GOA's Larry Pratt Says He Supports Legal Residents' Right to Keep and Bear Arms

On Friday I noted a Fox News story that said Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt was critical of the ACLU's challenge to a South Dakota law that makes U.S. citizenship a prerequisite for a concealed-carry permit. The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Wayne Smith, is a permanent legal resident who was born in the U.K. but has lived in the U.S. for 30 years. "If the guy wants to enjoy the full benefit of residing in the United States," Pratt told Fox News, he should "become a citizen." Pratt now says Fox "misstated my position," which distinguished between rights of citizenship such as voting in U.S. elections and natural rights such as those protected by the Second Amendment. Here is how Pratt describes his position in an email message that I confirmed with GOA's office in Virginia:

1. As I have stated all along, I do not agree with what South Dakota is doing in denying the right to keep and bear arms to alien residents. Wayne Smith SHOULD BE ABLE TO OWN A GUN!

2. Our fundamental rights do NOT come from government, the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. they come from God. Hence, law-abiding citizens should be able to carry concealed firearms as a matter of right (without permission from the government) and that is why GOA has consistently supported legislation modeled after Vermont's successful permitless carry law.

3. Aliens living in this country still possess their God-given rights.

Note, however, that within our constitutional system of government, some rights of citizenship (such as the right to vote) are fully protected only for actual U.S. citizens. This is, perhaps, where the confusion has arisen.

On the one hand, I argued that aliens should not be able to vote in our country. But fundamental human rights such as the right to self-defense as embodied by keeping and bearing arms, on the other hand, SHOULD MOST DEFINITELY extend to everyone, period.

4. As for the xenophobia that some have accused me of because of the misunderstanding relating to Wayne Smith, well, that's laughable. I've been happily married to a Central American immigrant for nearly 50 years—and I fully support her right to keep and bear arms as much as I support Smith's.

[Thanks to Shayne Wissler, who sent us Pratt's reply.]

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  • squarooticus||

    I received the same response from him. #4 is a bit too much "But I have a lot of gay/black/Jewish friends!", but the rest of it sounds right to me.

  • PIRS||

    Actually, I understand where he was comming from on this part. Someone who was truly xenophobic probably would not be comfortable living for 50 years with someone from another culture.

  • ||

    Depends on (a) how assimilated the other person is, and (b) how good the sex is. Not necessarily in that order.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Tulpa doesn't speak a word of German, but his Dom still keeps him around because he fits in the gimp suit.

  • ||

    GOA's Larry Pratt Says He Supports Legal Residents' Right to Keep and Bear Arms

    I don't know if he mentioned it elsewhere, but nowhere in the quoted excerpt does he restrict his support to legal residents.

    In fact, his no holds barred natural rights justification admits no distinction whatsoever between legal and illegal aliens.

  • Anonymous||

    Does Vermont distinguish between legal and illegal aliens?

  • ||

    I thought they don't even check ID.

  • Tim||

    The Vermont State constitution;

    Article 16th. Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to civil

    That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State - and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

    http://www.usconstitution.net/vtconst.html#Article16

  • Dylboz||

    Wow. It reads like he is responding point by point to the letter I sent them a few days ago. In the same order, with the very same language. Weird. Maybe he read my letter?

  • SIV||

    I bet he heard it loud and clear from his membership. I was shocked by the report because GOAers are pretty hard core on the natural right to self defense. I made a bit of noise elsewhere on the 'net over this, raising the same points

  • Virginia||

    Diane Macedo (hawt) dropped the ball.

  • ||

    http://justjared.buzznet.com/p.....r-2010-05/

    Robin Scherbatsky(Cobie Smulders) carries in her purse... where it doesn't interfere with anything anatomical.

  • jacob||

    +1000 for the link

    Cobie Smulders is fucking hot

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Does God wear a shoulder holster?

