NRA: Tyranny of the Minority

-->
firearms

In The Federalist #10, James Madison discussed the concept of the tyranny of the majority. He addressed the concern that a political, ideological or religious faction might take control of the federal government and oppress people outside the faction. Factions are inevitable in a free society, he said, but in such a large country he thought it unlikely that any one faction could come to dominate the entire nation.

We should consider whether communication technology is has rendered Madison’s argument obsolete. In the 18th century, communication could take days or weeks to go from one part of the country to another, making mass organizing difficult by any but the most tenacious leaders of the most compelling causes. Today, any idiot can push a button and reach multitudes. Combine that with the pernicious influence of campaign and lobbying money, and a well-organized faction can pretty much run roughshod over everybody else.

Not content with merely supporting an individual right to own firearms, the National Rifle Association is hellbent on eliminating all restrictions on any citizens carrying guns anywhere he or she wants, including churches, workplaces, and now bars and restaurants. This is in spite of the fact that even in the most 2nd-amendment lovin’ red states a large majority of people think it’s a real bad idea for a bunch of drunken yahoos to be packing heat.

Yes, the new Tennessee law that lifts all restrictions on where a citizen can carry a concealed weapon, including into bars, provides that the carrier must abstain from drinking. Like that’s even enforceable.

A bar owner can, supposedly, keep guns out of his bar if he posts a clear, legible sign that says guns are not permitted. People opposed to the law argue that this places too much law-enforcement responsibility onto the bar owner.

Jeff Woods writes for the Nashville Scene:

As much of Tennessee reeled from the record-breaking flood, state lawmakers remained dry atop Capitol Hill last week and dealt with dispatch with the most pressing issue of the day. Yes, as the folks back home were losing their homes and livelihoods to the disaster, legislators passed yet another law to let our 270,000 state-licensed gunmen take their firearms into places that serve alcohol.

This time, they dropped the pretense that they were acting on the demands of their constituents. An MTSU poll, in fact, showed last year that 80 percent of Tennesseans are against mixing guns with booze. Law officers are against it too, and so are restaurants, hotels and essentially the state’s entire tourist industry.

No, this time lawmakers made it clear they were kowtowing to the almighty National Rifle Association—and proud of it!

One state Republican legislator named Joe McCord, who is not running for re-election, had the guts to speak the truth:

“Essentially — I’m not quoting; these are my words — the NRA is saying to us, ‘If you don’t support and vote for carrying guns in bars, we will not endorse you and will in fact oppose you,’ ” McCord said. “I’ve got a strong history of supporting and advocating for the NRA, but this line of reasoning is just bordering on lunacy.

“Your preacher, your teacher, your spouse, your parents—nobody’s 100 percent right. The NRA is not right here, and we’re not standing up to them. … It makes me wonder, what line will we not cross for the NRA? I’m just curious. At what point do we say this is too much?”

From an editorial in The Tennessean:

The Tennessee General Assembly has voted against the wishes of a majority of the people of this state for the second year in a row with its bill to allow guns in bars and restaurants.

Why would legislators do this? Why would they put the safety of citizens and the state’s hospitality industry at risk? At first, it seemed to be all about the swagger — conservative legislators and their buddies fulfilling their Old West (or maybe, their modern Mel Gibson) fantasies.

That’s frightening enough. But Wednesday night, it became apparent that legislators pursued this terrible law in the service of a different constituency: the National Rifle Association.

According to the Paris (TN) Post-Intelligencer, just before the vote was taken the House Republican Caucus invited an NRA lobbyist to address the group. “That’s a privilege usually granted only to legislative liaisons who work for government agencies,” the P-I said. “The lobbyist’s message was clear: Vote the NRA way or the organization will campaign against you in upcoming elections.”

The NRA’s argument is that while the militia may be “well-regulated,” any restriction on an individual citizen’s ability to carry a firearm amounts to an “abridgment” of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. This assumes that all such rights are absolute and untouchable by law under all circumstances, but we certainly have never treated any other right that way. Freedom of speech doesn’t include a right to publish and distribute hard-core pornography, for example. Freedom of religion doesn’t rubber stamp human sacrifice.

The NRA is using bullying tactics to impose its will on lawmakers, even when a whopping majority of constituents (and probably the lawmakers’ consciences, if they have any) disagree with the NRA’s position. There are some cities and states in which a big majority would prefer some level of legal gun control, for safety’s sake.

Now the wingnuts are screaming that Elena Kagan is opposed to gun rights because

Elena Kagan said as a U.S. Supreme Court law clerk in 1987 that she was “not sympathetic” toward a man who contended that his constitutional rights were violated when he was convicted for carrying an unlicensed pistol.

Note the “unlicensed” part. More recently she has said,

“There is no question, after Heller, that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to keep and bear arms and that this right, like others in the Constitution, provides strong although not unlimited protection against governmental regulation,” she said.

But that’s not good enough for the gun nuts, who predictably compared Heller Kagan to Third Reich Nazis.

The crazy part of this is that the basic position of the gun lobby — that the 2nd amendment protects an individual right to own firearms — is settled law at this point. And the issue of gun control isn’t even on the progressivist back burner any more, compared to, say, 15 years ago. It’s not even in the bleeping kitchen.

About the only way gun rights are going to be seriously challenged in the foreseeable future is if there is a huge swing of public opinion in the direction of more gun control. A few shoot-outs in Tennessee roadhouses might do it.

Share
54 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Just A Guy  •  May 13, 2010 @3:14 pm

    But that’s not good enough for the gun nuts, who predictably compared Heller to Third Reich Nazis.

    The “comparison” wasn’t with “Third Reich Nazis”; it was with views of the law that turn out to be objectively wrong and oppressive of genuine civil liberty, and are repudiated by intelligent society in short order. It could be the Nazis, it could be Jim Crow, it could be the pre-Heller view of the Second Amendment from the perverted reading of US V. Miller that held sway for so long.

    I’ll await the usual ad-hominem or, more likely, deletion.

