Beergoggle Lawmaking

Obama’s advisers have calculated that the longer they wait, the more distance there is from the Newtown massacre and the greater the risk that the bipartisan political will to tackle gun violence will dissipate.

At the White House meeting, Stanek said, “the vice president indicated that there was a very short timeline for him to get back to the president with his recommendations because the American public has a short memory.

Washington Post, White House weighs broad gun-control agenda in wake of Newtown shootings.

In other words, “they’re probably not going to go for this if we give them a chance to think about it, so pass a law now before they sober up.” Screw you, Joe Biden.

Even if you, reader, think more gun regulations are needed, this ought to give you pause. Making laws in a hurry based on transitory passions is a Bad Idea. Remember the “Patriot” Act? 

You might not, because “the American public has a short memory.” It’s truly a curse. If we had a longer memory, we would not trust our government as much; the government would not keep getting away with the same crap every time our passions were inflamed; and our passions would not be so often inflamed, because we would remember the last media circus, and the one before that, and maybe even the one before that.

We might remember that we all are mortal.

It might be nice if all of us could to see our children grow up, hold our grandchildren, and die quietly in our sleep. But every day lots of people die, and many of them leave behind parents who mourn. Making ourselves and our children safer is a good. But a good is not an absolute.

Despite the cries, in the heat of emotion from a tragedy like Newtown, of “if it saves one life…,” when we have a chance to cool down and reflect we realize that there are hidden costs and opportunity costs to any action we might take, and (barring mental illness) we never choose when sober to make our children safer at any cost.

We do well to hold our mortality comfortably in our minds. Some day you will die, and I will too. When we remember that, we might hold our children a little closer, reflect on the sort of world we want to leave them and their children, and work to make it so.

If the world you wish to leave your progeny is “a world without guns,” get to it. If it is “a world without government,” you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. (If it is “a world without danger,” please give it a little more thought.) But bear in mind that the clock is running down; a freer world is, by definition, less free; a freer world is less safe; and every minute you spend trying to solve one problem all of the others are getting ahead of you. 

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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32 Responses to Beergoggle Lawmaking

  1. Here is a thought… a question I get asked a lot is “why does anyone NEED an assault rifle?”

    The answer? Well, no one needs an assault rifle.

    But that isn’t the point. No one NEEDS free speech, especially the KKK and Fred Phelps. Just like no one needs a marriage, a gay marriage, or right to due process.

    The reason the 2nd Amendment should protect “assault” rifles is because, just like racist speech, they are unpopular. I don’t think there is any movement to ban my bolt action .30-06, or a civil war musket anymore than there is a movement to ban my ability to say “Go Eagles!” or “Eggs are delicious.”

    It is stuff that is unpopular that needs to be protected, otherwise there would be no need to write it into the Constitution.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      Indeed, the “need” argument is a velvet sock on an iron cudgel…and its idiocy easily reductio’ed ad absurdum to “you don’t NEED a 32-oz coke”, “you don’t NEED to have doggie-style intercourse”, “you don’t NEED a car with more than 40 horsepower”…

      But it’s deeper than that. The non-naive forces behind citizen disarmament–note that the would-be tyrants retain all THEIR guns–recognize the Evil Black Rifle (incorrectly named “assault rifle”) as a scourge upon tyranny. As well, it is the canary in the coal mine; easily villified, it provides a convenient first step to total disarmament.

      Why do the tyrants fear it? Because it is the “queen of battle”; an effective quasi-military arm in the hands of common people. Terrifying to the Stalins, Hitlers, Pol Pots, and Maos of the world.

      Fewer people die being shot by a rifle than die being clubbed to death with a bat or a hammer. The Newtown case didn’t even use one–his much-vaunted Bushmaster was found in his car.

      Never you mind. Just give us your guns–or, as Ms. Feinstein* said in her speech over the last “assault-weapons” ban, “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn’em all in!”

