Guns

Breyer: Now Judges Will Have to Decide What a Semiautomatic Is

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Dissenting from yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that said the Second Amendment applies to the states via the 14th Amendment, Justice Stephen Breyer complained that judges will now have to make assessments about gun control for which they lack the necessary expertise. To illustrate that point, he posed a series of rhetorical questions (emphasis added):

Does the right to possess weapons for self-defense extend outside the home? To the car? To work? What sort of guns are necessary for self-defense? Handguns? Rifles? Semiautomatic weapons? When is a gun semi-automatic? Where are different kinds of weapons likely needed? Does time-of-day matter? Does the presence of a child in the house matter? Does the presence of a convicted felon in the house matter? Do police need special rules permitting pat-downs designed to find guns? When do registration requirements become severe to the point that they amount to an unconstitutional ban? Who can possess guns and of what kind? Aliens? Prior drug offenders? Prior alcohol abusers? How would the right interact with a state or local government's ability to take special measures during, say, national security emergencies?

Most of these are questions that courts may actually have to address. But I doubt they will be called upon to settle the issue of what constitutes a semiautomatic weapon (a gun that fires one round, ejects the empty casing, and automatically loads a new cartridge when the trigger is pulled) or decide whether people have a right to possess them (a question the Court already answered in District of Columbia v. Heller, where it overturned a law that banned semiautomatic handguns). I suspect Breyer is using semiautomatic weapon as a synonym for assault weapon, an arbitrary category that is based mainly on the proscribed guns' military-style appearance rather than their capabilities. While this conflation demonstrates Breyer's point that judges do not necessarily have the knowledge to assess the wisdom or propriety of gun control laws, the same is true of legislators. Judges, like legislators, can and should strive to intelligently assess the evidence and arguments submitted by both sides. Sometimes judges and legislators both fail at this task.

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  1. That’s a dumbass remark. Like judges understand anything specialized. Yet they oversee patent litigation, evidence of varying degrees of complexity, etc. Don’t we parse protected and unprotected speech, do bring up a closer parallel?

    Breyer’s either making a disturbingly disingenuous comment or an absurdly stupid one.

    1. To bring, not do bring. I’m satisfied with my parallel.

  2. It is so stupid anyway. Because we have a First Amendment judges have to decide what libel is. Because we have a 4th Amendment judges have to decide what a “reasonable search is”. These same mother fuckers who in the 1960s and 1970s were completely okay with federal judges taking over and running entire school systems and state prison systems now are terrified that a judge might have to make a decision on a gun law.

    It is so disingenuous. Breyer thinks guns should be banned and doesn’t give a shit what the Constitution actually says. Anytime he says anything but that, he is lying.

    1. The real reason it’s disingenuous is because if Breyer wants it to be simple for judges, all he has to do is accept the fact that “shall not be infringed” actually means “shall not be infringed”, and throw all the gun laws out and not haggle about what ones to let back in through the door.

      That’s if his real goal is simplicity. Which I suspect is not the case.

      Seriously, it’s pretty annoying that our judges have muddied the waters on our Constitutional protections by refusing to take them at face value – and then turn around and try to use the very complexity they themselves have created as their excuse to bail on the concept of constitutional protections in general.

      1. See e.g. the jurisprudence on the 4th Amendment. Judges are always screaming about how police need to have simple rules to follow. What could be more simple than “get a warrant”?

      2. You nailed it with this post.

        There’s nothing complicated about it at all – just uphold the 2nd as literally written.

        There is no language about the right being constrained to certain types of firearms considered “suitable (by who exactly?) for self defense.

        There are no conditions placed on the right at all.

        Whether someones owns or carries a gun for self defense, or hunting or target shooting or any other reason is irrelevant.

        A right is a right. It’s not contingent on someone else’s personal opinion as to whether the motivations of the person exercising the right are “valid” or not.

        1. IOW, the right is ABSOLUTE.

  3. Supreme Court Barbie says, “Judging is hard!”

      1. I would not describe Justice Breyer as a “Barbie.” Somehow, I don’t think balding and bespectacled is what Matel had in mind.

  4. Obviously a definition which can be confined to a single sentence is too great a burden for the judicial system.

    Don’t forget the true danger of scary looking assault weapons – with those pistol grips, a maniac could pick up two AR-15s and spray out some willy-nilly mayhem! Anything that happens in action flicks can happen in real life, right?

  5. Why can’t the right to bear arms simply be the right to bear arms? Why can’t free speech simply be free speech? Does legal training get a person’s head hopelessly stuck up his ass?

    1. Yes. All legal training does is teach you to be clever and make weak arguments sound strong and simple ones sound complex.

      1. Do all lawyers hate other lawyers as much as you, John? Or just the ones with souls?

        1. I don’t care much for attorneys. If I had it to do over again, I’d be an engineer or something else technical. You know, something useful.

          1. If it makes you feel any better, I love being an engineer.

            1. Yes, my lil’ Warty loves wearing his engineer’s cap when he’s down in the basement playing with his Lionel.

            2. Same here. I feel underappreciated at times, but I never tire of putting systems together and seeing them work. It’s like being a kid 24/7.

          2. Im an attorney and couldn’t agree more. Most of them are boring one dimensional losers.

          3. Agreed. I would have (and finally have) pitched the law. Anything is more useful.

            1. Well I just do criminal defense. Can’t see practicing any other type of law.

        2. Just the ones with souls. When I was younger I used to think legal training was great. I used to get in the middle of everything my clients did and give my two sense. Then one day I realized I was a fucking menace. I knew just enough to be dangerous about their work and I was clever as hell and could make anything sound plausible. After that I stayed back told them the legal limits and let them do their jobs.

