Let’s Talk about Guns in America

The facts are still coming in from the terrible tragedy today in Newtown, Connecticut, where more than two dozen children and adults at an elementary school were shot and killed. If now is not the time to have an honest discussion about gun control, then what should we talk about?

Not pension reform, or George Shirakawa, or emails from Mercury News editors.

There is a national crisis taking place. At no time in our nation’s history has it been easier for the mentally ill to kill people in mass quantities.

There are people who believe that talking about gun control in the wake of tragedy such as Newtown’s is simply opportunism to score political points. But this isn’t a game, and no one is keeping score. We’re talking about real life. Kindergartners were murdered.

As Gawker notes, five of the 12 deadliest gun massacres in our nation’s history have occurred in just the last four years. The post seems to be less a commentary on Obama’s gun control policies, which by most accounts have maintained the status quo despite NRA fear mongering, than a simple statement of fact.

Feel free to post your thoughts, while keeping in mind the Comments Policy.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

39 Comments

  1. If it were al-Qaeda, people would be in favor of anything to stop these sorts of killings.  When it’s random crazy people, people are OK with letting them have guns.  This is terrorism, let’s do something.

  2. Guns are a cancer slowly killing our way of life from within.  I don’t believe the Framers ever imagined AR15 in people’s hands or that society will have a police force to keep order. I hope it is not too late, but i am afraid gated communities with armed guards are not far from reality. So sad to see innocent kids meet such fate.

  3. > If now is not the time to have an honest discussion about gun control, then what should we talk about?

    We’ve had honest discussions about gun control.  They have involved a wide range of conservatives, libertarians, and independents.  We’ve concluded that “gun control” is “people control” and therefore a bad idea.

    Sadly, there have been no honest discussions about gun control that have involved progressives. It would be like having an honest discussion about chicken control with Colonel Sanders.

  4. I am not a Gun guy , but maybe somebody can enlighten me? It seems to me that gun laws only affect the honest person , cuz I dont see criminals caring about whether the gun they are using is legal or illegal. so right off the get go , the honest person is at a distinct disadvantage???

    • > It seems to me that gun laws only affect the honest person , cuz I dont see criminals caring about whether the gun they are using is legal or illegal.

      You may be disgusted, but you have assessed the situation with exceptional clarity.

      The fact that you, both, see things clearly and are disgusted is an eloquent commentary on the current state of affairs.

  5. Iit is only a false sense of security that if you have a gun you can protect yourself. On very few occasions yes, but for the most part we are there are used illegally. There is no soap box . I have a feeling that 95% of the people that want guns are not college educated. The other 5% wants to make money off the guns.

  6. Please do not get on your f###king soap boxes, about cops and gun control.
    Mental illness, is rampant in our country. I see it here . Our own Village that has no food, no gas, no jobs, for our young men and women.
    I have been inundated with George and his f###king P card. You guys that want a piece of his butt, need to focus on what is reality.
    God this is so discusting.
    My own son was 15 when he was assulted by a group of henious murderers. They plunged a screw driver into his brain and left him for dead. Not before they punched and kicked him down to the ground.
      He was simply visiting his school sweetheart in Santa Teresa.
      Two San Jose Cops came to his rescue when called by My son’s girl friend. They got my son to the hospital. The brain mechanics, did the rest. after 4 weeks of dieing every night, he survived.
      Judge Ball gave this henious individule, 18 month, for his killing act. He did not outlaw screw driver.
      I did not outlaw Judge Ball!
      You maniacs, that want to build on this trajety, for self gain, Don’t try. there is no room for you in this world.
    The Village Black Smith & Son
      Gil Hernandez / Paul Hernandez

  7. Rich,

    With the sad state of public safety funding in metro areas, what’s the alternative to protecting one’s family and home?

    You know as well as I do that douchebags will always have weapons yet, were we all to follow your stance, we’d wind up having to defend home and hearth with a soufflé pan!

