… lunatics like Sharron Angle, Timothy McVeigh, Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh think it’s there to facilitate their idiotic temper tantrums. And a certain percentage of these horrible people carry out their violent fantasies.

Sorry, folks, but calling for a “second amendment remedy IS calling for someone’s death by assassination. This woman should be locked up now.

Comments

  1. #1 Geis
    June 19, 2010

    I disagree. Because a very small portion of lunatics use a particular amendment to the constitution to justify their antisocial and criminal action is not a valid reason to repeal those rights for all citizens. Would you feel comfortable using the potential for abuse reasoning for repealing any of the other amendments? Certainly when Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Bachmann use their oblique calls for violence, they are abusing their 1st amendment rights to free speech.

    And what about the vast majority of people who exercise their 2nd amendment rights in a legal fashion, using firearms for the legitimate purposes of hunting, sport shooting and self defense? Are their rights to be abrogated because of our fear of those few who abuse those rights?

  2. #2 T. Hunt
    June 19, 2010

    Wrong again, Greg. First off, if you start to try to repeal the 2nd, that will start a battle royale and move the focus of political debate in this country far away from anything meaningful and will possibly open the door to a constitutional convention, with all the horrors that can entail.

    One possible use for your antigun fervor might be to try to enact some laws limiting gun ownership in realistic ways. Close the gun show loophole, document sales between private individuals, similar to the transfer of a car; close some of the absolutely idiotic concealed carry provisions like allowing guns in bars, things like that.

    But I do agree that this type of talk is dangerous, even similar to crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater and that there should be some sort of consequence. Call it a balancing measure. If you want unrestricted gun ownership, you don’t get unlimited speech about those guns. Or if you want unlimited speech, you have to abide by some ownership/carry restrictions. And anyone who calls for the death of another, especially in a public forum should be held to account.

    And, as Geis points out, imposing restrictions on the vast collection of law-abiding gun owners for the sins of the very, very few is not a fair or effective solution to the problem. Actually not a solution at all since those restrictions will not affect the nutjobs and wackaloons out there.

    T. Hunt

  3. #3 Mystyk
    June 19, 2010

    Because a very small portion of lunatics use a particular amendment to the constitution to justify their antisocial and criminal action is not a valid reason to repeal those rights for all citizens.

    Where is Greg advocating repealing 2nd Amendment rights? You may not have intended as such, but you just erected a strawman. He’s not saying that we shouldn’t have firearm ownership rights because Sharron Angle is a lunatic; he’s saying that lunatics like Sharron Angle are inciting violence, which is both dangerous AND not protected by freedom of speech. You even acknowledge the speech issue, and then go back to debating a point Greg didn’t make.

  4. #4 jake
    June 19, 2010

    http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_sy.html

    Tens of thousands of deaths per year.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    I disagree. Because a very small portion of lunatics use a particular amendment to the constitution to justify their antisocial and criminal action is not a valid reason to repeal those rights for all citizens

    I did not suggest removing the right to bear arms. I suggesgted removing the second amendment.

    I’m pretty sure if the Jack Booted thugs came to take away our toasters, they would not get away with it. Yet, there is no constitutional amendment protecting the right to own a toaster.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    One possible use for your antigun fervor might be to try to enact some laws limiting gun ownership in realistic ways.

    I’m not even a tiny bit anti-gun.

  7. #7 Mystyk
    June 19, 2010

    Hrmm. Appears I was right for the wrong reasons. I missed the line of the title itself because I popped open several pages from the 24-hr SB feed in quick succession. Either was, Geis, I apologize for commenting without double-checking to make sure I had all my facts in order.

    As Greg himself has weighed in, he draws a line between the right itself and the amendment specifically enumerating them. This seems to weigh heavily on some broad use of the 9th’s “unenumerated” rights as a way of protecting the concept without empowering nuts. I’m a bit more cautious than that, and would probably favor a revision over a repeal, to update the situation to account for modern nuances.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    Oh, by the way, this is wrong too:

    Because a very small portion of lunatics use a particular amendment to the constitution to justify their antisocial and criminal action

    Small number? I guess you don’t live five blocks from Michle Bachmann’s district, do you?

  9. #9 Comrade PhysioProf
    June 19, 2010

    Dude! What the fuck are you doing to that fucking watermelon!?

  10. #10 chuck13
    June 19, 2010

    PLEASE stop with the blind links to Rachel Maddow. She has close to the lowest viewership of cable “news/commentary” shows for a reason. For me it’s not a liberal/conservative thing (I’m all over the map) but she makes shit up, thinks she is as clever as John Stewart and talks as if to 3 year olds.

  11. #11 BrianX
    June 19, 2010

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there really is an easy solution to a vocal minority threatening armed revolt against a democratically elected government that they happen to disagree with. The most you can really hope to do is keep track of them, stop attacks before they happen, and treat those who actually do take up arms as the terrorists they are.

  12. #12 Bill
    June 19, 2010

    @chuck, “she makes shit up, thinks she is as clever as John Stewart and talks as if to 3 year olds.”. Could you document the makes shit up please?

  13. #13 X
    June 19, 2010

    “She has close to the lowest viewership of cable “news/commentary” shows for a reason. …she makes shit up…”

    Error. Does not compute. Making shit up and inventing false controversy are the name of the game for the right, and it increases their viewership, not lowers it. I acknowledge she has low viewership, but either you’re wrong that she’s making shit up or you’re wrong that it’s the reason for her viewership. Either way you’re wrong about at least one detail. Pick your poison, then document the evidence to back it up.

  14. #14 Tabby Lavalamp
    June 19, 2010

    While there are things both the W. Bush and Obama administrations have done that are repugnant in the name of the “war on terrorism”, the word “tyranny” has been diluted to the point of meaning nothing thanks to how frequently and poorly it’s been used by conservatives and teabaggers.

