Intelligent Design

The Twin Peaks of the Second Amendment

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In the wake of another senseless shooting yesterday we can expect progressive attacks on our Second Amendment freedom to become even more shrill and frenetic.  That is why now is a good time to go back to basics.  In this essay I will explain the history and theoretical underpinnings of the Second Amendment and discuss why it continues to be vitally important in both of its functions – ensuring the right of law abiding citizens to defend against both private violence and public violence. 

The Theoretical Underpinnings of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

The United States Supreme Court has held the right to keep and bear arms [“RKBA”] is “among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”  McDonald v. City of Chicago.1 No one should be surprised by this holding because the RKBA is deeply rooted in our history, not just as Americans but as heirs to the English common law tradition. 

The first thing and most basic thing one needs to understand about the RKBA is that the right is codified in, not granted by, the Constitution.  The Supreme Court put it this way nearly 150 years ago:  “This is not a right granted by the Constitution.  Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.”2  In 1689, William and Mary enacted a statute3 in the wake of the Glorious Revolution that is generally considered to be the predecessor of the right that was codified in the Second Amendment over 100 years later.4  William Blackstone’s famous commentaries on the common law greatly influenced the founding generation.  Blackstone summed up all human rights within three primary rights – the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and right of private property.5  In addition to these three primary rights, he listed five auxiliary rights that serve as “barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights.” The RKBA is one of these auxiliary rights.   According to Blackstone, the RKBA has two independent aspects:  (1) “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation;” and (2) “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence.”  Thus, by the time of the American founding, the right was understood to protect against both public and private violence. 

The first aspect of the right – the right to resist a tyrannical government – was the primary impetus behind the Second Amendment.  After all, the Revolutionary War was ignited at Lexington and Concord when the colonists resisted a governmental attempt to seize their arms.  The militia clauses of the original 1789 Constitution giving Congress the power to organize, discipline and call forth the militias were highly controversial, because the anti-federalists feared that these powers could lead to the derogation of the RKBA by the federal government.  The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to address these objections. 

In the years following the Revolution and the Constitutional Convention, the “check on government power” aspect of the right continued to receive prominence of place.  St. George Tucker was an influential constitutional scholar in the founding period, and he described the right as “the true palladium of liberty.”6  Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, echoing Tucker, wrote in his commentaries:  “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”7

By the 1850’s, the fear that the federal government would disarm the universal militia that had prompted the founders to include the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights had largely faded as a popular concern.8  And the second aspect of the right – the right to personal self-defense – had become more prominent in the public’s mind.  Nevertheless, both grounds for the right – what I have called the “twin peaks of the Second Amendment” – continued to provide the theoretical foundation of the right.  In the next two sections I will discuss why both of these peaks continue to be vitally important for ordered liberty in these troubled times.

The Right to Defense Against Private Violence

A few years, ago my wife and I adopted three precious, beautiful children, ages 3, 5 and 7.  Sadly, not long after the kids came to live with us, we received what we believed to be credible information that the biological father was telling people he was making plans to invade our home, kill us, and kidnap the children.  Naturally, when we heard this, we immediately contacted the police and an officer came to our house to meet with us.  I doubt I will ever forget that conversation.  The officer politely listened to our concerns and commiserated with us as we told our story.  And then he said “Well, if he attacks you give us a call and we will get here as soon as we can.”  Have you ever heard the old saw, “when you need the cops in seconds, they are only minutes away”?  My wife and I sat there across our kitchen table from the officer and came to grips with the reality underlying that old saw.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not criticizing the officer who sat with us, and in retrospect, I should not have been surprised.  Criminals have this advantage over the police:  They pick the time and place of their crimes.  What was he going to do, promise us that he would have a unit parked in our driveway 24/7 from then on?  Of course not.  The cops cannot be everywhere, and it follows that their role is almost always reactive and not preventative. 

My wife and I took our safety into our own hands.  We upgraded our alarm system and installed a security door.  And I made an appointment with a dear friend, an ex-Navy SEAL, who gave me a course in combat shotgun.  And from that time on I slept with that shotgun nearby.  Many nights I laid in bed wondering if this was the night when we would hear a crashing door or a breaking window, the dogs would bark, the alarms would scream, and I would face the test of whether I would be able to put another man down.  My SEAL friend told me to have a specific plan and to visualize implementing that plan over and over.  My wife and I physically practiced our roles in the plan, and countless times I laid there staring at the ceiling as I pictured hearing the crash, grabbing my weapon, racking the slide, and running to meet our attacker in what would surely be a deadly encounter. 

This season of our life came to an end a few nights ago when this man died in a violent encounter with the police.  The next day I marked the occasion by putting my shotgun in the gun safe for the first time in a very long while. 

Here is where the RKBA comes in.  This man was a career criminal who had been to prison several times.  It was illegal for him to possess a firearm.  Yet he had one in his hand when he died.  This may come as a shock to you, but criminals don’t follow the law.  That’s right.  Criminals are infamous for ignoring pesky statutes they find inconvenient, such as the statute that prohibits criminals from possessing guns.  Another old saw:  “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”  Trite?  Yes.  True?  Also yes. 

There are over 300 million firearms in this country – we have more guns than people.  Any attempt to confiscate all of those guns would be not only unconstitutional, but also wildly futile.  That is why one basic, indisputable fact should always underlie every discussion about the right to private defense:  Bad men will always find a way to get a gun.  Two more facts follow from this one: (1) The police will candidly admit that they usually cannot prevent bad men from attacking good people.  (2) Therefore, law abiding citizens must be free to defend themselves with equal if not superior firepower to that employed against them. 

My wife and I have lived as if under the Sword of Damocles.  She was especially vulnerable, and can tell you how it feels to have a stab of fear in your heart every time an unfamiliar car passes by.  We hoped the day would never come and thankfully it did not.  But we had to prepare to defend ourselves and our precious children.  Her .38 special and my 12-gauge pump action were crucial to that preparation.  Gun control fanatics imagine a utopia where such preparation is never necessary.  They have deluded themselves and would delude the rest of us too.  We must live, not ignore, harsh realities, including the harsh reality that bad men will always find a way to arm themselves.  We must resist the progressives’ efforts to disarm us and render us defenseless.  Never forget that the Greek roots of “utopia” literally mean “no place.”

The Right to Defense Against Public Violence

Two of the stupidest comments I hear from gun control fanatics are “You don’t need an AR-15 to hunt!” and “the Second Amendment does not protect weapons of war!”  God help us.  The sheer breadth and depth of the historical ignorance that underlies these statements beggars belief. 

The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

What in God’s name do these fanatics think a militia does?  That’s right.  It fights wars.  As we saw above, the RKBA ensures the right of the people to defend against both private violence and public violence.  Only an idiot believes the Second Amendment was a sop the Founders extended to duck hunters to get them to vote to ratify the Constitution. 

But surely, we are far past the time when we need to worry about public violence, aren’t we?  No, we are not. 

A few years ago I had a gun control debate with a friend (we will call him “Tony”) who was a citizen of Hong Kong.  There was a mass shooting here, and Tony took to Facebook to bemoan gun violence in the United States and compare us unfavorably to peaceful Hong Kong.  In my response I acknowledged that mass shootings are indeed a terrible thing and a few thousand people had indeed died in such incidents in the last 50 years.  But then I tried to put that statistic into perspective, and I asked my friend “What did Mao call a few thousand deaths?”  Answer:  “Tuesday afternoon.”  Mao famously said  that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” and in his China, the government had a monopoly on guns.  He used that monopoly to perpetrate 65 million murders.  That’s right, I said, within living memory your government used its gun monopoly to accomplish the ruthless murder of tens of millions.  Maybe governments should not have a monopoly on guns.