  • Vishnu||

    Why not? I rock 2, plus drop downs, and one in the belt, and...

    http://www.google.com/imgres?i.....mp;bih=664

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Is that Aslan?

  • GILMORE||

    I am curious how Fox could have 'mistaken his position' so badly the first time, given how unequivocal the quoted statement appears...

    ""Pratt says the only reason the ACLU brought the suit is to pave the way for illegal aliens to have conceal carry permits.
    "They want to make it so illegal aliens have the same rights as everybody else...every little bit chipping away," he said.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011.....z1AlJQynvq

    This doesn't seem to jibe with his more recent notion that our Gun Rights are granted to us by our divine creator.

    Strikes me as a bit of Cultural Conservative cognitive dissonance = "Guns, yeah! Immigrants, Booo! Oh, but wait... what about immigrants who own guns... hmmm. (tepid: "sorta!?...")

    I am pretty positive if wayne smith's name were Jorge El Guapo Fernandez the God Given Right to self-defense may have remained a far more obscure theological concept.

  • omg||

    The only way Pratt might be excused is if Fox News just made up a conclusion for the first part (that illeguhls shouldn't have CC permits) by basing that off of the below quote, where Pratt was (according to him, I guess) talking about voting rights. Since the first part isn't a direct quote, it might be possible I guess.

  • Robert||

    Whew. I thought what was said previously to have been uncharacteristic of Larry Pratt, so all the specul'n as to why was for naught.

  • Tony||

    It's a good thing the framers wrote down a fairly incoherent protection of an individual right to own guns, which was not fully recognized by law until 2010, otherwise we might have been violating the deity's will.

  • Warty||

    What was that about incoherent?

  • Tony||

    What Tulpa said below.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You clearly know not the first thing about history, because the individual right protected by the Second Amendment was recognized and understood by a hell of a lot of people for a very long time - including several SCOTUS opinions that clearly took it for granted as a given that the 2A recognized an individual right.

    The fact that the modern SCOTUS did not issue an opinion directly on point, recognizing, acknowledging and agreeing with that long, established history does not mean it wasn't there all along. The question never had been placed squarely before the Court before.

    Asshat.

  • Tony||

    Hey I believe the 2A confers an individual right. I just think that some of its loudest champions are confused about what purpose it was intended for.

    Also, since I don't believe the constitution to be a sacred text, I believe there is a real discussion to be had about the prudence of an individual right to possess guns in today's context. As long as we're not saying it's good that the right exists because the constitution says so.

  • Spiny Norman||

    What's your UFO name, Tony?

  • ||

    The God-given rights thing is absurd. Even for theists, it's hard to believe that every right mentioned in the BoR is God-given. Does God give us the right to a trial by jury, for instance?

    And unless you think every citizen should be able to keep nuclear weapons in their basements and anti-aircraft artillery on their rooves, you have to admit that the right to keep and bear arms does have limits. Who decides those limits? God? Give me a break.

  • ||

    Both theists and atheists are bright enough to distinguish between natural rights that exist independent of government and legal rights that arise solely because government exists.

    Nonetheless, the legal right to a jury trial still stems from a natural right: the right not to be punished for something you didn't do.

  • Tony||

    Trying to distill rights into some kind of set of first principles is a fool's errand. Theoretical rights that aren't enjoyed aren't rights at all. Even "the right not to be punished for something you didn't do," while logical, doesn't obviously spring from the fabric of the universe. It needs protection and enforcement by government every bit as much as more detailed rights.

  • Spoonman.||

    It seems that that right only requires the government not punish you for something you didn't do, not "protection and enforcement".

  • Tony||

    Unless it's not the government, but just some guy deciding to punish you.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Your ignorance of the history of the creation of the federal government and the philosophical principles upon which it was founded continue to be on display.

    Read John Locke's treatises on government. And read the Federalist. That should keep you busy for a while.

  • ||

    Locke's "treatises" were a monumental exercise in question-begging.

