More on guns: Shermer advocates gun control in NYT; NRA and Congress back down a wee bit on bump stocks

 As you’ve probably heard if you’re in the U.S., both the National Rifle Association and some Congressional Republicans (as well as many Democrats) are now calling for either a ban on or tighter regulations of “bump stocks“—those substitute parts of guns that can convert semiautomatic weapons into automatic ones. The sale of automatic weapons (in which holding down the trigger produces continuous fire) is illegal in America save for those made before 1986, and those old weapons are extraordinarily expensive. However, the sale of “bump” devices, which can turn a semiautomatic into an automatic (these devices move the stock back and forth rapidly against the trigger finger, causing very rapid fire) are legal, and can be ordered online for less than $100.

Given that automatic weapon sales are illegal, I see no justification whatever for allowing the legal sale of devices that can convert a gun into a weapon that would be illegal to buy. Further, how can you even justify the private ownership of automatic weapons or semiautomatic weapons like assault rifles, whose only purpose is to kill as many people as possible in a short time? It seems a no-brainer that bump stocks should be outlawed now.

As I said, some in Congress are considering that, and even the demonic National Rifle Association (NRA) is saying Congress should “review” the regulations about these devices to see if they comply with federal law. Here’s the NRA’s statement issued after the Las Vegas shootings:

But this is all window dressing. Bump stocks are clearly things that should be banned, and the NRA’s calling for a “review” is not the same thing as calling for a ban. Once again, the NRA shows its unwillingness to seriously engage with gun control, and on an issue that has an obvious answer. Ban the damn bumpstocks!

More important, banning bump stocks—which of course are now selling like hotcakes to Americans who fear they won’t be able to buy them soon—is only the tiniest step in gun control. Far more needs to be done. In my view, all private ownership of guns should be banned except for those who can demonstrate a real need for them: perhaps hunters, farmers, hikers, or those who have been threatened.  I’ve long thought that the words of the Second Amendment clearly indicate what its authors meant when they said this:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Is that not clear enough? The right of the people to “keep and bear Arms” is there for the purpose of allowing a “well regulated Militia”. Does Joe Sixpack with his Glock own his arms to participate in a well regulated Militia? While the courts, most particularly the Supreme Court, have interpreted this to mean that people should be able to own their own guns willy-nilly, I’m not at all sure that the Founders who wrote that Amendment would approve of how it’s been used. As for myself, I’d favor a total repeal of the Second Amendment and its replacement with other laws.

I believe Michael Shermer, who wrote the article below in yesterday’s New York Times (click on screenshot to see it), would agree.

Shermer’s op-ed makes two ponts. First, despite the loud claims of gun lovers, gun ownership doesn’t make people safer. While there are a few studies that contradict that conclusion, the bulk of the data say that private ownership of guns causes the death of innocent people at a much higher rate than it does the death of criminals at the hands of private gun owners (my emphasis):

Stories about the use of guns in self-defense — a good guy with a gun dispensing with a bad guy with a gun — are legion among gun enthusiasts and conservative talk radio hosts. But a 1998 study in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, to take one of many examples, found that “every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” That means a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a criminal assault, an accidental death or injury, a suicide attempt or a homicide than it is for self-defense.

A 2003 study published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, which examined gun ownership levels among thousands of murder and suicide victims and nonvictims, found that gun-owning households were 41 percent more likely to experience a homicide and 244 percent more like to experience a suicide. The Second Amendment protects your right to own a gun, but having one in your home involves a risk-benefit calculation you should seriously consider.

Before you go quoting the counter data, read a piece in this month’s Scientific American by Melinda Moyer, “More guns do not stop more crime, evidence shows“. Looking at all the studies, Moyer concludes that the bulk of the good ones show that restricting guns does indeed reduce deaths and crime. A quote:

A decade after laws relax, violent crime rates are 13 to 15 percent higher than they were before. And in 2004 the National Research Council, which provides independent advice on scientific issues, turned its attention to firearm research, including Lott’s findings [JAC: this is from a 1997 study by Lott and Mustard claiming to show that crime fell after it became easier to get gun permits]. It asked 15 scholars to reanalyze Lott’s data because “there was such a conflict in the field about the findings,” recalls panel chair and criminologist Charles Wellford, now a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. Lott’s models, they found, could be tweaked in tiny ways to produce big changes in results. “The analyses that we did, and that others have done, show that these estimates are very fragile,” Wellford explains. “The committee, with one exception, concluded that you could not accept his conclusion that more guns meant less crime.” Wintemute summarized it this way: “There are a few studies that suggest that liberalizing access to concealed firearms has, on balance, beneficial effects. There are a far larger number of studies that suggest that it has, on balance, detrimental effects.” [JAC:  the article describes Garen Wintemute as “a physician and noted gun violence researcher at the University of California, Davis.”]

One problem with getting data is that the NRA has successfully lobbied to prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from even investigating the question of guns and injuries, even though it is a public safety issue. This is one example of how the NRA is evil, for it prevents collecting empirical data—probably because it knows how those data will come out. As the Sci Am piece reports:

in the late 1990s [Mark] Rosenberg was the director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which then funded and studied gun violence. He said he was fired from the agency in 1999 for pushing ahead with this research despite political opposition, although his boss at the time, whom I contacted, disagreed that Rosenberg’s actions on gun research caused his dismissal.

I asked Rosenberg what happened after the Kellermann studies came out. “The NRA started a multipronged attack on us,” he recounted. “They called the CDC a cesspool of junk science.” Indeed, soon after Kellermann’s early studies were published, the NRA ran an article in its official journal, the American Rifleman, encouraging readers to protest the CDC’s use of tax dollars to “conduct anti-gun pseudo-scientific studies disguised as research.” The association also asked the National Institute of Health’s Office of Scientific Integrity to investigate Kellermann and his colleagues, but it declined. Todd Adkins, current director of research and information at the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told me via e-mail that the association was reacting because CDC scientists had started a campaign to persuade Americans that firearms are a menace to public health and ignored data that did not support this idea.