  15. #15 Bill James
    June 19, 2010

    Don’t worry, revolutions are hard to sustain between episodes of American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and Oprah.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    chuck13: I think you may be confused. Rachel Maddow is totally cool, does not make shit up, and has an excellent sense of humor.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    Mystyk: A revision would be fine, but a repeal would be easier. We wait until two or three well liked public officials are shot to death during a town meeting by, oh, I don’t know, maybe by Michele Bachmann after she is booted out of office, and a few others like her.

    Then we have a knee jerk reaction and repeal the second. Not logical, not rational, not good governance. But nothing else ever happens that way, so what the fuck.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    Bill James: I understand Oprah is going off the air soon. All hell could break loose. I don’t think this angry chef thing is going to carry the load, and that seems to be the new thing.

    Perhaps we should just repeal all lawas against opium and derivatives..

  19. #19 Pinky
    June 19, 2010

    “If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”

    Sharron Angle’s statement echoes a meme heard within the Teabagger movement: “Take back government.” Right, they want to ‘take back’ a duly elected government that isn’t to their liking. “Second Amendment remedies” is another meme that I’ve notice popping up more and more among the Baggers. Add the reoccurring phrases “Take ‘em out” and “Take ‘em down”, its’ not hard to figure out what the hard right leadership is preparing their brownshirts to do if a Republican sea change doesn’t happen.

    Those that don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Teabaggers seem to be patterned after the Brownshirts of 1930s Germany. They were the lower class; the lumpen proletariat, the less educated who could be stimulated to do the dirty work with political slogans and promises of future posterity. Considered an embarrassment after Hitler was in power, they were amputated from the body politic by a bloody extermination called “The Night of the Long Knives.”

    The name of the purge is purported to originate with the killing of British chieftains as a result of a power vacuum that occurred in ancient Briton after the departure of the Roman authorities.

    Will civilization ever mature or will we keep going around and around making the same mistakes?

  20. #20 Al West
    June 19, 2010

    I can’t say I understand the idea of the Second Amendment. Crazy libertarians say that it’s so the people can fight the government if they become unjust, as per the revolution, and as per the crazy lady in the video. But I can’t think of a more insane thing to do than horde handguns and rifles just in case the US government becomes corrupted, somehow, and decides to use, you know, the world’s best funded, best trained military to destroy dissidents. First of all because it’s not going to happen and secondly because it’s just really, really dumb, unless you like having your house casually napalmed.

    If it’s for self-defense, then empirically, you’ve only made the matter worse. More guns equate to more deaths, whether you like it or not. “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Yeah, they do, and they do it so much more easily with a gun than with anything else. The more guns are around, the less safe you are, even if you have a gun. This is based simply on analyses of violent crime and gun murder rates worldwide.

    I also think that if you went out to buy a gun for self-defense then at some point you have considered the idea of shooting another person. That’s the reason you own the weapon: to shoot another human being. I don’t understand that.

    If you want to hunt, on the other hand: go nuts. Rifles and shotguns are great for that.

    I can’t say I understand why Americans get so emotional about this. A gun is an implement designed to end life. It is not a wonderful machine. It’s not a basic human right to own an implement designed specifically and solely to destroy humans.

    But what do I know, I’m an Anglo-Canadian.

  21. #21 Ange
    June 19, 2010

    Anglo-Canadians own more firearms per person than Ango-Americans.

  22. #22 Ben Zvan
    June 19, 2010

    An a gun owner, I belive these people are giving gun owners a bad name. Anyone calling for “second amendment remedies” and invoking the tree of liberty should at least be put on the terrorist watch list and at most tried for conspiracy to commit treason.

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    Exactly. Besides, we already have the inalienable right to own stuff.

  24. #24 Carlos
    June 19, 2010

    The second amendment is the only way to protect the fist amendment.

  25. #25 Scott Shannon
    June 19, 2010

    RE: Besides, we already have the inalienable right to own stuff.

    Not really you basically have global allow permissions with some deny permissions on things like drugs, heavy machine guns etc. I thought the second amendment was to make it so that guns could never be put on the deny list by the government.

    I just never saw guns as the problem, the problem is bat shit crazy people telling their constituents to use them.

  26. #26 Jason
    June 19, 2010

    In # 5 the author replied:

    I did not suggest removing the right to bear arms. I suggesgted removing the second amendment.

    In #6 the author replied:

    I’m not even a tiny bit anti-gun.

    So you are either insincere, trolling, or really bad an annotating your sarcasm for web consumption.

    You don’t know me Mr. Laden, but I regularly read your blog. I agree with a lot of what you write, and disagree with some of it. Until now I always thought you were being honest and using reason and critical thinking. But this posting reeks of the antithesis of all of these things. Like I said you don’t know me, but you just lost a lot of respect from me for the trolling way you phrased your headline and post, and the double-talk responses you have given trying to justify it.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    Jason, sorry to have upset you, but I’m being quite sincere.

    And to be very very clear, the REASON I blog about gun ownership on a regular (though sparse) basis is for this exact reason … you’re reaction.

    There are two widespread points of view regarding gun ownership. And I hold neither of them (nor do most, possibly all, of the gun owners whom I happen to count as my friends and relatives, perhaps with one or two exceptions).

    What is making you feel icky here is the discordance between what I am saying and BOTH of those points of view. Explore that. It is not double talk. Just brain hurting talk.

    And, I freely admit, as I often have in writing about gun ownership, that I change my mind often and try out different ideas because, frankly, there is not a single rational solution to, or in some cases definition of, the problem(s) apparent at this time. So feel free to try to talk me into a different point of view at this time. Consider, for instance, the possibility of living in a country without a second amendment. Most countries don’t have one. Some of those countries have widespread gun ownership anyway.