  • That's Funny||

    You have a right not to be raped, but you can still be raped; therefore you have never had a right not to be raped. At least not until a government said so.

  • Tony||

    That's not what I said. You do have a right not to be raped. What does that right amount to with no police around to prevent others from infringing upon it, or courts to offer restitution for infringement?

  • What if my rights are raped?||

    How about that little bitty thing about ME exercising MY right not to be raped, by packing heat, since the cops, by law, are not required to protect me, but exist only to serve society. And by the way, since society is being raped even as we speak (post) how come the police that are around ain't preventing it, and where are the courts providing rape restitution?

  • ||

    If you completely disregard any normative justification for rights, you have lost all grounds whatsoever for rights other than "might makes right".

    You're left with nothing but trying to replace someone else's might with your own. Talk about fool's errands...

  • Tony||

    I don't disregard normative justifications for rights, just magical ones.

  • ||

    Have you got an example of a normative justification that you think isn't magical? I predict it will be inevitably be rooted in something as magical as the "first principles" you disparage.

  • Tony||

    Norms come from tradition and utility. It's the claim that rights come from nature that is the positive, and mystical, claim. I'm simply rejecting deontology--rights are an invention of human beings that serve a useful purpose. It took hundreds of millenia for humans to invent them, and they were only able to do so after wresting the requisite power to support them from god-kings and claiming it for everyone.

  • ||

    So, to use That's Funny's example, you now have a right not to be raped, but you used to not have such a right.

    And presumably people in war-torn Africa still don't have that right.

    What's this about claiming the right for everyone?

  • Tony||

    Exactly. It makes no sense to say someone has a right if it's impossible for that person to exercise that right. You might as well say they have angels on their shoulders.

    I mean that individual rights go hand-in-hand with modern democratic government, which, too, is a relatively recent invention by human beings. If your country is ruled by an absolute monarch, then only the monarch really has any rights. You can say his subjects have natural rights until you're blue in the face--that's little comfort to them.

  • ||

    I.e., might makes right and there is no normative argument for what rights should be.

    Lucky you to live in a society with "rights" you like.

  • Tony||

    I.e., might makes right and there is no normative argument for what rights should be.

    There are plenty of normative arguments, just no mystical ones. If you want to call it "might makes right" okay, but I don't see how that's much different than "god says so" anyway.

    Lucky you to live in a society with "rights" you like.

    Indeed, it is lucky.

  • ||

    I.e., might makes right and there is no normative argument for what rights should be.

    Might does make right. If you feel uncomfortable with this reality, look up a church in the yellow pages to comfort you.

    The trick is to make sure those who agree about the right you like are more mighty than those who don't.

  • Eric||

    Back in the day, invading armies used to take women from the invaded populace and gang-rape them. As a utilitarian, you must accept this outcome not even as acceptable, but as moral, if the aggregate utility that the rapists gain is equal to or greater than the utility lost by the victim. That holds true for any other case of injustice on the part of an overwhelming majority against a small minority: when gays were seen as an extremely small portion of the population, for instance, would utilitarian thought not condone a law which squelched their so-called "rights" in the service of the heterosexual majority (which was seen as exceedingly large)? A utilitarian of the time would not seriously be able to discount the possibility that the moral calculus favored draconian penalties to be levied against gays.

    Interestingly enough, a gang-rape is more moral in utilitarian calculus than a rape by a single person: in the former case, more people gain about equal portions of utility for themselves. This moral calculus explains perfectly Tony's views on government.

  • Tony||

    Being a utilitarian doesn't mean I reject individual rights. Just the opposite. There is more good in a world that forbids gang rape than one that allows it, because the sexual gratification of rapists is not nearly as much of a good as the right of women not to be molested.

    The same is true for rights of gay people. Very little, if any, good comes from satisfying the bigotries of a heterosexual majority.

