right to bear arms

Amnesty International brief against right to bear arms

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As the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to enforce the Second Amendment right to "bear arms" in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, an amicus brief from Amnesty International argues that doing so would violate international law. In this post, I'll examine the arguments in the AI brief.

Back in the days when I was a monthly donor to AI, the group was known for its work in supporting political prisoners around the world. But for a long time AI has involved itself in many other issues, including global gun prohibition. Today, the leading international anti-gun organization is Control Arms, which was cofounded in 2003 by Amnesty International, Oxfam, and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

For these groups, a complete embargo on all arms sales to Israel is a longstanding priority. See, e.g., Control Arms, Arms Without Borders: Why a Global Trade Needs Global Controls, Oct. 2006. To prevent Israel from manufacturing its own arms, the groups also favor a ban on commerce in arms-making materials, such as titanium.

It's not just Israelis whom AI wants to disarm. The group enthusiastically supported  hard left Brazilian president Lula da Silva's 2005 ballot referendum to ban all gun sales. (The ban was defeated 64%-36%).

Even some ardent opponents of civilian gun ownership in general acknowledge that defensive arms are legitimate for people who are the targets of an active genocide campaign. AI disagrees.

The group did a good job of documenting how easy it was for the Islamist government in Sudan to use disarmement to perpetrate genocide against the African Darfuri tribes. Much of the killing was carried out by Arab gangs, the Janjaweed, who were armed by the Sudanese government. As AI reported, the majority of the Janjaweed had five or six guns per person. AI quoted a Darfuri villager: "none of us had arms and we were not able to resist the attack." In the words of another villager, "I tried to take my spear to protect my family, but they threatened me with a gun, so I stopped. The six Arabs then raped my daughter in front of me, my wife and my other children." Amnesty International, Sudan: Arming the Perpetrators of Grave Abuses in Darfur, Nov. 16, 2004.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review asked Amnesty International's Trish Katyoka, director of Africa Advocacy for the group, whether the Darfur victims should be armed. Dimitri Vassilaros, "Gun Control's Best Friend," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Apr. 1, 2005. She answered in the negative:

"We at Amnesty International are not going to condone escalation of the flow of arms to the region." Indeed, "You are empowering (the victims) to create an element of retaliation." "Whenever you create a sword-fight by letting the poor people fight back and give them arms, it creates an added element of complexity. You do not know what the results will be." In sum, "Fighting fire with fire is not the solution to genocide. It is a dangerous proposition to arm the minorities to fight back."

AI's position conflates self-defense against murder with "retaliation," which is revenge after the fact. It's true that armed victims may add "complexity" to a situation—especially for attackers who used to straightforwardly murdering helpless victims. When the victims are unarmed, you do "know what the results will be": the victims will be exterminated. Adding complexity to avoid certain mass murders is a life-saving choice.

Charming Betsy

Part I of the AI amicus brief argues that judicial interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment, must subordinate interpretation of the Constitution to what AI claims to be international law. The argument is an extravagant extrapolation of a longstanding rule of statutory interpretation, namely the "Charming Betsy Canon."

In the 1804 U.S. Supreme Court case Murray v. Schooner Charming Betsy, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 64 (1804), Chief Justice Marshall wrote: "an act of Congress ought never to be construed to violate the law of nations, if any other possible construction remains." The Charming Betsy ship was originally owned by an American but was later sold in St. Thomas to a Dane who sent it on a commercial voyage to the French island of Guadeloupe. The issue before the Court was whether the ship was forfeitable under a congressional statute that forbade American trade with France, which at the time had been engaged in the undeclared naval Quasi-War against the United States. The Marshall Court construed the statute narrowly, so as not to run counter to international law, which allows wartime trade by neutrals (such as Denmark).

