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Guns and the Supreme Court

A chrome plated revolver rests on top of a glass display case at a store selling guns in New York. (AP)

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The conservative Supreme Court created by George W. Bush is not like any this country has had in a long time.

Yesterday, the high court looked set to prove that again, this time on gun rights. A five-justice majority appears ready to strike down Chicago’s ban on handguns — the same majority that asserted the individual’s right to bear arms over District of Columbia law two years ago.

And what about state’s rights, the usual darling of conservative jurisprudence? Not when it comes to guns.

This hour, On Point: gun rights, gun control, and the arguments before the Supreme Court.

Guests:

Joining us from Washington is Jan Crawford, chief legal correspondent for CBS News and author of “Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for the United States Supreme Court.”

Joining us from Providence, R.I., is Carl Bogus, professor of law at Roger Williams University and an expert on the Second Amendment and gun-control policy. He edited “The Second Amendment in Law and History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms.”

And from Fairfax Station, Va., is Nelson Lund, professor of constitutional law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and served as associate counsel for President George H.W. Bush from 1989-1992.

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  • Brett

    Should be an interesting show. This sounds like a good case of states’ rights vs. Federal law.

  • L.J.S.

    Tom, I’m hoping you will talk about how the hodgepodge of state laws can make inadvertent felons of otherwise law-abiding gun owners. Firearms permits are state-by-state. Only a few states recognize permits from their neighbors. This means that, for example, a Mass gun owner who lives in Taunton, gets lost, and finds herself on the Rhode Island side of the border has committed a felony.
    We’ve got several pending cases in the Massachusetts appellate courts dealing with our safe storage law and again, otherwise law-abiding folks, who are convicted of felonies because the way they stored their firearms wasn’t deemed in compliance with a vaguely-worded statute. I’ve caused long discussions in talks for groups of Mass lawyers debating how a Mass gun owner with a Class B License to Carry can legally transport a firearm from the site of the talk, across a public parking lot, by car to her home, with a stop enroute at a post office and how that might differ with a Class A License to Carry, or a Class A, restricted to Target and Hunting.
    I am hoping that the Supreme Court firmly states that the Second Amendment applies to the States and that gun laws must pass strict scrutiny.

  • cory

    The next time you are at the grocery store, or better yet Wal-mart, look around at the people you see and ask yourself how many of them would you want to be “packing heat”?

    No law code is meant to last hundreds of years without modification. I would include our constitution in this. There were no semi or fully automatic weapons at the time of our forefathers. Maybe we should be REALLY strict constructionists and allow all citizens to own flintlocks and muskets.

    I just don’t think most Americans are qualified to have the power of life or death tucked into the wasteband of their dungarees.

  • Brett

    This should be an interesting show. It seems to be a case of states’ rights vs. Federal law. Usually, conservatives, if they like a Federal law, want it to be enforced; if they don’t, they want the states’ to take precedence.

  • L.J.S.

    Cori — in Mass, not very many. Concealed carry permits (a Class A License to Carry) are expensive, require a criminal background check, a state-mandated safety class, and are only issued to folks who are deemed “suitable persons”.

    But the bigger question is your view of your fellow citizens. I’m an optimist — I think most of my fellow citizens are basically honest, intelligent folks who I trust as voters, jurors, parents, and with other very important things. And so, I trust them in the abstract to make their own decisions about whether to own or carry a firearm and to take appropriate training beyond the state minimums if they need it. I trust them to make their own decisions about their personal risk.

    A problem may be that shos like this often do not go beyond the stereotyped gun owner to folks like Pink Pistols (a gay/lesbian/bi/trans gun owners group), Second Amendment Sisters (a women’s gun owner group), or self-defense trainers who work with domestic violence victims, stalking victims, victims of rape, or others who have very serious self-defense needs for which a firearm is an appropriate option.

  • Michael

    I see no problem in people having guns in there home if they wish to, but walking around with concealed ones seems to me the issue, having one in a bar is even more so troubling since drinking is involved,even in collage i would be much more fearful if people were walking around with loaded weapons.

    But whats funny is local and states rights vs Fed and whose side the NPR is on this time.

  • Brett

    cory,
    I heard part of “Talk of the Nation” yesterday, and it had a pro-gun-owner rights slant to it

  • Brett

    “A problem may be that shos like this often do not go beyond the stereotyped gun owner to folks like Pink Pistols (a gay/lesbian/bi/trans gun owners group), Second Amendment Sisters (a women’s gun owner group), or self-defense trainers who work with domestic violence victims, stalking victims, victims of rape, or others who have very serious self-defense needs for which a firearm is an appropriate option.” -L.J.S.

    This is failed logic to suggest that people who want strict gun laws would feel differently if they just saw gun owners in a different light, or that some gun owners have more of a need for safety, therefore better justification to have their guns with them, loaded and concealed.

  • Gerry

    As I understand it, the question is – does the Constitution gurantee the right of an individual to bear arms. Since the Supreme Court has already affirmatively ruled on this – I don’t expect any different opinion in this case – in other words, since the Constitution guarntees this right – states can not overide it – However, they can place some limited restrictions. Of course, these situations will also likely get up to the Supreme Court for their approval or disapproval.

  • Alex

    I would permit guns as long as they are utilized by members of well regulated militia formed for the protection of the security of the state. Anyone who does not belong to such militia and does not act for the security of the state has no right to bear arms.

    Well, that excludes recreational or professional hunting, of course, but that’s about it.

  • Janet

    I feel sorry for the guy that brought this case. The local gov. won’t take the steps necessary to eliminate the criminals in his area and won’t let him protect himself either.

  • pw

    I’m not sure we’re all that smart. Any nation in which rape, stalking and other threatening behavior are so common that people really “must” be allowed to carry a deadly weapon is a nation on a downslide. I’m into trouble avoidance: contraception as preferable to abortion; education as a way to empower people, not guns; control over our own lives rather than granting corporations that control.

    Maybe NPR could be on the side of real freedom by presenting the choices clearly, even starkly.

  • Liz

    I have to agree, Cory. It may not be ¨PC¨ to say this (and it might be unconstitutional) but a lot of people just aren´t responsible-gun-owner material. Thankfully, most of them don´t have guns.
    Lawmakers know that laws which purportedly deter criminals will also tend to deter the uneducated masses. That may, in fact, be their intended effect.
    Gun possession laws are also viewed by law enforcement as a useful ¨tool¨. The more charges against a suspect, the more likely he/she will enter a plea bargain. If no other crime can be proven, police can fall back on gun-related charges.

    I am glad the Supreme Court is there to uphold principle against those who would choose expedience. But, it´s also clear that we are not the same country we were in 1776. The average person who bore arms during the Revolution was crucial to our achieving independence. I believe the Framers wanted us to remain vigilant, and guns were a symbol of that vigilance. 18th-century firearms were not very effective weapons — they were more of a warning. Only when massed into groups could they be used to wage war. Nor could they be hidden.
    The chance of a criminal attack is real, but so is the chance of an accident. Unfortunately thereś no way to protect yourself from some yahoo-with-a-gun, 100 or 200 feet away.
    I would support mandatory safety/self-defense training (like I took) for every new owner.

  • Yar

    Define weapon? If I want to install a anti-aircraft weapon on my front porch, should that be allowed? On a radically different angle, encryption technology is controlled as a munition. Should the law protect me if I decide to have my conversations encrypted? Should cell phones be encrypted to protect privacy. The federal government wants to keep the key to listen in.
    Where do you stop when granting individual rights? The second amendment is to allow citizens to protect themselves from tyranny of the government. What type of weapon is needed to protect citizens from their government?

  • Ali

    One would wish that these supreme-court hearings would take place while temporarily people could bring guns to the court.

  • Jeff

    Laws like this Chicago statute are ridiculous- all they do is keep law-abiding Americans from owning and carrying firearms. This has no bearing on those criminals who would carry a gun- no law will keep them from doing so.

    And Corri- if you don’t want Americans to carry weapons (no matter what kind- knives, clubs or AK-47′s), the founding fathers gave us the perfect way to relieve us of the right to do so- amending the Constitution.

  • Brian

    What was that line the right is always whining about – activist judges – yeah that is it. I guess they can’t use that line anymore or state’s right for that matter.

    Oh yeah another myth debunked, guns do kill people. Kills them dead right quickly.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The amendment Ashbrook read — the right to bear arms is based on the need for a “well-regulated militia” — aren’t they discussing how a “well-regulated militia” takes place?

  • Gordy Silver

    States rights ? Are you saying we should still have slavery. We do need reasonable gun laws, but to stop people from owning guns is against our rights given to us by the Constitution. We do need reasonable laws to protect us from unreasonable people “ The road to destruction is paved with good intentions”

    Gordy

  • ErikW65

    Otis McDonald (and every American) must have the right to defend himself, especially in his own home.

    Reasonable restrictions yes, but once people have been effectively *prohibited* from owning firearms, then the government has gone too far, obviously.

    The possibility that a homeowner may be armed deters crime. Conversely, the common knowledge that homeowners can’t be armed practically provokes crime.

  • larry kaiser

    If gun control works as the speaker said, why do the jurisdictions with the strongest gun control laws have the most gun crime? The five states which get the poorest grades on gun control from the Brady organization have the least gun crime and the 5 states which have the strongest gun control have the most gun crime.

  • Alex

    “Are you saying we should still have slavery.”

    Slavery was outlawed by a constitutional amendment. It took a war to jam it through, but nevertheless.

    On the other hand, the text of the Second Amendment is so pliable you can bend it anyway you want it. If you choose to ignore the “Well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free State…” then I guess anything goes. But if you are strict constructionist and don’t like to throw words out of the text then the right to bear arms is not so broad as some would like us to believe.

  • Vince

    I believe the speaker is incorrect. One of the greatest sources of weapons is the homes of those who “supposedly” are not prone to violence, ie: stolen. Saying only a small portion of the population is prone to this violence has been shown lately as racist, AND, incorrect. We’ve had a large number of shooters lately who would NOT have been able to use guns to act out their anger. No training or levels of “responsibility” ensure someone will not pick up a weapon and decide to kill people. Handguns should be banned, and the NRA exposed for protecting the gun industry.

  • Tom Dempsey

    I am pretty sure our founding fathers were were referencing something more like our National Guard when they wrote a of “militia”. We have that already. Regulating handguns has nothing to do with this discussion.

  • Jeff

    Actually, Vince, a much larger source of arms carried by criminals is straw purchasing- having someone with a clean background purchase the gun, for a fee.

  • Steve T

    Guns don’t kill people! People kill people. imagine yourself or a loved one in danger of life from another, if you have gun, you have a decision to make. If you don’t will you die wishing you did?

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    “Only in America”

  • Jeff

    One more thing, Vince-

    If someone is so driven to kill, they will get a firearm by whatever means necessary. Again, these restrictions only affect law-abiding Americans by depriving them of their right to defend themselves. Many of the mass-killings that you refer to may have been cut short, if even one person had been carrying a gun.

  • Lee

    I think people should have a right to own a gun IN THEIR OWN HOME. I do not believe anyone has the right to carry a gun in public, concealed or otherwise. If you are in a public space, you should call the police, who are allowed to carry guns in the public sphere.

    Individuals have a choice as to whether they wish to go out in public, at what time of date etc… If you don’t feel safe, you should take it up with your elected represenative, which you can do from your home, with your gun in one hand and your pen in the other.

    You CANNOT have people carrying guns into markets and workplaces with guns, who are using their own judgement as to who poses a threat. They are, in essence, acting as judge, jury and executioner. We have the right to due process as well as the right to bear arms.

    Marriage contrats should address this issue amongst spouses and children, since I suspect this how most guns are threatened to be used- which we have no way of tracking since there may be no physical injury, only emotional.

  • ErikW65

    Ironically, it’s Alex who’s bending the 2nd Amendment (to include hunters for instance who aren’t mentioned…) and ignoring the phrase “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

  • Jeff

    Lee-

    Again, restricting people to only have a firearm at home is just preposterous. Will the criminals leave their illegal guns at home? I think not. What happens during the few (or more) minutes it takes for the police to arrive during a life-threatening situation? The police are here to enforce laws, not to protect you at all times.

  • fredericc

    Here’s an idea:

    Go all out pro second amendment and reduce the dangers of (hand)gun crime by making poverty unconstitutional.

  • BHA

    - I have no problem with owning guns.
    - I have no problem with people using guns for target shooting and hunting.

    I do have a problem with people thinking they have the right to own any gun and carry any gun anywhere at any time.

    How about we strictly follow the 2nd amendment in 1 of 2 ways for the purpose of personal ownership.

    1) Allow only the type of guns that were available at the time the BOR was written.
    2) Allow only single shot weapons.

    I have a SERIOUS problem with people carrying semi-automatic weapons in public, owning assault rifles or automatic weapons.