  • ||

    What the hell mystical beliefs underlie this thinking? How can you possibly justify finding the cost to one class of people greater than the benefit to another class of people unless you mystically confer upon each individual similar weights and/or mystically confer upon the costs and benefits vastly different weights? What is the justification for such mysticism?

  • Tony||

    MikeP, there is no precise calculation. If there were, making the best society would be pretty easy. Just do the numbers. But you are just wrong to claim that I *must* accept gang rape as a utilitarian. There are much more sensible arguments against it, even if it's not an exact science.

  • ||

    I'm not saying you must accept it. I'm just saying that your reasons for not accepting it start looking pretty mystical.

  • Tony||

    It's not mystical, I'm simply able to figure out, using my brain, that gang rape is a bad thing. What's arbitrary here is saying "god says it's bad." God (or nature, or whatever other name you give it).

  • ||

    Oh, you use your brain.

    Well, since the brain was only invented in the last few hundred years, that must explain the vast volumes of societies over the vast millennia of history that did not figure out that that was a bad thing.

  • ||

    Umm, no. If each instance of rape is -10 for the rapee and +1 for the rapist, rape is never going to come out positive (and gang rapes will come out even more negative, as they more precisely constitute several successive rapes)

  • ||

    If each rapist sees his utility multiplied by 100 because he's male while each rapee sees her utility multiplied only by 1 because she's female, then rape comes out wildly positive.

  • Jordan||

    There is more good in a world that forbids gang rape than one that allows it, because the sexual gratification of rapists is not nearly as much of a good as the right of women not to be molested.

    Prove it.

  • ||

    Prove that there is a natural right not to be raped.

  • ||

    But no utilitarian would assign the points that way.

    I could just as easily show that natural rights theory justifies gang rape, if one claims that there is a natural right to orgasm, and no natural right to have one's orifices penis-free.

  • Spazmo||

    But no utilitarian would assign the points that way.

    Then what's the point of utilitarianism? Obviously they're falling back on some higher intuition about morality to guide their arbitrary assignments of utility values — otherwise what basis does Tony have for claiming that a gang rape is worse in terms of total utility than non-gang-rape? And if that intuition exists, what's it based on?

    At least with natural rights you have some actual axioms to argue with, rather than a vague idea about what "feels right".

  • ||

    Yes, and those axioms are dropped/deformed/modified/ignored as soon as it becomes clear they lead to a result you don't like.

  • Tony||

    Spazmo, on one level it doesn't matter what the 'point' is. You're still appealing to mysticism, and you are therefore wrong. At best you're asserting a utilitarian justification for believing in magic. At worst you simply believe in magic.

    Primordial moral claims such as "do unto others..." don't need to be backed up by magic. At least, just because there is no magic backing them up doesn't make them completely incoherent and impossible to deduce. (We better hope so, since there really is no magic backing them up.)

  • Tony||

    Which is to say, those claiming that magic supports a policy are far more prone to choosing it arbitrarily, since magic can be whatever you want it to be.

  • ||

    The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was heavily influenced by the English Bill of Rights 1689 which restricted the right of the Federal government to interfere with the personal right to bear arms. The Bill of Rights 1689 restricted the right of the monarch to have a standing army and to interfere with the personal right to bear arms
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R....._bear_arms

  • Devil Inchoate||

    That makes no sense at all. I realize you copied it from Wikipedia, but there must be an editing error in there. How can the English Bill of Rights restrict the right of the Federal government? I am assuming it refers to the US Federal Government, because there is no such thing as the English Federal Government.

  • ||

    Theists at least have some basis for claiming the existence of natural rights; they can point to their deity or deities as the source. The trouble for them is when their scriptures give evidence that their deity or deities have often seemed unconcerned about those rights in the past.

    Atheists on the other hand have no plausible source of natural rights to point to, not that it stops them from coming up with quasi-divine concepts like Reason and Dignity which confer these rights, which is truly a feat of rationalization for a materialist!

