From My Cold Dead Hands

Had lunch here. It's in France.

It’s been a week since a lone individual in Tucson decided; for whatever reasons, to disrupt our world. Since then, eulogies have been delivered, tears were shed, a funeral for a nine year old girl was held where hundreds lined the street and the 9/11 flag was flown at her memorial (Christina was born on September 11, 2001). People immediately began trying to deal with the reasons behind the attempted assassination of a US Congresswoman, a federal judge, and other innocent bystanders as well as the motives of the shooter.

Inevitably, amongst the grief and finger pointing, the subject of gun control usually comes up. Gun regulation is a curiously contentious subject. And before I go any further I’ll point out that it’s even a topic the contributors to this blog are reluctant to approach due to our own differing perspectives. And, as a gun owner, I am uncomfortable with making any statement in favour of gun regulation that would appear hypocritical.

Gun culture is unusually pervasive in American society. In fact, it was the second most important thing on our minds when we were drafting our Constitution. It was succinct and to the point. It reads:

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.

Many have imposed their own interpretations to this vague statement. For example:

It’s not about my ability to hunt, which I love to do. It’s not about the ability for me to protect my family and propity [sic] against criminals, which we have the right to do. But it’s all about protecting ourselves from a tyrannical government of the United States.

—Congressman Paul Brown (R-GA)

Or:

The Second Amendment is not about hunting deer or keeping a pistol in your nightstand. It is not about protecting oneself against common criminals. It is about preventing tyranny. The Founders knew that unarmed citizens would never be able to overthrow a tyrannical government as they did. The muskets they used against the British army were the assault rifles of that time.

—Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

But these are the most extreme of interpretations of the second amendment. Many think there are more reasonable interpretations that say, “yes it is about hunting and protecting your home from criminals. The second amendment was written at a time when the army was fledgling and the original settlers didn’t trust governments because they had just been in war with the government they sought emancipation from. Times were different then as well. You didn’t just run down to the store to get butter; you churned it or bartered for it. And guns were utility instruments. You ate what you killed. No one is absolutely certain what the second amendment was meant to protect. Here from FindLaw:

In spite of extensive recent discussion and much legislative action with respect to regulation of the purchase, possession, and transportation of firearms, as well as proposals to substantially curtail ownership of firearms, there is no definitive resolution by the courts of just what right the Second Amendment protects.

Yet there is a strong gun lobby that advocates that any restriction, no matter how minor, is a fundamental abridgment of the second amendment. In other words, any restriction means tyranny. The Government is coming to take your guns. This argument fails for a couple of reasons. Primarily, the assumption that the government has an interest in taking our guns. Secondly, that there is some sort of tyrannical government takeover happening. Neither is true.

This is a collage piece from some talented individuals I had a chance to work with on copyright issues. I thought it was relevant to the topic. Guns by Negativeland (Warning: graphic imagery).

But let’s start with gun control. A civilized society of great numbers must out of necessity make regulations that affect us all. Take driving for example; it’s a highly regulated right that US citizens enjoy. We are required to take driving classes, we are required to meet certain criteria for qualification, we have to pass a test, and we have to make arrangements for insurance in case we have an accident so that we don’t infringe on someone else’s privileges, you have to wear a seatbelt, etc.. Nobody ever cries, “They can have my car when they pry my car keys from my cold, dead hands.” Everybody gets that if you’re going to ride around in a seventy-mile-per-hour projectile in public, then certain restrictions apply to us all.

Gun restrictions? Not so tough. You aren’t required to pass any test to see if you know how to “control your gun.” Many states do not require you to register to carry a concealed weapon (I’m talking to you, Arizona as of 2010). You can be a total idiot and walk out of a gun show with an automatic weapon. In fact, there are people with clean records who do it for hire in order to supply Mexican drug cartels. A clean record and cash is all it takes. But why can’t there be restrictions that limit assault weapons? Why can’t we renew the rules that expired n 2004? There are all kinds of reasonable things we can do to prevent things like the Tucson Massacre from happening. Close the gun show loophole and require instant background checks at gun shows, require marked ammo, ban extended capacity magazines, restrict the transfer of firearms from one individual to another. There are lots of restrictions we could implement without taking anyones guns. And let’s face it; if you need an AK-47 to hunt, you should probably consider taking up another hobby.

And this isn’t even broaching the topic of mental health. There are safeguards we could pursue that would help ferret out the mentally unstable from purchasing guns let alone getting treatment for the mental illness.  And then there’s that drug war going on south of the border.

Trust me. I could have gone way more graphic than this.

About 30,000 people have died in Mexico as a result of smuggled guns from America; all so that we can have a 4:20 moment. But hey, dude, it’s all good. But beyond our casual God, supply and demand model, let’s get back to the violence in our country. Did you know that there is no statistical correlation that a gun will protect you? In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Many guns end up in suicides or crimes of passion. Here is a breakdown from the Violence Policy Center.

Highest Gun Death Rates Percent of Gun Ownership Lowest Gun Death Rates Percent of Gun Ownership
1. LA 46 50. HI 10
2. AL 57 49. MA 13
3. AK (tie) 

3. MS (tie)

61 

54

48. RI 13
4. NV 32 47. CT 16
5. AZ ? 46. NY 18

Source: Violence Policy Center.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “More guns means more gun death and injury. Fewer guns means less gun death and injury. It’s a simple equation.” More guns do not equal more safety. In fact, it guarantees more dead people.

What is the reason behind this almost fanatical desire for unlimited gun use? Why do the NRA and other gun control opponents scream “tyranny!” whenever any proposed legislation to gun ownership is proposed? Why do they think the rest of us are coming for their guns? I can only surmise that it’s a holdover from the cold war. We have the bomb. Oh yeah? We have the H-bomb! Oh yeah? We have a bunch of bombs and we’re parking them off your coast in Cuba. Oh yeah? Well…you get the concept of escalation.

Maybe the gun thing is similar. I have to protect my family. If my neighbor or my government doesn’t see things my way, I need to be ready to take them down. It’s a kind of cold war mentality. We need to destroy the Soviets at all costs regardless of the harm we do to the planet.