          I swear to God I have made more enemies among lawyers for that attitude. I had a boss a while back who used to preach about the “lawyer leader”. About how lawyers should lead everything. It was all I could do to keep from laughing in his face.

          But it is a real sickness in our society and government. Because what you find out is that people who should know how to do things are terrified of responsibility. So they love to have lawyers tell them how to do something. Then if it goes wrong they can say “they lawyers said we had to do it this way”. I hate that. Do you damned job. If what you are doing is illegal, I will tell you. But it is your job to make decisions, not mine.

          1. I knew just enough to be dangerous about their work and I was clever as hell and could make anything sound plausible. After that I stayed back told them the legal limits and let them do their jobs just commented on the internet all day.

            1. Cheap shot. No. Now I am just bored. I still write legal opinions.

              1. You did throw a nice, juicy hanging curve.

        3. It’s surprisingly common. My wife often quips that what she learned in law school was that she hates lawyers.

        1. +1 to John, not Warty.

          (I’m the other lawyer who hates lawyers).

      2. And write laws that nobody can understand but an overzealous District Attorney can toss you in jail for.

    2. Because absolutes don’t work in the real world. An absolute freedom of speech would mean that laws against fraud, threats, and perjury would be unconstitutional. Absolute right to bear arms would mean your neighbor could install anti-aircraft batteries on his roof and nuclear missiles in his basement.

      1. I’m not sure I understand the problem with AA batteries and nukes, unless you are arguing that he might cover your property with shrapnel.

      2. “An absolute freedom of speech would mean that laws against fraud, threats, and perjury would be unconstitutional.”

        No. You are not being prosecuted for the speech. You are being prosecuted for the damage you have done with the speech. I have an absolute right to freedom of movement. But if use that right to run you over with a truck, I have committed assault. Convicting me of a crime for that, doesn’t infringe upon my right to free movement.

        “Absolute right to bear arms would mean your neighbor could install anti-aircraft batteries on his roof and nuclear missiles in his basement.”

        No because making the materials necessary to make a nuclear weapon illegal is not infringing upon your right to bear arms. And if he wants AA guns, what do I care?

        1. Can you imagine how fun it would be to have a 20mm AA gun? I would even be willing to fuck Tulpa’s fat, ugly mother to get one.

          1. I doubt she could pry you away from your own.

        2. You are not being prosecuted for the speech. You are being prosecuted for the damage you have done with the speech.

          That’s sophistry. A supporter of laws against hate speech could invoke the same argument.

          In your truck example, you’re starting from a false premise. You don’t have absolute freedom of movement, since you can’t enter someone else’s property without permission, can’t drive through a red light without stopping, can’t drive on the wrong side of the road, etc.

          making the materials necessary to make a nuclear weapon illegal is not infringing upon your right to bear arms

          Ah, so making gunpowder illegal wouldn’t infringe on the 2nd either, since raw gunpowder isn’t an arm.

          1. Even if you say fraud and the like must be legal, that still doesn’t prevent you from being sued for the damage you cause. I don’t see why having fraud and perjury being civil rather than criminal offenses is the end of the world.

            And nuclear materials create risks to others that gun powder does not. My ammunition doesn’t harm my neighbor unless I shoot him. Your plutonium runs the risk of radiating him. Further, a nuclear weapon is in no sense a personal armament. And therefore could not be covered by the Amendment.

            1. You’re reading stuff into the Amendment on the last two sentences. The people keep and bear the arms, but nowhere does it say they must only be “personal”, by which I assume you mean able to be directed against a single person.

              1. “he right of the people to keep and bear Arms”

                I don’t see how a nuclear bomb fits into the definition of “arms” in that context.

              2. How does one bear a nuclear warhead? I think it is reasonable to interpret the second as protecting the right to have the sorts of weapons that an infantry type of fighter would have.

            2. Davy Crockett begs to differ about a nuke being a personal armament.

              Personally, I’m all for citizens owning heavy weapons if they have enough space to store it safely that it won’t affect your neighbors if something blows up.

              1. “if they have enough space to store it safely that it won’t affect your neighbors if something blows up.”

                That would prevent nukes. And the Davey Crocket was insane. The chances of the person firing it living were slim and none.

                1. Ted Turner owns half the state of Montana. If he drops a 10 kiloton nuke in the middle of his property, I guarantee it won’t make a damn bit of difference to anybody but the folks eating irradiated bison in his restaurant.

                  1. Is that why the bison at Ted’s is so good? Their bison prime rib is probably my favorite food ever.

          2. It’s not sophistry at all, Tulpa.

            In fraud, for example, it should be pretty clear to everyone that the criminal act isn’t the speech, it’s accepting consideration in return for a false promise. You can SAY that you can cure cancer all you want. But if you take someone’s money, you have to be able to support that statement or you’ve committed fraud.

            And I can lie and claim I witnessed a crime all I want. But if I enter a court and swear to tell the truth to the court, my crime isn’t SPEAKING THE LIES, it’s my failure to perform on my previous oath to the court.

            There’s no real way for a supporter of hate speech laws to extend that argument, because they’d have to show the additional act you have committed in addition to your speech that makes it a crime, and that’s precisely what they can’t do.

            1. Thank you. Much better response than I had.

            2. Where do Libel and Slander fit into your analysis?

            3. Shorter Fluffy: “You call that sophistry? HERE’S some sophistry!”

              Many fraud cases involve no promises whatsoever. If I sell you what I claim is a gold brick, and then you discover that it’s actually just a masonry brick with gold paint on it, I’ve committed fraud, despite the fact I made no promises of future consideration after the sale was complete. There is no contractual relationship that would allow you to shoehorn this into some sort of “breach of contract” category.