  • Brett L||

    "Endowed by their Creator" == innate

    "certain Inalienable rights" == a legitimate government (Lockean style) would not impinge upon such rights, however people could voluntarily surrender them for a measure of security. Ideally a plebicite or, say, Congress and 3/4 of the State Legislatures would decide what rights citizens and legal residents would surrender.

  • omg||

    Does he say that everything in the bill of rights is "God given"? He seems to be...not suggesting that in the slightest.

  • ||

    You're right, he just mentions "fundamental rights". It's unclear how he determines which ones are fundamental.

    Though of course that doesn't affect my argument about the fact that nearly everyone agrees RKBA has to have some limits enforced by govt.

  • robc||

    As its written, it has limits.

    As it should have been written? That is an entirely different question altogether.

  • ||

    The FoxNews quote may have been provided by Robert Duggar, Public Liaison for Gun Owners Of America ... maybe without Pratt's knowledge.

    I complained early about the reported position and received an immediate response from Mr. Duggar:

    William Westmiller
    01/08 02:19 Since when are individual rights limited to citizens? The 2nd Amendment applies to people under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. It's a restraint on government power, not the rights of people. I'm very disappointed at the GOA position on this law:
    ***
    Robert Duggar
    01/10 09:57 Constitutional rights belong only to citizens. The ACLU's logic can lead to tearing down our border - that there are no rights unique to American citizenship, so, hey, let everyone come in. That same logic allows the state to take away the right to keep and bear arms of a citizen. We have argued in court that only a citizen can lose his right to keep and bear arms by renouncing his citizenship. The current view that citizenship is no big deal has led to a progressive encirclement of the exercise of our rights. We gave gone from denying the right to keep and bear arms to felons, then to those with misdemeanors, now to those with certain medical diagnoses (and that without any due process).

    We must make the distinction between citizens and others.

    The American constitutional order is one of rights for citizens. Any enjoyment of those rights by non-citizens is a privilege in constitutional terms. The ACLU, as usual, is wrong in this case. It is for the state of South Dakota to determine whether legal non-citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. I don't agree with their new policy, but constitutionally, they are within their power to so act.

    I have forwarded your comments to my supervisor.
    ***
    William Westmiller
    01/10 13:13 "Constitutional rights belong only to citizens."

    There is no reference to citizens anywhere in the Bill of Rights. Fundamental rights are inherent in all persons. There are civic rights, such as voting and holding office, which only apply to citizens. But, the right to self-defense, secured by the right to bear arms, is a basic individual right of all persons, denied only when that person has committed a felony or is judged insane.

    The immigration problem is not a matter of rights, but of privileges, entitlements, and favors granted under laws that were never authorized by the Constitution. States have no power to abridge fundamental rights and liberties, as the Supreme Court has already ruled.
    ***
    Robert Duggar
    06:35 I have forwarded your comments to my supervisor.

    ***

    Perhaps Mr. Duggar needs some organizational discipline and instruction.

  • SIV||

    Like shitcan his statist ass.

  • ||

    "Constitutional rights belong only to citizens"
    >not since the SCOTUS railroad decision of 1886 to wit:
    "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."[5]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....c_Railroad

  • ||

    Larry is just changing his position because he and GOA have rightly been criticized for their anti-gun position. They got stung just like they did on Net Neutrality and are reversing course.

    From: Gun Owners of America [mailto:noreply_goa@gunowners.net]
    Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011 10:33 AM
    To: XXXXXXX
    Subject: Gun Owners of America: Ticket xxxxxxxx, FOX News

    Re: Ticket XXXXXXXX, Responded

    Dear XXXXXX

    A new message has been added to the email #XXXXXXXXX.