Funny thing is, violence has changed. Mass killings are a product of this generation. “Going postal” is a recent phrase. Walking into a school with the intent of killing as many people as possible before you take your own life is frighteningly new. It’s narcissistic. It’s a way to say, “I’ll show you all!” regardless of whether anyone you’re killing was personally responsible for your angst. Whether they pay for it with their lives or your reputation is immaterial. Just get me on the news at 6:00 before I die.

And look at what’s happened. On the networks, cable, and internet, everyone wants to know whether the Tucson gunman (you may have picked up on my intentional point of not mentioning his name) was a Democrat or Republican. Was he liberal or conservative? Somebody must have influenced this guy. As it turns out, he was just…warped.

So my question is, how much tragedy do we have to suffer before it becomes necessary to impose restrictions? Often, these laws are only put into place because of a tragedy. Is that how we should govern? And why is there an expiration date on the legislation? These extended clips were banned during the Clinton administration but the ban expired in 2004 and Bush neglected to renew them. My incredulous question is why are there term limits on restrictions in the first place?! Why can’t we agree that some gun stuff is as equally bad now as it will be ten years from now?

Statistics indicate that there will be another mentally unstable individual who will attempt something similar to the Tucson Massacre in the future. Some say more guns are the answer, the data indicates that it is not. And while second amendment zealots may scream “tyranny!” remember, democracy demands that we temper this rhetoric and also remember, there is a price we have to pay for it.

The argument that “You can have my guns when you pry them from my cold dead hands” really doesn’t have any meaning if you’re dead, does it? It’s an empty act of defiance.

Jon Meacham on Meet the Press

While I was writing this article, I ran across a fellow southerner who also grew up on the banks of the Tennessee River. He appears to agree with me.

The argument from Second Amendment purists that such things will then only find their way to the black market is unconvincing. The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. A ban on these clips would mark a step toward bringing order out of the chaos of the Tucson tragedy.

The bringing-about of order is the first and fundamental task of government. We accept limits on our rights for the sake of a larger social compact all the time. This pistol with this high-capacity clip is a tool of destruction. I say this as someone who does not want to give up my own guns—but who believes that with rights come responsibilities. Yes, liberty is precious. But so is life. It should not be so difficult for men and women of good will and good heart and sound mind to find the right balance between the two.

—Jon Meacham

How many Christina Taylor Greens does it cost before we realize that our paranoia is costing us our liberty? At what point do we accept that some restrictions are good? When will we make a distinction between what is a Constitutional right to bear arms for protection and an attempt to accrue power?


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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53 Responses to From My Cold Dead Hands

  1. shortchain says:

    There was a time when the dangers to your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were:
    a) enemy soldiers who would sell you into slavery or worse (classical times)
    b) pillage your belongings, rape your women, and drive off your livestock (middle ages).
    c) press you into military service, oppress you from the vantage of their hereditary “nobility”, or tax your tea (circa 1800).

    Nowadays, the dangers are:
    d) some financial whiz kids will take your money and invest it in derivatives, or use it to fund their lavish lifestyles while they pretend to pay interest to previous investors, until they run out of rope and bring down the value of your investments, so that you have to work an additional 10 years before retirement.
    e) some impaired driver will cross the center-line and smash into you, head-on, or hit the gas instead of the brake and back over you in the parking-lot at Target
    f) your company will decide to move your operation overseas.
    g) you’ll get some condition or disorder that medical science can’t diagnose, or, if it can diagnose it, can’t treat.

    Please note that in none of those cases is a gun going to do you any real good. A gun would have been useful up through item c) above (but unfortunately were not invented and available to the public until about 1800). After that, not so much.

    There’s a difference between perceived power and actual power. A gun is, in almost every case, an instrument that gives its owner the perception of being in control without the real control that would be worthwhile.

  2. Bart DePalma says:

    Mr. U:

    The Second Amendment is not vague at all. It is one of the most categorical statements in the Bill of Rights:

    [T]he right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.

    The right is written in absolute language with the command “shall not be infringed.” The Founders did not intend Congress to enact any firearms regulations. Such regulation was a matter for the states.

    The prefatory clause reads:

    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…

    Under the grammar or the time and today, this is not in any way limiting language. Rather, as was common in constitutions of the time, this is an explanation of one purpose of the right. Various state constitutions use a similar style to explain that political or some other speech is an important element of the right to free speech, but no court as ever limited a free speech right so written to only the type of speech written in the prefatory clause.

    In fact, the two clauses are perfectly complementary. The Founders’ primary concern was to keep a potentially tyrannical federal government from disarming the armed citizenry/militia. You need to remember that the Founders were revolutionaries fresh off a victory over the most powerful country on Earth which was largely fought by an armed population. The British could only control those areas their armies actually occupied as the rest was controlled by local American militias. This made it nearly impossible for Britain to win this war unless the Americans surrendered. This is why I noted before that the US military with maybe a million troops cannot hope to control a continental country with over 100 million armed citizens.

    This constitutional structure was fundamentally changed when the 14th Amendment was enacted imposing the Bill of Rights on the states. If the language of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments are applied as written, the states are now forbidden from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. However, even the conservatives on the Heller court backed off from that one and the Second Amendment will probably be treated very much like the First with various time, place and manner restrictions.

    Your comparisons of laws and firearm crime on the state level is misleading. The real comparison until the Heller was between cities like Washington DC with firearm prohibitions and high gun deaths and rural and suburban areas with looser firearm restrictions and relatively low crime rates. Since Heller removed its firearm prohibitions, gun deaths have not spiked in Washington DC.

    While the occasional mass shooting in a normally peaceful place like a school or political meet and greet gets the press, the real carnage is being fueled by our prohibition of drugs as gangs butcher one another for turf and profit. If you decriminalize drug possession and regulate their distribution, our horrific firearm death rate collapses as it did after the first Prohibition.

