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Taking Away Their Guns in New Orleans:
I have a feeling that this story is going to get a lot of attention at the VC one way or another, so I figure I may as well be the first to raise it:
  Water was receding across this flood-beaten city today as local police officers prepared for a mass forced evacuation of the several thousand residents still living here. Authorities also began confiscating firearms from civilians.
  . . .
  The city's Police Department and federal law enforcement officers from agencies like the United States Marshals Service will lead the evacuation, Mr. Compass said. Officers will search the city house by house, in both dry and flooded neighborhoods. No one will be allowed to stay, he said.
  Meanwhile, the city is confiscating firearms from civilians, including legally registered weapons, Mr. Compass said. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Ok, at THAT point, a lot of people I know and respect would start shooting at the "rescue" workers.
9.8.2005 4:42pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Well, the number of criminals who possess guns just skyrocketed to 100% in the affected area. Well, 100% minus whatever percentage of the population is a member of law enforcement and thus "allowed" to have weapons.

Creating new crimes (possession of firearm in New Orleans) to prevent old crimes (assault, murder) is always stupid and ultra vires to the purpose of government.
9.8.2005 4:43pm
T. Gracchus (mail):
One would think collecting (and identifying) the dead would be a bit more important.
9.8.2005 4:49pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
To a serious anti-gunner, disarming people is the answer to EVERY question, and what's going on in NO looks like just an opportunity to do it at a time when anybody who puts up a fight can be gunned down with no questions asked.
9.8.2005 5:01pm
OrinKerr:
Brett,

Do you really mean that?
9.8.2005 5:06pm
Goober (mail):
Prof. Kerr:

Interesting. I'm curious whether you think the Second Amendment has anything to say about this? Setting aside any factual questions about whether such seizure would serve a compelling state interest, do you think there is a CSI component to the 2nd Amdt.? Would such confiscations (assuming they're for the time being only) even trigger the Amendment? It's asking a lot to litigate the entire individuals/communities/militias/states question about whom the Amendment protects, but there are, I think, interesting questions around the edges.
9.8.2005 5:09pm
Goober (mail):
Prof. Kerr:

Interesting. I'm curious whether you think the Second Amendment has anything to say about this? Setting aside any factual questions about whether such seizure would serve a compelling state interest, do you think there is a CSI component to the 2nd Amdt.? Would such confiscations (assuming they're for the time being only) even trigger the Amendment? It's asking a lot to litigate the entire individuals/communities/militias/states question about whom the Amendment protects, but there are, I think, interesting questions around the edges.
9.8.2005 5:09pm
Goober (mail):
Sorry. I didn't mean to press the button twice. (Is it possible for site admins to delete a duplicative post? If so, I hereby request such a remedy.)
9.8.2005 5:10pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Sure I do. Personally, I'd consider it imprudent, of course, (The smart man picks the time and place, he doesn't let it be picked for him.) but I've got some hardcore friends.

IMO this isn't about "rescue" or even public safety save in the most tenuous sense. It's just a rare opportunity for the gun control movement to pull off something they go to bed every night dreaming of doing, with a few tens of thousands of soldiers ready to land like a ton of bricks on anybody who resists.

Let me ask YOU a question: Do you seriously think those confiscated guns will ever find their way back to their lawful owners? Still in working condition?
9.8.2005 5:13pm
OrinKerr:
Brett,

Sorry for being inarticulate. My question was whether you really meant that this was the work of gun abolitionists who were acting "at a time when anybody who puts up a fight can be gunned down with no questions asked." Do you have evidence for that?

Goober,

I don't know much at all about the Second Amendment, so I'll let my co-bloggers and others handle the Constitutional questions.
9.8.2005 5:18pm
Pete Freans (mail):
This is the Utopia that the Brady Campaign et al. always wanted. Residents had no use for firearms the days shortly following the levee break, why need them now? They had nothing to fear, right?
9.8.2005 5:27pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Well, I can't read people's minds, and I don't have the Mayor's office bugged, but you might notice that New Orleans was the city that started this fad of local governments suing the firearms industry. So there's no question about motive. I guess it comes down to whether you really think that they've got nothing better to do than disarm people who legally own firearms, in a situation where those people have a very real need to defend themselves.
9.8.2005 5:28pm
OrinKerr:
Brett,

It seems to me that you are making a claim about motive without having any real evidence to back it up.

Presumably the authorities are taking away guns because they are evacuating everyone out of the city, and the evacuees do not need guns once they are out of New Orleans and in a relatively safe place. Isn't that more plausible than the idea that in the middle of evacuating the entire city, some politican has decided that this would be a great time to make the (empty) city gunfree?
9.8.2005 5:33pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
Not only unconstitutional, but unquestionably foolish.

As a wise man once said,

Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt.

And here's an excellent source on state constitutions and bearing arms:

Louisiana: The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person. Art. I, ยง 11 (enacted 1974).
1879: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged. This shall not prevent the passage of laws to punish those who carry weapons concealed." Art. 3.
9.8.2005 5:36pm
Reader:
The cited news story does not provide enough information to rationally assess the reported confiscation policy or to justify some of the knee jerk reactions in the comments. I can imagine at least two distinct scenarios playing out, with varying degrees of justification. Scenario 1: a displaced victim shows up at a staging area seeking a bus or helicopter ride out of town, and officials say "you can ride, but your gun can't." That seems fine to me. Scenario 2: officials are going from house to house confiscating guns. That seems more questionable. My guess is that what is actually happening is closer to scenario 1 than 2, and is less a form of confiscation than a ban on public carrying (which has the incidental effect of confiscation because gun owners obviously can't go home to drop off their guns).
9.8.2005 5:37pm
Houston Lawyer:
Under what authority can law enforcement enter into the homes of the populace, without a warrant, to confiscate firearms? This is a liberal fantasy, unconstitutional searches solely for the purpose of depriving people of their constitutional right to bear arms.

This morning I saw footage of an old man refusing to be removed from his home in NO. His response was "the people giving the orders are fools". Hard to argue with that one.
9.8.2005 5:38pm
Cheburashka (mail):
For any forced-evacuee who isn't going to the government shelters, I cannot understand what possible reason there would be to force them to give up their guns.

If they're going to stay with their family in Wyoming, why can't they retain their firearm for the journey?

And isn't Houston Lawyer right, or doesn't this at least raise a takings issue?
9.8.2005 5:42pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Prof. Kerr:

...and the evacuees do not need guns once they are out of New Orleans and in a relatively safe place.