Tony was unimpressed with my arguments and eventually unfriended me.  Xi’s government stands in direct linear descent from Mao’s government, and in recent months we have watched in horror as China brutally stomped out the last vestiges of freedom the British common law system had bequeathed to Hong Kong.  As I watch those reports, I sometimes wondered if Tony ever thought back on our exchange.  Has he reconsidered whether it would have been a good thing for the freedom loving citizens of Hong Kong to have the means to resist Xi’s brutality by force of arms?

But that can never happen in the United States Barry.  Why do you say that?  Are American politicians so much purer of heart than Chinese politicians?  Does their lust for power not burn as hotly as their Chinese counterparts?  Do you really think that a wild-eyed progressive fanatic like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would not impose her utopian visions on the American people by force of arms if she thought she had half a chance? 

I will grant you this.  Maoist style authoritarianism is unlikely to occur in the United States.  But this is not because our politicians are better than theirs.  It is because our politicians have a healthy fear of a well-armed citizenry and know there are limits beyond which they dare not push us.  I hope there never comes a day when those limits are tested.  But if they are, I am glad the Second Amendment ensures the US government – unlike the Chinese government – will not have a monopoly on power. 

Freedom is Costly

None of what I have written means I take the deaths caused in mass shootings lightly.  Every death is a tragedy.  And it is certainly the case that the right to keep and bear arms comes at a cost – the cost we incur when that right is abused.  But we do not jettison our fundamental rights even when it is absolutely certain that public safety would be increased if we did.  This principle is true not only of RKBA; it is equally true of many of our other freedoms.  As the Supreme Court noted in McDonald:

The right to keep and bear arms, however, is not the only constitutional right that has controversial public safety implications.  All of the constitutional provisions that impose restrictions on law enforcement and on the prosecution of crimes fall into the same category.  The exclusionary rule generates substantial social costs, which sometimes include setting the guilty free and the dangerous at large.  [There are] serious consequences of dismissal for a speedy trial violation, which means a defendant who may be guilty of a serious crime will go free.  In some unknown number of cases [the Miranda rule] will return a killer, a rapist or other criminal to the streets to repeat his crime.

We could do away with the right against self-incrimination and let cops beat confessions out of suspects.  There is not the slightest doubt that if we did, countless lives would be saved by keeping criminals off the street.  We do not give up this and other freedoms even though they come at a high cost.  Why? Because in the United States we have chosen a dangerous freedom over a peaceful slavery. 

_______________

1561 U.S. 742, 778 (2010).

2United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1876).

31 W. & M., ch. 2, § 7, in 3 Eng. Stat. at Large 441.

4District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 593 (2008).

51 Blackstone 141 (1765). 

61 Blackstone’s Commentaries, Editor’s App. 300 (S. Tucker ed. 1803). 

73 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 1890, 746 (1833). 

8McDonald, 561 U.S. at 770.

106 Replies to “The Twin Peaks of the Second Amendment

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, excellent, sobering essay. Sad to hear of your years-long threat, and though it has come to an end, a death under those circumstances is eternally sobering. Your essay is a reminder on just how superficial and ill informed so much of media, public and office water cooler discussion is. I note, classic sources I saw point to natural defences that animals have as a start point for recognising the right of self-defence. That suggests, observing from nature, effective means of concealment, means of flight, warning signals, means of force. With humans, we don’t have particularly impressive natural concealment, burst speed [though we are good on long distance running], warning or force. We have always augmented, using intelligence. In that context, civil law and states are responsible to recognise realities such as the seconds-minutes gap and that Col Colt rendered men equal in self-defence capability. I think you know that on current global threat profiles I have argued for proper local organisation and mobilisation with associated discipline on the old Swiss model. I even favoured the 9 mm parabellum and the 6.5 mm Grendel and Tavor bullpup. For long range, 6.5 mm Creedmoor. Of course 12 or 16 Ga have a voice all of their own, esp. on the clear warning side. Looking on, those look more and more sadly relevant. I trust that sober thinking will prevail. KF

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Thank you KF for your kind words and your thoughtful, per usual, additions.

  3. 3
    News says:

    This is honestly the best defense of the US2A I have ever read. I understand it now.

    It is easy for a serious news hack to understand US1A (freedom of the press, etc.). Only parasitic grifters in media genuinely don’t understand it.

    Glad it’s over for you and surely a learning opportunity for the rest of us.

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    I served prison time in 1969 for marijuana, and learned the difference between professional criminals and circumstantial lawbreakers. They are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE.

    Your experience underlines our total failure to act on this DIFFERENCE. We have fake three-strikes laws that are never truly used. It’s not unusual to see arrests of criminals with 50 separate convictions, who still haven’t broken through the fake three-strike boundary.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    Thank you News Desk.

  6. 6

    The mass shootings appear to be mostly about mental illness, and loners. Both loneliness and mental illness are increasing, so the mass shootings would also increase.

    The problem is that a large percentage of the population of the USA are now defacto socialists. Socialism as some kind of mindset. It’s a different kind of people.

    And actually for people who are socialists it is a better outcome to have guncontrol, and critical race theory, and that stuff. It would be better if they weren’t socialists, but given that they are socialists, it is a better outcome for them to have that socialist stuff.

    So it is inevitable that when the majority of people become socialists, that then the constitution is thrown out. Some arbitrary hysteria will then throw it out.

    So I think it’s not about convincing someone about what a good policy is, it’s about people having the policy that suits them. So you can talk all the great arguments you want, but they are not suited for people who are socialists.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    MNY, it seems a significant number of mass attacks, by shooting, bombing, rioting, arson, edged weapons etc are terrorist strikes supporting various ideologies — often unacknowledged when that is inconvenient. Of course, such motivations overlap significantly with the foot soldiers being unhinged, whether on a longstanding psycho-social basis, or ideologically or by being steeped in sub cultures of extreme hostility. Balanced, responsible, rational, well adjusted individuals will not resort to murder. I fear, as the obvious ongoing and accelerating disintegration of especially the US proceeds, more and more extremists will feel empowered to act out. It may now be too late to prevent a much higher kinetic element in the ongoing 4th generation civil war. KF

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    I understand there is an old legal saw which goes something like, your right to swing your fist in any direction stops at the end of my nose. In other words, the free exercise of an individual’s rights ends where it encroaches on those of other members of society.

    I believe that the Second Amendment should be upheld. Individuals should have the right to own firearms for sport, recreation and self-defense. That said, I also believe society has a right and a duty to ensure that those who own firearms should undergo training in the safe handling of those weapons. If they pass a test of their proficiency then they should be issued a certificate or license which would permit them to purchase and own firearms, just like they would be issued a license to drive a motor vehicle. Maybe they should also be require to carry insurance just as they are for driving a car.

    For those intending to carry one for defensive purposes they need to be impressed with the fact that guns are not a perfect solution. Police and special forces trainers will all tell you that pistols – which is what most people will choose to carry – are notoriously inaccurate. They will tell you that it takes long hours of training and practice to be sure you can use them with reasonable accuracy while under extreme stress. Most owners are not usually willing to do this. They also need to be impressed with the fact that they are responsible for every round that leaves the barrel of their gun. What happens to those that miss their intended target as some inevitably will? Could you live with the knowledge that you killed an innocent bystander, perhaps a child, albeit unintentionally? Because that can and has happened.

    I’m all for responsible gun ownership and I believe the majority are. The problem is how to deal with those that aren’t. Is it acceptable to just throw up our hands and say there is nothing that can be done?

  9. 9
    OldArmy94 says:

    Superb commentary on the Second Amendment, and I especially appreciate how you brought in the fact that our Bill of Rights, in its entirety, does not always provide for the “safest” society.

    However, I would argue that most higher-level opposition to firearms is not a reaction to gun violence but is because totalitarian-bent politicians understand precisely what the Second Amendment means. After all, dozens of black people are shot in Chicago each weekend, but there is seemingly very little concern over their welfare because it doesn’t fit nicely into the narrative. No, the power-hungry leftists make their appeal to gullible white Americans who might dare try to trade liberty for safety because it’s THAT group that has the ability to weaken the Second Amendment.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    In Massachusetts you have to take safety training. The training includes firing a gun. Then you get a certificate. You have to take that certificate to the local police department. They set up an interview and conduct a background check. Only if all of that is OK’d will you get a permit to own a firearm.