In statutory construction, the Charming Betsy canon has been applied by American courts ever since. It has never been applied as a doctrine of constitutional interpretation. If it were, the First Amendment would be a certain casualty. Few if any nations and international treaties interpret "the freedom of speech, or of the press," or "the free exercise" of religion as strongly as do American courts. Indeed, for most of American history judicial review of the constitutionality of legislation had very few counterparts  in the world. Harvard Law Professor Vicki C. Jackson's 2009 book Constitutional Engagement in a Transnational Era (2009) argues for use of international law in interpreting some constitutional provisions, but not the Second Amendment, which has the "specificity or distinctiveness . . . that makes transnational sources irrelevant."

AI argues that "The Constitution was . . . drafted with international law as a set of background norms, and this Court should construe the Constitution accordingly." However, none of the alleged "background norms" that AI cites existed in 1791 when the Second Amendment was ratified, or in 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment made it enforceable against the states.

In fact, the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was drafted and ratified with an intent to counter contemporary norms. For example, while many nations allowed (and still allow) censorship, the Constitution generally forbids it. While unlimited arms control was (and still is) the norm in much of the world, America's Framers wanted to ensure that government didn't have a monopoly on the implements of violence because they knew, based on experience, that government could not be trusted with such a monopoly. Whatever the harmful consequences of preventing a government monopoly of force, the Founding Fathers (in 1789) and Founding Sons (in 1868) believed that the alternative was far worse.

Even if the U.S. Senate had ratified an international gun control treaty, ''No agreement with a foreign nation can confer power on the Congress, or on any other branch of Government, which is free from the restraints in the Constitution'' Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, 16 (1957) (Black, J.) (plurality op.).

Along the way, AI accurately cites the 1897 case Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 283-86 (1897) for the proposition that the Court sometimes looks at the laws of other nations. In Robertson, a merchant seaman who had jumped ship argued that being forced to complete his labor contract amounted to involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Citing the historic sea laws of Rhodes, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other nations, the Court observed that the laws forbade sailors to desert while in port. Notably absent from AI's brief is what Robertson said about the Second Amendment: all of the Bill of Rights—and by extension the Thirteenth Amendment--contained implicit exceptions that were well-known at the time, and incorporated into those Amendments. For example, the First Amendment freedom of speech and of the press does not prohibit laws against libel; the Fifth Amendment prohibition on double jeopardy does not forbid retrial after a hung jury; that Amendment's prohibition on compelled self-incrimination does not apply if the relevant statute of limitations has expired. And "the right of the people to keep and bear arms (Art. II) is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons." Id. at 282-83.

This indicates that the right to carry unconcealed weapons is part of the Second Amendment right. Or pursuant to the state cases favorably cited in Heller's more detailed examination of the Second Amendment, a legislature has the discretion to require that arms be carried openly, or that they be carried concealed; the legislature can choose the mode of carry, but cannot prohibit carry. (See Part V of my amicus brief in this case for detail.)

An empirical mix-up

Part II of the AI brief is the core argument for why international law is said to compel the Court to rule that the plaintiffs have no right to be issued a license to carry a firearm for lawful self-defense. The brief offers a hodgepodge of empirical studies, hardly any of which are relevant to the case at bar—such as a study arguing that Connecticut's laws for purchasing handguns are better than Missouri's.

Many of the studies have nothing to do with carrying guns, but instead involve claims that more firearms possession in a society necessarily lead to more criminal violence. While all these studies are debatable, even if they were conclusively accepted as true, they make an argument against the Second Amendment itself.

The lone specific citation in the AI brief about bearing arms is of a "fact sheet" by Professor Daniel Webster, of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Concealed Carry of Firearms: Fact vs. Fiction. The link in the AI brief is broken, but you can find the fact sheet here. It argues that guns are ineffective for self-defense and rarely used for self-defense. The specific issue is right to carry laws is addressed on a single page, which cites three studies saying that such laws have harmful effects.

The claim is indirectly called into doubt by another article cited in the AI brief: Julian Santaella-Tenorio et al., What Do We Know About the Association Between Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Injuries?, 38 Epidemiologic News [sic, Epidemiologic Reviews] 140 (2016). According to AI, the study shows that "gun violence deaths in the United States are preventable through the adoption of reasonable gun safety laws," which "include provisions such as New York's 'proper cause' requirement for obtaining and carrying a firearm."