    And, seriously, we have a person running for office in a Democratic Society, seeking ELECTION by the people of Nevada, who has told her supporters that if she loses, they should shoot the other guy. Is that insanity not sufficiently extreme to garner acute attention … and a similar reaction … from everyone? She’s prepared to take an oath to protect and defend the constitution which she feels gives he the right to incite people to assassinate an elected Senator.

    Maybe if we didn’t have a second amendment…

  28. #28 Steve P.
    June 19, 2010

    @23, We definitely don’t have an inalienable right to own stuff. There is a lot of stuff that many Americans don’t have the right to own. I can’t own a marijuana plant, for instance. Shoot, I can only own a home if the government doesn’t decide to force me out via eminent domain. We can own what the government says is ok to own. The 2nd amendment, I think, is the only thing keeping some states from banning all guns.

  29. #29 abb3w
    June 19, 2010

    …didn’t saying that constitute a violation of 18 USC § 2385 on Sharron Angle’s part?

  30. #30 def-star
    June 19, 2010

    Funny how people can read an opinion stating that someone running for office and inciting lethal violence against their opponents and conflate it with repealing the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd amendment should be renamed the Idiot Amendment for the morons who wave it like a flag.

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    We definitely don’t have an inalienable right to own stuff.

    Good point. But we have a default right to own stuff. Then, some stuff, we can’t own because it is prohibited post hoc.

    The 2nd amendment, I think, is the only thing keeping some states from banning all guns.

    Doubtful. Very very doubtful.

  32. #32 mattb
    June 19, 2010

    Reid needs to beef up security and someone needs to put a gag on Angle. What a kook! I have to say I have struggled with where I come down personally on the second amendment. I know I am somewhere between the two extremes. But speaking of extremes and kooks, what really gets under my skin are these gun-totting brainless jackasses that take their kids along. Remember the boy who was shot at a gun show a couple years ago while shooting an Uzi? WTF? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27399337/Education And here is a search for children who were shot while hunting… http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=child+shot+while+hunting It’s freaking nuts. So, yeah, I think we should have gun rights and the right to own certain guns…but Christ, we really need serious gun control laws, and protection from screwballs. An Uzi in a child’s hands? What is this Somalia???

  33. #33 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2010

    abb3w: Exactly!

  34. #34 Geis
    June 19, 2010

    > I did not suggest removing the right to bear arms. I suggesgted
    > removing the second amendment.

    I’m not suggesting that we should have a theocracy, I’m just suggesting removing the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

    Without the Constitution, we don’t have those rights.

  35. #35 Geis
    June 19, 2010

    > If it’s for self-defense, then empirically, you’ve only made the
    > matter worse.

    The government can’t be there to protect you. You wouldn’t want the kind of government that tried. So, with that, you have to be able to defend yourself. I am one of those people who has been viciously attacked and, had I not been armed, I would have been killed or beaten until my assailants got tired of beating me.

    This was with a police station one block away.

    Do I have a right to defend myself if I am denied the tools necessary to defend myself?

  36. #36 KristinMH
    June 19, 2010

    Well, in Canada we don’t have an explicit Constitutional right to bear arms, and yet as #21 said we own more guns per capita than Americans do. We do have fairly stringent handgun control, and you can’t casually carry around a weapon on the city streets, but rifles and hunting weapons are pretty easy to get and use in appropriate contexts.

    @Geis – that sounds like an awful experience, but think about it. How often do you get murderously attacked?

    In Toronto we have 70-80 murders/year in a city of 4 million. That’s a pretty average murder rate for a big city. My odds of being murdered, especially in a random attack, are astronomically low. Suicide and accidents – both of which often involve guns – are in the top ten list of causes of death.

    I’m very sorry you were the victim of this vicious assault, but it’s hard to believe – statistically speaking – that something like that could happen to you more than once in a lifetime, even if you did live in a really violent place. Your gun saving your life in that instance is kind of a fluke. Your gun is much, much more likely to kill you by accident or enable you to kill yourself than to be used in self-defense.

    Since situations like the attack on you are comparatively rare, and suicide and accidental death so common, do you see why – from a public health perspective – people might be interested in reducing the number of guns around?

    More on topic, no idea whether the 2nd amendment should stay or go. IANAL so I don’t know what effects that would have, if it would lead inexorably to a blanket ban on gun ownership, or just make stronger gun control possible. I do think that reducing gun ownership is a net positive.

  37. #37 Bill James
    June 20, 2010

    And here is a search for children who died climbing trees…

    child dies after falling from tree – Google Search

    It’s freaking nuts. So, yeah, I think we should have climbing rights and the right to climb certain trees…but Christ, we really need serious tree climbing control laws, and protection from screwball climbers. A tree in a child’s hands? What is this Canada???

    See also:

    child dies riding bicycle – Google Search

    child dies crossing the street – Google Search

    or

    child dies at the dentist – Google Search

    or

    what’s killing our kids – Google Search

  38. #38 andy.s
    June 20, 2010

    Greg, if you’re proposing locking someone up for making a remark you disapprove of, you need to abolish the FIRST amendment, not the second.

  39. #39 Al West
    June 20, 2010

    Yes. They do. But they shoot people less often and the guns that they own are not, in fact, handguns, which is the point I’m making. The “Anglo” part also literally means that I was born in England, where very few people are short, excepting, of course, the tragic shootings by Derek Bird last month in which 12 people died. Normally, however, fewer than 60 people are shot to death each year in a nation of 60 million, a fifth of the population of the USA in which – need I say? – over 10,000 are murdered each year with guns.

    Again, needless to say, 60 < 10,000/5.

    I really don’t understand the USA, that’s really what I’m trying to say. The nation with the largest number of Nobel laureates, packed to the gunnels with exceptionally smart, educated people – and yet it has a states that shoot people to death and a segment of the population devoted to the right to own implements that end human life. It’s just strange.

    It’s up to you guys, of course, as to how you run your country in the end.