  • ssprince

    “well regulated militia” – what happened to that phrase’s connection to the issue?
    I don’t have time at work to read all, and only got to hear the first half; Alex’ comment gets at it, but it’s surprisingly little mentioned

  • Alex

    Ironically, it’s Alex who’s bending the 2nd Amendment (to include hunters for instance who aren’t mentioned…) and ignoring the phrase “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    I don’t think I am ignoring anything. I agree that the right of People to bear arms shall not be abridged. As long as we don’t forget the other language: (1) a well regulated militia and (2) for the security of the state. I am all for the right to bear arms by members of the National Guard.

    Beyond that, states may abridge or not abridge the right to bear arms all they want. They may permit or prohibit AK-47 or hunting or sports or whatever. Just don’t be telling me that states MUST allow guns under the Constitution. It’s just not true.

  • BHA

    WHAT THE HELL KIND OF ARGUMENT IS “we have better medical technology now”????

  • Jeff

    “I have a SERIOUS problem with people carrying semi-automatic weapons in public, owning assault rifles or automatic weapons.”

    BHA-

    Then get in touch with your elected officials and tell them that you would like the Constitution to be amended to outlaw such weapons.

  • Denise

    I would like to know from where your guest professor from Roger Williams get his data from: all the recent shootings in universities in the USA were perpetrated with machine guns; so clearly the most effective laws are not the ones restricting small hand guns, as he said. Legislation restricting all SALW would save lives.

    The premise of the case now in the Court is that guns protect people, that they are an effective self-defense tool
    However they are not. There is authoritative research that proves that guns are actually detrimental to security.
    When will American legislators and judges realize that the USA is the world’s arms bazaar and move to restrict civilian gun possession?

    How many more shootings in universities and public places will we need? In other nations of the world, these kinds of incidents made legislators to move to more sensitive legislation, except here in our country.
    What is at stake here is not municipal or federal rights, it is the quest for saving lives.
    Thank you TOM. I love your show.

  • John

    Do we have the right to grenades as they had them at the time of Constitution’s writing? What a stupid argument!

  • Rich Ryan

    Have enjoyed the program on gun control and am sure the courts will overturn the ruling. When the rule was written there was no police, no military and people during this time needed their guns for hunting to provide food for the family, it was not totally intended to protect oneself from people. They need to consider the times the provision was written and do not feel the time then applies to the time now – we now have the police and military.

    Do I feel safer now with people carrying a weapeon – no they are untrained and if they were faced with a criminal with a gun all we would have is a bunch of bullets flying around and more people are either killed and injured.

    Rich

  • pw

    Lund — is that his name? — is completely nuts? sociopathic? Or maybe I didn’t understand his point?

  • joe

    I agree with Patrick, thus the word “militia” since a collective militia would be able to discharge many rounds and defend themselves against an unjust government. Forefathers didn’t intend for one person to have the ability to go crazy with firearms against their govt bec they wouldn’t win.

    Also, if I exercise my free speech right can you guarantee that someone won’t threaten me by sticking their gun in my face. Which right trumps the other?

  • Jonathan Huckabay

    Four reasons that guns are owned

    1. Hunting
    Putting food on the table in stark economic times

    2. Competition Shooting
    Professionals winning money and fame for America

    3. Plinking/target shooting
    the epitome of gun ownership > FUN

    4. Defense of home and person
    To defend life, liberty, property from criminals who abuse their rights in the persuit to harm law abiding citizens.

    CCW: the elite gun owners of America, the distinct minority of Citizens with the lowest criminal activity in America. They go through classes, FBI background checks, finger printing, have to have the blessing of the local sheriff’s department and then qualify with their gun. Then most go on to further classes on self defense with concealed firearms. Law abiding citizens carrying guns that no one will see except for the criminal who threatens their life.

    Assualt rifles are guns that can fire full automatic, not semi-automatic like a majority of hunting rifles and shotguns!

    Guns in state parks are not for two legged creatures, yet for protection from four legged creatures.

    Actually artillary, tanks and cannons ARE legal to own … its just that those who legally own them don’t abuse their right to own them!

    Any restrictions on law abiding gun owners is too many

  • Greg

    I’m inclined to like this Supreme Court, which has done more for the Constitution in the last 2 years than I can remember the executive or legislative branches ever doing.

    We just had the Citizens United case come down, which I feel does two things. It shuts up the talk in some political circles that we need to curtail or license freedom of speech. And it’s going to accelerate the corruption of our system unless the politicians get off their butts and do something about it. (That is, take money out of the system.)

    If the expected ruling comes down in McDonald v. Chicago it will be a nice rebuff for the gun grabbers and all of these out of touch people who think we don’t need a Second Amendment. Let’s not forget that tyranny is nothing new; in fact it’s the trajectory of power. The Founders knew it, lived it, wrote about it at length, and that is why they enshrined this inalienable right into the Constitution.

  • BHA

    Jeff – the 2nd amendment to the Constitution does not specify the type of weapon. Any state or city should be able to ban any number of gun types and still be in compliance with the most broad reading of the second amendment without any change to the Constitution.

  • John

    Just yesterday, an elderly man opened fire on the medical staff at Danbury (CT) Hospital. Question: How will the ederly be regarded in these gun laws when it seems the DMV has more control over restricting his driving rights then his ability to own (legally) a gun.

    Thank you

  • Jeff

    Denise-

    What mass shooting involved a machine gun? Perhaps you should get your facts straight before you say something like that. And again, who is to say that these shootings would have been as bad (or even occurred) if any of the people present had been armed.

    One more time- criminals don’t care about gun laws! Someone intent on killing isn’t going to be dissuaded from doing so because they aren’t legally allowed to carry a handgun. Gun laws like those being discussed serve only to disarm the law-abiding portion of the population.

  • TJ

    I think it is valid to say someone who is planning on using a gun will bring it to a situation regardless of the law. However, making gun carrying legal in any situation allows easy access in a situation where a confrontation is unexpected.

  • Jeff

    BHA-

    Since no types of weapons are mentioned, then we are free to carry any weapons. Weapons that are too large to be “borne” such as artillery are obviously out, but to ban any other type of weapon then the Constitution must be amended.

  • Stone Grissom

    I heard one of your experts mention that gun laws don’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals only law abiding citizens. If that is so, why have ANY laws if they are all ineffective in stopping those who would break the law?

  • Joan Williamson

    Please be informed. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban sunsetted in 2004. It is no longer the law of the land. Jan Crawford and your panel should have known that.

  • Christian Cho

    The very idea that the right to bear arms is being interpreted as a right for individuals to literally posses a firearm on their persons is laughable. The right to bear arms is the right to fight as a soldier in the military. The spirit of this right comes from the American Revolution and organizing a trained group of fighters.

    Not only that, allowing people to own guns legally can and does lead to increased access to firearms in the illicit market. Why is it that we want to own firearms to begin with? We live in a culture of violence and it doesn’t help that our government is sending the message that violence is a way to solve problems.

  • Paul K.

    Even if we assume that the Constitution allows individuals unrestricted access to all manner of firearms (although it actually just says “arms;” what about other types of weapons?), no one has a Constitutional right to ammo. Let’s ban all ammo sales.

  • Alex

    The ‘blood in the streets’ Carl keeps talking about has just not materialized. We’ve had increasingly light gun control in most parts of the country for the past 10 years, and violent crime has fallen.

    I’m disappointing On Point has let his points go completely unchallenged to the point where the CBS reporter even is taken aback.

  • until it happens to you

    Did Brady support hand gun control before being shot? Did Nancy Reagan support stem cell research before Ronnie? Would a supreme court justice support this if they had a spouse or family member lost to a “hand gun” tragedy?

    (I also loved your comment about potentially banning hand guns in a federal court building, but let us go to work with the ever growing immature and raging public.)

  • Jeff

    Stone-

    Laws serve to punish criminal behavior, not necessarily prevent it. It is then up to a would-be criminal to decide if the possible punishment for a crime would be a deterrence.

  • Kim Runyon

    There are cities in this country that have banned dogs, for heavens sake. Do you really think that guns are safer than dogs? How many have died of a dog bite. And there is also a big reason to worry about guns in the home. What about Columbine and this mother of three, professor who shot her colleagues. I doubt she would have succeeded with a shotgun.

  • Tyler

    Is there any data that shows the percentage of firearms used in violent acts/ crmes which are stolen? It seems to me that, if guns were band, there would be a lower total number of guns in circulation and therefore fewer guns to be used for violent acts.

  • Jed Kiernan

    A few points:

    When you can stop criminals from obtaining illegal drugs, then you can try to tell me you will be able to stop criminals from having guns.

    Cars are responsible for many more deaths than guns. Should we ban cars?

  • ErikW65

    Wake up, Alex. The SCOTUS decided that DC could not prohibit individual gun ownership. It’s TRUE.

    If the Founders wanted to restrict gun ownership to state-regulated militia members, they would have used language that was restrictive, using the word “only” prepositionally for instance. But they didn’t, and gave the inviolable rights of gun ownership to “the People.”

    Infringe: verb. To break or violate a treaty, a law, a right etc.

  • peter nelson

    The big problem in the whole debate is that the original wording is so ambiguous. The “well-regulated militia” clause is critical, and yet it’s often ignored. What exactly did the founding fathers intend by adding it?

    If they intended that this was so the population could easily be formed into an army, then this would argue that not only did they expect people to have weapons in the house, but military weapons – which today would be assault rifles, machine guns, mortars and grenade launchers, etc. On the other hand “well regulated” implies that said armed population should drill and practice together regularly. (one of my several arcane hobbies is collecting diaries and letters from the 19th century, and such local militias were common, especially in the first half of the 19th century.

    In the 1780′s there was little distinction between a hunting rifle and a military one. (infact smoothbores were more common than rifles at that time).

    But the the bottom line is that we can’t possibly have a meaningful discussion of the 2nd Amendment without tackling the “well-regulated militia” clause.

  • Jon Allen

    In 1997, a British run study collected over 88,000 reports of firearm deaths worldwide. The results of this study showed that the US had more than 14 per 100,000 that year, 8 times the rate of other highly developed nations. About half of these deaths were suicides, but in other countries, suicides were over 70% of all firearm deaths.
    While it is true that motor vehicles cause over 40,000 deaths per year in the US, which is a lot more than firearms, most people need to drive to work, while most do not need to own or carry a firearm, and it does not make them safer statistically to do so.

  • Paul K.

    Jed, the problem with comparing cars to guns is that cars serve a non-violent purpose. Guns exist solely to kill.

    ErikW65, as a caller stated, the world has changed a little since the Constitution was written. It makes no sense to pretend things are the same. Adapt or die, in this case literally.

  • Alex

    “If the Founders wanted to restrict gun ownership to state-regulated militia members, they would have used language that was restrictive, using the word “only” prepositionally for instance. But they didn’t, and gave the inviolable rights of gun ownership to “the People.””

    It is a matter of interpretation and who does the interpreting. I certainly see the possibility of different outcomes. Just as long as we don’t forget that the founders saw it fit to include in the text: (1) well regulated militia and (2) necessary for the protection of a free State.

  • Jed K

    Paul K

    What about knives and baseball bats.

    I don’t want to be waiting on the police when a drugged up lunatic breaks in with any form of weapon.

  • peter nelson

    It is a matter of interpretation and who does the interpreting. I certainly see the possibility of different outcomes. Just as long as we don’t forget that the founders saw it fit to include in the text: (1) well regulated militia and (2) necessary for the protection of a free State.

    Obviously it’s a matter of interpretation.

    What I’m complaining about is that most people on both sides of the debate don’t seem to interpret it at all! They make no reference to it, they ignore it, or they just give it a passing nod. They focus entirely on the “shall not be infringed” part. That’s intellectually dishonest.

    Any discussion of the Second Amendment must include a clear description of what (one thinks) the founding fathers intended by that clause. Otherwise it’s completely meaningless.

  • William S. Rodgers

    Self defense is an inherent individual responsibility, or right, which seems to have previously been confirmed by another case at the District level. A few years ago following the multiple rapes of 3 women in Washington, D.C. over a period of about 18 hours, a civil action was filed by the women against the D.C. police for failure to respond to their call for help. (The police came by their building, didn’t see anything wrong and left.) The court ruled that the police owed NO duty to protect an individual – only a collective duty to protect citizens. This case means that the police have no legal duty to protect the individual – so it is up to the individual to protect themselves. The way one can reasonably do this is to own, and bear arms – in or out of their homes. Statistics show that an armed citizenry results in reducing crime. Some years ago while working I was even told by a D.C. policman that I would be much better off carrying a handgun (a violation of D.C. law) than to be without it. (That comment was made after I respectfully declined to respond as to whether I actually did or did not have a concealed handgun.) There were several times over the years that I was glad to be armed.
    I sincerely hope that the Supreme Court will confirm that any citizen is entitled to KEEP and BEAR arms so long as they have not committed any act, or demonstrated any propensity, that would prohibit that right.