Like the Superdome? What makes you think refugee areas are going to be 'relatively safe places'?
9.8.2005 5:47pm
Christine Hurt (mail) (www):
Is telling a person to "drop your weapons" a takings? I'm playing devil's advocate here -- the city is under a mandatory evacuation order. If someone refuses to leave and is still in the city, then that person is breaking the law. Although the powers that be seem to have created an untenable situation by declaring a mandatory evacuation but saying that they don't want to use force to enforce that order, the effect of the order is to create a class of residents that are breaking the law. I assume that the point of taking away weapons is to diffuse a situation that could amount to a stand-off, but the very declaration to surrender arms may hasten a stand-off.
For another interesting perspective, see Chris Cooper's article in today's WSJ profiling some of the people who are staying. Not ignorant, poor people with no place to go but wealthy people flying in private security forces to enable them to stay in their homes. Will the private security forces be disarmed?
9.8.2005 5:50pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
I did just back it up, Orin: The New Orleans government is run by known gun controllers. That IS motive.

And it's a civil right, under both the federal and state constitutions; "Need" is utterly irrelevant. "Need" is something you appeal to, in asking that a privilege be extended, not in demanding that a right be respected.
9.8.2005 5:51pm
NYCer:
[...] you might notice that New Orleans was the city that started this fad of local governments suing the firearms industry. So there's no question about motive.

I think Orin's right here: speculating about motive without evidence leads to some fascinating claims.

As I understand it, FEMA is technically in charge, with the National Guard de facto running the place. I hardly see what (a? some?) civil suit(s) brought by the city have to say about military response to a disaster.

With all the other absurd choices made during the disaster and the natural impulse to establish control that comes with having the guard out, it hardly surprises me that their reaction would include disarming the populace.

I don't agree with it (I happen to be very pro-gun), but then I don't agree with a lot that's happened there.
9.8.2005 5:52pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Christine, whether it's a "taking" or not is beside the point, as it's the 2nd amendment that's implicated here, not the 5th.
9.8.2005 5:53pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Is telling a person to "drop your weapons" a takings? I'm playing devil's advocate here -- the city is under a mandatory evacuation order. If someone refuses to leave and is still in the city, then that person is breaking the law.

What's the legal authority for the "mandatory evacuation" order? What legislature authorized it? If someone is ordered by law to leave their property, isn't that a taking? (I suppose there's the temporary-takings-aren't-takings issue, but lets leave that erroneous precedent to the side for a moment.)
9.8.2005 5:53pm
Cheburashka (mail):
And lets all hope that some police officer or soldier stays in one of those mandatory-evacuated homes overnight, so we can finally get our courts back to enforcing the 3d Amendment.
9.8.2005 5:54pm
Pete Freans (mail):
Do you really believe that law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits were shooting at rescue personnel? It's a possibility of course, but highly unlikely. Armed law-abiding citizens protecting their life, liberty, and property should not be grouped with armed looters. While this clear infringement of the 2nd Amendment will be muted by the unique circumstances, I am curious HOW LONG this moratorium will last. What other sort of emergencies will warrant this?
9.8.2005 5:58pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
I suppose we'll nail down who came up with the idea eventually. But given that we KNOW that the New Orleans government wants to disarm the people under it's control even during the best of times, I would say that any presumption of innocence when they start taking guns away stands already rebutted, and their innocence in this respect is something THEY have to prove.
9.8.2005 6:00pm
Goober (mail):
I shouldn't get involved, but how exactly do we "KNOW" that, Brett? That's the part that confuses your perplexed interlocutors.
9.8.2005 6:02pm
OrinKerr:
Brett,

Your claim is sufficiently outlandish that I think you have the burden of proof on this one.
9.8.2005 6:03pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Goober, we "know" it, because the government of New Orleans has a history. It didn't spring up de novo as the hurricane approached shore.

Orin, "outlandish" is in the eye of the viewer, I suppose. In the last decade or two, many things have been done by our government in the name of gun control that I'd once have regarded as "outlandish" myself.
9.8.2005 6:11pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
Okay, I'm confused. While the Supremes have held that the 2d Amendment has not been fully incorporated by the 14th, the Feds surely can't just enter into someone's house in NOLA and confiscate their guns, can they?
9.8.2005 6:19pm
erp (mail):
Are the police assuming that the people they are evacuating are all criminals? If not, they're in a peck of trouble.
9.8.2005 6:21pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Christine, whether it's a "taking" or not is beside the point, as it's the 2nd amendment that's implicated here, not the 5th."

Wrong. The city is taking away guns. The Second Amendment only applies to the federal government.
9.8.2005 6:23pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Read the story again. It's not the feds doing this. It's the New Orleans police department.

And, sure they can do it. All it takes is a disregard for the Bill of Rights, and it's not like that is a scarce trait among government employees.
9.8.2005 6:23pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"All it takes is a disregard for the Bill of Rights"

What are you talking about? Show me where the Framers (or any Supreme Court for that matter) ever said the Second Amendment applies to local law enforcement.
9.8.2005 6:27pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Wrong. The Supreme court has not yet admitted that the 2nd amendment applies to the states. Not quite the same thing.

And, as Scipio so kindly pointed out, the Louisiana constitution also guarantees this right. Care to argue that New Orleans police don't have to obey THAT constitution, either?
9.8.2005 6:28pm
Seamus (mail):

While the Supremes have held that the 2d Amendment has not been fully incorporated by the 14th, the Feds surely can't just enter into someone's house in NOLA and confiscate their guns, can they?



No, but they don't have to. All they have to do is order people to evacuate and forbid them to bring their guns with them. Then, because we know the authorities won't be able to seal off New Orleans 100% during the months that the evacuation order is in place, it's a fair bet that the gun owners will be lucky to find their guns (or anything else that's both portable and of value) still in their homes once law-abiding residents are allowed back.
9.8.2005 6:31pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Wrong. The Supreme court has not yet admitted that the 2nd amendment applies to the states."

Is that your version of a legal argument? Tell me, what's the logic behind that? Are you an originalist? If so, perhaps you can show me any evidence that the Framers intended for the Second Amendment to apply to the states, or that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to incorporate the Second?

"Care to argue that New Orleans police don't have to obey THAT constitution, either?"

Where did I say anything whatsoever about the state constitution?
9.8.2005 6:31pm
Michael L (mail):
Brett,

The city government of New Orleans has a history of suing gun manufacturers, not confiscating people's guns. I'm not aware of any mass gun-seizure by the New Orleans authorities before this one. Even the current confiscation of weapons doesn't well and truly count as a New Orleans seizure, since its dispersed among a variety of local, state and federal authorities (i.e., what's left of the NOPD and the National Guard).
9.8.2005 6:32pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Geez, my wife's first reaction to all the news from down there was "Do we need any more guns?"

