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New Orleans admits that gun confiscations have no legal basis

On Friday, the Parishes of Orleans and St. Tammany entered into a Consent Decree in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The decree was the result of a lawsuit brought under section 1983 and under the Declaratory Judgement Act by the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation. After the judge informed the defendants that he would very likely order a preliminary judgement against them, the defendants agreed to a consent decree. In the decree, the defendants assert that there was never an official government policy of confiscating guns, and admit that they never confiscated guns in accordance with Louisiana's emergency powers statute. The parties agreed to accept the the court's injunction (an injunction which is empowered only by section 1983, since an injunction is not a declaratory judgement) which:

1. Forbids them from confiscating guns.

2. Orders them to return all guns which have been confiscated.

Of course it was on Volokh.com where the legal argument was first made that "New Orleans Gun Confiscations are Blatantly Illegal." Now, the perpetrator governments have agreed to this legal conclusion, although they maintain the implausible assertion that gun confiscations were not the result of official policy. No doubt the factual issue will be explored in the lawsuits which are almost certainly to follow against the uniformed looters who stole guns from law-abiding citizens. Kudos to plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Halbrook, whose memorandum of law is available here.

The Drill SGT:
Having publicly taken a position that they did not order their officers to carry out the confiscation, it would seem that the City's position is that officers, operating outside the scope of their employment committed armed robbery in broad daylight to illegally seize weapons. One wonders who has custody of the weapons? It will be interesting to see how the Mayor, Police Chief and other officials enjoy the depositions resulting from the trials of their officers and what position the Police union takes. This should provide enjoyment for the next several years and enrich several sets of attorneys.
9.26.2005 12:48am
K Parker (mail):
CrazyTrain,

Thanks for including the code word "Chickenhawks" so we know not to take your post seriously.
9.26.2005 4:01am
Matt Tievsky (mail):
CrazyTrain,

While I appreciate the strain that the cops were under, what would you think if these acts weren't the work of policemen, but simply other citizens? Even if they were well-intentioned, wouldn't we call them thieves? The question is why donning a uniform would grant anyone a power to behave this way, contrary to the law.
9.26.2005 6:40am
PersonFromPorlock:
New Orleans is under the Fifth US Circuit, which holds that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Thus, there is clearly a case, under 18 USC 241, "Conspiracy against rights," for federal criminal prosecution of whoever is responsible for the confiscations.

A lawsuit is not enough, but it may be all we can get: the Bush administration's attitude seems to be that the right to bear arms is an individual right and it's up to individuals to enforce it.
9.26.2005 7:58am
roy solomon (mail):
Anyone know how many guns were actually confiscated? I've seen lots of discussion about the public statements, but virtually nothing about implementation.
9.26.2005 8:37am
Richard Riley (mail):
I don't want to ratify all of CrazyTrain's rhetoric above, but I would still suggest to David Kopel that his use of an inflammatory term like "perpetrator governments" instead of a perfectly serviceable neutral term like "governments" or "law enforcement authorities" makes him sound, frankly, a little crazed. I have a lot of sympathy with the individual-rights position on the Second Amendment, but why use rhetoric associated with violent fringe groups? Surely that weakens the argument. And if Mr. Kopel is not aware that the term "perpetrator governments" sounds inflammatory to folks outside the gun rights community, I'm telling him now.
9.26.2005 10:51am
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
So, Richard, there's a "gun rights community" that's somehow distinct from a "free speech rights" community, or a "no cruel and unusual punishment" community, and so on? The weakening of any fundamental right by acquiescence to government infringement upon it weakens them all. Are you suggesting that the right to keep and bear arms, included by the founders in the Bill of Rights and, more on point here, included in the Louisiana constitution as an individual right, isn't really a fundamental right? Or maybe it's a fundamental right but not a super fundamental right and most definitely not a super-duper fundamental right?
9.26.2005 11:15am
Columbienne:
On reading the plaintiff's brief, it seems like the due process and equal protection claims are the strongest, and the 2nd amendment claim is just a hopeful flourish. If that's true, then what distinguishes the NRA's expansive view of due process in times of emergency from, say, the Center of Constitutional Rights view on due process in Guantanamo?
9.26.2005 11:27am
Cheburashka (mail):
A great victory for the Conspiracy.
9.26.2005 12:15pm
ur_land (mail):
@ unnamed co-conspirator: You completely missed Richard Riley's point. He wasn't saying anything about the relative merits of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. He was saying that David K's rhetoric worked against the force of the argument. One can disagree with how something is said without being against what is said.
9.26.2005 12:38pm
Gordon (mail):
I also think that Mr. Kopel's rhetoric about "perpetrator governments" and "uniformed looters" is inflammatory, unnecessary, and makes Mr. Kopel out to be a kook. It's the kind of language that may lead to McVeigh-Nichols-type actions.

Frnakly, I think confiscating guns in the aftermath of a natural disaster is the equivalent of quarantining "Typhoid Marys" during a cholera epidemic.

As for Un-named Co-Conspirator's point, do the 2nd amendment absolutists acknowledge their ideological affinity with ACLU First Amendment absolutists and Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment absolutists and Fifth Amendment private property absolutists?

I personally am happy that these groups exist to remind us of the constitutional issues involved. I am equally happy that, in most instances, their viewpoints are not made the law of the land. I'm glad my neighbor can't own a bazooka or a low-yield nuclear weapon, which is where the logic of 2nd amendment aboslutists would lead us.
9.26.2005 12:42pm
JohnAnnArbor:
So, Gordon, you think the best approach in a natural disaster is to disarm everyone, without cause?