              But if I just sold you a masonry brick painted gold, without claiming it was pure gold, I have not committed fraud. So it is the speech that is being punished here.

              As for your perjury argument, it is not illegal to break an oath pretty much anywhere else in civilian society except in a courthouse right before one is testifying. If I promise my girlfriend to tell her the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about my past conquests, but I actually lie, breaking the oath, I have committed no crime. So it is in the specific context of speech as a witness in a criminal trial that makes one guilty.

              Also, civil remedies for perjury are not going to substitute for the current criminal statutes: it is also perjury to lie under oath in a way that helps a defendant be acquitted. Who would have standing to sue in that case?

              And, of course, you still haven’t addressed the laws against threats and harrassment.

              1. If freedom of speech is not absolute but a privilege that can be abridged more or less arbitrarily, then it is not a right. We should admit that the 1st Amendment was a mistake and repeal it.

                Back to your gold brick analogy. If I tell you that I have a free gold brick to give you, but accept no money/goods/services in return, then I cannot be arrested. So, is it the speech I’m being punished for?

                The rest of your examples reflect similar logical errors. It always comes down to the rights of others being infringed. You are being punished for infringing on their rights by threatening them, obstructing justice, etc. etc.

                1. Once you accept that infringements on the rights of others limit the freedom of speech, it’s game over for the literalist interpretation.

                  Also, what rights are violated by threats or perjury that leads to an acquittal? Not life, bodily integrity, liberty, or property (unless you do the mental contortions radical libertarians usually do to sneak the things they don’t like into one of these categories).

                2. If I tell you that I have a free gold brick to give you, but accept no money/goods/services in return, then I cannot be arrested. So, is it the speech I’m being punished for?

                  Well, both actions are required to contravene the fraud statute: Misleading speech (broadly defined to include emails, print ads, etc) AND a transaction where the misrepresented item is exchanged for something of value. But criminalizing something that even has just one component as a particular speech act contravenes the literal interpretation of the 1st.

                  Say that Congress passes a law tomorrow that says, if you criticize the government while engaging in a transaction affecting interstate commerce, you go to jail for 20 years. Only one component of this crime is speech related, but it clearly contravenes any reasonable interpretation of the 1st amendment.

      3. Because absolutes don’t work in the real world. An absolute freedom of speech would mean that laws against fraud, threats, and perjury would be unconstitutional. Absolute right to bear arms would mean your neighbor could install anti-aircraft batteries on his roof and nuclear missiles in his basement.

        How would an absolute freedom of speech make laws against fraud and perjury unconstitutional?

        1. Both of them criminalize speech on the basis of content.

    3. Well David, if I went a bought a nuke from Russia and put in my garage next to your house, would you have issues with my right to bear arms? If I rolled around town in a old T-72 with a .50 cal machine gun on top? These are ridiculous examples, but it’s stuff like that mean that absolute principles tend to get absurd.

      Same with freedom of speech, unless your down with kiddy porn and people selling classified information to other countries.

      And that’s why there are lawyers. Bright line rules tend to lead to stupid results (cf. school weapon & drug zero tolerance policies where aspiring and nail clippers get you expelled). So you end up with stuff like “reasonable search and seizure” which is ambiguous, and causes lawyers to fight about it until the end of time.

      1. aspiring=aspirin

      2. your T-72 wouldn’t pass emmissions testing therefore it would not be registered to use on public streets. this would be the case whether or not it had .50 cal on top.

        1. So my right to bear arms has a emissions standard exception?

          1. no, just your right to drive an unregistered T-72 on a public street.

            1. So your infringing my right to bear arms by banning my tank from public streets. An absolute reading of the 2nd would forbid any infringement of my right to bear arms, including driving one on a public road.

              1. If a person did such a thing I doubt he would live long. Those annoyed by his antics would remove him from society quickly.

        2. Rural counties in Oregon don’t require emissions testing. Somehow I don’t think they’ll issue a license plate for a tank though 🙁

          1. ok then, weight limits

        3. If the tank is towed in public streets by an emissions-compliant, registered vehicle, it’s just as dangerous but doesn’t run afoul of emissions laws.

          Not to mention that emissions rules don’t apply to vehicles that are operated on one’s own property.

          1. I’ve never see a tank that was dangerous without somebody actually shoving a round in the chamber and pulling the trigger.

            Let me guess: you’re waiting for the AR over at http://www.assaultweaponwatch.com/ to start killing people, aren’t you?

      3. Well, since the state invented nuclear weapons, if it doesn’t like the fact that private individuals might try to build or buy one it has only itself to blame.

        The tank, by the way, I don’t find absurd at all. I sincerely don’t see how the state would have a right to prevent you from building a tank. They can certainly bar you from driving it on the public highways by refusing to allow you to register it, but I don’t see any justification for the state claiming to possess the power to criminalize building an armored vehicle and keeping it on your own property.

        If you don’t like the outcomes a literal reading of the amendments would produce, you have the available remedy of passing an additional amendment.

        1. There is a hole underground hobby set of people who rebuild tanks. It takes some jack, but you to can have a Sherman or a T 34. If you have some land to roar around on, what could be cooler? And further, if you have the space to shoot it, why shouldn’t you be able to own an artillery piece? As long as you don’t disturb or harm anyone, what is the big deal?

          If they were legal, there would be a small number of eccentric rich guys who would go out on their farms and shoot 155s for fun. And that would be about it.