  8. The internet, I feel, is in part to blame, and might explain the recent explosion in these heinous crimes.
    One who is either mentally ill or right on the border has easy access to other like minded people via the internet. The line between fantasy and reality is blurred or nonexistent.  Social isolation then fosters the insanity, which becomes a vicious cycle of anger and hatred in the would be killer’s mind. I think these killers seek posthumous fame and notoriety in their slaughter of these innocent victims. The internet, and technology in general have been used for incredible good, but it is also haven for those who are the worst amongst us to have a forum and feed each others evils; pedophiles and mass murderers are prime examples. As horrible as today’s crime was, there are tens of thousands of children who have been victimized by pedophiles via the internet. It is a rhetorical question, but do we also try and ban the internet if we have a gun ban?

  9. Had the 2nd Amendment read:

    —“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to EAT AND BREATHE shall not be infringed”—

    Mr. Robinson would argue the Founding Fathers intended that, absent its reliance on a militia (as is the case today), the government can infringe on the people’s right to eat and breathe (as Stalin did to the Ukrainians).

    Mr. Robinson apparently believes that despite their true intent and considerable talent, the Founders couldn’t figure out how to word the amendment thusly:

    —“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the United States retains the authority to allow its citizens to possess arms”—

    But, of course, it wasn’t written that way, because the intent was not to claim a new power but preserve and affirm the status quo: the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

    • Mr. Robinson prefers judges (and the sorts of Presidents who will appoint them) who, despite their fancy degrees in Constitutional law, have no compunction about disregarding their sworn oath to faithfully interpret the Constitution.

      • John, sometimes your ignorance knows no bounds.

        You know nothing of the Constitution or the oath of office.

        There is no sworn oath to “faithfully interpret”  one must faithfully execute the office and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

        If you are state official you must swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the State of California.  A completely absurd notion to anyone who has tried to read it.

        Just sayin’

        • Gee Whiz Rich,
          In spite of my boundless ignorance I do see your point. I think though that you are well aware that I was talking about the oath for judges. But I’ll play along with your little gotcha game anyway.
          Regrettably, my wording was rather sloppy and failed to accurately convey my meaning. Fortunately for all of us though, the Founders were more precise with their phrasing, and the meaning of the 2nd Amendment is clear, as frustrated finfan so eloquently demonstrated. Forget I butted in and respond to him yourself.

        • Each justice or judge of the United States shall take the following oath or affirmation before performing the duties of his office: “I, XXX XXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as XXX under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

          Just for the record.  Maybe Congress ought to take this one too, which might insure the rich pay the same adjusted tax rate as the poor.  But I digress.

          As for Finfan, my response to Officer Anonymous below—is more thorough—though I do apologize for a couple of typos.

          The founding fathers knew nothing of the repeating rifle—let alone assault weapons.  Their views, given the technology availabe and the current stability of the government would have changed given the results we are currently witnessing int he 21st century.  The founding fathers lived in a different time and by all available information were not insane.  To believe we should live by 18th century standards or worse, biblical standards in a modern society—given what now known through science, technology, education, mental illness,  health in general and the current structure of society is ridiculous.

  10. An interesting perspective from John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime”:

    In Israel, fifteen percent of adult Jews are armed with concealed weapons.

    When intelligence indications suggest a heightened risk of terrorist activities, the government broadcasts reminders to the public to be especially diligent about carrying their personal arms.

    99.99% of guns are never used for shooting people.  They are used for deterrence.

    As an unnamed wise commentator has cogently observed:

    “An armed society is a polite society”.

    More guns, more saftety, more politeness.

    Sounds like a WIN WIN WIN to me.

  11. The thing is…even if they could take guns away from people, the criminals would still get them. That would leave the law abiding citizens exposed, vulnerable and not able to protect themselves or their homes. Simply not fair. A quote from someone, whose name I cannot recall…“If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” How true that is. Take heed.

  12. A gun is a thing, an inanimate object. It is a somewhat complicated means of storing mechanical energy and chemical energy. It has no animus, no will, no impetus of its own. A gun is not an evil thing, it is merely a tool. The nature of the purpose to which it is put depends upon the person wielding it. In the hands of a decent, moral person, it can be a tool for providing food, for self-defense, for skill-building, among other purposes. In the hands of a madman, a monster, a gun becomes an implement or an extension of that person’s evil. But, it requires that evil intent to become that instrument of evil, else it would sit, unused, on a shelf, a gun rack, or wherever it laid, without soul, impetus, or intent.