As the dispute continued, Representative Jay Dickey of Arkansas introduced a rider into the CDC’s 1996 spending bill mandating that none of its funding be used to advocate or promote gun control. Congress also cut out $2.6 million of the CDC’s budget, the exact amount that had been allocated for firearm research the previous year. (Later, that funding was restored but was earmarked for traumatic brain injury.) Harvard’s Hemenway says that the move “was a shot across the bow: ‘We’re watching you.’” He adds that “the CDC recognized that they better be really, really, really, really careful about guns if they wanted to have an Injury Center.”

Dickey’s addition to the CDC’s funding bill has been renewed every year since. In fact, in 2011 the language was extended to cover all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the NIH.

Note that that extension was under the Obama administration, which did little to stop gun proliferation (granted, they were dealing with a Republican Congress). Still:

The CDC’s hands are still tied. After the 2012 school shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama signed an executive order requesting that the CDC spend $10 million on gun violence research. But Congress did not appropriate the funds. In fact, according to Linda DeGutis, who directed the CDC’s Injury Center from 2010 to 2014, agency employees weren’t even allowed to discuss Newtown. “We couldn’t talk to the media except on background. We couldn’t be quoted on anything,” she recalls. “There were CDC staff members who wouldn’t even mention the word ‘gun.’” (Current staffers declined to be interviewed for this article.)

This is reprehensible. What can possibly justify Congress (whose members have accrued millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the NRA) from preventing the CDC studying gun violence? Well, we know what chain of evil lurks here: the NRA doesn’t want that research to happen, because it could possibly—and we don’t know this—justify tighter restrictions on owning guns. And the Congress, many of whose Republican members get lots of campaign money from the NRA, don’t want to anger that organization. The result: research that could prevent deaths doesn’t get done. Congress would prefer people to die, so the members can keep their jobs, rather than appropriate a pittance to see if we could prevent those deaths.

Finally, Shermer notes the “militia” issue, which has made gun nuts do some fast talking to circumvent it. But how can you circumvent this?:

Gun-rights advocates also make the grandiose claim that gun ownership is a deterrent against tyrannical governments. Indeed, the wording of the Second Amendment makes this point explicitly: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That may have made sense in the 1770s, when breech-loading flintlock muskets were the primary weapons tyrants used to conquer other peoples and subdue their own citizens who could, in turn, equalize the power equation by arming themselves with equivalent firepower. But that is no longer true.

If you think stock piling firearms from the local Guns and Guitars store, where the Las Vegas shooter purchased some of his many weapons, and dressing up in camouflage and body armor is going to protect you from an American military capable of delivering tanks and armored vehicles full Navy SEALs to your door, you’re delusional. The tragic incidents at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho, and Waco, Tex., in the 1990s, in which citizens armed to the teeth collided with government agencies and lost badly, is a case study for what would happen were the citizenry to rise up in violence against the state today.

And in any case, if you’re having trouble with the government, a lawyer is a much more potent weapon than a gun.

So bumpstocks get banned. That will have some effect on reducing deaths, if the ban happens, but it’s not going to stop the mass shootings, the gun suicides, the accidental shootings of children and family members, and so on, that constitute the bulk of unnecessary gun deaths.

Thanks, NRA!


  1. Martin X
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Shermer’s boldness in suggesting we repeal the 2nd Amendment shocked me, and I then felt shocked again that I was shocked. After thinking about it, I decided he was right that this should at least be a rhetorical position. For gun control laws to be effective, they need to be uniform across the nation, they need to be strict, and they need to be aggressively enforced.

    • Historian
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Bret Stephens is a conservative columnist for the New York Times. He now supports repeal of the Second Amendment. Of course, that is not going to happen any time soon, but he at least recognizes that the Second Amendment is not holy writ.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        The Second Amendment is about as relevant to life in 21st century America as the Third, which prohibits the non-consensual quartering of soldiers in private homes during times of peace.

        • Dick Veldkamp
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          What about hanging and drawing?

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Of course 2A should be repealed. |It’s an anachronism that has no place in the modern world, as demonstrated by the fact that no other Western democracy has an equivalent.

      The excuse of defending yourself against the government is nonsense. The founding fathers gave the USA all the tools it needs to defend against government gone wrong in the constitution.

      On the previous three I got involved with a poster who maintained that the ownership of guns was a natural extension of the right to self defence (conveniently ignoring the fact that the logical conclusion would be that you can have any kind of weapon you like). One good way of defending yourself against people with guns is not to let them have guns. We found that out in the UK many years ago but not before people died.

      • Leigh Jackson
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        True it is an anachronism and should be repealed. That won’t happen whilst the gun remains a cultural totem within the USA. It’s not the 2nd that’s the real problem.

        • Martin X
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          Gun ownership has been declining for years, but those who own guns own a lot more of them.

          Even those who aren’t gun owners have some sympathy for the idea of ownership because of the 2nd Amendment. Repealing it would allow a lot more people to change their positions on the subject once it is no longer sacred.

        • Posted October 7, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          I partly disagree. I think the 2A is the real problem. I think the American gun culture stems from the 2A and its mythical connection with human rights.

          I do agree that there is zero chance of it being repealed in the near future, but the gun problem cannot be addressed properly until it is gone.

  2. Rachel
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    When you consider that the US had no standing army until 1789, the Second Amendment makes sense. Once the federal government no longer needed to rally militias every time they needed to quell a rebellion, the thing became obsolete.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      This is an especially good point that contextualizes the wording of the 2nd Amendment.

  3. Peter George Stewart
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    “The right of the people to “keep and bear Arms” is there for the purpose of allowing a “well regulated Militia”.”

    That seems to me to be an extraordinarily dopey way of interpreting the words of the 2nd Amendment. The Amendment doesn’t ESTABLISH the right, the Amendment clearly states that right ALREADY EXISTS (otherwise there would be no point to the phrase “the right … shall not be infringed”), it just reinforces the already-existing right because of the necessity to keep a well-regulated militia.