The answer happens to be no, but apparently we do need good hiding places for them.
9.8.2005 6:34pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Mahan, although the SC hasn't said anything, Akil Amar has made the originalis case for incorporation of the 2nd A.

And there are of course those of us who think the idea of selective incorporation is utter nonsense--what can "privileges and immunities" mean if not, at a minimum, the BoR?
9.8.2005 6:36pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Mahan, although the SC hasn't said anything, Akil Amar has made the originalis case for incorporation of the 2nd A."

But merely wanting the Constitution to be interpreted a certain way doesn't make it so.

So when Brett says the police are "disregarding the Bill of Rights", doesn't he really mean they're disregarding his interpretation of it?

Heck, I think the Constitution should be interpreted all kinds of ways the Court has never ruled; so when are all going to stop diregarding my interpretation of it?
9.8.2005 6:41pm
htom (mail):
From an on-line text claiming to be the Constitution of the State of Louisiana:

"Sec. 11. The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person."

Confiscation does not seem to fall in the permitted activities.
9.8.2005 6:48pm
Pete Freans (mail):
I encourage those to read a Justice Department memo entitled "Whether the Second Amendment Secures An Individual Right" prepared for then-Attorney General Ashcroft on August 24, 2004. They ultimately conclude that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to bear arms rather than collective right. They outline a facinating and vigorous history of this individual right from 1688 to the present day.
9.8.2005 7:16pm
Kerry (mail) (www):
Are we entirely certain this story is accurate or true? After all, it is published in the NY Times.
9.8.2005 8:07pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I too believe that there is a big difference between telling people that they have to be evacuated, but that they can't take their guns, on the one hand, and seizing their guns from them otherwise, esp. from their houses. And yes, this is a legal difference without a practical one, since odds are that the guns won't be there when they get back.

For example, despite that provision in the LA constitution, I have no doubt that non-police are disarmed before entering the courthouse. Any more, this is done nation wide. The difference between different jurisdictions seems to be whether or not provision is made for storage of your gun while you are in court (yes, some court houses provide that, while most do not).

When I was in-house counsel in AZ, I had posted notices on the entrances to the plant that firearms were not allowed on the property. Technically, the employees weren't supposed to have them in their cars either, but that just technical, as we all knew that they did. What would you expect with many of them having concealed carry permits? Indeed, I had one of the guards admit to me that he had an arsenal in his car, a dozen feet from his guard shack. I had to tell him that I assumed that he would remedy the situation (though I knew he might not).

Was this an infringement on their right to bear arms? I didn't think so then, and still don't. As an employer, I felt we had the right to have this policy.

Of course, things change a bit when you have state actors. But if phrased that they can't take their guns with them, I don't see it really being any different from the court house situation.
9.8.2005 8:54pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I suspect that the reason that NOLA sued gun manufacturers was that they were frustrated being essentially the murder capital of the country. And, being run by liberals, the obvious solution would be to disarm their populace through, among other things, gun manufacturer liability.

Of course, those of us on the right laugh at that as being the problem. Rather, I would suggest that it was much more a function of running a corrupt welfare state (city) protected by a corrupt police force, and that the reason for the extreme level of corruption was the continued existance of the Huey Long / Democratic Party political machine (of which the governor seems to be a member).

So, no, I don't think that this is really an attempt to disarm the populace, per se, but rather, just the liberal paranoia about guns - the assumption that everyone is safer if the only guns are in the hands of the (corrupt) police (and criminals).
9.8.2005 9:01pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
I fail to see where you disagree with me, Bruce; All you've done is explain WHY they try to disarm the populace.
9.8.2005 9:17pm
42USC1983 (mail):
I wish we have government officials competent enough to see an opportunity and seize it. (Not that I'd like to see them use Katrina as an opportunity to grab guns. Rather, I wish gov't officials were competent enough to spot opportunities in general.) Anyhow, in Brett's world, government officials are wicek smart. In my view, they're mostly incompetent - certainly not competent enough to plan what Brett assumes they're planning.
9.8.2005 10:36pm
Carol Anne:
It's been fun watching this thread spin out of what is, essentially, a poorly-reported, vague and ambiguous reference to one person saying "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons" with no basis for that assertion.

Is that a personal opinion of Mr. Compass, or is it City policy? Has martial law been declared (which, it seems to me, often suspends many of our most cherished freedom) or does the mandatory evacuation order implicitly or explictly specify citizens rights to have guns have been suspended?

There's so much unknown about this one story, and yet people here seem willing to fill in the blanks with beliefs and presuppositions.

For the record: CCW allowed or not, I'm not going to show my gun(s) to an authority during an emergency, and I'm not going to stand for a search of my person or property without a valid legal reason (a warrant is, I believe, just one such possible document). In times like these, people can't even call 911, so they're going to be on their own if a predator threatens. In that situation, I'm going to stand on my rights to defend life...and if that means using deadly force, I'll do what's called for.

Then, all the lawyers can line up on one side or the other to prosecute or defend me. The problem with that, of course, is that the three seconds it took to defend a life will be examined and (mis-)interpreted for months and months on end before a decision is rendered, depending on which side you are naturally on.
9.9.2005 12:41am
NYSofMind:
Let's set aside the legal issues here for a second...

If some nut disagrees with a specific action by rescue workers, and he has a gun, he may start to use it to stop them from, say, demolishing a dangerously tilting building, or some such thing. Take his gun away at the outset, and when he gets upset at other things later, he won't have it to throw his tantrum. Unfortunately, individual freedoms are really spectacularly unimportant in this kind of disaster area. Everything needs to be organized and coordinated if the city wants to get back on its feet soon. Taking away people's guns takes away a good chunk of their ability to interfere with the various efforts of rescue and restoration workers.

I understand that the sort of nut who shoots at people demolishing a building will shoot at people trying to take his gun. But whereas the group trying to take his gun will expect some armed resistance, a crew demolishing a building isn't really prepared for a gun battle.
9.9.2005 1:12am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
You mean New Orleans still has a police department?

Guns are needed most where gun rights are restricted most.
9.9.2005 1:59am
NYSofMind:
"Guns are needed most where gun rights are restricted most."

