violence, and you and your children will have less chance to be accidentally shot by a friend’s gun and won’t have to feel that heartbreak.”

    Isn’t my capability to remove myself from what I consider an untenable situation without trying to stop the other people involved considered “grown up”? Isn’t that somewhat related to the adult concept of “If you don’t like it turn it off”? I don’t believe I said “Take all the guns away!!! Murderers! Reprobates!” I said if I come into contact with a gun I remove myself from the situation. I have yet to be shot. One of my friends was shot by his brother (albeit with a rifle, even so), but I never have been. I think that these facts are related – not owning a gun + not being around guns + not putting myself in dangerous situations because I have no way to defend myself = not getting shot.

    This is a telling statement from Steve B:”out of the 12 in my class, only my wife and I had to borrow handguns, most students had to choose which handgun they wanted to bring”. Steve’s views are right here in the comment thread, so I won’t go back over them. Point is, there is a huge difference between owning a small gun for protection (which is somewhat palatable to me), and the unrestrained glee with which many gun owners buy weapons like bubble gum cards. It is akin to the difference between someone who buys a Honda Civic to get around town and have good gas mileage and someone who buys a Ferrari (or other red sports car.) You don’t buy that to go to the store, you buy it to go really, really fast. You don’t buy a Glock or Desert Eagle to defend yourself – you buy it to put REALLY BIG HOLES in things and to hear it go BANG.

    “As for armed resistance by the populace against an unwanted government being a fantasy, well, you’ll need to rewrite history to get that one to fly. Tell the Japanese in Korea that an armed populace could have no real effect on government. Or any other of a hundred despotic governments that banned private ownership of weapons because they feared an armed populace. Hell, tell it to our commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. An armed populace puts the fear into government, and frankly, that’s how it should be. The government should answer to the people.”

    The main difference here is that I never said an armed people have no effect on government. I said you are delusional if you think it will stop them from invading your home or wiping out your neighborhood. I am of the impression that an INFORMED people have more effect on government, but that is a discussion for another time. Also, we live so apart from each other here, versus other countries, that the comparison is irrelevant. 100 million with guns in Korea are in a concentrated place. 100 million with guns in America are so spread out as to be largely ineffective.

    This is also a telling statement from Marko @231: “I can’t do anything about the crime rate or the fact that some people would rather rob and kill than make a living.” Why, as it stands, yes you can. You can vote to spend more on education and after school programs which have proven to reduce violence and give kids a chance to join the workforce instead of rob people for money. If you gave that $500 or so you just spent on that new gun to your local educational system, you’d be saving more than just your families lives, you’d be saving the lives of everyone else that won’t be preyed on by that kid you just helped get educated – and you’d also be saving him.

  225. Rodney, the fact that you don’t care you offended someone says much more about you than it does about me. I may well have overreacted to MarkHB’s comment, but he saw that I took offence, explained, and moved on. I’m always upset when I offend someone who’s done me no wrong, indeed, I could go so far as to say it makes me feel ashamed. If you get enjoyment out of being mean to strangers and pointlessly quoting Latin… well whatever.

    I’m out of this thread. Apologies for getting all huffy on it, John. I shall attempt not to do so in future. But I’m not used to having my intelligence/integrity/maturity questioned around here. The standard of discourse, even in that weird Vox Day thread about God, is usually above that.

  226. Steve Buchheit @ various,

    You miss the point.

    Martial Arts proficiency requires at least 52 x the training time, and 50 to 100 x the proficiency maintenance that hand guns do. In addition, hand guns moot differences in size, strength, physical ability, and mobility.

    Unless you intend that the small, weak, old, and infirm be perpetual victims, there is no practical substitute for firearms.

  227. “Why, as it stands, yes you can. You can vote to spend more on education and after school programs which have proven to reduce violence and give kids a chance to join the workforce instead of rob people for money. If you gave that $500 or so you just spent on that new gun to your local educational system, you’d be saving more than just your families lives, you’d be saving the lives of everyone else that won’t be preyed on by that kid you just helped get educated – and you’d also be saving him.”

