Kerry Got His Gun

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As the federal "assault weapon" ban expires, we can thank John Kerry for demonstrating the stupidity of targeting firearms based on features that have nothing to do with their lethality or their suitability for crime. Last week Kerry, who has condemned President Bush's failure to push for renewal of the ban, accepted a Remington 11-87 shotgun as a gift from Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers, which represents employees at a Remington factory in Ilion, New York. It was an opportunity for Kerry, who emphasizes his fondness for hunting whenever he gets a chance, to show that he's not opposed to the ownership of legitimate sporting guns, as opposed to the evil weapons used by cop killers, mass murderers, and terrorists. But as the National Shooting Sports Foundation pointed out, the gun Kerry accepted would be illegal under a bill he supports: The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act expands the "assault weapon" ban to include all semiautomatic shotguns with pistol grips.

Even without that change, Kerry's acceptance of the shotgun could have violated the law in several ways, enumerated by gun law expert Alan Korwin:

1. Taking ownership of the shotgun gift, if he doesn't already have a valid Massachusetts Firearm Identification Card, could subject him to a 2-1/2 year prison term in his home state. Since he has claimed publicly he owns firearms, chances are he has this critical piece of paper…

2. Bringing the firearm back to Massachusetts, if he received it from a private party, would be a federal felony under the 1968 Gun Control Act. (5 years in prison, $5,000 fine, 18 USC §922)

3. The only exemption that would allow him to bring it into his home state requires that he obtained it in a face-to-face transaction with a federal firearms licensed dealer (FFL). A private gift would not qualify.

4. If Kerry did get it from an FFL, he would have had to personally fill out and sign a "4473 form" required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, before the gift was given, under penalty of federal felony.

5. If Kerry did not personally undergo a "NICS" instant background check before the transfer from an FFL, he would have put the person conducting the transfer in some legal jeopardy, though the law contains a loophole that would probably save Kerry from additional harm (the dealer, not the recipient, suffers from failure to do the NICS check).

Korwin generously concludes that "John Kerry should receive the same lenient treatment any other citizen deserves when innocently violating these complex and non-intuitive rules." He notes, however, that "federal authorities…have been known in the past to be inflexible in their enforcement of even minor technical violations." And he adds: "Some of these laws are just foolish, putting honest citizens at enormous and unjustified risk, and are so complicated that even a presidential candidate and his staff cannot figure them out."

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  1. Though both Kerry and Bush support the “assault weapon” ban, neither of them apparently believe in it. Wow, even more reason to vote for myself.

    Disclaimer: I do not support the law; without having to delve into constitutional matters, themere fact that it lacks efficacy is enough convince me that its hogwash.

  2. A few years back a New Hampshire citizen was put in jail when he visited his wife in the hospital (in Massachusetts) – the police checked his license plate and realized he had a gun permit in New Hampshire, thought he might have a gun in his car found one and arrested him.

  3. Kerry’s advisors apparently let him shoot without hearing or eye protection. How such nannies could screw THAT up I don’t know…
    me
    (not the real Daniel)

  4. Not to take away from the insanity of the law… but the shotgun Kerry was holding on the front page of Drudge did not have a pistol grip.

  5. “…did not have a pistol grip” and is of a type that has been sold, probably thousands of times since the law was passed, without prompting any legal action.

    Because IT DOESN’T HAVE A PISTOL GRIP, AND IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW.

    Thus, the little stunt demonstrates a degree of hypocrisy in Kerry approximately equal to accepting a butter knife.

    PS – I think the law is useless, and much of the argumentation being made on its behalf is dishonest. But it’s good to see the pre-gun side of the argument is willing to bullshit the public, too.

  6. And by “pre-gun” I mean “pro-gun.”

    And by “bullshit the public” I mean “thoughtfully consider the accuracy and fairness of a political group’s press release, rather than simply reprinting it without any critical thinking or basic fact-checking.”

  7. BB, I’ve been wondering about that too. The photo’s I’ve seen look like a standard monte carlo-type stock, which has only the most minor pistol shaping to its trigger-hand grip. Maybe the bill would ban a model if any of its variations possessed such features. Or maybe the one shown is not the exact gun or model he will be awarded – the real thing being sent to a FFL dealer in his home state. Or something else.

  8. joe – “pistol grip” is a term of art in the gun trade, and is distinguished from a straight grip.
    I can assure you that any technically correct and complete description of the gun Kerry is brandishing would state that it has a pistol grip. Most modern gunstocks do, by the industry/trade definition.

    Does the bill Kerry sponsored intend to reach all these guns? Or is it merely poorly drafted?

  9. I think that the so-called “Gunshow loophole” would save Kerry from prosecution under Federal law.

    The “loophole” allows a private individual to transfer ownership of up to 3 guns per year without triggering federal gun laws. I think (though I am no expert) that the gift of the shotgun would fall under this exception.

    The real (humerous) questions is: Is the gift of the gun an illegal campaign contribution under McCain-Feingold??

  10. For a picture of a typical rifle stock (actually, a very nice rifle stock) accurately described by a professional as having a pistol grip, go here:

    http://www.daverifflegunsales.com/images/guns/416R.html

    You will note the grip is identical to that on Kerry’s new gun.

  11. Shannon,

    I think you’re incorrect about the “loophole.” Kerry would be violating federal law if he purchased a long gun from an individual outside of his state of residence and returned it to his state of residence. If a long gun is purchased from an FFL in a state other than the home state, its OK, but not from an individual, IIRC.

    Also, some of the more recent ban language that has floated around (on the state and federal level) defines a “pistol grip” not as the ’94 ban did, which required it to protrude conspicuously from the buttstock, but as something that merely allows the thumb of the firing hand to rest below the bottom of the trigger. This would include monte carlo style stocks.

  12. RC, “Does the bill Kerry sponsored intend to reach all these guns?” No, clearly not. The bill supported by John Kerry, Ronald Reagan, Gerry Ford, George Bush’s dad, and George Bush himself is intended to cover only scary looking guns.

    “Or is it merely poorly drafted?” Yes, poorly drafted.

    The operative definition here is not what some “professional” says it is, but what the law says it is. In this case, we don’t have to guess whether the definition covers the type of grip on the gun given to Kerry, because we have a decade of sales and regulatory decisions demonstrating that it does not. The manufacturer, the political groups that set up the stunt, and John Kerry himself all know this to be the case.

    I suppose they could have tried to give him a long gun with an actual pistol grip, but for some reason they decided to use one that did not have a pistol grip. I wonder why.

  13. joe,

    The point is not that the ’94 ban would have banned the gift weapon, it is that legislation that has been recently floated would have banned it…

  14. db,

    I don’t know enough to have an opinion on whether the gun in question has a pistol grip, but I think you’re right – relevant quote: “the gun Kerry accepted would be illegal under a bill he supports: The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act expands the ‘assault weapon’ ban to include all semiautomatic shotguns with pistol grips.” It’s quite clear that the law being refered to is different from the law that is currently expiring, and that a law being legal under the old law is not sufficient to assert that it is legal under the new one. I’m sure joe just wasn’t reading carefully the first time, and will be quick to correct himself.

    -Tim

  15. db,

    I’ll take your word on that. However, the point of the press release, and of Sullum’s post, was that Kerry got caught contradicting himself by accepting a gun that would be illegal UNDER THE LAW HE WANTS TO PRESERVE. In fact, the gun would not be illegal under that law, and Kerry did not contradict himself.

    BTW, I don’t seem to be alone in my skepticism towards the Assault Weapons Ban’s extension.
    http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2004/09/index.html#004000

  16. Pardon me – I meant “a gun being legal under the old law . . .” Preview is our friend.

  17. Shannon Love:

    All interstate transfers of firearms must go through an FFL. Said another way: If private parties who are residents of different states want to do a transaction it must be conducted through an FFL.

  18. Tim,

    Kerry has come out for an extension of the old law, which does not ban the weapon he accepted.

    I do not know his position on every subclause in the extension bill; acts before Congress are typically much more convoluted than their name suggests, and a Senator casts an up or down vote on the whole thing. I suppose Kerry could have gone deep into the weeds in his public discussions of this bill that was never going to pass, but as with the $87 billions for military spending, the press, public, and opposition tend not to pay much attention to details, so why bother?

  19. Now these look like “pistol grips”.

  20. joe,

    Sorry, joe. You’re just wrong. Both refer to the “Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003.” I haven’t read the text of this act, but unless it is identical to the expiring law, you’re plainly wrong.

    -Tim

  21. The operative definition here is not what some “professional” says it is, but what the law says it is. In this case, we don’t have to guess whether the definition covers the type of grip on the gun given to Kerry, because we have a decade of sales and regulatory decisions demonstrating that it does not. The manufacturer, the political groups that set up the stunt, and John Kerry himself all know this to be the case.

    i mean no offense, joe, but i think we can all clearly state that the law as drafted will, sooner or later, easly be reinterpreted by some judge under some legal challenge so as to effectively ban all such professionally-defined pistol grips. if the latitude is there in the language — regardless of the intent of the law or the basis of kerry’s support — it will be taken eventually. the history up to the point of the expansion of the ban will count for little, as the expansion of the law and the language in it will count for everything.

    the law should be redrafted if the legislation’s intent is not to ban weapons like the one kerry accepted.

  22. joe,

    In your 12:04 PM post, I think you make a fair point. As you state, it is unreasonable to hold every “yea” voter responsible for every jot and tittle (sp?) of a law. They may ratify things with which they disagree on minor details for the purpose of expediency. I think, then, that this is not an example of hypocrisy, but certainly it is one of irony – that Kerry would (inadvertently) support a law prohibiting the gun he accepted as a gift. Agreed?

    -Tim

  23. The real question here is “how does having a pistol grip affect the lethality of a rifle or shotgun?”

  24. The operative definition here is not what some “professional” says it is, but what the law says it is.

    Of course, it is standard for judges to defer to the industry standard definition in parsing terms of art, so the industry standard definition of “pistol grip” is a darn good candidate for the legal definition as well, unless the statute otherwise defines it.

    In this case, we don’t have to guess whether the definition covers the type of grip on the gun given to Kerry, because we have a decade of sales and regulatory decisions demonstrating that it does not.

    Maybe, maybe not. Those decisions were made under a law that expired, which may or may not have used the unadorned term “pistol grip.” We are talking about whether the term “pistol grip”, without further legal definition in the statute that uses it, would cover the stock on Kerry’s shotgun. I am saying that there is a very strong argument that it would cover that grip because of the industry standard usage.