And you think this is the best use of police resources when a natural disaster has created a situation where the police have an awful lot to do?
9.26.2005 12:53pm
juris imprudent (mail):
C'mon Gordon, must you trot out that old, dry, and very stale strawman? It's a very combustible hazard you know. If 2nd Amdt "absolutism" (which oddly enough emanates mostly from those opposed to the right to keep and bear arms) ultimately encompasses WMDs, then I can freely yell fire in a crowded theater without consequence to myself, or slander you with impunity. This is an argument not worthy of the voltage required to sustain it across the internet.

And while you may indeed think it a prudent thing for the government to do something illegal and unjustified, thank goodness that YOUR view does not, in most instances, prevail.
9.26.2005 1:04pm
Gordon (mail):
juris imprudent: Then how about "cop killer" bullets? Or fully automatic machine guns? Where do you, as a presumed 2nd amendment absolutist, draw the line?

Confession: I used to believe that the 2nd amendment provided no individual right to bear arms. But reasoned arguments on this site and in other places have led me to change my mind.

But I stand by my "typhoid Mary" analogy. Only a true 1st amendment abolutist would not restrict speech during a true national emergency. Only a true 5th amendment absolutist would deny government the right to requisition property during a true national emergency. What's the difference here?

As for whether it's a wise policy to confiscate guns in a natural disaster emergency, that's not what Mr. Kopel is arguing. He's arguing that, regardless of whether it's a wise policy, it's unconstitutional. And I assume that's your argument too, juris imprudent.
9.26.2005 1:16pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Typhoid Mary was a problem because she did not believe she was contagious. She was instructed not to handle food. She refused and people died.

Similarly, someone with a gun is NOT inherently dangerous. Only someone going around shooting people is.
9.26.2005 1:33pm
David [.net]:
...seen people being killed, raped, etc...

Not really. You shouldn't rely on such unreliable sources.

The anarchy that never happened.
9.26.2005 1:34pm
Gordon (mail):
JohnAnnArbor: Someone with a gun IS INDEED inherently dangerous. Mountains of evidence provided by pro gun-control groups, professional psychologist, and impartial statisticians proved this long ago. And all the NRA propaganda about little old ladies shooting intruders and quibbles at the margins of the statisitical mountain doesn't change that. To believe otherwise is delusional.

The distasteful conclusion I have come to is that the 2nd amendment must be respected even if it means thousands more people will die because of gun violence each year in the United States. If 2nd amendment absolutists were intellectually honest, they would be making this argument, instead of making fanciful claims that gun ownership is actually GOOD for our nation.

Just as Nazis must be allowed to speak in Skokie, individuals must be allowed to possess "arms." The Constitution demands it.
9.26.2005 2:14pm
Gordon (mail):
Unless we amend the Constitution!
9.26.2005 2:16pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Gordon,

I'd support, or at least tolerate, weapons confiscation where such confiscation was related to the national emergency in question.

In other words, I don't mind disarming insurgents fighting the government, or pretty much everyone in a recently-reconquered area previously held by rebels or a foreign power.

Extending it to the 1st Amemdment, I would not mind the forcible muzzling of the press if it was reporting troop movements.

That has nothing to do with a hurricane. I suspect you wouldn't support the indiscriminate seizure of private property in McLean, VA or the arrest of the entire White House press corps in the event that a spy is discovered in the CIA, even though such a spy might constitute a grave threat to national security. There must be some connection between the extra-constitutional action and the emergency in question.

And finally, please provide a definition of "cop-killer bullets." If you're going to use words, you should know what they mean.
9.26.2005 2:16pm
Medis:
I don't view myself as an "absolutist," but I do think we should carefully scrutinize claims that an "emergency" has given grounds for limiting individual rights. Individual rights are often not just a luxury that must be traded off against effective governance, but rather are often integral to a way of ordering society that renders it MORE effective in dealing with its problems, including in emergency situations.

I'm most sympathetic to this argument with respect to speech (eg, I believe that allowing and indeed encouraging dissent tends to make our society and government more effective, not less effective, and thus free speech is not just an indulgence but rather a crucial component of our society's strength in the face of adversity). But I fully recognize that the rights I may not personally value as much should still be part of this discussion, and if my fellow citizens think the right to bear arms is integral to a well-functioning society, then so be it.

And again, this view is not in my mind "absolutist". It is an essentially pragmatic recognition that the legal protection of rights is fundamental to our strength as a society, and that we should be cautious about undermining a source our strength even in-or perhaps especially in--emergencies.
9.26.2005 2:17pm
Eric Budd (mail):
Goodwin's law has been invoked in only 18 posts. I'm impressed.
9.26.2005 2:26pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Gordon,

We try to stay civilized around here, and calling those who disagree with you "inherently dangerous," (if they own guns) "delusional" and "dishonest" does not really qualify.

Look, disagree with me all you want. One of my best friends calls herself a socialist, and we get along great. But do not insult me or accuse me of bad faith without evidence. You might think I'm wrong, but that doesn't make me a liar.

Maybe you think gun owners are dangerous because they get annoyed when you casually insult them.
9.26.2005 2:29pm
TL (www):
I am particularly pleased to see the 14th Amendment arguments expounded to test the analytical sincerity of Equal Protection and Due Process (at least the contemporary view of the 14th Amendment now in vogue). The Second Amendment is squarely within the Bill of Rights and belongs within the ambit of EXPLICIT rights that the 14th Amendment guards (unlike sodomy, privacy, abortion, and gay marital /benefits/adoption rights, to name a few).
9.26.2005 2:41pm
TL (www):
As a personal note, I think I would honestly feel much more nervous myself if I was stuck on a boat, or in a home in a deserted community, where most of the community (including a number of law enforcement officers) themselves fled. I can certainly empathize with the need for protection. The true looters, thugs, rapists, and murderers likely didn't need fire-arms to carry out their illicit goals.
9.26.2005 2:49pm
Christopher (mail):
juris imprudent- "If 2nd Amdt "absolutism" (which oddly enough emanates mostly from those opposed to the right to keep and bear arms) ultimately encompasses WMDs, then I can freely yell fire in a crowded theater without consequence to myself, or slander you with impunity."