Gotta tell you, guns... not allowed in Manhattan, and, frankly, I've lived here for twenty three years, never been the victim of a violent crime, don't know anyone who *has* been the victim of a violent crime, and don't know anyone who owns a gun here in the city. No need for guns here.
9.9.2005 2:05am
htom (mail):
Ah, that explains the Amadou Diallo shooting, which took place in the Bronx!
9.9.2005 2:29am
Lors Suck (www):
Gotta tell you, guns... not allowed in Manhattan, and, frankly, I've lived here for twenty three years, never been the victim of a violent crime, don't know anyone who *has* been the victim of a violent crime, and don't know anyone who owns a gun here in the city. No need for guns here.

Gotta tell you, free speech... not allowed in Oceania, and, frankly, I've lived here for twenty three years, never heard a mendacious speech, don't know anyone who *has* heard a mendacious speech, and don't know anyone who wants free speech here in the city. No need for free speech here.
9.9.2005 3:42am
Random:
Reader: Your first scenario is ongoing, and well-known.
The second is what this article is about. Here's a video.
Seems to me like door-to-door confiscation.
9.9.2005 7:19am
Rob Lyman (mail):
NYSofMind,

I suppose the fact that Manhatten has a documented crime rate (including gun crime rate) well above much of the rest of the country is meaningless to you?

I'm glad that you've never been the victim of a violent crime. Personally, I've never met a drug dealer. I do not infer from this that they do not exist.
9.9.2005 8:58am
Aultimer:
I've read that the LA "state of emergency" statute permits seizure of private property for public use. Maybe the state actors haven't considered the LA Constitution problem with applying that to guns?
9.9.2005 9:18am
SimonD:
Per Mahan, I'd describe myself as an originalist, so I would respond to that. :) In my view, incorporation stands in toto or falls in toto. There is no argument I've seen which is convincing that could differentiate the first amendment, for example, from the second. Therefore, if any of the bill of rights are incorporated, the second must be, and I am compelled by my view of what constitutional rights are to the view that the privileges or immunities clause of the 14th amendment renders the bill of rights enforcable against the states.

Madison wrote:
If a line can be drawn between the powers granted and the rights retained, it would seem to be the same thing, whether the latter be secured by declaring that they shall not be abridged, or that the former shall not be extended. If no such line can be drawn, a declaration in either form would amount to nothing.
Letter from James Madison to George Washington (Dec. 5, 1789), in THE WRITINGS OF JAMES MADISON, 1787-1790, at 432 (Gaillard Hunt ed. 1904). In my view, and evidently Madison's also, the protection of a right in the constitution is a restraint on government. The Constitution creates no rights at all; rights, per the declaration of independence, are created by the Creator. Therefore, if you already have your rights, ex deo, the specification of certain rights in a legal document creating a framework for limited government must be directed at preventing the invasion of those rights by government. As a United States citizen, you have certain priveleges and immunities, which is to say, you have rights which may not be invaded by the United States government.

Per Marshall, C.J., Barron v. Baltimore, the Bill of Rights does not apply, by its own terms, to the states. However, the 14th amendment provides that:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
If you believe, as I do, that the rights-bearing sections of the Constitution are restraints on government's ability to invade a person's rights, rather than positive grants OF those rights, then it follows naturally and logically that the bill of rights creates a series of privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. If a state may not "make or enforce any law which shall abridge" the said "privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States", then a state may not "make or enforce any law which shall" contract a privelege or immunity granted in the bill of rights.

I have an essay discussing this topic that I'm working on, due late september.
9.9.2005 11:00am
Goober (mail):
I suppose the fact that Manhatten has a documented crime rate (including gun crime rate) well above much of the rest of the country is meaningless to you?

Well, as Mayor Bloomberg (and Giuliani before him) never stopped reminding us, New York has the lowest crime rate of any large city in America, so... I guess your charge is, in fact, meaningless to me. (link)

NYSofMind: I don't know what it is with this site hatin' on New York. Some people just don't like the City, I guess. (Frankly, I'm not too surprised that they're the same people who do really like guns.)
9.9.2005 11:33am
Steph (mail):
I don't hate New York. I was born here and with luck will die here, but that doesn't mean New Yorkers don't have guns and don't need them. Otherwise law abiding citizens of NYC break the gun control laws reguraly. Also many other self defence devices are illegal and many New Yorkers own them. I personaly was saved from a nasty fight with a drunk by a friend with an illegal defense spray.
9.9.2005 12:17pm
SimonD:
That's an interesting pair of posts from Goober and Steph. Goober claims that "New York has the lowest crime rate of any large city in America", while Steph notes that "Otherwise law abiding citizens of NYC break the gun control laws reguraly. Also many other self defence devices are illegal and many New Yorkers own them". Perhaps what is meant by "lowest crime rate" is "lowest incidence of crime detection and reporting" rather than the prima facie meaning of "lowest crime rate", which would seem to suggest people not committing crimes.
9.9.2005 12:48pm
NYSofMind:
Steph-

Let me make sure I understand this. A drunk guy was getting belligerent, so you pepper sprayed him? What if your friend had a gun? Would you have shot the drunk?

But to be fair, let me ask, before I jump to conclusions: did the fight actually happen, or was it simply an escalating situation?

Overreaction causes the decay of civil society, not the protection of it.
9.9.2005 2:13pm
dew:
SimonD:
"There is no argument I've seen which is convincing that could differentiate the first amendment, for example, from the second. "

Actually, there is a significant difference: the 1st begins with an explicit, "congress shall..." and the 2nd amendment does not. Regardless of how good the reasons might be for "partial incorporation", it seems it would make reading the constitution just a little too much like "newspeak" if the 1st was incorporated by the 14th but the 2nd was not. Just my opinion.
9.9.2005 3:02pm
SimonD:
Dew:
I actually meant to simply use the first amendment as an example of any other provision of the bill of rights, so for the purpose of my argument above, if the use of the first amendment is contentious, please substitute the fourth amendment or any other which you feel unquestionably is incorporated.

However, regarding your argument to the first amendment. Justice Thomas, of course, has made the argument that the explicit direction that "Congress shall..." might preclude the application of the establishment clause (as opposed to the amendment in its entirety) to the states. See Elk Grove v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1 (2004) (Thomas, J., Concurring).

Madison's original proposal for what became the first amendment was:
"The amendments which have occurred to me, propoer to be recommended by Congress to the state legislatures, are these:

...Fourth, that in Article I Section 9, between clauses 3 and 4, be inserted these clauses, to wit:

The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, be infringed.
III Annals of America pp.354-363. Madison intended to insert most of his articles of amendment - including the establishment clause - into the structure of the constitution (Article V does, after all, contemplate a process of amendment rather than appendment); under such a schema, the ancestor of the establishment clause would therefore have resided in Article I §9, along with other prohibitions on the legislative power. This has obvious structural consequences: it was intended as a limitation on Congress. In Barron, supra, Chief Justice Marshall reaffirmed that, by its original terms, the bill of rights is essentially a limitation on the Federal government, as noted above.