  40. #40 Al West
    June 20, 2010

    @35:
    Yes, I would want a government that can protect me. You see, in the western world, we have a wonderful cultural institution called “the police”, who not only played great music in the 1980s but also have these wonderful powers: to arrest criminals and, ideally, to prevent crime.

    Sometimes the police are themselves criminals. Since this is a pretty rare occurrence, I wouldn’t worry about it, but if you are worried then be calmed by the knowledge that there is another group of police who watch over the police to make sure they aren’t corrupt in a kind of Prussian bureaucracy of policing.

    It seems to work rather well. And living in a modern, developed country shouldn’t be like Mad Max. We shouldn’t all have to kit up with weaponry every time we go to the shops. When you think about it, that’s a ludicrous idea in a time or peace, and it seems… paranoid. To say the least.

    The above post was in response to #21, Ange, btw.

  41. #41 Al West
    June 20, 2010

    *shot, not “short”, of course, in #38.

  42. #42 Greg Laden
    June 20, 2010

    Greis: I’m not suggesting that we should have a theocracy, I’m just suggesting removing the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

    Without the Constitution, we don’t have those rights.

    There are rights we have without a constitution. One of our most important is the right to privacy. This is not conferred on us directly by the constitution. Also, states can add rights. In Minnesota, we have the right to hunt and gather, for instance.

    But otherwise, I essentially agree with your point. But what I’m proposing here is not using the same old thinking to result in the same old polarized argument. I’m saying this: If, as NRA-symps loudly claim and proclaim, the logic of gun ownership is so solid, then it needs not to be protected any more than, say, car ownership. (That’s a premise, I did not say that above.) Given that, we now have this conflict, which as been pointed out above by commetners: The law of the land (including the Constitution, and based on the Constitution) seems to be telling us that we can have our guns in order to shoot the jack booted thugs that the government sends to oppress us, BUT, at the same time, we are NOT allowed to shoot our way out of disagreements with the government. One part of the constitution seems, according to one experienced elected official in Nevada, to allow us to run against an opponent in an election, and if you lose and truly beleive your opponent is a tyrant, kill him. Yet this seems, somehow, to the sane, wrong.

    So let’s have it out. Let’s either get rid of the part of our law of the land that says we can’t carry out violent revolution, or get rid of the part that says we can.

    The fact tha the part that says we can never did say that and only refers to a well regulated militia is no longer important. The corruption of the second amendment has already gone too far to save it.

    And that’s where your analogy is wrong,as attractive as it seems: We have not fucked up the 1st amendment like we’ve fucked up the 2nd amendment.

  43. #43 Andrew
    June 20, 2010

    Do I have a right to defend myself if I am denied the tools necessary to defend myself?

    I do not question your right but I do question your competence.

  44. #44 Greg Laden
    June 20, 2010

    Christ, we really need serious tree climbing control laws, and protection from screwball climbers. A tree in a child’s hands? What is this Canada???

    Which has nothing to do with this conversation. You are giving us the usual gun-nut reaction. We are not talking about what you are talking about. What we are talking about is this question: Does the US constitution give a losing candidate the right to shoot to death, or have her supporters shoot to death, the winner in an election if her political party asserts that the political party of the winning candidate is oppressive or tyranical, or is lead by a socialist who was BORNED IN AFRIKA!!!111!! or someplace and never became a Merkin Citizen!!!1!!

    Etc.

    It appears that a significant portion of the population … the teabaggers … are thinking this. We have reached a constitutional crisis if 30 percent of the citizenry believes that the 2nd amenndment gives them this right. The crisis is, indeed, one of widespread ignorance. But the point is, a large part of the population is treating the USC as a toy that they, in fact, are unable to handle. So it should be taken away from them.

  45. #45 Andrew
    June 20, 2010

    @Geis – that sounds like an awful experience, but think about it. How often do you get murderously attacked?

    And, how often would a handgun help more than a shot gun in your own home?

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    June 20, 2010

    Andy S., where did I propose that? Or is the word “if” here simply your way of seeding a straw man argument? Please explain yourself.

    I leave it up the the criminal justice system to determine if a crime has been committed. These conspiracy things are pretty tricky, but not as tricky as most people think. A year of wiretapping and a few detailed searches of her home and office should do the trick, as per usual.

  47. #47 chuck13
    June 20, 2010

    I think the current Maddow clip demonstrates some of my complaints with her.

    First for background, this Angle person is either (1) an anarchist/assassination promoter, (2) crafty with her metaphors in pushing the Right’s buttons on how serious she thinks things must change and the Left’s buttons to get some media coverage or (3) sloppy with her thinking and rhetoric.

    In this case I will presume Angle thinks she is (2) and probably strayed into (3) territory.

    But because Maddow’s reality is informed by her political beliefs and opportunism, she insinuates that the least likely option is in fact the answer.

    Granted, Maddow is just picking up a ball that is currently bouncing around the leftern blogospheres but I believe she is insinuating something that is very unlikely to be true. I think this is supported by the fact that Angle has not been jailed or questioned by authorities as far as I know.

    Therefore Maddow is making shit up.

    When I think about this, it is a recurring theme on all sides of the political spectrum where someone says something thinking they are being clear or clever or whatever and a literal or spun or edited rereading can be interpreted in any number of ways. A “gotcha!” firestorm ensues, groups from all sides raise money on the controversy, and the media fills blog space and air time with the matter. The matter eventually fades away when something new comes along or an election/withdrawn candidacy/apology/clarification/other event makes the point mute one way or the other.

    As for Maddow coming off as a second-rate John Stewart, her insinuations are way too labored, enunciation too slow, and her pretense of asking questions of people who are not present so they can go unanswered is a cheap trick.

  48. #48 Geis
    June 20, 2010

    > I do not question your right but I do question your competence.

    Really? I survived because of the firearm and I didn’t have to actually shoot anyone. That seems fairly competent to me. Or are you questioning some other competence of mine?

    > How often do you get murderously attacked?