    That seems very reasonable.

  11. 11
    vividbleau says:

    Barry well done||

    I have a concealed carry license in my home state and carry a gun everywhere it is legal to do so. I also support Maj Tour the founder of “Black Guns Matter” ,the NRA and USCAA. I go to a gun range often.

    I can’t believe this but I agree with almost everything Seversky wrote in post number 8. Go figure.

    Vivid

  12. 12
    BobRyan says:

    Leading up to the Trail of Tears was legislation passed in Georgia, which was the precursor to what followed. In 1828, Georgia passed a series of laws against the Cherokee, which the Cherokee replied by going through the federal courts until it reached the Supreme Court. The Cherokee Nation Vs Georgia and Worcester Vs Georgia. It was Worcester Vs Georgia that ruled that the Cherokee Nation was politically separate and not bound by Georgia law, which was ignored by the federal government and military. Since the Cherokee Nations Vs Georgia had a slightly different ruling in which they were both considered part of the American people and a nation of their own, they should have exercised their 2nd Amendment rights to defend themselves.

  13. 13
    vividbleau says:

    Sev

    “Police and special forces trainers will all tell you that pistols – which is what most people will choose to carry – are notoriously inaccurate. They will tell you that it takes long hours of training and practice to be sure you can use them with reasonable accuracy while under extreme stress. “

    I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to put a bullet on target at someone say 20 feet away. I am not talking bullseye I am talking about center mass or even hitting someone in the shoulder. Nor can shooting your pistol at a gun range ever prepare you for the adrenaline dump you will be experiencing in a real life situation , one would be lucky to even get the gun out of ones holster! Then there is the tunneling effect which can put others at risk. If you do shoot someone and kill them expect certain uncontrollable nasty physical consequences, hint you will likely“ #### your pants and throw up. Especially because of the tunneling effect when the police come tell them you will fully cooperate with them after you consult an attorney. Expect to be sued so gun owners should have insurance because ones legal fees will be substantial.

    An informed gun owner needs to understand the gun laws in your home state. If someone is in your backyard no you don’t shoot them you call 911 and tell them to leave. If someone is in your garage stealing your car no you don’t shoot them let them have your car. The best self defense is to be aware of your surroundings, leave if you sense a dangerous situation and don’t look for trouble like taking a gun to a protest. Trouble is easy enough to find you so don’t put oneself into situations where it’s you inviting trouble.

    Vivid

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, I see and raise. I think there should be a compulsory class in High School on firearms, safety, handling, basic tactics and military discipline; that is so in say Cuba. As part of that class, each child should be sworn in as a junior member of the unorganised militia of the USA with counsel that use of firearms, edged weapons, blunt force weapons etc [parallel to a bayonet-tipped rifle with a hard butt such as a Springfield 03 . . . thus, spears, quarter staffs, swords, knives, clubs, archery equipment and the like] is under military discipline and subject to military tribunal and penalty. That should be noted, as something normally deferred to civilian courts but a reserve power with particular relevance to civil disorders and emergencies. Similarly, it should be brought out that criminality involving weapons is a violation of the relevant code of military justice with same implications. In severe cases of organised large scale crime, such is subject to being treated as brigandage, piracy or armed rebellion, under the same code. And yes, that applies to the Mafia, Bonnie and Clyde imitators, Cripps, Bloods, Narcotraffickers, Coyotes etc. Further to this, given terroristic threats etc, organised militias should be established to protect likely sites for mass attacks. Where, under relevant circumstances, the police forces are acting as militias in the face of disorders. I have already discussed these some years back. KF

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,
    Do you think the government should be able to issue (or if it chooses withhold) a license to exercise any of your other constitutional rights?

    BTW, you don’t have a constitutional right to drive a car.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,
    What does “sport” have to do with the 2nd Amendment? Please show me where in the text or history of the clause it is even mentioned. See the OP where I talk about the two stupidest comments I hear. I am surprised that you would make one of those two stupidest comments without at least trying to justify it.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    “I’m all for responsible gun ownership and I believe the majority are. The problem is how to deal with those that aren’t. Is it acceptable to just throw up our hands and say there is nothing that can be done?”

    I have never heard anyone argue that there should not be penalties for the abuse of 2nd Amendment rights, just as there are penalties for abuse of 1st Amendment rights. You have erected a straw man.

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET,
    Same question as Sev: Do you think the government should be able to issue (or if it chooses withhold) a license to exercise any of your other constitutional rights?

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Does anyone know what happens to you when you shoot a 38 or a 12 gauge in your house? You go deaf. Your hearing may return but you are incapacitated for a while. So keep ear protection near your guns.

  20. 20
    ET says:

    Barry:

    Do you think the government should be able to issue (or if it chooses withhold) a license to exercise any of your other constitutional rights?

    It all depends on the context. Owning a gun comes with responsibility. So the government needs to see if you are a responsible person. Some States require a permit to demonstrate, which is an assembly of people.

    Guns are not toys. So I agree with the government making sure that every gun owner knows how to use them.

  21. 21
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF at 14. Interesting thoughts, but I do not think you are raising Sev. You are talking about something completely different. We have had compulsory education laws for over a century and the government can mandate the topics addressed in that education. No one disputes that. Why not include firearms training in the curriculum? At the very least, a little training in firearms might prevent progressives from saying some of the screamingly stupid things they often say when speaking on the subject. See here:

    And again, in the 1st Amendment context we do not allow “prior restraint.” But we do allow suing someone for defamation. In other words, we don’t prevent people from exercising their freedom of speech before they speak,, but we certainly do punish them if they abuse that right. The same is true of the 2A. “Common sense gun laws” is progressive-speak for squashing the right to keep and bear arms to the maximum extent they can get away with. As with the first amendment, I support the government punishing abuse. I do not trust the government to pick and choose who gets to exercise the right in the first place.

  22. 22
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET

    It all depends on the context. Owning a gun comes with responsibility. So the government needs to see if you are a responsible person.

    Let me fix that for you:

    It all depends on the context. Speaking comes with responsibility. So the government needs to see if you are a responsible person before it allows you to speak.

    Are you OK with that?

    BTW, permit licenses do not license the speech. They license access to government property. No one disputes that the government can prevent you from carrying a gun onto government property. The issue is whether the government can prevent you from having a gun at all.

  23. 23
    Barry Arrington says:

    Here is the problem with all of this talk about government licensing the right to keep and bear arms. The right to license entails the right to deny the license. And history proves over and over that when the government has the power to issue or deny a license to keep and bear arms, it will use that power overwhelmingly to do the latter. Just ask anyone who has ever applied for a gun license in New York, whose licensing laws are wildly unconstitutional and will be struck down eventually.

  24. 24
    ET says:

    Umm, no one can kill someone with mere words. No one cares about a ranting lunatic. People care about that lunatic with a gun, though. The government has to protect the people, Barry. Checking on people who want to own a gun is part of that protection.

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET, are you suggesting that a person’s life cannot be ruined by libel? I hope not. So your criterion for government licensing of constitutional rights (the government can license the exercise any constitutional right that, if abused, might lead to harm) falls to pieces. BTW, no one has suggested that mentally ill people should have unfettered access to guns. Preventing mentally ill people from owning a gun is not the same thing as preventing everyone from having a gun unless some government functionary decides they can.

  26. 26
    JVL says:

    OP: There are over 300 million firearms in this country – we have more guns than people.

    I don’t know about the number of firearms but most people estimate the US populations to be about 328 million. This doesn’t detract from your general point but it’s good to get the stats right.

  27. 27
    JVL says:

    As a US citizen living abroad (in the UK) I find this conversation fascinating. Presently the rules in the UK allow citizens to own firearms under very particular circumstances. A gamekeeper at a large estate is an easy case, a homeowner wanting to be able to defend them self is not. There was a case a few years ago of a man being prosecuted because he shot some intruders on his property (killed one of them) because he used disproportionate amount of force; i.e. he should have called the police and maybe threatened the intruders but actually shooting them was over the top.

    Most of the constables here do not carry weapons. Almost no one you meet in public will be carrying a weapon. Most people in this country don’t see why they need a weapon of any kind.

    There’s just a different attitude about the whole issue, particularly after the Dunblane shooting in the mid-90s when there was a real push to make it much harder for people to own and carry a gun of any kind.

    I know someone who owned a gun and kept it in his home. He had to go through a lot of safety training and prove he had a way of securing the weapon and it’s ammunition securely. While I’ve lived here I have fired a weapon (a shotgun at a skeet-shooting range, under strict safety supervision). So it’s possible to own a gun, it’s possible to shot a gun or get training in shooting a gun. But almost everyone doesn’t see the point. Maybe the people of the UK no longer fear having to defend their rights from invaders or intruders or government coups? Maybe the level of violence is that much lower? I don’t know. But I do like living in a country where I don’t worry about maybe getting shot when I’m in town late on a Saturday night or having to consider shooting someone coming into my home.

    By the way, many of my relatives in the US are responsible gun owners (hunters mostly), I have no base-line objection to responsible gun ownership. I do find it curious that the two cultures with a strong common root, have come to such different conclusions.

  28. 28
    Barry Arrington says:

    Yes, JVL, some have chosen peaceful servitude over dangerous freedom. Ask the people of Hong Kong how that choice worked out for them. Or you could ask the members of the Canadian church who watched in horror as the police built a fence around their building the day before Easter. Sheeple choose promises of safety (often broken) over freedom. No citizen who has ever read the Declaration and taken it seriously would make such a choice.

  29. 29
    Sandy says:

    JVL
    But I do like living in a country where I don’t worry about maybe getting shot when I’m in town late on a Saturday night or having to consider shooting someone coming into my home.

    What about knives? Probably in London alone more people die of knives than in entire US(with guns).

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    BA

    Q: What do sports have to do with 2nd Amdt?

    A: Infantry training to be a well regulated militia capable of marching over rough ground, quiet movement, scouting, picking tactical points, other small unit tactics and shooting to hit.

    Your point on fundamental mistrust of Gov’t has a point. I do think properly done licensing is reasonable but the problem is we are obviously dealing with too many who are unreasonable, perverse, fork tongued and ill willed as well as addicted to power.

    I am also of the view that the degree of liberty acknowledged in the US is a buttress to civil liberty everywhere else. We could call it liberty leadership to parallel price leadership.

    Your point on disability restrictions as opposed to central control is food for thought.

    One of the most chilling statements in the Maccabees, is that the gentiles always broke their promises.

    KF

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, under home invasion circumstances you need to be able to hear who may be sneakily coming up the back ways, before the noise gets made. KF

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    BKA: What do sports have to do with 2nd Amdt?

    KF: Infantry training to be a well regulated militia capable of marching over rough ground, quiet movement, scouting, picking tactical points, other small unit tactics and shooting to hit.

    Yes, surely the training your cite is good for members of the militia. But the question on the table is whether the 2A is designed to protect a person’s right to engage in sporting activities as such. Without the slightest doubt, it is not. The 2A is designed to codify the right to defense against public and private violence. It was not passed to ensure the government did not encroach on the right to hunt or shoot at targets, etc. (there probably is no such right). Thus, the frequently stated argument “you don’t need an AR15 to hunt deer” is exposed as a canard, because the obvious response is “who cares, the 2A was not intended to protect deer hunting. It was intended to keep citizens armed against private and public violence, and an AR15 is an excellent countermeasure to both.”

  33. 33
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF, the home invasion scenario is key. Was I supposed to wait until after my home was invaded and my wife and I were killed to go get the license to defend against the home invasion? Is some government factotum going to be vested with the power to determine whether the threat against me is serious enough to warrant issuance of a license? This is not an academic question. That is exactly the standard someone who wants to possess a gun in New York must meet.

  34. 34
    ET says:

    Barry:

    are you suggesting that a person’s life cannot be ruined by libel?

    There are laws for that. And that is also where seversky’s argument fails. If your mouth harms me then it is open season for my fist.

    If someone tries to ruin your life then you have every right to defend yourself. Including beating that person to a pulp. So your argument falls to pieces.

  35. 35
    ET says:

    Yes, kairosfocus, I prefer silent but deadly-> bows, knives and even a spear gun. 😉 I am also very proficient with the bola.

  36. 36
    ET says:

    There are many ways to defend your home and family that don’t require a gun.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, traps are highly illegal, tut tut. Bad boy, go stand in the corner. Besides, do you think they will stop at powder burning arms? Arms includes down to a rock. In the UK they are coming after your kitchen knives now and forget pocket knives. As for air rifles, spear guns, bows, cross bows, sling shots and slings, or “de cutliss” . . . KF

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, if they go after training, they are going after self-defence. They use scissors tactics, marginalise dangerous or blood sports, demonise effective means of self defence. Don’t forget, central licensing or IDs and registration handy for later on “none could buy or sell, save . . .” KF

    PS I favour id’s but let there be a market with firewalls between id providers requiring specific search seizure authorisation for cause from a judge with independent review.

    PPS yes those who refuse to issue authorisation should be subject to review and personally liable for heavy damages.

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET
    “There are laws for that.”
    Yes, there are. Those laws punish the person who abuses their 1A right. There are laws to punish people who abuse their 2A right too. In neither case should the exercise of the right be subject to prior restraint.

    As for my argument, it is clear that you do not understand it, much less refute it. Read it again. Think more. Take another run at it. I will be waiting.

  40. 40
    ET says:

    Wow. When the Bill of Rights was written they were using single-shot, muzzle loaders that took quite a bit of training to be able to load and fire. When personal arms started getting easier to use laws were required to make sure that those getting a firearm would know how to use it.

    Everyone has the right to live a peaceful and honest life. The Government has the responsibility to see to it they get to do so. And if that means limiting the legal sales of guns to those who qualify, then that should be OK for anyone.

    When people abuse their 1A rights the people who they intended to hurt recover. When people abuse their 2A rights, people die. Huge difference. Words can only destroy you if those words are true and prove that you are a bad person. And that means it was your actions that destroyed you.

    So clearly the two scenarios are not equal and should not be treated equally. Prior restraint is a good thing for people wanting to buy guns.

    And if you don’t think that I understand something, then explain it. Maybe you should have had your gun permit and weaponry for years. It was your right to do so.

  41. 41
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET,
    Here, let me fix that for you.
    Wow. When the Bill of Rights was written they were using printing presses turned by hand. So now that we have the Internet we really need to make sure the government is ensuring that people who get on the Internet know how to use it.

    Get a grip.
    “Words can only destroy you if those words are true”
    That may be the single most stupid comment that was ever posted at UD. Ding ding ding. You get a cookie. I don’t even have to argue against it, because it is false on its face, as every reasonable person knows. It is astonishing that people seem to lose their mind when they argue on this topic.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, people have been murdered with the tongue [start with Naboth and the vineyard Ahab wanted], others have been driven to suicide, others have had their lives irretrievably wrecked. No, it is not the case that those so abused recover, not in a great many cases. Slander is hellishly destructive. KF

  43. 43
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET to Barry:

    Maybe you should have had your gun permit and weaponry for years. It was your right to do so.

    A possible scene in one of those infinite number of universes the materialists go on about:

    Two cops talking while standing over the bullet riddled bodies of a man and his wife whose application for an emergency gun permit was denied. One cop says to the other:

    Maybe they should have had their gun permit and weaponry for years. It was their right to do so.

  44. 44
    LoneCycler says:

    Excellent summary of the reasons why keeping arms is a personal right here in the land of the free. Like many other things that hinge on personal worldview, guns are a trigger for many that send them into knee jerk straw-man burning apoplectic spasms. Our new president recently stated that “No amendment is absolute” specifically in reference to the 2nd. This should be instructive on what his future plans are for firearms ownership in the U.S.

    Four million + guns were sold in January 2021, breaking all previous records for monthly sales, so the president’s intentions are transparent to many people. People are buying now as they realize his worldview is that of the athiest materialist utopian left; ownership of a gun by itself tempts people into committing a crime. The gun is treated as a material object capable of producing crime with no regard for anything else.

    The number of firearms privately owned in the U.S. is estimated by reliable sources to be over 400 million with 20 of those millions being the feared AR-15 model. There are 150 million high capacity magazines to supply firepower to these firearms. Half of the adult population owns firearms, around 120 million. Nobody knows for certain, which is good if you ask me. I’ve got my Grandpa’s .45 Colt six-shooter he bought back in the roaring 20s and many other people also have family heirloom firearms that are still functional and still, in the eyes of some, dangerous. The less the government knows the better.

    Those that think firearms need to be banned need to explain how they are harmed by peaceful citizen’s private ownership of firearms. You know, as we’re supposed to explain why same sex marriage harms us. I have what could be considered a small arsenal of firearms, from a pepper box .22 caliber pistol my Grandmother (20’s Flapper) bequeathed me, to a .338 Lapua Magnum bolt action I hunted moose with in Newfoundland. None of them have taken or injured a human life, and most likely never will. The fact is that some people won’t be satisfied until everyone is forced to abide by their personally held worldview that tells them firearms are bad. I was going to say evil instead of “bad” but the typical gun-grabbing liberal doesn’t believe in evil.

    As far as licensing goes, I can drive my truck on private property all day every day and no license is needed to purchase, own or operate said truck. The dealer delivered it to the farm so I didn’t have to drive it home. It is only when that truck enters a publicly owned road that a driver license, a state license plate as well as personal insurance, is needed. The same should be the law for firearms. No license needed to purchase, own or operate unless in a public place.

    BA states that “Our politicians have a healthy fear of a well-armed citizenry and know there are limits beyond which they dare not push us.” The liberal left has been pushing the gun control/prohibition agenda before the 1994 federal assault weapons ban was signed by Bill Clinton. Shortly after he signed it the House of Congress passed to Republican control in a unforeseen electoral landslide, a loss the Democrats have not forgotten. Anxious to extend their control to the Senate in 2022, its doubtful another such law will be attempted. But we’ll have to wait and see.

  45. 45
    ET says:

    Please stop quote-mining me. Please do tell when mere words have destroyed someone. How many times has that happened compared to all of the deaths by guns?

    There are plenty of ways to protect yourself and your loved ones in your home that does nit require a gun. And there are plenty of ways to get a gun without a permit.

    Words are the same now as they were in the time of the Founding Fathers. Guns are not. And hearsay is not evidence.

  46. 46
    ET says:

    In the case of Naboth and the vineyard Ahab wanted, I would think that God had the Final Judgement.

  47. 47
    ET says:

    Words can only destroy you if those words are true and prove that you are a bad person. And that means it was your actions that destroyed you.

    I challenge Barry to find something in contemporary times in which lies destroyed someone.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, slander has been a key factor in far more deaths than you think, including many where bullets were used to finish the foul deed. The holocaust and Communist revolutions are key cases in point; both being direct extensions of the Naboth case. Poor Naboth died under a hail of stones, IIRC. The principle is, he who hates his brother is a murderer, and slander is ever so often the key factor in hate. KF

  49. 49
    Seversky says:

    Vividbleau/13
    I find myself agreeing with everything you wrote here. As you say, go figure.

  50. 50
    LoneCycler says:

    ET @47

    Has never heard of the Alfred Dreyfus affair.

    Contemporaneous example: Michael Mann suing the National Review magazine and Mark Steyn.

    Or Michael Flynn, former president Trump’s national security advisor, being prosecuted for crimes he never committed, by partisan Department of Justice operatives, because the Russian Dossier turned out the be fake and they needed someone convicted of something in order not to look stupid.

  51. 51
    ET says:

    Hearsay is not evidence. And we are talking about the UNITED STATES. Here we have laws. Here we have payback.

    When words become as deadly as bullets, then yes, regulate them.

    But let’s face it, 2A was in place so that the people could possibly fight back against the Government if it became a tyranny. I don’t care how many assault rifles citizens have. We can’t match up to our military. So that point is moot.

  52. 52
    ET says:

    Thank you LoneCycler. Gun deaths in the last week alone makes your argument look kind of silly. And the people you mentioned had their day in Court. The Court was just deaf as well as blind.

  53. 53
    Seversky says:

    Barry Arrington/17

    I have never heard anyone argue that there should not be penalties for the abuse of 2nd Amendment rights, just as there are penalties for abuse of 1st Amendment rights. You have erected a straw man

    The problem is not a lack of penalties. But they’re no deterrent to those who intend to take their own lives after shooting others or to give the police no alternative other to shoot them. The problem is trying to prevent these mass shootings happening at all.

  54. 54
    ET says:

    To Barry’s point it seems like the gun laws keep guns out of the hands of responsible people who may actually need them. And that is frustrating if you are that person. I doubt that guns laws will prevent mass shootings. You have to get rid of all guns to do that. And that ain’t happenin’.

  55. 55
    Seversky says:

    Kairosfocus/14

    Sev, I see and raise. I think there should be a compulsory class in High School on firearms, safety, handling, basic tactics and military discipline;…

    In a society where there are so many firearms in circulation you could make a case for some form of compulsory education and training, which could include graphic illustrations of what high-velocity rounds can do to a human body.

    You could also make a case for armed local militias but I suspect there are too many soft targets around to be able to provide adequate protection for them all.

    And, as I wrote to Barry, the real issue is not so much penalties or defensive measures as finding ways to head off potential mass-shooters before they get to the point of pulling the trigger.

  56. 56
    ET says:

    I had firearm training at summer camp starting when I was 10. We shot 22 caliber rifles at targets 50 yards out. New Hampshire, Live Free and fire away.

  57. 57
    LoneCycler says:

    ET @51

    “We can’t match up to our military.”

    If you notice U.S. military forces are leaving Afghanistan, probably sooner than the 9/11 anniversary. So the backwards AK-47 toting militants over there did “match up” to our military, with it’s air power, artillery, and world-class logistics chain.

    If we have to depend on people like ET to “match up” I agree we’re lost. But most people are not as weak as ET, who apparently needs a strong centralized federal government to care for him and protect him from people who don’t think like him.

    @52 gun deaths last week?

    In Democratic controlled cities where firearm ownership is controlled and regulated, even banned, gun violence is out of control. If ET would like to go around taking away firearms I suggest start in Chicago.

    You know. Take guns from all the criminals first, and see how that works out for you. More people have been shot in Chicago than soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq combined this year. Or all of last year. The sad fact is liberal gun control policy doesn’t work anywhere but they want to export it to the rest of the nation.

    You should clean up your own backyard before you take to telling other people how to clean theirs.

  58. 58
    Seversky says:

    Barry Arrington/15

    Do you think the government should be able to issue (or if it chooses withhold) a license to exercise any of your other constitutional rights?

    If one of the first duties of government is to protect its citizens from harm then that implies the duty to prevent individuals from harming their fellows by the reckless exercise of their individual rights.

    For example, if a religious cult claimed that child sacrifice was a fundamental practice of their faith, would and should that be protected as a legitimate exercise of their First Amendment right to free exercise of their religious beliefs? Or would we agree that the line has to be drawn somewhere.

    If, as a society, we agree that citizens have a right to bear arms for self-defense does that include pistols, bolt-action rifles, 9mm sub-machine-guns, 5.56mm assault rifles, 7.62mm general-purpose machine-guns, .50 caliber heavy machine-guns, 20mm automatic cannon, rocket-propelled grenade-launchers, anti-tank missiles, 105mm field howitzers, 120mm gun main battle tank, 155mm self-propelled artillery, multiple-launch artillery rocket systems and so on? Or, again, do we draw the line somewhere? And by “we” I mean the government because who else has the authority to do it?

  59. 59
    ET says:

    Wow. Can we own RPG’s? Are those street legal? 50 cal? Can we have that? High explosives? Over there we can’t even tell who the enemy is.

    And grow up. I was in Iraq and Colombia. Doing things that would make you wet yourself.

    Perhaps you should learn how to read. Clearly you have issues and can’t think properly.

    We should NOT allow anyone to own a gun. There needs to be a background check. Or just buy your guns from criminals. No one says that you have to do it the way the government says.

  60. 60
    LoneCycler says:

    ET @59

    All of the weapons you mention are already illegal to possess. They’re classified as destructive weapons by the BATFE. Just another straw-man on your part. Try better.

    I guess that here in America the military will know who the enemy is, right? Half the military would participate in a civil-war. They’re fed up with the government pushing the transgender thing into their admittedly closed society, among other things.

    I was carrying a rifle in Lebanon, the Philippines and Central America for the USMC before you were born. Whatever you think you’ve done does not impress me. And if all your service in Iraq and Columbia taught you was that we need to take away inalienable rights here I guess you didn’t learn much after all.

    You do know a lot of people own firearms that have never had a background check. You seem to think everyone acquired their firearms sometime recently. What about that 7400 Remington .308 semi-auto bought in 1956 and still gracing the gun cabinet of a man I know. You going to make it, and him, illegal?

    Your ad-hominem shows you have no reasoning behind your objections. Just feelings. The firearms ownership issue often brings that out among a certain crowd. Get yourself a tissue dude.

  61. 61
    ET says:

    Wow. I know they are illegal for us. The Taliban has them though, duh. Do TRY to follow along. YOU brought up Afghanistan.

    The country is spelled Colombia. And only a fool would think I am for taking away any rights. What is wrong with you?

    You are not a psychic, so stop trying to project your stupidity onto me.

    I am for 2A. I am for gun ownership. I just said not everyone should be able to own a gun. I also said that guns are more deadly, by far, than words.

    Your inability to read proves that you don’t have any reasoning.

  62. 62
    LoneCycler says:

    ET @61

    You asked if we could own certain weapons, and I replied. Try reading your own posts.

    I’m not projecting anything onto you. You’re doing just fine showing your attitude and ideology on your own.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, I hear you. However, would you be willing for the same kids to be shown in the same detail just what abortions do to the bodies of unborn children? Regrettably, that is the single largest cause of wholly avoidable death. KF

  64. 64
    ET says:

    LoneCycler, I was responding to YOUR post on the Taliban:

    If you notice U.S. military forces are leaving Afghanistan, probably sooner than the 9/11 anniversary. So the backwards AK-47 toting militants over there did “match up” to our military, with it’s air power, artillery, and world-class logistics chain.

    They had the weapons that we cannot legally own. As I said, TRY to follow along.

    And shut up. You are saying I hold views that I clearly do not. You are obviously just another troll.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, I am not downplaying what weapons can and do do, down to the machetes of Rwanda. However, we must learn the true horrific deadliness of the false, venomous tongue and therefore seek to turn from this evil. KF

  66. 66
    Seversky says:

    JVL/27

    As a US citizen living abroad (in the UK) I find this conversation fascinating. Presently the rules in the UK allow citizens to own firearms under very particular circumstances. A gamekeeper at a large estate is an easy case, a homeowner wanting to be able to defend them self is not. There was a case a few years ago of a man being prosecuted because he shot some intruders on his property (killed one of them) because he used disproportionate amount of force; i.e. he should have called the police and maybe threatened the intruders but actually shooting them was over the top.

    I moved in the opposite direction being British by birth but now a naturalized American citizen.

    In the case of Tony Martin, three unarmed burglars broke into the farmhouse where he lived one evening. He fired three rounds from a shotgun at them in the dark, killing one. The dead man had been shot in the back as he was trying to flee. Although there was much popular sympathy for Martin, he was convicted of murder which was later reduced to manslaughter on appeal.

    The shooting at a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane was the British equivalent of the Sandy Hook massacre. In 1996, a man called Thomas Hamilton walked into a primary school armed with four pistols and shot dead 16 small children and one teacher and wounded 15 others before killing himself. This led to the enactment of gun-control legislation even more stringent than existed at that time.

    This was so strict that for the 2012 Olympic Games held in London the UK government had to grant special dispensation to allow the shooting events to be held there at all and, even so, the British Olympic pistol-shooting team was denied permission to practice for their event in the UK and had to go abroad in order to train.

    The cultural problem in the UK is that individuals are far less likely to stand up for their individual rights than in the US and in a lot of cases probably don’t know what their rights are. Until the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, Her Majesty’s subjects had no single written constitution and declaration of enumerated rights. Lawyers joked that it was written down, just not all in one place. Which could be seen as a nice little earner for the lawyers who did know where it was all tucked away.

    This has resulted in the enactment of legislation in the UK and Europe which is intended to curb “hate speech” but which would certainly not be accepted in the US and rightly so in my view. While we may disagree in other areas, I agree with BA that, as a general principle, it is vital that citizens are not only aware of their rights under the law but that they are also prepared to stand up and vigorously defend them if they are threatened.

  67. 67
    Karen McMannus says:

    ET, if you don’t want a gun, don’t have a gun.

    Beyond that, not giving up my guns.

    So….

    If you don’t like that…. go pound sand

  68. 68
    ET says:

    What is wrong with people? I am for responsible people owning guns. I am against just anyone being able to openly and legally purchase a firearm.

    I definitely do NOT want anyone to give up their weapons. What is wrong with you?

  69. 69
    ET says:

    Ok, I see my problem:

    We should NOT allow anyone to own a gun.

    Should have said:

    We should NOT allow just anyone to own a gun. There needs to be a background check.

    Is that better?

  70. 70
    LoneCycler says:

    ET @69

    No that’s not better.

    As I pointed out many people own firearms now who have never had any background check. Your idea that exercising an inalienable right should only be allowed after some government approves it beforehand is specious.

    Our rights to own firearms are not given by or awarded to us after some government process is complete. We have that right from birth.

  71. 71
    Belfast says:

    England denied weapons to the Irish – any kind. So much so, it was necessary for the IRA to attack police barracks to steal guns after the 1916 uprising. The 3rd Cork brigade of Tom Barry, one of the biggest had 104 active members because that was the exact number of rifles that they had. Without weapons revolutions became dependent on foreign supplies.
    The Republican government copied the English in denying guns to the general population once they got into power themselves, and today it is illegal to have a handgun in a dwelling.
    Bottom line – all governments know the cheapest way to prevent revolution is to strip the country of guns.

  72. 72
    TimR says:

    I don’t get why people like Barry say that those leaving in the US are free, while those living in places like the UK are not. I live in NZ. Hardly any guns here – apart from for hunting. I have spent a lot of time in both the US and the UK. I feel as free here in my own country as I do in the US, the UK, or anywhere else. In fact I feel a lot freer here. There is no one stopping me doing or saying what I want. I don’t feel under threat by the government or anyone else. I am pretty much free to live how I choose. This thing about America being the land of the free is a head scratcher for me.

  73. 73
    Karen McMannus says:

    TimR: I live in NZ.

    Tiny backwater island (population-wise) that doesn’t border Mexico and has no serious population of criminal gangs and a huge dependent underclass with a disproportionate percentage of fatherless criminals who hate white people.