  • BHA

    Jeff, I think you are incorrectly interpreting the Constitution. It specifically doesn’t spell out ‘this is OK, this is not’ BECAUSE there was no knowing of the societal and technical changes that would come through time. That allows ‘future lawmakers’ to both follow the Constitution and make law that is reasonable in their time. An outright ban on assault rifles in no way violates the 2nd amendment.

    There is no period, no “this is a second item” in the text. The right to bear arms is specifically related to the needs of the “well regulated militia”. If you want to strictly follow the Constitution, only those people who are part of a militia would have the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of providing security of a free state.

  • Alex

    Peter – that’s my issue, too. Statutory language must be read, as far as possble, to avoid conflict between its different parts and give meaning to the entire text. We have two different parts in the 2d amendment. If the Court just focuses on the “shall not be abridged” part then it necessarily ignores the fist part. One way to reconcile both parts would be to read “the right to bear arms by members of well regulated militia formed for the security of the state shall not be abridged.” Of course, one can come up with other ways, but the entire text must be part of the analysis.

  • Alex 2

    The “founders couldn’t foresee semi-automatic weapons” argument strikes me as a looser for three reasons:

    3. At the time of the founders, private citizens could own weapons equal and beyond the state-of-the-art military weapons. Private citizens and corporations owned muskets and pistols, but also cannons, mortars and even *warships*. The first submarine, used right over in Boston Harbor, was privately owned by its inventor. If you’re telling my private citizens can own warships but not repeating small-arms, I think you’re crazy.

    3. Those who argue this are seldom serious about it’s consequences. If the second amendment only applies to arms the founders could foresee, then are you willing to allow people to go about their business with a brace of flintlocks and a sword on their belt? I suspect not.

    1. The founders couldn’t foresee TV, radio, or the internet, all of which make dangerous and reactionary ideas spread faster and see a wider audience. But we don’t restrict these mediums just because the founders didn’t have them.

  • Steve T

    Posted by Alex,
    It is a matter of interpretation and who does the interpreting. I certainly see the possibility of different outcomes. Just as long as we don’t forget that the founders saw it fit to include in the text: (1) well regulated militia and (2) necessary for the protection of a free State.

    In interpretation, also realize that that defense is against our own government. And right now all states rely on the National Guard. So in this WE the People, reserve the right to keep and bear our own arms.

  • Jim T

    “Guns don’t kill people! People kill people. imagine yourself or a loved one in danger of life from another, if you have gun, you have a decision to make. If you don’t will you die wishing you did?”

    This post reminded me of a Mark Russell performance I watched many years ago. Here’s what I remember him saying. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Oh yeah? Did you ever try to throw a bullet”

  • Alex

    Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the purpose of the right to bear arms (below). We can argue about which of these purposes is still relevant today, but the text says what it says “A well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free State”. Right?

    “In no particular order, early American settlers viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

    deterring undemocratic government;
    repelling invasion;
    suppressing insurrection;
    facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
    participating in law enforcement;
    slave control in slave states.

    Which of these considerations they thought were most important, which of these considerations they were most alarmed about, and the extent to which each of these considerations ultimately found expression in the Second Amendment is disputed.”

  • christine perraud

    I listened to the show. I was very irritated by much I heard (I am for hand gun control!). My mother just happened to call me to talk about my daughter and asked how I was.. I told her irritated because of what I just learned….she told me that yesterday at the hospital she works (Danbury CT) they had a shooting yesterday. An old man (a patient) shot a nurse. Luckily he was in a hospital with advanced medical technology (please read sarcasm in that) and the nurse will live.

  • ErikW65

    Paul K, keep in mind we’re talikg about citizens being subjected to being robbed at gunpoint in their homes, because of an interpretation on the Second Amendment that allowed government to completely prohibit gun ownership.

    So this reigning in of government restrictions on individual gun ownership IS a process of *adapting* to changing times, and not pretending that the nature of crime in cities hasn’t changed.

  • Paul K.

    All this talk about having people break into your home and shoot you ignores one simple fact: this sort of crime is rare. Gun owners are far more likely to kill someone they know, and victims of gun violence are rarely killed by strangers or in home invasion scenarios. You might as well argue that I should have the right to keep Tomahawk missles in my backyard in case I come under fire from hostile naval vessels.

  • Paul K.

    It seems to me that instead of this knee-jerk reaction, hearing that someone somewhere was murdered in their home during a robbery and concluding that everyone should walk around with guns on their hips, we should logically and reasonably try to understand why gun violence is so much more prevalent in the U.S. than in other countries, most of which are much more restrictive when it comes to gun ownership.

    As for the 2nd Amendment, people speak of it as if it’s the end-all and be-all of gun laws. Even if we ignore the ambiguity and interpret it in the light most favorable to gun advocates, you still ignore the fact that we as a people have the right to amend the Constitution again and repeal the 2nd Amendment. We can then pass common sense laws that don’t put guns in the hands of every angry, unstable person on the street.

  • Steve V

    One of the issues not addressed is firearm safety. Perhaps the most dangerous person in our society is one who purchases a handgun and carries it for “self protection” without knowing how (or when) to use it.
    As an example, imagine a person who has never driven a car in their life going to a car dealership and ordering a motor vehicle, then having it delivered to their home. They put the keys away with no intention of driving unless, in an emergency, they need to drive themselves to the hospital. Anyone who carries a weapon owes it to themselves and others to train in its use and practice as often as necessary to keep up their skills.

  • Ben Pike

    I’m 2nd Amendment and Pro-Gun all the way. I’ve very glad the Supreme Court seems to be leaning the way that it is. And as far as some comments here who seem to want to limit rights for law-abiding citizens, well, you know where I’m coming from.

    I will say this: You can’t get a little bit pregnant or free. It’s all or nothing. Sorry, but that’s the truth. The 2nd Amendment means Arms, and that should include every kind of small arm out there in my opinion. They are not for hunting, or protecting your house. The right was put there so that we may violently overthrow the Government should it become too oppressive. That’s the truth.

  • peter nelson

    It seems to me that instead of this knee-jerk reaction, hearing that someone somewhere was murdered in their home during a robbery and concluding that everyone should walk around with guns on their hips, we should logically and reasonably try to understand why gun violence is so much more prevalent in the U.S. than in other countries, most of which are much more restrictive when it comes to gun ownership.

    This argument fails because of a false equivalency. (this is a debating term meaning that someone says ‘instead of A we should do B’, implying that A and B are equivalent.)

    Working for social justice or changes in the laws or economic conditions to reduce the incidence of crime is a perfectly good thing to do, but it doesn’t address the individual’s need for self protection in the immediate term, so “instead” (above) is invalid.

  • peter nelson

    As for the 2nd Amendment, people speak of it as if it’s the end-all and be-all of gun laws. Even if we ignore the ambiguity and interpret it in the light most favorable to gun advocates, you still ignore the fact that we as a people have the right to amend the Constitution again and repeal the 2nd Amendment. We can then pass common sense laws that don’t put guns in the hands of every angry, unstable person on the street.

    Sure, and while we’re at it let’s build a stairway to the moon. I predict the stairway will be done first.

  • Alex

    “The right was put there so that we may violently overthrow the Government should it become too oppressive.”

    The Communist Party believed that the government serving the needs of capitalists while oppressing workers was too oppressive. It also believed that such government should be violently overthrown. Sounds like Communists were just the thing the founding fathers were contemplating when they conceeived the 2d amendment.

  • Paul K.

    “…but it doesn’t address the individual’s need for self protection in the immediate term..”

    My point is that this need doesn’t really exist. How many people are being killed by guns in the U.S.? Now, how many of those are killed by strangers? And of those, how many could reasonably have defended themselves if they were armed? On the other hand, if MORE people were running around with guns, how many more bullets would be flying and how many more people would be dying? How often would bar fights turn into shootouts? Arming the public is not a solution, either in the immediate term or in the long term.

    “Sure, and while we’re at it let’s build a stairway to the moon. I predict the stairway will be done first.”

    You’re probably right. As long as people react to the idea of gun control with hysteria and fear rather than logic and reason, we’ll never make any progress in actually making our nation safer.

  • Ben Pike

    The amount of people killed by legal guns compared to owners is miniscule. It’s the price of freedom. Freedom isn’t free or tidy. In fact, there are more criminals killed by legal guns than accidents, or mis-usage of legal guns. There are 100million gun owners, over 300million legal guns, and billions upon billions of legally own rounds of ammunition in the United States. Considering that, we do very well, and live very responsibly with guns. And do not compare the US crime rates to say parts of Europe until you realize that the US is larger in landmass and population than the whole of Europe. This decision is keeping guns in the hands of law-biding citizens. Criminals do not follow the law and will always get guns. Look at the crime rates of nations that have banned or severely restricted guns. Look at the same for cities in the US compared with those that don’t. The proof is right there. This will be common sense legislation. If you fear guns, that’s a psychological or ignorance problem on your part. The Founding Fathers were wise men, and do long as the 2nd is upheld and practiced by a large portion of our society, we will never become slaves.

  • L.J.S.

    Denise: “all the recent shootings in universities in the USA were perpetrated with machine guns; so clearly the most effective laws are not the ones restricting small hand guns, as he said”

    No. A semi-automatic firearm is not a machine gun. A machine gun means you pull the trigger and the gun fires more than once. Machine guns are rare, expensive, and almost never used in crimes in the U.S.

    A semi-automatic firearm means that the gun performs some functions automatically, but when you pull the trigger once, one bullet comes out. The rate of fire for a semi-automatic pistol and for a revolver are similar, the semi-automatic hangun can hold more ammunition because the ammunition is stacked in the grip and uses the same chamber. It doesn’t need its own chamber in the cylinder.

    Assault weapon, in US law, means a scary-looking rifle. It generally uses the same caliber (size) ammunition as many hunting rifles. It is semi-automatic (one pull of the trigger = 1 bullet), and cannot be made to fire automatically (1 pull of the trigger = many bullets). This is a completely different thing from what the military calls an assault weapon which usually means a light machine gun that can fire single shots, bursts (3ish rounds) and full automatic.

  • Paul K.

    Mr. Pike… it’s the price of freedom? So you don’t mind if innocent people get killed, as long you can keep an AK-47 under your pillow at night?

    What does land mass and population have to do with rates of gun violence? We’re talking about rate stats, not counting stats. And, in fact, there is less gun violence in countries with gun bans.

    I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories about the government “enslaving” us. First of all, the government IS us. Second of all, the Founding Fathers feared someone like Alexander Hamilton) who wanted to subvert the democratic process and turn our nation into a dictatorship. If we managed to survive the Bush/Cheney years, I think we can lay that fear to rest.

  • peter nelson

    My point is that this need doesn’t really exist. How many people are being killed by guns in the U.S.? Now, how many of those are killed by strangers?

    But that’s not a valid argument because you can’t apply a statistical generalization to one individual. The “average” person may not be in sufficient risk to need a gun for self-protection, but some people really are. For example, the person named in the current SCOTUS case.

    Also, keep in mind that Mr McDonald (age 78) has been broken into several times – this is about his right to protect his property, too. And keep in mind that guns can have a considerable deterrent effect, but how do you capture that in the statistics?

    Also keep in mind that Switzerland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world – and these are 5.56 mm Sturmgewehr 550 military assault rifles capable of firing up to 700 rounds/minute (30 round magazine) – and yet they have a low rate of gun violence. People who say that just having a gun around means someone will get shot need to explain this.

  • Paul K.

    First of all, it’s pretty well established that far more legally owned guns end up killing people known to the owner than end up killing intruders. Second of all, Switzerland is a lousy example for a couple of reasons. First of all, ALL men in Switzerland have served in the military and have proper training in how to use a weapon, and are legally required to own a weapon. That’s why gun ownership rates are so high. Second of all, Switzerland does not have the fetishized gun culture that we have here. Third, as with most of Europe, crime rates are much lower anyway, so the odds of a weapon being used in commission of a crime are lower.

    To look at Mr. MacDonald’s situation and conclude that he should own a gun is simplistic. There are larger issues here, like reducing crime generally. Also, if you “can’t apply a statistical generalization to one individual,” then you certainly can’t make law concerning everyone based on one person’s experience. Should my neighborhood drug dealer, or my neighbor with a history of mental instability (or even worse, my perfectly normal neighbor whose son is mentally unstable but undiagnosed and untreated) have the legal right to own assault rifles just because Mr. MacDonald’s home has been burgled? And by the way, Mr. MacDonald’s age is completely irrelevant.