In fact, Figure 2 of the study presents a summary of 25 studies of "Shall Issue" laws—that is, laws specifying that a person who passes a background check and safety training may not be denied a carry permit simply because a government official thinks the person does not "need" to carry a defensive arm. Almost all U.S. States already have such a law. Of the 25 cited studies, 11 reported that Shall Issue laws are associated with increased homicide, while 14 reported an association with decreased homicide.

Critics of the above article wrote that the article had omitted seven peer-reviewed studies in the relevant time period, all of which showed Shall Issue leading to reduced violent crime. Further, the authors had "consistently picked results that were the most favorable single result for gun control in the papers they surveyed" and had "picked results that the authors of those papers rejected." John Lott, Carlisle E. Moody, and John E. Whitley, Re: "What Do We Know A bout the Association Between Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Injuries?" Epidemiologic Reviews, June 2016 (letter). Prof. Santaella-Tenorio and her colleagues subsequently published a 30-item correction to the original article. 39 Epidemiologic Reviews 171 (2017).

There are other amicus briefs that get into more depth about the pro/con empirical issues of bearing arms. I will write about them in a future post. Dissenting in District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Breyer summarized the pro/con evidence about the benefits and dangers of handgun ownership in the home. He concluded that since there was lots of evidence on both sides, the Court should defer to the judgement of the D.C. Council. Justice Scalia's majority opinion responded:

The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges' assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. . . . [T]he enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.

The same point applies to the right to bear arms. The pro/con empirical interest balancing was performed by the American people when they ratified the Second Amendment. A licensing law, like that applied to the plaintiffs in the instant case, that makes it impossible for the vast majority of the population to exercise an enumerated right at all is a prohibition, not a regulation. It is straightforwardly a violation of the constitutional text.

International law

As for the actual "international law" the AI brief's introduction promised, it turns out to be rather thin. The United States has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and has also ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The texts of these documents protect the right to life, the right to personal security, the special rights of children to protection, and the rights of all people against racial or sexual discrimination.

AI cites documents from United Nations committees asserting that the above documents create affirmative duties on governments to protect people from private violations of their rights. For example, according to the UN's Human Rights Committee, to comply with the ICCPR, a government must not merely refrain from killing people (with certain exceptions, such as war); the government must affirmatively protect people from being murdered by private individuals.

However, the only documents that are part of American law are the treaties that were ratified by the Senate. Senate ratification does not compel the U.S. Supreme Court—or anyone else—to comply with the subsequent declarations by the U.N. bureaucracy.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled directly to the contrary. In Gonzales v. Castle Rock, 544 U.S. 478 (2005), the Court reaffirmed the longstanding doctrine that governments have no affirmative duty to protect citizens from private violence. Arguments that the Court was compelled by international law to adopt a contrary rule were presented in that case, but were not successful.

To whatever extent that the ICCPR and CERD texts are relevant to New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, they militate in favor of the petitioners. When a person is attacked by violent criminals in a public place, the government has already breached its (arguable) duty to protect people from private violence. In such a situation, some governments make the victims even worse off than they would be if there were no government at all—for the governments forbid the victims from carrying the tools necessary for the victims to defend themselves.

Consider the impunity with which gangs attack people in some European cities for wearing a yarmulke or a short skirt. Or the impunity of repeat violent predators on the streets and subways of New York City. By forbidding peaceable defensive carry, governments that prohibit lawfully bearing arms have affirmatively guaranteed the safety of gangsters and the violently insane to have their way with their victims.

The U.N. Human Right Committee

The AI amicus brief heavily relies on statements by the U.N.'s infamous Human Rights Council. The brief mistakenly refers to that body as the "Human Rights Committee." To be precise, the predecessor of the U.N. Human Rights Council was the U.N. Committee on Human Rights, which the U.N. abolished in 2006 because its anti-right and anti-Semitic agenda had become intolerable. However, the new Council continues the misconduct of the old Committee.

The "Human Rights Council" proclaims: "With membership on the Council comes a responsibility to uphold high human rights standards." One can assess the Council's credibility by considering its actual current members, such as China, Eritrea, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Sudan, and Venezuela—all of which are criminal thugocracies that rule by attempting to disarm their victim populations.