    In the English tradition, which the American tradition took over, HUMAN BEINGS HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS THERE ARE, given by nature (or by God, depending on how you look at it) – the laws, constitutions and amendments, simply specify qualifications and exceptions.

    This is of a piece with the liberal idea of the presumption of innocence. The basic idea, the core idea of liberalism, is that people are free to do what they will, so long as they don’t infringe others’ rights to the same freedom, IOW don’t do harm with their freedom.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the dopey adjective; I really appreciate it. But, sadly, it’s a Bill of Rights meant to be an appendix to the Constitution to ENSURE THAT THESE RIGHTS ARE PRESERVED. That’s a distinction without a difference. And my point is the same: this “right” is now outmoded, and we don’t need the second amendment. I suppose it’s a core idea of liberalism that my neighbor should be allowed to have nukes, automatic weapons, grenades, and a Sherman tank–so long as they don’t hurt anybody with them. LOL.

      I suggest you read the commenting rules.

      • Craw
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        Few things are as bootless as debating gun control, but …

        I think your rejoinder misses the mark. The point surely, and the basis for any argument that guns should be banned, is that the *threat* such weapons represents is itself a tangible and direct harm. Mr Stewart says liberalism demands we allow people their possession unless that possession infringes upon others. He is right in that claim. He is wrong that there is no infringement.

        A thought experiment is to consider some disease. I should be free to deliberately contract a disease as long as it is not transmissible. My gout is my own, let me be. But it seems clear that I should not be allowed to infect myself with small-pox, even if at the time I do I have infected no-one else. The threat that I then present is itself the infringement. Threats can be harm if they are plausible, serious, and not easily averted.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          I don’t often agree with Craw, but that is right on the mark. The harm is in the threat.

          That is, after all, the only way to justify e.g. speed limits. There’s no way you can *prove* that my driving at any speed I like down your street is a danger – until after I’ve crashed into somebody.


        • Peter George Stewart
          Posted October 7, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I agree with this. That’s obviously where all the juicy debate lies. What constitutes “harm”, what constitutes infringement (are pocket nukes countable, etc.)?

          (I’d say not, because obviously at some point the risks and possible consequences of accidents, error, etc., can amount to the possibility of harm or infringement of others’ rights. A nuke in someone’s backyard is a huge risk to the neighbours, even with the best of intentions all round – things as intrinsically dangerous and hi tech as nukes need a lot of checking layers and technical know-how in case things go wrong. Then at a lesser level there’s a legitimate debate to be had about where the threshold is between weapons that are suitable for hunting or self-defense – or being members of a citizens’ militia for that matter – and weapons of mass killing, weapons used in the context of the aggressive conduct of war – and again, would present a risk or infringement to others, regardless of the owner’s intentions.)

          And that’s as it should be.

          But the principle should be clear: whether one takes a religious or naturalistic view, rights are not GIVEN by government, but enforced, not enforced, qualified, conditions set on them, etc.

          Rights are given by nature or God, they are inbuilt into the nature of things (and it actually doesn’t make much difference which you choose, since God supposedly creates the nature of things).

          The best way to look at the classical liberal rights is that they are an objective pattern of conditional rules (“if you want x then you must y”), out there in possibility space, in the context of some basket of closely-related ultimate well-meaning goals (human flourishing, happiness of the greatest number, etc.), granted a fairly stable human nature and natural order, over time. In a liberal order, human beings already notionally have all THOSE rights (that would result in human flourishing, etc., etc., if followed as conditional rules).

          (The only difference in introducing God would be that that pattern is necessary, being the result of God’s will, which creates the nature of things; rather than contingent on the nature of things + personal/group choice of ultimate goal.)

      • Kevin
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Peter George Stewart
        If the right to bear arms is implicit by God or natural law, the Second Amendment is meaningless and redundant since it would only be reaffirming an existing condition. To my view, it is specifically defining a condition in which it is to be legitimate to keep and bear arms. Other legitimate conditions would be conceivable (eg the police or army carrying guns, or even private citizens keeping guns at home), but they would be outside the scope of the 2nd amendment and be defined by other acts of law.
        Of the interpretations presented so far, I would say that this is the least “dopey” of the two.

        A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

        could become:

        The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed in the specific case of regulation of the Militia, this being necessary to the security of a free State.

        However as stated by Jerry, the private citizenry is no longer in a state to ensure the ‘security of a free State’ even if armed.

        • Craw
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          “If the right to bear arms is implicit by God or natural law, the Second Amendment is meaningless and redundant since it would only be reaffirming an existing condition. ”

          No, this is completely wrong. The amendment would serve as a legal bulwark against a government infringing the right. Any provision restricting government action might do so. Consider by analogy the 14th amendment. People do deserve equal treatment before the law. They do now, they did before the amendment was passed. The amendment proved necessary because many governments violated that right. Many have continued to try to do so, which is why so many laws have been overturned by the 14th amendment.

          A restriction on government power is not otiose.

          • Kevin
            Posted October 7, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

            Craw, you did not understand my point: I was questioning the statement made by Peter George Stewart:

            “In the English tradition, which the American tradition took over, HUMAN BEINGS HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS THERE ARE, given by nature (or by God, depending on how you look at it) – the laws, constitutions and amendments, simply specify qualifications and exceptions.”

            He is effectively arguing that a citizen has the right (and all other rights) to bear arms unless some rule of law infringes it. His argument implies that ‘arms’ could be anything, from penknife to fusion bomb.

            My argument was that since the right to bear arms is, by this argument, implicit, that the 2nd amendment is redundant.

            I was not making any argument against the bulwark against tyrannical government, as you will see from the rest of my mail.

            However, a dictatorial government, would have control of far superior weaponry and controls the infrastructure, food water, fuel etc. Good luck defending yourself with smallarms.