Unfortunately we don't have a "yell fire in a crowded theater" test for where 2nd ammendment rights end. To say, based on the inclusion of the militia in the 2nd ammendment, that you have a fundemental right to at least everything necessary to equip and support a light infantry group does not seem to me to be invoking a straw man. Or would the claim be based on original public meaning that it only extended to weapons avaiable at the time of ratification? I own a variety of firearms and I don't want to give them up, but the "straw man" of above actually concerns me. I'm not sure I have a solid opinion on where the line should be drawn, but reading the constitution it does seem to guarantee rather a lot.
9.26.2005 2:52pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Gordon, most robberies in Britain happen when people are home, because thieves know that law-abiding citizens are unarmed and are specifically told not to defend themselves (they are charged with assault if they do).

Interestingly, such home invasions are much rarer in America, since the robber has to consider what he'll face.

Crime has skyrocketed in Britain, including gun crime, now that Britain disallows all private gun ownership.

DC has some of the highest crime, including gun crime, even with their highly restrictive laws.

Explain that.
9.26.2005 2:55pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Christopher,
His point was that even supposed first-amendment "absolutists" don't extend free speech to shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, and accusing them of that is disingenuous.
9.26.2005 2:58pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Only a true 5th amendment absolutist would deny government the right to requisition property during a true national emergency. What's the difference here?


The difference here is that the Fifth Amendment doesn't prohibit the taking of private property for public use, it only requires that the owner be compensated. There is a common law doctrine of `"public necessity" in times of an emergency which does allow for the taking or even destruction of private property without compensating the owner but as Louisiana's a code State, it may or may not be applicable.

Disclaimer: as a "5th amendment absolutist," I think that even in cases of "public necessity" (unless the owner's property would have been destroyed anyway such as a conflagration), the owner should still be compensated.
9.26.2005 3:30pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The distasteful conclusion I have come to is that the 2nd amendment must be respected even if it means thousands more people will die because of gun violence each year in the United States.


And how many of those "thousands" are:

A) Criminals being killed by other criminals (e.g. rival gang members) that qualify as "acquaintances" or
B) People committing suicide who could have chosen a different instrument of their own demise?
9.26.2005 3:33pm
Shelby (mail):
Gordon: It's off-topic to question here whether the Second Amendment covers anti-tank weapons; you threw that out as a straw man. The point here is the confiscation of light arms -- otherwise legal pistols, rifles and shotguns. Does the Second Amendment not cover those?
9.26.2005 3:37pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
His point was that even supposed first-amendment "absolutists" don't extend free speech to shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, and accusing them of that is disingenuous.


I agree that's about as disingenuous as suggesting that a Second Amendment "absolutist" would support the right of a criminal or murder to use a gun to further their crime as qualifying under the RTKBA.

One can be a staunch or even an "absolute" supporter of a person to exercise a right so long as they don't infringe on the rights of others in the process.

IMO that, rather than whether it's a firearm or "speech," that's used to further than action is the meaningful test.
9.26.2005 3:37pm
Jam (mail) (www):
Will RICO apply against Parishes of Orleans and St. Tammany?
9.26.2005 3:58pm
Christopher (mail):
I'm just asking the open question of where do people in general think the line should be drawn, and do they have/what is their constitutional rationale for that line. Until you have stated where your line is and how you justify it, it is hard to wash away claims that the 2nd ammendmant gives a fundemental right to WMDs as a straw man. Personally my gut feeling for what is right for our society is that explosive weapons should be out, but that handguns, full autos, .50s, etc. are all still in, but I don't think that there is a viable constitutional rationale for that. As for the status quo, there is probably even less of a reasonable arguement.
9.26.2005 4:04pm
Gordon (mail):
Robert Lyman:

There is a basic problem with your argument. Rational people with guns are not a danger. The problem is that there are no truly rational people in this world (I certainly have never met one). We all are to some extent ruled by our passions. Even an extremely rational person may go off when he finds his wife in bed with another man, or gets cut off on the highway, or gets fired on the spot by an evil boss. If that person has a gun when they go off, people often end up dead or maimed.

So yes, anyone who owns a gun is inherently more dangerous than someone who doesn't own a gun.

And, I repeat, there is a mountain of statistical evidence out there to prove it.
9.26.2005 4:05pm
Gordon (mail):
JohnAnnArbor:

The murder rate in Britain is still much, much lower than in the U.S. Possessions can be replaced; people cannot. D.C.'s gun laws are ineffective when someone can buy a piece in Virginia, or Maryland, or just about anywhere else in the U.S. So that argument doesn't hold water.

Personally, I think gun ownership should be allowed in the U.S. (non-automatic weapons) But I think all guns should be registered, so that law enforcement can have some idea where a gun might be, and guns stolen from a person's home (a common problem) can be more easily traced. And I think anyone who registers a gun should be required to go through a training-safety course, perhaps even administered by the NRA (the best thing that organization does).

To me, these would be reasonable infringements on a right to bear arms. But what do I know?
9.26.2005 4:14pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Gordon,

There is a distinction between "inherently more dangerous" (your apparent position now) and "inherently dangerous" (what you said in your first post). A person with a gun has more power than one without; that power may be used for good or ill, and to the extent that it might be used for ill, that person is "more dangerous."