      For your safety. For the children. We’ll take care of you.

      Oh yes, we will.

      * I challenge you to look in this women-thing’s eyes and see anything but a cold-blooded predator

      • Nels Ekelund says:

        But if it is a question of freedom, why shouldn’t citizens be able to have access to all types of weaponry: anti-aircraft guns, mini-guns, bazookas, grenade launchers, RPG’s, Stinger missiles, tanks, claymores, etc.? If the government forces have such arsenals, then clearly a similar arsenal should be necessary to ensure freedom through detente. While there are certainly high risks of intentional or inadvertent harm from using these weapons, the freedom-versus-need dichotomy clearly rules out any sort of regulatory cost-benefit analysis to the extent that it interferes with autonomy. Similarly, no restrictions on gun ownership by children, the blind, the mentally unstable and felons released from prison can be justified, because that would be a tyrannical government imposing conditions restricting the ability of free men and women to arm themselves as they saw fit to ensure that the government doesn’t enslave the populace with its superior armaments.

        The anti-gun-control lobby essentially argues the position that accidental gun deaths, mass murders with guns and other gun-related crimes are merely the cost of freedom. My right to fire a gun at someone I feel threatened by clearly and unequivocally outweighs the right of people to avoid getting accidentally shot by citizenry too quick to judge threats and who believe in shooting first and asking questions later.

        The argument that gun-free zones don’t stop crazed shooters neglects the point that armed guards or armed teachers might prove equally ineffective, as well as creating a situation where negligence could easily result in children getting their hands on guns.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        I’ll charitably assume you’re not a member of the castrati choir and answer logically.

        Your enumeration of powerful weapons–meant to frighten with the prospect of such terrible machinery in the hands of us Mere Mundanes–contains the fallacious assumption that us Mere Mundanes would proceed to wreak havoc. And, the even more preposterous assumption–that those weapons, in the hands of the State’s Exalted Ones, are used only for good and peaceful purposes.

        For the latter: democide is the leading cause of unnatural death in the last century. Governments have killed–outside of war–more than 250 million people since 1900…acts universally preceded by civilian disarmament.

        For the former: oh ye of little faith, are you projecting or do you expect so little of your fellow man? Why, when millions like myself already possess those “terrible implements of war”–powerful battle rifles, fifty-caliber sniper rifles–are you more likely to be killed with a hammer than ANY rifle much less an Evil Black Rifle?

        The detente exists despite government having arrogated to itself the greater weapons, because the numerical disadvantage is so stark first, and second because those governments depend on consent for their existence. (A consent, BTW, manufactured today by near-fatal doses of lies and propaganda)

        Ah–another shibboleth! The insane, the murderous, the felonious, the blind, ARMED! Sound the alarm! The fact is, felons released from prison prior to the (Nazi-inspired) Gun Control Act of 1968 received their armaments upon serving their sentence. None of this perpetual punishment we have today; they’d “done their time” and all was forgiven. Today, we have the Prison Plantation; once in the system, marked forever.

        And who will define “insane”, and “felonious”? Why, the State of course; and a cursory glance of history shows no government has ever used psychiatry as a weapon. Except all of them…Soviets, Chinese, North Korean, Cuban…

        Then we come to the last point. Honestly, Nels, with a Scandinavian name like that I’d think you’d know Finland’s history. Or Norway’s very recent history. You continue to support victim disarmament zones–seriously?–with the objection that armed guards and/or teachers might MISS? Or the even greater improbability of a child
        a) getting the weapon and
        b) actually firing it?

        Hopeless hoplophobes such as yourself imagine guns I think somewhat like a live rattle-snake. Living, vicious things; ready to strike when touched.

        Turning off the safety requires knowledge and a little dexterity; that assumes the carrier carries it “hot” with a round chambered and action cocked. A more cautious carrier leaves the chamber empty on a semi-auto pistol; racking the slide requires dexterity and a fair amount of hand strength–well beyond a young child’s.