            Unfortunate that a significant number of innocent citizens have to be killed and wounded for this ‘bulwark’ against a hypothetical risk.
            Interesting too that other nations don’t seem to have this problem.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      In the English tradition, which the American tradition took over, HUMAN BEINGS HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS THERE ARE, given by nature (or by God, depending on how you look at it)

      The idea of “natural” rights is ludicrously wrong (“nonsense on stilts” according to Bentham). Human “rights” are collective agreements about how we interact with each other, nothing more than that.

      • Craw
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        That might be. But many of the founders believed that. So it is relevant to any textual exegesis.

      • Harrison
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        While technically true that rights are, as the popular way of phrasing such things goes, “just a social construct,” it’s rather a bad idea to propose they be highly negotiable, as some powerful entities have more bargaining power than others.

        • Martin X
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          The fact is that they ARE highly negotiable and claiming that they are not doesn’t make it true.

      • nicky
        Posted October 7, 2017 at 12:39 am | Permalink

        Yes, Coel, the whole idea of a ‘right’ is a construct in a highly social species. In ‘nature’ there are no ‘rights’ whatsoever, hence ‘natural right’ is ‘nonsense on stilts’ indeed. Jeremy Bentham predates the “Origin” and Natural Selection by decades, so he must have been some kind of visionary.

  4. Darrin Carter
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Google, bing, etc. AR15+rubber band very scary videos and why such weapons should be outlawed.

  5. KD33
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Too bad we need mass shootings to remind us of the daily tragedies that occur throughout the U.S. Great graphics here:


  6. Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    In the interest of having a perhaps achievable goal, I’m not for banning (nearly) all guns. However, I think we immediately need confirmation of the ban on automatic weapons and silencers, a ban on bump stocks, and (after dealing with apparently hairy issues of definition) a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

    Other regulations we could use now: Requirements for trigger guards on all guns not in immediate use, and all gun owners required to own at least as many trigger guards that fit his guns as he has guns. Requirements that all gun shops offer “smart” guns that can only be fired by one or a few people.

    And use that extra billion or so the military just got for a massive gun buy-back (all guns).

  7. Pliny the in Between
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    For a long time I’ve felt that the most effective means of achieving meaningful gun control would be to eliminate tort protections from gun and accessory manufacturers. Imagine if Colt had to face the kinds of lawsuits that ladder makers endure.

    Second would be to restrict long gun magazine size to 5 rounds. With that limit one could argue that detachable magazines for long guns would be unnecessary.

    Three, prohibit the sale and possession of any firearm derived from a military grade weapon or its core mechanism (enforceable through patent examinations, for example).

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Suing gun makers….I’m not sure how that would work. If a gun works as intended, someone dies. If it fails to kill when it is fired, is it grounds for a lawsuit?

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        I’m sure liability lawyers would work out the details.

        But here’s one example. Say they market this stuff for home defense. Unintentional GSWs, homicides, suicides, etc. aren’t covered by that. But would it not be reasonable to assume that the manufacturer could predict that such uses might be possible and should have taken precautions? It works with folding ladders…

        • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          One thing is for sure, liability lawyers are some of the most…um…creative people in the world.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        I think what Pliny is implying is that if tort protections were removed, after a few successful lawsuits, Colt and the rest of them would be forced into manufacturing only “smart” guns. Guns that would potentially be impossible for anyone but the owner to use. This of course doesn’t preclude someone like Paddock of doing immeasurable harm. It would have a huge impact on lowering shootings though, of that I have no doubt. I’d say it’s a compromise between repealing the 2A and allowing hunters/target shooters/self-defense gun users to continue with their activities. And it would be a hell of a lot easier lifting tort protections than repealing the 2A.

        As an aside, I remember a post here a while back that reported a gunshop owner getting death threats for trying to sell a smart hand-gun. So there’s that.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          I remember that too. But it could change if gun shop owners were given no choice.

    • Max Blancke
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      “derived from a military grade weapon”? That includes most guns.
      Gun makers are not protected from lawsuits over defective products. Recently, such a suit was settled by Remington over defective triggers in 700 series rifles.

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        They are protected from misuse of the products.

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Yes, details are important. Things like Mauser bolt action have influenced sporting firearms so clearly more specifics would be needed. The AR-15 family is a better example.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          I think you could say, just about any gun that looks funny should be illegal. That would be the scientific method. Also, the 5 rounds per clip is very good.

  8. eheffa
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I appreciate that Americans have an almost religious belief in the sanctity of their Constitution but even ‘Holy Scripture’ needs to be interpreted in its original context. Would it help to point out that the authors of the second amendment would have been thinking of muzzle-loading muskets, pistols and possibly swords and bayonets?

    I think it’s clear that Americans have the constitutional right to carry the arms envisioned by the 18th century lawmakers; i.e. Muzzle-loading single shot firearms. Anything more modern must be subject to practical restrictions in the interest of public safety. The constitution does not protect weapons of mass murder.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      I am one who disagrees with the idea that the Constitution must be read in its original context. It was designed to be a living document – many of it provisions are deliberately worded so that they may be interpreted by future generations in light of the times. Of course it was also designed to be altered – and it has been 27 times.

      IOW, I think it is a mistake to claim the 2nd MUST be interpreted to mean muskets and sabers; the entire document was (and is) intended to be as responsive as possible to the vagaries of history, while protecting core ideas about freedom and the role of government. Or not; we can dispose of protections for rights or add new ones – also an intended feature of the Constitution.

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        IMO The key feature of the Second Amendment is whether the danger foreseen by the founders was external or internal. The militia provision seems to point to the external threat, whereas the current atmosphere seems to point to a more paranoid internal fear.

        • Craw
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          There is much contemporaneous evidence they meant an internal threat as well. The fear of a standing army was not the least irrational then either. Cromwell.

          • Pliny the in Between
            Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            Primum non nocere
            Seems like the cure has become worse than the disease.

