Darxus

"The Second Amendment is about revolution."

"The Second Amendment is about revolution."

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2009-09-29
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/7/4/881431/-Why-liberals-should-love-the-Second-Amendment

I am the choir. I do not understand liking anti-gun laws.
  • A Mugger, Rapist, or murderer, will not politely wait around while you pull out your iPhone, Find somewhere with signal, Call the police, and then wait for them to show up and save the day.

    All other situations requiring a firearm (Riots, revolution, zombies), you really don't want to be waiting 10 days for one.

    I do not understand this concept that "If we enact laws, criminals will follow them." Criminals do not follow the law. That defines why they are a criminal. I don't understand the concept that, "Defending yourself is a job for the police."

    The second amendment is quite clear to anyone awake in high school english class. Because sometimes you have to form a militia to overthrow the government, the right of private citizens to own firearms will not be infringed upon.

    I wonder who would be alive now at Columbine high school if a teacher had a firearm. The awesome thing about Gun Free zones like schools is that you are absolutely positively sure that nobody inside it can raise any sort of legitimate defense against you. Fish in a barrel.
  • One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 1)

    The constitutionality of gun restrictions is a long and complicated topic, and I could probably write about it for the entire afternoon. The efficacy of gun restrictions is another one. I’m going to lay those aside for the time being and address the point you don’t seem to see to what you call anti-gun laws.

    A pocketknife is a tool. It can also be used as a weapon. A pocketknife has lots and lots of nonviolent uses. It can also be used for self defense. In a conflict between a person with a pocketknife and a person without a pocketknife, the pocket knife multiplies the ability of its wielder to use force by something between one and two: all other things being equal, given a fight between one person with a pocketknife and one person without, my money’s on the one with the pocketknife, but given a fight between one person with a pocketknife and two people without, my money’s on the two without.

    (9/11 demonstrated that under the right circumstances, even a pocketknife plus a lot of surprise and confusion can be leveraged to do a lot of terrible damage, but even so, I’d be much much more comfortable on a plane if I knew terrorists and innocent people could get pocketknives aboard than if I knew terrorists and innocent people could get guns aboard.)

    A pocketknife does not make it a whole lot easier to surprise people with violence, to end a fight before your victim even knows you’ve started it. Yes, you could get stabbed in the back out of the blue. But in order to use a pocket knife against you, somebody has to be within arm’s reach.

    A machine gun is a tool. It probably has some uses aside from violence against humans, but its primary purpose is to kill (or at least incapacitate) other humans. It can presumably be used for defense — I suppose if you had a machine gun in your home, you might kill a burglar with it — but given that its kind of bulky and needs to be kept supplied with ammo, it’s probably better suited to uses where the wielder plans to use it in advance, like a battle in a war, or a police raid, or an ambush of the President’s motorcade, or a bank robbery.

    A machine gun multiplies the amount of effective force a person can apply by a very large factor. When you add in the fact that very few people are going to be willing to be one of the first dozen or so people who die taking out an attacker, you’d need a really huge crowd of unarmed people against one person with a machine gun in order for me to bet on the crowd rather than the person with the machine gun. Moreover, a machine gun tremendously increases your ability to end a fight (and kill everybody you want to kill) before anybody has a chance to react. This means that in a world where machine guns are common, everybody has to be afraid all the time. Having a machine gun would probably have some sort of deterrrent effect, but that would be muddled and probably negated by the fact that if anybody wonders whether you may be about to use that machine gun, it’s pretty stupid for them not to shoot first (unless the penalty for honestly but mistakenly thinking you needed to defend yourself is death).
    • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 1)

      "This means that in a world where machine guns are common, everybody has to be afraid all the time."

      You're assuming that more and bigger guns means more danger, when the opposite is true.

      .50 caliber anti-material rifles which can crack an engine block a mile away have never been used in crime, and until very recently were not in any way regulated. (California, no big surprise. 2005.)