But to be "inherently dangerous," a person must, I think, be more likely than not to do evil. Or, at any rate, must surpass some threshold higher than the average person. Of course we'll want to net out the positive effects of gun ownership; I'm more useful to my family armed than not if confronted with someone who means them harm.

This is a complicated process; I doubt very much that your (unlinked, uncited) statistics show that ordinary lawful gun owners are dramatically more dangerous than most others (although include career criminals as "gun owners" and they probably do). Certainly they don't show that I am more dangerous than you, and they can't justify sweeping generalizations any more than differential rates of incarceration justify sweeping racial generalizations.

So I remain annoyed by your unjustified smear of gun owners.

And I still resent being called "delusional" and "dishonest."
9.26.2005 4:20pm
Gordon (mail):
Thorley Winston:

I can't say I care much about the fate of "criminals being killed by other criminals." But, as for the suicides, it is well-known that actual suicides rise when individuals prone to suicide have an easy method to accomplish their goal. So yes, a reduction in guns in our society would reduce, at least incrementally, the number of overall suicides, not just suicides by gunshot.
9.26.2005 4:22pm
Medis:
Thorley,

As I recall, a significant number (probably thousands, although I am not sure of that) of firearm deaths are either suicides, innocents killed during other crimes (like robberies), or people killed by what I would call "voluntary manslaughter" (eg, bar fights gone bad). Maybe some of the latter are hardened criminals, but certainly not all of them. And, of course, there are some accidental shootings.

Anyway, also as I recall, the evidence is pretty good that a lot of these incidents would not result in death if a less lethal instrument was involved, such as a knife (or something like pills in the case of suicide). Indeed, in the robbery/barfight scenarios, even shootings with lower-caliber guns tend to result in fewer fatalities (because most involve just one shot, often in regions which are not necessarily fatal but can be if the wounds are sufficiently grievous).

I'm not sure any of this matters from a constitutional perspective, and of course a lot more would have to go into any policy analysis. But I do think it is relatively uncontroversial that many people who are killed by guns through suicides, robberies, bar fights, accidents, and so on, might have survived if a less lethal instrument was involved.
9.26.2005 4:25pm
JonC:
I know you're being peppered with questions Gordon, but does your "inherently dangerous" axiom extend to police officers? What about people possessing deadly weapons that aren't firearms, e.g., knives, heavy blunt instruments, etc.?

And lastly, I don't know where this "mountain of statistical evidence" is that you keep referring but can't quite seem to cite, but I'd suggest you take a look at the annual Uniform Crime Reports and compare the crime rate in periods when gun control was more restrictive to the present day. The National Institute of Justice has also done more than one study that proves fatal to your "more guns = more crime" thesis.
9.26.2005 4:38pm
ur_land (mail):
I think the thesis is actually "more guns=more murders/suicides/deaths from guns."

I don't know enough about the statistics and studies propounded by either side to make an informed statment about them, but I do want to note that it is possible that looser gun laws could lead to less crime and to more violent deaths/murders/suicides.
9.26.2005 5:51pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
ur_land, it is you who are missing my point. I fully understand that softening the language makes the argument more palatable to those who tend to think of 2nd amendment rights as less worthy of protection than other enumerated rights, but just because those people would prefer their position to be embodied in the applicable constitutions (state, in particular, but also federal, if you buy the substantive due process nonsense) doesn't make it so.

Absolutism, eh, Gordon? How about elaborating on how considering all of the enumerated rights to be fundamental and important is an absolutist position? Or do you really mean that some enumerated guarantees are more important than others? Freedom of speech isn't absolute, and neither is an individual's right to keep and bear arms, particularly as it is written into the Louisiana constitution (it specifically excludes concealed weapons from constitutional protection). So, of course there are limits applicable to each guarantee. But insofar as the various guarantees are within those limits, there's no ranking according to importance, and the government doesn't get to suspend supposedly "lesser" rights when it deems it convenient. By the way, the specific limitation in the Louisiana constitution makes it very clear under the Louisiana constitution that the right to keep and bear arms is one guaranteed to individual citizens, and not just for the purpose of maintaining a well-ordered militia.
9.26.2005 5:52pm
Medis:
I think the point is that there are clearly instrumentality effects going on, and few people seem to think there should be no line-drawing at all (as in almost everyone seems to agree nukes are not constitutionally-protected).

This creates a real problem for interpreting an undetailed right to bear arms. Does it include knives and swords? Smooth-bore muskets? Rifles? .50-caliber rifles? .38 Colt revolvers? Ceramic handguns? Machineguns? Grenades? Cannons? Pepper spray? Weaponized anthrax? Really, it is not just one line, but lines on many possible dimensions, and weapons technology is constantly creating new issues.

Without seeing it, however, it sounds like the Louisiana Constitution is approaching this the right way: trying to specify the details of what is covered and what is not. Regrettably, though, it is hard to amend the US Constitution to add necessary details, and so a federal right to bear arms is a bit of a problem: how does one keep up with the constant necessity to draw the instrumentality line?
9.26.2005 6:19pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
Gordon seems to ignore the fact that residents of DC can not legally buy guns in Virginia. I'll assume that's because he thinks that the law is not sufficient. Fair enough. Perhaps he'll explain why it stops Canadians?

Then there's the fact that with-gun violence is not uniformly distributed, even though the laws are. (Why are DC residents so fond of killing one another?)