    This being said, I believe we should enact a system which allow local law enforcement to request a mental health evaluation folks like the Tucson shooter who are acting irrationally and threatening violence. If the metal health evaluation finds the suspect to be incompetent, then his or her right to keep and bear arms should be suspended until the person is found again to be competent. The problem is whether such a law would survive the probable alliance of the ACLU and NRA in opposition.

  3. Todd Dugdale says:

    As I said before, Bart: if you like “original intent” so much, then let’s allow everyone (except convicted felons and the mentally-ill) to own and “bear” all of the black-powder muskets they want.

    We have an elected government. Simply because you do not like the policies of that elected government, that does not allow you the power to re-define the word “tyranny”.
    If that were “reasonable political discourse”, then we would have armed insurrections after every Federal, State, County, or municipal election. The losers would simply cry “Tyranny!” and storm the centres of government. And you would have to support that, or resort to another curious re-definition of terms.

    The logical consequence of your convenient re-definition would be to turn America into Somalia.

    There is an internal contradiction running through your narrative, much like a massive fault line. You continually claim that there is a vast majority of “conservatives” who simply fail to vote whenever Democrats win. However, if they fail to vote, they give up their Constitutional remedy. It is a very strange reading of the Founders’ minds that would lead one to believe that armed insurrection is somehow preferable to electoral remedies. According to your own logic, the conservatives only have themselves to blame for the current “tyranny”, because they failed to avail themselves of their electoral remedies – which you claim would have lead to a victory in the first place. Instead, you claim allegiance to a movement that is apparently too lazy to vote, but eager to engage in armed insurrection because the vote didn’t go their way – an attitude which you seem to consider “patriotic”.

    In short, and as per usual, you do not even believe your own rhetoric.

    Please save the world an enormous amount of trouble and employ your astounding powers of re-definition to make the word “wrong” mean “whatever anyone besides Bart DePalma says”. Because that’s pretty much where you are going anyway.

  4. Bart DePalma says:

    Todd:

    Reagan realigned the electorate with a center-right majority. Since then, no Dem Congress has gained a majority nor a Dem President been elected running on a progressive platform. Obama and Clinton won when a Bush governed from the left and on platforms of a middle class tax cut and fiscal conservatism. The yellow dog then blue dog Dems who provided the Dem majorities in Congress all ran campaigns indistinguishable from conservative Republicans.

    Progressives are a minority of the electorate between a quarter and a third of the population depending upon the issue. This is why your candidates have to lie about their intentions to be elected.

  5. Todd Dugdale says:

    Mr. Universe wrote:
    Nobody ever cries ‘They can have my car when they pry my car keys from my cold, dead hands’.

    Even that most sacred democratic right, the vote, is regulated.

    You must register to vote. Convicted felons are excluded. We maintain records to assure that those not eligible to vote cannot participate. Certainly no one advocates the position that the “right to vote” means voting as many times as one wishes, or voting in States in which one does not reside. Republicans enthusiastically support these restrictions.

    Yet, applying these same “regulations” to gun ownership is considered a violation of Constitutional rights.

    We trust the elected government to collect our names and addresses in order to vote, but gun registration is somehow considered “tyrannical”.

    It seems to me that, if the Founders really envisaged a well-armed populace ready to take on a hypothetical “tyranny”, then they would also have mandated firearms training for every citizen and mandated gun ownership. George Washington went that far by requiring colonists to buy a musket, powder, balls, etc. If armed insurrection was truly intended to be some last-resort defence of the Republic, why did they fail to make it a robust defence?

    “Freedom of the press” is constrained by libel laws, as well as “national security interests”. Republicans seem to enthusiastically support constraining the “liberal media”, however.

  6. shortchain says:

    When Bart can’t answer a question, he just makes stuff up.

  7. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, you accused Obama of being a “socialist” and of being obscenly to the left during the 2008 campaign. Now you claim he ran as a conservative? No. You don’t get to redefine history any more than you get to redefine words. Obama ran as a progressive, and so did Clinton. Obama won in a landslide.

    Bush governed from the far right — his social policies, military policies, domestive policies, and economic polices were all aligned with Reagan’s. You don’t get to redefine that, either.

    As for guns, the Second Amendment speaks of the right of “the People” — not of “individuals.” It grants a collective right for the purpose of forming “a well regulated militia,” which was something that was necessary in the eighteenth century. It no longer is, and we would do well to simply repeal the Second Amendment as we did the Eighteenth.

    You can certainly object to my interpretation of the Second, by pointing out that SCOTUS has recently ruled otherwise. But that would be inconsistent for you, because you often claim that the opinions of individual citizens are more legitimate than Supreme Court decisions, and that anyone who prefers the decisions of our courts over that of the citizens is a person who supports tyranny.

    In any case, in my view SCOTUS decided wrongly, and I expect the ruling one day to be overturned in favor of something more sane.

  8. dcpetterson says:

    Todd pointed out:
    Even that most sacred democratic right, the vote, is regulated.

    Yes. The Second said the right won’t be “infringed,” not that it won’t be “regulated.”

  9. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    This is why your candidates have to lie about their intentions to be elected.

    and also:
    Obama and Clinton won when a Bush governed from the left and on platforms of a middle class tax cut and fiscal conservatism.

    So Bush was “my candidate” now?

    Whatever. You completely failed to address the logical inconsistency.
    Either you and your fellow conservatives are the “real” majority or they are not.
    If they are, then they fail to vote and abandon their Constitutional remedy.
    If they not the vast majority, then your entire “Will Of The People” narrative falls flat.

    Your implication that vast numbers of conservatives were fooled into thinking that Obama was a fellow conservative is belied by anyone who has a memory. The Right portrayed him as akin to a Muslim Che Guevara, which is pretty far from being a “real” conservative. Yet he won.
    This should be impossible if you and your fellow conservatives are the vast majority, and were to vote.

    If “The People” are so incredibly gullible (as your statements strongly imply), then why is the “will” of the incredibly gullible so sacred to you? It seems fairly easy to make a case that the extremely gullible “People” only support you now because they are ‘fooled’. Or are you simply going to re-define the word “fooled” now?