    A number of years ago, my grandmother discharged her pistol through the back door of her home at a man whom she saw attempting to break into her home. Although smart, tough-minded, and capable, that pistol was the only tool at hand which prevented that burglar from exerting his own form of force and violence in whatever manner he chose. What would have happened had she not had her gun? Certainly he would have gained entry to her home. Had he done so, she was not strong enough to fight him off should he have decided to assault her – or worse. The kinds of gun control laws which seem to be the ultimate goal of most gun control advocates would have deprived my grandmother of the means to protect herself and to NOT be a victim.

    Rather than making the discussion about an inanimate object, let us, instead, discuss the monsters, the villains, the savages who all too often turn a gun to an evil intent. Why is it so many people are willing to speak publicly after an horrific incident like this and to talk about how something seemed so wrong about that person, but they never had that discussion with anyone before the incident occurred. Why is it we are so willing to be laissez faire in virtually every aspect of our community involvement EXCEPT other people’s money or guns. Why is it that, in the face of tragedies like this the answer is to come up with ideas which limit the freedom and liberty of those who follow the law in order to try to somehow control the lawless.

    Finally, speaking to Rich Robinson’s argument for gun control and assertion that militias are an anachronism, the logical conclusion of this assertion is that the Second Amendment, itself, is an anachronism. I submit that he couldn’t be more wrong. The disarmament of citizens is one of the first tools of oppression by a dictatorship. It happened in Germany and elsewhere in the years leading up to WW2. It is ongoing in China, which simultaneously has some of the most stringent gun control laws and one of the most horrific human rights records on the planet.

    Rich, I believe you were speaking in ignorance on the topic of the meaning and intent of the 2nd Amendment. For your enlightenment, I offer the following quotes from our nation’s Founders and the Framers of the Constitution:

    “[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
          —-James Madison,The Federalist Papers, No. 46.

    Patrick Henry: “The great objective is that every man be armed. . . . Everyone who is able may have a gun.”

    “[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually…I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor…”
          —-George Mason during the Virginia Convention

    George Mason stated,  “To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

    Samuel Adams wrote, “The Constitution shall never be construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

    Of course, there is far more scholarly thought on the topic produced by our Founders and Framers, but the bottom line is this: They all understood that restrictions of speech and religion and the disarmament of citizens are ever always the first tools of oppression, and that free speech and an armed citizenry are the natural enemies of oppression, whether by armed criminals or a tyrannical government.

    I offer up the following for more historical context: http://rense.com/general2/right.htm

    • Oh, where to start?

      Citing 18th century patriots regarding 21st issues is absurd.  These are the same people who believed blacks were 3/5’s of a person for census purposed, did not believe American natives were people and didn’t even consider women. 

      They knew nothing of the repeating rifle, the machine gun, the assault weapon.  The idea that they would approve of the madness that occurs today.

      The gun is an obsolete tool in the 21st century.  We don’t need it.  Our military has all the tools necessary to suppress us if that is what they decided to do.  We can match them—but we live in a stable democratic republic.  The problem in Germany wasn’t that they took people’s guns—it was they organized their society around hate. 

      A gun is not a defensive weapon.  It is offensive.  It destroys a target—whether it be paper or flesh.  Kennedy and Reagan had the most firepower protecting them and they were still shot.  A person must have some warning that they are being attacked before a gun becomes a defensive response. 

      The Constitution is a living document.  It is a framework for government with some amendments attached to protect fundamental rights.  This Supreme Court has made the right to bear arms a fundamental right—despite the wording of the Constitution.

      The beauty of the American Constitution is not the literal meaning of words, it is the framework that was adopted.  21st American bears little resemblance to 18th Century America and the Constitution, because of its simplicity has allowed the nation to progress.

      The Supreme Court—any—liberal or conservative, makes mistakes in application.  But the defining thought throughout the document is the balance of power between the three branches of government and the notion of some fundamental individual rights.

      But neither Madison nor Hamilton would have supported giving killing machines of the type available today to average citizens with no provisions to keep them out of the hands of the criminally insane. 

      Of course, that view is based on my reading of these men during the times they lived.  Clearly, they were not insane.

      • Oh, where to start?

