A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks? I Am Still Waiting to Hear One.

Cato InstituteCato InstituteWriting in The New York Times, Cato Institute Chairman Robert Levy—who spearheaded the litigation that led to D.C. v. Heller, the landmark 2008 decision in which the Supreme Court recognized that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to arms—makes "A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks." Oddly, the essay, on which Levy expands a bit here, neither explains why expanding gun background checks is a good policy nor justifies it based on libertarian principle. Instead Levy offers two tactical reasons to support the bill backed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have required background checks for all sales at gun shows (not just those by federally licensed dealers) and all sales initiated through online listings or ads in periodicals.

"Following a series of tragic mass shootings," Levy says, "public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of reasonable legislation restricting the ownership of guns by people who shouldn't have them." If Levy means that public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of the Manchin-Toomey measure, I'm not sure that's true. A Pew Research Center poll conducted after the Senate rejected the bill found that only 47 percent of Americans reacted negatively to the vote. Levy nevertheless warns that if gun-rights advocates refuse to support the bill ("with a few modest changes"), "they will be opening themselves to accusations from President Obama and others that they are merely obstructionists, zealots who will not agree to common-sense gun legislation."

Strikingly absent from Levy's op-ed piece and blog post: any attempt to show that an expanded background-check requirement counts as "common-sense gun legislation," either because it would prevent "tragic mass shootings" or because it would reduce more common forms of gun violence. For reasons having to do with criminals' ability to pass or evade background checks, both of those propositions are doubtful. Since Levy does not even try to defend them, I take him to be arguing that gun control skeptics should support Manchin-Toomey, even if it has no logical connection to the horrifying events that supposedly justify it, because otherwise Obama will try to make them look bad.

That is an argument, but I don't think it qualifies as a libertarian argument. To the contrary,  it counsels surrendering to the panic of the moment and endorsing whatever cockamamie solution politicians are peddling for the sake of preserving one's credibility as a caring, compassionate, and reasonable person. Such symbolic policy making, as manifested in areas ranging from airport security to the war on drugs, has not been friendly to libertarian concerns.

The other major reason Levy offers to support the Manchin-Toomey bill is that it includes various provisions aside from expanded background checks that defenders of the Second Amendment should welcome, such as legalization of interstate handgun sales and a new criminal penalty for misusing firearm records to create a registry. Yet these sweeteners were added precisely to make the expanded checks easier to swallow, which suggests there is indeed something objectionable about them—a point Levy seems reluctant to concede. "Extending background checks to unlicensed sellers shouldn't be cause for alarm," he says, because "background checks are already required for purchases from federally licensed dealers, whether at stores or gun shows, over the Internet or by mail."

Yet there is a reason for this differential treatment: Congress concluded that it was unfair to burden people who sell guns occasionally with the same requirements as people who do it for a living. If Levy thinks that judgment was wrong, he should explain why. Expanding the background-check requirement not only inconveniences people who want to sell their guns (a point Levy indirectly acknowledges when he calls for exempting private sellers who live in rural areas far from a licensed dealer). It also exposes them to uncertain legal risks. Manchin-Toomey, for example, applies to private sales "pursuant to" certain kinds of speech (online and print ads) but not others (flyers, signs, word of mouth). If a gun owner uses one method from each category, how does he know which led to the sale? Is he obliged to ask would-be buyers how they heard about his gun? It is unjust to make criminal penalties hinge on such distinctions. 

Another problem with citing existing background checks as a reason to have more of them: It takes for granted that the criteria for stopping people from buying guns are fair and sensible, which they are not. Levy alludes to this issue when he notes that "existing law denies firearms to anyone who is 'an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.'" Because of that disqualification, he says, "every would-be gun owner who lies to NICS [the National Instant Criminal Background Check System] about marijuana use, and every owner who smokes marijuana, could spend a decade behind bars—an unconscionable punishment that must be rectified." To my mind, the problem here is not that the penalty for lying about one's status or illegally possessing a gun is too severe but that it is simply wrong to strip someone of his Second Amendment rights because he smokes pot or uses Vicodin prescribed for a relative.

Likewise, it is hard to justify permanent loss of a constitutional right for anyone with a felony record, whether or not the offense involved violence or even a victim. Other disqualifying criteria, such as those based on military records or immigration status, also seem unnecessarily broad and tenuously related to the ostensible goal of preventing gun violence. As I noted in a recent column, gun buyers flagged by background checks are rarely deemed threatening, which helps explain why they are almost never investigated by the feds, even though they have committed a felony by trying to a buy a gun (assuming they knew they were disqualified). If the rules enforced by background checks make little sense, why enforce them better?

A utilitarian case for compelling gun sellers to run background checks would argue that such a requirement is reasonably drawn and effective enough at preventing crime to justify the costs it imposes. A libertarian case would go further, grappling with the issue of whether the government should punish people for actions that violate no one's rights. My gun is my property. If I transfer it to another adult on mutually agreeable terms, why is that anyone's business but ours? By what right does the government threaten to imprison me because I did not follow the arbitrary conditions it has presumed to impose on such transactions? If the justification is simply that the person to whom I sell my property might (but almost certainly won't) use it to commit a crime, there is no end to the meddling that might be considered appropriate.

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  • Warrren||

    I refuse to listen to a decrepit Ferengi lecture to me about gun rights.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Rule of Acquisition #34: War is good for business.

  • A Serious Man||

    Rule of Acquisition #35: Peace is good for business.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Heh. I was not surprised to see the guy's an old coot. Gun control was much more acceptable to older generations than it is to newer ones. It's fast becoming the sole province of old liberals.

  • Ted S.||

    Soccer moms are old liberals?

  • Killazontherun||

    Pretty much. Term came in vogue in the early nineties to describe a suburbanite low information voter older than myself at that time.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He doesn't have the lobes for libertarianism.