        2. Actually, AFAIK, armored vehicles per se aren’t illegal. The main gun of a tank qualifies as a DD, so there’s additional licensing to worry about, but nothing that should stop a properly motivated and wealthy individual. Hell, lots of guys have old armored personnel carriers.

          From long and intimate experience with full-track armored combat vehicles, I’d not be in favor of them being driven around on the public streets without a fairly steep additional fee. This stems from the observation that tracks will destroy pavement in short order. Your track pads get a little worn, and next thing you know, you’re taking divots out of the asphalt. The upfront costs to cover the anticipated extra damage would have to be pretty hefty.

        3. Your response to the nuke is a non-sequiter. But lets change the example. Say your neighbor found some old, highly unstable bomb buried in some battlefield. He’s got in his garage, and he doesn’t care that if it goes off it’ll take out the whole neighborhood. Should there be, say, a public hazard exemption to the right to bear arms? And as far as licensing the tank to be on the road, refusing said license would infringe my right to bear arms. They’re infringing my right to bear my tank to the mall for Christs sake! So read literally, the 2nd would require the government to register my tank, or at least not punish me for driving it where I pleased. See how this gets stupid real quick?

          As to the literal reading idea, the founders certainly had objections to spying. Yet they passed the 1st, which read literally would mean that spying was ok. Which to me means they meant for the constitution to be read with a dollop of common sense. Seems like they didn’t mean the constitution to be read so literally as to defy common sense.

          1. agree on common sense. how about an interpretation of bearing arms being, if you can carry it, you can bear it.

            1. I’m a competent chemist and biologist so you’d be okay with me keeping biological weapons in a sealed test tube I could carry or chemical weapons in a sealed flask I could carry. Thanks for the support.

            2. So a Palestinian-style backpack suicide bomber would not be subject to being stopped until the bomb went off, but at least the victims would be able to sue his estate for damages.

          2. I think that your neighbor should be allowed to keep whatever he/she wants on his/her property. If the bomb goes off, he would be liable for damages. End of discussion.

            I have no problem with somebody owning a tank. If they drive it on roads and ruin them, they should have to pay for damages. If they drive it through their neighbors walls, they should have to pay for damages. I’m not seeing why this is a hard concept for you.

        4. If you don’t like the outcomes a literal reading of the amendments would produce, you have the available remedy of passing an additional amendment.

          I’m pretty sure the ratifiers of the 1st and 2nd amendments didn’t intend them to allow urban residents to install the most powerful cannons that existed in 1789 on their front lawns either. And they certainly didn’t intend them to exempt threats, perjury, and fraud from prosecution.

      4. In general, tanks are legal in the US (and in many other countries as well). You might need to fill out some paperwork, but you could get some. Mounting MGs on top of a vehicle is also legal in some areas of the US.

        So your “ridiculous” example is already legal in some parts of this country. And yet, there isn’t a problem. The only tank-related criminal incident I know of was when a guy stole a Patton from a NG depot.

        As for the “nuke” example, I think that is a red herring. You have not the resources, the influence, or the money to get ahold of those weapons. I know this because nations with far more money, resources, and desire to obtain those weapons cannot get them.

  6. The definition of semi-automatic is nowhere near as ambiguous as Breyer is pretending. If he really doesn’t know, I know of a $10 pistol course offered around here next month that will make it clear to him. But I really think he is just being an asshole to stir up anti-gun sentiment.

    1. As the article mentions, people who (like Breyer) know nothing about guns tend to conflate semiautomatics with full-auto weapons. It makes “semiautomatic” sound high-tech and menacing when in reality the technology has been around for over 100 years.

  7. The Court’s been splitting hairs in all it’s other jurisprudence for years (is a car exempt from the fourth amendment’s warrant requirement? How about a container in the car? How about a container in a bag belonging to a passenger? How about the pockets on the angels dancing on the pinhead in the container in the passenger’s bag?).

    Judges are supposed to judge stuff. Get used to it.

  8. Semiautomatic has been the newest scary term that the media and idiots use to frighten the ignorant about guns. I had to educate several of my friends and family members on this.

    So many people are so utterly clueless when it comes to guns that I actually do wonder sometimes if gun control is a good thing. It’s not, but public stupidity makes it seems so to me occasionally.

    1. It’s still blows my mind how many people buy into the “what do you need an assault rifle for?” message. The only thing that can make a military style rifle more deadly than any deer rifle is the person shooting it.

      1. They also never realize that a .22 pistol can kill you just as dead as an M16. And further, at close range in a house or something, a shotgun is just as or more deadly than an assault rifle. They don’t even know what the technical definition of an “assault rifle” is.

        1. Is there even a technical definition? I always understood the term to mean any scary-looking gun.

          1. Usually 1 or more of:
            Folding stock
            Pistol grip
            Flash suppressor
            Large capacity magazine
            Semi-automatic (or capable of being made full auto)
            Plastic stock

            1. These are the features the Clinton AW ban proscribed, but Brett L left off the bayonet lug. I mean someone has to stop those drive by bayonettings!

              1. Thanks, I knew there was one more that had to do with the barrels.

            2. You’re welcome! Also if we want to get really technical a plastic stock was not a problem, only folding or telescoping stocks.

            3. Semiautomatic? Plastic stock?

              Like my old semiautomatic Remington Nylon 66 22 rifle? A 22 rifle?

              You gotta be kidding!

