The amendment, like most other provisions in the Constitution, has a history. It was adopted with some modification and enlargement from the English Bill of Rights of 1688, where it stood as a protest against arbitrary action of the overturned dynasty in disarming the people, and as a pledge of the new rulers that this tyrannical action should cease. The right declared was meant to be a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and as a necessary and efficient means of regaining rights when temporarily overturned by usurpation.
Thomas Cooley, Principles of Constitutional Law (1898)
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?
After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria [Government limo] sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked.
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!
–Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The GULAG Archipelago
Or as my Father’s favorite Western, Shane, put it:
“Shane: A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”
Mark Shea has a habit of saying that unless people do x, x always being a policy he endorses, they really are not pro-life. This of course is simply an attempt, at least among pro-lifers, to stop debate on x and says nothing about the merits of x as a policy. His latest attempt to do so is on the issue of smart guns, technology that purports to prevent a firearm from being fired, unless the owner is the one pulling the trigger. Go here to read one of his posts on the subject. Blogger Rebecca Frech, at her blog Shoved to Them, relates an incident to describe why Shea is wrong as a practical matter:
The argument seems to center around smart gun technology. Shea reasons that if gun owners were truly pro-life then we would support all efforts to create guns which would only fire for their owners, and then the world would be a better place. People who don’t support such legislation and research, even if they support the protection of life from conception to natural death, are not truly pro-life because they participate in a culture which accepts the possibility of death by gun shot (Mark and his readers haven’t mentioned how they aim to prevent people from being bludgeoned with a rifle butt or pistol whipped with a handgun).
Interesting election results in Colorado where two Democrat state senators, including the President of the Colorado Senate went down to defeat in recall elections:
Two Colorado Democrats who provided crucial support for a slate of tough new gun-control laws were voted out of office on Tuesday in a recall vote widely seen as a test of popular support for gun restrictions after mass shootings in a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.
The election, which came five months after the United States Senate defeated several gun restrictions, handed another loss to gun-control supporters. It also gave moderate lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.
The recall elections ousted two Democratic state senators, John Morse and Angela Giron, and replaced them with Republicans. Both defeats were painful for Democrats – Mr. Morse’s because he had been Senate president, and Ms. Giron’s because she represented a heavily Democratic, working-class slice of southern Colorado. Continue reading
Sadly all vacations must come to an end, but on the bright side that means I’m back with some linky goodness.
Three thugs murdered a young man simply because they were bored. Naturally this means we need to have another debate about the “gun culture” in this country. No, that’s not the debate we need to be having right now, at least according to the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking of guns, Jim Geraghty quotes from a speech given by Cam Edwards.
If gun control worked, Chicago would be Mayberry right now! And Weld County and El Paso County would be Thunderdome! You guys wouldn’t have [Weld County] Sheriff [John] Cooke, you would have Tina Turner and Mel Gibson running around! It would be horrible! But that’s not real life! Real life is gun control not working in Chicago. Real life is gun control failing in Camden, New Jersey, and Oakland, California, and a lot of other communities in this country . . .
We are pushing back with the lawsuits, with the phone calls to our legislators, by electing officials and supporting elected officials who listen to us. But we’re also pushing back by being grownups, and by being okay at it. By having hundreds of people show up at a range and fire thousands of shotgun shells . . . and everybody’s okay! And now we’re enjoying cigars and drinks and we’ll all get home safely tonight, right?
Because we can control our lives! We can manage our lives! It’s not too difficult. We’re not perfect. We may eat a little too much dessert every now and then. We may not be able to beat that one bad habit, like smoking cigarettes, whatever. But we’re a heck of a lot more capable than our government gives us credit for, aren’t we?
Earlier this year some virulently anti-Jewish and anti-gay literature was spread around Oberlin College. Just another angry, right-wing loon, right? Err, wrong.
One of the two students removed from Oberlin College earlier this year for allegedly circulating virulently racist, anti-Jewish and anti-gay messages around campus is an ardent leftist and committed supporter of President Barack Obama, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Throughout the height of the Church’s crisis, I don’t recall too many Catholics actually defending or supporting the guilty priests. Sadly the same cannot be said for many citizens of Rose City, Michigan, where a former teacher (if only they could be married) named Neal Erickson was sentenced to 15-30 years in jail for first degree criminal sexual conduct. Erickson had had a “relationship” with an 8th grader, and this “relationship” was exposed by an anonymous letter. But Erickson was such a swell guy, you see, and really the 8th grader welcomed the “relationship” so it’s all good.