Or, let's let him give us an example of a gun control law that came before a reduction in gun violence. Surely if the causal relationship that he believes in exists, he's got an example. Remember - before law, rate x, after law, rate y, where x > y. Remember to provide supporting cites.
9.26.2005 6:46pm
Gordon (mail):
http://www.guncontrol.ca/Content/TheCaseForGunControl.html

http://www.vpc.org/studies/wher2gen.htm

http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/research/?menu=pro

It really is a "mountain" of statistics.
9.26.2005 6:49pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Gordon,

Now show us the statistics that have excluded criminals (e.g. drug dealers, gang members) from the definition of "households."
9.26.2005 6:50pm
Al Norris (mail):
<b>Then how about "cop killer" bullets?</b>

There are no such things, it's an urban myth:

<i>"In the mid 1960's, Dr. Paul Kopsch (an Ohio coroner), Daniel Turcos (a police sergeant) and Donald Ward (Dr. Kopsch's special investigator) began experimenting with special purpose handgun ammunition. Their objective was to develop a law enforcement round capable of improved penetration against hard targets like windshield glass and automobile doors. Conventional bullets, made primarily from lead, are often ineffective against hard targets especially when fired at handgun velocities. In the 1970's, Kopsch, Turcos and Ward produced their "KTW" handgun ammunition using steel cored bullets capable of great penetration. Following further experimentation, in 1981 they began producing bullets constructed primarily of brass. The hard brass bullets caused exceptional wear on handgun barrels, a problem combated by coating the bullets with Teflon. The Teflon coating did nothing to improve penetration, it simply reduced damage to the gun barrel.

"Despite the facts that "KTW" ammunition had never been available to the general public and that no police officer has ever been killed by a handgun bullet penetrating their body armor, the media incorrectly reported that the Teflon coated bullets were designed to defeat the body armor that law enforcement officers were beginning to use. The myth of "Cop-killer" bullets was born."</I>

<B>Or fully automatic machine guns?</B>

All machine guns are fully automatic. They cannot be fired in any other configuration. Perhaps you meant military select fire firearms?
9.26.2005 6:50pm
The Drill SGT:
Al Norris,

correction



Most machine guns are fully automatic.

proof: M249 Squad light machine gun or Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) supports full auto or 3 round burst

Shelby,

My apologies. I was making a reference to your post for expansion, not a criticism. I thought it would be obvious.
9.26.2005 8:22pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Gordon:

It really is a "mountain" of statistics.

Well, maybe just a "steaming pile?"
9.26.2005 8:22pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Gordon,

I suggest you have a long look at http://www.guncite.com and in particular the Gun Control Research section.

Then, for even more real evidence, peruse http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_sy.html where you may slice and dice the mortality stats. What you will find is that blacks and hispanics have a higher NON-GUN violence rate then whites do WITH guns. What was that you were saying about how a person with a gun is inherently more dangerous?

Then again you do seem to be easily confused. In one instance you note that you were persuaded by reasoned argument here that gun ownership is an individual right, and then shortly thereafter you comment that no one is rational (and thus a gun magnifies that latent menace).

There never were such things as "cop killer bullets". There is no mountain of evidence. There are no "absolutists" (or should I say they are much like the alleged proponents of the Constitution-in-Exile) - a bogeyman to be invoked to foreclose reasoned debate. Speaking of foreclosing debate, and as was previously noted, you ran afoul of Goodwin's Law in what, your third response?
9.26.2005 8:37pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Medis,

The reality is that there are few "innocent" lives taken by guns (suicides excepted). Fatal gun accidents are actually quite rare (per the CDC website). Other research has shown that most homicide victims have criminal records themselves. Reality simply does not square with the caricature that Gordon wishes were true; the typical gun owner is not a threat to himself or others. If this were even remotely true - we really would have a blood bath on our hands given the millions of guns in this country.

Reality of course never trumps the delusions of true belief, and so every time another state considers expanded concealed carry we are treated to the lamentations about how blood will flow in the streets. Well??? It's been over 10 years in Florida, where is the carnage? Is there even a single anecdote about a CCW-holder killing someone for a parking space - as we were all told to expect.

I used to give the benefit of doubt as to the misguided sincerity of proponents of gun control. But the steadfast refusal to accept the facts and the stubborn adherence to myth and fraud on their part has unfortunately hardened me.
9.26.2005 9:04pm
JonC:

It really is a "mountain" of statistics.


Can you find anything that isn't produced by a pro-gun control partisan advocacy group? I at least referred to government stats. Here are a few more links to stats that support my position, that don't come from the NRA or any other pro-2A advocacy group:

UN survey shows gun-banning nations with higher violence rates

Bureau of Justice Statistics shows US violent crime rates at record lows, over a time period in which gun control laws have steadily become more lax
9.26.2005 9:06pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Christopher-

You queried about the line to be drawn in what is covered by the 2nd and what is not. I've used a simple description for some time - if it goes "bang" it's probably covered, if it goes "boom", it isn't. That is my half-witticism at distinguishing arms from ordnance, the former being what the amendment protects and the latter being out of scope. Consequently, and in light of U.S. v. Miller, machine guns most certainly should be protected, but anything from bazookas on up would not.
9.26.2005 9:18pm
Gordon (mail):
All of the critiques of the mountain of statistics I mentioned peck and claw at the margins, but they don't even come close to knocking down the mountain as a whole.

To all of you "gun nuts" out there (and I use the term in a loving way!) - stop trying to defend gun ownership as a policy argument when talking about murder statistics and gun violence. You have lost the argument, and no amount of obfuscation and selective sifting of evidence can erase that fact.

Stick to the constitutional arguments. Individual gun ownership is a constitutional rights, and like a lot of other constitutional rights, should be to some extent at least not underminable by policy arguments.
9.26.2005 9:25pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Gordon,

Your "mountain" of stats consisted of 2/3rds advocacy garbage. In short, you don't even have a self respecting molehill to stand atop and no amount of handwaving will change that.

I suppose we should all just be satisfied that you see the Constitutional aspect and leave it at that. Except of course that you started this thread by misrepresenting the position of people like myself.
9.26.2005 10:15pm
JT:
Gordon, is this inclusive enough for you?