    I have been murderously attacked once where I had to draw my firearm to defend myself. I have been attacked again wherein my attackers immediately fled without me having to draw my weapon. And I have been threatened several additional times that did not escalate beyond that but very well could have.

    > Yes, I would want a government that can protect me. You see, in
    > the western world, we have a wonderful cultural institution
    > called “the police”

    But to protect me (or you) in any situation, there would need to be police on every street corner. That would be the only way thay they could protect you. But, even in that case, the police are not there to protect you. They are there to protect “the public” as a whole. There have been numerous cases taken as high as the Supreme Court where an individual citizen was injured or killed through the lack of intervention by the police, in some cases negligent inaction, and yet the courts ruled that the police were not responsible, either as a whole or as individuals.

    Sure, an effective police force can keep the peace and deter crime but, should that crime occur in spite of their suppressive efforts, I am on my own. If I am required to give up the tools necessary to defend myself under those conditions, then I am abrogating my right to even defend myself.

    It’s like saying you have a freedom of speech but all the media is going to be government owned.

    > And, how often would a handgun help more than a shot gun in your
    > own home?

    Can’t carry a shotgun when I’m riding my bike to and from work, which is when I was set upon. A shotgun in my home would have done me no good in the street and I would have been killed.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not for unfettered gun ownership. I am perfectly willing to have certain restrictions imposed. And there are already plenty of restrictions in place. But I think it’s important to have the right to keep and bear arms as an enumerated right and then quibble over just how far those rights go, then to have them left to the mercies of individual states, as they would be under the 9th and 10th Amendments.

  49. #49 Al West
    June 20, 2010

    And the point appears to have escaped you. If you make handguns illegal then the number of handguns drastically declines. The old canard, “if handguns were criminalised then only criminals would have handguns” is obviously, tautologically true, but the point is that the total number of guns goes down and so does the number of people killed by guns. As guns as the easiest way to kill people and a simple way to enact vengeance, making murder something comparably easy especially in relation to murdering someone with a knife, removing handguns from private possession reduces the total number of murders. As the statistics show.

    On top of this, in a modern society, you will not be attacked very much, if at all. I’ve lived in the western world for about twenty two years and in various Asian countries (most of them fairly developed) for other long periods of time, and not once have I even so much as seen a serious violent crime. A mild affray, certainly, but nothing to warrant anything close to deadly force, and it’s certainly not for avoiding the nasty parts of town. The idea that you would need a piece of kit, that you would carry about your personally ideally permanently, to take care of a situation so rare that it seems ludicrous to prepare for, and that should be the responsibility of the police to handle, is frankly odd. Further, your “right” to be prepared to go for serious overkill in a self-defense situation is really nothing in comparison to the right of other citizens to walk the streets and live life safely without the threat of bullets coming their way.

    So, in the end, handguns make nations and peoples unsafe without any REAL advantages except the ability to say that you are more free because you can carry something that was designed for killing human beings.

    Another important point is that you can’t tell the difference between a good person and a bad person by sight, or even necessarily by checking their record. There may be plenty of “good”, law-abiding people who “need” a handgun for self-defense, but they cannot make up for every vicious thug or chap who goes off the rails and shoots up a school or a nightclub, or just shoots a man in the street for his wallet.

    Remove the means and the crime becomes harder to perform. It’s a great deterrant.

  50. #50 Geis
    June 20, 2010

    > And the point appears to have escaped you. If you make handguns
    > illegal then the number of handguns drastically declines.

    Is that the same way that the 18th Amendment drastically reduced the use of alcohol and made America a much safer and sober place?

  51. #51 Stephanie Z
    June 20, 2010

    Because, of course, handguns can be made by anybody with access to some sugar.

  52. #52 Greg Laden
    June 20, 2010

    Geis: You are a random person on the internet who wants me to take your word for your competence to police yourself and your house with a deadly weapon. For something this important, I need independent verification. Not a weekend course with the NRA or a bunch of hepped up war stories. That’s all I meant. Nothing personal.

  53. #53 Sevesteen
    June 21, 2010

    Part of the second amendment is for when the government goes seriously rogue. Rogue in this context isn’t “my side lost”, it is when the sitting government loses, but refuses to step down, or if a government gains or maintains power by tampering with elections. It is when racist local governments refused to stop the KKK from shooting up black churches, and the Deacons for Defense and Justice had to step in. (It is astounding how quickly the KKK changed their mind when they took a bit of return fire…) And it is meant as a deterrent, to keep the government from going rogue, or at least slowing it down.

    I think we are headed towards tyranny at the moment, but slowly, with a long way to go, and with a political system that is still working. I’ll work politically to reverse that trend as much as possible. Repealing the second amendment is a major step towards tyranny, and makes corrupting the election system much less risky, so I’ll fight against that.

  54. #54 Elaine
    June 21, 2010

    Geis, did you kill the kids who were trying to steal your bike?

  55. #55 Al West
    June 21, 2010

    Geis @50:

    No. Using the very simple method of comparing violent crime and gun murder rates of different states and different nations, the conclusion is really quite easily reached empirically. Did the 18th amendment work? No – empirically, it did not. It failed to do what was intended. But guns aren’t booze. They aren’t drugs. They are implements for ending human life, and people tend not to want them if they don’t need them, and in countries where no one has them, they don’t need them. See what a wonderful virtuous cycle that is?

    As for Sevesteen’s noise: owning a handgun does not make you safer and it doesn’t make your government less tyrannical. First of all, of course, the US government is not “heading towards tyranny”. At all. Secondly, if the government were heading that way, do you really think they’d let a bunch of yahoos with anti-personnel weapons get in their way when they have the world’s most powerful armed forces at their disposal? Give it a rest. The idea that the second amendment is a great defender of liberty in the face of government oppression has been stupid since the invention of the tank.

    Notice, too, that lots of other liberal democracies have very stringent laws regarding possession of firearms but haven’t slipped towards authoritarianism.