  25. Actually, I should have said, “With a few small exceptions, all interstate transfers must go through an FFL.” None of those exceptions would be applicable here.

  26. RC, gaius, I can understand where you’re coming from when you say that the law will eventually be interpretted as banning types of grips that are not currently banned, but I’m not so sure. The 1990s, especially the early 1990s, represented the pinnacle of American aversion to military-looking firearms, yet the ban (which you claim could easily be interpretted as applying the stock in question) was not so interpretted. Since then, hysteria towards scary-looking rifles has ebbed, along with general hysteria about crime.

    Tim, IF the law were to be interpretted as banning that type of grip, it would indeed be ironic. But since the pro-assault weapons ban presidential candidate doesn’t seem to include that type of weapon in the “bad gun” category, it seems pretty unlikely that the courts would do so.

    I agree with gauis statment that the law is poorly drafted for its purpose, and with Neb’s implication that the lethality of the weapon, not its appearance, is the appropriate variable to consider in such legislation.

    Gun nuts – why does the military prefer rifles/carbines with pistol grips to thos with smooth stocks?

  27. Isn’t the assault weapon ban a clear violation of the 2nd amendment to our Constitution? Also, surely it makes sense that any weapon that the government has, that it may practically use against the citizens of our republic, should also be able to be possessed by the citizens to protect themselves against improper aggression by the government.

  28. Joe-

    Here’s another bit of analysis explaining the use of the term “pistol grip”.

    “The bill even bans the semi-automatic Remington 11-87 shotgun that John Kerry received as a gift on Labor Day in Racine, West Virginia. S. 1431, co-sponsored by Senator Kerry, says that an “assault weapon” is any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun with a “pistol grip.” According to the bill, “(42) PISTOL GRIP ? The term ‘pistol grip’ means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.” Kerry’s new Remington has a protrusion below the stock, which a person could grip. The protrusion is not a “pistol grip” in the ordinary meaning of the term, but it is a “pistol grip” as defined by S. 1431.”

    I know that someone like John Kerry would never be (and should never be) prosecuted for something like this, but there’s absolutely no question that if a young black man was being prosecuted for a crime with one of these guns, the definition would almost certainly include the gun in question. Not that it matters that much, Kerry’s rep is already what it is, but the law does pretty clearly define what a pistol grip is, and this gun definitely meets the specs.

  29. You folks are a-fucking-mazing. You look through the wrong end of a telescope on a matter dear to your heart and conclude that if a shotgun can be gripped by any means, it must be a pistol grip. Then, when you want the right to own a bazooka you turn the telescope around on one clause of the constitution and read it broadly to suit your purpose.

    Make up your mind.

  30. I am beginning to understand why my “gun nut” friends feel the need to stockpile weapons and ammo like they were bottles of good red wine.

    I shouldn’t be surprised but I AM surprised that the laws Kerry actually violated exist (for reals, man) and that this particular shotgun would be illegal under the bill Kerry supports.

    Big Sigh and Shaking My Head In Disbelief Regards,

  31. Why should any admitted (under oath)war criminal,baby killer, be allowed to exercise his 2nd amendment rights?
    I`m voting for GARY GUNNELS !

  32. “Kerry was given the shotgun by Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America. The union represents workers at a Remington factory in Ilion, New York. Last year the union urged Kerry to support a bill to end frivolous lawsuits against firearms makers (S. 659). The suits threaten manufacturing jobs. However, Kerry voted against the bill.”

    Ron Paul voted against the bill too, on the grounds that it was an unwarranted interference with state authority. If Kerry had done so for the same reason he would have been on firm ground IMO.

    joe

    The point is not that this shotgun is illegal under the ’94 law, but that it WOULD BE illegal under the 2003 bill that Kerry supported.

  33. What about Kerry’s comment that is was too bad he couldn’t take the gun to the debate with Bush.

    Imagine the headlines if Bush had said he wanted to take a shotgun to the debate.

  34. You look through the wrong end of a telescope on a matter dear to your heart and conclude that if a shotgun can be gripped by any means, it must be a pistol grip.

    Plenty of shotguns (and rifles and carbines) do not have a pistol grip (as defined by the industry). I believe that 11-87 is available with a straight wrist. The point is that the proposed legislation is ambiguous to the point where an ambitious US Attourney could twist it. The gun-nuts here are not misreading or misinterpreting anything; the gun Kerry is holding has a pistol grip, end of line. There is a little hyperventilating, in part towards the end of bashing Kerry, but given the history of gun-law enforcement, I’d say there is a legitimate concern.

    I personally have no interest in owning a bazooka. Now a BAR would be pretty cool, and cheaper to feed.

    G

  35. Gadfly-
    You’re high, both interpretations are broad. No contradiction.

  36. Our man thought he was calling out an essentially insignificant and tangential error, and was then challenged by persons with greater expertise. Rather than admit he was writing out his ass only trying to irritate, he mired himself in a game of redefintion and backpedal.

  37. I’m interested in a tangential question posed by joe:

    why does the military prefer rifles/carbines with pistol grips to thos with smooth stocks?

    I’m just plain curious: What makes them more effective and/or useful?

  38. To answer your question, Joe, a pistol grip on a rifle stock (as opposed to the straight English grip) allows the hand to form a more natural and comfortable position. Some shooters suggest a full pistol grip reduces felt recoil. Military rifles like the M-16 fire a mild .223 round so recoil is not really an issue. The military, however, must train large number of personnel how to shoot each year. I would guess the stock design (with pistol grip) is designed to make mastery of the weapon as easy as possible. In my experience, pistol grips including thumbhole stocks, enhance rifle accuracy.

    On the Kerry issue, I imagine like most wealthy Americans, he would have no problem owning and using his Remington 11-87… most likely on a private hunt club well outside the view of liberal special interests. The problem with vague legislation, however, rest upon the average Joe who owns the same shotgun. I can easily imagine some hyper-zealous prosecutor using the “pistol grip” provision to press an otherwise losing case against a person without Kerry’s… hmmmm… considerable resources.

    Oh, and someone drop me a note when Gadfly starts making sense.

  39. “Our man” I’m not your anything, bee-atch.

    “…thought he was calling out an essentially insignificant and tangential error…” Actually, the error I called out was the central point of the posting, and the article it referred to.

    “Rather than admit he was writing out his ass only trying to irritate…” It’s sad you consider any dissent from your political views to be maliciously intended. It must be a great handicap.

    “…he mired himself in a game of redefintion…” Since this was an argument about definitions, I don’t see the problem.

    “…and backpedal…” What backpedal?

  40. joe: Gun nuts – why does the military prefer rifles/carbines with pistol grips to thos with smooth stocks?

    It’s mainly a handling issue. Guns with protruding pistol grips are easier to handle and they place the firing hand in a more natural position. Accuracy in shooting depends largely on how relaxed your body’s muscles are…even the slightest tension in an off-bore-axis direction can affect the bullet’s point of impact.

    The fact is that pistol grips, etc. are simply incremental technological improvements to firearms. Why would anyone need one of these weapons (I know you didn’t ask this question)? They’re more comfortable to shoot, lighter, and fun. Why do you need a 2003 Honda Civic rather than a 1929 Model A Ford? The analogy is valid.

    Of course, most ban advocates would not stop at “assault weapons.” The recent fad in gun control has been to try to place limits on ammunition power. Typically, the old-style hunting firearms are way more powerful than “assault weapons,” and so if gun controllers were to have their way, the sport would eventually be squeezed out of existence from both ends of the spectrum.

  41. joe said:

    why does the military prefer rifles/carbines with pistol grips to thos with smooth stocks?

    Based on my experience, ergonomics. But I’d be impressed if someone could demonstrate that greater grip comfort on a weapon results in a higher number of fatalities.

    Just look at media photos of our military forces (or even police) holding their weapons. They always have their hand on their pistol grip – and their finger outstretched. Because of this comfort level, the shooters can keep their finger off the trigger – but ready to shoot at a moments notice for long periods of time.

    With less comfortable grips, without a good place to put ones finger aside from on/near the trigger, uninentional discharges may be more likely to occur.

    And I’d guess that a comfortable soldier is less inclined to get “twitchy” than an uncomfortable one.

    So why the push to ensure that civilians only have weapons that have poor ergonomic designs?

  42. ‘Of course, most ban advocates would not stop at “assault weapons.”‘

    I think you’re making a big, unsupportable assumption there, bub.

    “So why the push to ensure that civilians only have weapons that have poor ergonomic designs?”

    Because the public was sold a bill of goods, and instead of banning weapons that actually ARE more dangerous, Schumer could only get a bill through banning weapons that LOOK more dangerous.

  43. Neb Okla-

    Because ergonomically superior weapons scare soccer moms and other swing voters. And we can’t have that!

  44. I think Kerry’s making a BIG mistake pandering to the gun grabbers.

  45. thoreau said:

    I’m just plain curious: What makes them more effective and/or useful?

    Where is it written that everything must be quantifiably more effective/useful?

    Most of the weapons “banned” (in quotes because I can’t think of a rifle you can’t easily and legally buy if you have a shitload of cash) in America are banned based soley on appearance.

    If we followed the same logic with cars, it’d be illegal to put a giant wing on the trunk of your Civic and add spinny rims.

  46. joe,

    It’s demonstrably not an unsupportable jump. There was, earlier this year, legislation in the Pennsylvania State House which would have banned as “armor-piercing ammunition” most “hunting” ammunition. Ted Kennedy was on record proposing such a ban as well.

  47. Neb-

    I’m not saying they MUST be more effective. But it was pointed out that the military tends to prefer those weapons, so it’s plausible that there may be some sort of advantage in having pistol grips. And, sure enough, it’s been pointed out that such weapons have ergonomic advantages.

  48. joe: Because the public was sold a bill of goods, and instead of banning weapons that actually ARE more dangerous, Schumer could only get a bill through banning weapons that LOOK more dangerous.

    The bill of goods that was sold was that any of these weapons represent an actual threat to society, and that prohibition of their manufacture or posession could have an effect on the crime rate. But the lesson of the 18th Amendment is easily forgotten.

  49. joe said:

    Because the public was sold a bill of goods, and instead of banning weapons that actually ARE more dangerous, Schumer could only get a bill through banning weapons that LOOK more dangerous.