  2. maha  •  May 13, 2010 @3:23 pm

    Just: I meant to write “Kagan,” not “Heller,” and have made the correction. But … you are seriously comparing US v. Miller to Jim Crow and the Third Reich? Seriously? I can respect a disagreement with Miller, but … Jim Crow? Nazis?

    All together now: Oh, puh-leeze …

  3. c u n d gulag  •  May 13, 2010 @3:25 pm

    I wasn’t planning on going to Nashville anytime soon, but if I ever do, you can bet if I ever go to a bar there, I may ask for a beer, but I’ll never call for a shot to go with it.

    NRA – Why stop at people? Fetus’s should have gun rights, too! I suggest we demand legislation that requires fetus’s to carry arms, before they’ve even developed them. This way, they’ll adapt that much faster to our beloved gun culture. Sure, MD’s may protest that after they slap the baby, it might start to shoot, but its aim probably won’t be too developed, so no need to worry there.
    And how about arming the dead? Don’t potential Zombies have gun right’s too? And how about deer and other animals? Why don’t they have gun rights?

    In today’s world, the old Bircher’s have become today’s moderates.
    Madness. Everywhere I look, I see nothing but madness.

  4. maha  •  May 13, 2010 @3:34 pm

    I suggest we demand legislation that requires fetus’s to carry arms, before they’ve even developed them.

    LOL!

  5. Rick Massimo  •  May 13, 2010 @3:59 pm

    They long ago switched from playing defense (against new gun regulations) to playing offense (looking for any rules against guns anywhere at any time and fighting them). All for the same reason that other fundamentalists invented “The War on Christmas” – to create a threat in their members’ minds and to (not at all coincidentally) continue raking in the contributions to keep up the fight.

    Because as we all “know,” as soon as you can’t take a gun into a bar, before you know it they’ll be raiding your house and taking your hunting rifles. There is no intermediate step. None.

    And for some of them, I think it’s the same motivation as our worst corporatists: They simply can’t deal with the idea of the government having the authority to tell them to do anything. (Particularly when Democrats are in charge.)

  6. Doug Hughes  •  May 13, 2010 @4:52 pm

    I am trying to figure out a greater phenomenon that’s playing out in this ultra polarized society – which this is only a symptom of. Consider these examples :

    Pistop Packin’ gun nuts in TN
    Utah GOP rejects their incumbant who was the most popular w/ voters
    The AZ Immigtation Law (passed)
    An AZ ban on ethinc studies (passsed)
    A California ballot initiative to leagalize grass (will pass)
    (the polarizarion goes both ways)
    McCain running for his life against teabaggger
    Crist switches to Independent in FL to fight teabagger
    Palin considered a FAVORITE for GOP nod in 2012.

    These stories for the most part would have been considered improbable, bordering on impossible a short time ago. The insanity seems to be accelerating – but it has to stop somewhere – but where?

  7. Just A Guy  •  May 13, 2010 @5:18 pm

    But … you are seriously comparing US v. Miller to Jim Crow and the Third Reich? Seriously? I can respect a disagreement with Miller, but … Jim Crow? Nazis?

    Don’t be absurd. It’s not a straight comparison of effect or moral vacuity.

    All three involved gross violations of human rights and civil liberties. That the end results differ doesn’t make Miller a good decision; it was still a violation of civil rights and an incredibly stupid decision to use as precdent.

    I wasn’t planning on going to Nashville anytime soon, but if I ever do, you can bet if I ever go to a bar there, I may ask for a beer, but I’ll never call for a shot to go with it.

    I’ll resist the temptation to scoff “Dramatic much?” and simply ask you if you’re aware of how many “shall issue” states currently allow legal carry in bars? The answer – a couple of dozen. For example, in uberliberal Minnesota, permittees are allowed to carry provided they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) below .04, which is half the legal limit to drive. There have been exactly ZERO incidents of any type involving shall-issue permittees and shootings of any kind in bars.

    Or even more uberliberal Vermont, where no permit is required to carry a concealed handgun, anywhere, anytime. How many shooting incidents happen in Vermont at all?

    I’m especially upset about you peoples’ stances on things; I’ve won liberals over to the right on the issue before. But please – try to get your facts straight.

  8. Just A Guy  •  May 13, 2010 @5:19 pm

    Er, that should be I’m not upset…

  9. erinyes  •  May 13, 2010 @5:29 pm

    Dougie,
    As a fellow Florida resident, here is my response to your questions.
    TN. is Jesusistan, ’nuff said.
    Our “friends” in Utah believe in magic underpants, and a TRULY celeistial home.
    AZ. voters are mostly well heeled, scared shitless over 65 white folk, my in- laws live there, and are prime examples.
    Legalizing grass is a very good thing. I don’t use it, but I can’t see any danger, and see a lot of good by this action.( except binge eating and having sex but forgeting about having sex, so having sex again (this from personal experience in my former life)).
    Bye, bye McCain; Thanks “Sarahcuda”!
    It ain’t the only thing Charlie is switchin’, good luck Charlie!
    I HOPE Palin gets the nod, but I hope she’s declared an illegal combatant before then; could happen.Reload, cross-hairs?
    The insanity will stop when Cheney is indited for his crimes in both the oil industry and the military-industrial complex; crimes against humanity.

  10. Jamie  •  May 13, 2010 @5:53 pm

    Arizona has an open gun law and while sitting at a restaraunt, someone sat at the next table with his six shooter on his hip. You don’t think that won’t make your dinner go cold in a hurry?

  11. uncledad  •  May 13, 2010 @6:06 pm

    But that’s not good enough for the gun nuts, who predictably compared Heller Kagan to Third Reich Nazis.