  9. J.Baldwin
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    My discomfort with bans stems from the fact that the predictable results will be the emergence of a black market for the banned item among those who want such things and that law enforcement will almost always be after-the-fact (i.e. the user of the banned item will only be discovered after they’ve committed some crime). Their preventative effect will be nearly nil. Although I do see some value in such policies from a symbolic pov. Maybe it would get the gun control ball rolling, so to speak.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      We have a complete ban on handguns in the UK and severe restrictions on the ownership of long guns. Yes there is a “black market” but the guns you can get on it are very expensive and even interacting with the black market is dangerous a) because it is illegal and b) because the people you are dealing with tend to be very nasty. Result: people like Stephen Paddock redirect their obsessions to something like train spotting.

      Yes, restricting guns doesn’t make them unobtainable, but you will see a reduction in shootings like the Las Vegas one and you will see a reduction in suicide by firearm and accidental deaths.

      • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        “We have a complete ban on handguns in the UK…”

        Really? I did not know that. Is there anywhere else that also bans handguns?

        • Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          Yes. Personally, I thought it was an overreaction to the Dumblane Massacre. But we haven’t had anything like it since, so it is hard to argue against the ban.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      There are many examples around the world covering a wide variety of cultures with a variety of government enforced gun control laws. Lots of case studies that could be made to figure out what kinds of effects given measures seem to cause and what measures seem likely to achieve selected goals, like reducing gun related deaths.

      So far statistics gathered from various countries does show a correlation between stricter gun control laws and lower gun related deaths. It seems pretty clear that the concern you raise, of a rising black market and criminals still having ready access to weapons that law abiding citizens can’t get, does not seem to be a problem.

      Statistics from a variety of countries also do not support the claim that the preventative effect will be nearly nil. Though admittedly it does seem likely that it will take time, possibly decades, for significant change to occur due to the number of weapons already at play, the industry that exists to produce and sell weapons and that has a very large monetary interest, and time for attitudes to change.

  10. Max Blancke
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    When the NRA speaks of a review, they are using language that has a specific meaning in regards to the ATF and firearms regulations.
    Bump stocks were made legal to sell when the ATF issued a letter ruling that they did not violate laws against automatic weapons.
    The most effective way to ban those stocks is for the ATF to review, then retract that letter.
    People invent gun related items all the time. When those items are of questionable legality, the ATF is consulted. They will either issue a letter allowing the sale of the items, or they will not. Not all of the items of “questionable legality” have to do with things like automatic fire. Some of them involve arcane technical regulations.
    No matter what you think of the NRA or any of the issues involved, asking for a review is the correct language to begin a process where bump stocks are prohibited.

  11. nicky
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    It is typical, why would the NRA oppose research into the connection between proliferation of fire arms and gun deaths, if these guns are so good at protecting people and preventing criminals killing?
    If the latter were true they would support such research, wouldn’t they? As our host mentions, they know it’s rot.

    • Lee
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      What folks at the NRA *know* is that owning guns is their god-given right to protect themselves. They know guns save lives and protect against crime.

      What they know is wrong, of course, but they know what they know.

      My question: As long as god is giving out stuff, why didn’t he give these people the ability to think rationally?

      • nicky
        Posted October 7, 2017 at 6:18 am | Permalink

        No, I think the NRA knows it is a false claim that guns save life and protect against crime. That’s why they oppose research into it.

  12. Mark Cagnetta
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    The manufacturers of bump stocks must not pay the NRA to lobby for them.

  13. Randy schenck
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I am not going to talk further on the details of guns and gun controls that are needed. That is purely evident and I am sick of it. Rather, I would like to simply point out this problem is piece of the larger issue of what is wrong with this country and needs fixing before anything else can be done. To save this country the people must take it back and that cannot be done without eliminating the money that has taken it over. That means exclusive payment of our elections with public funding and total elimination of private money. That also means no lobby because lobby only works with money. Self interest is all about money and lobby. Must be gone. Yes this means a constitutional amendment but so what. Do you want to get anything done or not?

    I do not understand why more people do not see this…it is so simple. The gun issue and the NRA is just an example. When I was young, long ago, the NRA was nothing but a gun safety organization. Harmless and almost ignored. But they became a lobby and joined the pigs at the biggest trough in Washington DC, called K Street. They are now a prime example of everything this country has become – The government of the self interest and the rich.

    So you can argue about gun laws and health care and all the rest…but it does not mean anything. Without this amendment to fix the real issue, everyone can just go home and cry.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      “That means exclusive payment of our elections with public funding and total elimination of private money.”

      There’s the rub. Personally, I wouldn’t weaken the 1st to do damage to the 2nd.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Well, we needn’t weaken the first. All we have to do is separate corporations and money from personhood and free speech. America did fine for hundreds of years when corporations were simply corporations and free speech had to do with conscious beings who could actually speak. Everything went to shit when SCOTUS decided for us that unconscious, potentially immortal entities had the right to buy politicians and control elections. Citizens United can be repealed without any weakening of the 1A. Of course, I won’t convince anyone who actually believes that Citizens United helped the 1A.

        • Craw
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          Corporations have been legal persons for centuries. That’s why you can sue them for instance.

          • Mark R.
            Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            Don’t be pedantic, you know what I mean.

            • Mark R.
              Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

              And let me add, as “legal persons” in our current age, being able to sue them is no easy endeavor. Modern SCOTUS has made sure corporations are a lot more powerful than those who can sue them.

              “That’s why you can sue them for instance”…that’s a bit of an insult, actually.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

            Not for all purposes. Corporations, for example, cannot claim the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. That’s been the law of the land for well over a century.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Possibly you do not understand what public funding of elections is. It has nothing to do with the first amendment. Simply stated, the federal elections for president and congress would be public financing with each person getting the same amount for their campaign. The details can be easily worked out but that is it. No private money can be used, even your own cannot be used. So being rich does not get you an advantage. This system would kill the lobby and 90 percent of what is wrong with this country.

        • Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          I know what public funding is but in addition to public funding for elections you said you wanted the “…total elimination of private money.”

          I want to donate to the campaigns for the candidate(s) or parties of my choice. That is a free speech issue and protected by the 1st. You want to eliminate my ability to do this. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

          FTR, Citizen’s United is a travesty and to the point I am making, a red-herring.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            You are just wrong for at least two reasons I can think of. Putting up money for a candidate is not free speech. Going out and campaigning or talking and giving speeches, that is free speech. Money is just money. Second, if you insert a new Amendment to the constitution that says, all federal elections will be publicly financed and only public financing will be used for this purpose, this makes it clear and constitutional. Your free speech is still there.

            Think of it this way…back when the first amendment was installed/ratified, the people did not vote directly for president or vice president or senators. The only federal officials they voted for was candidates in the house of representatives. So how did the first amendment give you any rights to throw money at a candidate? You are making it up.

            • Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

              How is preventing me from supporting a candidate of my choice NOT a violation of my free-speech rights? Serious question. It seems obvious to me, so you’re going to have to walk me through it.

              Also, I take umbrage at your contention. I don’t believe *I* am making anything up! This has always been my understanding of free speech and how it relates to supporting political campaigns. I may well be wrong (I often am and welcome you -or anyone else walking through why I am) BUT I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. I am not the only one who thinks restricting our rights to fund political issues is restricting our free speech rights. Decades of jurisprudence does too.

              • Randy schenck
                Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

                First of all lets understand what a constitutional amendment is. It is a restriction on government. So let’s agree that the government is not going to come after you for giving money to someone running for office. I cannot think of an example of this having happened but we know it is not likely. Let us also review that congress has often in the past attempted to restrict the money in politics and even limit the amounts that individuals and groups could give. Do you ever recall anyone saying…no no no congress you cannot do this. Please let me know?? Now, congress has long since given up on campaign finance reform but never have I heard anyone say that doing this was getting into the first amendment in any way. It simply does not apply.

                Then move on to creating this new amendment that finances the elections with public money. Again, this would be a constitutional amendment. Therefore it would have nothing to do with the first amendment. Ask a lawyer if you like but free speech is not involved here.

              • Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

                “So let’s agree that the government is not going to come after you for giving money to someone running for office. I cannot think of an example of this having happened but we know it is not likely.”

                They can’t do this because of the 1st amendment. Without it they could. I agree it is unlikely but am astonished you don’t see that is the reason the government is prevented from doing so.

                “Let us also review that congress has often in the past attempted to restrict the money in politics and even limit the amounts that individuals and groups could give.”

                They have, just like they have put restrictions on other forms of the 1st. One cannot libel another without consequence. One cannot incite with speech (under certain conditions). One cannot commit mail fraud. This doesn’t address any part of my point; that campaign contributions have long been considered protected by the 1st amendment. Those rights may be able to be restricted but they will have to pass judicial muster.

                This is the last comment I’ll make on this. You say I am making this up. I am not. I (and all others who think this way) may well be wrong in interpreting the rights enumerated in our Constitution, but contributions to political causes have always been considered protected speech. If we are wrong, though, we have been for a long time.

                You wish to do away with private contributions to political campaigns and I can see the points you are making. Some of them are compelling. But you are asking to trade away a right to achieve another (laudable) goal.

                To me the 1st is too important to water down, especially when it is used as a tool to water down other rights (though I’d like to see the 2nd repealed). The problems with C.U. could be dealt with by recognizing that corporations are not people and therefore don’t get the same 1st amendments rights. There may be other solutions, but one I don’t favor is weakening speech protections of any kind.

                Have a good day.

              • Randy schenck
                Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

                I will say nothing further on this either, accept to say my suggestion and this amendment is essential to fixing any and all of the problems that are wrong in this country. Getting hung up about giving your personal money to some politician and the first amendment is just not relevant. If money is your answer to democracy, then you have joined the problem not the solution.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Many have observed the the NRA’s central office has emblazoned on it only the 2nd half of the 2nd amendment, reading merely “.. the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    This strikes me as ironic, given that a few years ago FOX news got bent out of shape by an advertisement for Samuel Adams beer omitting “by their Creator” from a quote from the Constitution saying merely “endowed with inalienable rights”

    • Historian
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      The quote is from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        I knew that and meant to say that, but my typing went into automatic pilot.

        Thank you.

  15. Hempenstein
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Better late than never, Caleb Keeter figured it out.

  16. Max Blancke
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I really hate when people make conclusions about studies that are not actually supported by the data.
    One of the most quoted studies is about the risks of a gun in the home, and the likelihood that shootings will occur in those homes.
    People generally make the assumption that the gun in the home is the one used when a shooting occurs. That seems to rarely be the case. I have to look for the data, but I think the number was 14%.
    The logic being that having a gun in the home also specifically includes households where a gun is kept because of the resident’s perceived risk of a shooting. Houses where the residents are gang members. Houses where drugs are used or sold. Houses where a gun is introduced as a response to a specific threat.
    Another issue is about the defensive use of guns. The statistics do not include cases where the gun was not discharged. It is hard to quantify crimes prevented.
    As an example, an elderly neighbor of mine was the victim of an attempted home invasion. The criminals broke into the ground floor of her house. She was home and heard the break-in. When the robbers came into the main hall, she was standing at the top of the stairs pointing the gun down at the robbers. They fled, no shots were fired.
    That is just an anecdote, not data. But defensive use of a firearm where no shots are fired is always preferable to cases where someone gets shot. If we cannot include data on firearm use where no shots are fired, we cannot analyze defensive gun use accurately.

  17. biz
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    There is a lot of cherry-picking of data on both sides of the gun issue.

    For example, as another commenter pointed out, gun control proponents very often don’t count the large number of incidents where a gun is brandished, but not fired, in an incident where it was used for protection against a criminal. I have seen studies (possibly dubious) that there are more non-discharge brandishing defensive uses per year than the total number of murders.