  • fish||

    "Following a series of tragic mass shootings," Levy says, "public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of reasonable legislation restricting the ownership of guns by people who shouldn't have them."

    He's right! There isn't a single sentence in legislation, regulation, or law that even addresses background checks. I guess that means when I paid 15 bucks 20 years ago for Instant Check prior to buying my pistol I was just being scammed by the gun dealer.

  • OldMexican||

    Only if they make logical sense.

  • Libertymike||

    It should come as no surprise that Levy's column was linked at a blogpost by Travis Holte at LewRockwell.com. I found it this morning.

  • gaijin||

    Any one using the term 'common sense or sensible gun legislation' is not about to provide a libertarian perspective. These terms have been co-opted by gun grabbers.

  • Nazdrakke||

    The title should have been "A Libertarian Case Against Libertarianism"

    Would have made about as much sense.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Until one of these jokers follows the phrase "sensible gun legislation" with a call to repeal something, they are just fill of crap.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Three posts in less than ten minutes? You guys seriously need to think about queuing your posts if you expect the same quality of snark from the commentariat.

  • fish||

    This isn't fucking nursery school Hugh....if you can't bring the snark why don't you weasel on over to HuffPo.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Be...because I can read?

  • ||

    Since when?!?

  • ||

    Why you should always wear a condom wasn't the only thing your mom taught him last week.

  • Warrren||

    Someone is still teaching the Macarena?

  • ||

    That can't have been my mom, she only goes bareback. Are you sure it wasn't your mom? She was going to make me use a condom last time but then I showed her the vasectomy scars and she relented.

  • ||

    No, it was your mom. The lack of a condom is what taught him the lesson in hindsight.

  • Warrren||

    He could tell because she made him eat pan pizza out of her cunt.

  • ||

    That can't have been my mom, she only goes bareback.

    Like mother, like son, eh?

  • fish||

    Maybe it is nursery school...it would explain much.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Not all of us have a three hour long refractory period, old man.

  • Nazdrakke||

    It's still April.

  • ||

    Tulpa's not good at reading calenders. Or not lying.

  • SugarFree||

    Don't encourage him. He's just being glib. This board is for serious discussion of serious things by serious people only. Glibsters like Tulpa have no place here.

    And it's not May.

  • Marshall Gill||

    This board is for serious discussion of serious things by serious people only. Glibsters like Tulpa have no place here.

    I can feel it burning inside you. Let the hatred flow.

  • SugarFree||

    Oh, I don't really care. I just like pointing what a wad of hypocritical cuntsnot he is about everything. He's just a hemorrhoid on dead dog's asshole; a cosmic joke perpetrated on the rest of us when his father's genetic filth hit the neck of his mother's womb like a hail of birdshit.

  • Calidissident||

    Is that a defense of Tulpa? Seriously?

  • ||

    Who? Marshall? I don't see a defense there.

  • Calidissident||

    Ok, I think I read it the wrong way, when I first read it it seemed like Marshall was attacking SF for hating Tulpa, but I'm pretty sure he was just joking around

  • Brandon||

    Anybody else notice Tony and Tulpa came back on the same day?

  • SugarFree||

    And they perfectly agree on this issue, if you notice. I wish someone would add super glue to their utilitarian circle jerk.

  • SIV||

    They're "burying" the story. reason had a libertarian news blackout on Levy's call for 20 round magazine limits (the cosmotarian magazine).

  • AlmightyJB||

    Formal deputy sheriff gets plea deal for toddler rape.

    http://www.nbc4i.com/story/221.....iff-deputy

  • Warrren||

    Is it a simple hanging vs. being drawn and quartered while on fire?

    Cause that's the only deal he deserves.

  • AlmightyJB||

    May just get a year. I may have to take a road trip down to Waverly next year. I used to dirt bike down there. Maybe go back for a hunting trip.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I didn't see a tuxedo. And not to defend perverts, but are kids reliable witnesses?

  • AlmightyJB||

    The dude copped a plea. Your not going to cop a plea on raping a 3 year old.

  • Xenocles||

    Even in our system where you often cop a plea to avoid the punishment of process, it seems very hard to imagine admitting to something like that falsely.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Your not going to cop a plea on raping a 3 year old.

    Considering the fact that there is little requirement for actual evidence, or even witness corroboration, you might.

    It isn't like our system is about the innocent vs the guilty. There have been numerous occasions of unsubstantiated child molestation claims that had people in jail for years and later turned out to be bullshit. There is even an HBO movie about the McMartin Trial, IIRC.

    Plea bargain and get 20 years probation or go to a trial that you can not win and face 20 years prison? Few have the nads to face this gamble, I doubt that I do.

  • Xenocles||

    I guess we all have our own lines where our honor takes over, but "child rapist" is not a label I will accept willingly.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    You TOTALLY missed a chance to do a Lebowski homage. Disappointment, a lot of it.

  • Xenocles||

    I'm off my game; still recovering from a couple nights in the hospital.

  • Marshall Gill||

    I guess we all have our own lines where our honor takes over, but "child rapist" is not a label I will accept willingly.

    I am not proposing anyone would. I am suggesting that if you were convinced you would be convicted without evidence, what choice would you have? Be on probation forever as a convicted child molester or attempt to survive prison forever as a convicted child molester?

    I have a friend who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman while he performed a sonogram. He was convinced at the time of his trial that evidence wasn't really required (he made the fatal mistake of proceeding without a nurse present). He faced either 10 years probation or up to 10 years prison. Remember, sexual assault crimes do not require normal amounts of evidence. In my friends case the claim of the woman was enough for him to go to court, and be enough to convince him couldn't win.

    Since this has happened I have wondered many times what I would do and I am still uncertain I would be able to throw those dice.

