Craig R. Whitney on Living With Guns

A liberal's case for the Second Amendment

"A lot of our gun control measures are aimed at people who would obey the law and get the permits. How does keeping me or you from having a gun really control gun violence in Washington or New York City?" asks Craig R. Whitney, a former New York Times journalist and author of the new book, Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment.

From the earliest settlement at Jamestown to the renewed debate over so-called assault weapons in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, gun control has always been contentious. The earliest limitations on gun possession in early America were explicitly racist against blacks and modern gun control was aimed squarely at urban-dwelling Italian immigrants and others who supposedly suffered from poor impulse control.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, advocates of gun control are pushing for renewed bans on various sorts of weapons and greater exclusions based on mental illness. At the same time, the National Rifle Association is pushing for armed guards at every school in the country and excoriating violent entertainment. Neither side is interested in taking a more measured look at what sorts of policies actually work to secure rights and reduce crime.

Whitney sat down before the Newtown shooting to talk with Reason's Nick Gillespie about why liberals should defend the Second Amendment, why gun-related violence has declined over the past 20 years even as gun ownership has increased, his most memorable experience at a shooting range, and more.

About 7 minutes long.

Camera by Amanda Winkler and Todd Krainin, who also edited the video.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "My liberal case is that it is an individual right. It's a common law right recognized by the Second Amendment..."

    I'm not sure he understands what liberal currently means.

  • sarcasmic||

    Someone needs to inform this guy that government is god, and all rights come from government.

  • Hyperion||

    I'm not sure he understands what liberal currently means

    It means all my stuff is belongs to the state and freedom is scary.

  • ||

    Even in this case the Hit & Republicans can't resist an opportunity to bash liberals. To be fair, many deserve it, but not this one, this time.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Liberals aren't known to be strong advocates of 2nd Amendment rights. His premise as stated is ludicrous.

  • ||

    Crack eipdemic? For fuck's sake.

  • fish||

    I think it did spike the numbers somewhat. But I had the same reaction.

    (guilty face: I'm too lazy to look at them)

  • ||

    Let's say there was a steep rise in gun violence in the 1980's. How could anyone possibly attribute that, scientifically and factually, to crack cocaine? There were probably literally 100s of factors that increased gun crimes, and the reasons would be different for each jurisdiction.

    He's just puking the standard mass media hysterics.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    There were probably literally 100s of factors that increased gun crimes, and the reasons would be different for each jurisdiction.

    And I'd bet that the vast majority of those reasons start and end with the government prohibition of drugs.

  • Frank_Carbonni||

    In all fairness there were a lot of violent drug crews and street gangs in the 1980s to early 1990s.

    The vendetta between the Bloods and the Crips in California existed before crack cocaine, but it certainly got worse when crack came along. You also had drug crews in Baltimore, Washington, and New York fighting over turf as well.

    There were other factors, but let's not act like crack didn't play a role.

  • sarcasmic||

    Organized crime related to rock cocaine prohibition.

  • Enough About Palin||

    500 shot dead in Chicago this year and we're no longer in the 1980's, so no, it wasn't the crack.

  • AlmightyJB||

    There was no doubt a relationship to the surge in crack and to inner city violence. There were neighborhoods that were pretty much owned by gangs and off limits to cops. The feds when in and used rico to shut down a lot of gang leadership but the decline in crack I think was less about the WOD and more about people just seeing what the drug was all about. People were like hey crack turned my sister into a nickle whore, maybe I should stay away from it. Crack was some bad shit. Some problems are self correcting.

  • sarcasmic||

    I dunno. I tried the stuff and I don't know what the big deal is.
    You take a hit of this shit that tastes like something shaved off a tire, you get this monumental rush, and then no matter how much more you smoke you never get as high as you did from that first hit.
    What's so great about that? It's dumb.
    To get hooked on that shit you've got to be dumb. Stump dumb.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I was pretty heavy into drugs during that time but somehow managed to be adequietly warned away from it. Knew a couple guys who were not so lucky. You rarely hear other partiers tell you to stay away from some drug but I was hearing that about crack from everyone. In fact the first time somebody warned me about it was when I was partying with some locked up bikers girlfriend I had met at a club. We were doing coke, drinking, and getting high at the time. She was like this stuff is on it's way here and you don't want anything to do with it.