    Just give it up. Let the replacement penis go. You don’t need it.

  56. #56 Deen
    June 21, 2010

    If gun ownership makes the US a safer place, if the right to bear arms makes the US more free, then why is the US so much less safe and free than, say, Western Europe?

  57. #57 abb3w
    June 21, 2010

    Greg: you miss my point. I don’t see the big problem as people owning guns; it’s that there is a crazy person who in violation of Law is advocating they be used (and more offensively, used in violation of the principle of Rule of Law)… and there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking action on it.

    Perhaps there’s some subtle legal point that a non-lawyer like myself doesn’t grasp as to why she hasn’t gotten charged yet. However, it would appear to be less a question of “legal” than “political” — and possibly verging on “politics continued by other means”. In which case, the situation is already far enough out of hand that trying to restrict guns is less likely to stabilize than further destabilize matters. It’s like trying to close the barn door while the horses are in the doorway — you’re sure to get kicked doing that.

  58. #58 Ben Zvan
    June 21, 2010

    Anyone who thinks the second amendment protects the first is wholly mistaken. If the first amendment gets repealed the .45 in your waistband isn’t going to allow you to peaceably assemble.

    The second amendment was written when there were no auto-loading handguns, assault rifles or even center-fire cartridges, and the ‘well regulated militia’ referred to what we currently think of as ‘the national guard.’ No part of the second amendment refers to tyrannical governments or the tree of liberty.

  59. #59 Greg Laden
    June 21, 2010

    abb3w: I agree with you. I just think that the second amendment does nothing other than encouraging a) a very incorrect view of how guns should be owned and managed, and b) crazy-fodder. So getting rid of it would be good. But it is only one solution.

  60. #60 Sevesteen
    June 21, 2010

    The usual stats that say “a gun is 20 times more likely…” are severely twisted–the question carefully crafted to meet a particular conclusion by including criminals, by only counting death, and by counting an attack by someone you have ever met as part of the 20 times. I tend to believe that if there were realistic statistics showing that guns don’t make you safer, these contrived ones wouldn’t be the ones used.

    Are there any anti-gun studies done with even an attempt at proper statistical methods, controlling for other factors, etc?

    Somewhere on the road to tyranny the government will severely restrict private firearms ownership. I think we are currently headed in the general direction of tyranny, but we have quite a long way to go and lots of chances remain to take a different path.

    If tanks are all it takes, why is there still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq?

    And when logic fails, resort to the tried and true dick jokes.

    If the second amendment refers to the National Guard, What does it either forbid or compel of the government?

  61. #61 Stephanie Z
    June 21, 2010

    Some highly sourced statistics on the risks and benefits of gun ownership: http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2010/06/how-well-does-your-gun-protect-you.html.

  62. #62 Geis
    June 21, 2010

    I find it interesting that so-called Liberals employ a very liberal interpretation of all of the Bill of Rights with the exception of the 2nd Amendment. For that they have a very limited, conservative interpretation of what it says. While, on the other hand, so-called Conservatives have a very broad, permissive and liberal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. It’s as if liberal and conservative were not political frames of thought but merely convenient labels people wear to distinguish people who think like us from people who don’t.

  63. #63 Stephanie Z
    June 21, 2010

    And I find it fascinating that conservatives don’t understand how many of their “principled positions” are reactionary stances taken to changes in the world around them. The Second Amendment has become less relevant in response to a changing society, changing military and changing weaponry. It really doesn’t do anything to protect us from tyranny anymore, to the extent it ever did. As such, it’s been easier to note the costs of any rights granted under it (you know rights come with costs, yes?) and the balance of costs and potential benefits.

    Liberals actually weigh those costs. Not always well, but they pay attention. Conservatives, in this case as well as in many of their current “policy” decisions, decide that if liberals like it, it must be bad. The reasons only come later.

  64. #64 Greg Laden
    June 22, 2010

    Geis, please be more specific. The relevant interpretations are those made by the courts. Were there specific liberal vs. conservative courts that made certain decisions? That may well be, and that would be interesting.

  65. #65 Sevesteen
    June 22, 2010

    Stephanie: your “highly sourced” stats are merely raw statistics with some added assumptions–no correcting for other variables. What I’d like to see is something that compared death and injury rate between otherwise similar lawful gun owners and non-owners, without the trick of mixing in armed criminals to make gun ownership appear more dangerous.

    One could argue that the second amendment is less relevant, and arguing to repeal it is at least honest. Arguing that it isn’t relevant so we can safely ignore it is frightening.

    With gun issues, liberals generally weigh the costs, count some neutral things as costs, and ignore or minimize benefits. There is also a dismissal of the second amendment with “that’s a collective right, not an individual” or “that’s the national guard”–without further explanation or clarification of what or who that view of the amendment applies to, and what it requires or forbids.

    Conservatives do the same with their issues–far as I’m concerned, the only ones close to consistent are a handful of libertarians.

  66. #66 Al West
    June 22, 2010

    I don’t know if statistics can get more clear than this. The UK has no legal handguns. The USA has lots of legal handguns. The number of people killed by guns in the UK each year is around 60 and that number has remained stable for a very long time.

    The number of people killed annually in the USA by guns is above 10,000.

    Now, the USA has a population five times greater than the UK, so let’s divide that number by five, shall we? That gives us 2,000. Or try it the other way – multiply the UK stat by five and see what we get: 300. Still a fraction of the US rate.

    I just can’t imagine ever being comfortable with a “freedom” that annually kills 10,000 people. That’s nearly thirty a day. I wouldn’t be able to be comfortable with it at all, especially given the obvious fact that removing handguns from the hands of private citizens would drastically cut the number of gun deaths.