    I have limited resources, and very limited time. I have work to finish, and two children to raise. We pay so much in income and property taxes that we can’t just inject another half a grand into the local school system in the hopes that it might have a .0005% influence on the crime rate in ten years, when the same $500 will purchase a device that gives my family some concrete security. (I’m already paying for the local schools, you know.)

    Also, I don’t subscribe to the fact that throwing money at the problem will keep Little Billy from turning into a mugger because he gets to play midnight basketball or weave baskets. It’s not always about money, and I have a hard enough time to feed, educate, and care for my own kids to be able to rectify other peoples’ lack of parenting or responsibility. You propose lofty ideals, but some of us have to live in reality, and the the notion that I somehow need to buy a chance for some added safety by fixing other peoples’ kids (but that I don’t have a right to ensure that safety directly) is a bit preposterous.

  228. Corby:

    “Isn’t my capability to remove myself from what I consider an untenable situation without trying to stop the other people involved considered “grown up”?”

    Absolutely. In real life (as opposed to an example of offensive hyperbole) I have no desire to prevent you from avoiding being in the presence of guns at all costs. More power to you.

    I don’t believe I said “Take all the guns away!!! Murderers! Reprobates!”

    I confess I may have confused you with others here who have said such things. My apologies for being sloppy.

    I said you are delusional if you think it will stop them from invading your home or wiping out your neighborhood.

    Nobody said that, certainly not me. If the government wants to take out a neighborhood they can, of course. They have a bit more of a problem the next time they try it though. And more the next. It all goes back to the idea that the government should answer to the people. And since ‘political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’ well…

    As for the idea that the guns are too spread out in America to be an effective tool of resistance against a suddenly oppressive regime or even an invading army, I have to respectfully disagree. Widely dispersed guns are guns that you cannot easily eliminate in one fell swoop, say, on a single neighborhood, or even city. They are guns that will instead start showing up in unexpected and inconvenient places for the oppressor.

  229. Skar has it right. You simply cannot draw a five hundred yard perimeter around every dwelling in this country that contains a scoped deer rifle.

    Also, for those of you who claim that a ragtag force of armed civilans can’t make a stand against a modern army, I’d suggest looking at our malaise in Iraq. No, they can’t win pitched battles against our troops, but they sure as hell are doing a good job with attrition, and every year they manage to hold on in the face of the world’s most powerful military is a poke in the eye for us.

    That said, the ability to defend against tyranny, while an important reason for the Second Amendment (and an often overlooked one: does the “Bush is teh Hitler” crowd really want the government to be the only ones with guns?), is merely a fringe benefit to me. The main reason and purpose for my guns is the defense of self and family.

    You provide for your family’s safety any way you see fit, and I will see to my family’s safety any way I see fit. In the end, we have to live with the consequences if we’re proven wrong…but like I usually tell folks, it’s not the odds that bother me, it’s the stakes.

  230. A Glock is more in the nature of one of the Chevy sedans than a Ferrari. Some of the Magnum Research products do make big holes (see their BFR for one) but their Desert Eagle is more of a movie gun; I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in real life (I’ve seen and driven … slowly … a Ferrari.) While there isn’t much use for a BFR in (say) .450 Marlin in the city, it would be a fine self-defense gun if you were camping up in polar bear territory.

  231. Getting myself safe home through London tonight, I had to bank on being Big and Scary. I’m six-four, beardy and frankly not a sight for sore eyes.

    I’m glad of that. I truly am. Yet, I’ve had my every pocket picked when I fell asleep on the train home, despite frankly not being someone to come across in a dark alley.

    *sighs*

    And my wife, a fifth my mass and a foot shorter than me has nothing. Nothing. And I love her very dearly – and she’s working in Birmingham, which has a lot more gun and knife crime than London.

    She’s already said that she’ll be happy to learn, understand and carry a weapon when we come home to the US (yes, I’m a US citizen living in the UK, have done since I was 2 years old).

    It’s a big, scary jump – but knowing that our right to Keep and Bear is now an unequivocably individual right has us looking at buyers for our house.

    I think it’s time to come home, and time to grow up.