This not change my view on the incorporation of the first amendment, though, and if anything, reinforces it. The first amendment is a restriction on the power of government to infract on a person's religious practises, and the right to be free from government restriction on religious practise, it seems to me, is a privilege and immunity of a United States citizen. To the extent that the establishment of religion may infract upon those practises, it would infract upon those priveleges and immunities, and so I think the first amendment in its entirety is incorporated along with the other seven articles of the bill of rights.

This is not to say that Justice Thomas' opinion is utterly outlandish. By the amendment's own terms, at very least, the establishment clause should arguably apply only to Congress. The quote from Madison above shows that the original intent of the establishment clause was the prohibition on Congress from establishing a national religion. We are not governed by the intent of the draftsman, of course, but by the text that was proposed and ratified, as those words would have been understood at the time. However, men rarely choose words entirely inapposite to their purpose, and for this reason, I think it hard to dismiss the notion that the establishment clause may be, by is own terms, unincorporable. Contra the American Constitution Society's series Clarence Thomas' America, this is not a recipe for theocracy at the state level. Furthermore, my argument above seems largely to argue to the free exercise clause, or at least, the impact upon free exercise of an established church. I'm less than certain on this point, but that's my view as it stands today.
9.9.2005 6:13pm
Rob Lyman (mail):
First off, I don't hate NYC. I'm not a fan of big cities generally as places to live, but a brief visit is always fun.

But if indeed it is true that NYC has a lower crime rate than, say, Chicago or DC (to pick two at non-random), then it's worth noting that NYC has less complete gun prohibition than either of those cities; that is, you can more easily get a (legal) gun in NYC.

To pick at Goober's post even more, if the appropriate basis for comparison is "large cities," and those cities tend to have more restrictive gun-control laws than small towns or rural areas, is that not an admission that there are big factors other than rate of gun ownership that cause crime?

NYSofM is certainly correct that unnecessary escalation of situations is a problem; pulling a gun on a belligerent drunk is almost always the wrong answer. What I resent about NYSofM's post (besides his "Gee, Manhatten is so superior, why doesn't everyone copy us?" attitude) is that he seems to think I am incapable of telling the difference between a person who is merely an angry drunk and one who is a genuine lethal threat.

That assumption--that my judgment and intelligence are inferior because I own guns but not a badge--are what lead me to repeatedly respond, in a sometimes miffed tone.
9.9.2005 8:28pm
NYSofMind:
First of all, it's spelled Manhattan.

Secondly, I wasn't trying to say that the entire country should copy Manhattan, I was using Manhattan as a great example of why a lot of things that gun-ownership-advocates say simply don't play out in the real world.

Thirdly, what, exactly, is the point of the police, if they aren't better trained and carry higher power and authority than civilians? Yes, there are corrupt police. That doesn't mean you should take away the mission of or special status of the police, and make policework equivalent to vigilantism.
But here's the difference between getting rid of civilian guns in an area because of a small number of nuts and getting rid of the police because of a few corrupt cops: If you get rid of civilian gun ownership, nothing bad happens, except for the removal of gun ownership itself. If you get rid of the police, you have... chaos.

Fourthly, New York was 25 out of 25 for violent crime among big cities. That doesn't just include cities like Chicago and DC, with strict gun regulation, but it includes cities like Miami, with Florida's generous self-defense laws and the prevalence of guns there... it includes San Antonio, which has more of every type of crime except robbery, though I would imagine that the outstanding gap in burglaries and larcenies would perhaps make that more a question of narrow definition than actual disparity. Do I want to paint every other big city as being inferior to New York? No, of course not. But I could write up a long list of cities with generous gun ownership and abominably awful crime rates.

The point is, New York is being compared to lots of places that have very generous gun laws. From that, I draw the conclusion that guns don't lower the crime rate. As a result, I would hope (though I realize it's naive to think I could ever manage) to put to rest the theory that gun ownership is *good* for society at large, at least. Let the debate simply focus on whether it's bad or neutral?
9.10.2005 12:25am
kobayashimaru:
NYSofMind, lets try a thought experiment. If you were a criminal, and you had the choice (say in a Star Trek sort of world) to choose between walking into one of two different worlds, one in which everyone owned a gun and the other in which no one owned a gun, which would you choose?

I think the vast majority would choose an unarmed populace, because it is easier for them to continue to commit crimes when the people are unable to defend themselves.

There are a great many factors that go into a crime rate in a city, so the sole fact that New York has a lower crime rate than San Antonio, and has less (legal) guns, is not enough to say that less guns equals less crime. Its a correlation, not a causal relationship. Go to the research on a wide variety of cities and find data, rather than anecdotes. ("The plural of anecdote is NOT data.")
9.10.2005 1:44am
SimonD:
I would choose the armed populace, because an armed populace is a polite populace. ;)
9.10.2005 1:58am
NYSofMind:


Is that enough data?

Again, I'm not saying no guns is necessarily better; I'm just saying that plenty of guns seems not to be a decisive influence on crime.

And given the choice between thought experiments and data, I choose data.
9.10.2005 2:12am
NYSofMind:
ah... still getting the hang on this link thing... if the link below doesn't show up, the address is: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004902.html
9.10.2005 2:15am
OPPRESSED IN NEW ORLEANS:
Our founding fathers warned us about such things of Goverment getting out of control. Let this be that warning. You're seeing it happen first hand, what's next?

Freedom doesn't exsist in America, it's a POLICE STATE!!!
9.10.2005 4:33am
Richard B. (mail):
"The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner." - The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the United States Senate, 97th Congress, 2nd Session, Feb. 1982

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." - 10th Amendment

"Following the Civil War, the legislative efforts which gave us three amendments to the Constitution and our earliest civil rights acts likewise recognized the right to keep and bear arms as an existing constitutional right of the individual citizen and as a right specifically singled out as one protected by the civil rights act and by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, against infringement by state authorities." - The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the United States Senate, 97th Congress, 2nd Session, Feb. 1982

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." - 14th Amendment

It would seem to me that we have original intent; historical precedent; 2nd, 10th, and 14th Amendment rights; and federalism on the side of individual gun ownership.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." - 4th Amendment

So, how do we define "unreasonable?" I think this is the crux of the original posts for this discussion. So far as I can tell, "martial law" has not been declared; therefore, the Constitution and thereby individual rights have not been suspended. Is it "reasonable" that during a 'state of emergency' constitutes grounds for the suspension of constitutional rights?