  • Robert||

    So why is it that in any given year in this country, or others that have this sort of legal regime, 3% of the population isn't prosecuted for rape? Not enough blackmailers?

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

  • AlmightyJB||

    What the fu k happen to Cato

  • ||

    Cato does not take positions, individual fellows take positions.

  • SIV||

    True to form

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    So in summary, Sullum doesn't like pre-existing legislation forbidding felons and others from purchasing/possessing firearms, so he's against this legislation too. (?????) You do realize that if you sell a gun to a convicted felon you will go to jail if caught, regardless of how you advertised the sale; this bill had absolutely no effect on that. Most competent attorneys recommend going through an FFL even if it's not legally required, to obliterate the possibility of being held criminally liable.

    Yet these sweeteners were added precisely to make the expanded checks easier to swallow, which suggests there is indeed something objectionable about them

    Sort of like when Walmart puts items on clearance and lowers the price, that means there must be something objectionable about those items so you shouldn't buy them. And when a commercial real estate company offers you a rent-free month for that office space, there must be something objectionable about that space so you should refuse the deal.

    Anyone who's done even a little deal making in their life (and I haven't done THAT much) knows that if the other party to the deal is desperate for a deal, and you play your cards right, you can in fact get something for nothing. Pat Toomey was a successful businessman before going to Washington and it shows. He ripped off Manchin on that deal -- this was certainly the opinion of most lefty blogs -- and we pissed that advantage away.

  • ||

    You haven't been gone long enough for us to miss your substancelesstive bitching criticisms. Try again in a couple of months.

  • ||

    Tulpa literally cannot resist sucking off authority. It's kind of like the way he cannot resist lying. What's today's date, Tulpy-Poo?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Is it May already?

  • Libertymike||

    Mr. Levy is a brilliant legal historian.

    He is also a gentleman based upon my two encounters with him and what others have told me.

    However, his column represents another manifestation of CATO being co-opted by Codevilla's Ruling Class. Note that the NYT saw fit to print the op-ed.

    Tom Woods takes Mr. Levy to task at his site today.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Sorry, I find my mind atrophies if I indulge in guilt by association laziness. So I'll consider Levy's argument based on its merits rather than who printed it.

  • Libertymike||

    Perhaps your mind might be less apt to atrophy if you actually bothered to employ reason in your posts rather than respond with frivolous drivel.

    In your world of logic, if A is critical of B's op-ed and A notes that the op-ed was printed by C, then A is "indulg[ing] in guilt by association laziness".

    Absolutely brilliant.

  • fish||

    .....rather than respond with frivolous drivel.

    Then I got nuthin........

  • Libertymike||

    The fact that the NYT saw fit to print Levy's piece supports the proposition I set forth in the preceding sentence.

    I did not assert that Levy's argument is flawed BECAUSE the NYT saw fit to print it.

    Again, in Tulpa's world of logic....................

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    In the actual world of logic, we note that the NYT prints plenty of stuff from people who are unlikely to be "co-opted" by whoever you're conspiracy theorizing against today.

  • Libertymike||

    What type of stuff does the NYT print from people who are unlikely to be "co-opted" by Codevillas' Ruling Class?

    How have you determined that such people are "unlikely" to be co-opted? Please share your methodology for making such determinations, assuming it is you who is making the determinations.

    Who are some of these people?

    BTW, against whom am I conspiracy theorizing today?

  • Killazontherun||

    'In the actual world of logic . . .' Goddamn if you don't crack me up. Best smugly unselfaware phrase since the mid 00s when 'reality based' community captured the limited imaginations of progtards everywhere.

  • CJR||

    "You do realize that if you sell a gun to a convicted felon you will go to jail if caught, regardless of how you advertised the sale..."

    Except that DoJ has a well-established record of failing to prosecute the parties involved in illegal firearm transactions. Try again.

    "Most competent attorneys recommend going through an FFL even if it's not legally required, to obliterate the possibility of being held criminally liable."

    This is your uninformed opinion, dressed up with a rather desperate attempt at an appeal to authority. Try again, please.

    "Pat Toomey was a successful businessman before going to Washington and it shows. He ripped off Manchin on that deal -- this was certainly the opinion of most lefty blogs -- and we pissed that advantage away."

    I see that we're not familiar with the concept of a chilling effect...

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Funny that this:

    This is your uninformed opinion, dressed up with a rather desperate attempt at an appeal to authority.

    follows this:

    Except that DoJ has a well-established record of failing to prosecute the parties involved in illegal firearm transactions.

    Hell, at least I gave some sort of source for the advice.

    I see that we're not familiar with the concept of a chilling effect...

    What heretofore legal activity do you foresee being chilled by the Toomey-Manchin compromise?

  • SIV||

    It's legal to sell a gun to a convicted felon if you think he is a legal gun buyer. It is illegal for him to buy it.
    Private sellers are not required to do background checks and "any competent attorney" will advise you against playing gun dealer by attempting to do so.

  • CJR||

    "Most competent attorneys" is not a source, kiddo. As for my own statement, I recommend the DoJ internal study 'Background Checks for Firearm
    Transfers, 2010.'

    "What heretofore legal activity do you foresee being chilled by the Toomey-Manchin compromise?"

    I find it hard to believe that someone would actually ask this question in good faith. But since it's you, I'll oblige.

    Gun ownership is the heretofore legal activity that I see being chilled by the Toomey-Manchin bill. The entire purpose of the bill, in my opinion, is to make it more difficult and more legally hazardous to purchase a gun.

  • John||

    Have you spoken to these "competent attorneys"? I have never in my life of being a gun owner and an attorney ever heard a person getting a legal opinion before selling a gun in a private sale.

    Did that statement hurt when you pulled it out of your ass?

  • SIV||

    I've heard both the unsolicited opinion of a gun rights attorney AND an ATF agent that a private seller is fine so long as you have no knowledge the buyer is ineligible to purchase or own a firearm.

  • SugarFree||

    Is it May already?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    I think so

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    A utilitarian case for compelling gun sellers to run background checks would argue that such a requirement is reasonably drawn and effective enough at preventing crime to justify the costs it imposes. A libertarian case would go further, grappling with the issue of whether the government should punish people for actions that violate no one's rights. My gun is my property. If I transfer it to another adult on mutually agreeable terms, why is that anyone's business but ours? By what right does the government threaten to imprison me because I did not follow the arbitrary conditions it has presumed to impose on such transactions? If the justification is simply that the person to whom I sell my property might (but almost certainly won't) use it to commit a crime, there is no end to the meddling that might be considered appropriate.

    If you're trying to convince people that libertarianism is stupid and unworkable, mission accomplished.

    I didn't realize libertarians who saw no problem with selling guns to barking mad people or freshly released murderers on the sidewalk in front of their ex-girlfriend's house actually existed outside of leftist fantasies, but thanks for proving the real world is wackier than I'd imagined.

  • ||

    If you're trying to convince people that you're stupid and mendacious, mission accomplished.

  • Libertymike||

    Too-fucking-shay!

  • Marshall Gill||

    I didn't realize libertarians who saw no problem with selling guns to barking mad people or freshly released murderers on the sidewalk in front of their ex-girlfriend's house actually existed outside of leftist fantasies, but thanks for proving the real world is wackier than I'd imagined.

    So people who have been previously convicted of a crime should not be able to exercise their natural right to self defense? Why not simply kill them now and take their property? Can they still have sharp knives? Why do you support the mass murder of peace loving, law abiding Americans with knives?

    Should we also make those previously convicted wear some symbol with which we can all identify them on sight? A yellow star perhaps?

  • Virginian||

    This. Either a man is free, or he is not. If he's too dangerous to own a gun, he should still be in prison. If it's alright to let him walk the streets, it's ok to let him do so armed.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Black and white thinking FTL.

    You do realize the implementation of your proposal would result in lots of people being locked in cages who had been walking around freely, working a job, and raising families, albeit unarmed, under the status quo.

  • Virginian||

    I'm not the one who deprives people of their civil rights, dipshit.

    I love how you and your ilk never have to justify your fucking prison system.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    So now you're against having prisons? Or am I misunderstanding your position?

  • ||

    Or am I misunderstanding your position?

    For you, is there any alternative?

  • Virginian||

    I think a justice system based on compensatory damages, or at least offering the option of one, is preferable, yes.

    If someone assaults me, I would not want him subjected to prison, which is a barbaric act. I'd rather he compensate me, or perhaps receive corporal punishment.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I'd prefer wergild too should I survive provided it covers any medical and my annoyance levels.

  • Marshall Gill||

    You do realize the implementation of your proposal would result in lots of people being locked in cages who had been walking around freely, working a job, and raising families, albeit unarmed, under the status quo.

    As Virginian says above, either a man is a danger to society and he should be locked up or he isn't.

    I get it. You wish for convicted felons to act as slaves to the State. They will "work a job" and get taxed, like they were human beings. But if someone fucks with them or threatens them then they are only property of the State which can be replaced.

    Amazing how often your "arguments" convince me of the correctness of my own, opposing ones.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Well maybe they shouldn't have committed a felony then!

    And of course I would like to get rid of most felony offenses on the books today.

  • ||

    Yeah, they shouldn't have committed those non-violent crimes that had nothing to do with using a gun! Get real, Marshall!

  • UnCivilServant||

    How many felonies do you inadvertantly commit on your commute? Do you have any clue how many contradictary laws there are on the books? Most felonies are not of the "rip an' tear! maim! slaughter!" variety. Your image of a felon must be that of a Khornite shouting "Blood for the Blood God!" before laying into people with an axe. I've known a great many felons. Only one or two I wouldn't trust with a weapon.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Guns allow their bearers to be more dangerous than knives do.

    You know, the same reason we think law abiding citizens should have guns, and not just knives, for self-defense. It works the other way too, unfortunately.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Guns allow their bearers to be more dangerous than knives do.

    That's only because most people don't know how to effectively fight with knives.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Gonna have to dispute that. That scene from Indiana Jones is of course fictitious but I'd wager it's true to real life.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm not talking about bringing a knife to a gun fight; I'm saying a knife can kill just as effectively as a gun, if you know how to use it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    For a one on one confrontation perhaps, but double-digit killings from single knife wielder are nearly unheard of, which is what I was trying to get at.

  • Partisan762||

    I have to drop in on this one and state my mind-
    As a long time martial artist who's studied,in particular,knives for over a decade,Tulpa your wrong.

    The only advantage a firearm has is range and as a force multiplier for people without the physical prowess to wield contact weapons.

    Not too long ago,a trained soldier defended himself against thugs armed with firearms,successfully with a pocket knife.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/1304.....YIX5ExHDKc

    Further,crime with knives has literally exploded in England,giving no credibility whatsoever to that nations strict weapons control laws,which even prohibit knives.

    On a personal note,I'd like to say that my favorite knife is the Bowie,its a big,heavy blade that is capable of removing limbs and decapitation with a single blow.

    There is no firearms,short of a shotgun,that I am aware of with the capability to inflict the same grievous injury.

    Historically,the blade has proven itself capable of mass killing in the extreme,and it is a total fallacy to state that firearms make killing easier or more efficient,when the blade has been the predominant military weapon in the vast majority of human history and has proven itself quite the capable weapon.

    To dismiss it in such a manner as you have,to make a political statement,is to ignore its capability and prove yourself ignorant of martial history.

  • Coeus||

    I'm saying a knife can kill just as effectively as a gun, if you know how to use it.