In May of this year, Circuit Court Judge Michael Baumgartner started receiving letters of support. Not for the victim, but for Erickson. Ten letters, nine of which were written by former or current teachers of the district, were entered into the record. Many talked of Erickson’s dedication to a local 6th grade camp. (Yikes). They all proved two things. You cannot take back the words you write. And these idiots just don’t get it.
His wife, Toni Erickson, wrote that the person that released the photo, “…simply wanted to embarrass the school district, and expose others.” She further proclaims the victim (I will not share his name, though it has been made public) isn’t a victim at all. “X does not perceive himself to be a victim, nor is he living a life that has been negatively impacted by Neal’s actions.” She DOES know who the real victim is in all of this. “Going to prison can’t punish him anymore than he has been already – but there is someone who will be punished if he is sent away – my daughter, Margaret.”
But it gets worse. Sally Campbell, also a teacher, writes in her letter, “Neal made a mistake. He allowed a mutual friendship to develop into much more.” Harriet H. Coe, retired teacher, wanted to remind the judge that “Neal is, was, and always will be a good, kind, responsible, hardworking person.”
Suddenly Detroit doesn’t look like the most messed up town in Michigan.
Miguel Cabrera is the best pure hitter in the game, but there’s no better all-around talent in the game than Trout. And he’s only 21.
Earlier this week Ace had a lot of fun with a new novel titled Christian Nation, written by Frederic C. Rich. Here is a description.
Christian Nation is a work of speculative political fiction, arising from the counterfactual of a McCain/Palin victory in 2008 followed soon after by McCain’s sudden death and Sarah Palin’s ascension to the presidency.
When the book opens, eight years have passed since the Holy War ended in victory for the fundamentalist Christian forces. Americans live in bondage to a comprehensive authoritarian law called The Blessing, enforced by a totally integrated digital world known as the Purity Web. The Narrator, Greg, whose best friend led the opposition to the theocratic movement, is brought to a secret abandoned cabin in upstate New York and told to remember and write.
The Christian right made no secret of its decades-long quest for political power, and did not hide what they would do if they got that power. Greg writes: “They said what they would do, and we did not listen. Then they did what they said they would do.” Struggling with perspective and memory, the memoirist recounts the country’s long slow descent to religious authoritarianism, propelled by economic distress, a second major terrorist attack, and the fanatical ambitions of an extremist evangelical minority.
Anyway, Ace poked a little fun at some of the sparkling dialogue from this true masterpiece. As always, the comments are a must-read as well.
I have had two prior posts on Democrat Colorado legislators, here and here, who apparently would prefer to see women raped then armed. Ace, at Ace of Spades, brings to the fore a third Democrat, Senator Evi Hudak.
You’re a dumb little girl and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Why don’t you stop talking, dumb little girl?
Katie Pavlich previously reported her story. I’m going to quote some of it, but you should probably read it all.
Amanda Collins is a young rape survivor. While in college in 2007, she was raped 50 feet away from the campus police department office at the University of Nevada-Reno and was lucky to get out alive. Her attacker was James Biela, a serial rapist who raped two other women and murdered another. He attacked her at gun point in a gun free zone. At the time of the attack, Collins was in possession of a concealed weapons permit but was not in possession of her firearm due to university policies prohibiting carrying concealed weapons on campus. …
“I was legislated into being a victim,” Collins said.
Well, that’s a hell of a story, and a hell of an inconvenience for the Bullets-Don’t-Work-On-Criminals crowd. Fortunately, Democratic State Senator Evi Hudak was there to propagate this theory:
“Well, I just want to say statistics are not on your side, even if you had had a gun. You said that you were a martial arts student, I mean person, experience in taekwondo, and yet because this individual was so large and was able to overcome you even with your skills, and chances are that if you had had a gun, then he would have been able to get than from you and possibly use it against you,” Hudak said.Collins responded by saying, “Respectfully Senator, you weren’t there…I was there, I know without a doubt in my mind at some point I would have been able to stop my attack by using my firearm. He already had a weapon of his own, he didn’t need mine.”
Ms. Hudak probably doesn’t know what “semi-automatic” means, given that she seems unclear that a gun is a projectile weapon usable at range. She seems to not understand the rapist was interested in a live girl, not a dead body, and that Collins, however, would have been quite interested in a dead rapist. As rape must be conducted at touching distance, but shooting can occur at touching distance to hundreds of yards away, I’m a bit flabbergasted by this notion that a rapist would obviously just take a gun away from a woman.