    To sum up, your position is:
    – The vast majority of the voters are “real” conservatives who despise socialist tyranny (which is whatever you say it is).
    – This vast majority, whose noble “will” is sacred, are really gullible idiots who thought that Obama was exactly like DeMint in terms of political beliefs.
    – This vast majority of conservative voters fails to vote, yet are entitled to engage in armed insurrection when the electoral process’ results disagrees with their beliefs.
    – When this gullible vast majority votes in a manner that you approve of, they are wise. When they vote in a manner that you disapprove of, they are “fooled’.
    – All of the preceding is completely obvious, and not contradictory in the least.

  10. Bart DePalma says:

    dcpetterson says: Bart, you accused Obama of being a “socialist” and of being obscenly to the left during the 2008 campaign. Now you claim he ran as a conservative?

    Actually, Obama ran as a centrist. The statements (1) Obama is a socialist and (2) Obama ran as a centrist are hardly mutually exclusive. Together, they allege that candidate Obama misrepresented the socialist policies he intended to enact if elected. After two years of the Obama Administration, the evidence (Over 250 pages and 500 sources so far in my book) for my propositions is pretty damn near overwhelming. One of my problems is editing it down.

    Obama ran as a progressive, and so did Clinton. Obama won in a landslide.

    Tax cuts, fiscal conservatism and promises that the government will not run your health insurance or [fill in the blank activity] are not progressive platforms.

    What FDR, Truman, LBJ, Carter, Mondale and Dukakis ran on were progressive platforms.

    Bush governed from the far right — his social policies, military policies, domestive policies, and economic polices were all aligned with Reagan’s.

    Sure. Medicare Part D, NCLB, S-Chip and TARP were definitely proposals that Reagan would have enacted. Bush governed to the left of post 1994 Clinton.

    As for guns, the Second Amendment speaks of the right of “the People” — not of “individuals.”

    Numnuts, rights of the people are individual rights. The collective right legal fiction nonsensically claimed that the Second Amendment right of the people belonged to the states as if the Founders could not say states instead of people when they meant states.

  11. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    Bush governed to the left of post 1994 Clinton.

    Okay, let’s provisionally accept this premise.

    Please explain how the vast majority of the voters, whom you believe to be conservative, allowed this “leftist” named Bush to subvert the government – not once, but twice.

    Please explain why none of those wise and noble conservative (‘majority’) voters called these “leftist” policies “tyranny” during the entire two terms.

    Please explain why armed insurrection against the “leftist” tyranny of Bush was not floated as any kind of political response by the Right during his two terms.

    Please explain how this wise and noble conservative majority could be considered as wise and noble, when they seem to have been perpetually ‘fooled’ for decades, by your own admission.

    And, finally, please explain why we should take this alleged conservative majority so seriously now, when you contend that these very same people made profoundly stupid choices in every election since 1984. Does it make you feel good to know that such profoundly stupid voters (by your own contention) agree with you? It seems to undermine your case.

    Either the voters are gullible and profoundly stupid, or they not. If they are, then you have the support of morons. If not, then they were not ‘fooled’ when they elected Obama and his tyrannical agenda.

    Either conservatives are the vast majority, or they are not. If they are, then they failed to exercise their electoral remedy in 2008 and are in no position to advocate armed insurrection as a last resort. If they are not, then you do not have the support of “The People”.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t just re-write the dictionary every time you encounter an ideological chasm that you can’t bridge, either.

  12. Monotreme says:

    Barted:

    One of my problems is editing it down.

    Of this, I have no doubt.

  13. dcpetterson says:

    Bart
    Actually, Obama ran as a centrist.

    So,. you were the only one in America who realized, during the campaign, that he was a tyrannical socialist? – Because you insisted throughout the 2008 campaign that Obama was running on socialist policies.

    Whatever. You’re really not fooling anyone.

    Anyhow, Todd is taking you apart pretty thoroughly. So, back to the topic —

    The vast majority of shootings in America happen in homes where there are guns. Most shootings are either accidents, or are done in moments of passion, by a family member, or by someone known well to the victim. Shootings are very seldom done in the process of committing some other crime, and almost never done while defending oneself from a crime. The single strategy you can do which will most reduce your chances of getting shot is to get rid of any guns you have in your home. The second most effective thing you can do is to never visit the home of someone who owns guns.

    I am not advising anyone to get rid of their guns, or to stop being friends with people who have guns. Similarly, the best way to avoid being in a car crash is to never get into a car. My point is simply that the rhetoric about using guns to defend oneself against armed assailants seems to be pretty pointless, since the mere possession of a gun makes you more likely to become a shooting victim than does not having a gun.

  14. dcpetterson says:

    Todd, Bart simply cannot wrap his brain around the fact that America wanted and got a Progressive President — and not just once in Bart’s life (Obama), but twice (Clinton as well).

    Likewise, the fact that Bush 2’s policies so screwed up the nation and the world does not prove that conservative policies will screw up the nation and the world, but that Bush 2 was not a conservative. Because, in Bart’s mind, by definition, conservative policies are Good.

    Bush 2 gave us an eight year experiment of ultraconservative policies. It ended with America having alienated our allies and emboldening our enemies. We left thousands of American soldiers dead in two senseless wars (far more Americans died in Bush’s wars than in the 9/11 attacks, by the way). conservative policies made a mockery of our Constitution, led to crumbling schools and industrial infrastructure, millions of jobs being shipped overseas. We were left with a crushing deficit, the near-collapse of the world economy, and a proud and beautiful city (New Orleans) in near-ruins.

    That is the legacy of modern conservativism in America. That is what Bart yearns to bring back.

  15. Chris Rich says:

    I see my beloved home state is just behind Hawaii in the gun enthusiasm sweepstakes and in outcomes. Go figure. I never cared for the things much as I’d rather drink and they are just bad to have around in such situations.

    I quit drinking last spring but a gun is still pretty useless in Cambridge. I can ‘pull down’ some sliced turkey at Johnny’s Foodmaster and not have a mess of feathers underfoot.