    There's not even that much to learn.

  • Calidissident||

    Do you really think the legitimately dangerous felons are going to abide by laws saying they can't have guns?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    No, but UBC would damn sure make it harder for them to get guns.

  • Calidissident||

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Jordan||

    Yeah, I'm sure the guy in Chicago selling guns out of his trunk to 'bangers is really going to pack it up.

  • John||

    Or more likely he would mistakenly break the law by giving a gun to his son or nephew and this would just make him a criminal.

  • sam the man||

    Just like all those drug laws make it harder for people to get drugs...

  • Partisan762||

    This.

    Also,if government prohibition of stuff worked,why is Al Capone a household name?

    Here's what is going to happen if universal background checks become law:

    Someone is going to realize the profit to be made selling guns outside of that law,and make themselves rich defying it.

    Its amazing to me the lack of historical perspective those who demand government control over arms have in their arguments.

  • entropy||

    Tulpa, these laws aren't reasonable or common sense they are fucking stupid.

    None of these laws will save a single life. People intent on killing others will get illegal guns if they want to.

    The only way you could possibly stop them was if you lived on an island like Britain and didn't even allow the cops to have them on the island, and even then you'd still have crazy people getting guns, just slightly less often, but with an equal rise in fatal stabbings and explosives.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Secure storage laws could massively minimize the amount of guns available on the black market/the street.

    Gun rights folks repeat "criminals will find ways to get guns" like it's the Rosary, but seem supremely uninterested in seeing what can be done to make that less likely.

  • entropy||

    I told you what can be done. Live on an island and take them away from the cops too.

    Short of that, nothing. At it's most basic it's a fucking pipe with a handle. People will always get guns, even on an island where even the cops don't have them! Britain still has gun crime. And they live on an island. And they don't have secure storage - they have no guns period, not even for most cops.

    But if you go that far, you might not stop ALL gun crime even when you go that far, but you might discourage a bit of it, no?

    No. They just use something besides a gun. In an alley, you can kill with a knife. The first mass killer that wants to mass kill but can't find a gun will crack open a textbook and probably kill 3 times as many more people with explosives instead. They are even cheaper and easier to get than guns, and more effective.

  • Jordan||

    Well, ending the War on Drugs would massively reduce gun crime.

  • Calidissident||

    Poe's Law?

  • entropy||

    The proper reaction to a mass shooting is to thank god the nut was even less competent than your average jihadist nut.

    Nobody has ever killed 4000 people with a gun, and the guys that did that used 3" razors.

  • entropy||

    You know what happens when you live in a place where criminals can't find guns?

    They learn how to make them instead.

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/.....r-shotgun/

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/.....-revolver/

  • Partisan762||

    Good point.

    And by making it,you make the point that the blade was used to commit probably the worst mass murder in American history.

    Not the gun.

  • Partisan762||

    And even then,there are,for the first time ever,armed British police units formed in response to increase in violent crime,some of which is still committed with guns.

    Despite England's draconian weapons laws.

  • Jordan||

    Not without shredding the 4th Amendment. Even if one were to be generous and assume that your stupid proposal of one scheduled inspection per year is not an obvious 4th Amendment violation, all I have to do is lock my gun up the 1 day a year my government minder shows up.

  • Jordan||

    Not to mention that stolen guns account for something like 10% of guns used in gun crimes, IIRC.

  • mr simple||

    Is it really a surprise that people who support freedom and rights will dismiss your unsupported assertions that more command and control legislation will magically reduce crime?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I should let certain individuals know that there's a lot of blank space beneath my comments in my browser. One of the things I deicided in my self-imposed exile was that life is too short to waste on troll excreta.

  • SugarFree||

    Oh, yeah. The guy who complained on the reasonable extension page that the blocking feature was being unfairly used against him.

    You are an epic piece of shit, Tulpa. A sad little excuse of a man who thinks the world owes him something because he thinks he's smart. You're owed a big ball of shit to lick on and nothing more. Keep on sucking that cop cock, Tulpa, you whiny fuckstain.

  • ||

    Tulpa needs to reflect on why though he feels the world owes him something, it isn't paying up. Think about it, Tulpy-Poo. Think about it.

  • ||

    The only common denominator in all his failures is everyone but him.

  • Warrren||

    And, oddly, Adam Ant.

  • Virginian||

    So Levy, and Tulpa, this is what I say to you:

    This is a civil rights issue. Like William Lloyd Garrison said

    I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.

    Take your moderation and your deals, wad them up into sharp corners, and shove them up your ass. The gun rights crowd spent decades compromising, making deals, and retreating. No longer. War to the fucking knife, until the last bit of anti-liberty legislation is ground until the dust, until all Americans have their god given rights back. We are not ashamed, we are not afraid, and we are not giving up another inch.

    Molon Labe, motherfucker. I will not hand them over. If you want them, come and fucking get them.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Your civil rights are meaningless unless they're enforced; and you and I will lose if it comes to war between us and the govt. I wish it weren't so but it is.

    And WLG's people didn't end slavery, a slimy politician who would have happily allowed slavery to continue if he could maintain centralized federal power did. The utilitarians always win in the long run.

  • sam the man||

    "Your civil rights are meaningless unless they're enforced"

    So rights don't exist without government?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Anybody who pays the slightest fucking attention to what anti-gunners say would know that compromise with them is impossible. If a deal had been struck on background checks, the Democrats would have declared it "a good first step". We do know what "first" means, don't we?

    Yes, they would have come back next session for more gun control. That's not compromise; that's just a temporary stay of execution.