Is he going to deflect bullets with his Sith hands, too? Continue reading
Pro-abort Senator Diane Feinstein, (D.CA) at her press conference yesterday at which she displayed the guns she wants to ban, had it begin with a prayer by Episcopalian Canon Gary Hall, who runs the laughingly entitled Episcopalian “National Cathedral” in Washington, DC. Canon Hall made news for himself earlier in the week by announcing that same-sex “marriages” would be performed at the “National Cathedral”. I found it intriguing that a representative of a dying church would be tagged to baptize Feinstein’s gun grabbing efforts.
The Episcopal Church is clearly rotting away.
Self-reported statistics provided by the denomination this month show that the church has dropped from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,951,907 in 2010, the most recent reporting year. The loss of 54,436 members increases the annual rate of decline from 2 percent to 3 percent, outpacing the most recently reported declines in most other mainline churches. The church’s 10-year change in active members has dropped 16 percent.
A branch of the otherwise fast-growing 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, the third largest family of Christian churches globally, the Episcopal Church had also seen a steady decrease in the number of parishes, losing or closing over 100 in 2010, as well as a drop in attendance from 682,963 in 2009 to 657,831 in 2010, a 4 percent drop. Fifty-four percent of all U.S. Episcopal Churches suffered attendance loss over the prior year. Over the last decade, attendance was down 23 percent.
The denomination, which once claimed over 3.5 million members as recently as the mid-1960s, has lost over 40 percent of membership even while the U.S. population grew by over 50 percent.
Why this is occurring is easy to determine by reading an article on Canon Gary Hall at The American Spectator.
Unlike some of his predecessors, Hall is not content to host conversational forums with authors and poets or preside over high-profile funerals like those of Gerald Ford and Neil Armstrong. From calling in December for new firearms restrictions, to announcing last week that the massive gothic church is available for gay weddings, Hall embraces liberal causes as easily as he dismisses traditional Christianity.
Previous generations of liberal Episcopal clergy often spoke in layers of obfuscation; discovering the heretical teaching buried in their writing and preaching required hours of decoding. Hall represents a younger generation of liberal Episcopalians who resemble nothing so much as Unitarian Universalists decked out in stoles and surplices; they are quick to denounce those who advocate historic Christian teaching—especially moral teaching—as intolerant perpetrators of injustice who must be silenced.
In an October interview with the Detroit Free PressHall announced that he is, “not about trying to convert someone to Christianity. I don’t feel I’m supposed to convert Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or Native Americans to Christianity so that they can be saved. That’s not an issue for me.”
Hall was also forthcoming about the fact that he finds common cause with those who do not profess a faith in Jesus Christ.
“I have much more in common with progressive Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists than I do with certain people in my own tradition, with fundamentalist Christians,” Hall declared. “The part of Christianity I stand with is the part in which we can live with ambiguity and with pluralism.” Continue reading
New York’s Trespass Act of 1783 offered relief for Patriots who had fled New York City during the time of the Revolutionary “by permitting them to recover damages from persons who had occupied or used their premises during the war.” Common law had typically required “that actions for trespass must be tried where the property was located, but the act allowed Patriots to sue in any court where the defendant could be found.” It also denied the laws of war by prohibiting the accused of arguing that they had been acting “under orders of the occupying British army, and the act also prohibited the defendants from appealing to a higher court.” (Citations from Forrest McDonald, Novus Ordo Seclorum.)
The New York Trespass Act was but one of many factors that led to the creation of the written United States Constitution. Under the Articles of Confederation government, the states had almost unlimited authority to pass any laws they pleased. The only check on the state governments were the citizens of the several states. Unfortunately, the people themselves were often the impetus behind the enactment of unjust laws.
My friend Jay Anderson linked to this excellent piece from a Fox affiliate in Cincinnati addressing crime statistics in Great Britain and the United States.
As Jay remarked, it’s sad that it takes a small affiliate news station to do the sort of fact checking that major news networks are incapable of, 0r, more likely, unwilling to do.
As for Piers Morgan, watch what happens when he is forced to interview someone actually tethered to reality.
I think “your little book” is going to be an instant classic.
In light of the horrific massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, it is disappointing but not altogether surprising that the calls to just do something to stop the violence rang out before the middle of the day. I’ll address the disgusting behavior of the mass media in a later post, but wanted to focus this post on the reactions and what they might say about our overall attitudes about life and society.
Gun control activists, grieving with obvious sympathy and empathy for the victims, and of course concerned primarily about the human toil of this tragedy, took to twitter and other outlets to immediately call for stricter gun laws. Ignoring that Connecticut is hardly a modern incarnation of the wild west, they seemed to imply that if we only tightened regulations and banned guns with menacing-sounding names, then we could ensure that no more mass murders of this kind would ever occur again, so long as we all shall live.