    The most threating marauders around are boisterous college kid drunks spilling out of gin mills after last call and cars are the most menacing life threat.

    Modern dipshits always miss the “well regulated militia” part and overlook what the reason might have been for ‘well regulated’. Back then the reach of the law was short and there was still a frontier. We hadn’t exterminated all of the indigenous people and they might gain the upper hand, slaves might get sick of working for free. Every town had some sort of block house where the villagers could hole up to fight an insurgency.

    So they had these militias to make up for a large standing professional army but the things were sloppy and undisciplined, kept their muskets in bad condition, showed up drunk at drill and so on.

    The founders were aware of this aspect and threw in ‘well regulated’ in the vain hope that these bums could be at least induced to not shoot themselves in the foot.

    Lincoln was a local militia commander in something called the Blackhawk War in the 1830s and the whole experience was pretty humiliating for him. The troops wuz drunk, berated him and made him wave a wooden sword around…

    The first years of the Civil War saw lots of these units still in existence and they got slaughtered until they had time to figure out combat. The new fangled rifled bullets didn’t help either as the killing range was much further than the old smooth bore muskets. A lot of people were killed while we waited for the generals to stop using formation methods from the time of Louis XIV.

    The post civil war settlement of the far west was marked by sparse, scattered settlements with local regular army military posts covering security , (the Cavalry), so the militia role morphed into the posse, an irregular gathering of settlers with guns to help some sheriff contend with some desperadoes.

    Now, of course, we have police departments to handle that stuff and they are that well regulated thing along with the National Guard and the Army Reserve. That is what became of the ‘well regulated’ militia and the stretch of the words to cover an Uzi in every kitchen is just so much specious horseshit.

  16. Chris Rich says:

    Good lord, if you think about it, those old early period militias were a lot like that town hall meeting Ms Giffords had earlier in the mid terms where some old tea bagger dropped his loaded pistol on the floor.

    Not too well regulated.

  17. dcpetterson says:

    Barted:
    Tax cuts, fiscal conservatism and promises that the government will not run your health insurance or [fill in the blank activity] are not progressive platforms.

    In that case, Obama has been governing like a conservative for two years, since he cut taxes, reduced the Bush deficit by nearly 40%, and helped shepherd through a health care overhaul that isn’t a government takeover of anything.

    Oh by the way, you don’t actually have the first clue of what a progressive platform is.

  18. Mr. Universe says:

    RE: progressive platform.

    That’s reality.

    Another way to look at it is Conservative platforms are regressive platforms. Just takin’ the country back(wards). WooHoo!

  19. Mr. Universe says:

    Man, I’m already jonesin’ for a fili comment. Somebody should get her six year old tech assistant to get her a Droid or an iPhone.

  20. Todd Dugdale says:

    Chris Rich wrote:
    The first years of the Civil War saw lots of these units still in existence and they got slaughtered until they had time to figure out combat.

    Even dumber is that we didn’t learn our lesson in the Mexican-American War.
    The “volunteers” (militia) were poorly-equipped, poorly-trained, and poorly-disciplined. They died in droves from pneumonia because their tents were thin cotton sheets and their bedrolls were not able to protect them from the chilly nights. They had surpluses of ammunition for a few kinds of rifles, and critical shortages for others. They got sick from bad food and bad water.

    The “standing army”, which was Constitutionally limited to a small size, had good equipment and good training. They did the bulk of the successful fighting. The “volunteers” committed most of the atrocities, and out of desperate straits.

    The American history of militias is not a compelling one. The regular military, reservists, and the Guard provide a far more formidable defence against an invasion than John Doe with a bottle in one hand and a rifle in the other.

    It’s odd that those who wish to “return to the Constitution” don’t accept the Constitutional restrictions on the size of the standing army. If they were enforced, we could not have fought either World War, Korea, or any post-Civil War conflict. Or at least, not have prevailed.

  21. Chris Rich says:

    The closest thing to a post revolution tea party was Shays rebellion here and the Founders, besides Jefferson, were aghast at the whole thing.

    Shay had far more compelling grievances than current tea bag fluff, but the nation was crafted by plantation barons and mercantile moguls who were far more enamored of property control than they were of vociferous input from rabble.

  22. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    Sure. Medicare Part D, NCLB, S-Chip and TARP were definitely proposals that Reagan would have enacted. Bush governed to the left of post 1994 Clinton.

    Could you please point me to any elected Representative from any Party who is calling for the repeal of the “leftist” Medicare Part D?

    This is purest “socialism”, isn’t it? The evil federal government is taking your wealth to buy prescription drugs for someone besides you. Surely that vast conservative majority would not have elected representatives who wished to perpetuate socialism. Surely that vast conservative majority is howling mad at being ‘fooled’ by the leftist G.W. Bush?

    Surely someone with your integrity wrote a book about the “socialist tyranny” of the Bush Administration while Bush was in office. And surely the wise and noble conservative majority read it and nodded in agreement, because they recognise patriotism when they see it. And, having read that treatise of yours, they called for armed insurrection against the over-reach of the evil federal government.

    The only thing left is to ask when the repeal vote for Medicare Part D is scheduled. Because if Congress doesn’t repeal it, “The People” will have to vote them out of office in 2012, right? Please say, “yes” to this obvious logical conclusion.

  23. Mr. Universe says:

    Hmm…thought I’d get a lot of flack over this article. Guess I was closer to the center than I thought.

  24. dcpetterson says:

    Todd, you’re just brilliant. That’s all.

  25. dcpetterson says:

    Chris, thanks for reminding us of Shay’s rebellion. Rather puts to the lie the idea that the Founders would have approved of the efforts of the Teapers to dismantle our nation.

  26. Todd Dugdale says:

    Mr. Universe wrote:
    Guess I was closer to the center than I thought.

    Look, in many cases we have more regulation over a burger sold at BK than we do over the sale of an AK-47.

    Over 70% of those classified by institutions as being mentally unstable are not even reported to the state gun databases for background checks. Even the feeble checks that we have in place are completely broken.

    There is more stringent control over the person who cuts your hair than there is over an individual buying a gun in many States.