  • Tony||

    Considering they're getting nothing, I don't think we're even up to "compromise" yet. A couple steps between totally stonewalled and that.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    This is as it should be. As I just said, if they were getting something, it wouldn't be the end of the story, and we both know it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    If our strategy is to never make a deal, then the GFSZA, GCA-1968, NFA-1934, and the bad parts of FOPA-1986 are never going to be repealed or diminished in any way.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Who are we going to make a deal with, some mythical moderate gun grabber whose goal isn't slow and steady erosion of gun rights until the peasants are disarmed and can be bullied with impunity?

  • Tony||

    I'm glad you can justify whatever social safety problems (dead people) our level of gun proliferation causes based on fears of a slippery slope.

    You do get that "no compromise, ever!" is how people lose both policy debates and elections?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Tulpa, tell me what fucking deal will the gun-grabbers take? Are you honestly expecting me to believe they would repeal or even weaken the laws you mention?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Well, we got the expansion of the good part of the FOPA as part of the Toomey Manchin deal. I don't know what future deals we could get, but it wouldn't hurt to listen.

    If they refuse to compromise the next time then we can legitimately tell them to go pound sand.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    This isn't much of an expansion. And what happens to those LEOs who violate it? Nada, especially under the current administration.

    I laughed out loud at the naive twits who proposed a provision making it a federal felony to establish a federal gun owners database. Can you actually see any DOJ-regardless of party-actually prosecuting itself for this?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I wasn't totally happy with the anti-registration stuff for that very reason. I would have preferred a special prosecutor or an allowance for state govts to prosecute ATF miscreants.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Okay, Tony, you do understand what "compromise" means, right?

    So what are you offering?

  • Tony||

    Well Democrats are offering the most weak tea policies imaginable, which you guys are quick to point out will have little or no impact. And then you oppose it because of a slippery slope to tyranny.

    My preferred compromise is quite a bit stronger than what's actually on the table, but it's still quite far from banning guns. You know, something that will be effective.

  • Calidissident||

    You're not proposing a compromise. You want more gun control. We do not. There can be no compromise

  • DRM||

    Yeah, if only Gandhi had compromised he could have mitigated British rule in India, which goes on unhindered to this day.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    To be honest, Hitler deserves more credit than Gandhi for getting the Brits out of India.

  • Sevo||

    Tulpa (LAOL-VA)| 4.30.13 @ 7:44PM |#
    "To be honest, Hitler deserves more credit than Gandhi for getting the Brits out of India."

    Would this have to do with a grassy knoll?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    No, it has to do with Britain being unable to afford an empire after WW2.

    It would probably have been stomach-turning to read about what happened to a Russian Gandhi or an Algerian Gandhi.

  • Sevo||

    Tulpa (LAOL-VA)| 4.30.13 @ 8:03PM |#
    "No, it has to do with Britain being unable to afford an empire after WW2."

    England certainly couldn't afford most of its empire post WWII, but it certainly could afford India; it remained an asset absent the turmoil and resultant security costs.
    Hitler had little to do with that.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 4.30.13 @ 7:20PM |#
    "I'm glad you can justify whatever social safety problems (dead people) our level of gun proliferation causes based on fears of a slippery slope."

    Damn. I knew shithead couldn't get through two posts without beating on that strawman he drags around!
    Way to go, shithead!

  • Tony||

    I defy you to point out the strawman.

  • Sevo||

    Shithead, you make your stupidity entirely too easy to show:

    "social safety problems (dead people) our level of gun proliferation causes"

    For your next assignment, shithead, pleas prove how "gun proliferation" has caused "(dead people)".

    Jebus, you're STUPID!

  • fish||

    I defy you to point out the strawman.

    He's behind you....the one with the dildo.

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm glad you can justify whatever social safety problems (dead people) our level of gun proliferation causes based on fears of a slippery slope.

    You do get that "no compromise, ever!" is how people lose both policy debates and elections?

    It is at least arguable that gun proliferation doesn't cause dead people (an armed society is a polite society?) but even if it were, you are assuming more gun laws = fewer guns in the hands of people who tend to kill other people, which assumption is belied by the homicide rate in Washington, DC and Chicago and other cities with stricter than average gun laws.

    And nobody is saying "no compromise, ever!" in regards to gun control legislation - they are saying "no more compromising". We've compromised one hell of a lot from the position of "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" and still we are told we are being intransigent by not compromising just a little bit more. "No compromise" is one way to lose a debate and an election, but on some issues there simply is no room for compromise.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Works the other way too.

    If the next session's gun control push results in a compromise where we give away something minor so the grabbers can crow to the press and kiss babies, and we get even more of our rightful freedoms back that had been taken away in the 20th century, I call that a winning strategy.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I could go for that. But I have to see it happen. What are the gun-grabbers offering?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    We would have had an expansion of the Peaceable Journey exceptions to state gun laws, expressly allowing (unloaded, encased) gun-transporting travelers to lodge overnight in an anti-gun jurisdiction as long as they were journeying between states where they could possess the gun. Right now people get arrested in NYC and other places for that shit and because the federal law is vague the grabbers get away with it.

  • Virginian||

    No, the gun grabbers violate federal law, and they never get arrested for it as they should be. So another FOPA will work? Seriously?

    How about this: the feds stop violating my rights, and in return I will not consider armed insurrection.

  • entropy||

    How about this: the feds stop violating my rights, and in return I will not consider armed insurrection.

    See? We can compromise!

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I've read that provision in S.649. I'm not impressed. Given what we're expected to give up that's a shitty deal.

  • Libertymike||

    Tulpa, the problem with your approach is that it has been an absolute failure for over 150 years.

    Compromise with statists inevitably leads to a net loss of liberty.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    You absolutists aren't exactly world-beating either. You're basically reiterating Lysander Spooner's complaints from even longer ago.

    Statism is always and everywhere at an advantage, so a small net loss is usually the best possible scenario.

  • Calidissident||

    "Statism is always and everywhere at an advantage"

    With "anti-statist" "opponents" such as yourself, it's easy to see why

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Blame the moderates and utilitarians. A time tested tactic of extremist ideologues everywhere, egging for a fight with the establishment.