    Another thing to consider is that to many people, me included, the relevant stat is not just total body count in the presence vs. absence of legal gun ownership. It is politically incorrect to say it, but since these days many reasonable opinions are deemed politically incorrect, I’ll say it. Will banning guns mean that the total number of drug dealers murdered by other drug dealers annually will go down? Probably. But if it is at the price of an equal, or even smaller, number of innocent people being the victims of violent crimes that they otherwise could have prevented by having a gun for self-defense, then I don’t like that trade-off, even if the total body count would be lower. I put a much higher premium on innocent life.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      “Dubious,” indeed. The gun lobby’s favorite researcher, John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, has been involved in several scandals regarding his research.

  18. J. Quinton
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    If the 18th Amendment can be repealed, so can the 2nd.

    • Historian
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Any part of the Constitution can be repealed or amended. In the case of the second amendment, such action is highly unlikely due to the political situation in the country. I don’t think that those who advocate repeal have totally thought out the implications of doing this. Specifically, does repeal mean that there would be no replacement amendment or if there would be, what would it say? Any tampering with the second amendment, no matter how clarifying or minor it would be, would undoubtedly provoke an extreme and probably violent reaction from a segment of the gun owning population. Civil war would not be out of the question and gun violence could get much worse. Thus, I am wobbly as to whether I would support repeal. I would need to see what would take the place of the current amendment. I think legislative action is the way to go. But, neither repeal nor significant legislation will take place in the foreseeable future.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Article 1, Section 3, clause 1 providing for “two Senators from each State” is damn-near repeal-proof, inasmuch as Article 5 provides that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

        • Randy schenck
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          What? If they consented to an Amendment to the constitution to change the 2 senators per state to something else, wouldn’t that be consenting?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            Sure, but the point is, such an amendment wouldn’t be subject to the usual ratification by a straight three-fourths vote of the state legislatures. Every state to be disadvantaged by the amendment would have to sign on. I think the odds that any state is going to agree to have fewer senators than any other state are well-nigh nil.

            • Randy schenck
              Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

              Let me just throw out a couple of addition ideas since I assume you are saying that the – no state without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the senate, takes the idea of changing representation in the senate out of the ability to amend?

              First, the idea that each state gets equal suffrage in the senate is a little crazy. And you are saying that the really small, low population states have us by the balls on this issue? This is really ridiculous because the intent of the 5th Article is that anything can be changed regarding the constitution. And, among the things needing change most is this one.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

                The slave-holding states extracted their pounds of flesh at the Constitutional Convention as the price for remaining in the Union. Essentially non-amendable non-proportional representation in the senate was one; the electoral college, another. And those states have been exploiting them ever since. That’s how we got Trump, and how we came within one senator’s vote of repealing Obamacare.

              • Randy schenck
                Posted October 6, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

                I understand the extraction very well. What I don’t really buy is that it is not fixable by amendment. An amendment to change representation in the senate can also remove that phrase in article 5 if that is the hold up, so to speak. Aside from your slave idea the 2 senators per state was a compromise to the small states who feared being run over by the large ones. If was a very bad deal at the time and Madison knew it. It is much worse now.

  19. Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    “…gun-owning households were 41 percent more likely to experience a homicide and 244 percent more like to experience a suicide.”

    From a purely statistical viewpoint, this is an invalid argument for gun control or for assessing the incremental risk of owning vs not owning a gun. People living in dangerous neighborhoods with high homicide rates are more likely to buy guns for self-protection, so of course there would be higher homicide rates in gun-owning households, even if those households’ guns were never fired. Similarly for suicides; persons contemplating suicide may be more likely to buy guns than those not contemplating it.

    This is purely a logical criticism; I’m in favor of most gun control, but it is counterproductive to use bad arguments to get there. It is disappointing that such a bad argument would be used by an editor of a skeptical journal and published in a major newspaper.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure the argument is “invalid” — but the statistics underlying it certainly should be subject to a regression analysis to account for the confounding variables.

      • Posted October 8, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Ken,I didn’t say the argument is false (your suggested analysis would test that claim).

        An invalid argument is one that is logically incorrect; there are possible worlds in which the premises are true but the conclusion is false.

  20. Posted October 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    The 2nd Amendment gives us the right to own “arms” which, according to the 18th century definition are weapons of war. Therefore we have the right to own fully automatic assault rifles, stinger missiles and tactical (but not strategic) nuclear weapons. We are simply not going to follow the amendment and instead will pick and chose what weapons people can own. I say only police should have any type of firearm

    • Randy schenck
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      That is another good way to put it. Why any reasonable people would wrap themselves around a 230 year old law, this is what religion does, they just go back further. It is a damn good thing Madison was not constructing an amendment for use of the outdoor privy or we might still be going outside to use the facilities.

      • Dick Veldkamp
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Randy Schenk,

        Totally agree. Isn’t it weird that SCOTUS must “interpret” a 200 year old document to find out “what the founders meant” ? Isn’t it about time to update/rewrite the US Constitution? Isn’t that what a rational parliament would do? Oh wait.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          I think someone once said, you change or die. We are well into the dying part. Hell, it’s evolution.

        • Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          You three are acting as if the Constitution is a static document. It isn’t. It is meant to be interpreted by succeeding generations; we get a number of rights we enjoy today from just such interpretations, not the least of which is the right to privacy, a right that is nowhere spelled out in the Constitution but is interpreted from those that are. As a matter of fact, neither is the right to vote (the Constitution does say that we cannot be denied a vote based on certain criteria, nor do we have to pay a poll tax and it specifies how old we must be to be eligible to vote. It even specifies that citizen of Washington D.C. are eligible to vote in national elections. But nowhere is the right to vote enumerated – it is left to the states and is interpreted from the body of the text and case law).