    Constitutional rights belong only to citizens.  The ACLU's logic can lead to tearing down our border - that there are no rights unique to American citizenship, so, hey, let everyone come in.  That same logic allows the state to take away the right to keep and bear arms of a citizen.  We have argued in court that only a citizen can lose his right to keep and bear arms by renouncing his citizenship.  The current view that citizenship is no big deal has led to a progressive encirclement of the exercise of our rights. We gave gone from denying the right to keep and bear arms to felons, then to those with misdemeanors, now to those with certain medical diagnoses (and that without any due process).

    We must make the distinction between citizens and others.

    The American constitutional order is one of rights for citizens.    Any enjoyment of those rights by non-citizens is a privilege in constitutional terms.  The ACLU, as usual, is wrong in this case.  It is for the state of South Dakota to determine whether legal non-citizens have the right to keep and bear arms.  I don't agree with their new policy, but constitutionally, they are within their power to so act.

    I have forwarded your comments to my supervisor.

    Robert Duggar
    Gun Owners of America
     

  • hmm||

    For those in college, if you want to get a real debate going just mention in any poli sci class that every gay person, black person, and immigrant should carry a gun if they want to. Since those people are most often at the top of the list for having their civil liberties violated by both other people and those in power.

    It's kind of fun to watch the squirming.

  • Rock Action ||

    Dead Prez and Talib Kweli certainly agree with you.

    "Screamin know your gun laws, self defense is a must
    When we set it off I'm a be the first to bust

    Yo, I'm one with my gun, I love it like my first son
    It protects me and makes sure the jakes respect me."

    By the way, I wonder if a song about having guns and a willingness to rush to pop the first shots of the revolution adds to the "climate of hate" in this country, or if it's cool when you're a Neo-Pantherite.

  • Rock Action ||

    That's for hmmm. Squirrel issues today.

  • Dylboz||

    Here's what I wrote-

    "RE: Why you wont get another dime out of me

    Because of your BS stance against a perfectly legal resident of South Dakota who is trying to exercise his BASIC HUMAN RIGHT to self defense by owning and carrying a firearm, which you are against, because the guy is not a U.S. citizen. THAT is why I wont be giving you any more of my money.

    Rights DO NOT come from the state, they are UNALIENABLE, and inherent in each and every human being, regardless of their state paperwork. The Constitution grants NOTHING, it simply lists the fundamental rights which the government is supposedly categorically barred from violating (though, obviously, they do so all the time, regardless), no matter who the individual in question is, or where they come from. The Constitution is a document of strictly enumerated powers which does not apply just to U.S. Citizens. In fact, it applies to the actions of the government itself, PERIOD, END OF STORY!

    Truth be told, so-called "illegal aliens" have every right to own and carry guns, by virtue of their HUMANITY, and so too does Wayne Smith. I never thought I'd see the day when BOTH the ACLU and the NRA were on the right side of a gun rights issue that YOU were on the WRONG side of. But now, as if hell hath frozen over, that day has arrived.

    I used to be proud that of the meager few dollars I was able to give in furtherance of the causes I cared about, I had chosen to donate to your organization. I proudly wore the t-shirt you sent, carried the membership card in my wallet, and told anyone who cared to listen that your organization was the ONLY "no compromise" option for protecting our gun RIGHTS. But I was wrong. Those dollars should have gone to the JPFO, or a local organization here in Arizona, whose government thankfully has more respect for my inherent human (NOT government granted) right to own and carry a weapon for my own defense than any other state, and apparently, more-so than the GOA.

    Until I hear a retraction of Larry Pratt's statements with respect to this case, I will refrain from renewing my membership. I know it is a small amount of money, and I also know that, sadly, many other GOA members agree that the state is the source of all rights, including gun rights (which makes them mere privileges enjoyed at the government's discretion), while they so fear and loathe immigrants like some kind of 21st Century Know-Nothings, they'd gladly trade their own liberty for the false sense of security derived by yet another accretion of power to the very same legislators who seek to register and restrict and regulate our guns right out of our hands, just because they've set their sites (this time) on people who are not U.S. citizens. That is the very DEFINITION of penny wise, pound foolish.