    It won't go any better for you than it did for the Algeirians.

  • Calidissident||

    What is an "Algeirian?" Are they from some place only super smart people like you have heard of? Opposing this stupid law is not going to cost us anything. The supporters of this law are in far greater danger of losing their seats of this than opponents are.

    It really is pathetic how conceited and narcissistic you are. You really see yourself as some wise strategic genius just desperately trying to do what good he can in the face of resistance by the stupid unthinking "extremist ideologues." Go suck Mitt Romney's dick

  • ||

    Tulpa is just hoping that he can slow the state's encroachment long enough to die before things get "really bad." Where you fucks are all picking a fight with the Gubmint and are likely to lose (in Tulpa's eyes) and thus bring "really bad" stuff sooner.

  • Robert||

    You could say the same thing to "show" that compromise with libertarians inevitably leads to a net gain of liberty.

  • Robert||

    Then why didn't the current run of Selective Service registr'n lead to conscription? Sometimes it does stop there.

  • Tejicano||

    If it supposedly "stops here" then why wasn't "instant background check" as implemented in 1994 enough? Nope, it didn't stop there.

    They claim it is because of the "gun show loophole" - which was obvious from the outset. But if this bill is passed there is no way to know if any gun in existence today was transfered before or after this law took effect - "OMG ANOTHER LOOPHOLE!!!"

    Legislate, rinse, repeat - ad nauseum.

  • Partisan762||

    Thats the recipe they are using.

    NFA34 wasn't enough,GCA68 wasn't,Brady wasn't,the now sunsetted AWB that proved totally ineffective wasn't enough,the gun free zone act wasn't......

    No.

    This won't be enough either.

    The grabbers won't be happy until they get to grab.

    Thats what they are,and what they do.

    Conversely,an interesting point is that we have had "gun control" on a federal level in this nation since 1934.

    Thats almost a century.

    If it really worked to keep society safe,then how did Sandy Hook happen?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    One of my favorite quotes from A Man For All Seasons:

    Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.
  • SugarFree||

    Argument by imdb quote page. Insightful.

  • Libertymike||

    He must liken himself to Sir Thomas More, being forced to co-exist with the present day Henry the VIIIs of the world.

  • SugarFree||

    He has a massive martyr complex. He probably sleeps on a bed of nails for our sins.

  • Ted S.||

    Funnily enough, I've always thought of Tupla as being Roper in the following exchange:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Terms like "common sense" and "reasonable" are useless for discussions of public policy. They are emotional and subjective.

    A person who thinks that it's "crazy" to own a gun would not consider a total gun ban to be "unreasonable".

  • Tony||

    That's because libertarians are incapable of seeing guns as anything but magical rights protectors. What if they're a social safety problem?

  • SugarFree||

    Fuck off, sockpuppet.

  • fish||

    Stop thinking you will ever get to pull the levers of power Tony Perkins.

    Shit...don't you have undergrad drivel to grade?

  • DRM||

    What if letting women vote was a social safety problem?

  • Tony||

    Good thing it isn't.

  • DRM||

    And neither are guns in the hands of the law-abiding. Guns in the hands of criminals is unsolvable short of totalitarianism. Next?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Like in the totalitarian EU?

    I don't like the EU's gun laws either, but dismissing the possibility of 2A-respecting laws that reduce criminal gun access out of hand is unworthy of you.

  • Jerryskids||

    The problem with comparing any policy between Europe and America is that Europe is full of Europeans and America is full of Americans.

    Gun restrictions don't just magically work in Europe and fail in the USA - restrictions of any sort tend to work better in Europe where people have a centuries-old habit of doing what they are told by their lords and masters and tend to fail in the USA where people have a habit of believing 'nobody tells me what to do'.

  • Partisan762||

    Gun restrictions don't work to well in Mexico.

    I know its not Europe,but if were going to focus on other nations instead of our own,lets even the playing field.

    South Africa has pretty tight regulations and its also pretty violent.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....-violence/

    For every "grand example" of how "gun control" "works",there's plenty of examples of how it does not.

  • Partisan762||

    "2A respecting laws"?

    The last time I looked,there was nothing in the Constitution that gave the government the power to regulate arms,and the Second Amendment clearly says that the right it protects shall not be infringed.

    The federal government claims it was granted the constitutional authority to determine the extent of the individual rights enumerated in the Amendments and/or impose “reasonable restraints” on those rights.

    This assertion is absurd.

    The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to ignore, circumvent, modify, negate or remove constitutional restraints placed on its power by the Amendments or convert them into a power over the individual right enumerated in the particular restraint.

    A denial of power or an enumerated restraint on the exercise of power is not subject to interpretation or modification by the entity the restraint is being imposed upon.

    The restraints imposed by the Amendments, which were adopted 4 years after the Constitution was ratified, override the legislative, executive, judicial or
    administrative powers of the federal government.

  • DRM||

    To be clear: It is obvious to anyone of even moderate intelligence who realy considers the matter that guns in the hands of criminals is no more something we can stop with gun control than cocaine in the hands of drug dealers is something we can stop with the war on drugs. If you genuinely want to "solve" the "social safety problem", the only intellectually honest policy you can advocate is imposition of a Soviet-level police state.

    So, Tony, you are one or more of an idiot, a liar, or a totalitarian. Go to hell.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    guns in the hands of criminals is no more something we can stop with gun control than cocaine in the hands of drug dealers is something we can stop with the war on drugs.

    There are probably fewer people using cocaine than there would be if it were legal. Obviously the costs of the WoD are horrendous and not worth it, before we even get to the question of whether people should be denied the medicines they want, but you can't really claim that no cocaine use is prevented by the drug laws.