    I agree with the post completely but as somewhat of a gun nut myself I take some umbrage to being lumped in with the NRA crazies. I’ve owned guns my whole life, I got shotguns, rifles, pistols, hell I even got me a (legal) assault rifle. I do not belong to the NRA never have never would. All my guns are legally registered as they should be and I do not carry my pistols in public (even though I have a permit). I’ve got GAS (gun acquisition syndrome) also (guitar acquisition syndrome) it’s a hobby. The NRA doesn’t give two shits about gun rights; they are acting on behalf of gun manufactures, dealers and ammunition makers. Its all about money for the NRA and anyone who tells you different is full of shit. If the NRA can get everyone to start carrying guns in public what do think will happen to gun sales? It’s all about fear; nothing drives gun sales like fear (witness the boom in gun sales after that colored fellow got elected). Everyone carrying guns in public will promote fear, fear will drive more gun and ammo sales, simple isn’t it?

  12. Just A Guy  •  May 13, 2010 @6:11 pm

    You don’t think that won’t make your dinner go cold in a hurry?

    Depends. Do you or do you not trust your law-abiding neighbors?

  13. c u n d gulag  •  May 13, 2010 @6:14 pm

    Jamie,
    If the staff at the restaurant is armed as well, I might not think that’s such a bad idea.
    If the customer starts to complain over something stupid, or leaves a very small tip, the waiter could have a Dirty Harry Callahan moment. They could pull out their gun ahead of the customer, look at them and say, “… you’ve gotta ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky?… Well, do ya punk?”
    Or, “Go ahead! Make my day…”
    If you think shooting customers for really rude behaviour or bad tips is a bit excessive, then you’ve never been a waiter or bartender…

  14. buckyblue  •  May 13, 2010 @6:38 pm

    “Depends. Do you or do you not trust your law-abiding neighbors?”
    Not with my life, in every situation, no I don’t. Besides the fact that the current interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is, I believe, wrong. Even if it did allow for unlimited firearm possession without restrictions, written like that, it was simply wrong. The Founders got it wrong. Or maybe to put it more graciously, in 220+ years, our society has changed to such a point that our Founding Fathers could never have anticipated changes in technology, and certainly would not have wanted a part of the Constitution to limit what every reasonable country in the world has been able to see. The same logic that allows me to own a gun and do whatever the hell I want to with it can be applied to cars. Why should there be any restriction on how fast I drive my car. After all, cars don’t kill people, people kill people. The fact that we can have repeated mass killings without even a whimper of discussion about reasonable gun control is a sign of just how screwed up this country has become. Thirty-three people lose their lives in a shooting spree in West Virginia and there wasn’t even a hint of a discussion that we may want to do something different. Would it take a hundred to be gunned down in cold blood, two hundred? I’m with the Tennessee legislature; where’s the line for even reasonable gun control. Drunk people with guns in bars in Tennessee. I say go for it. Let the carnage begin and maybe after the smoke clears we can have some kind of reasonable discussion around the place for guns.

  15. maha  •  May 13, 2010 @7:54 pm

    Do you or do you not trust your law-abiding neighbors?

    I trust them enough that I don’t feel a need to own a firearm. If you choose to keep a firearm in your home that’s your business, but seems to me people who can’t breathe unless they own a gun are the ones with trust issues.

    I’m not against gun ownership. I grew up in rural Missouri, by dad and brother hunted, there were guns in the house. Not a problem. But where I’m living now I don’t want people who haven’t been trained and carefully screened to be carrying concealed weapons, in bars or anywhere else. I believe most folks around here feel that way.

    According to a reference site I just consulted, a 9mm bullet shot from an average sized handgun travels 2,300 meters before falling. This converts to 7,546 feet, which is just short of 1 1/2 miles, yes?. According to another website, the population density of the community I live in is 10,833.5 people per square mile. Someone whose math skills are better than mine perhaps could calculate how many people potentially are in range if a guy chooses to shoot that handgun. Then calculate for New York City, which has an average population density of 71,201 people per square mile. It’s denser than that in some parts. That’s a whole lot o’ trustin’ to do.

    I think if you’ll check, you’ll find that there is more support for gun control in densely populated areas than in sparsely populated areas. That’s why I think one-size-fits-all gun laws are wrong. Laws that are fine for Moose Holler Montana would be a disaster in Manhattan.

  16. maha  •  May 13, 2010 @8:03 pm

    All three involved gross violations of human rights and civil liberties.

    I’ll resist the temptation to scoff “Dramatic much?” … well, no I won’t. All the many years that the Miller standard was case law, where were these “gross violations of human rights and civil liberties”? Show me. I want examples of these “gross” violations.

    Notice I’m not arguing whether Miller was right or wrong. I just want you to show me how the course of peoples’ lives were being degraded because of Miller.

  17. muldoon  •  May 13, 2010 @9:55 pm

    Although the NRA claims a huge membership, I’m not so sure all its members support all its policies — or would if they knew what they were.

    Six or seven years ago, when I was living in a rural area, I received a “survey” phone call from the NRA. The first yes/no questions were easy for this gun owner to give a “yes” to. But then it evolved into a push poll and became real clear that the purpose of the call was not to elicit my opinion but to influence my opinion. When I refused to contune with the survey because the questions were clearly slanted to generate the answers the NRA wanted, I still received a sales pitch to join the NRA.

    The poll was sneaky and underhanded, but so cunningly devised I suspect it conned a lot of people into believing the NRA was speaking God’s own truth.

    I believe uncledad nailed it. The NRA is not about gun ownership; it’s about gun and amunition manufacturers selling more product.

  18. Swami  •  May 13, 2010 @9:56 pm

    Depends. Do you or do you not trust your law-abiding neighbors?

    It’s not about being law abiding..It’s about being mentally stable. Anybody who has to wear a six shooter strapped to his side when he goes out to dinner or out in public is screaming instability. Having a need to display the ability to kill is a clear sign of a troubled mind….and I wouldn’t put my trust, or feel comfortable in the presence of an obviously troubled mind.