              BTW, an accurate marksman with any bolt-action deer rifle is far more lethal than a random bozo with the baddest assault rifle. Consider that a 270 round will have about 2200 foot-pounds of kinetic energy at 100 yards while a scary looking AR15 or AK47 round has about that much kinetic energy. Further, the smaller caliber of the AR15’s 223 round means that it will likely go in one side out out the other while the 270 round will mushroom on impact an destroy the target’s internal organs. Not to mention that the deer hunter who prefers bolt action is far more likely to score a lethal shot with a single round than the typical would-be Rambo with a scary “assault weapon” and a full clip. The really dangerous thing is marksmanship plus ownership of any firearm.

          2. I would define an assault rifle as rifle intended for combat that fires an intermediate cartridge like 5.56 NATO or 7.62 x 39. During WWII analysts discovered that most firefights occurred at under 300 meters range, whereas military rifles at the time (battle rifles) were designed to fire full power cartridges to engage at 600-800 meters. By scaling back the power of the cartridge you can design a weapon capable of rapid fire similar to a submachine gun, but that retains the accuracy of a rifle out to a reasonable range.

          3. Technically an assault rifle, at least among gun enthusiasts is a semi automatic or automatic rifle that uses a mid sized load in between that of a pistol and a full long rifle. The first “assault rifle” was the German Strernfevare 44. The Germans did a lot of thinking in the late 30s about infantry weapons. They realized that their beautiful Mausers were fabulous to kill at 400 yards. But that infantry rarely got a shot that far. Most combat was close in. That seemed to argue for arming infantry with machine pistols. But the problem was that machine pistols, since they fired pistol rounds, didn’t have the stopping power or the range needed. So they compromised and build a round that had a load larger than a pistol but smaller than a long rifle. This gave them a high rate of fire and lighter ammunition to carry like a machine pistol, but longer range and killing power like a true long rifle. It was a perfect compromise.

            Those rifles that fire a mid sized load in semi automatic or automatic are what I consider an assault rifle.

            1. Strernfevare 44

              Sturmgewehr 44. Storm rifle, with “storm” meaning “assault” here.

              Fact: the coolest weapon name ever belongs to the Fallschirmjagergewehr 42. “Fall-screen hunter’s rifle”.

              1. Yeah I hit the f button rather than the g button. What a beautiful weapon. The Germans really know how to make rifles.

            2. They realized that their beautiful Mausers were fabulous to kill at 400 yards. But that infantry rarely got a shot that far.

              John Garand had the same realization as the Germans. His original prototype M1s were chambered in a lower-powered .270, but the Army brass wanted to use up the stockpiles of WW1 .30-06 that they had lying around.

              1. My brother rebuilt me a German 8mm mauser. It is a bear on your shoulder. But it is a wonderful weapon to shoot. You can really reach out and touch something with that thing. Just a great piece of craftsmanship and engineering. I love that rifle.

                1. You have a K98 with the swastika? I have a Serbian one. Old milsurp bolt-actions are tons of fun. My favorite is my Finnish M39. Gorgeous gun, and very accurate, even with shitty surplus ammo.

                  1. Yugoslavian, I mean, not Serbian. No swastika, of course.

                  2. No. It is a Serbian one like yours. But it has been sporterized and rebuilt. That M39 is very nice.

        2. it is similar to an assault knife, except it’s a rifle

  9. I’ll handle this.

    Does the right to possess weapons for self-defense extend outside the home?

    Yes.

    To the car?

    Yes.

    To work?

    Yes.

    What sort of guns are necessary for self-defense?

    All.

    Handguns?

    Yes.

    Rifles?

    Yes.

    Semiautomatic weapons?

    Yes.

    When is a gun semi-automatic?

    Doesn’t matter.

    Where are different kinds of weapons likely needed?

    Doesn’t matter.

    Does time-of-day matter?

    No.

    Does the presence of a child in the house matter?

    No.

    Does the presence of a convicted felon in the house matter?

    No.

    Do police need special rules permitting pat-downs designed to find guns?

    WTF?

    When do registration requirements become severe to the point that they amount to an unconstitutional ban?

    From the get-go.

    Who can possess guns and of what kind?

    Anyone, any kind.

    Aliens?

    Yes, including prawns.

    Prior drug offenders?

    Yes.

    Prior alcohol abusers?

    Yes.

    How would the right interact with a state or local government’s ability to take special measures during, say, national security emergencies?

    Supersede.

    See? That was easy.

    1. Well done. You missed one:

      Do police need special rules permitting pat-downs designed to find guns?

      Yes. See 4th ammendment. The special rules are called “warrants”, you should probably read up on those, being a judge and all.

      1. Apparently he’s changed his mind since Florida v. JL, where a unanimous Court (including Breyer) declined to create a gun exception to the 4th Amendment.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_v._J.L.

    2. I think there is one of your answers that needs a little nuance. Your answer for “To work?” was “yes”.

      The real answer is that the question is totally irrelevant to a court of law. If the owner of your place of employment allows you to have a gun on his property, then yes, otherwise, no.

      This is where the NRA is a total fail.

      1. You expect him to learn about private property too on the same day? jeez man, cut the guy some slack.

    3. I don’t know why a convicted felon shouldn’t be allowed to carry a weapon. I mean, hasn’t he already paid his debt to society? Maybe if they are convicted, and the court says that they cannot own a gun for a certain number of years in place of a prison sentence, than I suppose it is reasonable. However, removing the right of somebody to protect himself (or even vote) after they have already paid their debt to society makes no sense to me.

      1. Every human being has the right to defend himself.

      2. Especially if they were convicted for a felony which harmed no one and shouldn’t even be a crime (e.g. drugs, certain sexual offenses, etc).