    Your xenophobia is apparently a more deeply held value than the principle that access to the tools of self defense should be recognized as a fundamental right that cannot be compromised. Today I see that you WILL compromise, if only it means denying immigrants the same rights you demand for yourself. I am saddened."

    As far as I know, I never got a specific reply. Just an automated response that my message was received. This is good enough for me.

  • Tony||

    How peculiar that people supposedly have an innate, natural, basic human right to own a piece of technology invented in the last 50 years.

  • ||

    You have an innate, natural, basic human right to own anything you want so long as you don't violate the innate, natural, basic rights of others.

    It is government -- in claiming the legitimate authority to violate rights without approbation should the need arise -- that sees its proper powers limited and enumerated.

    I.e., individual rights are an open system: everything is allowed unless it is provably not. Government powers are a closed system: nothing is allowed unless it provably is.

  • Tony||

    Do I have an innate right not to live in constant fear of being hit by a stray bullet?

  • ||

    I think so -- hence the laws against indiscriminate firing of weapons in populated places.

    But if you use your brain, you'll realize that, since the odds of being hit by a stray bullet in the US are so incredibly low, the constant fear has much greater cost than the benefit.

  • Tony||

    I refuse to allow guns in my house. I don't like being around guns. Do I have a right not to be around guns in public? Seems like an arguably reasonable thing.

  • ||

    s/guns/gays/

    Still seem reasonable?

  • Tony||

    A more apt comparison might be cigarette smoke.

  • ||

    Of course, because you want to ban that too. Tough. Answer my question or show why it's inapt.

  • Tony||

    I most certainly don't. I think smoking should be left to etiquette and business choice. I'm not keen on prohibition.

    But delusional bigotry is not something law should protect. The desire not to be around deadly weapons, arguably, could be.

  • ||

    So sayeth Tony aka Arbitrary Man!

  • Tony||

    I'll wear that title with pride if it means I'm not a sanctimonious dogmatist who thinks that all of my policy preferences are ordained in natural law.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Insofar as I do not have a right to fire a stray bullet in your direction, you have a right not to live in constant fear of being hit by a stray bullet.

  • ||

    I take it you're against prohibitions on carrying guns, bombs, swords, etc into courtrooms and on airplanes, as mere possession does not harm anyone else's rights.

  • ||

    Those are the respective properties of their owners. Their owners get to decide what people can carry onto and use on their property.

  • ||

    So the fact that government owns the courthouse overrides natural rights?

    Does that hold on government-owned streets and sidewalks too?

  • ||

    No. The government improves and maintains rights of way. They do not own them in the property sense of the word -- not like they own a courthouse, an air force base, or a national park.

  • ||

    My oh my, the web of natural rights theory is tangled indeed. So you're saying *no one* owns the streets and sidewalks?

    Then what's preventing me from walking onto the busiest intersection in my city, putting up a fence and claiming it as my property. Mixing my labor with the land, as the Lockean bullshit demands.

  • ||

    The fact that they are intentionally unowned -- i.e., commons.

  • cynical||

    People have an innate, natural, basic human right to be allowed reasonable measures to personally defend their rights, as any attempt to prohibit such defenses is at the very least aiding and abetting those who would violate those rights.

    Given the nature of the threats most people will encounter, small arms are a reasonable defense. Nukes are not. This is reinforced by the supreme law of the land, but the constitution is the product of a moral view of society, government, and the individual; not the source.

  • ||

    Here you're just putting a pro-forma natural rights wrapper on what is really a utilitarian argument. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say.

  • cynical||

    I'm a pragmatist, so I can't say I really give a shit either way. I simply take rights as a premise without worrying too much as to why (evolution works well enough in explaining my motivation, in case I'm questioning the practicality of my belief. I don't actually feel the need to justify my moral premises).