"A state of national crisis; a situation demanding immediate and extraordinary national or federal action. Congress has made little or no distinction between a "state of national emergency" and a "state of war." Brown v. Bernstein, D.C.Pa., 49 F.Supp. 728, 732. - Black's Law Dictionary

If we are to believe the 1933 War and Emergency Powers Act, then the President does have the right, under the definition of "national emergency," to suspend certain, individual, constitutional rights. This is why the media discussions of "insurrection" as limiting Bush's ability to usurp command and control from local authorities during Katrina's aftermath. No where, do I see these powers, as related to the suspension of federally guaranteed, individual rights, conferred upon a state governor or city mayor.

Just some simple, straightforward, face value quotations to chew on with an eye to refocusing the discussion.
9.10.2005 5:20am
Rob Lyman (mail):
NYSofM,

My bad on the spelling. I'm typing with a baby on my lap so I'm not being too careful.

Has NYC always had that low crime rate in the 23 years you've lived there? Their restrictive gun laws date to the 1920's, I think. "Death Wish" came out before I was born, but it isn't a story of a placid and well-run city. Given that, is it fair to credit gun control with the low crime? And how do you deal with Chicago and DC?

You still haven't addressed the point that there are large swaths of the country where (legal) guns are thick on the ground but crime essentially doesn't occur.

Nor have you addressed the obvious point that there are lots of guns in NYC owned by criminals.

Or the fact that NYC's police department is huge compared to many cities.

Or finally, the question of whether the crime in other cities (and for that matter in NYC) is being committed by or against the same peopele who legally own guns. It's possible that the populace that suffers from crime is exactly the populace that doesn't own guns (and by people who own them illegally), while the gun owners live fairly safe lives.

Plainly, we cannot put this debate to rest with a few blog comments. But neither can you expect to make a simple comparison and draw valid conclusions.
9.10.2005 8:52am
kobayashimaru:
No, NYSofMind, that link does not provide enough data to prove that the lack of guns in NYC is causing the lack of crimes in NYC. It only shows that NYC has a low per capita crime rate. And since Rudy Guiliani, while he was mayor, cracked down very hard on criminals and threw a lot of them in jail(where they still reside), and put a huge number of cops on the street, there are obviously extenuating circumstances to New York's low crime rate that have nothing to do with guns. Its well known in criminology circles that there is a very high rate of recidivism for criminals--it tends to be the same population that commits crime over and over again. So if all of those people are in jail, then you don't have the criminals out committing the crimes.
9.10.2005 10:41am
NYSofMind:
Kobayashimaru-

As I said above, I wasn't trying to use the data to say that no guns=less crime. I was using it to say that more guns does not equal less crime. That same fact applies to Mr. Lyman's use of Chicago and DC as examples of cities with strong gun control and high crime.

Now, as for the prevalence of guns in the hands of criminals in New York-- so what? Criminals everywhere have guns. It's hard to commit a crime without a gun. We're not arguing over whether gun control takes guns out of the hands of criminals, we're arguing over a) whether having guns makes a given population safer, and b) whether having guns makes an ordinary citizen more likely to become a more serious criminal, or at least to do something rash and unwise. My point is, even with the criminals having guns, New York seems to have done really well being safe, without guns being available to the general public.

NYC's police department has been shrinking, and crime has continued to go down. Yes, tactics are a huge part of it, but that doesn't defeat the argument that guns are unecessary to creating a safe city. If New York can do it, obviously other places can, too. Better policing is a huge part of making people safe, whether or not civilians all have guns.
9.10.2005 2:00pm
Rob Lyman (mail):
NYSofMind,

I agree that the police are very important, although I actually suspect the culture of the population is even more so; respect for property and life are worth far more than fear of punishment.

I think your framing of the debate as two questions is helpful; I supposed I'd say that 1) my guns may not make you safer, but they do make me safer and don't put you in any danger (unless you're trying to attack my family), and 2) I doubt that the mere possession of a gun makes someone more likely to do something rash or stupid. Rather, it makes the consequences of rashness or stupidity more severe, just as it makes the consequences of cool judgment more beneficial to facing a criminal threat. If guns made people stupid, we wouldn't let cops (who have typically less education than I do and who are usually worse marksmen) carry them.

You mentioned before that you do not know anyone who owns guns. Unsurprisingly, I know many people who do. The media image (assisted by the sometimes intemperate rhetoric of gun owners) is of dangerous survivalists who view everyone as a potential target; thus your mention in a previous thread of paranoia about a "spam stockpile" leading to an unnecessary shooting. As it happens, I know some people who talk like that (I suppose I have occassionally done so myself), despite being good family men who volunteer to help neighbors at their church and are probably even now taking time off of work to pack bottled water for NO.

Gun owners are, for the most part, perfectly ordinary people; they exhibit something of a bunker mentality because they are subjected to more or less constant political threat. And naturally they react badly to suggestions (by you, or by government) that they are somehow lacking in sufficient judgment to be trusted with guns in crisis situations (that goes double for veterans and ex-cops who own guns). Nobody likes to be told he requires government coercion because he lacks self-restraint. What most gun owners most want is to be left alone both by government and by a "mainstream" popular culture that insists on stereotyping and demonizing them.

Spend time with black or gay political activists and you will find many who say things that strike you as a little...weird. But that is not a reason to think that blacks or gays are irrational, prone to dangerous paranoia, or indeed any different from yourself.

Your persistant framing of the issue as "gun owners can't/won't control themselves" is the principal reason I have felt compelled to comment on a subject I usually ignore. If I repeatedly asserted that New Yorkers were unusually prone to rude, patronizing behavior, (something contrary to my personal experience, incidentially) you wouldn't like that, either.
9.10.2005 10:12pm
NYSofMind:
I do want to stress that I'm sorry that my concerns have come across as directed at all gun owners. I certainly don't believe all, or even the majority of gun owners are crazy/reckless/irresponsible, and I do believe that many gun owners can maintain their composure and not start shooting wildly at the first sign of confrontation.