  • Ben Pike

    Number 1 way to reduce crime: Decent paying jobs. Go work on the hard problem Liberals, not the law-biding, tax-paying, 100million strong, gun owners. And yes, the truth of the world is that so long as the MAJORITY of legal gun owners are safe, and the MAJORITY of legally own guns aren’t killing innocent people, then the MAJORITY gets the consideration. You Liberals want to punish the MAJORITY for the sake of the MINORITY, and that’s just not the American way. Cold…Dead…Hand. This ruling is a good one. Any man who say’s “never happen here” deserves to look at what happened in Nazi Germany.

    “This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future.” – Adolf Hitler, 1935 (NEVER AGAIN!)

  • Brett

    This idea that criminals are going to break gun laws, anyway, so why have restrictions on guns is a bit ridiculous. Murderers are going to murder, anyway, so why have restrictions on murder? Law-abiding citizens don’t need laws on murder, and so on…

    I find it interesting that conservatives want states’ rights applied to certain laws hoping those laws will be weakened under states’ rights [translation: RED states will chip away at certain laws enough to effectively weaken them], and when throwing it to states’ rights doesn’t produce the desired outcomes [translation: BLUE states serve to take the laws conservatives want undermined in a different direction than conservatives had envisioned], then they want to through it back to Federal law [translation: if the Federal law is better aligned with conservative views and undercuts liberal views].

    I don’t have a problem with people owning guns to hunt or to protect themselves at home, but carrying them in public places? As far as protecting oneself against those who would do one harm in public? For that argument to hold water it means EVERYWHERE in public; bars, places of employment, schools, churches, courts of law, etc. Criminals would only really be deterred (based on the argument that gun power presence will protect an individual and deter criminal activity) if guns are out and in the open, i.e., owners would openly display their guns in public, therefore criminals would refrain from harming law-abiding citizens. Our legislative and judicial leaders don’t want this in their workplace. Most reasonable people would not want to see people having guns strapped to their sides in the aforementioned places.

    Proponents who want to say that because gun restrictions are most prevalent in places where crime is highest, and this proves gun control doesn’t work, don’t want to look at the fact that those areas have higher concentrations of citizens. More people equals more crime.

    To the one caller who said all of the states signed on to the Bill of Rights for ratification (falsely implying that states wanted to ensure for themselves what he considers rights bestowed by the Constitution): actually, only 3/4 did; and, Madison introduced the BoR to reconcile the conflict between the anti-Federalists and the Federalists to get the states to accept ratification of the Constitution itself. States saw the Bill of Rights (as well as it was Madison’s intention) as a way for them to RESTRICT the powers of the Federal government only (they feared the Constitution would allow the Federal government too much power), i.e., if a state wanted to arm its citizenry, the Federal government couldn’t at some point say no. (If this is true then the converse should also be true; if a state/munipality wants to restrict gun ownership in some way then the Federal government doesn’t have the right to supersede such laws.)

    The 14th Amendment was adopted as one of the Reconstruction Amendments in 1868 to further and better define that the BoR pertained to a broader definition of citizenship and that each state could better uphold the rights of its citizens (under state constitutions) using due process and equal protection. So, effectively, not only restricting Federal government actions but giving better definition to states’ powers.

    Based on Madison’s intention, and based on the 14th Amendment, the case in the SCOTUS should not be allowed to strike down Chicago’s ban on handguns. Besides, Mr. McDonald CAN own a “long gun”!

  • zigg

    @ Peter

    The Swiss have a generally lower crime rate as well as rate of poverty. Cause does not = correlation

  • Robert A. Letcher, PhD

    It appears to me that the Court will finally give Americans the right to pretend they are nouveau John Waynes shooting up “bad guys” (not just Nazis, but all those heathen “Injuns”) without making us into “bad guys” ourselves.

  • Daniel Contrino

    Boy! There is no “give” on either side of the debate. The conservative side of the argument has valid points as does the liberal side, but as far as arguments go, both sides use poor and vague evidence. The fact remains that the anger that the topic of guns generates should leave us thinking about how we’d react arguing the topic with handguns within reach.
    Thanks for the forum Tom and BUR
    Dan Contrino

  • peter nelson

    Second of all, Switzerland is a lousy example for a couple of reasons. First of all, ALL men in Switzerland have served in the military and have proper training in how to use a weapon, and are legally required to own a weapon. That’s why gun ownership rates are so high. Second of all, Switzerland does not have the fetishized gun culture that we have here. Third, as with most of Europe, crime rates are much lower anyway, so the odds of a weapon being used in commission of a crime are lower.

    I agree with all that and it exactly illustrates my point – it’s not the guns! Instead it’s a whole bunch on non-gun factors which you mentioned. Whether you have gun violence has nothing to do with the guns, per se, or whether they are “assault rifles”, which in the Swiss case they really are. (in the US case an AR-15 is an assault rifle).

    Anti-gun advocates have staked out a position that guns are inherently evil and dangerous to society. Ironically it’s also the liberals who are saying that “instead” of guns we should address social and economic issues. As I said above, it’s a false equivalency. But as the Swiss case shows, the way to end gun violence does not involve banning guns.

    Should my neighborhood drug dealer, or my neighbor with a history of mental instability (or even worse, my perfectly normal neighbor whose son is mentally unstable but undiagnosed and untreated) have the legal right to own assault rifles just because Mr. MacDonald’s home has been burgled? And by the way, Mr. MacDonald’s age is completely irrelevant.

    Even gun-owner advocates like the NRA oppose allowing criminals and the mentally ill to own guns, so I think that’s a straw man. The relevance of Mr McDonald’s age is that fighting back some other way, or flight, may not be options.

    As others have already pointed out in this discussion, the courts have consistently recognized that people have a right to self-defence. So what would you tell Mr McDonald or other people living in high-crime areas who feel vulnerable in their homes to do?

  • Jeff Newton

    Those same fun loving neo-cons at the Supreme Court who declared “get over it” w/r/t to the Selection and who don’t think abortion is a constitutional right because it’s not mentioned specifically now believe that simply excising indisputable language (the “well ordered militia” clause) from the document is a permissible means to an end.

    This same crowd likes states rights (except when the Selection of Bush Lite is at stake) but not activist judges (unless being one suits their agenda).

    The conclusion: The High Court has embraced a judicial philosophy of complete intellectual dishonesty and lack of principle.

  • Ben Pike

    “Guard with jeolous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.” -Patrick Henry

    “I ask sir, who is the militia? It is the whole people…To disarm the people, that is the best and most effective way to enslave them…” – George Mason

    “Americans [have] the right and advantage of being armed — unlike citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust people with arms.” -James Madison

    “…Arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace.” -Thomas Paine

    “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States…” -Noah Webster

  • jeffe

    Concealed carry permits (a Class A License to Carry) are expensive, require a criminal background check, a state-mandated safety class, and are only issued to folks who are deemed “suitable persons”.

    The way it should be. It’s one thing to own a hunting rifle or bird gun. Carrying a concealed weapon is a huge responsibility as is owning any kind of firearm.

    If you have nothing to hide, then it should no problem going through a good background check.

    Guns in bars, well that’s the dumbest idea I have ever heard.

  • jeffe

    Gee Ben Pike I sense some serious hostility there.
    So you think you should be able to over through the government by force. I disagree with you. So now what?
    We meat at the OK coral and shoot it out?

    By the way the second amendment did absolutely nothing to protect this country in the war of 1812.

  • jeffe

    Gee Ben Pike I sense some serious hostility there.
    So you think you should be able to over through the government by force. I disagree with you. So now what?
    We meet at the OK coral and shoot it out?

    By the way the second amendment did absolutely nothing to protect this country in the war of 1812.

  • jeffe

    sorry typo… meat should be meet…
    I guess there is some irony in that however.

  • Alex

    When the government unleashes the Blackwater guys on you you’d better hide and don’t even think of overthrowing the government.

  • Brett

    “well regulated” implies that said armed population should drill and practice together regularly. -peter nelson

    Perhaps, but it isn’t clear that “well regulated” implies “drill and practice together regularly.” My impression is that “well regulated” is not quite so internal, that this means the “militia” should adhere to certain standards, of certain procedures, protocol, and regulations, which could be implying an outside standard by which the militia adheres. They cold have “drilled and practiced” all they wanted to but if they didn’t adhere to a certain they wouldn’t be considered a “well regulated” militia.

  • justanother

    ****The second amendment is to allow citizens to protect themselves from tyranny of the government. What type of weapon is needed to protect citizens from their government?****

    Thank you for making that point. Just imagine how much more powerful the weapons have gotten in modern U.S. military. Does gun owners really think they can defeat the police and military when tyranny takes hold? No way! There are even weapons that the government uses we probably never know of, heard of.

    So with that mentality of “personal right”, shouldn’t we all have the “right” to bear arms of those weapons that can match up the power of military when a real revolution war happens in this country?

  • justanother

    With that being said, I’m not against owning guns, but where/when/how should be considered for other citizens safety. When citizens’ safety are threatened by loose gun law/regulation, their “personal right” are equally stripped away.

  • Ben Pike

    justanother, it is not necessary to have access to anything more than small-arms, and overwhelming numbers of them to defeat a modern Army should it become a tool of tyranny. Proof of this is seen in Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc. The value of the 2nd in it’s potential as a deterrent for tyrannical mis-use of a modern Military is in the numbers and basic access to the tools of warfare. The modern assault rifle fills that need compounded by the numbers out there. The worlds most technologically advanced force stands no chance against millions of Armed Citizens. The numbers would overwhelm the technological edge. Besides, in such a scenario, a group armed with Assault Rifles leads to battlefield captures of more advanced weaponry from a tyrannical force, thereby bolstering even further a populist uprising effective reach, not that they would even need it, because–for arguments sake alone–half a million “Red Coats”, if you will, simply can not defeat a charging swarm of millions and millions of lesser equipt people.

    The beauty of the 2nd applied fairly is that it acts as a detant so that the Government never even tries to mis-use the Military for such purposes. That way, no blood need be spilled and everyone lives freely.

  • justanother

    **** since I suspect this how most guns are threatened to be used- which we have no way of tracking since there may be no physical injury, only emotional.****

    Thank you for your post, can’t agree more!

  • Alex

    Armed people who successfully resisted large armies in the past did not rely on the right to bear arms. They simply did not need it.

  • justanother

    Ben Pike, I agree part of what you said, it is true that even the most advanced weapons won’t defeat the million strong will. But I suppose the most deadly weapons are those explosive bombs are being used very strategically, not those guns were being used to shoot. But again, this is only assuming war and breakout battles when that happens. But in a stable orderly society, we should have strict gun law as for when/where/how to carry guns, if not, loose gun laws/regulations is equally taking away the liberty of others choose not to own/use guns.

  • Alex

    “Ben Pike, I agree part of what you said, it is true that even the most advanced weapons won’t defeat the million strong will.”

    Even if there is an uprising, it will not be the People v. the Government. It will be one portion of the population against the other (i.e. civil war). People will disagree whether the Government is opressive or is just acting in the best interests of the entire population. I would be careful before I facilitate the civil war by allowing everyone to bear arms.

  • jeffe

    Ben Pike are you serious? So how do you think you would stand up to a drone with heat sensors and other high tech gadgetry? Or a highly trained marksman with 50 cal?

    Do you really think a bunch of hot heads with semiautomatic weapons can take on the military?

    Sure one could engage in the kind of guerrilla warfare of the Taliban but it should be noted that they have decades of experience in this. Of course you could have military training, but unless you are keeping up with it the odds are pretty much against you. A loose civilian militia would never stand a chance against a well trained Swat team let alone a company of Marines.

    Anyway all this talk of armed resistance is absurd.
    Does Ruby Ridge ring a bell?

  • Ben Pike

    Getting kind of dogpiled here, and some like jeffe are intentionally skewing words, so I’ll just respond to the polite justanother.

    The difference here in my opinion justanother is that the argument of one right infringes another does not hold water. Just because some people are afraid of guns does not mean they should be listened to. How about people who are afraid of Black People? Is that fear any less rational? Another point is that the right to have guns is in the Bill of Rights, so it’s automatically an elevated right over say “insurance casualty” or some other type of modern tool for rights trumping. The Founding Fathers were very wise men. The guns will stay, and that right trumps others rights to be afraid of them. Sorry guys, but some rights are upheld more than others, and because this is the 2nd Amendment, it trumps your rights to be afraid of it. This part of America will be with us until there is no more America, so if you don’t like it, there are plenty of other nations you may move to. That’s your right to do so.

  • Kenny C.

    Most public discussions about gun laws and the consequences of their enactment, enforcement etc. produce a lot of imaginative scenarios about “what would happen if…” assertions–inherently scientifically unprovable counterfactuals.

    You could add to the clarity of the discussion substantially if you would have John Lott Jr. on your program.. He is the author of various publications including, MORE GUNS LESS CRIME. He can provide empirical evidence–by state,by time frame, etc.