      3. Depends on if we’re talking current felony list, or old-style felony. The whole purpose of felonies as a class was that they were crimes so heinous that persons convicted were no longer fit to be citizens.

      4. If the no-arms or no-voting is imposed as part of their sentence, I have no problem with it at all (that’s what due process is, after all, and you can deprive someone of any right, including life, using it). If there is a law on the books that says felons automatically can’t vote and you’re convicted of a felony, I think that’s ok too, it’s like a mandatory part of your sentence. But if you’re a felon already (say you’ve been released), and THEN they pass a law that says you can’t vote or can’t bear arms if you’re a felon, that’s ex post facto and should be overturned.

    4. Based on what Stevens wrote, you would think that we were legalizing guns for the first time here. All of his stupid questions can easily be answered by looking at one of the many states which allows people to keep and carry guns for self defense.

      1. And that would show, of course, that as more states allowed CCW the overall violent crime rates in those states went down. This does not prove that allowing people to carry guns necessarily reduces crime–correlation is not causation–but it decisively disproves the predictions of the anti gunners who screamed that blood would run in the streets if these states allowed CCW.

  10. Steven Segal gives a pretty good demonstration of what semiautomatic means in Under Siege.

  11. Who can possess guns and of what kind?

    Anyone, any kind.

    Not incarcerated felons.

    Agree with the rest of your comments, though.

    1. I don’t know why a convicted felon shouldn’t be allowed to carry a weapon. I mean, hasn’t he already paid his debt to society? Maybe if they are convicted, and the court says that they cannot own a gun for a certain number of years in place of a prison sentence, than I suppose it is reasonable. However, removing the right of somebody to protect himself (or even vote) after they have already paid their debt to society makes no sense to me.

      1. Of course you can’t own a gun while incarcerated. That falls under a restriction of freedom under due process.

  12. I suspect Breyer is using semiautomatic weapon as a synonym for assault weapon

    If so, then he ought to recuse himself, since that means neither he nor his staff knows squat about guns.

    1. I agree. Perhaps the phrase he was looking for is “fully automatic”? But then that has a really simple definititon, too.

  13. How would the right interact with a state or local government’s ability to take special measures during, say, national security emergencies?

    So he’s worried about the governments abiliy to control the people when the people have guns, even when it’s for their own good?

    THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT!

    What a statist dickfucker.

    1. I thought they already ruled on this question in regards to police takings during Katrina.

      1. They did but he still teed about it.

  14. A few years ago I was in a show bar in DC, the one up on Connecticut at the north end of DuPont Circle, a place where you don’t expect to find nekkid girls. I struck up a conversation with one of the dancers and she revealed to me that she was a law student at one of the local universities.

    “What do you plan do with your law degree?”, I asked.
    “I want to ban semi-automatic weapons.”
    “But if you do that, you will make a criminal out of me Mercedes!”

    Well needless to say as the conversation continued, she revealed she had no clear idea what a semi-automatic was, or why someone would prefer one to a revolver. I guess she has graduated by now. Maybe taken the Bar exam.

    1. They’re all “putting themselves through school”. Just like they all pretend to give a shit what you say.

      1. Zing!

        Seriously, how can any thinking person go to a strip club?

        1. Eeeeew! What’s your orientation Tulpa?

            1. I think “scold” actually is a sexual orientation.

            2. Hardly. I never said it was immoral, just pathetic and pointless to go and tease yourself. Then again, I have a problem with ambiguous overlapping power relationships, so maybe it’s just me.

              1. It’s not necessary to tease yourself, the young ladies who work in Gentleman’s clubs are skilled at teasing you. In some locations maybe a bit more than tease.

                Your attitudes are those of a woman, are you one?

                1. No, I am not; and plenty of men share my attitudes, thank you very much. That might give a hint as to why Congressmen need to sneak into such places (and have had to do so since before women could vote).

                  1. Were you raised by a single Mother?

                2. I might add that paying to be teased sounds like a pretty good indicator of some fucked-up psychology. Not sure if that’s a woman’s attitude, but if it is you have to admit they have a point.

                  1. You are making too many assumptions about my behavior, and the normal behavior of most men.

                    I’m in my fifties, and sexually experienced. I’ve had, I think one hundred sexual partners in a lifetime, but I can’t remember clearly.

                    The average American male has been in a titty bar on more than one occasion. You should experience it for yourself.

        2. If you’re going there for the conversation, you’re doing it wrong.

          1. I talk to them because women are people, with feelings.

            They only get bitch slapped if they give sass back.

            1. God damn, you’re all heart.

              1. Actually, I am. My street names are Sweety, Daddy, and Paw Paw.

        3. Seriously, how can any thinking person go to a strip club?

          Lets see, college buddy #1’s fiance told CB#2 that CB#1 should definitely have a bachelor party in Vegas and CB#2 was to make it happen. And my SO on hearing that this was planned insisted that I attend. Oh, and CB#3, having just finalized her divorce fobbed her kids off on an a friend for the weekend and came too, so it was a coed gaggle that made it’s drunken way to Sapphire that evening…

          /CB#3 got a couple of free dances that night…

      2. No this one was serious, that’s what’s so hilarious about it. A politically correct stripper!

        1. I had one for a neighbor and there was another who was a friend’s roomate. One or two of their co-workers probably did actually put herself through school, but having heard the stories from the girls’ perspectives, eh. They’re all in character when they’re at work.

          1. I talked to one for about 30 minutes one time about how much better Tolkien was than CS Louis. She wasn’t even trying to sell me on a lap dance! It was pretty surreal.