The issue for me continues to be that if guns are not good for society at large, and we know that there's a small number of people who, owning guns legally, will use them for bad ends or will snap under pressure, why keep guns in the general public? if ten percent of gun owners would use their guns as they're being used in New Orleans, that's reason enough to take them out of circulation. I put the number phenomenally high at ten percent, simply to state my point... I don't know what the percentage is, or what the threshold would have to be before the cost-benefit analysis of gun control goes the other way. That's how I want it framed-- not a majority of gun owners, but just enough to make things awful.
9.11.2005 11:43am
Robert Lyman (mail):
If that's how you frame the issue, I don't have a problem with it. The quesiton is indeed cost (people who snap, which will surely be greater than zero both in ordinary times and in crisis) vs. benefit (defense against criminals, whom you have admitted are always armed regardless of laws, whether in everyday life or in extreme situations like NO, Rodney King riots, etc.)
9.11.2005 12:18pm
Richard B.:
A thought: Let's extend that logic. If ten percent of all drivers use their vehicles in a dangerous manner (e.g., drive drunk, excessive speed, used in conjunction with violent crimes), is that not sufficient reason to ban automobiles entirely? I'd say that ten percent would be a vast UNDERESTIMATE when it comes to vehicles used in this manner. What about baseball bats or knives? Based on the same rationale(?) shouldn't they be banned from public use?

Irrational? Exaggerated? Stupid? Nope. It's the exact, same logic. You are blaming an inanimate object for the behavior of the individual and proposing to "solve" the problem by taking useful TOOLS away from the vast majority who use them appropriately. At what point and with which items does the logic end?
9.11.2005 6:58pm
NYSofMind:
it is *not* exactly the same logic, because people *need* cars, and they *don't* *need* guns. Most Americans wouldn't be able to work, shop, live without cars. Take away all civilian guns and... life pretty much goes on the way it did.
9.11.2005 9:21pm
NYSofMind:
And, by the way, I don't have a driver's license either (always lived somewhere with public transportation).
9.11.2005 9:22pm
Richard B.:
It seems you defeat your own argument. Apparently, you are a prime example of why we don't "need" cars. In fact, ignoring significant regions of the country which cannot be considered "urban environments," aren't there rather influential and substantial groups, full of well educated and well-meaning individuals, who make a good case based upon a sound foundation of ecological, economic, medical, and sociological data, that oil based transportation is an archaic, self-defeating, UNNECESSARY luxury that we can ill afford to continue with?

Isn't it a long held maxim among urban planners that, with proper attention to detail, cities can be organized in such a manner that one never NEED travel further than one to five miles from their homes in their entire lives? Home, shopping, entertainment, medical assistance, et al. would be within easy walking or, at worst, easy public transportation distance?

Given such arguments, assuming one might buy into their premises, doesn't "need" become a personal perception, philosophical agenda, or culturally derived conceputalization of identity rather than a fact based, data driven, reasoned argument? If this is the case, then does it not stand to reason that your perception of "need" vis a vis firearms is also subject to a personal perception, based on a philosophical agenda, derived from a predominantly urban culture which may or may not serve as a very dubious and limited case study representative of the larger population's conceptualization of how we identify ourselves as Americans?
9.11.2005 10:16pm
Richard B.:
And, by the way, I do have a driver's license and I've NEVER lived in a region with adequate (or, sometimes ANY) public transportation.
9.11.2005 10:19pm
NYSofMind:
Not really; you could never have an entire America of urban dwellers, but you could very feasibly have an entire America of non-gun-owners. America includes farms. You need motor vehicles to cross farming regions, because it simply doesn't make sense to try and move between Nebraska and Chicago by horse or bicycle. Especially if you have a suitcase with you.

My point, and I respect you enough to believe you know this, was that I'm very specifically not saying that everyone should try to be more like New York in every way possible. America needs cars as the blood cells that carry life across the landscape. Guns aren't quite the same facilitating element of the American expanse.

Which gets at exactly what bothers me about anti-gun-control arguments: you can acknowledge that guns have a bad externality (there are crazies out there) but you can't provide a positive externality other that the theory that guns make for a safer or more polite populace, which I've been trying to push the city safety figures to disprove. That leaves you with something that has a negative externality and no positive externality to balance it. Cars have lots of positive externalities, so it's easy to explain why we need cars. Other than target practice, it doesn't seem like a whole lot is done with guns that doesn't qualify as bad, and frankly, target practice just isn't all that important to the continued health of the American community.
9.12.2005 3:14am
Richard B.:
Essentially, what this discussion boils down to is a set of potentially valid arguments based on, depending on your point of view, fallacious premises. Throughout your arguments, you present a series of "straw man" assumptions that are intended, utilizing your term, to 'frame' your argument. It is not that you have a necessarily nefarious intent; any 'frame' is designed to enhance, or at least not detract, from the appearance of the picture you are attempting to display.

Let's take only your last post rather than scrolling through this entire discussion. First, you posit that "guns aren't quite the same faciliating element" as vehicles for the American 'expanse.' If we accept this as a valid position, we are also forced to acknowledge that there is both a spatial and a temporal component to your argument.

In the not so distant past, although certainly longer ago in the eastern U.S. than in the West, guns were an absolutely essential element (and yes, in the hands of 'civilians') in the facilitation of the American landscape. Putting aside the retrospective harangues of structuralist, post-structuralist, modernist, and post-modernist authors, the United States would look quite different, and to most, unacceptably or incomprehensibly so, had it not been for firearms.

Likewise, the temporal element is intrinsic to your presentation that automobiles are necessary for travel between "Nebraska and Chicago." It seems to me that, once again, this is a premise based upon relatively RECENT history and cultural development. Without reinventing the above discussion related to the definition of "need," the premise of necessity is founded on the 'good of the whole' rather than on the individual.

But, America is a BIG place and most of your discussions focus on why they are no longer necessary on a rather small spatial scale; e.g., cities, where you have a concentration of population in a fairly confined space that requires less upon a person's individuality and more upon the cooperation of the group to function properly. Thus, anything that, real or imagined, which would, potentially, disrupt the uniform functioning of the infrastructure designed to accomodate group efforts is suspect at best and "criminal" at worst.

Such a focus on the group is, in many respects, the source of tension as related to issues surrounding the Bill of Rights. Do individual rights supercede the purported "will" of the group? Given the historical context of the Constitution's creation, the legal precedents as set forth by the judicial system (bearing in mind that the Supreme Court has never made or had a case which required a DIRECT ruling on the 2nd Amendment as related to individual right), and the historically proven fact that "government" (be they FEMA, state unemployment, county welfare, or local police) is neither designed nor capable of effectively dealing with the individual in either a preventive or immediate manner, there can be little doubt as to the source material for the stereotype of Americans as "individualists."

Second, you claim that "pro-gun advocates" cannot claim any positive 'externality' beyond the 'theory' (?) of a safer or more polite populace. The stance of a 'safer' populace is, admittedly, hypothetical until one defines what they mean by "safer." Is it a term defined by quantifiable elements related to a group or is it more a socio-psychological element intrinsic to the individual?