  19. uncledad  •  May 14, 2010 @12:21 am

    “The same logic that allows me to own a gun and do whatever the hell I want to with it can be applied to cars. Why should there be any restriction on how fast I drive my car. After all, cars don’t kill people, people kill people”

    That sort of knee jerk conflation is exactly what the wingnuts want to hear from liberals. In fact there are restrictions on how fast you can drive your car as there are laws that provide for restrictions on firearm ownership, conceal and carry and the way one chooses to shoot. The proposed loosening of the rules is meant to provoke exactly the sort of overreaction that is quoted above. The NRA is all about gun sales, public displays of firearm ownership will promote more gun sales. I would argue what will really spike gun sales is some knee jerk gun law. Or if they could get Obama to take the bait (hence his F rating from the Brady group) and appease the left with some anti-gun rhetoric.. It is in the NRA’s interest to provoke the left. The way to fight the NRA is not through firearm restrictions, the only way to fight the NRA is for moderates and liberals to publicly pronounce that gun ownership is indeed a right, and that gun ownership should be treated and regulated much the same as driving privileges. Democrats in congress have figured this out, they understand that the NRA will continue to exploit the fear of even moderate gun owners, anti-gun overreacting lefty’s only give the NRA what they paid for.

  20. c u n d gulag  •  May 14, 2010 @7:49 am

    Just a Guy,
    “I’ll resist the temptation to scoff “Dramatic much?”
    What I frequently try to do here is bring some levity to serious subjects. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Exaggeration is sometimes an element of humor. Maybe that little joke failed.
    And yes, I’m keenly aware of the fact that many other states have open-carry, or some variation, laws. But that doesn’t make that right.
    We are a nation of laws, carrying a gun wherever you go, and I’m with sort of with ‘Swami on this one, is to me a little juvenile. Carrying a gun wherever you go seems to show that you either don’t trust, or feel that you don’t need, the law – that you are your own law.
    There were times and places where that may have been necessary, if not critical to an individual, or his familiy’s survival. I just don’t think the ‘Outback” and “TGIF” at the strip mall down the road, your local “Cheers,” or your house of worship exactly qualify as 21st Century versions of “Deadwood.” But, then again, I’ve only lived in NY and NC my whole life, so maybe I need to get out more (btw – I have visited many other parts of the country, so it’s not like I’ve neer been anywhere).
    I do not now, nor have I ever objected to hunting rifles. I don’t have an issue with a small handgun used to protect your home, though why, unless you live in some rural area, you’d feel the need, is beyond me. But still, ok, go ahead. It’s the automatic’s, the huge caliber guns that I have a problem.

    Just a Guy,
    Maybe all I need is an explanation. Why would you feel someone needs to, or wants to, bring a gun to a public park, a bar, or a church? Outside of the fact that they can, by local law.
    Please, at least tell me why you think that is? Help me to understand that point of view, and I promise – no snark back! I really do want to know.

  21. erinyes  •  May 14, 2010 @8:30 am

    Swami, you nailed it!

  22. joanr16  •  May 14, 2010 @8:59 am

    Do you or do you not trust your law-abiding neighbors?

    First, we’re talking about a total stranger sitting next to you in a restaurant. Please stop wasting everyone’s time with the false equivalences, already.

    Second, in answer to your non-sequitur question: NO. Not when there’s no way to know for certain if my neighbors are, in fact, “law abiding.” It’s always the quiet ones, the ones who appear to be law-abiding, that end up being talked about after the bloody fact by their appalled neighbors. Welcome to the real world.

    Your points consistently make no sense, Mr. Guy, and it’s obvious you couldn’t convince any reasonable person of laws as dumb as the Tenn. one with the arguments you’ve made here.

  23. joanr16  •  May 14, 2010 @9:05 am

    Why should there be any restriction on how fast I drive my car. After all, cars don’t kill people, people kill people.

    Uncledad, I think that was sarcasm. I mean, why don’t we hear from the pro-drag racing on the Interstate crowd, if we’re going to allow shootin’ irons in the saloons? Fact is, we don’t, and I believe Buckyblue’s point was that cars are regulated for the public safety. This post is all about regulating firearms for the public safety, nothing more.

  24. maha  •  May 14, 2010 @9:13 am

    Why would you feel someone needs to, or wants to, bring a gun to a public park, a bar, or a church? Outside of the fact that they can, by local law.

    After he’s done with that question, I want him to explain how not being allowed to carry a gun to a public park, a bar, or a church is a gross violation of human rights equivalent to Jim Crow laws or stuff done by Nazi Germany.

  25. c u n d gulag  •  May 14, 2010 @10:12 am

    You know maha, I wrote “house of worship” initially. Then, I wrote “Church.”
    I wonder though, what the opinion would be if Muslims in Mosque’s came packing as much hardware as they wanted? As public opinion is generally against packing in bars, churches, restaurants and public parks, this might not help the gun-lonvers cause.
    I’m sure the NRA wouldn’t have a problem with that. After all , as ‘uncledad’ said, they’re really just a marketing company working for gun, ammo, and related industries.
    How would Bubba would feel, if there’s a Mosques nearby, if his church didn’t have superior fire-power? What if the arms are equal? Is that now to be known as: “A Muslim Standoff?”
    To all gun supoorters, a “church” as YOU define it, is not how the court would. They would allow mosques, synagogues, any and all houses of worship, including Scientologist’s, to pack heat wherever and whenever they pray.
    Be careful what you wish for. It might not come to just bite you in the ass, it might shoot you in it instead…

  26. muldoon  •  May 14, 2010 @10:48 am

    Beyond doubt, guns in heavily populated areas present a much higher risk of serious and/or deadly unintended consequences. A bullet from a high-powered rifle or handgun can travel through a lot of walls in a house or an apratment complex; in some cases, it can even penetrate one outer wall and exit through another. Quite a difference between that and rural areas with scant populations. And even so, growing up in a rural area, my father would never allow me to shoot at anything on the skyline, because “you never know who or what’s on the other side of the hill.” Trouble is, Republicans have aligned themselves with the NRA as the “defenders of gun rights”, and that’s pretty hard for the Dems to fight without losing.