AI cites a 2006 report to the Committee on Human Rights by University of Minnesota Law Professor Barbara Frey.  According to the Frey Report, a state's failure to restrict self-defense is itself a human rights violation. The report states that a government has violated the human right to life to the extent that a state allows the defensive use of a firearm "unless the action was necessary to save a life or lives." Thus, firearms "may be used defensively only in the most extreme circumstances, expressly, where the right to life is already threatened or unjustifiably impinged." In other words, a government that allows the use of deadly force to defend against rape, arson, carjacking, or armed robbery has violated the criminal's right to life. By the Frey theory, every U.S. state government and the federal government are and always have been violators of violent criminals' right to life.

The Frey report states that it is a human rights violation for persons to be allowed to possess a firearm without a permit, and the permit should enumerate "specific purposes" for which the gun could be used. Today, no U.S. jurisdiction is compliant with this standard. Most states do not require a permit to possess a handgun, and hardly any require a permit for a long gun. Anyone who may lawfully own a gun may keep it at home for self-defense, may take it to a target range, hunt with it (for which a hunting license is usually required), or use the gun for any other lawful purpose. So even the severe gun control laws of New York State are human rights violations, according to the Frey report and its adoption by U.N. committee. In New York, you can buy a shotgun upon passing a background check, and you can then keep the gun for self-defense, skeet shooting, or other purposes, with no specific permission.

I have argued elsewhere that the Frey report omits many sources of international law that recognize the inherent human right of self-defense, and that the report misdescribes some sources of international law by claiming that they treat self-defense as a mere excuse and not justification. The Human Right of Self-Defense, 22 BYU Journal of Public Law 43 (2008).

The racial angle

The third and final part of the AI amicus brief essentially retreads the arguments in Part II, but this time with special reference to racial discrimination. As the brief's statistics show, black people in the United States are disproportionately harmed by violent armed criminals and often receive insufficient police protection. Indeed, the problem has grown much worse in the past few years. The existence of the serious problem does not prove  that the U.S. Supreme Court would violate international law if the Court respected the right of a law-abiding black woman or man to carry a handgun for protection. Indeed, an amicus brief by the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, the Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn Defenders points out the New York's arbitrary handgun licensing law is now and always has been enforced with discriminatory severity against people of color.

That brief recognizes that firearms have controversial public safety implications. But:

. . . New York's licensing requirements—which cause criminal penalties for unlicensed possession—themselves have controversial public safety implications. It is not safe to be approached by police on suspicion that you possess a gun without a license. It is not safe to have a search warrant executed on your home. It is not safe to be caged pretrial at Rikers Island. It is not safe to lose your job. It is not safe to lose your children. It is not safe to be sentenced to prison. And it is not safe to forever be branded as a "criminal," or worse, as a "violent felon." In sum, New York's licensing requirements are not safe.

The Court must not "stand by idly" while New York denies its people the right to keep and bear arms, "particularly when their very lives may depend on it." , 137 S. Ct. 1995, 2000 (2017) (Thomas, J., dissenting from the denial of certiorari). It must create a rule that will in fact protect the Second Amendment rights of "all" the people. See McDonald [v. City of Chicago], 561 U.S. at 773. Achieving that goal requires that the Court answer the question presented by holding for the Petitioners and reasoning that New York's licensing regime violates the right to keep and bear arms

(some citations omitted).

Thus, to whatever extent that international treaties about the right to life and nondiscrimination influence U.S. constitutional interpretation, these treaties militate in favor of the Court ruling against the New York law that fosters racial discrimination and forbids the lawful defense of one's life outside the home.

At the least, the differing implications that may be drawn from the international treaties, and the differing results of the empirical studies cast doubt on the claims of Amnesty International and its allies in the United Nations bureaucracy that international law plainly forbids the United States to allow the use of firearms against violent felony attackers.

NEXT: $400K Libel Judgment in Lawsuit Over Statements During Election Campaign

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  1. " But for a long time AI has involved itself in many other issues, including global gun prohibition. "

    Is "gun prohibition" another way of saying "gun safety" in some circles?