        Any child that already knows how to do these things–and has the strength to do it–has been taught by their parents and knows better.

        Let’s say this scenario plays out and two children per year are killed. It’s still less than the number killed in mass shootings–which itself is tragic, but extremely small.

        The moral argument takes priority; self-defense and defense of innocent children is an absolute right and duty. The utilitarian argument–that fewer kids will be killed in accidents from guns carried in schools–is weaker, but still true.

        I suppose your last point on victim disarmament zones implies your ultimate solution–ban all guns.

        And I suppose that would work as brilliantly as all other bans have; for example, my total inability (due to laws against them) to obtain heroin or meth.

        I will waive my usual steep surgical fee, Nels. Dissecting your arguments amounted to an autopsy–DOA.

  2. David Pemberton says:

    ‘Democide is the leading cause of unnatural death in the last century’ I don’t have the exact stats to hand, but…. what? The government of America is suddenly going to decide to commit genocide? It frankly seems virtually impossible (unless, of course, it’s all going to be the UN-in-black-helicopters.) I’m also not sure on the whole ‘civilian disarmament’ thing. I think several of these democides (wonderful new phrase) developed into a full-blown civil war only after people were armed. I’m reminded of everyone who said that, in the 90s, we should just let the Bosnians and the Serbs fight it out with all the guns they might possibly want.

    I do think, however, you’re basically right when it comes to the ‘insane and felonious’. The prison state is awful, and the Nazi prospect of psychiatry is a hideous one.

    Finally, in my home of Britain, it is actually pretty damn hard to obtain a gun, which might explain why we’ve had no mass shootings since they were banned.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      I’m not certain I’m parsing your logic correctly, but let me take a stab at it–that is what Britons do nowadays, being “gun-free”?

      Governments “suddenly deciding to commit genocide” is a frequent and predictable fact in the last century.

      Here’s an authoritative source; there are others as well with similar figures (http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM) in case the link doesn’t post)

      Here’s a quick summary to whet your appetite for more research into democide (Rummel’s term, not mine):
      China — 76m
      USSR — 61m
      Germany — 20m

      Will the US government suddenly turn murderous? It has already, in principle–and once the principle is established, the implementation is a matter of degree. Not so? NDAA–warrantless detention, rendition, imprisonment…and KILLING with no due process. They’ll never do it? Have already–Anwar al-Awlaki, American-born, American citizen. Oh and his 16-year-old son, too, just in case. The president–and imagine trying to say this with a straight face twenty years ago–admittedly, openly, publicly–has a “kill list” he coolly debates every Tuesday morning. After scones and coffee, perhaps?

      The Germans were at the apogee of culture, literature, art, and science. In 1938, Hitler disarmed the Jews…and the German government “suddenly decided to commit genocide”.

      Stalin. Hitler. Mao. Pol Pot. Every one started with disarmament.

      Finally, in my home of Britain, it is actually pretty damn hard to obtain a gun, which might explain why we’ve had no mass shootings since they were banned.

      Why that’s WONDERFUL for you! If we did the same, and mass shootings stopped, we’d save…wait for it…

      …we’d save almost 100 lives per year! Hooray!

      Oh. Except at present, at least 500,000 crimes per year are prevented by legal gun owners. So, that part would suck. But we’d have fewer mass shootings!!

      I should note that most mass shootings occur in Victim Disarmament Zones–so-called “gun-free” zones, like schools. And malls. That aren’t actually gun-free, when there’s a mass shooting; only other times, when people like me could have carried a weapon to prevent the shooting. Yet the psychopaths-in-charge want STRICTER gun-free zones; yes this time, they’ll put those pesky shooters on double-secret probation and punish them EXTRA severely…except they mostly off themselves. Ah well, it was a nice idea–good enough for government work.

      Indeed those legislators have those childrens’ blood on their hands for preventing their defense.

      I’ll also note that the UK–with its low-low Piers-Morgan-approved gun murder rate of 35-something per year–is a crime-ridden shithole, the least safe place in the EU, with four times the violent crime rate of the US.

      I’ll take my chances on a mass shooting for those statistics…and for the greater principle at stake–my absolute right to self-defense with whatever means I desire

      Before you flame back–I love the British people, especially the Scottish; after all I’m half descended from them…and yes, the Stuart lastname is that Stuart. But they’ve idiotically disarmed themselves…and now they’re sheep awaiting the slaughter, being picked off at will by criminals against whom they’re defenseless–and I include criminals of the government class as well.

  3. David Pemberton says:

    Firstly, none of the countries (but for Weimar Germany/Hitler) were democracies at the time of the genocide. At no point does Rummel ever suggest that the USA might suddenly turn dictatorial, so it appears your suggestions are shameless manipulation of academic research. (I have read the study, so don’t bother with the facts about foreign democide by the USA. A) it’s irrelevant and b) I’ll mention it later.)

    Secondly, the evil, unconstitutional, disgusting murder (and make no mistake, it is murder) is still a world away from a concentration camp in one’s home. For one thing, attacking a few regions near allied bases is fundamentally different to blitzing a whole continent. But yes, humouring you, even 40 years ago, with a straight face – oh, wait, Nixon’s enemies list. But not seventy years ago, admittedly, openly, publicly… Oh, sorry, Japanese internment. They never would have coolly debated it a century ago, but for the Sedition Act, and everything else. If the President ate scones and coffee 150 years ago, he definitely wouldn’t have discussed, say, suspending habeas

    • Michael Stuart says:

      What does their form of government have to do with the fact that they disarmed their citizens before murdering them en masse? As you point out, one of them was a democracy…possibly the most despicable form of government. The point remains; governments intent on democide must first remove the major obstacle–civilian arms.

      We were once a Republic; we are devolving into a democracy.

      At what point did I manipulate research, or say Rummel implied we’d descend to tyranny?

      The facts stand: death-by-government, democide, is the leading cause of unnatural death in the last 100 years. If you include deaths by war–another game governments play for profit, power, and amusement–the numbers are even more staggering.

      You admit the premise–that the American government coldly murdered two of its own citizens, one an innocent child, without even a court hearing. That is the camel’s nose, its flea-bitten stinking body soon to enter the tent. Once the principle is established, history shows clearly the progression.

      Sure–Nixon had an enemies list. But were any of them obliterated by Hellfire missiles? Yes, internment, yes, Sedition Act and Lincoln’s suspension of habeas. Actually, fine auxiliary examples of government’s basic nature–force and violence.

      The latest kill list is an evolution–a drastic punctuated step–in that progression of raw authoritarianism. It establishes the principle, and it’s been put in practice. Moreover its genesis was steeped in deceit and subterfuge; attached to the NDAA, Obama promised he wouldn’t sign it if it passed…then proceeded to sign it, but said he’d never use it against Americans…except he actually DID…and it turns out, he and his lawyers actually WROTE it, and specifically required the inclusion of American citizens.

      Which is not to say Romney wouldn’t have done the same, by the way; both sides are owned by the same interests and are merely a Kabuki theater-dressing on the real players.

      Will the American government suddenly turn democidal? For those who have ears, listen. There’s time to avert the path we’re on.

      Or you can take the Blue Pill, enjoy a digitally simulated steak, and believe whatever you want to believe.

      • David Pemberton says:

        Their form of government suggests that no democracy is going to commit democide. Simple.

        Oh, the good old slippery slope fallacy. Wonderful.

      • David Pemberton says:

        Oh, and my exampleposer meant to point out lawlessness =/= democide.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        Ja–except good old Deutschland…which was a democracy that disarmed citizens. So there’s that.

        Wait…are you channeling Monty Python’s knight? “You yellow bastard..I’ll bite your legs off!”

        Pray what is an exampleposer?

        Is this a new debate technique, obtuseness ad absurdum? Because I’m establishing that a principle has been enunciated, and put into practice. This, along with a legion of other enabling laws, the very obvious militarization of police, and a siege on the bill of rights–evinces a design that is only too obvious in the light of history.

        The principle actors–Obama, Holder, et al–have written of their plans for total disarmament. Bill Ayers, Obama’s mentor, agreed with plans by the Weathermen to imprison 50 million Americans in “re-education camps”.

        WILL these things happen? Probably not. But they’re not stopped by loudly proclaiming “it can’t happen here”, sticking your fingers in your ears, and yelling “LA LA LA LA”.

        They’re stopped by intelligent, informed people who know history and maintain vigilance–and arms–against tyranny.

      • David Pemberton says:

        It would indeed be obtuse to attempt to combat your first four paragraphs, so I won’t bother.

        But ‘Bill Ayers, Obama’s mentor’? Please have some respect for even my very limited intelligence. Bill Ayers has never been convicted. The Weathermen were disbanded 40 years ago, while during a short period 15 years ago Obama served on a charity board with him. It is possible he never even had a one on one conversation with him. As respectable an organisation as BBC News says your link (and Sarah Palin’s) was ‘tenuous’.

        It may well happen. But the proper way to respond is by remembering your great traditions, Martin Luther King, feminism, Stonewall, the Founding Fathers…. None of whom required guns for their noble campaigns. The tragic fact is guns are used for murder, and not for preventing tyranny.

  4. David Pemberton says:

    I hate the submit button.

    Corpus. Damn. This historical example business really isn’t working, is it?

    I’m glad you picked the Nazis in particular. When Martin Niemoller wrote:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholic
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    He didn’t write

    First they came for the Communists.
    I did not speak up because, bloody hell, they took away my Kalashnikov! If only I hadn’t let myself get disarmed, I definitely would have stood up to ye entire, incredibly well-armed, Nazi regime. Honestly. Obviously.

    This sort of thing – thinking that if only I’D been there in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia (or indeed a mass murder scene) I would have behaved like Helmuth van Moltke, the White Rose Group, Solzhenitsyn, or Sakharov. This kind of thinking – displayed perfectly by your quote ‘people like me could have carried a weapon to prevent the shooting’ – is arrogant, contemptuous of history, conceited, and self-aggrandising.

    Your distinction between mass shootings and plain murders is a fairly tenuous one. If we banned guns, 1000 people – murdered – would be still alive. I’ll let you guess in which period the 10% of the population of an English county were shot. But hey, you can stop someone pickpocketing you! So yay!

    The GFZs? Correlation does not imply causation. The reason there are mass shootings in GFZs is… because they’re the only places, virtually, you actually get masses of people. I somehow don’t think that you don’t hear about mass shootings in rural Montana ranches because they’re not GFZs.

    Finally, three points to your penultimate paragraph. One: the harm principle. Two: It’s a shame you hate the Constitution, since it says ‘A WELL REGULATED….’ Three: So you want someone to be able to buy a nuclear missile to defend yourself aganst the evil, evil Canadians?

    • Michael Stuart says:

      Missed this response before the next one but here goes; BTW I’m glad this post of yours makes at least an attempt at substantive refutation.

      Of course speaking out first, middle, and almost to the end is the correct action. Without having first exhausted, then flogged to death, all peaceful avenues the necessary de-legitimization of the oppressive State won’t be established. But having de-legitimized the State–just as Gandhi did by peaceful protest–then, to arms.

      For at least we can save ourselves the indignities of being slaughtered en masse like the Ukrainians, the Jews, or the Chinese to mention just three of the many examples.

      ‘people like me could have carried a weapon to prevent the shooting’ – is arrogant, contemptuous of history, conceited, and self-aggrandising.

      And YET–there are historical examples of just such actions; the Revolutionary War comes to mind. Arrogant? I hope the time to prove it never comes; I also hope I’m up to it if it does. And I will damn sure have the instruments to act, if I’m not a coward. You might or might not have sufficient courage either; but it’s a moot point, you’re disarmed and can’t exercise the prerogative.

      Your distinction between mass shootings and plain murders is a fairly tenuous one

      I didn’t make it–you did, by stating you had none there. Nevertheless my point remains; you have four times the violent crime rate. Murders leave people dead, regardless of method.

      GFZs is… because they’re the only places, virtually, you actually get masses of people

      I’ll cite a recent example; a young man with a concealed-carry permit short-circuited a mass shooting in an Oregon mall without even firing a shot. If only one or more of the teachers at Sandy Hook had been armed!
      Restaurants–in fact Texas’ concealed-carry laws were spearheaded by Dr. Suzann Hupp, who survived the restaurant massacre at a Luby’s in Killeen, Texas. Her story is highly illustrative.

      Well regulated
      Examine the historical meaning of “well regulated”; at the time, its meaning was very clearly “regular”, as in “well maintained” and “well trained”–not the bastardized modern meaning of “legislated out of existence”. The 2A commands us to be good shots in command of clean weapons.

  5. Michael Stuart says:

    But the proper way to respond is by remembering your great traditions, Martin Luther King, feminism, Stonewall, the Founding Fathers…. None of whom required guns for their noble campaigns. The tragic fact is guns are used for murder, and not for preventing tyranny.

    (italics mine)

    I concede, you’ve ably disarmed me just as the Black Knight was disarmed.

    Because George Washington, presaging Gandhi*, fought your king with noble unicorn kisses and fairytale wishes; not guns because those are bad.

    And MLK was not protected by armed bodyguards, nor did he seek a concealed-carry permit for himself. Unfortunately even that was not enough–because MLK was killed by his own government.

    BTW is handing me examples useful in debunking your own points some new form of British hyper-civility? Has disarmament gone so far there that you’re required to hand the burglar your sharpest kitchen knife?

    *Gandhi: ““Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest””

    • David Pemberton says:

      MLK was killed by his own government? Last time I checked, he was murdered by a madman who pleaded guilty.

      I personally find your metaphor irrelevant, tenuous, vulgar, crass, and quite possibly offensive, but that’s just me.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        On MLK–dig deeper.

        I personally find your argument wholly unconvincing.

        But amusing; your last response resonates with yet another Monty Python–
        A Fish Called Wanda

        I won’t repeat the rest here; I’d hate to be charged with vulgarity or crassness–or give offense.

        May I assume from the dwindling substance in your responses that you’ve conceded to the facts?

      • David Pemberton says:

        I have dug, and I found that on the balance of probabilties ALONE, the government were suggested to have killed him. Not nearly enough for a ‘murder’.

        Dwindling substance? No, I merely don’t have enough time to respond to every single one of your comments, immediately, at great length.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        To summarize your positions:

        Guns are bad.

        Governments (sorry, democracies) do not commit democide.

        Citizens cannot stop governments (sorry, democracies) from committing democide which they never do but if they did citizens couldn’t stop it–even with arms.

        Democracies never devolve into dictatorships.

        Gun free zones work because nobody brings guns to gun free zones.

        In case of emergency, dial 911 and wait for a person with a gun to arrive for your protection. While waiting, entertain your attacker with hilarious recitations of Mein Kampf done in a lilting Irish accent. Keep him laughing or he’ll shoot you–with his illegal gun!

      • David Pemberton says:

        Well, I never actually said your final two points, so let me put you right.

        • Gun Free Zones are NOT directly why people murdered die.

        • Are you completely positive you’re OK?

      • David Pemberton says:

        To summarise your position:

        Guns are brilliant.

        The most famous democracy in the world is going to suddenly unleash gulags on its own citizens across a continent (something no respected political scientist I know of has considered seriously).

        Every single citizen will take to the streets (with their assault rifles) to prevent this, risking death for all of them to prevent it, because obviously a government doesn’t have more force than its people.

        Gun free zones don’t work because someone can kill the killer there (because the mass murderer woud never just gun them down before they were able to kill them).

        And, to go with your final utter madness:

        In case of emergency, take out your rifle and go out and shoot tens of thousands of innocent people every year. While waiting for people to shoot, entertain the police (who, in your world, don’t have guns that they are trained and regularly assessed to use) with just shooting them.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        Very well! Now that our positions are completely clear, let’s move on to solutions.

        I propose individual freedom; that each act according to his will and conscience, as long as he does no harm or fraud to another.

        That includes his right to own property–including guns, as long as he does so peacefully…using them for target practice, hunting, and self-defense.

        Should any man commit a crime–and specifically, a malum in se crime–regardless of what weapon, if any, he’s tried properly and punished.

        We’re clear so far?

        I think you’re proposing removing that right–correct?

        But not for the State; they may remain as heavily armed as ever.

        Do you then hew to the UN’s position in the ATT, that (paraphrasing) “civilian arms threaten the legitimate power monopoly of the State?”

        Because that sentence frightens the hell out of me; and should everyone else who’s read the Cliff Notes of history.

        And moreover, should one or more people object to the confiscation of their arms, would you then send armed men to confiscate those arms from peaceful people?

        Isn’t that just delegating violence?

        And if you’re certain of the morality of that position, would you yourself threaten a peaceful person to confiscate their property?

  6. David Pemberton says:

    I hold to that wonderful little thing called the right to life. I propose the harm principle; the notion that I have a right not to be shot.

    That, however, includes the right to – when well regulated – own a gun, if it is used for hunting and so on. That means people assessed as, and trained to be, capable of owning a gun for peaceful purposes should be allowed to.

    I don’t recall the bit where I said ‘If someone murders with a knife, then yeah, let them go free!’ (On a tangent, are there any non-possession (mostly strict liability) firearms crimes which are malum prohibitum?)

    I feel – and I admit I haven’t said this – the state should actually be disarmed, mostly.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      I feel – and I admit I haven’t said this – the state should actually be disarmed, mostly.

      Oh…OH! Now that’s interesting!

      I do believe we’ve found a piece of common ground…and it’s pure granite.

      I’m off to run some errands…I’ll compose a response for later.
      I must say–as rough as it’s been, I’m enjoying this verbal fencing with you.

    • Ross says:

      Well regulated, as used in the 2nd Amendment means well trained, not well controlled by mindless bureaucrats. The 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting, or sport, or anything else specific. It’s about the right to keep and bear arms for any reason, but especially to keep and bear military arms to discourage governmental tyranny.

      It is not government’s job to assess whether or not I am “suitable” to own a gun. There’s not a bureaucrat out there that’s qualified to make that call.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      Sorry for the delay in responding–silly details like life in the physical world…

      On the harm principle–absolutely! It’s the very heart of libertarianism; simply a restatement of the NAP…and the idea goes back 3,000 years to some Daoist philosophers in China, among them Lao Tzu.

      That means people assessed as, and trained to be, capable of owning a gun for peaceful purposes should be allowed to.

      I’m extremely leery of the word “allowed”. If self-defense is a natural right–which I think we agree it is–then “allowed” is quite scary. And key to that is at what level that power ascends: that is, is “allowed” a national law? Frightening. A state law? A little more palatable, as I can vote easily with my feet. County? City? Neighborhood? We’re getting closer. Family? Ah–now we’re talking.

      Ultimately I’d do away with “allowed” at all; it is assumed that every individual exists in a free state…unless he has harmed another…in other words, “no victim, no crime”.

      I don’t recall the bit where I said ‘If someone murders with a knife, then yeah, let them go free!’ No–you didn’t, if I implied you did I misspoke.

      I feel – and I admit I haven’t said this – the state should actually be disarmed, mostly.

      NOW we’re talking! When I read phrases from the UN ATT (arms trade treaty) like “…civilian arms threaten the legitimate power monopoly of the State” the hairs on my arms stand up. I’ve not read a more chillingly totalitarian statement…it certainly strips away euphemism and shows Mao’s gun-barrel for what it is!

      I’m reading Rees-Mogg’s The Sovereign Individual; core to his thesis is the shifting value of violence and its relation to the collective versus the individual over time.

      In essence, to me the 2A is about a balance of power. The modern nation-state, which is a blink of the eye historically–it’s only really 200 years old–has reached the peak of organized violence–both realized in wars, and threatened with nuclear escalation.

      It’s time to devolve that power back to smaller entities.

      • David Pemberton says:

        I would be fairly happy in having a well-regulated state law; it would probably effectively deal with the issues at hand. I think pre-emptive measures may be mre helpful, but I do feel there are some legitimate compromise measures there. For instance, I believe (and I’m not an expert) one can defend oneself just as easily with a low-calibre gun as a extremely fast assault rifle with a large round size.

        I understand that, to some extent, the State should have a legitimate power monopoly – I’d rather that then bunches of competing militias and armed factions. But I don’t feel I can support a state which ostentatiously displays its armed power (armed police, for instance, or paramilitary forces.) Within the ability to prevent Clodius and Milo, the state should be disarmed.

        I suppose a book also tackling violence is The Better Angels Of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker. The value of violence does change, and when Oppenheimer said ‘Now I am become death, the Destroyer of Worlds’ it changed again. I would suggest (international relations specialists say it’s outdated, but it’s a useful sh

      • David Pemberton says:

        Orthand) that Westphalia 1648 was the beginning of the nation state. I don’t want that power to be devolved; in fact, and this is basically irrelevant, I want it to be devolved to LARGER entities, federalist states such as the European Union. I suppose one could argue the practical implications of that would be to stop great degrees of organised violence internationally, and possibly to have more devolved institutions. But it’s never going to happen, tragically, so it doesn’t matter.

        (Irrelevant side notes: Requiescat in Pace, poor Lord Rees-Mogg. Also, you mention the Swiss below: I believe I’ve already mentioned Graubinden as the world’s first democracy. If I haven’t, I have now.)

  7. David Pemberton says:

    There is nothing better than debating with a opponent with well-thought-out policies to clarify one’s own. I, too, enjoyed this (and I’m subtly glad that I gave your arguments a ‘rough time’!) Also, I’m glad that we found common ground.

    Ross; Firstly, I don’t know how ‘well regulated’ can mean ‘well trained’. Secondly, it’s a little odd that the 2nd Amendment isn’t about anything specific, but is specifically about preventing tyranny, apparently. Thirdly, that’s actually questionable. Professor Dennis Baron, Professor Richard Bailey, and Professor Jeffrey Kaplan all think that the Second Amendment does not protect this but instead only refers to military service. Finally, so what do we do? What is wrong with a government official assessing your mental health? Thousands of bureaucrats do that every day with the minimum of fuss.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      I read much of the material generated around the Constitution as well, and the tenor of those writings make a few things very clear. The Founders abhorred standing armies; in fact, Article I Section 8 forbids raising an army for more than two years.

      They very obviously modeled our national defense after the Swiss, who’ve done a bang-up job for hundreds of years. There’s the famous but probably apocryphal conversation between a high Nazi general and his Swiss counterpart. The Nazi demanded Switzerland allow German troops to cross; he threatened he’d bring 500,000 troops. The Swiss general calmly replied “And 500,000 Swiss men will leave their homes, shoot once, and return.” The Nazi general was furious and escalated to a million; the Swiss replied “the men will have to shoot twice.”

      From other writings–notably Jefferson’s–it’s pretty clear the Founders envisioned a dual role for a well-armed citizenry; national defense, and tyranny defense.

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