There are many legal, constitutional, and logical arguments to be made against further restrictions on gun ownership, and Jeff Goldstein makes just about all of them here. To me the strongest arguments against the gun control crowd are the practical ones. An obviously troubled young man murders his mother, then walks to her school and guns down children and the thing we’re discussing afterwards are guns? Aside from the fact that even worse crimes have been perpetrated without a single firearm being deployed, we’re missing the big picture when we’re debating the mechanism for carrying out a massacre and not the underlying cause or causes.
Another recurring theme is that this incident is further proof that there is no God. Deroy Murdock expressed this sentiment in the conservative on-line journal of opinion, National Review online.
Just in time for Christmas, a reputedly almighty God must have been on break Friday morning when Adam Lanza massacred 20 Connecticut school kids. These six- and seven-year-olds were far too young to choose wrongly between good and evil — that choice being the way that believers typically explain how a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnibeneficent God allows such atrocities. Atop the ongoing mayhem of Hurricane Sandy, the carnage in Syria, and the burgeoning power of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, it should be clearer than ever that no one up there watches over us Earthlings. We are on our own.
Of course we’ve all heard this before and have addressed this in myriad ways.
What hadn’t occurred to me is there is a certain commonality between those who use tragedies like this to further the fight for control and others who use it to push an atheistic agenda. Granted there is overlap between the categories, but for now we’ll treat these as separate attitudes. Continue reading
A number of opinion writers have taken the occasion of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado to express disgust with the fact that the American public shows little inclination towards increased gun control. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they “feel that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict” dropped from 78% to 44% during the period from 1990 to 2010.
Some of the more hyperbolic has claimed this is because the US is seized by a “death cult” or that it “worships violence”, but I think the actual reason is quite rational.
If we look at the percentage of people supporting stricter gun control in relation to the percentage of people who say they own guns (also from Gallup) and the US homicide rate, we see that the homicide rate dropped by 49% from 1990 to 2010 while gun ownership rates have remained fairly flat.
Since people readily perceive that gun ownership remains common, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly since the height of the ’80s and ’90s crime wave, people seem to implicitly believe that restricting gun ownership is not necessary in order to deal with crime.
We can get a somewhat longer term view of this if we look at an older Gallup question which is available in the same study, the percentage of Americans who say they support a ban on civilian handgun ownership. The question has been asked somewhat sporadically by Gallup, so we have only a few data points from the 50s, 60s and 70s, but the pattern is still very interesting.
Gallup first asked the question in 1959 when the murder rate had just gone up from 4.1 in 1955 to 4.9 in 1959. Support for a ban was quite high as 60%. Support for a ban dropped rapidly while crime increased. In 1979 31% of Americans supported banning handguns and the murder rate was 9.8. Support for a handgun ban then rebounded, reaching a recent high of 43% of American in 1991, which was also one of the worst years for violent crime with a murder rate of 9.8. However, violent crime then fell sharply and has continued a gradual decline, and support for banning hand guns has declined along with it with only 29% of Americans supporting such a ban in 2010.
This suggests to me that Americans actually have a pretty reasonable approach to the question. Despite the occasional headline grabbing catastrophe, the current murder rate is down at the same level as the 1950s, despite the availability of Glock handguns and “assault rifles”.
In the wake of the Tuscon shooting, there have been renewed call for gun control. This is hardly surprising, and while from my own point of view it seems like an attempt to make political hay out of widespread shock and fear, and I can certainly understand that for those who believe that our current gun laws make violence more common, this sort of event would seem to confirm their thesis. What is not, however, reasonable from those who believe that gun control would be a good thing for our country, is the odd fixation of the anti-gun lobby on the Glock brand.
|The Glock 19|
One common question from gun control advocates in the wake of the shooting was, “Why would any reasonable person think that civilians should need or want to own Glocks?” New York Times columnist Gail Collins summed up this line of thinking well in a column entitled “A Right to Bear Glocks?” Collins writes:
Today, the amazing thing about the reaction to the Giffords shooting is that virtually all the discussion about how to prevent a recurrence has been focusing on improving the tone of our political discourse. That would certainly be great. But you do not hear much about the fact that Jared Loughner came to Giffords’s sweet gathering with a semiautomatic weapon that he was able to buy legally because the law restricting their sale expired in 2004 and Congress did not have the guts to face up to the National Rifle Association and extend it.