    Swami, I agree that those public gun-toters are half a bubble off plumb. But all I can say is the ones I know and/or have known personally are harmless loons looking for a little attention. Whereas, the cold-blodded killers I have known (all two of them, which admittedly makes me no expert) seemed as sane as anybody and would never have carried a weapon openly. Consequently, I feel pretty comfortable sitting in a restaurant with gun-toters, but some of those quiet ones, who sit alone, say little and look like bank tellers and accountants, give me the twitchies.

  27. Just A Guy  •  May 14, 2010 @11:30 am

    I just want you to show me how the course of peoples’ lives were being degraded because of Miller.

    Every otherwise law-abiding citizen who was arrested and presecuted in Chicago, New York, Washington DC and every other state that passed restrictive laws on the lab-abiding citizen’s right to self-defense because of the Miller precedent.

    I want him to explain how not being allowed to carry a gun to a public park, a bar, or a church is a gross violation of human rights equivalent to Jim Crow laws or stuff done by Nazi Germany.

    Never said it was an equivalent, and when I was asked about that above I specifically disclaimed any equivalence. Move along now.

    But tell me – how exactly do you figure which constitutional rights are or are not important enough to defend? Before you answer – if you are one of those “progressives” who spent the Bush years waiting for the sky to fall in re civil liberties, think very carefully before you answer.

    I trust them enough that I don’t feel a need to own a firearm.

    That’s your right! By all means, feel that way!

    If you choose to keep a firearm in your home that’s your business, but seems to me people who can’t breathe unless they own a gun are the ones with trust issues.

    Er, “Dramatic much?” I breathe just fine, armed or not.

    But I also taught a two-time rape victim how to shoot, once upon a time. This was back before my state issued carry permits to peasants. Did she have “issues?” Well, yeah – perfectly valid ones.

    And I suspect every single one of the victims at, say, Virginia Tech had wished someone had had enough “issues” to have brought a firearm.

    As a permit-holder, I trust my fellow citizens just fine. But we live in an imperfect world; as someone who’d never stolen so much as a candy bar in my life, I much prefer having the ability, if it is (God forbid) needed, to prudently deal with life’s more malignant imperfections.

    It’s not about being law abiding..It’s about being mentally stable. Anybody who has to wear a six shooter strapped to his side when he goes out to dinner or out in public is screaming instability

    Well, that’s your opinion, and you’re entitled to it.

    I happen to work in a field where I have to deal in facts. The fact is, people who have no criminal records, no drug or alcohol abuse problems and no documented record of serious mental illness – who are the ones who qualify for carry permits in 40 of the states – are two orders of magnitude less likely to commit any crime than the general public.

    However, I’ll meet you halfway. While open-carry isn’t actually statistically dangerous (another pesky fact; a law-abiding citizen isn’t going to shoot you; a crazy person or criminal won’t bother with the niceties of complying with the legalities of an open carry law if they are not legally entitled to have a gun in the first place), I find open display of firearms in public, social situations off-putting and presumptuous. I’d rather people didn’t, but that’s just me.

  28. Just A Guy  •  May 14, 2010 @11:38 am

    Not when there’s no way to know for certain if my neighbors are, in fact, “law abiding.

    Wow. So let me get this straight – and I don’t mean to personalize this, by the way – you think strangers are seething cauldrons of danger, so you want to disarm me? Who obeys Christ’s injunction to love my neighbor as himself, but prudently wants to have the option of dealing with the less-trustworthy6 ones, if needed?

    Hmm.

    And yes, there is a way to know which of your neighbors can be trusted. If they pass a criminal background check, have no documented drug or alcohol problems, are of age, and have passed a firearms training course – which are the requirements for a carry permit in most states? They are, statistically, vastly more trustworty than the general public.

    You don’t have to like it, but it’s a statistical fact.

    It’s always the quiet ones, the ones who appear to be law-abiding, that end up being talked about after the bloody fact by their appalled neighbors.

    Wow.

    You’re not one of the “progressives” who says that gun-carrying citizens are “paranoid”, are you?

    Welcome to the real world.

    If you say so.

  29. felicity  •  May 14, 2010 @12:11 pm

    Since the NRA’s ‘defense’ seems to hang solely on the 2nd Amendment, how about an amendment to supercede it. That’s the logical ‘out’ and Congress has the power to pull it off. Afterall, they’ve amazingly good at renaming post offices and airports – honoring some long-dead icon – they should be able to write an amendment?

    My Johnny-one-note kicks in here. How long will it take for us to admit, realize, that living under horse-and-buggy laws, the Constitution, really doesn’t work when we’re actually living in a cybernetic age.

  30. Flaming Humanist  •  May 14, 2010 @1:12 pm

    A response:

    http://www.shotinthedark.info/wp/?p=10908

    Since the NRA’s ‘defense’ seems to hang solely on the 2nd Amendment, how about an amendment to supercede it.

    Go for it!

    Of course, 40 states now have “Shall issue” laws (up from eight, 30 years ago). The vast majority of Americans support the intent of the Second Amendment as it is.

    But knock yourself out!

    That’s the logical ‘out’ and Congress has the power to pull it off.

    Well, no they don’t. They can start the process – but then they have to get 34 states to ratify it. In this day and age, you might get Massachusetts and Rhode Island. No more.

    My Johnny-one-note kicks in here. How long will it take for us to admit, realize, that living under horse-and-buggy laws, the Constitution, really doesn’t work when we’re actually living in a cybernetic age.

    How long will it take? Until it’s correct!

    Which will be roughly…never! Human rights are human rights, now and forever. No changes, no exceptions.

  31. c u n d gulag  •  May 14, 2010 @1:42 pm

    Just a Guy,
    I appreciate your outward humility in choosing that as your moniker. Because, clearly in your own mind, you’re “What a GUY!”
    Your condescending responses led me to think of a new name for you:
    “Just another _______________ (hint: it’s an orifice, but not the one found in the muzzle of a gun).”
    You and Americaneocon (from Saturday’s thread) should get together. You have a lot in common.

  32. erinyes  •  May 14, 2010 @1:48 pm

    just a guy,
    I know several guys who share your views. I DO NOT.
    At 55, I look back on some of the things I’v done that were plain stupid, young men seem to have a monoply on “stupid”, except of couse for a hand full of total psychos in government throughout the world who are not young.
    Anyone who thinks the right to bear arms is a countermeasure to tyranny is not paying attention. Your fucking “credit score” has more bearing on your freedoms.
    If the “evil government” wants you, they will send a couple of cops, or perhaps the SWAT team for you. If that don’t work, there’s the Army, microbes, fungi, chemicals, or smart bombs. Ask David Koresh.
    As far as open carry permits or covert, for that matter, do you think a guy carrying a weapon is more likely to use it in the case of hurt feelings or bruised ego rather than life threatening situations? “to a man with a hammer, the world is full of nails”.
    Take a look at places in the world where weapons are openly carried. The Congo, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia.Sound good?How about our black and hispanic ghettos bristling with openly carried weapons?
    As far as your belief that a “law abiding citizen” is not going to shoot you goes, a “law abiding citizen” in my town shot another to death in front of his kid several years ago over a traffic incident when an argument escalated to road rage.
    There are a lot of “loose cannons” that are “law abiding Citizens”.Shooting another person, regardless of the facts is going to cost time and money to defend.

  33. maha  •  May 14, 2010 @2:10 pm

    Every otherwise law-abiding citizen who was arrested and presecuted in Chicago, New York, Washington DC and every other state that passed restrictive laws on the lab-abiding citizen’s right to self-defense because of the Miller precedent.

    If they broke laws, they weren’t law-abiding, were they? But, really, this is circular. People were arrested for breaking a law they didn’t like. Other than the fact that they had a philosophical disagreement with the law, how would obeying the law have diminished their lives one iota, except in their own heads?

    If you are going to argue that they were carrying as an act of civil disobedience because of a law they disagreed with that’s fine, but as Justice Fortas wrote in Dissent and Civil Disobedience — right or wrong, do the crime, do the time, and don’t complain about it.

    To me, not being allowed to carry a firearm everywhere you go is not oppressive. Most people don’t carry firearms everywhere they go. “Oppression” is not being prevented from doing everything you want, just because you want to do it. It’s being denied jobs or mortgages because of your gender or skin color, or being imprisoned for years without trial because the government classified you as a terrorist. I ask again, how was anyone’s life diminished in any way because of the Miller standard? You haven’t given me an example.

    Even in Vermont (I looked it up) people still can’t carry firearms into courthouses and schools. Is that OK with you? Or is that oppression?

    But I also taught a two-time rape victim how to shoot, once upon a time. This was back before my state issued carry permits to peasants. Did she have “issues?” Well, yeah – perfectly valid ones.

    Once again, I am not opposed to individual firearm ownership, or even keeping a firearm for self-defense, but it’s a simple fact that because we as a nation have chosen to arm ourselves to the teeth for “self-protection,” we have the highest firearm fatality rate in the industrialized world — a rate that has increased every year since 1999, btw, even as state after state has loosened restrictions. If we get much “safer” we’re going to turn into Somalia.

    However, once again, I’m not arguing against individual gun ownership. I’m saying in the post that if 80 percent of the people of Tennessee would prefer that guns be banned from bars, then the law in Tennessee should ban guns from bars. If 80 percent (theoretically speaking; I don’t know) of the people of New Hampshire want people to be allowed to carry guns in bars, then so be it; the law in New Hampshire should allow guns in bars. To me, it violates the whole purpose of federalism if well-funded national organizations are going from state to state strong-arming legislators into voting against their constituents’ wishes.

    The constitutional argument is not whether an individual right enumerated in the Bill of Rights can ever be regulated or restricted. Other rights (e.g., speech, assembly, etc.) are subjected to some limitations and regulations, and I don’t see why firearms should be different. The question is at what point are the regulations or restrictions unreasonable and genuinely oppressive?

    Reasonable people will disagree on where the line should be drawn. Further, some states and communities will be more tolerant of the individual carrying of firearms, open or concealed, than others, and I think local law should reflect that. As I said, people who live in densely populated areas tend to want there to be more restrictions on firearm carrying than in other populations, and there are reasons for that. There are also precedents — local “community standards” may determine how much sexually explicit material may be publicly displayed, for example.

  34. maha  •  May 14, 2010 @2:37 pm

    Afterall, they’ve amazingly good at renaming post offices and airports – honoring some long-dead icon – they should be able to write an amendment?

    They can write an amendment, but it takes 3/4 of the states to then ratify the amendment. So it ain’t gonna happen. And I’m a bit twitchy about messing with the Bill of Rights. If the 2nd can be changed, so can others.

  35. Troy  •  May 14, 2010 @2:42 pm

    “we have the highest firearm fatality rate in the industrialized world — a rate that has increased every year since 1999″

    A citation would be nice.

    “If the 2nd can be changed, so can others”

    Indeed. And if the 2nd can be ‘reinterpreted’, so can others.

  36. maha  •  May 14, 2010 @3:11 pm

    A citation would be nice.

    I thought everybody knew this, but here you go:

    Murders with firearms (most recent) by country — per capita, the U.S. is number 8, between Costa Rica and Uruguay.

    Recent trends in the U.S. — I ran into several sources (here’s one) that said the gun violence rate hit a historic low in 1999 but that gun violence rates, especially in cities, has been rising since.

    And if the 2nd can be ‘reinterpreted’, so can others.

    If you knew history, you’d know they’ve all been reinterpreted several times.

  37. Bill Bush  •  May 14, 2010 @3:53 pm

    There is something wrong with the thinking that says there should be guns everywhere so that in case of a VA Tech shooter, some armed marksman can rise up calmly and dispatch the wrongdoer.

    Exactly how many college classes meetings have there been in the US where there was NO shooter? In the billions, I’d guess. At what point do I get to be in a place where I am less concerned about a hot argument, two extra drinks, a sudden disagreement, or a delusion becoming deadly?