      Edited at 2010-07-05 11:44 pm (UTC)
  • One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 2)

    A nuclear missile (say, an ICBM with a MIRV warhead) is a tool. It presumably has some uses other than violence or the threat of violence against humans (the Soviets are alleged to have used a small nuclear bomb to close an oil leak at one point, and there’s the traditional SF scenario of deflecting an asteroid), but its overwhelming use is as a deterrent, to threaten unimaginable, vast devastation on potential enemies if they cross some sufficiently important line (like launching you at one first).

    A nuclear missile multiplies the ability of the person using it to exert force millionsfold; perhaps billionsfold if you take into account long-term effects. And depending on the delivery mechanism, a nuclear warhead can exterminate a city before anybody but the person detonating it knows its there; even on an ICBM, it can exterminate most of a city before there can be any effective reaction.

    A world in which a large fraction of the population had, or had control of, nuclear missiles, would be a very very strange world indeed. Actually, it wouldn’t last long enough to get strange, because given the ratio of nutjobs to sane people, just 0.1% penetration of nuclear weapons in the population — one person in a thousand having control of an ICBM with a MIRV on top — would pretty much guarantee the destruction of the world. But assuming such a situation could possibly be stable, it would have some really weird effects on life and politics. Nobody could admit to being pro-choice, for fear that a loony pro-lifer would nuke their entire city. Nobody could admit to being pro-life, for fear that a loony pro-choicer would nuke their entire city. On election night, the executives at the news agencies would have agonized meetings to discuss whether they could report any of the election results, for fear that somebody would shoot the messenger. Realistically, democracy or even public discourse would be utterly impossible.

    Now, an ICBM is expensive, and in the real world if there were no legal constraints on the ownership of ICBMs, it wouldn’t be you or ItsJustJosh who had ICBMs, it would be Archer Daniels Midland and Citibank and Mitsubishi and Wal Mart. Do you really want to think about cutting agricultural subsidies when Archer Daniels Midland has the bomb? Sure, the WTO found against Mitsubishi in that dumping claim and you have the legal right to impose retaliatory sanctions, but is this issue worth losing San Francisco over? How is that company that would otherwise be happy to give you a better job than bagging at Wal Mart going to feel about taking an employee from a company that could take out their corporate headquarters and a three-county radius? And you think Citibank is “Too Big to Fail?” We’ll show you too big to fail!

    Anyway my point here is that tools can be more or less dangerous, and more or less unpredictably dangerous. And I think most Libertarians would agree that part of the point of government (even just of a civil tort system, which I think most of you agree is worthwhile) is to decrease the unpredictable danger of life, especially to innocent bystanders.

    I think only the looniest of fringe Libertarians would think that there should be no limits whatsoever on private ownership of nuclear missiles. If so, then the rest agree that there’s some point on the danger scale (and the unpredictability scale) where the risk to bystanders of an unregulated dangerous tool outweighs the good done by leaving that tool unregulated. Leaving aside constitututional issues and enforceability, if you think that it is good policy to prevent private individuals from having usable nuclear missiles, but you think that it is bad policy to prevent private individuals from having usable handguns, you’ve made a determination about where those risk and reward lines cross, and about how much risk is enough to justify impinging on people’s freedom. (For that matter, you’ve also made a similar judgement if you think it’s OK for a government to enforce basic traffic laws like which side of the road people drive on, or stoplights at busy intersections. I don’t know if you think that’s OK or not, but it’s the same sort of principle.)
  • One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

    (Sorry, this was too long for a single LJ comment, and I really wanted it here rather than in my journal.)