  • peter nelson

    No one has answered my question yet of what you tell people like Mr. McDonald – people who live in dangerous crime-ridden neighborhoods, who have already been the victims of crime, and who do not feel safe in their own homes.

    Are you just going to tell them to count statistics at night when they’re trying to sleep?

  • jeffe

    Ben you’re the one who said the right to bare arms was intended to be used to overthrow the government. Not me.
    You are the one making some pretty extreme points, not me.

    I do not think that the federal government has the right to tell my state how to enforce gun laws. I’m not afraid of guns, I own one. But when I hear people like you talk in these absolutes I find myself wondering if the person behind this rhetoric has any sense at all.

    We do not live in the 18th century anymore.
    Woman are not property and we do not own slaves.

  • justanother

    Alex, you have a point. it’s true domestic uprising usually begins with civil wars. It is different from Ben Pike’s reference to Vietnam, Afghanistan, which involves foreign force.

    And when people referring right of bear arms to defeating tyranny, what if the form of tyranny is no longer that obvious, and people become victims of our economic/social/medical systems. The tyranny of our system is happening right before our eyes, we can’t see them, smell them, and who/what are you going to shoot at?

  • jeffe

    Mr. McDonald should be able to keep a gun in his home.
    I have no problem with that. However the odds of him shooting someone in an argument are higher than him shooting an intruder.

    Do people remember a case in which a young Japanese exchange student was shot because he was in a Halloween costume looking for a party and went to the wrong address. The two parties had a language problem and the owner of the house shot and killed the boy. The outcome of that was the it was an accidental shooting but the shooter was so upset by what happened he gave up his guns.

  • Ben Pike

    jeffe, you have slandered my position by assuming and stating that I advocate women as property and the owning of slaves. Please remove your comment. It’s not conducive to discussion and it’s potentially slanderous and rude. Thank you.

  • wavre

    America this nation of eternal kids, still looking up to the “Founding Fathers” for guidance.Laws are made to serve the common good, not the other way around.The supreme court should be a body that adapts the Constitution to TODAY’S REALITIES.
    Other advanced countries have gun restrictions and they have a lower crime rate an safer cities( in comparison).

    The Nation needs to grow up, the foundings fathers set rules according to the realities of their time, they will surely not object to us doing the same for our times.

    They had gunpowder,muskets and the need for occasional militias for public protection.
    We have automatic weapons of all sort, the atomic bomb,a national police force…

    This is a different America, no more indians and minorities to hunt down with impunity!

    Maybe that’s what some people are secretly missing??

  • http://www.lit.org/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    America is the gun capital of the world.
    America has the highest violent crime rate of any advanced industrial nation in the world.

    Go figure.

  • Ben Pike

    I notice Liberals tend to do two things. They usually say they do not understand the Conservative mind-set. Then often in the same breath, they cast what they tout as light on the fact that Conservatives and Conservative Agendas are “secretly” fueled by x,y,or z (usually some kind of race based secret hate). Which is is Liberal folks? Do you understand us better than we do ourselves, or can’t fathom what we think? You can’t have it both ways. Honestly, it’s all really a deep seeded reflection of your own Freudian hang-ups that you seem to foist upon Conservatives, and then take pot-shots at. You guys don’t know if you’re coming or going, and betray your wounds constantly. You guys are the ones who think about race all day. You guys are the ones that are afraid of what you might do with a gun. You guys are the ones who skew, distort, fib, and pass blame in my observation and opinion. Is it any wonder you can’t wield power even with a super-majority? You guys need Prozac, not Power.

  • jeffe

    Ben I have not slandered you in any way that I can see.
    You make such demands. You sound like you’re from the 18th century, what now are you going to challenge me to a dual?

    You made a statement about the 2nd amendment in context to the Founders. I was merely pointing out that it is absurd to view the Constitution as if it is written in stone, frozen in the 18th century. The way you responded kind of proves my point. You are applaud by such notions as women as property and slavery as you should be. A little nuance would help, don’t you think?

    I”m not afraid of guns, like I said I own one.
    Seems to me you are getting a little hot under the collar.

  • justanother

    ****The difference here in my opinion justanother is that the argument of one right infringes another does not hold water. Just because some people are afraid of guns does not mean they should be listened to. How about people who are afraid of Black People?****

    We need to focus on the issue of “when/where/how to carry guns”, not whether people should or should not own/use guns, that’s not the point of debate here. Some people choose not to own/use gun not because they are afraid of guns, there are numerous reasons for that. Some just never feel the need to, not born to a environment of hunting, or feeling threatened constantly. And if some feel the need to own guns, totally respected.

    But in reality, if people are allowed to carry guns in such public areas, you can’t prevent the higher chance of accidents, abuse of gun uses. And this is what I was talking about my sense of freedom and peace are being equally stripped away. And yes, my voice should be listened to.

  • Ben Pike

    I agree your voice should be heard justanother. I’m sorry I came off that way to you. And furthermore, I agree with you in many ways. That stated, Chicago had 28 years to unconstitutionally ban handgun ownership in it’s city. The results speak for themselves. Now is the flip-side of that coin. What is good for one side is good for the other. in 28 years, if crime is not reduced and people feeling safer with guns, and hopefully carried in the open, then we will re-visit this. The bottom line is: One side had it’s way, it didn’t work, and now the other side of the coin gets it’s day. It’s very fair. We’ll meet again in 28 years.

  • jeffe

    Well that is the point is it not. Do people not remember those guys with the rifles slung over their shoulders at the Tea Party marches when Obama was in the town they were in? That’s a pretty aggressive statement, and I might add not a very smart one in my opinion.

    I think gun ownership is a privilege as well as a right according to the 2nd amendment. Most of the murders committed in this country are by people who knew their victims and it’s usually the result of a domestic dispute.

    I’m not against people owning weapons, I only think they need to be trained and licensed. I also do not see why anyone would need an automatic AR15 or a 50 caliber sniper rifle.

  • L.J.S.

    Jeffe: No disagreement that owning and carrying a firearm is a big responsibility. But the vague “suitability” standard is Mass is a problem. What’s to say a chief doesn’t decide an applicant isn’t suitable because she’s a woman, or gay, or questioned the police budget at town meeting? The chief doesn’t have to explain until and unless the applicant challenges in court — which is expensive and takes a lot of time. I prefer “shall issue” — if you meet the criteria (check out G.L. 140, 131L for the criteria in Mass), you get the permit.

    It is already illegal in Mass to carry while intoxicated (ch. 269 10H), and you can’t get a permit if you’ve been treated for drug abuse or habitual drunkeness (absent a doctor’s affidavit about your cure (see 140 131L for details). What of someone who is a group’s designated driver — goes to the bar and doesn’t drink — and also carries to make sure nobody gets mugged on the way to the car? Or someone who has a beer, and only a beer, on the way home from work every day — zero reputation for getting drunk — does he have to leave the gun unattended (but locked one hopes) in the car to have that single beer?

    Just looking at the thread — alot of this does seem to come down to how much you trust your feel citizens in the abstract? Do you think they are adults who can be trusted with responsibility to make good decisions, or do you think of them as yahoos? I remain the optimist.

  • justanother

    Martin Luther King said “War is a poor chisel for carving out peaceful tomorrow”. Well, if war has been fought and sacrifice has been given by our ancestors, their wish is to build a stable, orderly and peaceful society for their future generations, hoping that laws bring justice, not by arms.

    I don’t wish to live in a jungle where I have to watch my back constantly. We call it a “battle field”, not a “living place”.

  • Ben Pike

    justanother, you have to “watch your back” now. All this does is give you the chance to survive. It turns you from sheep to sheepdog.

  • Alex

    “justanother, you have to “watch your back” now. All this does is give you the chance to survive. It turns you from sheep to sheepdog.”

    I go to my local bar pretty often. However, if patrons start arrivng under the protection of armed guard that will be the end of my going there. This is just nuts. There is a risk of being mugged, I suppose, but if people will start showing up with guns then the risk of something bad happening will turn into virtual certainty. The only benficiary of that situation will by Hollywood.

  • Ben Pike

    You’re borrowing trouble Alex. And think of this, there is an added bonus! People will be getting a lot more polite again! :)

  • justanother

    ***justanother, you have to “watch your back” now. All this does is give you the chance to survive. It turns you from sheep to sheepdog.***

    Ben Pike,

    Thank you for your advise. But i’d rather have a peaceful mind, then a constant “anxious mind”.

    Laws can only do so much to prevent crimes, it is the way of deep rooted culture and mentality need to be revolutionized.

  • Ben Pike

    You’d rather walked defenseless and vulnerable for your “piece of mind,” skirting the odds with ignorant abandon, than have the legal tools at your disposal to save yourself or some other innocent person? Sorry justanother, I can’t get on board with that kind of lifestyle. I’d rather be a Sheepdog, than a unknowing, defenseless, lamb to the slaughter.

    Although, the beauty of all of this, is that you may do as you wish. People like me will be there to save you. Cheers!

  • L.J.S.

    Alot of folks talk about the police as if they will arrive in moments and will always be available. The police do a fine job, but unless you live next to the station, the response time is minutes at best, and may be a lot longer. (How many of you know the average response time for your neighborhood?) When things go badly wrong, for the most part, the police arrive in time to cordon off the crime scene and take statements — whatever happened is long over.

    And there’s the assumption the police will always be there. Katrina proved that wrong. Yes, crime and disasters are frequently rare — which is a thing to be thankful for. But one may wish to plan for the worst — you have smoke alarms in your house? fire extinguisher in your kitchen? property insurance? life insurance? first aid supplies? maybe took a CPR course or know some first aid? Why — because bad things can happen, and many people take precautions. A firearm isn’t for everybody. Each person needs to think about their needs, their risks, their capabilities, in this area as in many others — the question is if you do decide given all of that the risks and burden of owning and/or carrying a firearm outweigh the risks of not owning one, and oen isn’t prohibited by a felony record, or mental illness, or other statutory disqualifiers — then why should you not be allowed to do so?

    At the risk of going far off track — liberals tend to trust folks with life-n-death decisions, like trusting women to make their own decision on aborotion — so why then not trust law-abiding adults to make another life-n-death decision on whether to own and/or carry a firearm?

  • jeffe

    At the risk of going far off track — liberals tend to trust folks with life-n-death decisions, like trusting women to make their own decision on aborotion — so why then not trust law-abiding adults to make another life-n-death decision on whether to own and/or carry a firearm?

    I’m sorry but “liberals” tend to trust people with life and death decisions? Can I assume that “conservatives” don’t?

    I use to live in New York City during the late 70′s and early 80′s and crime was rampant. I use to visit a friend in Hells Kitchen and was never scared or robbed. I never carried a gun and I never felt I needed to.

  • justanother

    Ben Pike,

    How do you know I’m defenseless and vulnerable without a gun? :D

    Tell me how can you prove you were defending yourself when you shot a person in the public assuming guns are allowed in public area?? You will still need law enforcement and going through legal process to prove that, don’t you?

  • Ben Pike

    I’m glad you were lucky jeffe, forgive us if we don’t want to put your luck into our self-preservation politics. It’s a funny thing about guns. You don’t need them, right up to the point that you do, and that time you do, it’s life or death. The Founding Fathers wanted us to have these tools for that very reason. Today you may think we don’t need them, but what about far into a future you have no way of knowing? That’s why they’re here. That’s why the’re here to stay. You simply must understand that your life and experiences are not those of others, and this is the second RIGHT in our BILL OF RIGHTS. It’s critical, protected, and you don’t have to partake, but you aren’t going to tell anyone else that they can’t either. America is the grand experiment, so far so good! You’re most welcome to be here.

  • L.J.S.

    Jeffe, conservatives tend to trust people with different life-n-death decisions — gun ownership and jurors voting on the death penalty, for instance, but not with decisions like abortion and euthenasia. Not saying either side is right, but that it seems that trusting people to made adult decisions on gun ownership would be quite consistent with a liberal philosphoy.

  • Alex

    Going back to the Deadwood life-style is not the answer. In fact, going back is not the answer, period. We must look forward and strive to defeat crime by other means, like eradicating poverty, for instance. I seriously doubt that people protecting themselves with guns will improve the situation. From there, there is only one step to the “preemptive strike” doctrine. Hey, “what am I, must wait till he stikes first? I have reliable information that he possesses wheapons of whatever distruction and wants to rob [rape], [kill] me.” No, thank you.

  • Ben Pike

    justanother, Where I’m from, if a man threatens your life or property, especially on your own property, the law is behind you. You may use deadly force if you deem it necessary. Remember Police Officers are just armed citizens, not soldiers, with a rite of authority. They can not be everywhere. It is up to you to defend yourself, not the Police.