  • Kroneborge||

    I tried crack, I wasn't impressed, I much preferred coke.

  • fish||

    LIBERAL PURITY TEST FAIL

    Turn in your card sir! Or the nice man in the spiffy Hugo Boss uniform will relieve you of it by force.

  • ||

    Here's my case for the 2nd Amendment: fuck you, I will have weapons to defend myself no matter what you do. So, to be clear: fuck you.

  • ||

    This is the right answer, but it was said by the wrong person. Could someone less repulsive say it, please?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Here's my case for the 2nd Amendment: fuck you, I will have weapons to defend myself no matter what you do. So, to be clear: fuck you.

  • ||

    I guess that'll have to do. Sigh...

  • ||

    Here's my case for the 2nd Amendment: fuck you, I will have weapons to defend myself no matter what you do. So, to be clear: fuck you.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Oh come on, only crazy right-wingers are worried about Obama taking guns or any new gun legislation being introduced.

  • Hyperion||

    ^this^

    Because clearly, no government in the history of the world has ever become oppressive, let alone abuse and murder its own citizens.

    Well, ok, that has happened a couple of times, but it could never happen again because.... well, just because!

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Because we're America (fuck, yeah!) and we're exceptional!

  • OldMexican||

    Ok, now, this is the kind of stupid shit the liberals really believe

    Gun-Free Homes and Communities

    We should not wait for our elected officials, in President Obama's good words, "to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." We should do our share. One way to proceed is to mark our homes, apartments and condos, with a "gun free" sign. Parents should notify their friends that they would be reluctant to send their child over for a play date unless the home was safe from guns. Residential communities should pass rules that ban bringing guns onto their premises, clearly marking them as gun free.

    Anyone who puts up such signs will become an ambassador for gun control, because they are sure to be challenged by gun advocates to explain their anti-gun positions. Here are some pointers they may wish to use against the typical pro-gun talking points.


    Leaving aside the fact that residential communities do NOT get to dictate what you can or cannot bring inside the home YOU bought, it seems not to click on the guy's mind that an ambassador to gun control is just one little step from becoming ambassador Stevens.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    This is a great idea. Want to guess what will happen to the burglary rates? Why not just paint a target on your house? Even at my age (48) I sometimes forget just how fucking clueless people can be.

  • ||

    These people use not owning guns as a weapon. It's another tribal marker at this point, just another way to proclaim TEAM membership. Fuck these people.

    Many people who own guns are gun-cultists, for whom guns are symbolic objects, connected with their identity and lifestyle (analyzed in Collins, Interaction Ritual Chains). The political argument over banning or retaining guns has strong emotional overtones on both sides. Anti-gun-cultists dislike not only guns but the lifestyle and the values of the people who have them; this is evident in the case of anti-hunting movements, including the recently successful anti-foxhunting movement in England. (US surveys indicate the favorite TV shows of liberal Democrats are comedians satirizing conservatives; conservatives' favorites are college football. Experian, 2012) Both sides blur the gun issue with symbolic politics.
  • Trespassers W||

    That's from an excellent article, by the way. A rare combination of nonpartisan and thought-provoking.

  • ||

    Yeah, I thought so too.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Fucking great article.

    And he's right. The left is trying to bring gun ownership in to the realm of the TEH KULTURE WARZ where they have generally been effective.

    It isn't gun ownership that liberals are trying to destroy, but the redneck hordes that live in flyover country.

  • ||

    TRAKTOR PULLZ!!!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Fuck Tulpa or whoever made that an official meme here by being a cultural elitist.

  • Randian||

    That would be MNG, Tulpa's evil twin.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Thanks.

  • ||

    Was it MNG? Damn, I thought it was joe.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Playboy, playgirl, player, play date. You make the call.

  • Trespassers W||

    To paraphrase Ayn Rand,

    "Amitai Etzioni is a fountainhead of human stupid."

    Christ, why would I feel compelled to ask someone to explain their anti-gun position just because they put up a "gun free" sign? If someone wants to advertise their defenselessness, it's their funeral.

  • Hyperion||

    One way to proceed is to mark our homes, apartments and condos, with a "gun free" sign.

    Good grief, this is really a great idea. Especially for folks living in a large city. Why not just put a sign on your door that says 'ROB ME, PLEASE? I AM DEFENSELESS!'

  • ||

    No true Scotsman.

  • ||

    Caught this article on LRC this morning. Short and concise, very well written:

    "I Love Guns" by Tom Finnigan

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/ori.....3.1.1.html

  • nicole||

    Will no one stand up for people's right to live in a community based on mutual and equal vulnerability?!?!?

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Will no one stand up for people's right to live in a community based on mutual and equal vulnerability?!?!?

    I will Nicole. That way the criminals will target their area instead of mine.

  • sarcasmic||

    How are they vulnerable?

    No one has guns! They're safe!

    Ohhhhhh. You mean if a bad person with a gun decides to do bad things. Well, that's why we pay our taxes. To pay the police to protect us. While I've never actually been in need of their services, because I pay taxes I can be confident that they will respond in an instant, and stop the bad man with a gun from doing any harm. My public school teacher told me so.

  • Hyperion||

    Nothing to worry about for them. When the criminal is patrolling neighborhoods for homes to rob, they will see the gun free sign and feel empathy.

    They will then have a deep and meaningful conversation with themselves and decide to go rob a different home in a neighborhood where bad people own guns.

    Hell, they might even get in touch with their feminine side and go turn themselves in for thinking about robbing people.

  • ||

    And if they break in anyway, that gives the homeowner an opportunity give them a proper hug.

  • fish||

    You bastard! I can't unsee that!

  • sarcasmic||

    Just like a grocery store is less safe than a public school because in a grocery store you can't be certain that everyone is unarmed.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    My public school teacher told me so.


    Your public school teacher probably told you also that Kwanzaa is a real holiday, you naive fool!!!

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    As real as Festivus

  • nicole||

    (In case anyone is wondering, see here.)

  • sarcasmic||

    One of the fundamental problems with the idea of gun control is that it requires blind faith in government.

    First off it means that you trust that government would never abuse the citizenry once they were disarmed.

    It means that you trust the police to actually come and help you in a timely and professional manner when you call.

    And it means you trust that government actually can get guns out of the hands of criminals.

    As I said, this requires blind faith. Because all evidence is to the contrary.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    One of the fundamental problems with the idea of gun control is that it requires blind faith in government.


    Well, gun control advocates have a totally blind faith in government. Just ask Tony, who believes that anyone who criticizes government does so out of pure ideological motivations and not through reason, economics or even evidence.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "It means that you trust the police to actually come and help you in a timely and professional manner when you call."

    Though even coming right away will be too late in most life threatning situations.

  • ||

    At least they'll be able to fill out a report and check the box for "legitimate rape."

  • sarcasmic||

    "When seconds count, the police are minutes away."

  • GILMORE||

    Funny OT

    Our Nation Faces a "LOOMING DAIRY CLIFF!!

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money.....milk-cliff

    The sort of it is = the "support price" provision in the Farm Bill is about to expire, and if it does, the price will revert to a 1960s formula for establishing cost-factors...requiring a 50% increase in the minimum price of milk, requiring USDA to purchase tons of dairy products... none of which makes any sense at all - but is in fact a real feature of US Dairy policy. To wit =

    ""....Professor of Agriculture Economics Jospeh Balagtas says it would "draw a lot of attention to dairy policy that farmers wouldn't want." The USDA the folks in charge of buying all that cheese say returning to permanent law would be a "bad outcome" that no one should want.