You have attempted to, in part, use gross statistics of crime rates. Again, the fallacy in this is spatial-temporal. Your scale is too small to provide an overview or act as a predictor; and is, in fact, contradicted as either by anecdotal evidence too lengthy to cite here. In addition, an individual, a family, or even an entire group living in the hinterlands of, say, Rexburg, ID or Dripping Springs, TX may have a different list of elements, tangible and intangible, which contribute to a "safe environment," particularly given the distances to be covered by governmental personnel (i.e., police/fire) in an emergency than those in a major U.S. city with myriad precincts and roving patrols.

The spatial issue is also intrinsic to our self-image as "Americans." Given the size of things "continential" (say the distance between Nebraska and Chicago or New York and Los Angeles) and the diversity of both the cultural and physical landscape, Americans have a traditional self-image of "rugged individuality." This is the very crux of our love affair with, at one time, the horse, and now the automobile. Without which, as you allude to, one is "trapped;" or, more precisely, lacking in independence or in having the liberty of movement.

Same with a gun. For many, without one, the individual is no longer "independent," but reliant upon the largesse of a group (society) for protection, sustenance, identity and, by derivation, psychological comfort. This loss of independence/liberty, whether via the automobile, firearms, or other, can have a very real impact on an individual's and a society's self-image and ideology.

It is also temporal in the sense that one is forced to ask "when" in relation to not only the statistics themselves, but in how long it took for the stats to reach their current levels - e.g., 'How long after gun control was codified in your region do we see a significant increase in quantifiable elements of "safety"?;' 'Is there a direct correlation between such legislation and time or do other cultural/demographic/legislative variables have more influence during that time frame?;' etc.

But, as you say, "safety" can be a debatable premise for individual gun ownership IF we were to accept, as you suggest, that, with the exception of 'target practice,' it were the ONLY positive externality pro-gun advocates were able to advance in defense of their position.

Were one to do more than speed (time is money and it makes no sense to travel at walking, bicycling, or even horse riding speeds) through farm and ranch country, they would find that firearms are indespensible TOOLS. They are used to keep varmints (coyotes, cougars, prairie dogs, rabbits, etc.), a very REAL problem, in check; the alternative being poisoning which is neither ecologically safe nor FDA approved in so far as the potential for entry of such poisons into the food supply.

For many residing in rural areas, a firearm (not to mention a fishing pole) still, even in today's agribusiness/microwave/"what do we do with the frozen food when the power goes out" society, legally (and, yes, for some, illegally) puts food on the table for many marginally incomed families; including the farmers and ranchers who operate on VERY slim margins due to the high costs of those farm "vehicles" which they must have to harvest and transport their commodities in today's marginal markets.

Though one may, depending on their value system and cultural perspective, debate the issue, firearms provide a family or social activity that, if done with proper attention to safety issues and in the appropriate venues, serves much the same purpose as bowling, movie going, amusement parks, or other forms of entertainment. Such activities are problematic in a heavily developed, urban environment; but even at that, there are indoor shooting ranges. They provide a reasonably safe source of shared interest, intellectual pursuit, and enthusiasm which bonds and provides the opportunity of passing on or sharing familial or societal traditions; much as "the hunt" or "the harvest" does in numerous societies.

If taken seriously enough, shooting can become and IS a recognized, honorable, and traditional sport. It can be participated in as either an individual or as a team. To be competitive, one must exercise discipline, self-control, attention to detail, AND be in reasonably good physical condition. Aren't those positive attributes for an individual?

In the end, if one wishes to discuss this on anything other than a legal, historical, or constitutional basis, then it becomes much like the very first question one is confronted with in many an introductory course in philosophy; particularly "logic." Query: Does God exist - yes or no? Depending on which answer you select, ALL of your subsequent queries, arguments, assumptions, premises, etc. will be based on that SINGLE premise. The same with guns. Do you believe in an individual's right to own firearms - yes or no?

To frame it in much the same manner that you posit in your last post - the main problem is that REASONABLE (yes, the reactionary crowd does tend to undermine the more reasonable arguments) pro-gun advocates CAN cite more than simple safety/target practice issues as positive 'externalities' based on their own spatial-temporal premises. Meanwhile anti-gun proponents can, in general, only offer viscerally charged, perceptually skewed prose backed by dubiously applicable "data" to support their position. This is why the gun control community often relies on emotion charged, anamolous (but, unfortunately, decreasingly unique) events such as Columbine, Patrick Purdy, or Hurricane Katrina as windows of opportunity to advance their agenda; letting the 'emotion of the moment' cloud the lack of valid, logical argument related to cause-effect-legacy. [There is no doubt regarding the temporal correlation between events such as this and legislative actions which, in many cases, would not have prevented the incident, but have in some measure stripped or limited the law abiding gun owner of their liberties.]

It is also why the Founding Fathers and the States which ratified it, created a Constitution which provided a framework for government, but also focused on INDIVIDUAL rights; with a lot of "shall nots" insofar as the government or society being able to infringe thereupon. It was intended to provide a tangible source of protection and redress for the individual when "the emotion of the moment" (sometimes synonomously phrased as "interpret for our time") would push political leaders in unacceptable, unconscionable, undesirable, nefarious, erroneously premised, ill-advised, or even incompetentence covering directions.
9.12.2005 6:20am
warsong (mail) (www):
First time here, and, not being a Lawyer, I'm compelled to ask, is anyone here actually familiar with the constitution, and socialist blather, enough to repudiate NYSofMind.

NYSofMind keeps making blatantly socialist propaganda statements, "...nobody needs...," and, nobody seems to pick up on the "Left wing Liberal talking points" she/he's spouting?

NYSofMind...does a criminal need a gun to kill a paraplegic? Does a crimnal need a gun to rape and kill a 75 year old woman? Does a paraplegic need a gun to kill a criminal that is trying to kill him/her? How about a 75 year old woman? Not everyone is Arnold Scharzenneger, and, I suspect you're not either.

My feeling here is that you believe we live in some perfect world, and, anyone who can't protect themselves with their bare hands has no right to expect that polite society will allow them the means to defend their own lives.

Or, maybe you feel we should all feel a collective duty to dial 911...and, become a statistic.

Gordon
9.15.2005 8:29pm
Kansas Citizen:
What can i say here, all i see is Americans arguing amongst thereselves while local, state, and federal governments are activily stripping your fellow citizens of the rights we all share and hold sacred. I guess you can say this is a test for America in some ways. People of America, what will you do when the authorities come to YOUR homes and try to confiscate YOUR weapons under false pretenses? We all have a duty to defend our constitution agains foriegn and DOMESTIC enemies!
9.22.2005 12:36am