    And are we really going to take on a tank with a shotgun? Good bloody luck with that.

    In the Tucson shooting, the armed citizen who was present came dangerously close to shooting the hero who disarmed Loughner.

    Once you step out the of the “Red Dawn” and Wild West film scripts, the paranoid fantasies fall apart quickly in the light of reality.

  27. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Stop with the “the armed citizen who was present came dangerously close to shooting the hero” already. It is an irrelevant point. The man’s gun NEVER even can out of his pocket. His intelligent assessment of the situation in a matter of a second or two makes the scenario irrelevant to gun carry.

    In fact, it MAKES gun carry MORE relevant as, had the person WITH the gun HAD been the bad guy, the armed citizen COULD have taken action and possibly prevented MORE deaths.

    EVERY DAY you come within a half second and 3 feet of a disaster, if you drive on an undivided road at 50+mph. But you avoid a head-on collision by keeping your car on YOUR side of the yellow line. The fact that the “possible” disaster MAY occur, doesn’t keep you from driving.

  28. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    can = came

    oops

  29. Bart DePalma says:

    Todd Dugdale says: Please explain how the vast majority of the voters, whom you believe to be conservative, allowed this “leftist” named Bush to subvert the government – not once, but twice.

    Bush campaigned as a centrist in 2000 and lost the popular vote. In 2004, Bush ran on economic growth from his Reagan style tax cuts and the war president. The conservatives came home for the last election cycle until 2010.

    Please explain why none of those wise and noble conservative (‘majority’) voters called these “leftist” policies “tyranny” during the entire two terms.

    Because Bush was the candidate of their party. Instead of bitching as they should have, conservatives stayed home and the center went for the blue dogs by 2006.

    The conservatives were ready for open rebellion after TARP and the polling for faith in the government was at its lowest point in Gallup history. Obama poured gasoline by the bucket full on that fire in the form of the largest expansion in government since the LBJ and Nixon. Thus, the Tea Party was born.

    And, finally, please explain why we should take this alleged conservative majority so seriously now, when you contend that these very same people made profoundly stupid choices in every election since 1984.

    How stupid? Starting with 1980, the center right majority (including a conservative plurality) has been fairly consistent. They have consistently voted in candidates running conservative campaigns and have punished incumbents who governed from the left after campaigning right (Bush 92, Dem Congress 94, GOP Congress 06 and 08, Dem House 2010).

    The center of this center right coalition – the white working class Reagan Dems have been the swing vote between the parties. They put the yellow and blue dogs, Clinton and then Obama into power. However, the white working class turned against the Dems in 2010 in numbers not seen since 1928. I wonder if the Dems lied one too many times and have realigned the Reagan Dems with the GOP for the near to mid term. 2012 will tell.

  30. shortchain says:

    Max,

    Rather poor analogy, given the number of people killed in collisions…

    In any case, the concern was expressed by the guy who nearly shot an innocent man. Apparently he was horrified at the near miss.

    How many kids with toy guns have been shot by police in error?

    So this doesn’t seem like a misplaced concern to me.

  31. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    You are just too funny today. So, apparently, 9/11/2001 never happened, and of course those little military exercises in 2002 and 2003 didn’t lend Bush the sobriquet of “war president”. Bush never landed on a carrier in a publicity stunt. None of that ever happened.

    Nope, it was all the “Reagan dems” — who, if Bart keeps going, will still be voting in 2016, I’m sure.

    Hilarious.

  32. Todd Dugdale says:

    Max aka Birdpilot wrote:
    Stop with the “the armed citizen who was present came dangerously close to shooting the hero” already.

    It’s the first time I’ve brought it up. Please let me know which other other opinions I should pre-emptively refrain from expressing.

    In a head-on collision, the person hitting me would be in equal danger, so it’s not a valid analogy to a less-than-intelligent person (who is not even required to prove they can operate a gun safely, much less a car) making a split second decision in regard to someone else’s life.

  33. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Todd,

    Note that I did NOT specifically say you, so please do not take it personally. I didn’t mean it that way. That example has been mentioned in several places by several, so, by design, I was being general in my response. You will note that, when I direct a comment to a specific person, I always use their name.

    My apologies for not being clear.

    But, Todd, if I’m shooting in anger, and another person exposes a gun in my general direction, THEY will be my next target. Therefore BOTH of the parties would be in more or less equal danger. AND we are NOT speaking of a “less-than-intelligent” person with respect to the armed citizen in the cited case. The analogy holds.

    Will someone tell Bart to just STFU, as he has demonstrated that does NOT know who elects the President, thus his knowledge of the Constitution is woeful.

    He has been impeached as a reliable witness. Thus his testimony is worthless.

    “There! There, Mr. Fung!”

  34. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    In 2004, Bush ran on economic growth from his Reagan style tax cuts and the war president. The conservatives came home for the last election cycle until 2010.

    So was he a “leftist”, as you said earlier? Now you’re saying he was a solid conservative. Do you read your own posts? “Obama and Clinton won when a Bush governed from the left and on platforms of a middle class tax cut and fiscal conservatism.

    Because Bush was the candidate of their party.

    … and that happened by magic? Were there no primaries to keep the “leftist” out?

    How stupid? Starting with 1980, the center right majority (including a conservative plurality) has been fairly consistent.

    Well, you are the one claiming that they were ‘fooled’ by the lies of Clinton, Bush, Obama into believing that they were really conservatives. “This is why your candidates have to lie about their intentions to be elected.” And your conservative majority seems particularly vulnerable to those ‘lies’, does it not?

    They have consistently voted in candidates running conservative campaigns and have punished incumbents who governed from the left after campaigning right (Bush 92, Dem Congress 94, GOP Congress 06 and 08, Dem House 2010).

    Okay, so “consistently” now means “in every case except for the exceptions”?

    They voted in the “leftist” Bush, who became a ‘solid conservative’ in 2004… and who passed TARP (?). Clinton, too, was a conservative – or was he a leftist who lied about his intentions? And they voted in the ‘conservative’ Obama, who clearly lied about his intentions.