  232. OT reply:
    {Won’t have a Glock (long, OT rant not even typed), BFR wasn’t around when I was going solo in the deep backcountry (S&W 629 Mountain, .44Mag was, I never had to use it in any way (never had to use the first-aid kit for myself, either, that “be prepared” thing works)) and the ParaCarry c6.45 LDA in good leather will fit any carry position from ankle up, his or hers.}

    Sorry, John.

    I really see “disarm the law-abiding” statutes as cutting people’s vocal cords so that they don’t commit illegal speech.

  233. htom,

    That was by way of a joke… (Tommy Lee Jones in U. S. Marshalls). In point of fact we’re a Kimber/Ruger/Smith&Wesson household.

    MarkHB,

    Allow me to welcome you home in advance. If you’re considering the SF Bay Area, drop me a line (with the weak real estate market, the strong Euro, etc., now is a good time to buy).

  234. Thank you, Rodney. I am honoured.

    I’ll plant my feet first in New Hampshire. I spent my first couple of years of life there, and I know of good people there who I can spend a little time with, getting my breath back. I think they’ll understand that I have to.

    But thank you. And thank you Eddie Clark, for realising I wasn’t just being nasty – it was awfully tempting to just be sarcastic in reply, but I realised that you had a genuine argument, and felt it was worth addressing – even if your initial complaint did seem a bit like a slap.

    I don’t ever want to make an enemy where I could at least make a friend who’ll agree to hold a different position whilst respecting mine.

    After all, as someone who respects the right of a people to bear arms, I abhor violence – as all who live carrying arms must, to make a fuller and more perfect union.

  235. Marko – I also don’t believe “throwing money at a problem” makes it go away. Neither does ignoring it.

    A simple search gave me this web site: Safeyouth.org. Because of John’s moderation system, I will only put one link on here. Suffice to say, if you go to that site, you will see links to no less than five separate studies showing how important after school programs are in preventing crime. (The crimes you are “protecting” yourself from with the guns.)

    “Without structured, supervised activities in the after-school hours, youth are at greater risk of being victims of crime, or participating in anti-social behaviors. In fact, juveniles are at the highest risk of being a victim of violence between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. And the peak hour for juvenile crime is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., the first hour that most students are dismissed from school.”

    “Students who spend no time in extracurricular activities, such as those offered in after-school programs, are 49 percent more likely to have used drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents than are those students who spend one to four hours per week in extracurricular activities.”

    Imagine eradicating 50% of the crime that plagues our streets. Imagine reduced costs for juvenile courts because their workload is so much smaller. Imagine not having to pay higher insurance because of the reduced number of preteen pregnancies and birth complications. Imagine less cops on the streets because juvenile crime and gang membership are so small as to be insignificant. Imagine kids who now have a way out of their desperation, who can be proud of themselves, who can be productive in society. Imagine them growing up, having children, and those children NOT being on welfare.

    It is not hard to imagine at all. You say you have no time for these kids – well, neither do I. But if $40 million a year (according to one estimate in the article) will help, that’s quite a bit less than $500 a year from you. I’d pay an extra $.50 a year in taxes, while saving hundreds on insurance and other taxes, to practically eradicate youth crime in two generations, lower drug use, and improve the GDP with a better workforce – restoring America to the respected superpower it once was.

    Back on topic (even though I think this was germain to the conversation) the reason people don’t want to help these kids is because it would take away the whole “Protect my family” rhetoric and people would have to admit to the love of shooting things.

    Look, I’ve shot handguns, and it is a very powerful feeling – nothing like shooting a rifle, which I have done quite a bit of. I’m not against target shooting, marksmanship, skeet, etc. I’ve never advocated banning guns. (Although, if we could remove them from the planet I would not complain.) I love violent films, Grand Theft Auto, and explosions. I just love them in my fiction, not in my living room.

  236. As an answer for Natasha @ 218 and the various penumbrists, allow me to present a nugget from Scalia’s Majority Opinion:

    A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad.

    And should such future generations find a Constitutional guarantee (such as the Second Amendment) “too broad” they are not only free to amend the Constitution as per the methods set forth in the Constitution, they are strongly encouraged to do so.