    1. Artie, I have always suspected that, in truth, you are a bloke who enjoys cutting the rug down at a place like the Jug with girls like Linda Lou.

      I did not, however, take you for a fellow with hair colored yellow.

      1. Can’t remember a place called The Jug, but my band performed at an establishment where a patron was murdered with a pool cue. We also played a number of bike rallies (motorcycle and bicycle).

        I still remember the bells sounded by the wire service machine to signal the ‘break wire’ news that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s airplane had crashed. Might have been a three-ringer, or maybe even a fiver. Some of my colleagues were unfamiliar with the band and couldn’t understand why a wire bulletin was warranted, but One More From The Road was one of my favorites at the time and I put the story on the front page.

    2. No, you've got it backward. 'Gun safety' is another way of saying 'gun prohibition.'

  2. "For example, according to the UN's Human Rights Committee, to comply with the ICCPR, ... the government must affirmatively protect people from being murdered by private individuals." And yet the Supreme Court has ruled that the police have no obligation to protect individuals.

    Another point: it appears that p;rivate gun ownership leads to a net saving of lives, per statistics on defensive gun use. Would this not require the government, under the ICCPR, to encourage and facilitate private gun ownership?

  3. “ doing so would violate international law”

    No such thing.

  4. "Indeed, the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was drafted and ratified an intent to counter contemporary norms. "

    "Novus ordo seclorum"; A New Order of the Ages.

  5. The AI amicus brief heavily relies on statements by the U.N.'s infamous Human Rights Council. The brief mistakenly refers to that body as the "Human Rights Committee." To be precise, the predecessor of the U.S. Human Rights Council was the U.S. Committee on Human Rights, which the U.N. abolished in 2006 because its anti-right and anti-Semitic agenda had become intolerable. However, the new Council continues the misconduct of the old Committee.

    Typoes!

    1. Correcting typos is the mark of the Democrat douche bag.

  6. "The texts of these documents protect the right to life"

    So AI supports a ban of abortion?

    1. No. But it does support a ban on spontaneous miscarriages.

  7. It has never been applied as a doctrine of constitutional interpretation. If it were, the First Amendment would be a certain casualty.

    This does not follow. The Charming Betsy canon is only a secondary canon of construction- it doesn't permit a text to be changed. It's a sort of a tiebreaker when equally plausible constructions are available.

    So if there were two reasonable interpretations of the First Amendment in a particular case, you might invoke The Charming Betsy canon to decide which one to choose, but you can't use it to write the First Amendment out of the Constitution.

    1. This would require two interpretations that were essentially balanced in plausibility, so that purported international law would be a die breaker. That's kind of lacking here; There's just the interpretation the 2nd amendment has had since it was ratified, and the historical revisionism of some gun controllers.

  8. In statutory construction, the Charming Betsy canon has been applied by American courts ever since. It has never been applied as a doctrine of constitutional interpretation. If it were, the First Amendment would be a certain casualty.

    Because international law forbids free speech or free speech protections? You may want to check your homework there, professor...

    1. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination..

      Article 4

      States Parties...with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:

      "(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;

      "(b) Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law..."

      https://ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx

      1. "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights...

        "Article 20

        "1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.

        "2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law."

        https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx

        The mainstream media should pay particular attention to the prohibition of war propaganda, since war propaganda seems to make up much of their business model.

        1. Likewise:

          "(1) That article 20 does not authorize or require legislation or other action by the United States that would restrict the right of free speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

      2. You are aware that international law is not some amorphous thing, but something that has effect only if and when a state ratifies a given treaty, and subject to the reservations and declarations made at the time of ratification?

        The Constitution of the United States contains provisions for the protection of individual rights, such as the right of free speech, and nothing in the Convention shall be deemed to require or to authorize legislation or other action by the United States of America incompatible with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America." Upon ratification: "I. The Senate's advice and consent is subject to the following reservations: (1) That the Constitution and laws of the United States contain extensive protections of individual freedom of speech, expression and association. Accordingly, the United States does not accept any obligation under this Convention, in particular under articles 4 and 7, to restrict those rights, through the adoption of legislation or any other measures, to the extent that they are protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

        So congratulations, you've quoted a bit of international law that doesn't apply to the United States anyway.