  • justanother

    ****justanother, Where I’m from, if a man threatens your life or property, especially on your own property, the law is behind you. You may use deadly force if you deem it necessary. Remember Police Officers are just armed citizens, not soldiers, with a rite of authority. They can not be everywhere. It is up to you to defend yourself, not the Police.****

    Totally agree, only if you are talking about defending “your own property”.

  • Paul K.

    Mr. Nelson, I’ll answer your question with another question. What will you say to the neighbor or brother or child of a Mr. MacDonald who gets shot to death because of an argument with said gun owner, or because of an accident? Because that already happens way more often than burglars being shot. Putting more guns out there will only make it worse. I don’t know what the fancy debating term is for your question, but I know that it’s just a method for distracting from the real argument.

    What has happened to Mr. MacDonald is awful. But his municipality needs to make more of an effort to reduce crime in his neighborhood, and a security system and a dog would probably be more effective in keeping him safe than a gun he’d most likely fumble around for in the dark before accidentally shooting himself.

  • Ben Pike

    So, Paul K. elderly Black men are 2nd Class Citizens again in your eyes. If he can defend himself, he has every right to! You don’t get to make that call for him.

  • Ben Pike

    justanother, your life is your own property, and it goes anywhere you go.

  • Paul K.

    Mr. Pike, I find your assumptions offensive. You know nothing about me and apparently lack the ability to comprehend what I wrote. I am having an interesting discussion with Mr. Nelson. Please go back to your irrational rants and stay out of the grown up discussion. Thank you.

  • Ben Pike

    Paul K. I took issue with your assumption that you know better than the man in question. I did not insult you or call you a child or irrational as you have.

  • justanother

    ****justanother, your life is your own property, and it goes anywhere you go.****

    I gather that.

    Tell me how that is possible for fair trial if a wild wild west shooting takes place in the public?? Your pushing on guns in any where/any time is a bigger threat to some citizens than their chance of getting shot by random crimes. At least a citizen can choose not to go to certain places with higher crimes. If guns are allowed anywhere/anytime, they don’t have a “choice” anymore.

  • Paul K.

    You accused me of being racist. How is that not an insult? Do you consider it a complient? I never brought race into the discussion, that was you. I thought it was fairly clear that I believe that gun control should extend to all people, not just people of a certain race (since, again, I never mentioned race anywhere in any of my posts). Clearly you needed that spelled out for you. No one else jumped to that conclusion.

  • Alex

    “If guns are allowed anywhere/anytime, they don’t have a “choice” anymore.”

    I think that’s right. Was the situation with crime any better in the Western Territories in the second half of the 19th Century than it is today? I doubt it.

  • Ben Pike

    justanother, the date for your argument is not here yet. The data for the argument against your claim is. You will just have to accept the courts decision and wait and see.

  • Alex

    “You will just have to accept the courts decision and wait and see.”

    Or we can use our newly allowed guns to violently overthrow this activist Supreme Court.

  • justanother

    Ben Pick,

    If you don’t believe life is hit and miss with odds, taking no chances, then you’d better demand your government to regulate our cars with bullet proof, or free of accidents. :D

  • Ben Pike

    Why would you do that Alex? People who want guns and concealed/open carry have waited years to get it. Are you above waiting your turn to see if they are right, as they waited to find out that the argument against was? It seems you want special treatment.

  • Alex

    I am just drawing on some ideas I have read on this blog. Like Anton Chekhov said: “if there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must fire in the last.”

  • Paul K.

    Great response, Alex.

    Mr. Pike:

    Your response claiming that I think elderly African American men are 2nd class citizens really touched a nerve, and I apologize for my childish response. That being said, you made assumptions that have absolutely no basis in what I wrote. You most certainly owe not just me, but the entire community, an apology for your ten cent psychoanalysis of liberals, none of which had anything to do with this discussion, and none of which had any connection with reality. I highly doubt that any apology will be forthcoming, however.

    I do want to ask you, though, about your comments about violently overthrowing the government. At what point is such an action justified, in your mind? For example, the Tea Party movement that gets so much press coverage actually has sympathy from less than 18% of Americans. Is that enough? Should such a small minority have the right to grab their guns and start shooting all the people who don’t agree with you? Is that how you would advocate defending the democratic principles of the Constitution?

  • Mike Z

    The gun debate, like the race debate will go on forever. Both debates are continued on one side by well meaning, but cowardly folks that really don’t want a world without racism or fear. With racism you either treat all folks equally or you don’t – period. Zero room for any grey area. The gun debate is exactly the same – you either respect the U.S. Constitution, leave LAW ABIDING folks alone AND treast criminals liek they deserve to be treated ro you don’t. The gun debate would disappear completely if you gave swift, severe and harsh penalties to folks that kill, rape and rob their fellow citizens with extreme violence. As long as we as a nation are too cowardly to deal harshly with violent criminals then we will continue to waste our time, money and efforts on a stupid debate. Law abiding citizens are LAW ABIDING citizens so why punish them? Same with child molesters – repeat offenders!!!! Get an honest conviction then kill them. Wil a needle, a rope, electricity, sticks and stones – I don’t give a damn. Enough is enough already.

  • jeffe

    Mike at the time the 2nd Amendment was written they use to hang people and leave them there, sometimes for years.

    I guess we could bring public hangings back.

    As to the wild west, look up Wyatt Earp.
    There are some good accounts of how people behaved in the 19ty century.

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

  • Seth in NC

    Tom,
    Thank you for bringing in the opposing view to your first guest – his statistics on the circumstances where gun control works are completely false – the only place I can think of that gun control works fairly well would be prison.

    Do you people REALLY think that criminals CARE what the laws are? Why then would you restrict the rights of normal, law abiding citizens?

    What if there had been a concealed carry permit holder with a sidearm at Luby’s Cafeteria? At Columbine? At Fort Hood? Maybe then we would have minimized the casulties and produced a more acceptable outcome – a dead criminal. The liberals that want to ban guns like to play the ‘what if’ game, so fair is fair.

    How is the crime rate in Chicago and D.C.??

    One last question: Tom, do you own a firearm?

    Thanks!

  • gina

    Switzerland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world – and these are 5.56 mm Sturmgewehr 550 military assault rifles … and yet they have a low rate of gun violence. People who say that just having a gun around means someone will get shot need to explain this.

    Those rifles belong to members of the Swiss national militia (there is no standing army) to be used during the few annual weeks of military drill. By law they must be kept under lock and key, unloaded, in the owner’s home. In other words, the typical Swiss doesn’t have a loaded assault rifle handy under the sofa.

  • Sally Cooper

    Hi – thanks so much for your show, always. I’m never comfortable when folks cite studies without any backup, e.g., “cities that have recently gotten rid of gun laws have seen drops in crime.” Actually, all cities since the early 90′s have had huge drops in violent crime – and to throw these sort of ideological claims out there without any specific references should be questioned.

    Also – this distinction between “the criminals” and the “law’abiding people” should be questioned – Bernie Goetz was “law abiding” and permanently paralyzed a kid who asked him for money on the subway in front of many people. Crossing the line between law-abiding to criminal in a very tragic flash. Guns are a nightmare here in NYC, and allowing people to carry them means a lot more people of color are going to die unnecessarily. Oops – the speaker now is just saying this, sorry. THANK YOU!

  • Ben Pike

    Mike Z, you’re speaking my language. Thanks.

    Alex, you’re responsible for your own reactions, nobody makes you do or feel anything.

    Sally Cooper, how do you mean “more people of color are going to die?” They don’t have self-control, and forethought of their own actions? If that’s the fact then it’s on them, not anyone else.

    Finally: It’s time for American People to stand or fall on their own merit. That is what Freedom is all about. Nobody owes you anything. It’s you and your intelligence and free-will. This legislation just re-enforces that the society is not your father. Be your own hero, stop looking to others for everything. Be smart folks, it has been, and will always be Darwin’s Law out there. It’s natural, and it’s fair.

  • Ben Pike

    We’ve come full circle in this nation. Tabula Rasa. Good Luck!

  • cory

    I don’t think the “law abiding citizen” standard for who should be armed is a particularly good one. The following are examples of law abiding citizens:

    1. The Fort Hood shooter, before his spree crime.

    2. An undiagnosed schizophrenic oo manic depressive.

    3. A spurned lover, seething with rage.

    4. All murderers, before they are convicted of a crime.

    5. Many tea baggers.

    Those of you who wish to solve all problems with excessive violence are a tribute to your ancestors, who also could not figure out a better way to get things done. Whether you believe in evolution or not, we are much closer to animals than we are to some sort of higher enlightened beings.

  • Ben Pike

    Whether I agree with you all or not, I want to leave this song here. I think it sums up everything almost as well as Mike Z’s great words did. I’m really happy about this day. I and people I know have been waiting for decades. It’s a real “WIN” for me today and I feel great.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOA4ixV-3jU

  • Michael

    great song

  • Alex issue

    “It’s time for American People to stand or fall on their own merit.”

    I don’t think this issue is a “stand or fall” issue in the same way as the slavery issue was. The slavery issue went to the heart of the economic livelihood of the South. This gun issue is more like the smoking in public places issue, or whether you can be compelled to wear a seatbelt issue, or whether you can text while driving issue. Ultimately, it is an “I want” as opposed to “It is necessary” issue. Don’t exagerate its significance, please.

  • ellen

    yikes, that guy lund defended legal guns by saying we have better medical technology now, so victims may better survive their wounds. Wow. He’s not embarrassed to say this?

    Good arguments don’t deter defenders of guns–They just think up more absurd excuses!

    Also interesting that crawford greenberg is a good ole alabama gun hunting gal. She speaks in a legalese prose I cannot easily follow. But i did grasp her assertion that parents bringing guns to little league games is absurd. It’s not. Are student shooters in schools absurd? How many massacres can we tolerate? Limitless it seems.

  • David Moore Jr.

    The difference is that killing and stealing are what we’re trying to avoid, that’s the primary offense. Outlawing people from having guns is only done to try to keep people from committing those other offenses. Without the potential primary offense (killing, robbing, whatever), there is no reason to want to keep people from owning a gun is there?

    So that is the difference here, the gun law is ONLY there to stop another law from being broken and since the other law is much more serious, it doesn’t add up that a potential criminal would be worried about the lesser offense (owning an illegal gun) but not worried about the much worse offense (killing, etc.)

    Hey Tom,

    How about considering Castle Rock v. Gonzales, that Supreme Court case states that the police are not obligated to enforce a PPO, so if the police isn’t accountable for protecting us how then can you be so bias against our only sure means to protect our families from possible violence (burglaries, home invasions with other forcible felonies committed against us?

    Also did you know that Justice Stephan Breyer agreed that the police are not obligated to protect us at the same time believing we should not be allowed to be armed for self protection? How crazy is that?

    http://www.a-human-right.com

  • Brett

    I thought Crawford was a bit too much of a “proponent” to be objective; she seemed to use her credentials too much to justify her position.

    My comments have been getting posted (past two days) about six or seven hours later than I submit them but they are still being marked as being posted at the time I submitted them!!! HELP!! I’ve tried talking to different departments at “On Point,” have left messages, etc…No responses, and the problem still exists! It’s weird; It also doesn’t seem to matter which computer I use

  • Tom

    The “militia” argument — that the 2A has to do with the National Guard — is tired. One just has to read some of the Founding Fathers’ writings on firearms to know what their intent was with the Amendment. It is in place to keep the power in the hands of the people.

    Second, on the technology question — if the Second Amendment only applies to antique flintlock firearms, then the First Amendment should only apply to antique printing presses.

  • Astronerd

    It is not a case of “States Rights”. It is an issue of the Constitution and it’s control over the various government entities that exist.
    Heller keeps the Federal Government from outlawing handguns.
    McDonald will keep State and local governments from outlawing handguns!
    “…Shall not be infringed.” does not designate who the infringer might be. Incorporation through “Due Process” is just a legal exercise to inform everyone AGAIN about how the Constitution and the SCOTUS works.

  • Astronerd

    Here is the current effective US Code:

    10 U.S.C. § 311 : US Code – Section 311: Militia: composition and classes

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are -
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    Now… #2 above seems to indicate that all citizens between ages 17 and 45 are militia members.

  • http://yahoo Elmo C

    This is true in any world or time to present.
    ” A Free people ought…to be armed.”
    George Washington. 1790.

  • justanother

    ****This is true in any world or time to present.
    ” A Free people ought…to be armed.”
    George Washington. 1790.****

    Thank you for posting the year “1790″, and said by “one” person, which determined the choices of 350 million of today’s American, which were/are not just made of white American.

  • Skellum

    White people didn’t build the nation by-and-large. The others are guests, and always will be. Sad but true. The Constitution is a lie. Once others can overthrow it, it will be for them. Until such a time…might makes right. If you want it, you must take it. Nothing stops the law of the jungle in the end.