            1. Yeah. Didn’t mean to imply that they were inhuman and unable to be real people, even at work. As long as you know they’re working, it’s all in fun.

          2. In big cities where the rent is high like DC, you get a lot more college girls.

            I can’t tell you how many dancers I’ve known over the years. I know their game thoroughly. It is not necessary for you to protect me.

            I’ve also known a few lawyers. I often meet them in Showbars. I can usually find one there.

            I think Ted Kennedy liked to go to the one on M street? Next to Camelot?

            1. Joanna’s?

              1. Yes! Can’t remember like I used to.

                1. That place has been there forever.

                  1. It’s a bit snooty in there, and I believe that Congressmen and Senators sometimes go there without attracting press attention.

      3. Nah.

        I’ve met a couple who said “It pays better than slinging hash and that means I can spend more time with my kids.”

        //slightly older dancers often have more physical grace and a more emotional intensity in their performance, and that give a place a little style in what can be depressingly banal and sordid industry…

        1. depressingly banal and sordid industry

          You don’t say! It’s just a shame that a business where men pay women to see their private parts can turn out that way.

          1. Nope.

            It’s all about acceptance. In Vegas and San Antonio I’ve been to big, well funded clubs in the business districts; they advertise on TV and have clients in business suits. Nice places, positive atmosphere, bouncers that enforce the house rules, and you come away happy (if horny).

            In other places all the clubs are out in the county and are barely tolerated. The clientele are furtive, only come out at night and don’t want to be recognized. In those cases it doesn’t matter how much money has been spent on the place: they aren’t much fun and you feel dirty when you leave.

            Because it is not sex, but the idea of sin that makes it dirty.

            1. Ah, so it depends on how depraved the surrounding community is.

              1. The combined influence of Puritanism, Victorianism, and Freudian Psychology have produced too many people like you in the U.S., Tulpa.

                A Nation of prudes, squares, and control freaks. The girls who dance are not beneath people like you they are far above you. I prefer their company to that of people like you. How can you be so childish and unsophisticated as to imagine that I would care what you think of my morals or sexuality?

                1. I’m not surprised that you prefer their company to mine. I don’t provide the services they do. And to be honest, the opinions of a guy who enjoys being teased by a woman he knows he can never have are going to be accompanied by a pretty hefty salt shaker in my mind.

                  1. . . . a woman he knows he can never have

                    Be careful. Everybody’s human. You just need to understand that the definition of never has everything to do with her time frame and not yours. Quite often things happen when you don’t expect them to.

                    1. Tulpa’s been watching TV too much. One simply has to know how to treat young woman in order to get their compliance.

                    2. That’s the same attitude that keeps poor people buying lottery tickets. But by all means, keep putting dollars in her, uh, tip holder.

                    3. Tulpussy, you keep imagining the world to be something it’s not and imagining me to be something I’m not. Go out into the world and learn something about people for Christ sake and stop moralizing like a goddamn Sunday school teacher.

                  2. You are making too many assumptions about my behavior, and the normal behavior of most men.

                    I’m in my fifties, and sexually experienced. I’ve had I think, one hundred sexual partners in a lifetime, but I can’t remember clearly.

            2. Because it is not sex, but the idea of sin that makes it dirty.

              I met some Russian dancers when I was out at The Lodge in Dallas. They assured me that a strip club cannot make money in Russia.

              The reason? Russians are unselfconscious about nudity and expressions of sexuality. You need a climate of sexual repression to make Showbars profitable.

              1. You need a climate of sexual repression to make Showbars profitable.

                They must be seriously hurting in the age of net.porn, then. Or perhaps you’re (again) taking the word of your favorite strippers a bit too seriously.

                1. This comment was directed to EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy. You have no experience with the world. You should get out more.

                  1. Correction:

                    That comment about the Russian girls was directed to EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy, Tulpa.

                    Tulpa you have no experience with the world. You should get out more. I know more about women than a pansy like you will ever dream of knowing.

                    It amazes me how feminine you young guys are. Do you still think girls have cooties?

                    I know more about strippers than all you punks combined. Hell I used to drive a cab. I have met every type of person there is, even males like you. Males like you may technically not be gay, but you may as well be, you ought to experiment with it.

                    I am more of a man than you can ever hope to be. And once again, how can you be so childish and unsophisticated as to imagine that I would care what you think of my morals or sexuality?

                    1. It’s telling that your response to my criticism is not to dispute my point, but to accuse me of being either gay or a woman, both apparently inferior statuses in your mind. And, failing that, to paint me as a puritan, though you have no evidence of such.

                      And while I can’t “boast” of having had hundreds of paramours, I’m not inexperienced. My sexual encounters happen to have been in the context of faithful relationships that lasted more than a night. If you think that makes me less of a man, then I think your standards of manhood are incredibly warped, not that I expect you to care what I think. At this point you are what you are.

                      Have fun spending your dying years paying strangers to wipe your ass, old man.

                    2. What point? You were moralizing to me because I had a conversation with a stripper who was a law student in DC. What makes you think you can hand out criticisms to other people about their associations? How can you be so childish and unsophisticated as to imagine that I would care what you think of my morals or sexuality?

                      Get Real, Get a Job, and GET LAID!

              2. Not that it matters, but I should clarify that I’m not a sexual puritan — I have no issues with premarital sex or homosexuality or the other thousands of ways people get off. I just find the whole idea of strip clubs to be bizarre and pathetic.

                1. You are nevertheless a moralist in the grand traditions I have named.

                  I’ll repeat myself.

                  How can you be so childish and unsophisticated as to imagine that I would care what you think of my morals or sexuality?