    So which weapons are more dangerous than others?

  50. “The bill of goods that was sold was that any of these weapons represent an actual threat to society, and that prohibition of their manufacture or posession could have an effect on the crime rate.”

    Indeed.

    In fact, the gun-control advocates have yet to prove that ANY gun cotrol laws have ever done anything to reduce the crime rate for any type of crime anywhere in this country at any time in history.

  51. Here’s an interesting quote by Matthew Yglesias from The American Prospect:

    • If you want to do gun regulation in an effective, politically viable manner that doesn’t instill fear in the hearts of gun owners that liberals secretly dream of busting into your closet and taking your guns away you need to stop focusing on guns and start focusing on people. We have laws on the books right now designed to prevent ex-cons from obtaining firearms, and they could be strengthened and made more effective. That would be better politics — no one’s ever won an election by standing up for the rights of felons to acquire deadly weapons (or do anything else for that matter). It would also be better policy — who’s a more likely threat to you, a law-abiding citizen holding a rifle featuring a “protruding pistol grip,” or a felon holding the same rifle without the pistol grip?

    I think the Progressive side of politics would do well to take Matt’s advice. How many elections do Dems want to lose before they start listening?

  52. Well, we do know this. Gun ownership is at an all-time high. And crime is at an all-time low.

  53. “So which weapons are more dangerous than others?”

    Off the top of my head, weapons capable of automatic fire are more dangerous than those that are not. As a corrollary, weapons that can easily be converted to fire automatically are more dangerous than those that cannot.

    For similar reasons, weapons that can fire for a long time without reloading are more dangerous than those that require more frequent pauses to reload.

    And, obviously, weapons that fire a more destructive projectile are more dangerous than those that fire a less destructive projectile.

    Gil, thousands of career criminals have gone to prison because they were caught posessing banned guns, or were carrying in violation of their parole. Without the laws forbidding these activities, they would not have been arrested and convicted until they committed enough crimes for the cops to get lucky and get enough evidence. It’s going to be a pretty tough sell to convince people that there would be no more crime if this number of armed criminals had not been incarcerated during those sentences.

  54. kmw, if you went back and compared anti-gun rhetoric in the 1980s to that from the 2000, 2002, and 2004 election campaigns, I think you’d find that Dems have already internalized that message.

  55. “Well, we do know this. Gun ownership is at an all-time high. And crime is at an all-time low.”

    I recently heard an assault weapons ban advocate on a call-in radio show say that the dramatic drop in crime since 1993 was evidence of the assault weapons ban’s effectiveness. Of course she ignored the fact that the decrease in crime in the 1990’s began before the ban was instituted.

    I’m no expert, and I’m too busy/lazy to look it up, but I always understood that the factor that by far explains the most variation in crime rates is the state of the economy. Crime tracks the economy more closely than any restriction/liberalization of gun rights. Anyone have any useful information on this?

  56. “And, obviously, weapons that fire a more destructive projectile are more dangerous than those that fire a less destructive projectile.”

    So joe, I guess you’ll have to ban my deer rifles (30-06 and 35 Remington) and leave the Uzis and tec-9s (9mm Parabellum) alone.

    Also it is illegal to convert a semiauto to full auto or selective fire. It is illegal to even own the part required to convert an AR15 to auto, even if you don’t own an AR15. This is under legislation completely separate from the 94 ban.

  57. Rick Barton
    surely it makes sense that any weapon that the government has, that it may practically use against the citizens of our republic, should also be able to be possessed by the citizens to protect themselves against improper aggression by the government.

    I’m what’s known as a Gun Nut(tm). The Gun Nut(tm) is defined as thus: I own a weapon, keep it in the home, have actually fired it on occasion (never in anger- except angrily at paper targets) and believe that the second amendment applies to private citizens.

    I understand exactly where your post comes from because, like you, I believe that the purpose of the second amendment is not to keep a vibrant duck hunting sport alive, but to keep the fine folks in the Federal Govt. continually guessing as to how far they can push us. 🙂

    But are we going to allow people to have ground based surface to air missiles, or chemical weapons? I believe in a very liberal gun policy. ‘Assault’ weapons included. But to suggest that we can allow people to have ‘any weapon’ the military possesses will simply never happen.

    Paul

  58. Thoreau:

    As an experience rifle shooter, I’d have a pistol grip on every rifle I own. For me, it’s simply more comfortable, therefore my accuracy goes up. There are better posts above very specifically laying out these details. But really, it’s that simple. my solution to everything is pretty much: put a pistol grip on it. I’ve got one on my mouse and keyboard, too. Oh, there’s a pistol grip on my pistol, as well.

    Paul

  59. “Gil, thousands of career criminals have gone to prison because they were caught posessing banned guns, or were carrying in violation of their parole. Without the laws forbidding these activities, they would not have been arrested and convicted until they committed enough crimes for the cops to get lucky and get enough evidence. It’s going to be a pretty tough sell to convince people that there would be no more crime if this number of armed criminals had not been incarcerated during those sentences.”

    Real thin, Joe.

    Laws prohiting felons from owning guns are not generic gun-control laws. The most effective way to reduce crime from career criminals is to prevent them from being released on parole to begin with.

    As I recall those two bank rpbbers who shot up the LA police dept with AK-47’s a few years ago had indeed been caught with those weapons earlier. They were incarcerated for a while and then released and their guns were handed back over to them.

  60. I think the real question, that NO ONE has asked is, where were the mandetory trigger locks?

    Paul

  61. I am usually not impressed very much by those who base arguments of ANY sort on nationwide statistics.

    It would be more interesting to compare locales based on gun ownership vs. crime. Moreover, within crimes you’d have to look at different types of crimes. Burglars are probably quite worried about guns. Drunk drivers probably aren’t. Rapists might not be as concerned as burglars since most sexual assaults are committed by people who know the victim and hence can surprise them when they don’t have a weapon at hand.

    Also, you’d have to control for economic variables that might affect crime rates. Those variables can be very different from one locale to another (e.g. unemployment rate among men aged 18-30).

    Finally, absolute crime rates might vary from place to place for reasons that have nothing to do with guns OR economics. But CHANGES in crime rate might be related to gun laws. Telling me that, say, states that permit concealed carry have lower crime rates tells me very little. (What if those states have less crime for unrelated reasons?) On the other hand, telling me that crime dropped in a certain state after passage of the concealed carry law tells me something. I’ll learn even more if you compare locales within that state and show that the percentage drop in violent crime was positively correlated with the fraction of citizens carrying concealed weapons.

    In other words, drawing any sort of conclusion on the connection between gun control and crime requires careful statistical work. Simply pulling out a few numbers and putting them together isn’t enough. Interestingly, when studies of various sorts are discussed on H&R people tend to assume that the researchers simply put a few numbers together and published it, and then criticize accordingly.

  62. Uhm, Joe. A career criminal isn’t allowed to own ANY firearm. If I’m a felon and I get caught with a .22 squirrel gun, I’m going back to jail. Conversely, if I’m NOT a criminal and I get caught with a banned gun, I’m going to jail. Banned guns are banned guns. Being a felon is being a felon. We don’t need a law to ban a certain set of guns to catch felons. Especially since, even if that were true, the assault weapons that the law bans were used in a nearly statistically insignificant number of crimes.

    Paul

  63. ‘”And, obviously, weapons that fire a more destructive projectile are more dangerous than those that fire a less destructive projectile.”

    So joe, I guess you’ll have to ban my deer rifles (30-06 and 35 Remington) and leave the Uzis and tec-9s (9mm Parabellum) alone.’

    Only if you have a brain disorder that renders you incapable of considering more than one variable at a time, along with compelling you to jump from an observation to the most radical action possible suggested by that observation. You really should stop denying facts merely because they could be inconvenient for your political positions.

    BTW, does anyone have a good translation for “parabellum?”

    “Also it is illegal to convert a semiauto to full auto or selective fire. It is illegal to even own the part required to convert an AR15 to auto, even if you don’t own an AR15.” True. It is not, however, illegal to design a gun capable of easily accepting such conversion hardware. As I understand it, different weapons have different hardware that make conversions easier or harder, and some disreputable manufacturers deliberately make their weapons as easy to convert as possible, because the ease of conversion makes them attractive to a certain segment of the market.

  64. Joe,

    I agree that anti-gun rhetoric has been toned down, as evidenced by Kerry showing off his hunting abilities. But Matt seems to be talking about all gun-ban rhetoric, even that which focuses on “assault weapons.” Kerry, meanwhile, decides to take Bush to task on letting the AWB expire.

    That’s not exactly focusing on the criminal instead of the gun.

    The problem is Kerry has farther left individuals who dislike any kind of firearms ownership, and love to mock “redneck hunters.” In the past, it has turned off those who might have otherwise been centrist Dems. I?d really love to see a Democrat ?big tent? focus, but I?m not sure if the lefties and the centrists could tolerate each other. Terry McAuliffe has had a difficult time getting the likes of John Dingle and Carolyn McCarthy to play nice together.

  65. Off the top of my head, weapons capable of automatic fire are more dangerous than those that are not. As a corrollary, weapons that can easily be converted to fire automatically are more dangerous than those that cannot.

    full- or semi-auto, joe? It makes a big difference, and folks pushing for overreacking gun control are famous for using sloppy language to blur the differences between common, every-day guns and military-type weapons.

    For similar reasons, weapons that can fire for a long time without reloading are more dangerous than those that require more frequent pauses to reload.

    Is there any evidence at all that a criminal is more likely to do harm with a 14 round magazine than a 10 round magazine? Does magazine capacity really make a weapon more “dangerous”? Considering that it takes a few seconds to reload a magazine-fed gun, that is.

    And, obviously, weapons that fire a more destructive projectile are more dangerous than those that fire a less destructive projectile.

    See, I have met several people who I have absolutely zero qualms in handling .50 caliber rifles in my immediate vicinity. These massive weapons are no more dangerous in their hands that a .22.

  66. Gil, I’m not sure what the term “generic gun control laws.” Means. I merely pointed out a couple of counter-examples to your sweeping assertion.

    Paul, “We don’t need a law to ban a certain set of guns to catch felons.” No, but making sawed-off shotguns and auto-fire weapons illegal certainly makes the process easier.