        1. You asked rhetorically if "international law forbids free speech or free speech protections." I showed some treaties which do precisely that. You weren't just talking about the U. S., by definition.

          So the reservation or declaration by the USA that the First Amendment must be observed was a carve-out from a general anti-free-speech rule. (And that reservation wouldn't apply, let us say, in a country where some American news correspondent made a broadcast advocating war and got arrested for "violating international law.")

          The very fact that the U. S. wanted a special carve-out indicates that the general rule, from which it's a carve-out, is not favorable to the 1st Amendment.

        2. "You are aware that international law is not some amorphous thing, but something that has effect only if and when a state ratifies a given treaty, and subject to the reservations and declarations made at the time of ratification?"

          It makes no difference what *I'm* aware of, but the International Law Commission over at the UN doesn't seem to be aware of it, and they're discussing peremptory norms of customary international law which supersede treaties:

          https://legal.un.org/ilc/guide/1_14.shtml

        3. Amnesty International is also quoting (interpretations of) international law that doesn't apply to the United States.

          And of course the applicable part is "to the extent that they are protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States" I don't know where AI stands on the whole "hate speech isn't free speech" thing but there are certainly interpretations of the first amendment that wouldn't require any reservations under this treaty, and would thus render broader interpretations illegal under this international law

          1. "but there are certainly interpretations of the first amendment that wouldn’t require any reservations under this treaty,"

            There are interpretations of the first amendment that would permit thoroughgoing censorship. They're not honest interpretations, but they exist.

    2. It does not protect free speech nearly as strongly as the 1A, so he's not wrong.

      1. That's not how Charming Betsy works (or law more generally) works.

        1. Which is the whole point he's making. Amnesty International's brief is trying to make a ceiling out of what is actually a floor

          1. "He" being the author the article

    3. Because international law forbids free speech or free speech protections? You may want to check your homework there, professor…

      See Cal's response above...if you can manage to extricate your cranium from your rectum for long enough.

  9. Wow. That response about Sudan is flat out fucking evil.

    1. Evil is right. She would rather have them die [women often being raped first] than fight back at all.

      1. The belief is when two people with guns disagree, it always becomes a gunfight where one or both parties die. They also believe gun control will prevent both parties from having guns, thus preventing either party from dying.

        The reality is gun control generally only prevents one party from having guns, ensuring they are the party that dies in the inevitable gunfight. When both disagreeing parties have guns, they both try to avoid the gunfight due to the likelihood they will be the one that dies.

        Si vis pacem, para bellum.

        1. Right.

          “It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, and those who have not swords can still die upon them .” – Eowyn in LOTR

    2. Indeed. Not only are Amnesty not worth considering for donations, they are worth actively campaigning against until they return to the mission of rights for political prisoners. Katyoka's response is the sort of horrific bs one expects from hardline left-leaning ideologues, and is quite certain does not apply to them and theirs.

  10. "In a dramatic public manifesto, leaders of Amnesty International announced that they would not only refuse to use guns, but would not rely on private armed guards to protect themselves, their families, their organizational headquarters, etc. They specifically renounced the hiring of off-duty cops moonlighting as security guards - 'because that sounds too much like privatization.'

    "'We may be taking a few risks with this courageous announcement,' the manifesto said, 'but in adhering strictly to these principles in letter and in spirit we will avoid complications and send a very clear and consistent message.'"

    1. A most excellent satire.

  11. Don’t Bond v US & Reid v Covert pretty much put paid to AI’s argument?

    1. A "friend" of the court who argues for dispensing with a right enumerated in the Bill of Rights is no friend at all.

      FYI:
      Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1956)
      Bond v. United States, 572 U.S. 844 (2014)

    1. I've always been torn, Veronica is more attractive, but Betty is less of a bitch

      1. haven't read the source materials in scores of years, but that was always the dialectic.