  • Gary

    Relevant? http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/facing-gun-issue-starbucks-throws-up-its-hands/19381679?icid=main|classic|dl1|link1|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aolnews.com%2Fnation%2Farticle%2Ffacing-gun-issue-starbucks-throws-up-its-hands%2F19381679

    How would you like to be the employee that asks the gun toting stranger to leave the coffee house or the playground? I know I wouldn’t confront the armed individual, and would leave the premises to those who bring enough force to claim it as their own.

  • jeffe

    For those of you who want to carry hand guns in public I think you might get some push back from police departments.

    How does this kind of thing effect policing such as routine traffic stops.

    The article Gary links to is scary to me. I’m not scared of guns so lets just drop all this male testosterone macho nonsense. These are real civic issues and I do not want to have live in a city were a certain segment is walking around armed while others are not. This has nothing to do with owning a gun and wanting to protect your home. Nothing at all.

    Amy Bishop murdered 3 innocent people and seriously wounded 3 others and it now seems she murdered her brother. It is clear that this person had a history of violent outbursts and reactions when her back was against the wall. She might or might not have some kind of serious mental problem that has gone undiagnosed for years. It is also possible that she is a paranoid schizophrenic who in some cases are very good at masking their illness. This kind of incident does bring some very complicated issues into the argument.

    Of course some might answer that if one of the people in that room had gun this might never had happened. Of course if Bishop shot the person with the gun first that would have been a problem.

  • Alex

    “Of course some might answer that if one of the people in that room had gun this might never had happened.”

    Sure, assuming that other person was a good shot with the nerves of steel. Otherwise he/she could have done even more mayhem in a panic.

  • Brett

    Constitutional authority has to do with the authority under which Congress could call forth a state militia. A militia seems to be with respect to a body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.

    I believe our founders were attempting to define how citizens were to protect themselves against an invading regime, but what they considered the conditions under which a militia would be called forth is unclear. But, what is clear is that the militia was to be called forth by authority of Congress.

    Also, states do have the right to restrict certain types of weapons. In Printz v. the US it was clarified that the 2nd Amendment did not guarantee a citizen’s right to posses any type of firearm. So, handguns? I believe that if a state wishes to restrict, let’s say, a sawed-off shotgun or a particular kind of assault weapon, then Constitutional law allows for that. If a state wanted to ban guns (not a particular type) altogether, then it would seem Federal law would supersede such a move.

  • justanother

    ****I’m not scared of guns so lets just drop all this male testosterone macho nonsense.****

    Exactly right! But Ben Pikes makes those arguments that shows no respect even if people are intimated by guns. A sensible person is not stupid or naive, they clearly know the danger of guns, either being misused or abused by idiots. If according to Ben’s mentality, why don’t we all unleash all animals, bears, lions, tigers….etc. to our public areas. Now don’t we all have a better chance to get attacked by those powerful, unpredictable animals, instead of leaving them along at their own habitats. But according to Ben, the concerned people don’t have a “voice” because they are realistic and intimated by those animals. So his argument of people are afraid of guns does not fly very well.

  • Ben Pike

    You guys are on the side of the criminals. The danger is already out there. This just gives law-biding people the chance to defend themselves. And as far as “Police Pushback” jeffe, these policies have been in place for years in several states, and there has been no problem. The places where it’s been done, crime has dropped. That’s the bottom line, and the end of the argument.

  • jeffe

    Ben then why is that almost every police organization in the country against the losing of gun laws?

    Crime statistics have gone down all over the country due to the decent economic times before the rescission. they are starting to rise again.

    You say that in states that have unrestricted guns laws there has been no problem with police and people carring weapons? Which states?

    The places where it’s been done, crime has dropped.
    Crime dropped drastically in New York City and they have some pretty tough gun laws. How do you explain that?

  • SaraSoSo

    jeffe, the briefs that I believe Mr. Pike was referring to are available through the freedom of information act and are presently in front of the Supreme Court. You might want to have a look at them.

  • L.J.S.

    Open carry is tactically stupid, and I suspect you’d find few self-defense trainers who would disagree.

    Once one advertizes having a gun, some bad guys are going to be scared off. Others may size up the owner and decide that he or she may make a good target if taken by surprise, with the opportunity to get a gun at the same time. If a confrontation looms, the person who is carrying openly has to weigh the risks of a gun grab in addition to any other risks in the incident. The person who is carrying concealed does not have to chose to draw the weapon if it looks like it will make the situation worse. It is an option, not a necessity.

    Police get use special holsters that are designed to prevent gun grabs and typically get training in weapons retention. Nonpolice can get weapons retention training, but it isn’t common and needs practice to maintain the skill. Security holsters are likely available to the public, but tend to be bulkier and more expensive than what the folks at these public events likely use.

    The public events are just that — publicity and politics. For the most part, you likely encounter everday folks carrying concealed many times each day, you just don’t notice because they are carrying concealed. (The FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin had an article on spotting concealed carry in the March 2006 issue (available on its website))

    For the folks that feel unsafe with the notion of guns around — do you feel unsafe visting Vermont (which has very broad provisions for concealed cary), or New Hampshire, or Maine? How about many western states where concealed carry (and sometimes open carry) is much more common than in Massachusetts.

  • Brett

    If states wish to decide their gun laws a certain way by giving its citizens the freedom to carry guns, I have no problem with it; but, if states want to restrict the use of handguns then I am not in favor of overriding state law for Federal law in those circumstances.

  • CPV

    Curiously, Nelson Lund is Constitutional Law expert yet, most of his commentary were on sociological and criminological in nature. That is, outside his area of supposed expertise.

    For example, he mentioned that crime rates “coincidentally” have gone down as gun laws have become more lenient, and he believed the two were related. Of course, any college freshman knows correlation doesn’t equal causation, but not Nelson Lund.

    Here are other things that have “coincided” with lower crime rates: an aging population, an increase in seat belt laws, and the dramatic increase in organic food availability in grocery stores.

  • joshua

    MOST PEOPEL WHO CARRY GUNS ARE CRIMINALS. iF THEY HAVE ONE–ESP. A FIREARM USED TO KILL PEOPLE–THEY EVENTUALLY WILL KILL PEOPLE. iLLEGAL GUNS IN THE HANDS OF DRUG LORDS AND OTHER CRIMINAL GANGS SHOULD BE ROUNDED UP AND PURSUED WITH TEAM SOF SNIFFING DOGS. REDNECKS WIL HIDE THIER GUNS. gANGS MIGHT TOO. bUT IT SHOULD HAPPEN LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT.

    i DO THINK THE PEOLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUT GUNS SHOULD BE CONTAINED IN THE HOME, NOT ON THE STREET, OR VEHICLE, AND NEVE IN PUBLIC PLACES.

    aS OTHERS SAID-SHOULD WE THEN MOUNT ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS ON OUR ROOFTOPS, OWN TANK, PAIN-RAYS, ETC. wHAT A SCARY PLACE?

    i THINK THE MILITARY SHOULD BE EXREEMLY LIMITED–TO STATE MILITIAS CALLED UPON FOR DEFENSE OF FEDERAL BORDERS. aN IMPERIAL ARMY IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL–ITS NOT WHAT THE FOUNDERS HAD IN MIND. ITS UN-AMERICAN.

  • jeffe

    If states want to ban weapons it should be their right just as it is their right to make it legal to carry them. You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t like it move to a state that has carry laws if ti means that much to you.

    The statistics pretty much point to more murders being caused by handguns by people who know each other.
    No one seems to want to deal with the fact that crime and murders went down in NYC and this had nothing to do with people owning guns. How do you gun lovers explain this?

  • Algore

    jeffe, listen to yourself, “murders being caused by handguns.” Seriously…no…no…stop…think about it…keep thinking…ok. Now, there you go. See? Go home.

    And as far as NYC goes, nobody cares. That’s not a normal city. That’s NYC, and it’s not anywhere close to a picture of the rest of the country. That’s freeksville.

  • jeffe

    Algore well I guess that New York is one of the financial centers of the world and a major cultural center means nothing to you. That’s fine. You can pack your hand gun and walk around like you think you own the world. It’s a false sense of security. Yes murders are caused by hand guns, and your point is? What is the point that you are trying make? That is I have a hand gun and my wife has one and we have a fight we should both pull and may whoever is quickest at the draw wins?

    I said, and pay attention because it seems to me you skipped a very important part of my statement, I said most murders are committed by people who know each other.
    It’s not me who just made this up, it’s law enforcement agency data. You can twist this anyway you want. If you think you are safer walking around with a gun, good for you. I’m sure that get’s all the ladies hot.

    As for the statement that NYC is not like the rest of the country? Well where exactly? Given that the majority of the population lives in cities or in suburbs outside of major metropolitan areas it seems that your comment is false. “Nobody cares” What is a normal city? I’m from NYC and I find LA to be weird on some levels.

    Phoenix is just an unruly sprawl and has to much taupe as a color scheme. But these are my personal opinions. Which is what you posted here. You are just one person. Saying nobody cares is a bit much considering over 20 million people live in the greater New York City area.

    By the way I don’t live in New York anymore, but I did live their for the first 25 years of my life.

  • Algore

    Why you ‘ol cuss! LOL! Guns don’t kill people. People kill people! Handguns don’t cause murders! Thug gangbangers with 2 brain cells, one waving goodbye to the other, cause murders! And you might be right about most folks living in cities, but not good people. Decent folks live out in the country, everybody knows that.

  • jeffe

    Very funny algore. I love this statement. “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. Well duh, being inanimate objects they can’t. This statement is a bumper sticker that’s all.

    These stats are from the FBI web page for 2008, 2009 is not complete so I chose to post this year.

    I’ll point to a few interesting facts:

    71.9 percent involved the use of firearms. Of the identified firearms used, handguns comprised 88.3 percent.

    This is what I was talking about, notice that if you add up the 23.3% and the 54.7% you get a total of 78% of murders are committed by people who know each other.
    I rest my case.

    Concerning the relationships (if known) of murder victims and offenders, 23.3 percent of victims were slain by family members, 22.0 percent were murdered by strangers, and 54.7 percent were killed by acquaintances (neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.)

    * In 2008, law enforcement agencies submitted supplemental homicide data to the FBI for 14,180 murders.

    * Of the 14,137 murder victims of 2008 for whom gender was known, 78.2 percent were male. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 1.)

    * Concerning murder victims for whom race was known, 49.0 percent were white, 48.6 percent were black, and 2.3 percent were from other races. Race was unknown for 239 victims. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 2.)

    * Single victim/single offender situations accounted for 48.9 percent of all murders for which the UCR Program received supplementary data. (See Expanded Homicide Data Table 4.)

    * Of the offenders for whom gender was known, 90.0 percent were males. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 3.)

    * Of the offenders for whom race was known, 51.5 percent were black, 46.2 percent were white, and 2.4 percent were from other races. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 3.)

    * Of the homicides for which the type of weapon was specified, 71.9 percent involved the use of firearms. Of the identified firearms used, handguns comprised 88.3 percent. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 8.)

    * Concerning the relationships (if known) of murder victims and offenders, 23.3 percent of victims were slain by family members, 22.0 percent were murdered by strangers, and 54.7 percent were killed by acquaintances (neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.). (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 10.)

    * Among female victims for whom relationships with their offenders were known, 34.7 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Tables 2 and 10.)

    * Concerning the known circumstances surrounding murders, 42.0 percent of victims were murdered during arguments (including romantic triangles) in 2008. Felony circumstances (rape, robbery, burglary, etc.) accounted for 22.9 percent of murders. Circumstances were unknown for 35.3 percent of reported homicides. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 12.)

    * Law enforcement reported 616 justifiable homicides in 2008. Of those, law enforcement officers justifiably killed 371 individuals, and private citizens justifiably killed 245 individuals. (See Expanded Homicide Data Tables 14 and 15.)

  • jeffe

    By the way algore I never said good, bad or ugly people lived in the “country” whatever that is.

    I use to live in Vermont, that’s pretty rural but not the same as Kansas. It’s not good to stereotype.

    As far as your statement about decent people living in the country, well I know from personal experience that this is not true. All kinds of people live in the country.

    Here’s a little antidote, when I lived in central Vermont I knew a woman who worked for Planned Parenthood. She had transferred from Boston to this small town thinking her job would be less stressful. Well what she found was worse than anything she encountered in Boston’s inner city areas.
    People are good and bad everywhere you go.
    Location does not guarantee decency.

  • Algore

    Nobody believe them trumped up numbers. Numbers are unreliable. Enron cooked the books, Wall Street cooked the books. Everybody cooks the books. Nobody has any faith in that stuff no more. It what ya see with your own eyes that counts. Ain’t nobody takin’ my guns, I’ll tell ya that right here.

  • jeffe

    Your not serious are you? Why would they trump up the figures, and by the way they also point to crime going down.

    I don’t see anyone saying they are going to take your toys, I mean guns away.