    I laugh when Canadians talk like you. What do you think I do when people from tiny backwater islands talk like that? 😀 😀 😀 😀

    Not to mention, tiny backwater islands are not the focal point for global communist, financial/technocratic oligrarch objectives with regard to global government.

    Sooooo….

    Send me a ticket and sponsor me. I may move down there and spend the rest of my life Down Under dripping Kiwi juice from my chin, rescuing fruit bats, and chasing Koala bears with you in paradise.

    In the meantime, go learn what this analogy means: apples and oranges.

    P.S. ain’t giving up the guns.

  74. 74
    Bob O'H says:

    Karen – you’ll have a hard time chasing koalas with TimR. They are on the other side of the Tasman Sea.

    Mind you, you sound like you have the perfect mind-set to move to Queensland.

  75. 75
    ET says:

    To the people who think that anyone should be able to buy and own a gun- you are out of your little bitty mind. Only a moron thinks that the US Constitution allows babies to own guns. Enter LoneCycler. 😛

    Have a good day.

  76. 76
    Barry Arrington says:

    TimR, you’re from NZ, so you probably know a thing or two about sheep. I bet the average sheep there in your country would say their master keeps them free and content. And he does. Until he doesn’t.

  77. 77
    Latemarch says:

    ET@75
    “Only a moron thinks that the US Constitution allows babies to own guns.”

    Here you go!

  78. 78
    JVL says:

    An interesting perspective: (from the Wikipedia entry on the Second Amendment)

    n the slave states, the militia was available for military operations, but its biggest function was to police the slaves. According to Dr Carl T. Bogus, Professor of Law of the Roger Williams University Law School in Rhode Island, the Second Amendment was written to assure the Southern states that Congress would not undermine the slave system by using its newly acquired constitutional authority over the militia to disarm the state militia and thereby destroy the South’s principal instrument of slave control. In his close analysis of James Madison’s writings, Bogus describes the South’s obsession with militias during the ratification process:

    The militia remained the principal means of protecting the social order and preserving white control over an enormous black population. Anything that might weaken this system presented the gravest of threats.

    This preoccupation is clearly expressed in 1788 by the slaveholder Patrick Henry:

    If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress … Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution; addition not mentioned in source], can call forth the militia.

    Therefore, in a compromise with the slave states, and to reassure Patrick Henry, George Mason and other slaveholders that they would be able to keep their slave control militias independent of the federal government, James Madison (also slave owner) redrafted the Second Amendment into its current form “for the specific purpose of assuring the Southern states, and particularly his constituents in Virginia, that the federal government would not undermine their security against slave insurrection by disarming the militia.”

    Also:

    According to Pennsylvania attorney Anthony Picadio, the Southern slave states would never have ratified the Second Amendment if it had been understood as creating an individual right to own firearms because of their fear of arming free blacks, hence the emphasis on the phrase “well regulated Militia”, introducing the Second Amendment.

    Firstly, slave owners feared that enslaved blacks might be emancipated through military service. A few years earlier, there had been a precedent when Lord Dunmore offered freedom to slaves who escaped and joined his forces with “Liberty to Slaves” stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. Freed slaves had also served in General Washington’s army.

    Secondly, they also greatly feared “a ruinous slave rebellion in which their families would be slaughtered and their property destroyed.” When Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15, 1791, the Haitian revolution, a successful slave rebellion, was under way. The right to bear arms was therefore deliberately tied to membership in a militia by the slaveholder and chief drafter of the Amendment, James Madison, because only whites could join militias in the South.

    In 1776, Thomas Jefferson had submitted a draft constitution for Virginia that said “no freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms within his own lands or tenements”. According to Picadio, this version was rejected because “it would have given to free blacks the constitutional right to have firearms”.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, that the militia principle — essentially the able bodied — was abused to oppress slaves does not mean there was not a right use. For example, consider the Minutemen. KF

  80. 80
    Barry Arrington says:

    Yes, thank you for the Wiki entry. We all know it is unbiased and disinterested in political matters so we can take that to the bank. “X is racist!” said every progressive about every X when they couldn’t answer the arguments for X (which is usually). Yes some scholars have advanced the thesis in Wiki. It has been completely exploded since.

    If you are interested in the history instead of propaganda, read here.

  81. 81
    JVL says:

    Barry Arrington:

    Surely the intent of the law is something to take into consideration when considering legal applications? Do you yourself not take intent into consideration when making legal arguments?

    I hadn’t every heard of the above perspective before and I do not consider the modern arguments for the right to gun ownership racist in any way. I don’t think anyone here advocating for the right to keep and bear arms has used a racist reason. I am not accusing anyone of being a racist.

    Looking at your link which disagrees with the passages from Wikipedia I found this:

    I have long argued that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual’s right to own firearms, and that the purpose of the amendment was purely to guarantee that the states could maintain their own militias. I have also written a great deal on how the Constitution protected slavery (see my book Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson), and I am not shy about pointing out how the founders protected slavery. Indeed, my most recent public comment on slavery and the founding was an op-ed in the New York Times on Jefferson and slavery titled “The Monster of Monticello.”

    Seems like the notion of a well regulated militia is not always taken into account.

    And a bit further on . . .

    . . . race plays a big factor in why the Second Amendment was not designed to create an individual right to own guns. No one in 1789 would have imagined that the amendment prohibited the national government from disarming free blacks in the territories or the District of Columbia. The amendment merely prevented the national government from destroying the state militias. But, since the amendment did not apply to the states, they were all free to regulate firearms ownership, as they did. The U.S. Supreme Court has misunderstood this, but that only shows that Justices Scalia and Thomas are not really interested in original intent.

    And . . .

    People in a number of states feared that the national government would abolish the state militias. Madison thought these fears were nonsense, since the national defense at that time rested on a “well-regulated militia.” Thus he answered their concerns with the Second Amendment. He drafted an amendment to protect the right of the states to maintain their militias. Some other anti-federalists wanted a federal guarantee of a right to own weapons for hunting and self-defense and even a federal right to go fishing. Madison wisely ignored these demands and emphatically did not offer an individual right to own weapons.

    So, I guess you, Barry, would agree with Paul Finkelman on some things and not on others. Fair enough, it’s a complicated issue.

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    ET says:

    LateMarch @ 77 LoL! Thank you!

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, the militia in question is the able bodied, well regulated translates into effective infantry. When power is reserved to the people that is not the state. The history of the minutemen gives a pretty good idea of how close to hand the arms were. Read the story of the Deerfield massacre. KF

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    Barry Arrington says:

    JVL

    So, I guess you, Barry, would agree with Paul Finkelman on some things and not on others.

    Yes, he is wrong about those things you highlight. I used his article to rebut the slavery thesis you adopted from Wiki to demonstrate that even gun control nuts like him have found it to be bunk. He is, as it were, testifying against interest. His errors that you highlight have been thoroughly discredited and rejected by the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald.

  85. 85
    JVL says:

    Barry Arrington: Yes, he is wrong about those things you highlight. I used his article to rebut the slavery thesis you adopted from Wiki to demonstrate that even gun control nuts like him have found it to be bunk. He is, as it were, testifying against interest. His errors that you highlight have been thoroughly discredited and rejected by the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald.

    It is a complicated issue all around. Which is why I don’t pretend to have an answer. I only have opinions none of which I have attempted to defend or come up with legal support for. Not on gun control in the US that is. Like I said I have many, many relatives in the US that are responsible and safe gun owners none of whom (as far as I know) has had to fire a weapon in self defence or done so in anger. So, my own personal experience is: I don’t see a problem. I personally don’t feel a need to own or carry one so I don’t see the urge to own one just to have it either. Collecting and nostalgia aside; you should never get rid of history. It’s pretty clear that a majority of American gun owners are safe and responsible.