    Likewise, it's possible that there are laws which reduce the availability of guns to criminals. The EU doesn't have much of a gun crime problem, for example.

  • Jordan||

    The EU doesn't have much of a violent crime problem, period.

  • Sevo||

    "Likewise, it's possible that there are laws which reduce the availability of guns to criminals."

    Of course there are. For example, we can change existing law to allow the police to search every home absent a warrant and confiscate any weapons they find!
    There's a law right there that'll prolly cut criminal gun availability by at least 1% or so.

  • Calidissident||

    "There are probably fewer people using cocaine than there would be if it were legal"

    Not among people who really want to do cocaine

  • entropy||

    So what Tulpa is saying, apparently, is that people are more likely to dabble in lunatic mass killings socially because it is legal. But if we were to ban it and mandate the BATFE have access to your home once a year....

  • Partisan762||

    Wait a second.

    When did this debate go from "preventing mass shootings by madmen" to "reducing guns in criminal hands"?

    Both Jared Loughner and James Holmes passed background checks to get their guns.

    So please,how exactly will expanding background checks,which many of these recent mass shooters passed,help with the problem of mass shootings by deranged madmen?

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 4.30.13 @ 7:12PM |#
    "That's because libertarians are incapable of seeing guns as anything but magical rights protectors..."

    So, shithead, do you buy the strawmen in bulk as a blue-light special, or do you have to pay retail for each one?

  • Partisan762||

    Drowning kills more children then guns and empty hand beatings kill more people then "evil assault weapons".

    Guns aren't a social safety problem,we need water control and hand registration.

  • entropy||

    Why do so many people think saying something is 'common sense' is an argument and not an opinion?

  • Sevo||

    "Why do so many people think saying something is 'common sense' is an argument and not an opinion?"

    Interesting question.
    I just got "Fashionable Nonsense..." (Sokal, Bricmont) and tried to read it.
    They are oh, so careful to claim their statements are strictly 'scientific' and value-neutral, and they will not comment on subjects beyond their expertise, and then they prove it by mentioning that at the time the book was printed the world was being turned over to the 'most brutal of free-market' economics.(!)
    Now, neither of these guys is stupid, but the best that can be said is that they are truly ignorant.
    BTW, between the quotes from the PoMo 'scholars' and their hypocrisy, the book is unreadable.

  • Hyperion||

    It's the 'go along to get along' sickness that has invaded western culture. Another term for it would be 'self destruction through mass stupidity'

  • Hyperion||

    WTF is that thing in the photo? Is that the metamorphosis of the precious?

  • ||

    "because he smokes pot or uses Vicodin prescribed for a relative."

    You don't even have to use a relative's Vicodin to lose your 2nd amendment rights. The feds have asserted that ANY controlled substance use strips you of your right to keep and bear arms, even if it's your own prescription not anyone else's.

    But how do you define controlled? Technically, age limits on alcohol and tobacco could be considered controls on a substance.

  • sam the man||

    One of Cato's leftover "liberaltarians"

  • SIV||

    Robert A Levy insures his place on the DC cocktail party A list.
    Nick Gillespie seethes with envy.

  • Robert||

    Sometimes concessions work. No way to prove it, but it's possible that the readoption of Selective Service registration in 1979 kept an actual draft from coming back long enough that now instituting one has no chance. At the time, it was a compromise with the pressure to reinstitute a draft or even universal service.

  • WomSom||

    That dude jsut looks corrupt as the day is loing.

    www.GoGetAnon.tk

  • Chris Knox||

    The Toomey-Manchin "background check" bill was and remains a gun registration bill in disguise. It is also an abridgment of liberty. There is no libertarian case for it. I hope the Cato Institute is reexamining its leadership choices.

  • Johnimo||

    Chris Knox is absolutely correct. Expanded background checks are a de facto national gun registry. If not, how can the law be enforced and what's its purpose? If I sell a gun to a second party but it later is found in the possession of a third party, how will anyone know I didn't sell it to that person? Answer: they won't unless they've kept records of the original sale. If they keep the records for checking later on, that's a gun registry and everyone knows it.

  • Partisan762||

    I third this assertion.

    This recent demand for expanded background checks is nothing but the radical gun grabbing left trying to get just another little nibble towards their ultimate goal,and that goal,without any sugarcoating it,is total confiscation,and this is coming from their mouths,not mine.

    To ignore the breadth and dearth of recorded statements made by the gun control lobby about their ultimate goal of total confiscation is like denying the holocaust- its just bullshit.

    The grabbers are on record,over and over AND OVER again stating this agenda loud and clear.

    http://thefiringline.com/libra.....reedom.xml

    They don't care if the law they propose will do anything to stop mass shootings such as those perpetrated recently- they only care about using the tragedy for political gain.

    And thats just sick.

    Saying we should compromise with them?

    Hell no.

  • Partisan762||

    There is no justification for compromising unalienable rights because of the actions of individual madmen.

    In fact,at the very heart of this "debate",is the issue that there is a group of people that seems to think that punishing innocent people with more abrogation of their rights by asserting more government intervention and regulation over the unalienable rights of innocent people is the solution to crimes committed by lone madmen.

    I'm sorry,but thats fucking fascist-style insane.

    And there is no compromise with insanity on that level.

    Anyone,even this supposed pillar of the libertarian community,that suggests otherwise is selling out our rights to those who think "compromise" is getting to punish innocent people for the crimes of others is just and moral.

    And thats the sum total argument on "gun control"-

    That because some people commit violent crimes with guns,the rest of us should be subject to government "reasonably regulating" our rights into mere privileges,subject to whatever whims government can conceive of.

    This man Robert Levy is no libertarian-

    Because as collective responsibility is a fascist concept,and he believes that we should all "compromise" with those that wish to impose a collective punishment on innocent people,the man is a fascist.

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