  237. Corby, you might enjoy Arthur C. Clarke and Michael P. Kube-McDowell’s “The Trigger”, wherein your wish comes true (and then there are consequences.)

    I’ve never shooting a handguns to be “a powerful feeling”; perhaps it’s because I was taught the consequences of that power so well, so young (our dads had us draw faces on cantelopes and then shoot them; probably considered psychological child abuse these days.) I find it challenging, very like golf, another of those “finite God games” where you compete primarily against your previous best scores.

  238. Heh, that didn’t take long:

    Repeal the 2nd Amendment
    Chicago Tribune Web Edition
    June 27, 2008

    No, we don’t suppose that’s going to happen any time soon. But it should.

    The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is evidence that, while the founding fathers were brilliant men, they could have used an editor.

    Well, since the courts can’t edit it for y’all the way you’d seem to like them to, I guess you’ll just have to prevail upon your Congressional Representatives or Senators to get that ball (amending the Constitution) rolling. I hope they have them introduce such a proposed amendment immediately!

  239. Corby – and yet, I’ve worked around guns at a shooting club (skeet and trap,) and owned guns for the past 10 years, and have never been shot either. In fact, I’ve only been a victim of crime twice, both cases being my car being broken into.

    Statistically, we (US citizens) still aren’t all that likely to be shot, even despite the high numbers.

  240. I never said those people who are around guns will be shot.

    I said those people around guns are more likely to be shot than those not around guns. If there is no gun around, no one can shoot you. If there is one, there is chance, however small, that you can be shot.

    There are many ways to die. I prefer to feel like I have some control over limiting the ways I’ll die. Maybe it’s mildly delusional to think I can keep from being shot, however slight the chance is, if I stay away and keep my family away from guns. (By keeping away from, see previous comments that illustrate my heightened awareness and willingness to teach that to my family.) But it is what makes me happy, and it is not going to change, barring some sort of invasion that requires me to use a gun to ACTUALLY protect my family.

  241. Graves, that is one of the strangest things anyone has ever said to me. The only way it could have been stranger is if you added emergency rooms and NRA conventions to the list.

    There is a huge difference between people who are required to wear a gun because of their job and people who have guns because they don’t think the first group is DOING their job. No, I am not comfortable around cops, partly because of the guns, partly because, well, they are cops, and even though I’m not doing anything bad RIGHT NOW, there’s always a chance I’ll screw up somewhere and that’s when a cop will be standing there.

    I go to court when I have to do jury duty. I went to a police station when someone broke into my truck and stole my crap. I do what I have to do when I have to. But I don’t just hang out in those places, and that you would bring those things up like my aversion to guns makes me some sort of bizarre outsider who can’t even deal with the law is just – normal for you.

  242. Graves, I already explained in several places that self defense is a smokescreen. The best way to protect yourself is to educate those who would hurt you so they no longer feel they need to. Is this perfect? No, of course not. There will always be those who are not OK and will hurt you regardless, but those are a very small group and the chances of coming into contact with someone who is truly sick is even smaller than being “accidentally” shot.

    You are twisting my words, as usual, because you think you are smarter than me and can show everyone just how illogical my arguments are by being clever. It’s a nice trick, but it just illustrates how dishonest you really are, like we all didn’t know that already.

    But then, arguing from the right is generally this way, because you are aware that your opinions really don’t stand up to serious scrutiny. Thanks though, for being yourself, and making me feel positively objective. I’m done, as any further discussion with you is just screaming at a coma patient.

  243. I’m not an American, but am fascinated by US culture, so this is an outsider’s view. Loved watching old westerns and this debate reminds me of those Wyatt Earp westerns where he cleans up the town by enforcing a “no carry” bylaw in Dodge/Tombstone. So how do the 2A proponents reconcile that approach with this present movement for wide spread distribution of guns for self defence? Have the lefties (and the “Earps”!) swung the pendulum too far for gun control? That the genie is out of the bag, every has or should have a gun such that Dodge/Tombstone is sooooo dangerous that everyone should now get a gun and everyone take care themselves?

  244. bs, they’d certainly like you to think so. I live in San Diego – this is no frontiers town.

    Little story – the wife and child and I went to the Oceanside Pier for a little 4th of July entertainment. It was OK, nothing special, but the views from the pier were fantastic. However, looking around, we noticed some cops. Then some more cops. Then some heavily armed cops. Then some cops from the gang unit. Then some probation officers. We noticed there were cops about every 20 feet or so, all walking in groups of at least 2, generally more.

    Then we noticed the people around us. Many regular beach goers, of all types, races, etc. However, there was a small and steadily grown group that looked like “Gang 101″ straight out of central casting. Again, of all races. Honestly, I’m less worried about real gang bangers, because they usually only concentrate on other gang members, than I am of wannabes, who feel like they have something to prove.

    Now, while I would not have paid much attention to the racial makeup of this group, having this many cops around made me nervous. I thought that it was possible that 1) They were racially profiling, which may raise tensions and cause problems as people get more and more drunk, or 2) There really was a problem with gangs here. Both of those possibilities made me feel like I should take my family and leave.

    Were there plenty of families there? Yes, there were. And we probably would have been just fine. But, we decided that it was silly and stupid to put ourselves at any sort of risk that we can control, and we left the pier.

    Instead, we went to the park near our house. It was less crowded, still made up of all the same racial groups as the pier, and the only cops there were directing traffic. We felt perfectly comfortable, laid out a blanket, and treated our daughter to a wonderful fireworks display.

    We had a fun time on the pier, but decided the risk was too great. We had a great time at the park and felt at home. Same racial diversity. No cops. Now, was it the cops that caused the problem at the pier? Not really, unless they were specifically profiling. But it seemed to me that they were pretty much just standing and waiting, and they were not hassling anyone that I saw.

    So, no, you can “protect your family” perfectly well if you just pay attention to your surroundings and leave a situation when you feel uncomfortable. I get the feeling (just my opinion here folks) that some people who own handguns and a concealed carry would NOT leave that sort of situation, because they would feel like they had it covered if it came down to self defense. That is just one of the many things I have an issue with when it comes to gun ownership. Do I have any proof of this? Only what people I know have said about carrying guns. But it sounds like a very human thing to do.

  245. Kennard alleges:

    I already explained in several places that self defense is a smokescreen.

    I’ve certainly seen you make that claim. Proof has been rather less in evidence.

    The best way to protect yourself is to educate those who would hurt you so they no longer feel they need to.

    Educate or condition?

    You are twisting my words, as usual, because you think you are smarter than me and can show everyone just how illogical my arguments are by being clever.

    I don’t have to twist your words, they twist themselves revealing the logical flaws and the prejudices you prefer not to speak.

  246. found this comment on USA and guns which sort of sums it up better than what I was trying to say earlier. I can provide Link for this quotation but understand there may be some rules against posting links here.

    It’s not a very optimistic view of USA society. I’ll let the quote speak for itself for now:

    “More fundamentally, the gun control argument may be missing the cultural point. Most Swiss and Israeli households with a male between the ages of 18 and 45 also contain a fully automatic weapon, because the
    national military mobilisation model in those countries requires reservists to keep their weapons at home. Yet the Swiss and Israelis don’t murder one another at a higher rate than people in countries like Britain or Turkey, where there is relatively strict gun control.

    ” ‘Guns don’t kill people; people kill people’ is the best-known slogan of the National Rifle Association, the most effective pro-gun lobbying organisation in the United States. But it’s really a cultural thing: the British have bad teeth, the French smell of garlic, Americans tend to have more bullet-holes in them than other people. The slogan should actually go: “Guns don’t kill Americans; Americans kill Americans.”

  247. bs, that is because they are “required” to keep their gun at home because of their job, and they probably understand the power behind the gun. They aren’t using it for personal self defense, either – they are keeping it for when their country tells them they need it.

    That is a completely different mindset than the American one, which (generally speaking) seems just to love guns and the power they represent. Yes, power. If one does not find it a powerful feeling to be able to puncture a human being from many yards away with a small metal object just by moving their finger, they should not be allowed to hold a gun, because they don’t respect it.

    Maybe that’s what this all comes down to. Respect. The thugs on the street don’t respect the guns, to them they are a means to an end, so they treat them as nothing more than a tool, like a screwdriver or shoehorn. The people who allow their kids to get to their guns and shoot each other don’t teach their kids to respect the guns, so they don’t understand the concept.

    And Graves – educate. I know that word doesn’t mean a lot to you, but you should try it sometime. Start with yourself.

  248. Kennard,

    The bovine fecal material being spread here emminates from your cranial cavity. The Swiss and Israelis merely provide arms to their organized militia. Our tradition is different, but in the spirit of comity, what say we have the State and Federal Governments arm the entire militia of the states and of the United States? Since you have no problem with Police having guns, or with the Swiss or Israeli models, you have no intellectually consistent/honest excuse to oppose doing so.

    And Kennard, based on your posts here, your high school education exceeded your native intelligence. Anything beyond that was lipstick on a pig.

  249. This thread is proof that the United States is a failed state.

    1) The infrastructure is crumbling and the schools obviously do not teach.

    This is because nowhere in the Second Amendment, or Constitution, is the term “self-defence” mentioned. The Second Amendment was written as a response to Congress’s powers under Article I, Section 8 for “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States”

    Additionally, Constitutional interpretation requires that ALL the language be considered. No language is superfluous (Marbury v. Madison).

    Therefore, any non-militia related interpretation of the Second Amendment is ridiculous.

    To allow for the overthrowing of precedent without valid policy reason is a violation of judicial practise.

    For Scalia to make any comment about faithfulness to original interpretation and then use RECENT “scholarship” which uses edited quotations taken out of context makes a mockery of anything he claims to believe.

    Of course, your brain should be exploding, the decision is DC v. Heller makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is not worthy of being published.

    Yes, I am in contempt of these Justices. Justice Alito was part of the US v. Rybar Panel that held the Second Amendment did not protect an individual right, yet is willing to go against that ruling. What up, Dude?

    But as P. T, Barnum said, “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.”

  250. Tory informs us:

    This thread is proof that the United States is a failed state.

    A provocative accusation to be sure. His evidence in support?

    1) The infrastructure is crumbling and the schools obviously do not teach.

    That’s really a question of which state (or county) one is speaking of… The “red” states and counties seem to be doing better at both the education of their young and the upkeep on their infrastructure. The “blue”, rather less so. Take as a primary example that artificial enclave of the “blue”: The District of Columbia.

    This is because nowhere in the Second Amendment, or Constitution, is the term “self-defence” mentioned.

    True insofar as you go. Now please point out to us where in the Constitution (as amended) one may find the “Right to Privacy” (from which Roe v. Wade’s justification was drawn) mentioned.

    Scalia makes a very convincing case that the founding fathers viewed self defense much as they viewed breathing; an everyday necessity not requiring specific mention or attention. After all, the Constitution makes no mention of the right to air, does it?

    The Second Amendment was written as a response to Congress’s powers under Article I, Section 8 for “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States”

    In part. There was also concern that the Federal Government might effectively disarm the states, and that the states might disarm the people.

    Additionally, Constitutional interpretation requires that ALL the language be considered. No language is superfluous (Marbury v. Madison).

    Scalia does not treat the passage “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” as superfluous. He treats it in the same fashion as the passage “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” is treated; as the justification for what follows.

    Therefore, any non-militia related interpretation of the Second Amendment is ridiculous.

    Well, something here is ridiculous…

    To allow for the overthrowing of precedent without valid policy reason is a violation of judicial [sic] practise.

    Which standard would prevent any prior judgment from being overturned.

    For Scalia to make any comment about faithfulness to original interpretation and then use RECENT “scholarship” which uses edited quotations taken out of context makes a mockery of anything he claims to believe.

    Show proof that Justice Scalia cited “RECENT “scholarship” which uses edited quotations taken out of context…”

    Of course, your brain should be exploding, the decision is DC v. Heller makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is not worthy of being published.

    Someone’s brain (or unreasonable facsimile thereof) appears to have exploded here…

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