    2. I can tell the kids who post here are not old enough to remember the “Tidal Basin Bombshell”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanne_Foxe

  15. Justice Stephen Breyer complained that judges will now have to make assessments about gun control for which they lack the necessary expertise.

    Is there an incident in recorded history in which this made a difference?

  16. The object of the sentance is: ” … the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
    It has been said that it is not possible to simplify a statement to the point that it cannot be misinterpreted. But, “… to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” can’t possibly be misinterpreted. Except, perhaps lawyers. Who’d have thunk it?
    Here’s the new rule: Carry what you want, where you want when you want. If you f*ck-up with it the law will be on you like a ton of brick.
    Oh, and if it is selfpropelled … you might need a license.

    1. Swallowing camels and straining at gnats is part of the first year curriculum.

      Jebus knows that a complicated society needs a dispute resolution system and that any such system will generate a corps of experts on it. But somehow, I think that what we’re got right now isn’t the least intrusive such system that we could have…instead it seems to be largely dedicated to perpetuating itself.

      ::sigh::

  17. SO the court doesn’t want to determine what is what. That’s a first. Most of the time they can’t keep their fucking opinion of what something is outside of their expertise to themselves.

  18. Upthread there was the old discussion about some idiot liberal saying, “You mean, you think a guy can have a nuke/tank/missle in his basement”, and the not-really-helpful-to-the-cause libertarian saying, “Sure, as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone.”

    Maybe it’s more fun to scare the liberal, but I think a better response is to assuage his fears by talking about the plain meaning of the 2nd: it says “and bear”, which means weapons that a person can carry. So, it is my opinion that the 2nd does not protect a right to have missles in your basement. At least not ones you can’t carry.

    1. As the so-called “liberal” in your narrative, despite the fact that I support gun rights, I guess it behooves me to point out that your interpretation would say that only guns that are carried are protected by the 2nd amendment. That is, the state can prohibit someone from buying a gun and then just leaving it in their house; it has to be “born” in order for the 2nd to apply.

      1. I should clarify: my own position is that the right to keep and bear arms is really two separate but closely related rights: the right to own and store arms (keep) and the right to possess them on one’s person (bear). The second should not restrict the first, as it does in your interpretation.

        1. Tulpa, I did not intend to call you out specifically. I was speaking generically, as I have seen this form of argument for a long time.

          My thinking is that “bear” specifies a class of arms (small arms), for which the government at any level may “not infringe” upon the right to own/possess/use/trade them.

          This would allow individual states to regulate the ownership/possession/use/trade of missile launchers if they choose to.

          It is my belief that the Federal government would not be able to regulate weapons of any kind, since it has not been given an enumerated power to do so. I am in the camp that believes the Bill of Rights was probably a mistake because it implied powers that had not been granted to the Feds.

          I’m not sure what I think of your idea that “keeping” and “bearing” don’t interact. It’s a good point, but I’m not persuaded.

  19. The use of nuclear weapons should not be protected by the 2nd Amendment because there is no way to use them discriminately. The second you detonate one to protect your home, you destroy your neighbors’ homes in the process and kick-up sever thousand tons of radioactive fallout.

    But notice that I only said the “use” of nuclear arms should not be protected.

    1. And because the individual cannot use nuclear weapons, neither should the government.

      On Larry King Live, Bill Maher once commented on the obsolescence of the 2nd Amendment by pointing out that the government has fighter jets and nuclear weapons. I propose that we reduce the government’s weaponry to only that which the average citizen can attain. That way, in the next revolution, when the tyrannical government is marching down our streets, the odds will be on the side of the 300 million heavily-armed citizens.

  20. Lost in all this is the original intent of the Second Amendment. It wasn’t to protect duck hunting or concealed carry, it was to put the military power of the US in the hands of ordinary citizens instead of a standing army. The idea is that you don’t need a standing army if you can call on the “well-regulated Militia” to carry out military purposes. Obviously, that has been a spectacular failure.

    In that light, there are two ways to look at the Amendment. Either it no longer protects anything, since we now have a standing army and little need to call forth the militias, or it is vital to reassert the original meaning and disassemble the standing armies.

    1. Or it is vital so long as we have a standing military force so that the people may take-up arms in defense of their liberty.

    2. Either it no longer protects anything, since we now have a standing army and little need to call forth the militias, or it is vital to reassert the original meaning and disassemble the standing armies.

      Remember Katrina?

      In any similar national emergency you are going to be on yor own for at least the first couple of days. If the emergency is widespread it could be longer.

      Wouldn’t it be neat if you and your neighbors were semi-organized?

  21. Breyer can’t be this dumb. The entire Gun Control lobby philosophy is predicated on judges and legislators defining defining “a valid sporting purpose”, and putting into codified law such cosmetic features as bayonet lugs or other technical minutae as round carrying capacity and folding stocks.

    Now suddenly Breyer is concerned about judges getting mired down in inane details of the general workings of firearms?

    No, Mr. Breyer, it actually gets much simpler.

    “The right of the people” and “shall not be infringed” are simple concepts to understand. It’s when you start adding “except whens” and “but fors” that things get complicated.

    1. That’s the problem. Breyer cannot wrap his mind around there being no “except whens”.

  22. Who can possess guns and of what kind?

    Persons not convicted of a violent felony have the right to keep and bear anything authorized for Justice Breyer’s bodyguards.

    How would the right interact with a state or local government’s ability to take special measures during, say, national security emergencies?

    Gun owners should be willing to step forward and assist government as needed for legitimate purposes. Government could enhance the interaction by establishing voluntary training sessions.

    What part of “militia” does he not understand?

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