        In the first place, the 3/5 rule was a compromise. At the time, the Southern (Democratic, primarily, and slaveowning) states wanted to count the slave population for the purposes of being allowed more legislators to the House of Representatives. Those slaves, of course, would never have been allowed to vote, themselves, but the Southern states – and the Southern landowners – would have had far more power in the House than the Northern – and largley non-slave-owning – states. Was it an ideal solution? No, certainly not. However, it is one of those things which eventually set the stage for the Civil War, and the eventual Emancipation of slaves in ALL of the United States.

        Furthermore, I think you need to be a bit more explicit in your assertion that the constitution ‘didn’t even consider women.’ Are you referring to women’s suffrage? If so, point to somewhere in teh founding documents which denied women’s suffrage? There isn’t one, and the only reason women’s rights took so long was because of politicians, not the Constitution itself. The Constitution was founded on the principle that ALL men (mankind) are created equally. It merely took time to put that concept into practice, and for cultural reasons too complicated to delve into here.

        Furthermore, citing the scholarly thought of those who framed the Constitution and the nation as well as the thinking which underpinned those processes is entirely relevant. The Framers and Founders were entirely aware of history, had studied extensively various forms of government and understood that, although technology of all kinds might change, human nature never had since the Dawn of Time, and they assumed, correctly, that it never would. Evil, villains and monsters have existed since time immemorial: Cain, the fratricide, Mohammed – arguably a homicidal, genocidal, pederast and rapist, various emperors in Rome and elsewhere, various kings of France, the British Empire, Spain, and Portugal, slavers who were, in the main, Portuguese, buying blacks from African tribes who had, themselves, conquered and subjugated weaker tribes… the list goes on.

        Evil has always existed in mankind. It always will. We will always contend with the same kinds of villains, and monsters that we always have. This question, this issue, is not a question of technology, tools or weaponry; it goes to the very heart of the human condition which is that there are some people who DO become monsters, who lake the basic humanity, decency, civility and moral constraints that most of the rest of us do.

        Furthermore, of course the technology of weaponry has changed. It has ALWAYS changed. The muskets and artillery pieces of the 1700’s were as much a technological leap forward from swords, spears and bows and arrows as modern rifles and machine guns are from muskets. The Monitor and Merimack changed naval warfare just as rifled barrels repeating rifles and the original Gatling gun changed ground warfare.

        Ask the Britons how well gun control has worked for them. Experts believe as many as 3 million illegal guns are in circulation since the mid 90’s when most types of guns were outlawed. Furthermore, armed crime rose 10% in 1998, one year after those guns were outlawed and armed self-defense was reclassified as murder. Two years after Australia banned 60% of all guns and went door to door conducting warantless searches for and seizures of guns, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that all crime had risen across the board and violent crime had risen by 44%.

        Prohibition allowed the Mafia to rise to power. The war on drugs has made drug Cartels multi-billion dollar super-powers, economically speaking. Why do you think that European or Australian style gun bans would be any more effective than Prohibition or the War on Drugs.

        Again, I reiterate: this event was awful, horrific, and Adam Lanza can only be called a monster, evil and twisted beyond the comprehension of all but those of us who have confronted such evil themselves. Guns are not evil. They require an evil person to put them to evil purposes. Otherwise, they sit silent and unused or, yes, they can be used for defense, as my own grandmother did and as you would know if you spent 15 minutes every month reading ‘The Armed Citizen’ portion of American Rifleman magazine. Hell, in the case of the Clackamas Town Center shooting, the gunman was confronted by an armed CCW holder immediately prior to taking his own life. http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Clackamas-man-armed-confronts-mall-shooter-183593571.html

        Please, don’t insult the intelligence of readers by making an emotional argument using claims which can easily be proven false. The issue, again, is how we as a society deal with mental illness and evil.

      • Another thought here:

        Back in the 1700’s, when the Framers and Founders were contemplating the Bill of Rights, the only means of disseminating information and ideas non-verbally was by means of books and newspapers. From a technological standpoint and by modern standards, print media might as well have been a boutique industry. Although the technology of print has changed radically in a couple of hundred years, the point of print remains as comprehensible today as it was to anyone living in the 18th century.

        By comparison, radio, records, digital media of all kinds, television, the computer and the internet are all so sufficiently advanced that, to anyone of the 18th century, they would appear to be magic, paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke.

        Using Rich Robinson’s (deeply flawed) logic, 20th and 21st century media would enjoy no more protection under the 1st Amendment than owners of modern firearms ought to enjoy under the 2nd Amendment. At least modern firearms enjoy the same basic ergonomics, appearance, and functions as 18th century firearms. With modern media technologies, the only similarity is that some of it is readable as newspapers and books of the 18th century were.

        Some might argue that the big difference is that firearms can be used to hurt and/or kill people and media or speech cannot. This is, frankly, hogwash.
        I’m sure we’ve all heard of The Anarchist’s Cookbook. What about the various military guides which have been published and are available to the public? All of these publications give detailed and explicit instructions for how to manufacture explosive and incendiary materials. Any interested party can use the internet to manufacture ANFO, thermite, plastic explosives, TNT, nitroglycerin along with sophisticated means of detonating destructive devices made from these materials. Or, have we forgotten the Oklahoma City Bombing? I guarantee that Tim McVeigh didn’t learn how to create his bomb in high school. Furthermore, the internet has been used as a means of stalking, harrassment, bullying and other despicable behavior. Why is it easy and automatic to decry the *behavior* of the individuals who pervert the intent of free speech, but when it comes to guns, gun ownership, itself, comes under fire more than the villain who perverts the intent of the 2nd Amendment.

        Finally, as people bandy about ideas for laws intended to prevent such tragedies, it is important to note that Adam Lanza broke numerous laws already on the books when he committed this atrocity:

        1. He was too young (20 years old) to possess a handgun, in a state where the minimum age for handgun possession is 21
        2. He never actually owned any of the guns. Rather, he killed his mother and took HER guns.
        3. He walked on campus with guns, another violation of state law (as it is here in California, also)
        4. If, indeed, he used an AR-15 type rifle, then he broke another law, as “assault weapons” are already illegal in CT.

        And, on that note, it’s equally important to note that this is the 2nd worst incident of school violence in American history. What was the first? Look up the Bath School disaster, an incident in which a disgruntled school employee used dozens of explosive devices to kill 38 elementary school children, two teachers, four other adults and injure over 50 other people. He also bludgeoned his wife to death and destroyed his home by explosive and incendiary devices. He killed himself by detonating his shrapnel-filled truck in an apparent effort to kill or injure rescuers and bystanders. Among the dead in this second attack was the school superintendent. Searchers after the incident found over 500 additional lbs of unexploded devices planted throughout the school.

        It scares me to say this today, but such a disaster would be even easier and far more devastating to perpetrate today than it was back in the 1920’s. There are plenty of laws and safeguards criminalizing such things, but that didn’t stop Tim McVeigh.

    • You and I both know, 911 will not save your life 99% of the time…. Guns are not obsolete in the 21st century, anyone who believes that should go on a ride along with PD or FD and see the jungle for themselves.

  13. Mental illness is the issue.  With a belief that it can be adequately controlled or cured, it is rampant in our society.  Truly, it is the cause of most drug and alcohol abuses, most homelessness and of course “random” violence.

    Instead of being squirreled away and/or treated in facilities (pre-Reagan), those with mental illness now are forced to live within society’s norms and society is forced to deal with craziness.

    But, when the folks act out too much the police are then forced to “take action” which often upsets the advocates and activists.  Interestingly enough, those activists don’t offer to bring home and care for the mentally ill- it’s far easier to point fingers and project blame.

    If our society wanted to save lives, we would have stricter gun control AND functional mental health services… taking people on temporary evaluations then releasing them back to their dysfunctional families (or creeks) is a waste of time and money.

    • Certainly, mental health issues need to be addressed.  But we must take the easy method of killing out of their hands.

      We can’t stop all murder, evil etc.  But we can limit the damage by removing the easy, obsolete killing tool being used in most murders.

  14. The Supreme Court made the “right to bear arms” a fundamental right on a 5-4 vote.

    Thus strict scrutiny applies to any new gun regulations.  The SC decision was absurd as the 2nd Amendment only guarntees those rights to sustain a “well regulated militia”—which is an anachronism in the 21st century.

    That said, it remains the law.  The SC having once established a fundamental right has never in our history, reversed its position.  So new laws are pretty much off the table.

    So these horrific acts will be with us for a long time to come and nobody—not state legislatures, Governors, the Congress or the President are empowered to do anything about it.

    Electiions have consequences and for people who want to regulate guns, yet voted for Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2—these are part of the result.  For those of us who did not support those people or this court—we are forced to live under the same laws.

    Gun advocates can rejoice.  And with every murder of an innocent life they can praise the Constitutional guarantee that allows the insane murderers such freedom. 

    There is a minority of people in this country with a psychosis, who claim they will give up their guns when you pry them out of their cold, dead hands.  But those who have cold, dead hands today are children, they are the real victims of that psychosis—and the disease has caused a legal precedent that will insure many more people die.

    It did not have to be that way.

    • Rich, I have to wonder about your defective moral compass which allows you to give moral equivalence, equating law-abiding gun-owners to the monster who committed this heinous crime. Not one of them pulled a trigger, killing a child. Not one of them put a gun in that monster’s hands, no matter how you feel about modern gun laws.

      Gun ownership is not a disease. It’s a choice, one supported by the Constitution the Founders and the Framers. Laws don’t control behavior. They provide consequences.

      You can’t legislate morality.

  15. Okay, don’t anyone jump “the gun” and start on my handle…..its been there quite awhile.  I have been to Arizona and to Texas, where people carry guns on their hips; concealed on their persons; and visibly within their vehicles. All of it legally and all with a minimum of effort to get certified. Aside from the moron who shot the Congresswoman, a year ago, one does not hear much about shooting catastrophes.  I am not advocating gun control; I’m just saying that what may work in Texas/Arizona, may not work here in California. We hear of workplace shoot outs….going postal and just plain nastiness involving guns in this great country of ours, so what is the solution?  Why is it that other poorer countries with unparalleled economics and technological advances such as ours, don’t have the tremendous afflictions (shootings), that we have. On a recent trip to a firearms range, I was astounded by the caliber and firepower of guns and …the lack of monitoring of what was legal or illegal by range staff. Methinks its time to change the law of the land before more innocent people are mowed down.

  16. The World According to Rich Robinson

    “Citing 18th century patriots regarding 21st issues is absurd.”
    —When confronted with proof that American perspectives have changed during the last 250 years, Mr. Robinson seizes that as evidence for dismissing their every word. This is a common, cheap example of moral relativism. In Mr. Robinson’s perfect world, there will be no need for Constitutions or any other guiding works of history, there will instead be Obama, or some other arrogant charlatan spouting off the latest and most convenient nonsense. 

    “The beauty of the American Constitution is not the literal meaning of words, it is the framework that was adopted.”
    —The Constitution consists of three component: parchment, ink, and the words written using the first two components. According to Mr. Robinson, the words should not be taken literally. We must rely on the framework. How convenient. Devalue the words and have your way. “Hey look! In that empty space along the border I just spotted a woman’s right to abortion!” … “Look, there’s more! The government reserves the right to compel the people to buy health insurance?” … “Oh, and that right of the people to keep and bear arms. If you read it sideways you’ll see it really means the people chosen by the government.”

    “… the 2nd Amendment only guarantees those rights to sustain a “well regulated militia”
    —What’s this, Mr. Robinson basing his argument on the “literal meaning of words” composed by 18th century patriots? How can that be? How can citing these men be both absurd and useful? Simple, once you master relativism, anything goes.

    • Finfan—your sophistry is complete. 

      1)  Didn’t dismiss every word.  Just important to put them into context and not rely on fragments.  Also important to apply concepts called precedent on how the Constitution has been interpretted.  It is important to apply the amendments, which by their very existance change the law from the original document.  Finally, you must apply the concepts to 21st century society—including technology et al.

      2)  Women’s health is part of a right of privacy.  The right of privacy is not found in the Constitution itself—it was brought about through interpretation.  Applying the reasons behind the 4th and 14th amendments into a civil right—most agree exist as a part of the framework of rights in our nation. 

      3)  Thanks for making my point.  To quote most gun nuts the second amendment the second amendment says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.  Without the first part of the sentence their argument would have merit.  With the first part of the sentence; it does not.

      Nothing relative about that. . .

      As for the ideas of 18th century patriots—there are ideals we should embrace and notions we should discard—based not on relativity—but merit.

  17. While the Constitution does have a misinterpreted clause implying people have the right to bear arms, it does not specify what type.  Therefore, outlawing any weapon and ammo other than a single shot 22 caliber is legal.  It satisfies the constitution, and gets weapons off the street.  Weapons that were not even conceived of when the constitution was written.

    In so far as the constitution, all it says is that if you are a member of a state militia then you can have a single shot, muzzle loading rifle or pistol.  To say otherwise is to read something into the constitution that is not there.  I have to agree with Anthony Scalia on this.  The constitution means what it says.  Nothing more, nothing less.

    • The right to keep and bear arms… there is no explicit definition of what types of arms, and because of this, it is not up to the government to say something to the effect of ‘you can only own a single-shot .22 ca firearm. It is both laughable and illogical to attempt to assert otherwise.

      Furthermore, the Constitution does not define the type of weapon a militia member may own or wield. Your argument today is the equivalent of someone saying a couple hundred years ago that the constitution intended ‘militia’ to only own bows and arrows – also contemporary ‘arms’ of the time.

      Lastly, you might want to look up the definition of ‘militia’. The word does not mean what so many apparently think it means.

      10 USC § 311 – Militia: composition and classes

      (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
      (b) The classes of the militia are—
      (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
      (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
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      (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
      (b) The classes of the militia are—
      (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
      (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

      As GreyGhost says: the constitution means exactly what it says: nothing more or less. Stop trying to assert that it means less than it does simply because technology or society have changed. The bottom line is that human nature hasn’t changed. It never has and never will. It is the nature of man around which the Constitution is written, not technology or society.

      • The disorganized militias that currently exist—which include survivalists and other mentally ill folks—are dangerous.  They are terrorist organizations which have not yet attacked—though some of their members have gone “rogue”.  But their intention is clear.

        Again the entire Code Section, if valid at all, is as relevant as the laws that prevent people from fishing from the back of a giraffe—-it’s nuts.

        Human nature, I submit, has not only changed—it has evolved. 

        Institutionally we no longer treat different races as inferior—as we did at the beginning.  Women have the vote, have the right to hold property, have the right to run for President, have the ability to run companies, serve as Secretary of State and deserve equal pay for equal work.  Historically, we have evolved.

        We no longer believe in genocide—though it does happen in the world.  But as a nation, we do not condone the killing of people who are different from us.  We do not believe in slavery,  we don’t believe in child labor. 

        We believe in one union.  We fought a civil war to insure the Supremecy of the United States Government over the states.

        We understand mental illness.  We no longer tie “crazy” people down or send wearhouse them in institutions. 

        We understand dementia and the aging process better.

        Human nature has not only changed, within our lifetime there has been revolutionary thinking and extreme progress in our adoption of civil rights, equal rights,  rights for those who are physically challenged, rights for those who are mentally challenged.  and we are may even be willing to establish equal rights for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender—instead of treating them as mentally ill.

        Human nature is changing—whether we adapt fast enough may very well determine whether we survive as a species.  Another good change would be to renounce violence and empower our society to enact laws that insure that incidents like New Town are relegated to the trash-heap of history.

        • Rich, you’re arguing culture and society, not the fundamental nature of man. Yes, there will be good, upstanding,moral people, but there’s a whole other side – the savages, the monsters, the victimizers – who don’t care even a little bit about rules, laws or morals. Whether they are the monster who shoots a couple dozen people at a school, a monster who bombs a school, the monsters who committed the Beslan atrocity, Tim McVeigh, gangsters terrorizing a neighborhood, suicide bombers attacking Jews in malls and schools, monsters taking over airplanes and crashing them into buildings, killing thousands, they are the embodiment of evil, of savagery, of monstrosity. Monsters have existed since the dawn of man and always will. The seed of evil resides in every single soul, though only in a few does that seed sprout into something ugly, twisted and poisonous.

          No legislation – however well-intentioned – can change that. It only gives us the tools to deal with it, and all too often, tragically after the fact. And, these things in which you say we do or do not believe???? Yes, they tend to describe American culture, but they certainly do not describe humanity around the globe. And, as 9/11 certainly proved, WE are not isolated, or an island.

          Then… terrorist organizations which have not yet attacked? Congratulations. You’ve, again illustrated how prejudiced you truly are. You are profiling whole groups of people who’ve, as far as you know, never done anything wrong and have no intention of doing so. It’s no different from racial profiling or sexism or homophobia. You, sir, are a bigot.

          Finally, speaking to the issue of mental illness… having spent half a lifetime dealing with the immediate problems of mental illness, I can tell you that we only barely understand it, and, as a society, do an absolutely atrocious job of confronting and treating it. Sadly, the agenda of gun control seems to be more important to all too many rather than addressing the real root of last Friday’s tragedy which is the mental illness and evil of Adam Lanza.

  18. Dear Santa,

    For Christmas I would like a Living Document. A magic piece of paper that tells grownups what to do according to my rules, means whatever I say it means, and has text that magically changes whenever I change my mind. I don’t know how much they cost, but I think they’re made by Pixar or some other tricky company, using cheap parts and child labor from China (and please don’t forget those Chinese kids on Christmas Eve, even though they might be communists).

    I learned about living documents from Mr. Robinson, and the way I understand it, a living document isn’t alive like you and me, it’s alive more like an unborn baby; you know, alive only when it suits the needs of its owner. And I want to be that owner. I want to use the Living Document whenever my parents make me promise something or assign me a chore. No more of this holding me to my word, or making me walk to school in the rain just because my folks had to do it when they were kids. Don’t they realize that things are different in the 21st century? I might get my iPhone wet!

    Anyway, I hope I’m not asking for too much. In the event the Living Document isn’t too expensive, I would also like a bullet-proof vest, since I’ve just learned my town has outlawed private gun ownership, but not Norteños or Sureños.

    Thank you,

    f. finfan, jr.

  19. SanJoseMax wants to make us feel that guns are a cancer in our society.  Josh Koehn states that “five of the 12 deadliest gun massacres in our nation’s history have occurred in just the last four years”.

    Why don’t we look at motor vehicles in this country and focus on just one year, 2009. The most recent year I have statistics for. In that year there were 35,900 deaths caused by MV’s. That comes to 689 deaths per WEEK. I am sure many more children died each week by Mv’s than in this very tragic and sensless shooting this past week. And we are talking about 52 weeks of 689 deaths yet I do not read or hear the masses shouting for motor vehicles to be done away with. Is this because though many Americans own guns it is a much smaller number than those that own vehicles? We can live with 689 people dying each week but go crazy for 4 really bad gun massacres in 5 years? Gun banning crazies have to at least admit that they are hypocritical at worst, very mislead at best. Think about it.

  20. MASS MURDERS, ARE 75% WHITE, AND HAVE BOUGHT THEIR GUNS LEGALEY. THEY ARE BETWEEN 30 AND 35 YEARS OLD
      LOOK IT UP!
    MAFIA, GANGS, THEY JUST WHACK EACH OTHER!

      THE VILLAGE BLACK SMITH

    • > MASS MURDERS, ARE 75% WHITE, AND HAVE BOUGHT THEIR GUNS LEGALEY. THEY ARE BETWEEN 30 AND 35 YEARS OLD
        LOOK IT UP!

      How can anyone look it up when you just make it up?

      Did you write it down somewhere other than your Facebook page?

  21. LOU,
    I WAS LISTENING TO A STUDY ABOUT MASS KILLINGS.IT WAS EITHER 810 OR 1590 AM. HOW COULD I MAKE UP WHAT JUST OCCURRED?
      SHOOTING FROM THE HIP AS YOU JUST DID, TELLS ME YOU HAVE NOT DONE YOUR RESEARCH.

    THE VILLAGE BLACK SMITH

  22. LOU SCANNON
      HERE IS AN INTERESTING SET OF STATISTICS.
    THERE ARE 129,817 FEDERALLY LICENCED FIRE ARMS DEALERS IN THE USA. BY COMPARISON, THERE ARE 36,569 GROCERY STORES.
      THERE WERE 5,459,240 NEW FIRE ARMS MANUFACTURED IN THE USA. THERE WERE 3,254,404 FIREARMS THAT WERE IMPORTED.
    NICS, RAN 16,545,951 BACK ROUND CHECKS, ONLY .48% WERE DENIED.
      NO, LOU, I DID NOT MAKE THESE STATISTICS UP!

    THE VILLAGE BLACK SMITH

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