    I strongly remember a day during childhood when we went to the county seat in western NC and saw several men carrying guns. It was worrisome, because there was no threat around EXCEPT those men. I never saw such a thing there again, so I suspect that something was going on, a la Hatfields and McCoys. Safer? No.

    Over thirty years of teaching showed me too many people who do not react thoughtfully to stress or conflict. I don’t care to eat dinner with them and a gun. I have no problem with hunting. I sure hope the turkey hunter who bowhunts on my land will be good enough to show up this fall with a rifle and pick off a few deer near my garden. I have no problem with people who target shoot. I have no problem with a home defense gun or a gun carried in the woods or in a dangerous area. I do have a problem with a gun in a theater, restaurant or other commercial/social area. Too many people die in accidental shootings, which are just as much the responsibility of the pro-gun people as are the precious few incidents of salvation they hype as justification.

    There IS something wrong with people who gotta pack everywhere. I believe they have control issues, paranoid tendencies, or teenie peenie fears. Whatever the case, at least they label themselves. But TMI, I think.

  38. maha  •  May 14, 2010 @4:45 pm

    Exactly how many college classes meetings have there been in the US where there was NO shooter? In the billions, I’d guess. At what point do I get to be in a place where I am less concerned about a hot argument, two extra drinks, a sudden disagreement, or a delusion becoming deadly?

    Yeah, that’s pretty much where I come out, especially living here in Urban Wonderland. If I were still living back in the Ozarks, I can think of some circumstances where one might be alone and isolated and carrying a firearm might not be a bad idea. There are critters you might not want to mess with, never mind people. But living where there are tens of thousands of people per square mile, the odds are that at least a few people occupying any given square mile are unhinged.

  39. Bonnie  •  May 14, 2010 @4:50 pm

    Just a guy seems to be a walking/talking NRA ad. Remember Dr. Tiller was killed in church. And, then there was Columbine. I do not know how other people at Virginia Tech having guns would have improved that situation other than turning it into the gunfight at the OK Corral. I think Maha’s analysis is spot on.

  40. Bonnie  •  May 14, 2010 @4:55 pm

    I was just at the Thinkprogress site and there is a blurb about the NRA convention going on now in North Carolina. Here is a quote:

    “Ironically, ‘the carrying of firearms, both open and concealed’ are banned at the NRA Convention.”

  41. erinyes  •  May 14, 2010 @6:26 pm

    Bonnie, go figure………
    You can’t bring a fork with which to eat your lunch into the Osceola County Fl courthouse, but some want to parade around with side arms?
    WTF???

  42. Troy  •  May 15, 2010 @10:46 am

    ‘I thought everybody knew this’

    Yes, it’s obvious you assume much. “Everybody” knows many things. Many aren’t exactly true. I really don’t care what ‘everybody’ knows. I want to know what motivates _you_ to think as you do.

    An ‘article’ on Huffington Post may be persuasive for some, but the articles solution to ‘gun violence’ is focused on law abiding citizens. That’s not so credible.

    I find the NationMaster links to be of more use. It seems the rate is not ‘firearms fatalities’ but murders. How many of those murders were committed by law abiding citizens, I wonder. We also have the highest unqualified murder rate in the “industrialized world”. Is that somehow due the influence of firearms on people? I don’t think so.

    ‘If you knew history, you’d know they’ve all been reinterpreted several times.’

    Few have suffered stupidities as dense as “the army can bear arms”, right? Feel free to throw stones, but you seem woefully unaware of the restrictions already in place on second amendment freedoms.

  43. maha  •  May 15, 2010 @11:16 am

    you seem woefully unaware of the restrictions already in place on second amendment freedoms.

    I am aware of many restrictions on firearm purchasing, ownership and carrying. Most of these have real purpose for law enforcement and public safety. They were not just written up arbitrarily to be mean to gun owners.

    My larger point is that there are restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, worship, etc., and there have been since the beginning of the Republic. No freedom I can think of is absolute, because when taken to absolute degrees one person’s “freedom” turns into another person’s tyranny. For example, I doubt I would get away with driving around your neighborhood with a high-powered megaphone mounted on my car, blasting away my personal opinions. If anyone could do that, we’d all live in a cacophony of endless megaphone blasting.

    By the same token, what the NRA is doing amounts to taking firearm “freedom” to such an absolute degree it threatens to turn into a form of tyranny, where citizens in a community are not allowed to decide for themselves where to draw the line between freedom and recklessness.

    Also, regarding reinterpretation — you seem to think there was once a clear, broad and unquestioned consensus on exactly what the Second Amendment protects that was somehow fuzzed up by the Miller decision. Speaking as a five-alarm history nerd, that isn’t true, and it isn’t true for any other the other items in the Bill of Rights, either. Some aspects of all of them have been re-thought, and understanding tweaked and re-tweaked, over the years.

  44. BTY  •  May 16, 2010 @10:25 am

    There IS something wrong with people who gotta pack everywhere. I believe they have control issues, paranoid tendencies, or teenie peenie fears.

    Actually, at least one study has shown that gun owners are as a general thing psychologically healthier than non-gun-owners.

    Interesting how many anti-gunnies resort to “teeny peeny” talk. Very freudian.

  45. maha  •  May 16, 2010 @3:57 pm

    Actually, at least one study has shown that gun owners are as a general thing psychologically healthier than non-gun-owners.

    Gun owners overall may indeed be psychologically healthy. It’s the subset — a minority, I suspect — who feel they are being oppressed if they can’t take their guns to work, church, or into bars who worry me. And, frankly, the people who are most stridently vocal about how “oppressed” they are because they are being forced to go out in public unarmed are the last people most of us want to be able to walk around in public armed. Angry and delusional is not “psychologically healthy.”

    Interesting how many anti-gunnies resort to “teeny peeny” talk. Very freudian.

    Yes, very freudian. It’s too obvious that the most radical of the gun loons have big emasculation issues.