  • JPC||

    Now, for the question I *really* want to hear:

    If gun ownership is a fully natural right that comes from God, not from citizenship status, and thus cannot be denied on the basis of citizenship -

    Do illegal immigrants have the right to own and carry guns?

  • ||

    Yes.

  • ||

    Now if "illegal immigrant" no longer meant "immigrant who exceeds a quota" and instead meant "immigrant who is provably a hazard to the public" -- e.g., felon, terrorist, foreign agent -- then... well, then they'd be denied guns on those bases.

  • JPC||

    Mike - I think you've fallen into the same trap as anybody who answers "yes" to the first question I posed, and "no" to the second.

    If the Second Amendment is to be considered as recognizing a parallel and equally important right to the others in the Bill of Rights, then any basis for denying what is contained in the Second could also be used as a basis for denying the others.

    If being a felon is enough to bar one from exercising their Second Amendment rights, why does it not apply to other rights as well?

    Does a convicted murderer lose the right to practice the faith of his choice?

    Does a convicted rapist lose the right to be tried by jury for any other crimes of which they're accused?

    If I'm in prison for armed robbery, can I be denied protection against cruel and unusual punishment because I'm a felon?

    It's a pretty tight squeeze, to be sure. The answer is probably that there is a clear and rational basis for denying firearms rights to a person with a history of violence, whereas a similar rational-basis case cannot be made for denying freedom of religion or protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

    However, I think it's clear that no such rational basis exists for extending "violated immigration restrictions" to "cannot carry firearms" without neutering the meaning of the Second amendment.

  • ||

    The rights of the second amendment can much more easily present a danger to public safety if abused.

  • ||

    And how does the law differentiate between an invading army and peace-loving, hard-working legal immigrants who happen to be carrying weapons across the border?

    Oh wait. You're not interested in practical concerns, only satisfying your natural rights fairy.

  • ||

    That should be "illegal immigrants", not "legal immigrants", obviously.

  • ||

    Well, you can start by making all immigrants presumptively legal and process them as such.

    If you still have trouble distinguishing free migrants from an invasion force, you should probably find a job other than managing border control.

  • ||

    More question-begging.

    "I know it when I see it" is not a good standard when the incorrect decision means either depriving peaceful immigrants of their putatively God-given rights to bear arms across international borders, or sitting back and allowing an invasion.

  • JPC||

    Practically?

    In one case, the entry would be recognized as an act of war executed by a foreign enemy and a declaration of war would be issued, and in the other it would not. In one case a state of war with an identified enemy would exist, and in the other case it would not.

    That's the difference between the two.

  • ||

    Holy Question Begging, Batman!

  • ||

    10,000 Mexican men walk across the border headed for Tucson, each of them bearing a rifle and other provisions.

    Invading army or peaceful illegal immigrants looking for work? MikeP's statement above requires totally different responses in those two cases, and the consequences of choosing incorrectly are dire in either case.

  • Practical?||

    So you think a realistic scenario is one in which 10,000 armed men cross the border and we are caught completely unawares as to their purpose and to whether there is a connection between them.

  • ||

    Surprise attacks are common, historically, so requiring the Mexican government to tell us, "hola, we're invading you" before we consider it an invasion is probably not a good idea.

    I still haven't seen a plausible set of criteria to distinguish between an invasion force and mere illegal immigrants, once we assume MikeP's point that crossing a border away from a checkpoint with weapons in hand is a God-given natural right.

  • ||

    Societies for eons have had to set up plausible sets of criteria to distinguish between those innocent and those guilty of crimes to determine whether and when to deprive individuals of their natural right of liberty. Immediate responders usually have even greater latitude to usurp rights in a limited way for a limited time.

    And processes and procedures, such as prohibiting armed persons from crossing the border away from a checkpoint or crossing without a visa at all, can separate the presumptively innocent from the presumptively guilty.

    We don't have to set up the criteria here. That's what governments -- and in an anarchy what those who are charged to guard the border -- are for.

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