    2. Blondes v. Brunettes. ‘Twas ever thus.

  12. "It is a dangerous proposition to arm the minorities to fight back." Is the first example of actual real racism that I've seen in quite a long time.

    1. Amnesty International is one sleepy cat away from being a bunch of Bond villains.

    2. Get used to it, it's rampant in NGO's and by extension, any of the maternalistic organizations and groups that are so very certain that they know what's best for everyone else. The most bigoted, most racist, most sexist people are almost always those who raise the loudest cries about racism and sexism. And for the last two decades at least, this has been progressives and their ilk.

  13. AI was one of those NGOs in the 80's when I was in college that seemed to have a few issues with the USSR (mostly around limiting
    out immigration to Jewish Russians) and lots of issues with the USA.

    Being against gun ownership seems like a typical far leftie NGO run by woke assholes. Not in the USA wokes..

  14. >> When the victims are unarmed, you do "know what the results will be": the victims will be exterminated. Adding complexity to avoid certain mass murders is a life-saving choice.

    I like debates on policy and law when they can be reduced to Boolean logic.

  15. From the brief:

    "The United States has also accepted the obligation in two binding treaties to prevent discrimination based on race, including discrimination from both public and private sources. This international legal obligation requires the United States to protect all persons within its jurisdiction from threats to life and security of person that have a significantly disparate impact based on race or sex, regardless of whether the disparate impact is intentional."

    If disparate impact is the standard then the hugely disparate numbers of minorities in jail for simple gun possession in localities like NY, NJ, and Maryland should make the case a slam dunk for enforcing the 2nd Amendment in those jurisdictions.

    1. They're Amnesty International, not Logic International.

      1. For decades they've been opposed to amnesties.

  16. More guns = less freedom. All you have to do is look around this planet.

    1. "All you have to do is look around this planet." Indeed, that's all that you did.

      it takes more than that.

    2. I've taken a look around this Wikipedia article:

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estimated_number_of_civilian_guns_per_capita_by_country

      and I don't see an obvious connection. (The fact that by far the biggest, freest country seems to also have by far the most guns seems significant.)

      Would you care to develop argument in more detail?

      1. I should have said, "Less gun rights, more freedom."

        Developed countries that have a lot of guns also have very strict rules as to who can own a gun and under what conditions. When this country resolves its masculinity issues we will be part of the general trend also.

        1. Yeah, we have logical arguments, you have junior high school boy's room level dick jokes.

        2. I see you're still making ignorant assertions based in your biased worldview. There are a strict rules in the US, but this doesn't fit your narrative, it appears.

        3. Oh. You're one of *those* idiots.

          Dismissed.

  17. I used to give regularly to Amnesty in support of their political prisoner activities but stopped when I discovered they were also using my money to campaign against the death penalty. I hunted about for another organisation that just did the political prisoner thing, and found Prisoners of Conscience, so I started donating to them. Unfortunately I then discovered that this was just an Amnesty front / trade name.

    So I stopped.

  18. “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

    ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

  19. " It argues that guns are ineffective for self-defense and rarely used for self-defense." Webster's either an idiot or has an agenda to push. Setting aside that the majority of the Mainstream Media is anti-gun and fails to document many cases of self-defense involving guns, many cases can't be documented. I carry. I've pulled my weapon twice. Both times that was enough to defuse the situation. Another few times, just pulling my jacket aside and showing that I was armed prevented a situation from occurring. The problem is that you can't prove a negative. The times I pulled my weapon, the Police became involved, so somewhere there is probably documentation. The other times the Police were not involved because once I showed that I was armed, nothing happened.

  20. International LAW???...FRENCH KISS my little german helmet! I LIVE in TEXAS all we have is TEXAS LAW. You might should stay OUTA TEXAS...HEH??

  21. I was a card carrying member of Amnesty International when the issue was prisoners of conscience.

    I let my membership lapse the more political AI became.

    Then came AI's stance that deer hunting shotguns were essentially the same as military combat shotguns and scoped bolt action hunting rifles were essentially the same as military sniper rifles, therefore possession should be regulated under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

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