    Is any of this supposed to make sense?

    Are you the BDP who wrote:
    Sure. Medicare Part D, NCLB, S-Chip and TARP were definitely proposals that Reagan would have enacted. Bush governed to the left of post 1994 Clinton.

    So was Bush a leftist? If so, did he not fool his own Party into nominating him, and then into electing him? He was “to the left” of a Democrat, according to your astute analysis. But yet, the conservative majority “consistently” voted out “incumbents who governed from the left after campaigning right”, so he must not have won a second term and the national memory is all askew.

    This isn’t even “pretzel logic”, because that implies some kind of logic to begin with. You are making a collage of contradictory assertions and pretending that it is a coherent position.

    The center of this center right coalition – the white working class Reagan Dems have been the swing vote between the parties.

    Whoa. Now it’s a “coalition”, not a vast majority of conservatives who despise socialism. The whole idea of a “swing vote” undermines your “consistently conservative” narrative, too.

    So there is a vast majority of conservatives who consistently vote for conservatives, except for when they aren’t a majority, and when they vote for leftists who pretend to be conservatives, or when they just stay home and don’t vote. Got it.

  35. dcpetterson says:

    Barted:
    The conservatives were ready for open rebellion after TARP

    Let’s be clear. Are you saying that someone was advocating (or desiring) a violent overthrow of the duly-elected government? Or are you using the language of violent revolution as a metaphor?

    And by the way, let’s also be clear. It was the ultraconservative government of G. W. Bush and D. Cheney that first advocated TARP. And it was the ultraconservative corporate elites of the banking industry that benefited — and the world economy that was saved from complete collapse. So this act that you are now condemning was proposed by your compatriots (though you now pretend to dislike them) and it rescued us from utter disaster.

    As realistic and pragmatic liberal progressive, I’m able to put aside the question of whose idea it was, and look toward what effect it had. It’s sad that your cynical and partisan blindness prevents you from celebrating a good idea from your friends, and a good result for America.

    Oh, for a consistent and rational conservative to discuss issues!

  36. Todd Dugdale says:

    Max wrote:
    My apologies for not being clear.

    My apologies for taking offence so easily.

  37. Bartbuster says:

    Baghdad, you’re taking a pretty serious beating. Isn’t it time for you to flee to another message board?

  38. Number Seven says:

    Bartoinette, STFU

    You probably think Sgt Neidermeyer is a Vietnam War hero. So, in his words: you are worthless and weak!!!!

  39. Number Seven says:

    Bartoinettes philosophy is: Thank you sir, can I have another?

    Guess what movie I am watching now, lol

  40. dcpetterson says:

    Todd, your ability to find the internal contradictions of an irrational mind is truly beautiful to behold.

  41. dcpetterson says:

    On TARP — nearly all of the TARP money has been paid back — with interest. America isn’t going to lose much money, if any at all. And the world economy was saved.

    That Bart continues to depict this brilliant emergency measure as an example of “tyranny” is … well, I don’t know what it is, other than completely irrational and partisan.

  42. Number Seven says:

    Speaking of movies, Bart reminds me of the guy in Robocop who lost the election and decided to hold the mayor of Detroit hostage. Robocop then pulled him through the wall, disarmed him and tossed him out the window with the MSM cameras on him as he went splat, lol.

    Then they turned to the commercial of the game “Nuke Em”…. you crossed my line of death…..

    I’ll buy that for a dollar!!!!

  43. mikelawyr2 says:

    Bart DePalma says: “This is why I noted before that the US military with maybe a million troops cannot hope to control a continental country with over 100 million armed citizens.”

    What about 250,000 troops and 60 million armed citizens (or 30 million if you don’t count women and children)?

  44. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    To recap:

    “I don’t like (some/all) guns because they can be used for (limited/excessive) evil. Therefore we should restrict (some/all) guns.”

    “I am mentally competent, nonviolent, and responsible. I like guns and I want one”

  45. shortchain says:

    Eusebio,

    Just a couple of questions:
    1) Should you really need to prove that you are nonviolent and sane?
    2) If so, how? The peaceful soul now may later become violent. Sanity is a relative term. I know quite a few people who, until they start raving about “will of the people”, seem as sane as you or I.
    3) You may also like culturing anthrax. Should we trust your word that you are responsible and careful?

    The jury has already come in about (some) guns. We’re not allowed, as citizens, to own some weapons. The only question remaining is, “what weapons ought a reasonably responsible citizen to be able to own?”

    a) Deer rifle with scope (bolt action, scope. Very effective sniper weapon, when sighted in and in the hands of a person who knows how to use it, should your nonviolent nature becomes less nonviolent.)
    b) Semi-automatic or pump shotgun (fires about 2-3 rounds/second, holds 4 in the magazine, 1 in the chamber, takes about 4 seconds to reload fully. Doesn’t require much aiming. Sportsmen use these for taking wild birds, and, as such, are pretty humane. Also useful for crowd control, if your nonviolent nature gets stressed. And I can tell you from personal experience that nothing creates an air of calm in a tense situation like the sound of a pump shotgun chambering a round. That “snick-snack” has a remarkable calming affect on even belligerent drunks.)
    c) Semi-automatic pistol (fires about 2-3 rounds/second. Magazines available with up to 30 rounds. Aiming is optional, if you are in a crowd. Just keep pulling the trigger until it’s empty. Not good for anything but anti-personnel use, as, even in the hands of an expert marksman, very few animals will let you get close enough. In the case of humans, though, since it’s easy to conceal — and you can even get licenses for this — you can get to a range of inches if you want to. Take it to class with you. Or to church, and feel that delicious undercurrent of sinfulness as you imagine sighting down the barrel at the person giving that boring sermon or homily.)

    These are all legal and sanctioned.

    But you can only get automatic weapons, or weapons capable of delivering an HE, tear gas, or AP round, with a license or unless you are a member of a law-enforcement organization. Too bad, because the knowledge that some cars are equipped with reactive armor would make drivers a lot more careful.