Our Bill of Rights is not negotiable.
Not one single part, not ever.
Now if you'll excuse me,
I'm off to the range.
from my favorite T shirt

The second amendment makes all the others possible.
the only bumper sticker on my vehicle.

I think you will find that most supporters of the right to keep and bear arms are also strong supporters of all the BOR. It is a package deal, not a pick and choose buffet.
9.26.2005 11:35pm
JonC:
I guess at this point the conversation with Gordon is pretty pointless. Not only has he refused to answer direct questions (both of mine from my initial post are still pending), but he seemingly views it as dispositive that, wonder of wonders, groups that favor gun control as a policy matter are capable of generating statistics that seem to show gun ownership leads to violence.

My advice Gordon: wade through some information that hasn't been pre-packaged for you by groups that already agree with your conclusions about guns "causing" violence, and then get back to us.
9.26.2005 11:55pm
Medis:
juris imprudent,

I certainly think it is true that most gun owners never present any sort of threat to their fellow citizens. It probably is true as well that many suicides would be successful even without guns, that the number of fatal accidents with guns is relatively low in comparison to the number of gun deaths that are more deliberate, and that many, maybe even a majority of, people killed by guns in other settings have criminal records (although I am not sure having committed any crime in the past renders one a permanent non-innocent with respect to being killed by another person; in other words, there is a difference between executing a member of your gang and murdering a liquor store owner who has a DUI on his record).

But all that does not really address the argument I have suggested. I think it was clear that I was talking about a MARGINAL effects argument, and one that depended on instrumentality: that at the margins, a significant number of innocent people are killed by guns who would not have died if a less lethal instrument were involved. You haven't rebutted that argument, other than to suggest that it is truly just happening at the margins, in that most guns and gun owners never give rise to such an effect, and maybe that most gun deaths do not fit that description. But again, this particular argument does not depend on the description being true of a majority of gun owners or even a majority of gun deaths.

Of course, as I noted, just observing this effect does not give rise to a complete policy argument, let alone a complete constitutional argument. But I do think it suggests a problem we must constantly address in this context: instrumentality effects do matter, and thus any sensible weapons policy has to consider instrumentality effects. And frankly, I don't think many people really disagree with that idea--they just are drawing different instrumentality lines.
9.27.2005 10:47am
Random Jerk (mail):
Hopel,

Read the actual language in the stipulations. The police commissioner actually says that he did not order a general confiscation from citizens who had not committed a crime. As you well know, searches incident to arrest are generally constitutional, and police could conceivably retain even legally owned weapons found during such a search, pending some sort of processing or until the individual is able to reclaim his property. Since EVERY SINGLE PERSON in New Orleans after the mandatory evacuation order was given was violating a legal order and guilty of some sort of crime, the New Orleans police have admitted to precisely...nothing.

Nada.

They will keep the guns, and no one will be losing any sleep over this consent decree. At most, you have taught them that to grab people's guns, they just have to make everyone a criminal somehow, first.
9.27.2005 10:56am
Medis:
Random Jerk,

My impression is that it is usually NOT a crime to disobey a "mandatory evacuation order" (in that sense, they really aren't mandatory).
9.27.2005 11:21am
Random Jerk (mail):
I don't know for sure in LA's case, but I do know that many states have laws on the books making it a misdemeanor to disobey a lawful order given by a police officer. I would guess the police are authorized in LA to order evacuations, which they did.

You should all look much more closely at the facts before crowing about any vindication of people's rights. The New Orleans PD stipulated the assertion that no one not otherwise breaking a law had their guns confiscated. That tells me that the PD thinks that everyone they disarmed was breaking the law, and hence, they did not actually conduct a confiscation in the state law sense of the word.
9.27.2005 11:40am
Medis:
I don't share your guess, Random Jerk. Again, my impression (based on the discussion of just this issue in the popular press) is that no one in the state, including the police, had the legal authority to actually order people to leave the affected area. Rather, a "mandatory evacuation order" just triggers various waiver provisions in things like insurance contracts.

Now, on a case by case basis, people with weapons might have been violating lawful orders from the police. But I don't think that same reasoning can be applied to everyone who refused to evacuate.
9.27.2005 12:06pm
Gordon (mail):
JonC: I didn't answer your questions because you know the answers already. But, in case you haven't figured it out yet - Police officers are more inherently dangerous because they have guns, but we allow them to for our safety. Unlike the majority of private gun owners, police officers are trained to properly use their weapons. That's why I think guns should be registered and their owners required to attend safety and use classes - just like would-be automobile drivers.

As for people with knives, clubs, etc. - they are dangerous, but less dangerous than if they had a gun.

I have yet to see an NRA-type argument trying to debunk the mountain of statistics about gun violence that can hold water upon more than cursory and partisan analysis.

JT: You may be enlightened, but based upon my discussions and exchanges with 2nd amendment absolutists, many don't recognize any other constitutional right with anywhere near the same fervor. And your rhetoric about the right to bear arms being foundational to our other rights is just utter nonsense.
9.27.2005 12:35pm
roy solomon (mail):
One day and 56 posts later, no one from either side of the debate has addressed the scope of the problem. It's an interesting debate, but I'd like to know how outraged I should be. If they confiscated tens of thousands of guns, I'm disturbed. If they confiscated tens of guns, I don't care. Any takers?
9.27.2005 12:57pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Gordon-
"Police officers are more inherently dangerous because they have guns, but we allow them to for our safety."

Well, that is one Orwellian loop of logic, right up there with "we had to destroy this village to save it".