          You interpret “arms” to mean 18th century ideas of what arms are. But that is only one interpretation. You should be careful what you wish for; if the 2nd is to be interpreted through an 18th century lens, then why can’t other provisions of the Constitution? Shall we give up the right to privacy

          I happen to agree that we would all be better off if the 2nd WAS actually constrained by 18th century definition of “arms”. But it is not and wishing it would become so is dangerous for all the unintended consequences that will follow.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

            I am pretty sure all of us understand the constitution enough to know what we are speaking of. In fact, I believe I told you earlier in another comment that the constitution gave citizens the right to vote originally for only your representative in the house. We also know that to make any impact on the second amendment, regarding interpretation, it would be nice to simply do away with it and this can only be done by following Article V. There are many other things that I would like to see changed about our government that can only be done thru the amendment process. That is CHANGE by any definition.

            Getting more appropriate representation by the people in the Senate would be nice and that will take change, not interpretation. I would like to have the ability to make changes a bit easier as well and what do you know, that would take Amendments.

  21. Bob
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I think an easy way to force a reexamination of the second amendment is the creation of a new gun rights organization promoting black gun ownership. The Black NRA will scare the heck out of white people and could result in a repeal or reinterpretation of the second amendment. And it would be funny as hell to listen to white republicans try to justify opposition to this new organization.

  22. Dick Veldkamp
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Dear PCC(E),

    Apparently you are not right about NRA money being important. It seems that the money the NRA spends to “buy members of Congress” is negligible: $4 million since 1998, which pales in comparison with all fund raising.

    To be clear, I think the NRA is a nefarious organisation, and campaign ocntributions should be (all but) banned. It just seems that the NRA wields influence through other means, mostly mobilising public opinion against politicians they don’t like.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted October 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Kind of a distinction without a difference. Money makes the NRA what it is. Assume much of this money comes from manufacturers and also members, about 5 million. So, they give money to the individuals and if any individual goes against them, they power up the troops to vote you out. That is big money, it is your career and your life. So you tow the line or put another way, got you by the balls.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I think you’re worng (sorry, technically incorrect) on two counts, Randy.

        First, there is a real practical difference between ‘buying’ politicians with campaign contributions, and manipulating ‘public opinion’ to influence votes. The first would be scuppered by a law banning campaign contributions, the second would be unaffected.

        The other thing? – it’s ‘*toe* the line’, as in ‘step up to the mark’.

        (occasional grammar nazi)

        • Randy schenck
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          Do you not think technically, the money by lobby giant NRA, used to buy politicians or to buy TV commercials and votes to beat the congressman out of office all adds up to the same thing, we call money. Whether you spend the money by giving it to the congressman or you spend it directly on commercial adds, it is all doing the same thing and going to the same place. If you were the TV station you would love it either way.

  23. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Since the loonies repeatedly crop up on TV news reports – the ‘resist the evil Gummint with my gun’ is surely one of the quainter fantasies of the self-deluded.

    The most they can ever hope for is that the Gummint will pull its punches and they can hold out for long enough for public opinion to make squishing them like a bug seem politically unacceptable.

    How long would the siege of Waco have lasted if the Gummint had been really deadly serious? About one firing pass by an A10…


    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted October 7, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      One of those beaut’s would be great for personal protection.
      Just the cannon that is.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 7, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Possibly a trifle unweildy.

        My gun-collector friend once commented that, if he ever went insane and decided to massacre his neighbours, his Vickers heavy machine gun would be the least dangerous of his collection. Because by the time he’d dragged it out on to his lawn and assembled it, they would have had time to evacuate the neighbourhood.


        • Max Blancke
          Posted October 7, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          But water-cooled guns can fire more or less forever without overheating. I don’t want to make this into a gun porn discussion. But military archaeology was my thing at university, so this is my area of expertise. A Vickers is designed to be served by a crew of three. It should take a properly drilled team about 11 seconds to assemble the gun and begin firing.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 8, 2017 at 12:15 am | Permalink

            Oh, agreed. And it’s irrelevant to the present discussion (probably my fault for the digression), but it would be fairly useless for a single shooter.


          • Richard
            Posted October 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            “water-cooled guns can fire more or less forever without overheating”

            In WW1, during the British attack upon High Wood on 24 August 1916, the 100th Company of the British army’s Machine Gun Corps fired their ten Vickers guns continuously for twelve hours. They fired an estimated million rounds between them, using one hundred new barrels, without a single breakdown.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 9, 2017 at 4:56 am | Permalink

              Not for nothing were they called *machine* guns.

              (I can admire the technical engineering that went into them – as I can a fighter jet – while simultaneously deploring their purpose).


    • Max Blancke
      Posted October 7, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I am not one of them, but I certainly know a few of the people you a referring to.
      I think they are not really thinking about an armed assault on Washington or New York. The sentiment, as I understand it, is that an armed populace can can make tyranny very expensive.
      as a hypothetical example, let imagine that the federal government has ruled that possession of some object or book is prohibited, to the point where they are willing to go door to door and search and seize that item. Any person who uses a gun to resist the search is probably going to end up dead. But when those resisting number in the thousands or more, it becomes expensive. Those tasked with the search would become pretty unwilling to continue it without a backup force. So they find themselves having to organize a force large enough to secure and search 50 million or more households. And the members of that force are going to realize that their family is also a target of those same tactics.
      But without going too far in hypothetical territory, I am pretty sure that we are largely talking about people being willing to fight to protect their homes and families. And most of those folks have to know that they are not going to win.
      Of course the fringe elements of both the left and right have ideas and expectations that are completely insane.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 8, 2017 at 12:24 am | Permalink

        Your hypothetical doesn’t seem to have had much restraint in the War on (some) Drugs.

        I brought it up because the media (some channel or other) just predictably found a gun nut to say “they’ll be facing my guns” (proudly displaying his Glock or whatever-it-was). I’d be prepared to believe that the percentage of gun owners who are that daffy is about the same as the percentage of leftists who rant about racism in Dr Seuss.


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