  46. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    1) Sure. I will accept a transparent and open mental health evaluation, independent of gun registration. I hope that anyone else with the capability (IMO everyone) to inflict ultra-violence would be subject to the same test.

    2) Way outside of my expertise. I hear you’re pretty messed up when the armed forces won’t take you…

    FYI The barrier to full autos is 1) $$/bureaucracy and 2) a really nasty felony.

    3) Maybe, just as you accept that I am responsible and careful with 1) my education and 2) machine tools

    Should we mentally evaluate every engineering grad or do you need a PhD thesis on a military weapons project to set you apart? every machinist, or just the ones that work for Browning? chemists or just the ones designing anti-personal mines for Alliant? farmers or just those who apply ammonium based fertilizer? microbiologist or just those specializing in pathogens? Anyone who could feasibly create an ultra-violent weapon? Should we censor the full auto conversion procedure for semiauto guns?

    I have a much easier solution. How about when bad people do bad things we hold them accountable.

  47. shortchain says:

    Eusebio,

    Let me say, up front, that I have no answers, only questions. Here’s the dilemma:

    If I am called on to trust you — I’ve got no problem. You seem like a sane, non-violent person.

    The problem is that I don’t get to say. Some gun-store clerk, or some bureaucrat, somewhere, is the one that gets to make the call. The question is, do I trust them, both to allow responsible people to have weapons and to prevent the irresponsible ones from getting them? And, if I repose my trust in them, what guidelines do I give them to guide them in their decision-making?

    Frankly, I have no faith that a sanity test would be used properly. A felony conviction has less chance of being misused, so I’m OK with that, provided there’s a mechanism for regaining that right on review.

    But that leaves a huge gap, and I see no way of bridging that gap on an individual basis. Lacking a methodology for keeping weapons out of the hands of people who very likely may be a danger to others, we are left with the unpalatable choice of keeping some of the most dangerous and easily misused weapons out of the hands of the public.

    It’s a balancing act, you see. Your right to have and enjoy your dangerous toys must be balanced against the public safety.

    Personally, I’d bar easily-concealable weapons that are designed for no other reason than to kill people. Rifles (as above)? No problem. Shotguns (of the type above)? No problem. I wouldn’t even bar automatic weapons that cannot be concealed, although I’d restrict them to people with training and issue licenses. Concealable weapons? I’d say you should have training and get a license just to possess one. To carry one concealed, you’d better have a damn sight better reason than that you “like them”, in my view.

  48. Emerson Schwartzkopf says:

    As a fellow gun-owner, I appreciate many of Mr. Universe’s comments. Owning firearms is serious enough to allow some regulation for the protection of the greater public. Any right to bear arms doesn’t necessarily mean the ability to tote a LAWs rocket or panzerfaust down the street.

    However, the motor-licensing analogy is a bit flawed because, in essence, the procedure for granting driving licenses is as flawed as today’s laws on purchasing firearms. Testing at the local DMV doesn’t reveal anything about the people with the ability to do the most harm with a vehicle — i.e., drug addicts or alcoholics — nor is there any restriction on intent. As long as seizures aren’t lurking in any public records, anyone with an illness — mental or otherwise — can get a license. And no test involves piloting a vehicle at speeds beyond 40 mph, driving at night or discerning reaction times to unusual circumstances — the conditions involving most fatal accidents.

    In other words, driving tests really don’t weed out problems any better than current gun-ownership regulations. And, if you want to get into wacky differences in state licensing procedures for a privilege accepted nationwide (and worldwide, for that matter), you can’t do much better than licensing drivers.

    As for gun ownership, I favor regulation in the name of safety — in fact, I’d favor that anyone be checked out that they could safely operate a particular firearm before every purchase. I’d limit any clip or magazine for a weapon to 10 rounds, which is more than enough for sporting use or personal protection. I also don’t mind restricting purchases for anyone with a record of criminal violent behavior (including domestic and child abuse) or actions against other persons (such as burglary), or acute medical conditions recognized in legal actions. We also don’t need the open swap-meet-sales of some gun shows, which is a basic nose-thumbing of any regulation set to protect the public.

    I do believe that gun ownership is a right that’s granted by the U.S. Constitution. However, I also believe that gun ownership is also a privilege and a responsibility, and — like other rights enumerated within the U.S. Constitution — there are boundaries that cannot be draconian, but must be tolerated.

  49. Mr. Universe says:

    I have a much easier solution. How about when bad people do bad things we hold them accountable.

    Done.

    Now how about exploring ways to make it harder for them to accomplish bad things?

  50. Mr. Universe says:

    @Emerson

    RE: the driver’s license analogy. Yeah, I needed a metaphor that non-gun owners and gun owners could both grasp. As imperfect as the analogy was, I thought it was a useful means to point out the difference in attitudes surrounding the respective restrictions on gun ownership and driving. One is just accepted while the other is vehemently protested. I’m struggling with what the difference between the two is.

  51. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    It’s a balancing act, you see. Your right to have and enjoy your dangerous toys must be balanced against the public safety.

    This is an easy disagreement. I think the public is safe. The danger of being the subject of random gun violence is low, considering the hundreds of millions of guns floating around. Certainly this is true relative to other more ridiculous dangers, e.g. drunk drivers. In addition to the other mayhem and devastation that alcohol brings to our world, there is zero utility for the personal consumption of alcohol. As someone who sees alcohol as a far greater menace than gun violence, I’m offended that we aren’t treating our problems uniformly. I prefer liberal allowances for personal behavior, but I favor it less than consistent principles.

  52. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    I have a much easier solution. How about when bad people do bad things we hold them accountable.

    Done.

    correction “Done, for those without power, resources, or affiliation with USG”

    Now how about exploring ways to make it harder for them to accomplish bad things?

    Easy. Spy on everyone and outlaw every danger, of course!

  53. Monotreme says:

    Two interesting data points from the latest PPP/Daily Kos polling:

    “Only” 17% of Americans identify themselves as Tea Party supporters.

    However, of those, 13% think that violence against the government is justified.

    http://www.dailykos.com/weeklypolling/2011/1/14

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