  46. Swami  •  May 16, 2010 @7:12 pm

    Actually, at least one study has shown that gun owners are as a general thing psychologically healthier than non-gun-owners.

    Oh, I read that study. It was the study about Florida’s death row inmates,right?

  47. Joel Rosenberg  •  May 17, 2010 @4:08 pm

    Maha writes: And I’m a bit twitchy about messing with the Bill of Rights. If the 2nd can be changed, so can others.

    Well, yeah. Does it matter a whole lot if the messing with is done by interpreting it at least almost to meaninglessness (see DC or Chicago) or by overt repeal of the amendment? If not, why would it — or should it — be any different with other amendments? Should the analysis be any different for a restriction on Second Amendment rights rather than First Amendment ones? You’re quite right that the 2nd has been interpreted differently by different people at different times, but so has the First. (In Dred Scott, Justice Taney allowed as how if you accepted the proposal that black folks were real citizens, they’d have the right to speak as they wished and bear arms if they’d like — which he saw as a bug, rather than a feature.)

    The usual syllogism goes something like all rights are limited and I don’t like guns, so limitations on guns don’t impact the meaning of the Second Amendment as long as it’s anything short of an outright ban. Is that something you’d feel comfortable as a basis to dismiss any right you, well, liked?

  48. maha  •  May 17, 2010 @10:29 pm

    Joel — you must be new here. We don’t talk about 2nd amendment issues a lot here, but when we have it has long been my contention that all amendments should be interpreted in the same light, as broadly as possible, whether I like it or not. This is a point I addressed in this post from 2008. Note: “We are not being consistent if we read one amendment in the Bill of Rights in a less liberal light than we read the rest of it.” (See also this post.)

    However, what the NRA is asking for is to make firearm rights far more absolute than any other rights in the Bill of Rights.

  49. Joel Rosenberg  •  May 18, 2010 @11:50 am

    Got me dead to rights: I’m new here. What I’m confused about, though, is how you see your position on what Second Amendment rights as not being less liberal than your position is on others of the Bill of Rights.

    Just to pick one example: Further, some states and communities will be more tolerant of the individual carrying of firearms, open or concealed, than others, and I think local law should reflect that.

    Would you, then, think that local law should reflect a state’s or community’s tolerance for, say, religious expression, freedom of public assembly, and such? Me, I think that the same standards should apply to limitations of all rights — it’s what my lawyer friends call “strict scrutiny”. Want to ban Thuggee practitioners from choking passers-by? Sure. Want to ban atheists/fundamentalist Christians/Muslims/Orthodox Jews from their own religious practices, no matter how squicky they make me feel (in the case of the latter, say, male genital mutilation)? Better have a real good reason that stands close and critical examination.

    Orthogonally: while Heller does settle — Constitutionally, at least — whether or not the Second recognizes an individual right, the parameters of that right are anything but settled law. Don’t believe me; ask, say, a criminal defense lawyer who has a client in prison for possessing a handgun long after the expiration of a felony sentence, or a gun in the home in DC. Or a Chicago resident who can’t keep a gun in her home for protection. Or — well, you get the idea.

  50. maha  •  May 18, 2010 @2:21 pm

    For example, some communities are more tolerant of explicit displays of sexually graphic material than others. Some communities have various kinds of sign ordinances, and others don’t. Community standards really do matter.

    whether or not the Second recognizes an individual right, the parameters of that right are anything but settled law. Don’t believe me; ask, say, a criminal defense lawyer who has a client in prison for possessing a handgun long after the expiration of a felony sentence, or a gun in the home in DC. Or a Chicago resident who can’t keep a gun in her home for protection.

    Apples and oranges. While Congress may make no law restricting freedom of speech, if you say naughty words on television the FCC will fine your ass. You have to be licensed to broadcast over a radio frequency. Etc. etc. So freedom of speech is settled law, but that doesn’t mean no regulation whatsoever. You are acting as if any regulation whatsoever is the same thing as a denial of rights, but no other right is treated that way. Sometimes individual rights have to make way to public concerns, such as keeping the radio dial from being taken over by frequency pirates. Further, through history people have disagreed over how broadly to interpret any particular right. The specific examples you give may be constitutionally challenge-able, but a lot of other stuff the NRA is trying to push — shall carry laws in particular — to me are treading into an area where public safety may have to take precedence over the individual right.

    The thing is, with firearms, the public safety issue would not be the same for a sparsely populated area than for a densely populated area. I’ve lived in the rural Ozarks and in the New York metro area, and I see that plainly. Where you have tens of thousands of people packed into every square mile, guns are a very different issue than where there are no more than a few dozen people per square mile.

  51. Joel Rosenberg  •  May 18, 2010 @4:06 pm

    The specific examples you give may be constitutionally challenge-able, but a lot of other stuff the NRA is trying to push — shall carry [I think you mean "shall issue" JR] laws in particular — to me are treading into an area where public safety may have to take precedence over the individual right.

    Why would that be? There are, after all, something like forty states — containing the majority of the US population, some of it in densely populated urban areas like, say, Miami or Portland or Cleveland — that have such laws. They’re hardly radical, but demonstrably mainstream and almost totally uncontroversial — regardless of whether it’s been liberals or conservatives in charge of those states’ governments, there’s never been a repeal (or an attempt that came close).

  52. maha  •  May 18, 2010 @8:21 pm

    They’re hardly radical, but demonstrably mainstream and almost totally uncontroversial

    Yes, I’m sure everyone in North America has authorized you to speak for them. (/sarcasm off) Recent polls say you are completely wrong, of course, but if Miami wants shall carry, Miami can have it. New York City residents would riot in the streets before they’d accept shall carry. It’s very radical to many people, not mainstream at all, and it’s got controversy up the wazoo. Except in your dreams, of course.

    This conversation is over now. I don’t discuss issues with propagandists.

2 Trackbacks



    About this blog



    About Maha
    Comment Policy

    Vintage Mahablog
    Email Me


















    Support This Site





    site design and daughterly goodness

    eXTReMe Tracker












      Technorati Profile