    Are you for real or are you just pulling peoples chains here?

  • justanother

    ****“Guns don’t kill people, people do”****

    What an idiotic statement and argument! Only an idiot would think guns have arms and legs and walk around killing people. And who invented guns, ahhhh….. let me think, humm…… think hard, think hard, ohh… I get it, it is human!!!!!!!

    Please do me a favor, don’t use this lame old, intelligence insulting slogan anymore! Hummm…. sounds like one political party which is not very progressive.

  • justanother

    ****Thug gangbangers with 2 brain cells, one waving goodbye to the other, cause murders! And you might be right about most folks living in cities, but not good people. Decent folks live out in the country, everybody knows that.****

    If you live around with decent folks, why in the world you have to carry guns wherever you go????

  • justanother

    ****Nobody believe them trumped up numbers. Numbers are unreliable. Enron cooked the books, Wall Street cooked the books. Everybody cooks the books. Nobody has any faith in that stuff no more. It what ya see with your own eyes that counts. Ain’t nobody takin’ my guns, I’ll tell ya that right here.****

    Humm…… typical case of “selective” hearing. When the numbers don’t add up to your subjective sense, you refuse to believe or block your ears. A sign of childishness, can we trust you with your beloved deadly toys??

  • L.J.S.

    Jeffe, do you have an actual website for this “data”?

    I think you misunderstand the data. I work in criminal defense — most gang killings involve people who know each other to some extent. Ditto many drug killings. Even in a convenience store robbery/murder, the robber may well be a customer of the store and known to the deceased owner or clerk at an acquaintance level. A great deal of homicide takes place in so-called “high crime neighborhoods”, where victim and defendant are neighbors. In each of these cases, we are generally talking about criminals who would not be able to legally own a firearm. The data is much more complex that your discussion of the FBI table suggests.

    For family members, there are many domestic violence situations that turn into murders, often murder suicides. However, if one of the parties gets a domestic restraining order, that will normally void the other’s firearms permit. Police will generally confiscate the other person’s firearms and they generally won’t get them back while the order is in effect. (Usually these start as temporary and can become permanent.) A history of domestic violence calls to a home is generally grounds not to issue a permit to the offending party, even in states with “shall-issue” licences, even without either spouse getting a restraining order.

    There are several studies dealing with guns and crime rates — Google will turn up many of them. The better ones are properly done, and account for differences in demographics. Supporters of gun ownership point to those that show that crime in states that allow more folks to carry concealed decreases faster than in similar areas with strong gun control laws. So yes, the better done studies do recognize the overall fall in rates.

  • justanother

    ****There are several studies dealing with guns and crime rates — Google will turn up many of them. The better ones are properly done, and account for differences in demographics. Supporters of gun ownership point to those that show that crime in states that allow more folks to carry concealed decreases faster than in similar areas with strong gun control laws. So yes, the better done studies do recognize the overall fall in rates.****

    Please post those links you would recommend.

  • jeffe

    L.J.S, yes it came form the FBI web site, and you can also find the sats on the Department of Justice.

    I’m sorry I forgot to post the link.

    This is main page, you need to look for the stats you need.
    As I said before 2009 is still preliminary which is why I posted 2008.

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/index.html

  • jeffe

    I don’t know the FBI stats seem pretty good. I mean we can spin this anyway we want to. L.J.S you just mentioned high crime areas. Well most of us do not live in East Baltimore or South Central LA. Still with all the shootings they have it is still interesting to note that from what I have been reading most crimes are done by people who know each other. The kind of person who is living in a rural area as algore is not likely to come across a gangbanger. He might come across a meth lab, and chances are they will be armed. I agree with you that crime stats can be misleading on some levels but if you work in law enforcement would you not agree that a high percentage of murders are committed by people who no each other.

  • justanother

    Jeffe, I see you have data to back your POV, but those gun pushers anywhere/anytime in public, they always murmur when they talk about “real data”.

  • Algore

    Here is a reminder for the slow-witted amongst us here. This is why. You go ahead and glean it now!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyUu-8nbd58

  • L.J.S.

    Jeffe: “You can pack your hand gun and walk around like you think you own the world. It’s a false sense of security.”

    Have you ever carried a handgun? I’m sure there are folks who do have this feeling. It is a big world out there.

    I think the more common feeling is one of increased awareness of one’s self (so one doesn’t expose the gun by mistake) and an increased awareness of the people around one — not in a “are these threats” way, but more in an, “if the crap hit the fan, what’s the best way out of this situation without anyone getting hurt”. The folks that take this seriously know that every bullet comes with a lawyer attached — if you have to defend yourself, there’s almost certain to be a police investigation (which means getting a lawyer), maybe an arrest, maybe a trial, risk of jail. Risk of a civil suit from the person you shot or his/her family. Plus psychological risks, even in the most justified shooting, of how you are going to react to having taken a life and how others are going to react to you. (Ayoob wrote about it as the “Mark of Cain” syndrome, you can find some studies of police who have used force lawfully as well.)

    Of the folks that I know, putting on a gun is acknowleging an awesome responsiblity not to make a mistake because the consequences are huge — for you, your family, the people around you, and for the person you are defending yourself against.

    It does color your actions, but it is somewhat like the difference between driving a car when one is alone, and when one has an infant in the car seat in the back. One tends to be much more aware of potential risks, and avoid them.

  • L.J.S.

    Jeffe — thanks for the link. It is easier to debate if one is working from the same data.

    Justanother — I’ll see what I can find, it may take a bit as I’d prefer to give cites to the underlying study, not to discussions of them.

    If you want something sooner, I’d likely start with John Lott’s studies which were some of the first in the area, then look for those which followed him.

    Jeffe — I work in criminal defense, not law enforcement, so I see a different subset of crime. It depends on what you mean by “know each other”. Let’s take my current open files involving assaults or homicides, which is in no way a statistically valid sample.

    1 — Victim and accused were acquaintances, lived in same building, had friends in common. Accused was visiting victim when victim picked a fight with accused (accused won self-defense case)

    2 — victims were three drug dealers. Accused is said to be another drug dealer and business rival. Obviously they know each other.

    3 — victims were witnesses to a shooting. Accused is said to have killed them to prevent their testimony. They knew each other by sight and name, not directly acquainted.

    4 — victim was a store owner. Accused is said to have committed an armed robbery in which store owner was killed. Some indication accused was a sometimes customer of the store and didn’t like the owner.

    5 – victim was drug user. Accused is said to have shot him in a dispute over drugs. Accused and victim knew each other by sight and nickname.

    At some level, all of these folks knew each other. None of the accuseds have firearms permits. Most of them have prior convictions that would prevent them from getting them. I don’t think they are a meaningful comparison to the licensed gun owner with no criminal record, no record of serious substance abuse or alcohol problems, no record of serious mental illness, etc.

  • jeffe

    L.J.S I have never had reason to carry or use a hand gun.
    I have shot a few rifles in my time from M14′s to a Mauser.

    I’m not scared of guns, I don’t care if people own them.
    I am glad to see you have the kind of respect for firearms that is needed. I have known people who have not.
    I was once in this house visiting a friend who had a license to carry due to his work. He always wore his sidearm. One day he was drunk and having an argument with his girlfriend. He shot the gun off into the fireplace. Bullets were ricocheting everywhere. We all hit the ground. I hid behind a couch. He stopped, he was in control enough to realize that he just made a huge mistake. Know one was hurt, but you know what this guy at that moment blew it. Nothing happened and he never faced any charges. He should have and he should have lost his license.

    I just think to many of the wrong people get there hands on them. Amy Bishop is one case, and now we have John Patrick Bedell who was able to purchase a gun even though he was clearly mentally unstable. I’m not against responsible owning guns, it would be nice if people like Bedell could be kept from obtaining them so easily.

  • L.J.S.

    Jeffe — it is hard to make decisions from single incidents. There are people who manifestly shouldn’t own guns, drive cars, sit on a jury, vote, etc. But there are trade-offs here — if you restrict gun ownership to try to eliminate the irresponsible folks, you risk responsible folks getting harmed because they don’t have the ability to protect themselves in a legitimate self-defense situation. Both events — the irresponsible idiot with a legallly-owned firearm (which Bishop was not, I can’t find a link that Bedell had a permit and lawfully bought his handgun) and the responsible person placed in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm where a firearm would be an appropriate response, are thankfully rare. I prefer to trust adults to make an individual decision for themselves about risk of harm by not having firearm vs. cost, inconvenience, and risk of having one, with society limiting ownership based on lack of criminal record, lack of treatment for seriouse mental illness, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.

    You didn’t say where your friend was or when, both of which can make a difference in the licensing rules. Or if the incident was reported to the police or if there was an investigation. If nobody present called the cops, it is hard to say that society is at fault for not restricting or removing the guy’s license. If the cops were called, investigated, and declined to cancel the license, I’d be curious if any reason was given. As I mentioned upthread, carrying while intoxicated in Mass is itself a felony.

  • L.J.Steele

    justanother:
    a search on scholar.google.com for John Lott came up with several abstracts and citations to studies in this area. I expect there are others cited by both sites in the various McDonald briefs and amicus briefs.

    http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/467988

    If you are a Mass resident, you may be able to get a Boston Public Library card, which gives you access to the JSTOR database, which may have several of these if you can’t find the .pdfs on the web.

  • jeffe

    L.J.S., the incident happened in New York in Nassau county. I left the scene as soon as this idiot stopped shooting. I’m not sure why he was not arrested as he was fighting with his girl friend. I did witness other incidents with this person doing dumb things with his gun and being under the influence of both drugs and alcohol. It’s moot now as he drove his car into a tree some twenty years ago. The amazing thing as I look back on that guys sad life is that he did not hurt anyone.
    Lucky I guess, or maybe he knew how to take up to the edge and pull back. You never know.

    Bishop bought her gun somewhere and she went to a shooting range to practice. The Bishop case has so many twists and turns and from what I have been reading about it there seems to be some real law enforcement problems. She should have been charged with involuntary manslaughter at the very least after she shot her brother, but she was let go.

    Bedell also had no trouble buying a gun.

    I guess this is an issue of people with mental disorders and how the rights of individuals in general cross paths.
    However I don’t see why we can’t have some kind of registration process that does a good background check.
    Also a waiting period is not a bad idea. I’m not advocating that because of a few crazy people getting a hold of firearms we should ban them, far from it.
    I do think we need to regulate gun shows, they are the wild card in this country and are under the radar.
    Anyone can buy almost anything at some of these shows.

  • justanother

    L.J.Steele,

    Thank you so much to go to that extend providing your resources. I will need some time to do the study myself. Thank you!

  • L.J.Steele

    Jeffe: Problem is you don’t know what story was told to police if you weren’t there. Without knowing what story they got, hard to fault them. Similarly, hard to fault them for not investigating and pulling a license if no one is reporting the problem to them.

    Until we have some info that Bishop and Bedell lawfully purchased their firearms, they aren’t useful examples of whether the existing gun laws work. In most, if not all states, you can’t just buy a handgun the way you buy a loaf of bread. Most states require a permit, which is, as noted way up-thread state-by-state. Federal law regulates sales of firearms across state lines.

    There already is a background check system — that’s the NICS check.
    http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/nics/nicsfact.htm

    Waiting periods have other issues — collectors, estate sales, folks who need to purchase or replace a firearm for competitions or training classes, and folks who do have an urgent self-defense issue. (In places where there is a required training course before getting one’s firearms permit, you have a defacto waiting period before one’s first purchase to take the class as well as the time needed to process the permit — which can take a couple of months in Mass.)

    The point of NICS was to replace waiting periods with a federal background check. Most handguns, and many long guns, are too expensive to be impulse purchases.

    Have you been to a gun show? These are mostly dealers selling to other dealers, collectors, and the public. There may be some private sales of folks who have an old rifle or handgun they want to sell and either dealers won’t give a decent price or the seller needs more than a dealer will offer.

    The rules vary state by state. In Mass, _every_ transfer of a firearm requires state forms to be filled out documenting the transfer. The forms must include the gun license numbers of both parties, which means the seller needs to see the license to fill out the paperwork. There is no gun show loophole in Mass — private sellers have to document sales to the state gov’t. They don’t have to do a NICS check (and can’t because the system is limited to dealers). As I recall, outside of an executor selling a collection in an estate sales, private sellers are also limited to 4 sales to private persons per year — after that one needs to become a dealer, with more paperwork and the requirement to do NICS checks.

    See
    http://www.goal.org/handgunsales.html

    That’s not to say there are not folks who don’t follow the law and likely well-meaning folks who don’t know to do it, but that’s going to be a problem in any system. It likely doesn’t affect many sales — there aren’t many private sellers out there. The folks who do lots of under-the-table sales seem to show up on police and ATF radar pretty quickly.

    Other states may have different rules for private sales.

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