    Also, bear in mind that, should the government ever decide to go tyrannical (and honestly, you’re sounding rather paranoid here), your name will be on a list of known gun-owners. It’s not like the troops will have to try very hard to find you and kill you. On top of that, it has always seemed to me that the gun-owners who care about protecting freedom and all that jazz are more than likely going to be the ones helping the government – all the govt. would have to do is demonise and attack liberals and boom, posses form.

    As for, “why is there still fighting in Afghanistan?”, I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not because the Afghan population all had legal registered handguns. It’s because they’re crazy, they have outside support, because the terrain is tough, because Afghanis are hardy mountain people and don’t eat at Arby’s… The idea that US gun-owners are some kind guerilla army that will rise up to defend our liberty from government oppression, just like the Afghanis, is frankly ludicrous.

    On top of this, Sevesteen, you say that you don’t want armed criminals in your statistics about crimes committed with guns. Here’s a tip: the only people who commit crimes with guns are, by definition, armed criminals. If you commit a crime with a gun, then you’re an armed criminal, whatever your previous peaceability. “Hey, take those armed criminals out of the stats on armed criminality” – doesn’t seem to make sense…

    And the fact is pretty simple, in the end. Private gun ownership is dangerous. It’s dumb, too. You don’t need a gun for self-defense or to defend yourself from the evil gubmint. But I guess if you’re crazy enough to believe that the USA is becoming authoritarian, then you’re crazy enough to believe that guns are safe and beautiful protectors of our liberty.

  67. #67 Stephanie Z
    June 22, 2010

    Sevesteen, where is your sourced, statistical analysis? Where is your per capita rate of home invasion in the U.K.? Where is your source for “half are felons”? Where is your math showing what kind of a difference that makes?

    Now you’re just arguing that you don’t want to pay attention to my numbers. And since you can’t attack the sources (beyond putting them in scare quotes) you’re merely sneering at them.

  68. #68 h8-U
    June 22, 2010

    “should the government ever decide to go tyrannical (and honestly, you’re sounding rather paranoid here), your name will be on a list of known gun-owners. It’s not like the troops will have to try very hard to find you and kill you.”

    The best argument against gun registration I have seen all day.

  69. #69 Sevesteen
    June 22, 2010

    The UK used to have gun laws similar to the US. The US has always had a much higher gun death rate, and the gap has not increased as the differences in laws has.

    We are working from different assumptions. I don’t think the successful suicide rate would change much if guns were banned–guns are convenient and effective, but other effective methods remain available–see Japan. I also think that people should be allowed to do stupid and harmful things to themselves–only when they harm others should we consider restrictions.

    Eliminating handguns doesn’t eliminate all handgun crime, at least some (and I suspect most) shifts it to other weapons. England has a problem with knife crime, and restrictions on carrying knives don’t seem to help much–they keep the people who aren’t likely to stab from carrying pocketknives. Handguns are certainly easier than long guns for a robber to use, but if they aren’t available a rifle or shotgun isn’t much more difficult and is much more deadly. Plus you can be pretty sure that the victim won’t be able to fight back–carrying a shotgun around all day is different from carrying one from the parking lot to your victim.

    Whether armed criminals should be counted depends on context. Convicted felons are far more likely to be killed by guns–but I’m not a felon, don’t have any felons living here so it doesn’t make sense to include them in my personal risk assessment of guns in my house. I can’t find the 48% convicted felon stat I claimed, or a nationwide study–I did find about half have a criminal record, and more than 3/4 were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of death.

    As far as sourced, statistical analysis–I’m not proposing to change or restrict your behavior, and I’m not a statistician. I’m sure that the Brady Campaign, VPC, or some other Joyce Foundation supported group has done this sort of sourced analysis…but for some reason isn’t publishing. It isn’t that I think your sources are inaccurate–the stats you used are probably the best available. However, they don’t differentiate well enough to be useful for the question at hand.

  70. #70 Stephanie Z
    June 22, 2010

    Sevesteen, your unsourced thoughts on suicide and U.K. crimes have already been answered in the other thread. Put up better data, or recognize that you’re only rejecting mine because you don’t like it.

  71. #71 Al West
    June 22, 2010

    …Except that the UK (where I am right now, in fact) has never had US-style gun laws. Ever. In fact, there have been regulations in place since well before the First World War; after that, there was a flood of guns from the war on the British market, and in 1927, strict gun laws were put on the books restricting heavily the private ownership of firearms. Guns have ALWAYS been difficult to get hold of in the UK. In 1997, after the Dunblane massacre, the ownership of handguns – unlike shotguns and rifles, implements designed explicitly to end HUMAN life – were banned for private ownership. And that is the state of UK gun laws today.

    Further, the idea that the US has always had a higher gun death rate ergo handguns should still be allowed is frankly insane. If American citizens are that psychotic (and I really don’t think they are, but following your line…) then it only makes sense to prevent them from owning implements with which to enact their grievances. I believe you’ve shot yourself in the foot, twice, first by stating that the UK once had US-style gun laws and secondly by proclaiming that Americans are that much more likely to kill people anyway.

    You also say that “England has a problem with knife crime”. That’s actually incorrect, because 1) the knife crime centre of the UK is Glasgow, which is in Scotland, but 2), semantics aside, the knife crime “problem” in the UK consisted of a series of murders of young men in London at its peak in February last year, in which on average one man a week was stabbed in a city of 7,000,000. Yes, there are a few murders with knives, but the so-called “knife crime problem”, if there is one, in the UK consists of a much, much lower number of knife murders than in the USA. Which, needless to say, also has 10,000 people dying every year from un-needed guns.

    You say that people should be allowed to do stupid things to themselves, and I agree. You also say that when things do harm to others, only then should we consider banning them. And again, I find myself in agreement. But I fail to see how you could say that 10,000 people a year needlessly dying is a sign that handguns (or guns generally) in private hands for any other reason than hunting do not constitute an unnecessary threat to life. That is to say, by your own argument, the idea of banning handguns would be perfectly logical. Which… well, it is. It would be a good idea.