Medis-

Even Kellermann's study found the risk of homicide to be more significantly related to drug/alcohol abuse and/or criminal history then if there was a gun in the home.

Yes, at the margins you may have a point - but those margins are indeed very small. Just as an example, we are all familiar with how many "children" are killed by guns. The anti-gun advocacy has a very flexible definition of "child", at times including those up to 21 years old. Assuming a more reasonable definition of say pre-teen, a child is much more likely to die from drowning then from any sort of gunfire. Sadly, a child is also more likely to be murdered then to die from a bullet. Fortunately, all of these are statistically speaking, fairly rare, though none the less tragic. As for the most common gun-death, that would be suicide and as Australia has shown, gun control does not lower the overall suicide rate.
9.27.2005 1:31pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Gordon,

I'm avoiding the main gun-control debate here because it's clear that it's pointless. But I really wanted to examine this quote more carefully:

Unlike the majority of private gun owners, police officers are trained to properly use their weapons.

Do you have a "mountain of statistics" on the level of training that "the majority of gun owners" have? Do you count informal "father and son" training, or is only formal training good enough? Or are you once again revealing your contempt for gun owners by assuming that they're all poorly-trained, inherently dangerous morons?

I know I shoot better than the majority of cops that I've ever seen shoot, but not as well as the minority that takes marksmanship seriously. Does that make me more or less trained than police officers at large?

Finally, on a purely statistical point, critiquing the methodology of a study (as, for instance, Thorley did) is not "nibbling at the edges," or whatever your phrase was. 1000 badly-conducted or partisan studies prove...nothing. The mountain must be built on sturdy foundations or it is useless.

Much of the debate is about the proper way to conduct a study, and the proper way to control for various non-gun effects such as criminal history and drug abuse. Considering that genuine statisticians, econometricians, and criminologists don't agree on the right answer, it's quite a leap of faith on your part to simply take the word of single-issue political lobbies and declare that gun owners "have lost the debate."

Much less to declare that we are liars for continuing to advocate our point of view.
9.27.2005 2:38pm
TheFaz (mail):
Just a couple of quick points - first, bazookas actually ARE legal in the U.S., being classified as a Destructive Device. Pay a $200 tax and you too can own one if your state does not ban them. An added irony is that the 1986 Mclure-Volkmer Act made any new manufacture of fully-transferable (salable to civilians) machine-guns illegal but had no impact on Destructive devices. So I can build and own all the bazookas, cannons, and mortars I want but if I make a firearm that fires more than one round with a pull of the trigger, I've committed a felony.

Second, all of the gun-control discussions have focused on costs, but any good economist would also look at the benefits of firearms ownership as well. Even if you exclude Lott's questionable studies, there is still quite a bit of evidence showing the positive effects of individual firearms ownership. One cannot look only at lives lost but also at lives saved - a harder number to determine, but critically important.
9.27.2005 4:25pm
Gordon (mail):
From Robert Lyman

Or are you once again revealing your contempt for gun owners by assuming that they're all poorly-trained, inherently dangerous morons?


I no more assume that all gun owners are poorly-trained, inherently dangerous morons than I do that all vehicle drivers are poorly-trained inherently dangerous morons.

Yet we require all vehicle drivers to pass basic tests of competency. When they first get their drivers' licenses (at least as teenagers) they must go through significant driver training. We require their cars to be registered, for various good reasons.

Does the fact that the Constitution includes a Right to Bear Arms mean that we aren't allowed to do any of this for gun owners?

If the answer to this question is YES, then I would define you as a Second Amendment Absolutist.
9.27.2005 6:02pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Well, if you aren't making assumptions about gun owners, then stop calling them "inherently dangerous" and making sweeping statements about how police "unlike" gun owners, "have training." These are factual claims which you have not even attempted to substantiate. I do not see how you advance your argument by repeatedly insulting me.

As for your automobile analogy, registration, training and licensing is of course only necessary to drive a car on public roads, not to own one or operate it on private property. Similar training requirements are in place in most states that issue concealed carry licenses (to carry loaded guns in public), although the states without them do not have any significant problems that such requirements would create. And of course all states require training for buyers of hunting licenses.

So I'd say your proposed system is already in place in most places and is probably constitutional. I'd also say that those places which lack it (Vermont, Washington State) do not appear to suffer notably for their citizens' greater freedom.

I would find it constitutionally dubious to expand these requirements to cover the mere purchase of guns or their use on private propery; that looks like a form of prior restraint. I would not be in favor of requiring blogs or newspapers to register and under go "truth training," or requiring that all property of all kinds be registered to facilitate its seizure in the event that the government had a legal ground to do so.

I don't mind being a Second Amendment Absolutist, if that's what you want to call me. I'm quite an absolutist on most all of the Constitution's provisions. If you're curious about where I draw lines with regard to the 2A, read what I wrote a few years ago here.
9.27.2005 6:34pm
K Parker (mail):
Rob Lyman,

You concede far too much to Gordon here:
A person with a gun has more power than one without
Consider the Metro driver in Seattle, who has ample opportunity to drive his bus off a bridge during rush hour. 60+ fatalities in a single event would beat just about any rifle-wielding individual criminal, much less someone armed with a mere handgun. An airline pilot ups the ante by quite a large factor...
9.28.2005 2:27pm
Udaloy (mail):
Gordon says: "I can't say I care much about the fate of "criminals being killed by other criminals." But, as for the suicides, it is well-known that actual suicides rise when individuals prone to suicide have an easy method to accomplish their goal. So yes, a reduction in guns in our society would reduce, at least incrementally, the number of overall suicides, not just suicides by gunshot… D.C.'s gun laws are ineffective when someone can buy a piece in Virginia, or Maryland, or just about anywhere else in the U.S. So that argument doesn't hold water."