  67. “The Parabellum pistole was developed by Georg Luger in Germany, ca. in 1898. The Parabellum name comes from ancient Latin saying Si vis Pacem, Para bellum – if you want Peace, prepare for War.”

    http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg67-e.htm

  68. joe said:


    Off the top of my head,

    Ok, I’ll grant you by the seat of your pants…


    weapons capable of automatic fire are more dangerous than those that are not.

    Not at all. Dead is dead.

    If you get beat to death with a club – or die at ground zero of a nuke attack, it doesn’t really matter. Per capita I’d argue that blunt objects are more dangerous than nukes because you’re less likely to accidentally drop a nuke on your foot. Historically, more people have been killed and injured by blunt objects than by nukes.

    So with that understanding, you’re far more likely to get shot with some cheap .38 revolver than you are to get shot with a belt-fed machine gun. It’d make more sense to go after the .38.


    As a corrollary, weapons that can easily be converted to fire automatically are more dangerous than those that cannot.

    No weapon can be “easily converted to fire automatically”. Even an AK-47 requires a machine shop and a skilled gunsmith. It’s not a phillips screwdriver kind of conversion.


    For similar reasons, weapons that can fire for a long time without reloading are more dangerous than those that require more frequent pauses to reload.

    The 10 rounds allowed under the 1994 ban were plenty dangerous for me. As are the 5 or 6 rounds from some shitty .38 revolver. A single shot from a .22 derringer has the same potential for lethality.

    Colin Ferguson re-loaded three times while shooting his 25 victims. The reason he was able to do so is that well-meaning imbiciles had banned everyone else from packing on the train. In the end it took three men to tackle and hold him until people with guns arrived.

    A single armed citizen could have stopped his rampage. But in our society we’d rather see 25 wounded and a perp with 200 years in prison than “vigilante” acts like stopping a murderous madman.


    And, obviously, weapons that fire a more destructive projectile are more dangerous than those that fire a less destructive projectile.

    Every firearm I know fires a projectile that is destructive enough to kill a man. People have even died after being shot with paintballs, pellets, and BB projectiles.

    Still, I don’t see how you determine “more destructive”. You’d have a tough time quantifying it in any meaningful way.

    Even if you banned all guns, criminals would just revert to strong-arm robbery of the weak and old.

    With a gun, a 22 year old woman is more than a match for a 300lb linebacker robber, rapist, or abuser.

    We’re under no obligation to curl up in a ball and accept an assault. We’re under no obligation to hand over our wallet just because someone asks. Self defense is the most fundamental human right.


    Gil, thousands of career criminals have gone to prison because they were caught posessing banned guns, or were carrying in violation of their parole. Without the laws forbidding these activities, they would not have been arrested and convicted until they committed enough crimes for the cops to get lucky and get enough evidence. It’s going to be a pretty tough sell to convince people that there would be no more crime if this number of armed criminals had not been incarcerated during those sentences.

    What’s wrong with letting the citizens arem themselves to deter crime? A career criminal isn’t going to try to rob someone they think has a gun.

    Meanwhile the nickel and dime approach to crime puts way too much burden on people who have done nothing wrong. Plenty of people have been fined and imprisoned for non-violent firearms violations.

    I’d rather have a gun myself and risk a confrontation with a criminal on the street than be deemed a criminal for statutory non-complaince and face years of confrontations with criminals in prison.

  69. Well, we do know this. Gun ownership is at an all-time high. And crime is at an all-time low.

    Well, we do know this, too. Toothbrush sales are at an all-time high. And crime is at an all-time low.

    And we do know this, too. Obesity is at an all-time high. And crime is at an all-time low.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc… A nation of fatties with healthy teeth and gums is a law-abiding nation.

    Guns don’t kill people. Big Macs kill people.

    Every heroin addict started out drinking… water.

    Oy vay.

    What is it with you people and guns? Leaving aside the meaning of the 2nd amendment, with its inconvenient “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”, which would seem to me to indicate that what is being protected here is a state’s right rather than an individual’s, not every jot and tittle of the Constitution is sacred and immutable.

    Doing away with the 3/5 compromise is evidence it isn’t.

    And all this hooey about needing weapons to protect yourselves from an overweening federal government? If that is really the case, then it seems to me people ought to be clamoring for the right to bear REAL arms. Something that gives them half a chance. Something like ABCs.

    I WANT MY ABCs!

    You want big guns? Join your state militia. Join TANG. From what I understand, you get to be macho and you don’t even have to show up.

    My mother keeps getting spam which reads something like: “You want a bigger penis?”

    Well, she don’t need a bigger penis. She gots a GUN!

    Oy vay.

  70. “Gil, I’m not sure what the term “generic gun control laws.” Means. I merely pointed out a couple of counter-examples to your sweeping assertion.”

    I didn’t make any sweeping assertion – I stated a fact. No gun-control advocate has ever proven that any gun control law has ever has any caused any reduction in the crime rate for any type of crime anywhere in ths country at any time.

  71. joe:

    “Also it is illegal to convert a semiauto to full auto or selective fire. It is illegal to even own the part required to convert an AR15 to auto, even if you don’t own an AR15.” True. It is not, however, illegal to design a gun capable of easily accepting such conversion hardware. As I understand it, different weapons have different hardware that make conversions easier or harder, and some disreputable manufacturers deliberately make their weapons as easy to convert as possible, because the ease of conversion makes them attractive to a certain segment of the market.

    Incorrect. Before being marketed in the U.S., any firearm must be approved by the BATFE Tech Branch. Part of the approval process requires that the weapon not be easily convertable from semiautomatic to fully automatic modes.

  72. Raymond, you’ve got a wee bit of a problem… Even John Kerry admits a 2nd Amendment right to firearms ownership. What firearm(s) seems to be the center of the debate.

    Your comments are non sequitur

  73. Paul at 04:35 PM:

    “But to suggest that we can allow people to have ‘any weapon’ the military possesses will simply never happen.”

    Note that I wrote:

    “surely it makes sense that any weapon that the government has, that it may practically use against the citizens of our republic, should also be able to be possessed by the citizens to protect themselves against improper aggression by the government.”

  74. joe:

    By the way, if you’re ever going to be in the Pittsburgh area over a weekend, send me an e-mail…I’d be glad to take you out shooting and introduce you to the fun that is “assault weapons!”

  75. Thanks db at 05:23 PM .

    I was going to ask joe to back up his assertion that “some disreputable manufacturers deliberately make their weapons as easy to convert as possible, because the ease of conversion makes them attractive to a certain segment of the market.”, but I won’t bother now. “As I understand it,..” is hardly a basis for setting public policy. I hope his urban planning is based on better data. 🙂

  76. raymond, are you in Switzerland?

    My Swiss co-workers are required to spend a month each year on duty with the Swiss Army, and they are required to keep a machine gun in the house.

    Doesn’t your daddy have one?

  77. A thought on pistol grips:

    If their main function is ergonomic, could somebody with, say, carpal tunnel or some other sort of joint disorder (insert “joint” joke here 🙂 file a suit claiming that it’s discriminatory to ban ergonomically superior weapons? I know that the federal ban expired, but I thought that some states have such laws on the books.

    This would pose a real dilemma for Democrats.

  78. thoreau:

    This would pose a real dilemma for Democrats.

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t think this would be a dilemma at all. They don’t seem to have any problem reconciling logically inconsistent points of view when they flush with their worldview.

  79. Your comments are non sequitur

    I think you mean sequUNTur.

    🙂

    (I’ll be so embarrassed if that’s wrong.)

    imo, My post isn’t a non sequitur. The whole thread is about guns. My post is about guns.

    I wonder what percentage of normal people in the US own guns. I bet it’s not very high.

    One last thing on guns. You want to gambol over hill and dale with BIG GUNS, but you’re not even allowed to take nail clippers onto a plane.. I find that highly amusing.

    btw, I’m not a fan of Kerry’s. I am, however, an anti-fan of gwb’s. A visceral anti-fan.

  80. Rick Barton…

    Yes, I’ll concede you that. But now we get into the wonderful symantecs of “practical”. I’ll defer to you assuming that you mean law-enforcement type actions with standard firearms. But I think that the second amendment was in fact philosophical in nature. Many peoples have been put down by tanks. Recent events in china come to mind. this is what I had in mind when I read your comments.

    Paul

  81. My Swiss co-workers are required to spend a month each year on duty with the Swiss Army, and they are required to keep a machine gun in the house.

    I think that’s what’s known as “A well regulated Militia”.

  82. raymond:
    I wonder what percentage of normal people in the US own guns. I bet it’s not very high.

    And I’d bet you’re wrong.

    Many Washington homes have guns. Over 36% of homes with children have a firearm. [iii] Nearly 20% of these homes store firearms unlocked ? a percentage that is much higher in certain counties of the state.

    Oh, that’s a statistic published by a gun control group.

    And then this: State level data on the percentage of individuals living in households with guns and the percentage of individuals living in households with firearms who store their firearms loaded or loaded and unlocked were obtained from the 2002 BRFSS survey. Across 49 U.S. States (excluding California due to differences in their BRFSS storage questions), 33% of Americans lived in households with firearms …Public Health and the Environment

    So, depending on what your definition of ‘normal people’ is… I think we can say that a large number of americans own firearms. How many are ‘normal’ by your vague question, I don’t know.

    I do know one thing– I grew up around firearms, in a state where pretty much every ‘normal’ person had a firearm- many in their vehicles. Never was personally acquainted with anyone who fired a gun in anger- except one person: a rabid anti-gun person.

    So, my unscientific experience is, watch the anti-gun folks… they ain’t normal, and they’re dangerous with firearms.

    Paul

  83. Raymond,

    Polls show a ~33% figure for gun ownership. There are a lot of gun owners out there that don’t want to admit it to strangers, especially tele-pollsters. I’d put the number at 20 points higher, easily.

    Reliable figures show total firearms in the US in excess of 250 million. This is based on manufacturers distribution numbers.

  84. joe:
    Paul, “We don’t need a law to ban a certain set of guns to catch felons.” No, but making sawed-off shotguns and auto-fire weapons illegal certainly makes the process easier.

    No, it doesn’t make it easier. The only thing it does is compound the offense. A felon is a felon. A felon with a gun is in violation of the law. End of story. If he has a banned weapon, then yes, we can add years (or months) to his sentence. But then that makes the logic of making ‘assualt weapons’ illegal, not to keep guns off our streets, but to keep criminals off the street longer if caught with a firearm. It’s a tangental way to deal with a problem for which we already have the means to solve.

  85. Adding to what DB and others said: It is and was illegal to sell a gun in the US that is “easily convertable” from semi to full auto. That is why the Interdynamic KG-9 was redesigned as the tec-9.

    http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg136-e.htm

    from the link:

    “The TEC-9 design was started in Sweden, when the Interdynamic AB company of Stockholm developed a relatively simple submachine gun. Since Sweden was a poor market for such product, a subsidiary company Interdynamic was established in Miami (Florida, USA), to market Interdynamic guns in USA. As the full-automatic weapons market in USA is very restrictive, the basic submachine gun was converted in semi-automatic only variant, apparently suitable for civilian US market. This semi-automatic pistol, like its submachine gun predecessor, was a simple blowback design, firing from the open bolt. It was designated Interdynamic KG-9. But, sooner than later, US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) found that this semiautomatic pistol can be easily converted back to full automatic, and restricted it manufacture. Interdynamic redesigned the KG-9 into “closed bolt” design by adding the separate striker, and designated it KG-99. About the same time (mid-1980s) the Interdynamic of USA turned into Intratec Firearms, Inc, based in the same city of Miami (Florida). Intratec initially produced the KG-99 under the designation of TEC-9, but about 1989 renamed it into DC-9. With the introduction of the infamous US Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 the Intratec pistols were prohibited for manufacture (but not for ownership, if made before the ban). Intratec subsequently slightly redesigned the basic design, dropping some “assault” features like the threaded barrel, barrel shroud, and forward pistol grip. In this “post-ban” version the pistol was manufactured and sold as AB-10 (AB stands for After Ban). The AB-10 pistols were sold with 10-round magazines, but still could accept both factory and aftermarket high capacity magazines from its predecessors, TEC-9 and DC-9. There were several manufacturers in US, who made copies of DC-9, such as AA Arms, which produced DC-9 look-alike AP-9 pistols. Like originals, AP-9 pistols were of cheap construction and marginal reliability.”

  86. Years ago I remember gun control advocates using Switzerland as an example for their campaign. Apparently it has a very low rate of gun crime (esp murder).

    Then I heard in the early ’90’s that Switzerland had the highest rate of gun ownership (including handguns) in Europe and one of the highest in the world (I guess that’s why gun banners stopped using them as an example). This was in the context of a BBC report that some group of women were campaigning for increased gun control which at that time was practically absent.

    Switzerland still has the most liberal gun laws in Europe. I understand a Swiss citizen can get a gun almost as easily as most Americans.

    I suppose that Switzerland like the US has its share of urban elites who think the yokels in the hinterlands are some kind of crazed nuts. The yokels probably wish that the elites would remember that they got their freedom because of independent fighters like William Tell (I know he used a crossbow and probably a legend, but so are most of our stories).

  87. bigbigslacker

    Like originals, AP-9 pistols were of cheap construction and marginal reliability.”

    This, however, did not stop them from becoming fashion statements for gangbangers.

  88. All this attempt to appeal to “hunters” and “sportsmen” encourages a central misconception, that the rights of hunters were a central reason for the right to keep and bear arms. I submit that the first generation after the Revolution wanted an armed populace to protect against something more threatening than rogue deer.

    Just once I’d like to see a politician with the balls to say, “I don’t enjoy or even care about hunting. I’ve lived in the city all my life. I just want to be able to defend myself if uniformed criminals kick in my door without a search warrant.”

  89. Swiss citizens keep military rifles in their homes as part of a universal military obligation. See:

    http://pages.prodigy.net/vanhooser/the_swiss_and_their_guns.htm

    There are a lot of half-truths spouted about Swiss gun ownership.

    Kevin

  90. raymond,

    A well regulated militia is composed of all able-bodied citizens of a state capable of defending that state. It is meant to be created when the need arises and disbanded once the need is over.

    In Federalist Paper 46, James Madison argued that a standing federal army could not be capable of conducting a coup to take over the nation. He estimated that based on the country’s population at the time, a federal standing army could not field more than 25,000 – 30,000 men. He wrote:

    “To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence.”

    “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

    The above italicized statements have been copied from http://www.justfacts.com/gun_control.htm.

    It seems to me your assertion that “well regulated militia” means the National Guard or US Army is obviously NOT what the founders intended. I remember reading that recent SCOTUS rulings have held that view, but if that’s the case, other SCOTUS rulings can change that view.

  91. I have read a ton of crap in this blog. Let’s set the record straight. Anyone can apply to own a fully automatic weapon. You apply to ATF and if approved you buy a Class C tax stamp, pay the freight and you can own a fully automatic weapon.

    However here’s the story on Kerry:

    Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry seen this weekend waving a gun which would have been banned if legislation he co-sponsored became law?

    Kerry co-sponsored S. 1431 last year (?The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003) which would have banned a “semiautomatic shotgun that has a pistol grip.?

    Opponents of the bill successfully argued how nearly all guns have “pistol grips,” inluding millions of Browning Auto-5 shotguns produced since 1903.

    Photos show Kerry’s hand resting on the “pistol grip,” as loosely defined in the bill. [Section SEC. 2; (H) (ii) and (b)(42): “The term ‘pistol grip’ means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.”]

    Kerry was presented with the semiautomatic shotgun during a Labor Day stop in Racine, West Virginia.

    “I thank you for the gift, but I can’t take it to the debate with me,” Kerry told a cheering crowd as he held up the device.

    But Kerry’s gun bill would have also banned any “gift” transaction!

    [It is not clear if Kerry completed the required paperwork (Form 4473) before he claimed the gun.]

    I posted last week that this was possibly the ultimate set-up. Kerry and his staff are just too stupid to realize it.

    I live in the hunt country of Northern Virginia and we have no problems with crime as the inner cities do. The reason, we have no crime is as follows. Every home has a dog, a smart dog that can distinguish between good and bad, with the exception of FedEx, UPS, USPS etc.
    Every home has at the minimum a shotgun, most have a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol and the responsible occupants know how to use them, and educate their children to be responsible gun owners. /R

  92. I have read a ton of crap in this blog. Let’s set the record straight. Anyone can apply to own a fully automatic weapon. You apply to ATF and if approved you buy a Class C tax stamp, pay the freight and you can own a fully automatic weapon.

    However here’s the story on Kerry:

    Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry seen this weekend waving a gun which would have been banned if legislation he co-sponsored became law?

    Kerry co-sponsored S. 1431 last year (?The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003) which would have banned a “semiautomatic shotgun that has a pistol grip.?

    Opponents of the bill successfully argued how nearly all guns have “pistol grips,” inluding millions of Browning Auto-5 shotguns produced since 1903.

    Photos show Kerry’s hand resting on the “pistol grip,” as loosely defined in the bill. [Section SEC. 2; (H) (ii) and (b)(42): “The term ‘pistol grip’ means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.”]

    Kerry was presented with the semiautomatic shotgun during a Labor Day stop in Racine, West Virginia.

    “I thank you for the gift, but I can’t take it to the debate with me,” Kerry told a cheering crowd as he held up the device.

    But Kerry’s gun bill would have also banned any “gift” transaction!

    [It is not clear if Kerry completed the required paperwork (Form 4473) before he claimed the gun.]

    I posted last week that this was possibly the ultimate set-up. Kerry and his staff are just too stupid to realize it.

    I live in the hunt country of Northern Virginia and we have no problems with crime as the inner cities do. The reason, we have no crime is as follows. Every home has a dog, a smart dog that can distinguish between good and bad, with the exception of FedEx, UPS, USPS etc.
    Every home has at the minimum a shotgun, most have a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol and the responsible occupants know how to use them, and educate their children to be responsible gun owners. /R

  93. Gun Control v. Disability Empowerment is a specific riff on the broad theme of firearms as equalizers.

    Great work, thoreau!

    ===

    Let’s ban red cars with superchargers, too. They’re more dangerous than beige hybrids, and we know that convicted felonius drivers would love to be able to prowl our streets mowing down children with such high-performance equipment. And why does anyone need to go fast and look sharp anyway?

  94. Paul at 06:04 PM:

    “Many peoples have been put down by tanks. Recent events in china come to mind.”

    Good point, I think that, perhaps, the founders of our republic would have wanted us to have the right to, at least, own anti-tank weapons.

  95. Kevin Carson:

    Just once I’d like to see a politician with the balls to say,”I don’t enjoy or even care about hunting. I’ve lived in the city all my life. I just want to be able to defend myself if uniformed criminals kick in my door without a search warrant.”

    Thomas Jefferson would be cheering!!

  96. Paul,

    I want to add that I don’t think that the government should never be using tanks against the citizens of our republic, except in the very rare circumstance of unusually well armed criminals who have committed acts of force or fraud. I’m quite sure that the founders would have wanted us to have the right to own anti-tank weapons in case the government itself turns criminal.

    However, instead of actually working to secure the right to own anti-tank weapons, I think our time is better spent using the political process to vastly expand the legality of gun ownership, and also to work to make the government exist within the bounds of our constitution.

  97. I have read a ton of crap in this blog. Let’s set the record straight. Anyone can apply to own a fully automatic weapon. You apply to ATF and if approved you buy a Class C tax stamp, pay the freight and you can own a fully automatic weapon.

    Actually, the supply of fully automatic weapons is limited. On May 19, 1986, it became illegal for private citizens to manufacture or posess machine guns, other than those manufactured prior to that date, or imported prior to 1968.

    Once you’ve found one you want, and have paid the exorbitant price (due to severely limited supply), you must first obtain the signature of the chief law enforcement officer in the jurisdiction where you live, indicating that he/she believes that your posession of such a weapon is not inconsistent with the public safety. Then you have to fill out a BATF Form 5320.4 in duplicate, including two photographs of your face, two sets of official fingerprint cards (with your fingerprints on them), and a BATF Form 5330.20 (declaration of citizenship).

    Send all that in with a check for $200 per firearm and wait at least 90 days. If all goes well, you’ll get the approved form back and can pick up your gun, which will have appreciated approximately 30% in value.

    I’m not sure where you came up with the “Class C” nomenclature; machineguns (and certain other weapons) are referred to as “Title II” firearms. A machine gun dealer is a “Class 3 SOT (special occupational taxpayer).” A machine gun manufacturer is a “Class 2 SOT.”

    Anyway, just a bit more information.

  98. Across 49 U.S. States (excluding California due to differences in their BRFSS storage questions), 33% of Americans lived in households with firearms (Paul)

    Polls show a ~33% figure for gun ownership. (kmw)

    The poll and the statistic don’t jibe. A household composed of Mom, Dad, two kids and an old WWII army rifle in the basement would mean four “gun owners”.

    Perhaps I’m picking at nits.

    I think we can say that a large number of americans own firearms. How many are ‘normal’ by your vague question…

    It wasn’t a question. It was more a throw-away remark.

    I suppose when I used the term “normal” above I was excluding policemen, soldiers and hunters and people who think they need guns to protect themselves from the federal government, drug dealers and robbers, men tormented by feelings of sexual inadequacy, and Charlton Heston.

    The fact of the matter is, the great majority of people living in the US do NOT own guns. And of those who do, the immense majority do NOT own – or want to own – AK-47s, Kalashnikovs (sp?), and body-armour-piercing bullets.

    btw, If I understand correctly, there was a move to restrict sales of body armour to police only. Perhaps it’s already a law. Does anyone know? Does anyone know the NRA’s stance on that?

    (All this talk reminds me. I should go looking for all those shooting medals I got from the NRA. Before it became a religious organisation.)

    Apparently [Switzerland] has a very low rate of gun crime (esp murder).

    Of crime, period. I sometimes get the feeling that most of the crimes that are committed here are committed by day-trippers from France.

    I suppose that Switzerland like the US has its share of urban elites who think the yokels in the hinterlands are some kind of crazed nuts.

    Off the top of my head, I’d hazard the guess that most people living in Switzerland believe that “a well-regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State”. (I don’t remember the precise numbers of the last vote on abolishing the army, though I do know that latest polls show that support for the proposition is rising.)

    Shawn Smith,

    Thanks for the Madison quote.

    Am I wrong in thinking that for quite a while in US history there WAS no federal “standing army”? Do you think he included Indians and black people (well, 3/5 of each) in his militias?

    Finally…

    I’m counting on my dog to protect me from French marauders. If anyone breaks into my home, he’ll lick them into submission.

    And really truly finally…

    When nail clippers are outlawed, only outlaws will be manicured!

  99. I suppose when I used the term “normal” above I was excluding policemen, soldiers and hunters and people who think they need guns to protect themselves from the federal government, drug dealers and robbers, men tormented by feelings of sexual inadequacy, and Charlton Heston.

    Wow, a true Scotsman fallacy! Don’t see one of those around here much. Nice little logical circle you got going on there.

  100. Wow, a true Scotsman fallacy! Don’t see one of those around here much.

    Why thank you. I always aim to surprise and delight.

    —————————–

    normal (nor’ml) adj: just like me

    (raymond’s Unabridged Dictionary)

    —————————–

  101. Neb, how many minutes of your life did you spend trying to argue that a blunt object is just as dangerous as an automatic rifle, on the theory that “dead is dead?”

    Perhaps the military should save some money, and just start issues blunt objects to infantrymen instead of automatic rifles.

    Pack it in, dude.

  102. As for what the Founders of Our Nation thought, they thought that “a well regulated militia” was necessary and sufficient for the defense of the country.

    If any of you get the History Channel, you might want to check out the War of 1812 documentary.

  103. A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    If you want a more robust discussion of the 2nd Amendment try:

    http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/embar.html

    And if I might borrow a passage from the aticle:

    “A standard move of those legal analysts who wish to limit the Second Amendment’s force is to focus on its “preamble” as setting out a restrictive purpose. Recall Laurence Tribe’s assertion that the purpose was to allow the states to keep their militias and to protect them against the possibility that the new national government will use its power to establish a powerful standing army and eliminate the state militias. This purposive reading quickly disposes of any notion that there is an “individual” right to keep and bear arms. The right, if such it be, is only a states’s right. The consequence of this reading is obvious: the national government has the power to regulate–to the point of prohibition–private ownership of guns, since that has, by stipulation, nothing to do with preserving state militias. This is, indeed, the position of the ACLU, which reads the Amendment as protection only the right of “maintaining an effective state militia…[T]he individual’s right to keep a nd bear arms applies only to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated [state] militia. Except for lawful police and military purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not constitutionally protected.” [40]

    This is not a wholly implausible reading, but one might ask why the Framers did not simply say something like “Congress shall have no power to prohibit state-organized and directed militias.” Perhaps they in fact meant to do something else. Moreover, we might ask if ordinary readers of the late 18th Century legal prose would have interpreted it as meaning something else. The text at best provides only a starting point for a conversation. In this specific instance, it does not come close to resolving the questions posed by federal regulation of arms. Even if we accept the preamble as significant, we must still try to figure out what might be suggested by guaranteeing to “the people the right to keep and bear arms;” moreover, as we shall see presently, even the preamble presents unexpected difficulties in interpretation.”

    On a practical level, individuals in the United States have the right to own firearms (more or less). Making firearms illegal would have the same lousy outcome as Prohibition on alcohol (and the War on Drugs).

    On the level of princiiple, a citizen need not justify any right. The State must make the case that the public hazard outweighs the right, i.e. shouting “fire”in a crowded theatre. So far, I fail to see where the State has made a case to deny one the right to own a really lovely Purdy double with gold embellishments… even with a semi-pistol grip.

  104. Apparently, one must use italics for each paragraph.

  105. Yeah, Jose, it looks like the posting software closes all unmatched HTML tags at the end of each paragraph. That’s not a bad feature, in my opinion, because it prevents an unclosed or improperly closed tag from screwing up the rest of the thread.

  106. Ah, RC, liberals celebrate the common man until such time as he behaves badly by driving a SUV instead of riding transit, hunting deer instead of antiques and reading Outdoor Life instead of Outside. The implication, of course, is that Joe and his ilk are not only normal but enlightened. For liberals, firearms and hemi 8’s are are dangerous toys for the emotionally underdeveloped. It public policy of parenting… “I’m taking this away for your own good.”

  107. yes Grumman, a BAR *would* be way cool.

  108. “So? What do the individual choices of my fellow citizens have to do with my rights?’

    Sorry, RC, but you don’t get to use the “it’s perfectly normal/very common” argument when it’s convenient, then dismiss it when it’s turned agaisnt you.

    Either the commonness of certain behaviors regarding gun ownership is relevant to the discussion, or it is not.

  109. Jose, please point me to where I referred to gun owners as “emotionally undeveloped,” or anything even close to it. Because I find that argument offensive and inaccurate, and don’t make it on for both principled and practical reasons.

    I suspect you’ve got “liberal in your head disease” – you impute to me whatever arguments you the liberal in your head (the one who you always win political arguments with) makes. After all, since I’m a liberal, I MUST think gun owners all have emotional problems. Right?

    I believe you were making a point about people basing their political argumentation on stereotypes. Care to try again?

  110. “If any of you get the History Channel, you might want to check out the War of 1812 documentary.”

    I don’t get the History Channel, but if you’re referring to the fact that militias made it excessively difficult for the national government to prosecute a war of aggression, I’m not sure what the problem is.

  111. “As for what the Founders of Our Nation thought, they thought that “a well regulated militia” was necessary and sufficient for the defense of the country.”

    Yes indeed – and they also thought that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right of all – not just those in a “well regulated militia”

    That’s why the 2nd says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    It doesn’t say right “of the militia” or “people in the militia”.

  112. Kevin

    Thanks for the link on Swiss firearms laws and facts. Very helpful.

  113. “As for what the Founders of Our Nation thought, they thought that “a well regulated militia” was necessary and sufficient for the defense of the country.”

    Yes indeed – and they also thought that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right of all – not just those in a “well regulated militia”

    That’s why the 2nd says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    It doesn’t say right “of the militia” or “people in the militia”.

  114. “As for what the Founders of Our Nation thought, they thought that “a well regulated militia” was necessary and sufficient for the defense of the country.”

    Yes indeed – and they also thought that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right of all – not just those in a “well regulated militia”

    That’s why the 2nd says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    It doesn’t say right “of the militia” or “people in the militia”.

  115. “I don’t get the History Channel, but if you’re referring to the fact that militias made it excessively difficult for the national government to prosecute a war of aggression, I’m not sure what the problem is.”

    Then you need to get the History Channel, and you have an odd definition of “aggression.”

    What the militias made difficult was preventing a foreign army from invading our country and burning our cities.

  116. “What the militias made difficult was preventing a foreign army from invading our country and burning our cities.”

    Events which occurred because the national government decided to prosecute a war of aggression against Great Britain. A pretty stupid move actually considering that GB was such a superior power. But, hey, one of the great things about us Yanks is we never think anything is impossible. Seems we haven’t learned anything in the last 192 years or so. 🙂

  117. So basically, we’re in agreement; the silly, head in the clouds ideology of local militias and no standing army resulted in a pathetically weak military that was incapable of standing up to our likely competitors.

  118. My mistake, Joe, it was Raymond who used the word “normal.” I should have said “Raymond and his ilk.” You can join the “ilk” for the group photo or stand off to the side… your call.

    As for my point, collectivism (including urban planning) by its nature is paternal (or maternal if you prefer). I have found it common for liberals to celebrate the poor… insofar as they behave properly. I’m sure you have read Sowell’s “Vision of the Annointed” so I’ll spare us both repeating those points. In turn, spare me the “since I’m a liberal” straw man response. I know uber liberal Ted Rall, for example, gives a free pass on gun control. Some liberals support the individual right to bear arms. Some conservatives support gay marriage. The exceptions, however, do not make the rule.

    While my personal philosophy tends towards libertarianism (small ‘l’), I have some reservations about my neighbor owning a thermonuclear warhead… even it it’s safely tucked into his gun safe. On the other hand, I can think of any number of legitimate reasons for my neighbor to own firearms. So, Joe, what exactly is your position on gun control… so I can avoid any further mistakes.

  119. It’s unfortunate that I’m posting into this thread so late in the game, my comments won’t be read. But they must be made.

    Raymond:
    And really truly finally…

    When nail clippers are outlawed, only outlaws will be manicured!

    Funny. I got one too. When nail clippers are outlawed… it becomes really easy to hijack a plane with boxcutters. WOOHOO!

    Paul

  120. The poll and the statistic don’t jibe. A household composed of Mom, Dad, two kids and an old WWII army rifle in the basement would mean four “gun owners”.

    Perhaps I’m picking at nits.

    Actually, I don’t think you are. And this is a perfectly valid point. (Gawd what’s happening to me in my old age, I’m becoming all… non aggressive. Maybe it’ll pass).

    However…

    I would hope that the groups responsible for printing these statistics did a more honest job than that. But, if they didn’t, then it shows that the gun control lobby is once again engaging in rotten, low-down, dirty, horse-theivin’ lies as is their wont.

    Which leads us to two possible conclusions:

    1. The statistics can be taken at face value: we can conclude that a lot of people DON’T own firearms.

    2. The statistics have been manipulated the way Raymond suggests (and I concede that, coming from the gun control lobby it’s likely they were) and if a household had one (1) gun, and four people living in it, that makes 4 Americans living with guns. We could then conclude that Raymond’s right, there aren’t a lot of ‘normal’ Americans with guns, and once again the anti-gun lobby has been caught in another one of their Big Lies(tm).

    I can tell you that the reality will be highly regional in nature. Again, I came from a place where a LARGE majority of homes had guns in them. It was normal, no big deal and NO ONE ever got hurt, accidentally or on purpose. However, I’m quite sure that places in the ‘inner city’ (which is really a cliche term), few ‘normal’ people probably own guns.

    What I always wanted to know is, if one is really against gun ownership, why doesn’t one put a sign on their front lawn reading “Gun free zone: This home has NO firearms within”.

    However, I think that the readers of Reason know, and know well, this is a highly ‘pro-choice’ zone. Against abortion? Don’t have one. Against firearm ownership? Don’t buy one.

    Nite, nite.

    Paul

  121. Sorry, RC, but you don’t get to use the “it’s perfectly normal/very common” argument when it’s convenient, then dismiss it when it’s turned agaisnt you.

    Either the commonness of certain behaviors regarding gun ownership is relevant to the discussion, or it is not.

    Ah, joe, missing the bigger picture as always.

    See, raymond was saying most normal people don’t own guns. I was saying what most people choose to do doesn’t have anything to do with my right to choose what I want to do. In other words, here his assertion of majority preference is irrelevant to the question of principle at issue.

    Raymond was also saying most gun owners don’t own armor-piercing bullets. I pointed out that yes, in fact they do. Here, his assertion of majority preference was wrong with respect to the question of fact at issue.

    Irrelevant to my rights in principle. Wrong on the facts. See how it all fits together?

  122. Correction,

    In my previous post, I mean to write:

    1. The statistics can be taken at face value: we can conclude that a lot of people DO own firearms.

    Sorry, when rereading my post, I was all “huh?” and shit.

    Paul

  123. “The beginning of this sentence is a nominative absolute. Nominative absolutes are not uncommon in the writings of people who have studied Latin and Greek. Its meaning here is very clear: Since/Because a well regulated Militia is necessary…”

    Bull.

    The beginning of the sentence is a dependent clause. The portion beginning with “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is an independent clause.

    By definition (and the rules of english grammer) nothing in an independent clause is dependent on what is in a dependent clause.

  124. Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts:

    “The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” — Massachusetts` U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

    I believe I’ll defer to Samuel Adams as to what the “clear” meaning of the Constitution is rather than raymond.

  125. From 1993 through 2002, 636 officers were killed in the line of duty. Of that number, 591 officers were killed with firearms, and 443 of those victims were killed with handguns. In addition, 9 officers were killed with bombs, 8 officers with knives or other cutting instruments, 3 with personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.), and 25 officers were murdered with other weapons (vehicles, blunt objects, etc.). During that same 10-year period, 46 of the officers killed with firearms were slain with their own weapons. (See Tables 14 and 26.) Furthermore, during that 10-year period, 136 of the 636 officers feloniously killed fired their service weapons during the incident. In addition, assailants stole the service weapons from 97 of the victim officers. (See Tables 12 and 13.)

    Not to diminish ABC news, but the FBI publishes extensive data on law enforcement officers killed and assaulted (LEOKA).

    As to the parsing of the 2nd Amendment, whatever you grammarians may decide U.S. citizens have had the right to keep and bear arms. Of course, just like the right to free speech, there are limits.

    As with speech, I think the State must make a compelling argument when truncating an individual right. The burden of proof is on those who would limit the right, not those who possess it.

  126. The NRA – irrelevant as it is – is punching way way above its weight. It?s a lobby for the group IIs.

    I’m sorry, but it’s not. It’s been (wishfully) made to look that way by a lobby which has been repeatedly proven to be liars with overinflated statistics and alarmist notions.

    Michael Moore made Heston look like your group II by…wait for it… editing and cutting speeches made by Heston at DIFFERENT TIMES AND PLACES, then pasting them together to make him say things HE NEVER SAID.

    As Christopher Hitchens wrote of Mr. Moore:

    By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (…), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised.

  127. “Because IT DOESN’T HAVE A PISTOL GRIP, AND IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW.”

    All of the 1100, 11-87, and 870 shotguns have pistol grips. The ’94 AWB specifically singled out SEPERATE PISTOL GRIPS. The question is what the new Kerry ban defines as a violating pistol grip.

  128. joe: “Gun nuts – why does the military prefer rifles/carbines with pistol grips to thos with smooth stocks?”

    I assume that you mean a seperate (almost vertical) pistol grip as used on the M16, etc., as opposed to the integrated pistol grip used on older designs like the M1 and M14 (and Kerry’s shotgun):

    It results from the effort to produce a weapon with an in-line stock (in-line with the barrel, that is), to reduce muzzle flip in full auto fire.

    Also note that these weapons have sights high above the muzzle–another design feature resulting from in-line stocks.

    So, the seperate pistol grip and high sights come about due to other design efforts.

    The seperate pistol grip actually provides inferior weapon retention if an opponent manages to grab your weapon. The high sights result in bullets striking significantlly lower than the weapon is aimed at close range. So both are disadvantages in CQB.

  129. Wrong on the facts.

    Perhaps.

    Ammunition Terms and Technology
    Teflon-coated – sometimes called “cop killers” because of their ability to penetrate some kinds of light body armour, including some of the kinds used by municipal police forces. Often illegal for that same reason. Ammunition – worldhistory.com

    ————–

    liberals celebrate the common man until such time as he behaves badly by driving a SUV instead of riding transit, hunting deer instead of antiques and reading Outdoor Life instead of Outside. The implication, of course, is that Joe and his ilk are not only normal but enlightened. For liberals, firearms and hemi 8’s are are dangerous toys for the emotionally underdeveloped. It public policy of parenting… “I’m taking this away for your own good.” Comment by: Jose Ortega y Gasset at September 14, 2004 11:40 AM

    My mistake, Joe, it was Raymond who used the word “normal.” I should have said “Raymond and his ilk.” You can join the “ilk” for the group photo or stand off to the side… your call. Comment by: Jose Ortega y Gasset at September 14, 2004 01:36 PM

    1. I don’t know what a “hemi 8” is. Until I do, you may keep yours.

    2. I do know what an SUV is. I don’t know why having one would be a libertarian statement, though. I don’t know what is particularly conservative about contributing to probable global warming and certain pollution and waste.

    3. I would never take away your guns for your own good. I might not want you carrying them anywhere near me, though, for my own good.

    4. Someone is suffering from severe irony deficiency.

    5. I am coming out of the closet. YES. I AM A LIBERAL!

    classical liberalism includes the following:

    an ethical emphasis on the individual as a rights-bearer prior to the existence of any state, community, or society,

    the support of the right of property carried to its economic conclusion, a free-market system,

    the desire for a limited constitutional government to protect individuals’ rights from others and from its own expansion,

    and

    the universal (global and ahistorical) applicability of these above convictions.

  130. I don’t recall needing your permission to own anything, Raymond, let alone a high performance, eight cylinder engine. As for SUVs, I’m not sure any particular automobile is emblematic of libertarian thinking… free choice of vehicles is. It is the liberals/greens I hear prattling on about global warming and pollution. If you want a serious discussion about those issues, we’ll need another thread. Finally, if you adhere to classical liberalism you should have no problem with me exercising my right to carry a firearm even in your vicinity. And I’m sure as a classic liberal you support (and perhaps even understand) the power of the market to sort things out without the “helping hand” of government.

    Let me say again, Raymond, as you have apparently missed this point… a person need not justify a right. The right to possess a firearm does not depend on a “legitimate” occupation or hobby any more than the right to free expression depends on having something meaningful to say.

  131. Let me say again, Raymond, as you have apparently missed this point… a person need not justify a right.

    1. Not a fundamental (negative) right, no.

    2. Tell it to the guy who wrote the 2nd amendment. The nominative absolute is there as justification.

    (note to self: In future, KISS!)

  132. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed

    The beginning of this sentence is a nominative absolute. Nominative absolutes are not uncommon in the writings of people who have studied Latin and Greek. Its meaning here is very clear: Since/Because a well regulated Militia is necessary…

    “Y must not happen because X.”

    As far as I can tell, a nominative absolute modifies the entire sentence it is in. So a rough translation of the Second Amendment might be: “A well regulated militia is necessary to the maintenance of a free state. Therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Notice how the group being granted the right to keep and bear arms isn’t the militia, it’s the people. Nowhere else in the Bill of Rights is people construed in anything other than its meaning of “every citizen of the United States,” at its most restrictive; broader interpretations are certainly possible. So in this one case, you’re drawing the conclusion that when they said “people” they really meant “militia”? All because of a nominative absolute, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything? Wow, the framers sure were dumb, to have let something like that slip by them.

  133. Leaving aside the meaning of the 2nd amendment, with its inconvenient “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”, which would seem to me to indicate that what is being protected here is a state’s right rather than an individual’s,

    grylliade –

    Rarely have I so regretted a participial phrase. (Or, to be more precise, the noun clause it contains.)

    “A well regulated militia is necessary to the maintenance of a free state. Therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Your reading of the amendment and mine are not at all at odds. They are the same, in fact.

    The federal government must not infringe the right to keep and bear arms BECAUSE a free state needs a militia.

    Why does a State need a militia? To protect it from invasion.

    Invasion by whom? (For several reasons – the Whiskey Rebellion among them – I would argue that invasion by the federal government or a neighbouring State is not what is being considered here.) By a foreign power. (At the time, the Brits. And let’s not forget those merciless Indian Savages.)

    Who is to regulate the militia? The civil government of each State, of course.

    (Remember. The fact that the British government “has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power” is still fresh in the minds of the Framers.)

    If I were the governor of a State and were considering how best to “regulate” a militia, one of the things I might do is to order all militamen to keep and bear the same kind of pistol. (It makes buying ammunition in bulk possible.) Would I be violating Ethan Allen’s right to own some other type of Arm? I don’t think so.

    If I were that governor, I’d want my militiamen to have weapons that didn’t blow their hands off. Would forbidding the sale of saturday-night specials be a violation of their rights?

    One thing one can be sure of. The Constitution does not say ” A big big gun, being necessary to the security of a citizen’s home…” The 2nd amendment doesn’t guarantee the right of a householder the means to blow out the brains of a teenage Japanese tourist who mistakenly rings his doorbell on Hallowe’en, or of some LA gang-banger to protect his turf.

    For some reason, some people seem to have misread my arguments on this thread. They think I’m trying to take away guns. I’m not.

    What I’m saying is:

    1. In my opinion, a law banning certain types of weapons is not unconstitutional per se.

    2. Using the 2nd amendment to argue that Americans have the right to own any type of weapon they wish to own is nonsensical.

    3. Owning big, show-offy guns is a sign either of malicious intent or of serious personal problems.

    4. People who do run around screaming “Give me my big gun!” are either very silly or very scary.

    I think there’s something seriously wrong with much of America. Metal detectors and armed police in the schools? Drive-by shootings? What the hell is WRONG with you people? How did you ever let it come to this?

    Your kids aren’t being taught about fundamental human rights. That is obvious from much of what I’m reading here. The right to life is unalienable so long as it’s not inconvenient. The same person ardently defends his right to own an Uzi while he unblinkingly accepts state killing. Which is more “fundamental” for such a person: the right to life, or the right to own a gun?

    And are you any healthier when it comes to economic liberty? Protectionist tariffs on steel and wood imports. Demands that 3rd-world countries meet rich-world labour standards. Farm subsidies for sugar and tobacco and all those products where poor countries could have a competitive advantage and maybe drag their people up out of misery.

    I think it’s time you all woke up.

  134. “What I’m saying is:

    1. In my opinion, a law banning certain types of weapons is not unconstitutional per se.

    2. Using the 2nd amendment to argue that Americans have the right to own any type of weapon they wish to own is nonsensical.”

    And you are flat wrong on both counts.

  135. “. In my opinion, a law banning certain types of weapons is not unconstitutional per se.”

    The was the opinion of the US Supreme Court in Miller, which referenced the state case of Amyette.

    “2. Using the 2nd amendment to argue that Americans have the right to own any type of weapon they wish to own is nonsensical.”

    It isn’t nonsensical, but it probably isn’t correct. Amyette (and by extension, Miller), argued that weapons sutable for militia duty — military weapons in current usage, and weapons that could perform similar duty — were protected, but weapons only sutable for personal brawls were not.

    I tend to think that the we should have a right to weapons that are sutable for personal defense, even if they lack militia utility.

    “3. Owning big, show-offy guns is a sign either of malicious intent or of serious personal problems.”

    Based upon the intent of the Second and the above mentioned court decisions, “big, show-offy” guns are what are protected. It is the small hide-out stuff (dirks, daggers, sawed-off shotguns, etc.) that may lack constituitional protection.

    I’m curious. What qualifies as “big, show-offy”? Does my AR-15 or M-1 Garand qualify? Or would I have to step up to semi-auto BARs, M1919s, and M2, or Barret .50s, etc.?

    “4. People who do run around screaming “Give me my big gun!” are either very silly or very scary.”

    The people who worry about “big guns” are silly–and the fact that they can enact laws against others owning such guns is scary.

  136. “The right to life is unalienable so long as it’s not inconvenient. The same person ardently defends his right to own an Uzi while he unblinkingly accepts state killing. Which is more “fundamental” for such a person: the right to life, or the right to own a gun?”

    You can forfeit any right by your behaviour. If you go about engaging in murder, you forfeit your right to life (and your right to own an Uzi, or do anything else).

    From a pragmatic point of view, the right to gun ownership is a fundamental part of the right to life–one of the reasons for owning guns is the defense of life (and the defense of other rights, as well).

  137. The people who worry about “big guns” are silly
    ———————-

    …according to one police source, AK-47s have emerged recently as “the gun of choice” among San Francisco’s gang-bangers.

    And it’s sending a sobering chill throughout the Police Department. Some cops, who are armed only with .40-caliber Beretta handguns, say they feel like walking targets.

    “I was on patrol out at Sunnydale the night of Espinoza’s funeral,” said one veteran officer. “The bangers were on the corners shouting out, ‘I got an AK-47 for you.’

    April 26, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle

    ———————-

    Silly cops.

    —————?

    If you go about engaging in murder, you forfeit your right to life

    un?al?ien?a?ble

    adj.

    : incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred

    (Websters)

  138. The mess above is: unalienable

  139. I think there’s something seriously wrong with much of America. Metal detectors and armed police in the schools? Drive-by shootings? What the hell is WRONG with you people? How did you ever let it come to this?

    The War on Drugs, maybe? Seriously, how else would teenagers be able to afford high-power assault rifles and such? Any other crimes they could committ to get lots of money are more easily stoppable. But it’s hard to control drugs. I blame the black market in recreational drugs created by the War on Drugs for the violence of our schools and inner cities.

    Your kids aren’t being taught about fundamental human rights. That is obvious from much of what I’m reading here. The right to life is unalienable so long as it’s not inconvenient. The same person ardently defends his right to own an Uzi while he unblinkingly accepts state killing. Which is more “fundamental” for such a person: the right to life, or the right to own a gun?

    And are you any healthier when it comes to economic liberty? Protectionist tariffs on steel and wood imports. Demands that 3rd-world countries meet rich-world labour standards. Farm subsidies for sugar and tobacco and all those products where poor countries could have a competitive advantage and maybe drag their people up out of misery.

    Well, most of us believe those liberties are pretty important too. I think that freedom of speech, freedom from unwarranted imprisonment, and the right to keep and bear arms are the most fundamental, and without those the others are harder to keep. It’s like a structure where each member supports the others, and without one the whole structure becomes more shaky. So saying that it’s silly to worry about one liberty when others are at risk is missing the point entirely. We have to worry about all of them, and do our best to defend them. Some of us will be more interested in one than another, and focus our energies on that over others, but that doesn’t mean we don’t consider the others important.

    …according to one police source, AK-47s have emerged recently as “the gun of choice” among San Francisco’s gang-bangers.

    And it’s sending a sobering chill throughout the Police Department. Some cops, who are armed only with .40-caliber Beretta handguns, say they feel like walking targets.

    “I was on patrol out at Sunnydale the night of Espinoza’s funeral,” said one veteran officer. “The bangers were on the corners shouting out, ‘I got an AK-47 for you.’

    Yeah, that’s what you get when you let criminal elements get money through black markets caused by legal restrictions. Guess what? Without drug money, those gangs wouldn’t have money to get AK-47s, nor any real reason to have them. A handgun works better for robberies; it’s only when you get into turf wars and such that you need a rifle. Let the cops lie in the bed that they made. I feel sorry for them, and I’d like to help, but so long as they support the morally bankrupt War on Drugs, there’s not much to be done.

    unalienable

    adj.

    : incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred

    So how is it that we can deprive criminals of their unalienable right to liberty? I’m against the death penalty, but that’s a silly argument to make. We deprive people of their unalienable rights when they have proven that their retention of those rights will deprive others of their rights.

  140. So how is it that we can deprive criminals of their unalienable right to liberty?

    I have tried to deal with that question here, if you’re interested.

    btw. Though I agree that the drug policy is in large part responsible for the gun/gang problem, I think it’s far from being the sole cause.

    For the rest… One mustn’t confuse negative rights with positive rights. They are two quite different concepts.

  141. “The people who worry about “big guns” are silly
    ———————-

    …according to one police source, AK-47s have emerged recently as “the gun of choice” among San Francisco’s gang-bangers.”

    That couldn’t happen. California banned all assault weapons years ago. The AK-47 was banned in 1988.

    Besides, AK-47s are not “big”. They are rather compact, and they fire a fairly low powered round that is less likely to kill than most other rifle rounds (look at the work of noted forensics expert Martin Fackler).

    In any case, rifles of all types, and semi auto rifles in general, are rarely used in crimes. If a couple of police are killed in several incidents, statistically that may result in a sharp upward trend in “assault weapon” usage, but it is probably statistically insignificant.

  142. “The mess above is: unalienable”

    Who cares.

    If you engage in murder, you give up any right to life you have.

  143. More on criminal use of firearms:

    Rifles have been rare as crime weapons for a reason. In the data I’ve seen, rifles typically are used in 4 to 6% of homicides, shotguns in 6 to 8%, and handguns around 40%. The “weapon of choice” for serious criminals is typically a quality handgun. They may choose something else for specific circumstances, but most often they choose the handgun to actually committ the crime.

    In the early 90s, many LA gangs went to .22 rifles for drive-by shootings. The .22 rifle is easy to shoot, and it is quite. In fact, a .22 rifle can be quieter than most “silenced” weapons (the Mossad used small .22 short handguns without silencers for this reason).

    Shooting an AK in a car will result in immediate hearing damage (and a neighborhood that has woken up and possiblely called the police). A .22 rifle may not result in hearing damage, and if it does it will be less significant. And the people in the nearest house will likely sleep through the incident.

    .22 rifles are also generally low value, and hence make for throw-away arms for gangs. AK-47s, Uzis, and (percieved) high performance firearms are “keepers” that are going to be stowed for a “rainy day”.

    Incidently, an early 90s (federal government) study showed that inner city gangs were involved in both the illegal gun trade as well as the drug trade. Drug users would fund their habit by theft, and in effect stolen guns became a form of cash in inner cities. That suggests (to me) that .22 rifles (which are very common) would become a common commodity among gangs, who would be inclined to “use ’em and loose ’em”.

  144. raymond wrote: “I have tried to deal with that question here, if you’re interested.”

    Which leads to:
    “Physical limits on choice are not in themselves an infringement of the right to Liberty, because all choices are limited by nature.”

    Isn’t death just a physical limit on choice? In fact, it is the final limit on choice nature imposes upon us. So, if raymond is correct, than death isn’t an infringement of the right to liberty. So it follows that capital punishment isn’t an infringement of liberty any more than incarceration (raymond doesn’t feel that incarceration is an infringement of liberty).

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