    I think it would be bad policy to ban all pocketknives (and in fact I think it’s bad policy to stop people taking small pocketknives onto airplanes), but I think it would be good policy (assuming enforceability) to prevent people bringing handguns into densely-populated urban centers without any sort of oversight, recordkeeping, or traceability. That means that I’ve looked at the situation, made my own judgements, and come up with (perhaps) a different answer than you have. But in principle it is the same judgement you would be making if you said it was OK to prevent people from driving 200mph along the cobblestone streets of the old section of downtown Boston, or if you said it was OK to prevent people from having ICBMs they could launch at the country their team lost to in the World Cup, or suitcase nukes in case that rush-hour traffic just pushes them over the edge.

    PS — I would have a lot to say about the Second Amendment protecting the right of the people to violently overthrow their government, but I’ve already seriously cut into my plans for this afternoon. Two points (1) in the 18th century, firearms were a credible deterrent to a despotic government. In the 21st, they aren’t, so we’re back to everybody’s right to defend themselves with an ICBM. And (2) I bet there are (at least proportionally to the prevalence of these beliefs in the overall population) vastly more people who feel that the violent overthrow of the present US government is utterly essential because it doesn’t exterminate sodomites than who feel that the violent overthrow of the present US government is utterly essential because it has exceeded its constitutional authority. The successor government is unlikely to be a place you like better.

    PPS — I will point out that the people arguing on the less-gun-restriction side caricature their opponents as uniformly opposed to any access to any kind of firearms for any private citizen. The people arguing on the more-gun-restriction side caricature their opponents as uniformly opposed to any restrictions whatsoever on any individual’s access to firearms (except maybe convicted felons, who in the caricature they think probably just should have been shot anyway to save hassle). I don’t know which caricature is closer to the truth, but in my experience neither one seems very accurate.
    • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

      I stopped reading the moment you said "Imagine if everyone had ICBMs"

      If your entire thesis revolves around impossible fantasy situations you need to spend less time writing about your arguments and more time thinking about them. You do yourself no favors by prancing off into fantasy land when there are concrete, real world examples that can make your point much more effectively through a basis in reality.


      Also, Hitler. Just to end this now.
      • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

        If your entire thesis revolves around impossible fantasy situations you need to spend less time writing about your arguments and more time thinking about them.
        That’s how I feel about the pro-gun argument that we need to oppose government regulation of firearms because we might need to overthrow the government. To my mind, that’s already a ridiculous fantasy situation, but clearly to some people it’s not. I’m making a sincere effort to take you guys seriously. If I adopt what sounds to me like a ridiculous premise to start with (we need lots of guns in private hands because we might need to shoot the soldiers and the cops and the politicians) and argue what follows from that, and you tell me my conclusions are ridiculous, that doesn’t leave me much motivation to continue to try to understand what you have to say.

        (This is, of course, assuming that you or Darxus or that intitial Daily Kos poster whose article I should have read but didn’t spoke for a monolithic and unanimous gun rights movement, speaking of silly premises.)

        I certainly could have made exactly the same argument just discussing various points in the range from captive-bolt pistols used in slaughterhouses to machine guns, but I was hoping to demonstrate that there are extremes that any reasonable person is going to agree about. And I have the impression that there are plenty of gun-rights activists for whom a machine gun isn’t the obvious thing that private citizens shouldn’t be able to get easily, so that wouldn’t have been a good end point to choose.

        (Also, while we’re throwing around dictators, Yanayev. Just to point out that not only are handguns not sufficient for a revolution, neither are they necessary.)

        PS — Where on the scale from a little toy gun with a flag that pops out and says “bang” to the hypothetical doomsday bomb that will destroy the entire universe do you think a discussion of restricting private citizens’ access to weapon becomes ridiculous? Put another way, what kind of weapon is so powerful that it is obvious to you that a sensible government ought to restrict access to it?
        • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

          You need to think more then you type.

          If you had spent a 10th of the time you spent typing actually reading the article, you would see why.

          The article was about how liberals want to increase personal liberties on almost all fronts, Except for gun control, where they check their sanity at the door (Kinda like you did).

          The article does not advocate that anyone should be allowed to own nuclear weapons. The article does not in fact take a stance on where the line should be drawn on what kind of weapons a citizen should be able to own.