    I wish I did have an answer of how to stop situations like Dunblane, Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc. When innocent people are killed because someone with a gun has a problem and they were just unlucky is a pure tragedy. Safety training will help prevent some accidents due to mishandling. Registration will stop some unfit people from acquiring a weapon legally. Perhaps some kind of insurance? A limit on how many weapons or ammunition you can buy? Who knows? It’s something everyone in the US should be willing to talk about to come up with a solution that actually protects citizens’ rights and makes it less likely innocents will die.

    PS I have fired several different types of weapons over the years and enjoyed it just as much as anyone. I will happily participate in some skeet shooting in the future if invited. The most interesting weapon I used was a black-powder rifle. Now that kicked.

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    JVL says:

    Kairosfocus: the militia in question is the able bodied, well regulated translates into effective infantry

    Under command of trained military personnel? Not a guarantee things will stay sane but it might help.

    Anyway, it’s a complicated issue. I don’t have an answer on how best to protect citizens’ rights and the innocent; I don’t think anyone does.

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    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, there used to be regular musters for practice on the local green or the like. At Gettysburg, an old gentleman did muster himself for the Union. KF

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    Barry Arrington says:

    KF, I am amazed at the depth of your knowledge of US history. You know volumes more than most citizens.

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    jerry says:

    There was a book written 4-5 years ago how how the common man has essentially determined the fate of the country. It was about banking but went into the history of the US in ways that are not usually done.

    It made the point that in the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware to attack Trenton, the most important person in the boat was not Washington but the common person pulling the oars.

    They were all small farmers and to a man would carry their rifle/musket everywhere they went. Mainly for protection because somewhere nearby was someone who was hostile and might kill them. There were English, Indians and French in the north and Spanish replaced the French in the south.

    Carrying a gun for protection was an essential in the United States.

    The argument today is that it is still essential though few if any carry rifles everywhere they go. Maybe in their pickup. But a large number still carry and I believe there are statistics on the crimes they prevent and lives they save.

    Is the choice between allowing conscientious citizens to have guns or an authoritarian government that would have no opposition?

    The people in New Zealand can laugh at this but the only thing between them and an oppressive government is a free and strong United States. (By the way I lived in New Zealand (Christchurch) for a year and really liked the Kiwis)

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    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry, I give the Kiwis their due, man for man when the chips were down they were the most decorated Commonwealth soldiers. And that includes both sides of the unique alliance, the Maori too. A warrior nation in their own right. Indeed, it continues: a Maori won a VC in Afghanistan. No one should count the Kiwis or their cousins in Australia out if liberty is on the line; but there are just too few and not enough hardware to truly hold the line if the balloon really goes up. That said, there is no doubt that the leaders in freedom have been the Americans and the US Navy is especially important. The ruin of liberty in the US would be a death knell for global liberty. In that context the bill of rights complete with the teeth in the 2nd amdt is the bulwark of global liberty, that is how important the 4th generation civil war in the US is. I think we are entering a slow-burn, Midway-Guadalcanal analogue as the radical push moves ever deeper into strategic overstretch. Things are truly sobering and it is going to be costly. KF

    PS: Just today, Frank launched, only to be hit by a huge denial of service type attack it seems. They switched to a 48 hr telethon format, when I monitored they had 30 mn hits and those seemed to come from all around the globe [though part may be anonymity services]. An attack on that scale effectively at the moment of launch is pretty blatant demonstration of the ruthlessness and heavy resources we are clearly up against as a civilisation. The failure to respond appropriately to the contempt driven assault on freedom implied by such an attack, coming from key media, is a sobering sign.

    PPS, looks like double that level now.

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    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, I think, given what is going on, the old Swiss model might be highly relevant. That would give point defence everywhere. KF

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    kairosfocus says:

    OOPS, VC means, Victoria Cross. Like your Medal of Honor. Rare, and hard won, IIRC there were a few cases of and bar, i.e. double award. KF

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    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry –

    The people in New Zealand can laugh at this but the only thing between them and an oppressive government is a free and strong United States.

    If by that you mean they might be invaded by (say) Russia, then perhaps. But that would be an argument for a strong army, which is not what is being discussed here.

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    jerry says:

    From the book “Fragile by Design’

    The combination of these factors—hostile neighbors, abundant land, and storable crops that could be grown on small production units—meant that British America was a society of small, freeholding farmers who were armed to the teeth. Some colonies, such as Virginia, required every able-bodied male to own a firearm. There were, of course, large landowners, British elites who were connected to the companies that had initially settled the 13 colonies on the franchise model (see chapter 3) or who had arrived later with the royal governors sent by the crown when the colonization companies failed. These elites looked down their noses at the small farmers, but they could not maintain a viable colony without them: what stood between the elites and the Spanish, French, and Indians were independent farmers who, as William Blathwayt, the auditor general of the colonies, observed in 1691, “all Learn to keep and use a gun with a Marvelous dexterity as soon as ever they have strength enough to lift it to their heads.

    The use of guns was baked into the British colonies so it’s absurd to think it wasn’t baked in at the time of Constitution.

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    JVL says:

    Jerry: The use of guns was baked into the British colonies so it’s absurd to think it wasn’t baked in at the time of Constitution.

    But the private ownership of guns has severely faded in Britain despite the fact that there was a real possibility that Germany would invade during WWII. And there were worries about Napoleon a century before that.

    Perhaps after over two millennia of battles on the British Isles the people there, while willing to take up arms to defend themselves have decided: we would rather try not to shoot each other from now on.

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    jerry says:

    If by that you mean they might be invaded by (say) Russia, then perhaps. But that would be an argument for a strong army, which is not what is being discussed here.

    Most definitely a strong army and strong navy is what is at the heart of what’s being discussed. A prerequisite for such an army and navy to defend freedom is a free people in the US. Name one other force that would protect New Zealand besides the US military.

    Responsible gun ownership in US => free people in US => ensures non oppressive government in US => strong military responsive to cause of freedom => protection of small freedom oriented countries.

    It would not be Russia that would be the threat to New Zealand but China. My guess that the threat to Norway would be Russia and the only thing preventing it is a strong US military.

    How’s your Russian?

  98. 98
    Bob O'H says:

    Most definitely a strong army and strong navy is what is at the heart of what’s being discussed. A prerequisite for such an army and navy to defend freedom is a free people in the US. Name one other force that would protect New Zealand besides the US military.

    The NZ military? The Australians might help as well. And how New Zealand having an army affects the second amendment rights of Americans isn’t clear to me. I don’t think well regulated militias were intended as a response to hoards of Kiwis invading your shores.

    My guess that the threat to Norway would be Russia and the only thing preventing it is a strong US military.

    it’s called NATO. It’s not just the US, it’s a bunch of other countries too. None of which have a second amendment right of citizens to carry guns.

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    JVL says:

    Bob O’H: it’s called NATO. It’s not just the US, it’s a bunch of other countries too. None of which have a second amendment right of citizens to carry guns.

    Exactly so. Why is it that so many Americans think that they’re the last bastion of freedom and democracy?

  100. 100
    jerry says:

    The NZ military? The Australians might help as well.

    it’s called NATO. It’s not just the US, it’s a bunch of other countries too. None of which have a second amendment right of citizens to carry guns.

    You got to be kidding!

    I rest my case.

  101. 101
    JVL says:

    Jerry: You got to be kidding! I rest my case.

    Do you know how arrogant and dismissive you sound to the rest of the world? I’m not sure you do.

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    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry – thanks. You’ve rested your case by ignoring the lack of a causal connection between the second amendment and having a strong military, which I think says a lot.

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    ET says:

    Wow. Without the US NATO can’t stop anyone.

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    ET says:

    NZ doesn’t have a strong military.

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    JVL says:

    ET: Wow. Without the US NATO can’t stop anyone.

    Uh huh. The combined military forces of England, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Poland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Turkey, etc can’t stop anyone? Really? Do you know how many countries there are in NATO?

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    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, the US is the linchpin. Especially once relevant actors are on the other side. Start with, what navy holds the sea lanes open. KF

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