    The point here is that you can come up with all kinds of theoretical problems – “well, they could just carry a shotgun” – but empirically, the reality is quite simple: handguns create more deaths for no reason, and the problems you come up with have no real basis in reality. You own a handgun for no reason other than ending human life, which is only called for in the most extreme circumstances, circumstances which only come about once in a very blue moon and which should and would ideally not happen at all.

    There really isn’t a rational defense of private handgun-ownership, unless you live in Somalia where a trip to the shops really is like Mad Max. But of course, it’s up to you and your country to work out what to do within its borders.

  72. #72 Stephanie Z
    June 22, 2010

    I also think that people should be allowed to do stupid and harmful things to themselves–only when they harm others should we consider restrictions.

    All right. I’m coming back to this because it really pisses me off. You want people to die from complications of their health problems? The incidence of diagnosed mental illness ranges from 80% to 90% among people who successfully commit suicide. This is no more “stupid” than a person with Tourrette’s swearing at his or her boss is. This is a side effect, and the easy availability of guns contributes to making it a fatal one.

  73. #73 Geis
    June 22, 2010

    > Geis, did you kill the kids who were trying to steal your bike?

    No, I did not. And they weren’t trying to steal my bike. They were trying to beat me to death because I was a white guy in their neighborhood. The Rodney King riots were going on in LA and I had the misfortune of having to rely on a bicycle for my transportation through neighborhoods that were a hotbed of violence at that time. Of course, the local police and media were assuring everyone that the violence wasn’t happening here.

    I was attacked by two youths, one armed with a baseball bat. I tried to flee but could not. I drew my weapon and was literally half way through a trigger pull when my attacker ceased his aggressive action and backed off, but only far enough to allow me to move closer to the police station a block away, taunting me the entire time. Only when withing sight of the police station, my calls for assistance unresponsive to, did they finally free the scene.

    Injured, I spent several hours in the hospital watching replay after replay of Reginald Denny getting the shit kicked out of him and wondering whether I would need stitches. My attackers got to go home.

    Now, Greg seems to think that I am merely some random guy on the Internet and he doesn’t seem to believe my story. I am disappointed in his complete discounting of my story and thus the dismissal of my arguments. I’m sure that, even if I were to produce the police report, it would be insufficient, as would the testimony of three of my personal friends who similarly encountered violence that week and defended themselves with firearms. (None of them having to pull the trigger, by the way.)

  74. #74 Geis
    June 22, 2010

    > I just can’t imagine ever being comfortable with a “freedom” that annually kills 10,000 people.

    Cars kill tens of thousands annually and people seem fairly comfortable with that. The only reason it’s finally dropped below 40,000 recently is because with the high price of gas, fewer people are driving.

  75. #75 Greg Laden
    June 22, 2010

    Geis, I believe your story. I also think that the events you observed and, sadly, shockingly, and horrifically, ended up on the wrong end of (and I’m sorry that happened to you) are signs of a lack of civilized behavior in our society. In that case, on the part of the rioters, sure, but they can also be seen as frustrated long term victims, and the uncivilized behavior clearly included the activity of the cops, and that was part of a larger set of problems we have nationally. (Worse here but not only here, but the fact that nations vary so much in this regard tells us that history and choices and so on matter.)

    And, that is why I want the Second Amendment thrown out or reinterpreted to refer only to this actual militia thing, I want to take away your handgun, and regulate gun ownership. And and that is why I don’t easily accept the arguments you are making.

    I want to live in a world where people do not carry around deadly weapons as a matter of course. That is not a civilized world. The way to get there is not to arm the citizenry with pistols.

  76. #76 Stephanie Z
    June 22, 2010

    Geis, cars have a significant upside and a purpose that is something other than killing people. “But what about cars?” is the oldest, dumbest, deadest argument against gun control.

  77. #77 Geis
    June 22, 2010

    > You own a handgun for no reason other than ending human life, which is
    > only called for in the most extreme circumstances, circumstances
    > which only come about once in a very blue moon and which should and
    > would ideally not happen at all.

    Handguns have multiple purposes, one of which is self-defense. Yes, it can be used in extreme circumstances to take a human life but, if you believe my story to be true, you must accept that they can serve the purpose of self-defense without anyone being shot. Deterrence does actually work.

    Blue moons come more often than you think and we do not live in an ideal world. I see nothing to to suggest that banning handguns would bring us anywhere close to that ideal. It is far too late for that. Perhaps, if handguns had been outlawed long ago, it may have worked, but after the Civil War there were so many guns in private hands that genie could not be put back in the bottle. Ban guns now and all the otherwise law abiding citizens will turn them in as directed. The criminals will not. Since the police are not going to be able to fill in that gap, gun crime will actually increase because those that might otherwise defend themselves (as I did) will be completely at the criminal’s mercy.

    I use the example of Prohibition. Sure, guns can’t be made with sugar, but there are so many guns out there already and our borders are porous enough that any illegal market for those guns could be easily met. Prohibition gave a tremendous power to the mobs, almost created them from scratch. The prohibition of firearms would likely create a similar criminal enterprise centered around illegal guns rather than illegal alcohol. Do you want the wingnuts to go crazy and actually start acting on their rhetoric that the 2nd Amendment is there to provide the tools to overthrow the government? If so, then go ahead and repeal the amendment.

    I think it’s better to place reasonable restrictions on legal ownership of firearms, severely punish criminal use of firearms and work very hard to take away the reasons for misuse of firearms. If people have jobs, health care, education and secure lives, their reasons for the criminal use of firearms will fade.

  78. #78 Mike Barkley
    March 11, 2011

    Hi Greg, interesting blog. I’ve been accumulating links to web articles and lead comments advocating repeal of the Second Amendment (including yours) at http://www.mjbarkl.com/run.htm .

    Best wishes, –Mike , Candidate for Congress