I was struck by a passage out of this recent National Review piece by Keven D. Williamson in reference to gun control:
People have a visceral reaction to guns, which is why the reactions to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago have been so emotional. One extraordinarily telling reaction came from David Ignatius of the Washington Post, whose response was headlined: “The Supreme Court Gun Decision Moves Us Toward Anarchy.” Mr. Ignatius wrote: “My biggest worry with Monday’s Supreme Court decision is that by ruling, in effect, that every American can apply for a gun license, the justices will make gun ownership much more pervasive in a society that already has too many guns. After all, if I know that my neighbor is armed and preparing for Armageddon situations where law and order break down (as so many are — just read the right-wing blogs) then I have to think about protecting my family, too. That’s the state-of-nature, everyone for himself logic that prevails in places such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Mr. Ignatius here is remarkably forthcoming: Continue reading
[Updates at the bottom of this article]
Though long (my solution was to download the MP3 and listen to it in the background throughout the day) this BloggingHeads discussion between Megan McArdle of the The Atlantic (libertarian) and author Michelle Goldberg (left-ish) about protesters carrying guns at townhall meetings was very interesting. Michelle takes the position (which I imagine we’ve all heard somewhere) that these open carry protesters are trying to exert political intimidation through threat of violence and are indeed likely to commit violence. Megan explains why she thinks it much more likely that they’re simply gun nuts trying to make a point about 2nd Amendment rights. (In a way, incidentally, which neither McArdle nor I support, but still almost certainly not in fact a violent threat to the nation with whose brush the entire right side of the political spectrum can be tarred by association.)
In my mis-spent youth, I used to listen to NPR’s Morning Edition every morning while doing my math (yes, that’s the kind of thing we wacky homeschoolers get away with). One morning (this was probably around ’93) they were covering a “guns for toys” program, where people were being encouraged to bring real or toy guns down to their local police station and pick up stuffed animals in exchange.
How warm and fuzzy can you get? (And seriously, how many hardened criminals did the people staging this imagine would repent and come get a teddy in return for their gat?) They interviewed a few kids who dutifully said that they knew it was better to play with animals than with their toy guys they’d turned in. Then they interviewed an eighty-year-old woman who’d just turned in the police revolver that her grandfather used to carry in the 1870s and 1880s. “I’ve never shot it,” she said. “But I’d kept it all these years as a piece of family history. But you know, things aren’t the same anymore. I heard about this exchange and I thought: It’s not the wild west anymore. I’d better go turn this in to the police where it belongs. I think we’d all be a lot safer without so many guns around.”
Maybe in some abstract sense we would — but I’m not sure we got any safer when that old lady turned in her piece of family history.
However as I was thinking the other day about the enthusiasm for gun control (or just outright banning guns) on the left, this clicked into place as half of the puzzle. Here’s the other half:
Politicians are already considering how to tighten gun control laws as people respond with shock and horror to a school shooting spree which took the lives of 15 victims and the 18-year-old shooter in a small town today in Germany. The problem is, Germany already has some of the tightest gun laws in Europe, a continent of tight gun laws.
In 2002, in the wake of a school shooting which killed 17 plus the shooter, Germany went so far as to require a permit for airsoft guns and starter pistols. Under current German laws, someone must have a gun license for each gun he purchases, and licenses expire and must be renewed at least every three years. To get a license, you must a 18 for an airgun or .22, and 21 for larger calibers. Applicants are subjected to a criminal and psychological background check and must demonstrate ability and safety knowledge.
Ryan Harkins took an initial look at how Catholics should look at the question of whether there is a natural right to own guns in a post last week. The basic thrust of Ryan’s argument, and I ask him to correct me if I misstate this, was to examine the question of whether the benefits of private gun ownership outweighed the potential social evils. This is, in a sense, an obvious way to look at the question. If one is trying to determine the rightness of allowing people to own something potentially destructive, it would seem natural to take a “do the benefits outweigh the dangers?” approach.
I’d like to take a slightly different approach, looking at both the actual text of the second amendment and Catholic Social Teaching. The second amendment reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The libertarian approach to this is to assert that an armed citizenry is required in order to provide a counter-weight to the power of the government. However, I’m not convinced that the thinking behind the second amendment was a merely a balancing of powers in this sense. Rather, it seems to me that to a great extent the US Constitution is written with the point of view that people possess certain natural rights and duties, and that from these spring rights and duties of the government. My understanding is that one of the major controversies in regards to the second amendment (one spoken to fairly definitely in last June’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision) has been whether it secures a right of state militias to have weapons, or a right of individuals to have weapons. While in effect my opinion on the matter lies closer to the individual right side, it seems to me that there is an important distinction which has been increasingly lost in our modern mass society: