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October 24, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Founders didn’t see those guns coming

Another view?

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The gun debate seems to miss the mark in many letters I have read.

First, the Second Amendment was written over 200 years ago in an age when three shots per minute made one an expert.

Things change, and even brilliant men could not really foresee the killing power of arms in the future.

Second, the argument is regularly made that we need arms to protect us from government gone astray.

But even well-armed militias would be no match for top military troops. Even resistance activities are doomed.

The reason for this statement is that government can trace nearly everyone’s movements.

The popularity of cellphones is a real boon to tracking people. The government (and others) can record and analyze cell calls without a warrant.

Those who wish to protect us from government need to concentrate on ensuring privacy, not stocking up on guns.

Finally, the notion that having guns is a protection from criminals is simply not backed by statistics.

Any Internet search will show that, among industrialized nations, the United States has by far the most guns and most related murders and suicides per capita.

One study, published in 2011 in the Journal of Trauma — Injury Infection & Critical Care, found that firearm homicide rates were 19.5 times higher in the U.S. than in 23 other “high income” countries studied, using 2003 data.

Of course, the chances of removing all guns from our citizens are close to zero.

But the need for semiautomatic weapons and huge clips is surely unrelated to hunting or sport shooting.

I personally would like to see a return to the original Second Amendment meaning of weapons giving about three shots a minute.

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  1. This argument can be made for many facts and circumstances. When the Constitution was written, and Congress was on recess, it tooks days, weeks and even months to get all the elected officials back into session in DC. Why? Travel was by horse and buggy subject to the perils of weather. Today with planes, trains and cars, it's days. Constitution still allows recess appointments by the President. Should that be changed too? Maybe it will be after the Supreme Court reviews the Appelate Court decision for the illegal appointments of the NLRB members made by President Obama on January 3, 2012. Although technically the Senate was in session and conducting business at the time.

    CarmineD

  2. What a dopey argument. Did the Founding Fathers envision TVs, computers, the Internet? Of course not. Just as today, we may speculate about the advances 200 years into the future may bring, yet we haven't a clue. There's no justification for limiting the rights of the honest, hard-working American citizen because the Founding Fathers could not forsee the future accurately. Nor, is there any justification for diminishing our Constitutional rights because of the criminal actions of others.

  3. Perhaps Mr. Lordahl is unfamiliar with the meaning and the intent of the Second Amendment because is has not read that Amendment. Perhaps he is not conversant with its intent and its purpose because he disingenuously chooses to infer a meaning to the Amendment to suit his own purposes. The Supreme Court has rarely taken up Second Amendment cases; but in the cases the Court has heard they have come down on the side of the founders' original intent.

    U. S. v. Miller in 1939, having to do with a convicted criminal in possession of a shotgun with a barrel sawn off to less than eighteen inches, the Court ruled that "militia" meant, "all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense;" and further defined "arms" as, "equipment of the military that would be useful in the common defense." In District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010 the Court held that the Second Amendment enshrined an individual right to keep and bear arms for self protection.

    There is nothing in the Second Amendment referring to "need," as in the need to have a black, really scary looking rifle with a thirty round magazine [not a "clip"], a bayonet lug and a folding or collapsible stock, which Mr. Lordahl would doubtless refer to as an assault weapon.

  4. Those good folks who say that a citizen militia would be no match for the might of the U. S, military are assuming some things that are by no means guaranteed. One is that our troops would obey a superior officer's order to fire upon their own countrymen. The second is that in a widespread guerilla insurgency, in which small groups of committed fighters employed tactics similar to those used by the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, that the military would be able to conquer those fighters. As we witnessed during the old USSR's invasion and occupation of Afghanistan that is by no means a certainty.

    At best the military would be able to control only the large cities and towns, leaving the countryside, i.e. the desert and rural areas in the control of insurgent groups. I most certainly hope it does not come to this eventuality, but if it did the argument that insurgents would stand no chance against the military is fallacious and disingenuous.

  5. It is certainly true that the homicide rate in the U.S. is much higher than other first world nations. But at the same time, we should also consider that the rates of other very serious crimes are much lower:

    Homicide:
    U.S. 4.8
    UK (includes Northern Ireland) 1.2
    Australia 1.0
    Sweden 1.0

    Rape:
    U.S. 27.3
    UK (England and Wales) 28.8
    Australia 88.4
    Sweden 63.5

    Assault
    U.S. 250.9
    U.K. (England and Wales) 664.4
    Australia 766
    Sweden 936.6
    Scotland 1449.7

    Source: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/faq-o...

    Is that a result of wide-spread gun ownership in the U.S.? I'm not sure -- but it may be a contributing factor.

  6. (Rates are incidents per 100,000 people per year)

  7. "It is certainly true that the homicide rate in the U.S. is much higher than other first world nations." @ Emthree

    I would like to know the brakedown of gun crime by friends and family against each other versus random acts against others. I suspect more of the homicides in the US are by friends and family against each other than random others. What do you think?

    CarmineD

  8. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  9. "But even well-armed militias would be no match for top military troops. Even resistance activities are doomed." - Daniel Lordahl

    As others have already pointed out, this premise is false on its face. Because of this, it is a circular argument, akin to a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    There is no inherent limitation on the types or numbers of arms that may be kept or borne by the people. The existence and use of privateers well into the 19th century (at least as late as in the Civil War on both sides) supports this. Therefore a well-equipped citizen militia can be effective against military troops. One can look at Libya and Syria for modern examples.

    But if, on the other hand, when the government places limits on the citizenry's ability to defend itself then of course the chance of doing so successfully is reduced (but not eliminated.)

    The primary premise, as given by the letter's title, is absurd.

    The US Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, is an attempt to establish a government that is based on the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence whose truth is essentially unchanging. The Framers were well aware that specific circumstances can be fluid, and in fact were living in an age where significant scientific advances were being made right in front of them.

    To say that arms should be limited to only those that existed at the time is the same as saying that Freedom of Speech applies only to the printed and un-augmented spoken word since the Framers could not foresee our modern forms of communication.

    What the Framers did see was that the citizenry could at times react with a mob mentality when emotions begin to push aside logic and reason. That is one reason our Congress is structured as it is.

  10. "In the event of an uprising by traitorous govt haters, those Timothy McVeigh wanabees would find themselves fighting not only the evil govt but also sane everyday citizens." - LastThroes

    Just how would those "sane everday citizens" be able to do that if they have been disarmed or severely limited in the weapons they can choose from if some of the more extreme anti-gun folks (ranging from the user named above and other posters to prominent elected officials) have their way?

    On a broader note, part of this debate is indicative of the continuing trend of reducing personal responsibility (and liberty) by having people rely more and more on the government to provide. It might interest some to note that one of the primary differences between Objectivism (Ayn Rand) and conservatives (and the so-called Libertarian Party) is that Rand believes that ONLY the government should have the means to use force when needed. Private gun ownership would be strictly forbidden.

  11. I am not a gun guy and don't know why anyone would want one, however I support your right to have one. The thought of a government denying the right is more frightening than a good citizen from having one.

  12. The Second Amendment was created to protect the People. Recognize that when gun technology improves or advances as it has that the "bad guys" will and do acquire it for themselves. To deny that technology to law abiding citizens who the Second Amendment was designed to protect would be entirely at odds with the Amendment's intent.

  13. Stockpiling weapons of any type along with closet loads of ammunition to fight Government suppression is called sedition. It is the aim of the Aryan Nation and crazi-kahki-creeps everywhere who, like the NRA, hates nearly everyone who doesn't express identical thoughts.

    A person who tells you they are defending Liberty, Freedom of speech and expression with an immense gun cache destined for use against the Government is long overdue for a strong dose of Prozac, Valium or maximum strength laxative. Relief from excessive internal stress is the key to maintaining a collegial attitude.

  14. boftx said "part of this debate is indicative of the continuing trend of reducing personal responsibility (and liberty) by having people rely more and more on the government to provide"

    I recognize your philosophical belief in people, and I know a few people who will always do the right thing. Extrapolating based upon this admittedly personal experience, we could have a nice society and have all our meetings in Sam Boyd Stadium. Probably forever.

    Now, when it comes to gun control, the vast majority of gun buyers/owners are not the issue and don't need laws to govern how they buy, handle, use, or sell their guns. Under a libertarian schema, 'be responsible' would be enough of a law. Then, there's everybody else. Ever have to drop and do twenty because somebody else did something your DI didn't approve of? For other readers, did your teacher ever make the entire class do something because somebody mouthed off? If we don't want criminals (and the mentally ill) to be able to get guns easily, then we have to restrict their ability to buy them easily in a store or at a gun show. For the rest of us, the rest of the class, since we aren't in a position to change the criminals' behavior like we are in a platoon, we have to go along with the schema. And that means restrictions. BFD. We get to write the restrictions.

    I can go to Target and scan the price of an item. Why can't a gun show seller rent a scanner and use the buyer's driver license to do a background check? This won't stop straw men from buying dozens of guns at a time and selling them to criminals, but doing nothing is not an option.

    A libertarian society sounds great. I'd say that people could evolve to that level of personal responsibility some day but that would offend many on the right.

    Regarding the defenders of liberty (ROFLMAO), if the government outlaws all guns, only criminals will have guns. Doesn't much matter if they call themselves a militia and claim to be defending us from the government, they will be criminals. This so-called defense would be a revolution. Jefferson was a liberal - not for the status quo ;)

  15. Victor,

    I got a chuckle from you saying I have a belief in people. One of my favorite sayings is "the more I know people the more I love my dogs."

    You are correct in that I am a Classical Liberal, but that does not mean that I blindly expect others to know what that means. And yes, I am all too familiar with how boot camp had to break us down as individuals in order to re-build us as a team. :) (US Navy, '71 - '73, USS Ranger)

    I recognize the conflict between what I see as what should be, and how things really are. I fully agree that rational people *should* know what responsible gun ownership entails but I also accept that there is a segment of the population who are in possession of weapons who I would rather see as recipients of a Darwin Award. One of the major difficulties in dealing with this problem is that there are people who allow emotions to rule their actions instead of using reason to understand just what the problem really is. (In some ways, those people are as bad as the ones who create the problem in the first place, and might deserve a Darwin Award of their own if they wish our species to evolve wisdom.)

    This letter contains at least two major contradictions. Besides the contradiction of saying the Second Amendment should not apply to modern weapons yet the First Amendment applies to modern communications (implied, not directly stated) the author also bemoans the loss of privacy today yet probably wants at the very least a government registry of every bullet sold, let alone gun.

    How can we possibly expect our leaders to find a rational solution when they, like so many others whose letters and comments we read, do not understand the implications of what they say?

  16. The Second Amendment does not allow the stockpiling of military weapons and ammunition by private citizens who anticipate using them against Government personnel.

    The Second Amendment does not allow a person to become a militia of one and build their own personal arsenals.

    Those who say they are allowed to take up arms against a rogue government claim that any employee of the Government is fair game. In fact, it's easier to stop the administrators with a gun then the National Guard. Taking up arms against the Government is strictly forbidden.

  17. boftx,

    let me start with this: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

    Perhaps this is more applicable: "A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." - Groucho

    So you said: "One of the major difficulties in dealing with this problem is that there are people who allow emotions to rule their actions instead of using reason to understand just what the problem really is."

    Is that why the House hearing on women's reproductive rights didn't have any women? (Address your letters to .... :)

    Seriously though, you are correct. IMHO, an even larger problem is that people base their decisions on opinion instead of fact. I can calm you down more easily than I can get you to change your opinion. One of these threads had a "discussion" of correlation vs. causation. If A didn't cause B, changing A isn't going to change B. But they believe it will. President Obama listed 23 things. Most of them are about collecting data. OMG. While that won't stop the emotional response on either side, if we learned that criminals were able to get guns through certain means (the New York guy getting guns to kill firemen(?)) maybe we could find a way to slow it down. The right likes to say we have enough laws already. Quantity isn't the issue. Quality is. As you said, we need to "understand just what the problem really is." That requires data.

    On the right, to both our points, the latest claim is that they need to be ready for when the govt comes. Since Obama was nominated in '08, the right has been whipped into a fury that Obama wants the guns. Until Newtown, he hadn't done anything other than make it EASIER to carry guns in federal parks. No facts.

    On the left, to both our points, they don't seem to understand what an assault rifle is, how magazine size is more important to a defender in a home invasion in the middle of the night (who's going to miss a lot - Mr. Knutts comment) than the criminal shooting up a public square, or how guns are necessary in at least some parts of the country. No facts.

  18. "...the notion that having guns is a protection from criminals is simply not backed by statistics."

    Lordahl -- you are profoundly ignorant. The Second Amendment is as relevant today as it was in the 18th Century. Hundreds of pages of hotly debated U.S. Supreme Court opinions in the last five years proves that. And it covered the purpose of militias which you make light of. Last point -- about statistics. When an armed predator breaks into your home and you're unarmed, that's what you and your family will be.

    "In District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010 the Court held that the Second Amendment enshrined an individual right to keep and bear arms for self protection."

    bobglover -- so good to see a sign someone else has actually read them!! For your next post, though, I depart -- troops at Kent State, federal agents putting families under siege in their own homes at Waco and Ruby Ridge then killing them, and our own Metro regularly shooting the unarmed proves plenty of willingness to fire on unarmed civilians. And nowadays it would probably just use drones.

    "...when the government places limits on the citizenry's ability to defend itself then of course the chance of doing so successfully is reduced (but not eliminated.)"

    boftx -- good post. In one of my past posts on this topic I quote from either Heller or McDonald which defined militia's and cautioned with history's examples of how tyrants get started. They disarm the citizens, therefore neutering the militias, therefore government's killers are the only ones armed, and the tyrant's will has little real opposition.

    "I am not a gun guy and don't know why anyone would want one, however I support your right to have one. The thought of a government denying the right is more frightening than a good citizen from having one."

    HackDelahunts -- such an excellent point: it's all about choice, and that's what freedom is. Too bad JeffFromVegas didn't read your post before logging on with his.

    "Stockpiling weapons of any type along with closet loads of ammunition to fight Government suppression is called sedition."

    SunJon -- no, it's not. It's called freedom. Look at even the recent history of Gulf Coast storms. When 911 doesn't answer and you're on your own, and desperate people are out of necessities, what do you think it will be like? Houstonjac's post, for one, is right on point with that. And again, you continue to demonstrate how ignorant you are of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights in general -- it limits governments, not people.

    "Indifference to personal liberty is but the precursor of the State's hostility to it." -- United States v. Penn, 647 F.2d 876 (9th Circuit, 1980), Judge Kennedy dissenting

  19. Mr. Lordahl is the one missing the point and the boat. He is sadly lacking in both historical knowledge and context. The firearm of popular debate, the AR-15 and similar are the modern musket. The black powder firearms of the revolutionary era were the state of the art at the time as the AR is today. They are exactly comparable in almost every way.

    As for his other contention that no militia could hope to win against our modern military, he is again lacking in knowledge and context. All he has to do is look around the world at numerous countries where that exact thing is happening. In fact the US is uniquely established for a victory by citizens, more so than any other country. 100 million gun owners and tens of millions of veterans trained in hundreds of specialties who would be better educated, experienced and equipped than any other citizen group on earth. If only 10% were active, the odds would be long in their favor.

    What needs to be considered much more than any of those arguments is how far we are from that possibility. Our veterans more than civilian authorities know the cost of armed conflict. They and those who cherish and demand the upholding of our constitution and bill of rights are generally more aware of American history and the true strife and costs of the both the American Revolution and the War between the States. Having studied both as well as having participated in the realities of the present we know and understand those true costs. We know that armed conflict against other Americans, especially federal and state uniformed forces could likely mean the end of the union and the end of America as it exists today. Conflict is by any measure the least desirable, most injurious and destructive of all possible solutions.

    But he shouldn't be so naive as to think it impossible in the extreme or unwinable if any end to such a catastrophe could ever be considered a victory. After three decades of service in front line units both ground and aviation with training from infantry to aviation and rifles to tactical nuclear weapons I and thousands like me can attest to what is possible. If Mr. Lordahl hasn't been there, he can't imagine.

  20. "... President Obama listed 23 things. Most of them are about collecting data. OMG. ..." - Victor_Eismine

    We have all know the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. And, at least in our country, we believe a ballot can (should) be mightier than a bullet.

    I would add that for the last few years we have empirical evidence thanks to Google and Facebook (to name just two) that data trumps everything. It is what can be done with the data, besides being used to help decision making, that scares the pants off of many people, gun owners or not.

    In fact, zippert1 (Gerry) gave a perfect example of this in one of his comments just yesterday, I think. He mentioned that while he was an officer in Santa Monica the city passed a law about certain types of weapons and the State sent them a list of all registered owners of guns of that type, about a 150 or so if I recall correctly. His point was that nothing was done with it because it wasn't feasible from a man-power standpoint.

    That is exactly the big-brother scenario that is feared.

  21. BRASS,

    I often think that some of your comments are, shall we say, a bit beyond where I would go. But your post of 5:53PM has to be one of the best I have ever seen from you or many other people.

  22. I doubt the finding fathers expected fighter jets and attack helicopters either. I feel confident they knew that weapons would evolve over the years. This being said, better restriction and background checks and mandatory training for ccw holders aren't a bad thing. I only own the weapons I need for on and off duty work. As far as ever believing that the US government could fall or turn on it's citizenry, look at hisstory. All empires have falen sooner or later. Don't get me worng, I don't feel that's anywhere near happening, but there are some that feel that if a major incident be it manmade or just nature, that the US is three days from total collapse. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen. I consider myself an optimist, I hope for things to get better and I'm not preparing to face down the government I gave over twenty years of service to, but anything is possible.

  23. "And a ban on assault rifles IS CONSTITUTIONAL!" @ Teamster

    Actually, it's not. The FEDERAL ban on the purchase of assault weapons expired ACCORDING TO THE LAW in 2004 and was never extended. It can be extended by the Congress in a reauthorization of the law BUT hasn't. Do you know the reasons why?

    CarmineD

  24. The Founding Fathers were smart enough to know, when they sat around that round table, that they did not know everything and could not foresee everything. But, they believed that the future Americans would and could. And they provided us the means to do so. They were right. Their blue print has passed the test of time for over 236 years. We shouldn't let them down.
    CarmineD

  25. Due to the high concentration of assault weapons, Mogadishu should be one of the safest places on Earth. Wayne LaPierre could sleep on the sidewalk without fear or bodyguards, but doesn't...so what went wrong with the argument?

  26. "Wayne LaPierre could sleep on the sidewalk without fear or bodyguards, but doesn't...so what went wrong with the argument?" @ Jon Becker

    I opine like most people he prefers a bed in a climate controlled room rather than the outdoor elements and dirt, rocks, and/or concrete for a mattress.

    CarmineD