Wrong. Australia has the perfect situation for testing both your assumptions of buying a "piece" outside the district, and for your suicide conjecture. In both cases, you have been proven wrong. Suicide has not declined overall. Suicide by gun has, yes, but they just use a different means. Especially when someone is "prone to suicide", they will find a way.

Since there is no place to buy a firearm on their island, your assumptions would indicate a lower crime rate. That is not borne out in the statistics from Australia's Institute of Criminology. Here's their violent crime rate from '96-2003 AIC


Violent crimes, 1996--2003*
Homicide Assault Sex. assault Robbery
1996 350 114,156 14,542 16,372
1997 360 124,500 14,353 21,305
1998 332 130,903 14,336 23,801
1999 386 134,271 14,104 22,606
2000 363 138,708 15,759 23,336
2001 346 152,283 16,897 26,591
2002 365 160,118 17,977 20,989
2003 341 158,629 18,237 19,719

Here is an excerpt regarding Australia's suicide rate, "Men overwhelmingly choose more lethal methods. Hanging is now the most common means of suicide, followed by carbon monoxide poisoning, and the incidence of both is steadily increasing.

While rates of suicide using guns have decreased in recent years, suicide by hanging and exhaust gas have increased." - Australian Suicide Numbers





Gordon says: "The murder rate in Britain is still much, much lower than in the U.S. Possessions can be replaced; people cannot."

That was not your argument which started all this. You argue that with less guns, we have less violence. Britain explicitly proves otherwise. They are at all time highs for violent crime since banning private, legal ownership of firearms. Gun Violence

From Sunday Times Britain
we have this evidence:

"Britain's murder rate for the population as a whole has almost doubled in the past 20 years, with young men from poor backgrounds by far the most likely victims.
Last year Home Office statistics recorded 833 murders in England and Wales, compared with just 565 a decade ago. Of last year's total, 72% were men.
The study reveals that the five main causes of murder were fights, poisoning, strangling, firearms and cutting by glass or broken bottle."


Gordon says: "I have yet to see an NRA-type argument trying to debunk the mountain of statistics about gun violence that can hold water upon more than cursory and partisan analysis."

I have yet to see this mountain of statistics you claim. Do you mean the pure numbers of people hurt with firearms? Yes, there are plenty, but that number doesn't come close to the number of people killed in auto accidents, drownings, etc. What's more, they sure don't have anything to do with my legally owned firearms.

Criminals don't care what laws are on the books, only the law abiding can be stripped of our constitutional guarantees of the right to keep and bear arms. Our founding fathers believed in the God given right and duty to self preservation and defense. From Thomas Paine himself, "the good man, had both right and need for arms; moreover, no law would dissuade the invader and the plunderer, from having them. So, since some will not, others dare not lay them aside.... Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."
9.29.2005 2:08pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
"It's the kind of language that may lead to McVeigh-Nichols-type actions."

Yeah, and it's just too bad McVeigh didn't pick a legitimate target, at that.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.30.2005 11:44am
Tom Perkins (mail):
"As for Un-named Co-Conspirator's point, do the 2nd amendment absolutists acknowledge their ideological affinity with ACLU First Amendment absolutists and Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment absolutists and Fifth Amendment private property absolutists?"

Well this one does, insofar as I read those amendments to have a meaning similar to those "absolutist's" ideas of them. I don't think the First amendment is the absolute and perfect bar toward's the government's writing a check that ends up in a church office the ACLU does, I don't think hanging is a cruel or unusual punishment, and I think if the five majority justices of Kelo were impeached for their idiocy--that would be a good thing.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.30.2005 11:53am
Tom Perkins (mail):
"I'm glad my neighbor can't own a bazooka or a low-yield nuclear weapon, which is where the logic of 2nd amendment aboslutists would lead us."

There is an argument consistent with the 2nd amendment and the rest of the constitution which would prohibit the private ownership of nuclear weapons, the problem is that it also implies the government can't have nukes.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.30.2005 12:00pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
"Someone with a gun IS INDEED inherently dangerous."

So is someone with a knife or a hammer. Someone with a gun is better able to kill, they are also better able to protect--and there are more good guys than bad guys in the world, to keep it simple. To look at it in a more, ahem!, nuanced way would be to say the histogram of the rectitude of human endeavors is concentrated strongly around the morally inconsequential, with a mean slightly to the better of neutral.

Therefor "cop killer" bullets are fine things for people to own, since most people will use them to protect themselves from illegitimate threats, and people using them illegitimately are likely to only lightly disuaded by the ammunition's being illegal--so is murder.

To put it another way, "Would it make you feel better little girl, if they wuz pushed outta winders?"

Not that there's anything wrong with defenestration, in fact I fear it's overdue.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.30.2005 12:11pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
"The problem is that there are no truly rational people in this world (I certainly have never met one). We all are to some extent ruled by our passions. Even an extremely rational person may go off when he finds his wife in bed with another man, or gets cut off on the highway, or gets fired on the spot by an evil boss. If that person has a gun when they go off, people often end up dead or maimed."

By that measure, we should all be in straightjackets, but then who would feed us and wipe our butts?

The answer to the conundrum you claim exists lies here, to reiterate:


"To look at it in a more, ahem!, nuanced way would be to say the histogram of the rectitude of human endeavors is concentrated strongly around the morally inconsequential, with a mean slightly to the better of neutral."


And since it is vastly more likely that three people chosen at random will use firearms to protect themselves from varying predators than that they will snap and illegitimately prey on each other, and self defense solutions other than firearms are usually less effective, more skill and strength dependent, etc, than firearms, where is the improvement to be found in any sort of ban for any reason?

There is none, you imagine it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.30.2005 12:35pm