    Want something else to worry about?

    Professor Balagtas says there is another outcome here that could be equally bad: "In my opinion passing the farm bill in current form for dairy, could be as bad as returning to permanent law."""

    And so we see the wonderous benefits Government regulation and subsidies provide! (we get to the point where "the only thing worse than the present law is the past law!") God forbid anyone ever suggest getting involved was maybe none of the Government's business.

  • ||

    If those fucking fucks make my whey powder even more expensive, I WILL MURDER EVERYONE I KNOW.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Do you mean "know" in the Biblical sense, Warty?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

  • ||

    Those Venn diagrams pretty much overlap anyways, fwiw.

  • ||

    I think we should all start calling Warty "Little Miss Muff" from now on. Why? Whey, that's why.

  • nicole||

    I vote for "Tuffet Gai."

  • ||

    Damn you for being wittier than me, nicole!

    I say people should use both interchangeably.

  • ||

    At least you're still prettier, princess.

  • ||

    You say the sweetest things, Tuffet Gai.

  • nicole||

    Seconded.

  • ||

    You think I'm pretty too, nicole? That's so sweet.

  • ||

    A GIS for that phrase finds me this literary masterpiece. I MUST HAVE IT.

  • ||

    What is this masterwork, and can I get it in eBook form?

  • AlmightyJB||

    And off to youporn I go

  • sarcasmic||

    "What's in the bowl, bitch?"

  • Solanum||

    Do they have any Costcos in your area? I can get 7 pound bags of whey for $35 at the one near me.

  • ||

    It's 6 pounds for $45 at mine. FUCK YOU.

  • ||

    How much of that six pounds is carbs, fatso?

  • ||

    You're a carb!

  • sarcasmic||

    One of my favorite things about Maine is that our state government protects dairy farmers by establishing arbitrary minimum milk prices.

    God forbid some poor mother be allowed to purchase inexpensive milk for their child!
    The dairy farmers could suffer!

  • Enough About Palin||

    "Craig R. Whitney"

    Only an idiot would think one could successfully camouflage the word Whitey with just the letter n.

    Oh I hate the racist dog-whistles.

  • Ska||

    He managed to change whitey into an n-word.

  • ||

    They're actually calling this a TV clip. IT'S A MAGAZINE DUMBASS

  • TomG||

    I think the problem here is that the term "liberal" has been hijacked by progressives and "social democrats". Modern political liberalism has little to do with classical liberalism; it just borrows the name for the good will that it entails.

  • waaminn||

    Dude seems to know what the deal is. Wow
    www.Anon-et.tk

  • uythsb||

    Merry Christmas,NBA ,NFL 2012

  • Libertarius||

    We should take a page from the left's book of semantic manipulation and start calling them collectivists instead of liberals.

    I hate calling them liberals.

  • ||

    We should take a page from the left's book of semantic manipulation and start calling them collectivists instead of liberals.

    I hate calling them liberals.
    I feel the same way. I want to call myself a liberal without having to preface it with the word "classical".

  • MamaLiberty||

    I gave up all labels about 30 years ago and have never regretted it. Saves just so much jaw time trying to make people understand the labels.

    Now I just say, "I own my life" and if they don't know what I'm talking about there is no more need for conversation. sigh

  • دردشة العراق||

    thank you

  • ||

    Federal home inspectors along with their gun powder sniffing dogs can remove privately owned guns from this bullet riddled nation. Cowboys will object but the barking K9s will quickly make them hand over their guns.

  • ||

    Separating oneself from violence is too costly; the best defense is staying away from dimly lit streets. Muggers work in the darkness and prey upon those who believe the crime rate is low. But only one in twenty file a police report after being mugged, their reluctance adds to the appearance of safe streets.

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