          What the article says is that Liberals (I hate the label myself, but that's what they said), believe it is OK to restrict personal liberties (My constitutional right to own a firearm) Because they believe that restricting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens makes us safer from those who would do us harm (Sound like a certain shrub you know?). The maddening thing about their argument for this is that when you look at places with some of the most restrictive gun control laws, they usually have much higher rates of violent crime. Washington DC for example.

          As for where we draw the line? Civilian ownership of tanks and cannons is already legal, You can own Gatling guns, machine guns, sniper rifles, and semi automatic shotguns. It's downright amazing the stuff you can find at a Gun show, and its amazing what you're allowed to fire with the correct permits.

          The vast majority of gun crime is not committed with belt fed machine guns, cannons and sniper rifles. If your intent is to make society dangerous through gun crime, you don't NEED an automatic weapon, or want to spend the money to get one. The only exception to this is organized crime, and you're not going to stop the mexican drug cartels from getting assault rifles by making it illegal for me to own one to shoot at paper targets because it's fun.

          Did you know that anyone who isn't a convicted felon or committed to an institution in the past 4 years can legally own a shotgun or rifle in California? You fill out a form at a gun shop with your ID, wait 10 days, pay for it, and pick it up.

          Despite it being this easy to get a hold of a long arm in California, Most gun crime here is committed with handguns, which require a firearms ID to own. A Firearms ID requires several hours of course work and registering with your local police department. A permit to carry concealed is even more work, and yet, when someone gets shot in San Francisco, where you cannot legally carry a concealed or open handgun at all, 9 times out of 10 it was some guy with what? A concealed handgun.
          • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

            I really hope I don't have to point out that by "some guy with a concealed handgun did it" I mean "Some guy who has absolutely no right to posess one at all. I'm going to anyways though.
          • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

            "You need to think more then you type."

            You need to stop. You've embarrassed me enough. [info]beowabbit is a very thoughtful and intelligent person.
            • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

              [info]beowabbit: I'm sorry [info]fluffy2097 has been such an asshat at you on my lj.

              [info]fluffy2097: Please contemplate the counter-productiveness of alienating your audience.
          • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

            (I gather [info]fluffy2097 isn’t participating here any more; just commenting on the following since it ties in with a point I was making.)
            Despite it being this easy to get a hold of a long arm in California, Most gun crime here is committed with handguns, which require a firearms ID to own.
            Yes, which is why plenty of people (myself included) feel like relatively looser restrictions on longarms make sense than on handguns. A bunch of what I said is about how guns (much more so than, say, knives) make it easy to surprise your opponent and win the fight (and end or seriously damage a human being) before anybody around you knows the fight has started. That’s still true with a longarm (cf. John Allan Muhammad, Lee Harvey Oswald, and of course military and police snipers) but considerably less so than with a handgun. If you carry a shotgun into a bank or a day-care center, people are likely to notice.

            If I had to choose between the world we have now and a world where absolutely anybody could walk up to a counter, plop down a wad of bills, and walk away with a(n unmodifiable) rifle or shotgun, but absolutely nobody could get their hands on a handgun, I’d feel like the second world was a lot safer.
            Civilian ownership of tanks and cannons is already legal
            And if you walk into a bank with a cannon, people are really going to notice. :-)
      • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

        ICBMs are a fine example of why the second amendment needs to be regulated similar the first by outlawing slander and libel.

        But the line would be just fine drawn at not allowing NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons except a couple, like pepper spray.
        • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

          But the line would be just fine drawn at not allowing NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons except a couple, like pepper spray.
          Random question: Do you think the Second Amendment gives any hints as to where the line should be drawn? (A sword is an “arm”, certainly, and probably would have been part of what people thought of at the end of the 18th century when they thought of ”arms”. Two centuries later we talk about “arms control treaties” and an “arms race”, but I’ve read a bunch of RKBA advocates take it for granted that the Second Amendment does not apply to that particular subset of “arms”. It’s obvious to me as well that the Right to Keep and Bear Bunker-Busters or the Right to Keep and Bear A-Bombs would be a very very bad idea, but I’m curious if you think there’s something in the Second Amendment as the Framers intended it to be understood that makes it clear which category of arms it covers.

          Just curious what you think; of course, the Second Amendment was written long before the Fourteenth Amendment and the Incorporation Doctrine anyway, so this is a pretty theoretical exercise.
    • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

      "...in the 18th century, firearms were a credible deterrent to a despotic government. In the 21st, they aren’t..."

      I believe the difficulty the US has had with insurgents in the middle-east, and the IRA, have been ample evidence to the contrary. Tanks are useless against a target you cannot find.
      • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

        I will point out that both the Iraqi insurgency, and the IRA, used something that most RKBA advocates do not consider arms under 2A limits: explosives.

        I'm not saying that is ALL they used, but it's not firearms alone.

        I'm also not saying that firearms alone aren't sufficient.
      • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

        I believe the difficulty the US has had with insurgents in the middle-east, and the IRA, have been ample evidence to the contrary. Tanks are useless against a target you cannot find.
        What [info]peirceheart said was interesting. But also, that’s not a case of revolution; that’s a case of outsiders with coming in (with or without justification; that’s a different issue) and attempting to impose a drastic change on the people who are already there.

        The mujahedeen (and later Al Qa'eda) and the Taliban did in fact have lots of guns at their disposal in their fight against the Soviets and later against us. They didn’t get them because the constitution of the puppet communist Afghan state guaranteed them guns so they could overthrow their oppressors, they got them because they were a more or less organized fighting force and we and our NATO allies and the Pakistanis and the Saudis gave them to them. That’s a very different sort of situation from the notion of Americans deciding taxes are too high or something and using violence or the threat of violence against the U.S. government, with means protected by the U.S. Constitution, to overthrow the government.

        We already have a means of changing the behaviour of the government; it’s called an election. If you say that elections are imperfect, I will certainly not argue. But when my local police and judiciary are deciding whether to support my right to freedom of speech or of conscience, I’d prefer for them to be wondering how far they can go in upholding the law before they get voted out of office than how far they can go in upholding the law before they get killed. Plenty of people in Jim Crow lynch mobs had guns.

        I don’t mean to say that guns can only be used to subjugate and never to defend, just that if you’re counting on the Second Amendment to enforce all the rest, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be used to destroy all the rest instead.

        Backing up a bit, guns (handguns and longarms) are a particular piece of technology from a particular era in human history. To my mind, enshrining a right of access to a particular tool like that is a bit like enshrining the right of unfettered access to movable metal type and hand-operated wooden printing presses. (Sure, New York Times, you can print anything you like, if you typeset and print it by hand; here in America we have freedom of the press!) Or if the right of freedom of religion enumerated all the religions you were allowed to have. (Sorry, Bahá'ís, I don’t see you listed here; have you considered Mahometanism or the Hindoo faith? Or of course, Deism is awfully popular!) Or if the Full Faith and Credit Clause applied only to accurate copies of documents written with a goose quill. (I’m sorry, Massachusetts drivers licenses aren’t valid here in Rhode Island. I don’t know what the Mass RMV is thinking, not giving people proper parchment licenses!)

        I’m sort of conceding the point here that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the ability to revolt. (In the context of the early years of the Federal constitution, that would have been the ability of the new states to revolt against the federal government more than the ability of citizens to revolt against any level of government.) But I think it’s a very dated and broken and counterproductive way to do it.

        (And I don’t really want to concede that point, despite my own intuitions about the situations of the Framers, because there’s been more than a century of admittedly controversial jurisprudence by some pretty smart people who thought that that was not what the Second Amendment was for and that the Second Amendment was not incorporated by the Fourteenth, and I know next to nothing about all that legal history. But it certainly seems plausible that people who, or whose friends, had been shooting at redcoats in recent memory might have thought that the ability to shoot at people in uniforms was a thing worth enshrining in the Constitution.)
        • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

          "That’s a very different sort of situation from the notion of Americans... using violence... against the U.S. government...."

          Yes, but the point is, in response to:

          "...in the 18th century, firearms were a credible deterrent to a despotic government. In the 21st, they aren’t...."

          Counter-insurgency is hard. A despot had better fear small arms in the hands of a large percentage of the people.
          • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

            I still think that’s true, if we’re talking about revolt against the established government of your own national territory, rather than someplace where a foreign invader with a long supply chain has the tempting option of going home.

            But in any case, I don’t think that you would disagree with the claim that the power differential between a citizenry with firearms and the military of a powerful nation was much much smaller in the 18th century than it is in the 21st. (And it was even smaller in the 16th, and will presumably be even greater in the 22d.) So if the point of the Second Amendment is to guarantee that the people can overthrow their government by violence if that government does enough things they don’t like, its effectiveness is definitely decreasing over time. (Unless you argue that citizens, alone or in unofficial groups, are entitled by the Second Amendment to the same kind of weapons the government has access to, but I don’t think anybody on this thread is arguing that. Although I wonder what the Founders would have thought of World War I technology.)

            Edited at 2010-07-07 03:23 am (UTC)
    • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

      Two points (1) in the 18th century, firearms were a credible deterrent to a despotic government. In the 21st, they aren’t, so we’re back to everybody’s right to defend themselves with an ICBM.

      and

      That’s how I feel about the pro-gun argument that we need to oppose government regulation of firearms because we might need to overthrow the government. To my mind, that’s already a ridiculous fantasy situation, but clearly to some people it’s not.

      Because we have ample evidence that it is not a fantasy situation - the French Resistance started off with zip guns: little homemade pipe pistols, and managed to pretty effectively take out numbers of Germans.

      http://billstclair.com/blog/stories/handgun.html

      Edited at 2010-07-06 03:13 pm (UTC)
      • Re: One person’s notion of the point of restrictions on gun ownership. (part 3)

        Because we have ample evidence that it is not a fantasy situation - the French Resistance started off with zip guns: little homemade pipe pistols, and managed to pretty effectively take out numbers of Germans.
        I didn’t mean that anybody anywhere resisting invasion was a fantasy situation, I meant that a United States Government which both respected to the letter the Bill of Rights and was so despotic that it needed to be overthrown by violence was a fantasy situation.

        I mean, yes, if the martial law and the regulations the Nazi occupiers had imposed on the occupied French had guaranteed the French Resistance access to firearms so they could use them to repel the occupation, that would have been nice. But I suspect they didn’t. If your goal is to make it easy to overthrow a hypothetical totalitarian dictatorship, adding an amendment that says ”Private citizens can have access to firearms, just not nearly as powerful firearms as the government can have access to” is going to be just about as effective as the fact that the entire rest of the Constitution says, in effect, ”Don’t be a totalitarian dictatorship”.

        Realistically, in 2010, I think privacy rights are a much, much more important defense against government intrusion than firearms. In a reply to [info]darxus above, I discussed the fact that the Second Amendment uses language about access to a particular technology from a particular era, and doesn’t say that the people or the States or the militia or anybody has the right to effective means of rebellion against the Federal government or effective means of self defense or effective anything. It just says the right of the people to keep and carry certain specific tools shall not be infringed. (That’s assuming the meaning for “arms” that I think most gun-rights advocates intend; I presume you aren’t claiming that the Second Amendment protects your right to Predator drones and weaponized anthrax.)

        I am pretty worried about the fact that the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted largely to apply to Eighteenth Century technology. (Specifying “papers” seems like a similar problem to specifying “arms”, in terms of achieving the presumably intended effect.)
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