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Why Gun Owners Worry:

I've long been struck by attempts to paint gun rights activists as paranoid. "[N]o one is seriously proposing to ban or confiscate all guns. You hear that only from the gun lobby itself, which whistles up this bogeyman whenever some reasonable regulation is proposed." Just modest, reasonable regulations, folks, that's all that it's about; and you must be an extremist or irrational if you're worried about more.

In response, I put up a Web page documenting all the groups and commentators that have urged total or near-total handgun bans (and in some instances bans on all guns); and, of course, those jurisdictions that have in fact implemented such bans. It hardly seems paranoid to worry about proposals that have been made by Senators, Representatives, mayors, editorial boards of the L.A. Times and the Washington Post, leading opinion journalists, and leaders of prominent gun control groups — and that have been in fact enacted in some places (including our nation's capital).

Still, sometimes even I am surprised by the breadth of the proposals that I hear, and the attitude they bespeak towards guns and gun policy issues. Here's one from lawprof and legal blogger Kaimi Wenger, prompted by a recent workplace shooting:

Here's a question, perhaps a suggestion: Should companies, as a condition of employment, start requiring workers to sign an agreement of non-gun-ownership? This would require an employee to state that she does not own any guns, and that she will not purchase any guns during her employment. It seems that if an employer required an employee to agree to non-gun-ownership, the likelihood of a workplace killing by that employee would be lessened.

Such a change wouldn't altogther end workplace killings. There's the possibility that the employee would lie on her application, or would simply acquire a gun after being fired and use it to attack her workplace. On the other hand, it is all but certain that there is some population of unstable, disgruntled employees who own guns, and that for some of those employees, their easy access to currently-owned guns is an important enabling factor that facilitates a decision to transfer their anger into actual killing of their co-workers.

Would a requirement of non-gun-ownership be legal or enforceable? I'm not sure. (Do we have any employment law people here?) A while ago, Eugene Volokh blogged about a court upholding a ban on gun ownership by public housing residents — apparently that kind of restriction on gun ownership is allowed. On the other hand, there is (at least in one state) a self-defense exception to the at-will employment doctrine.

If this kind of provision is legal, then perhaps it is something employers (and their insurers) should start looking into. . . .

Now as it happens, I'm libertarian enough to think that such a proposal should be legal; a private employer should generally be free not to employ people whom it doesn't want to employ. Some laws restrict this in some measure, for instance as to race or sex discrimination, but I don't support expanding those laws. A few states already ban discrimination based on lawful off-the-job behavior, and gun ownership may be one such example, but I think that this should be left to the market and social norms, not to legal constraint.

Nonetheless, while this proposal isn't a government-imposed gun ban, it surely is a suggestion for social and business norms that would dramatically affect people's ability to have guns (whether handguns, rifles, or shotguns) for self-defense, including in their own homes. What's more, it seems to me evidence quite a remarkable attitude towards guns, and towards the cost-benefit calculations to be made when making gun policy.

After all, the proposal would at best prevent a tiny fraction of all workplace shootings: To be affected, the murderer would have to be someone who (1) is sufficiently rule-abiding that he complies with the employer policy, (2) is so staggeringly non-rule-abiding that he's willing to commit murder (lots of us get upset at people, but very few are actually willing to violate the moral and legal norms about murder), and (3) doesn't have the time or the opportunity to buy a gun, or get a gun from a friend or another source, between the time that he decides on murder and the time he commits murder. (Note that the killer in the case that seemingly triggered Prof. Wenger's post was apparently fired in 2004, following an arrest on child pornography charges, though the story is slightly ambiguous on that score.)

There are apparently about 550 workplace homicides per year in the U.S. (2004 data); of those, 7% were committed by coworkers or former coworkers (1993-1999 data). Even if every one of these was committed with a firearm, that would be roughly 40 homicides per year; and even if every employer in the country implemented this policy — a result that would in some ways be similar to, though not identical with, a total gun ban — and 10% of all potential murderers fit within categories 1, 2, and 3, we'd save . . . 4 deaths per year, for a rate of roughly one in 50 million workers. Even if the effectiveness rate were 50% rather than 10%, we'd still save one in 10 million workers. Or if you look at it on an enterprise basis, a company with 10,000 employees would like avoid, on average, one death in 5,000 years (assuming the 10% number).

What about the cost side of the ledger, which isn't even mentioned in the proposal? For starters, 35-50% of all U.S. households contain a gun. Presumably the policy would have to operate on a household basis, since an adult member of a household likely has access to the guns in his household. So to avoid one death in 5,000 years (or one in 1,000 years, if you use the in my view wildly optimistic 50% figure), the company would risk losing 35-50% of its potential workforce. Even if half the workforce cheerfully complies, then the company would still lose 17-25% of its potential workforce. (Of course, more likely the company will lose little of its potential workforce, since no-one would take the contract seriously, but then there'd be no upside to the contract, either.)

And of course if half the workforce does comply, that half of the workforce would be completely disabled from using guns for lawful self-defense, either in the home or in the street (in the majority of states in which any law-abiding adult is entitled to get a license to carry a concealed weapon). Yet the proposal doesn't even mention this loss of self-defense. Is it that the response to losing 20% of your potential employees should be "good riddance"? That loss of people's ability to defend themselves is irrelevant? That it's so obvious that gun ownership doesn't really promote the ability to defend yourself? That workplace shootings are so overcovered by the media, and law-abiding gun ownership is so undercovered, that the benefits of the proposal would loom far larger than reality, and the costs would seem far smaller than they are in reality?

I realize that this is just one proposal by one law professor. If that's the only call I heard for gun bans or something close to them, then indeed this would be nothing to worry about. But, as my calls-for-gun-bans Web page demonstrates, the proposal is just an unusual twist on a longstanding pattern. Given this longstanding pattern, is it any surprise that people who care deeply about self-defense rights worry about even modest proposals? Is it any surprise that they scoff at claims that of course the core of their self-defense rights is secure, and that no one is seriously proposing to ban their guns? Is it any surprise that inside many a gun controller there is a would-be gun banner, whether the ban operates through legal compulsion or through some proposed social norm that would strip those who want to own a gun for self-defense of their livelihoods?

UPDATE: By the way, just to make it clear, I realize that Prof. Wenger's post is phrased as only "perhaps a suggestion" and "perhaps it is something that employers (and their insurers) should start looking into." If this means that the professor is open to persuasion, I certainly hope to persuade him. Yet the other calls for gun bans that I point to are surely not merely "perhaps suggestions." The movement to ban guns is out there, and has some prominent adherents, who aren't just throwing around hypothetical suggestions (which I surely agree is a perfectly laudable use of blogging).

david laing (mail):
If there people are so deranged, are they not just as likely to shoot up the workplace for being denied employment based on gun ownership as they for other arbitrary reasons?
9.27.2005 7:21pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
From reading the details of the case that you say sparked Wenger's idea, it would make as much sense to repeal laws against child pornography, so that no one would get fired for downloading it at work.

Yes, you nailed the flaw in this perfectly: someone who is prepared to murder his co-workers isn't prepared to lie about owning a gun as a condition of employment?
9.27.2005 7:24pm
Larry Faria (mail):
Is the doctrine of self defense the only counter argument, or are you citing it as the best long standing legal principle? A large number of gun owners use them for hunting or skeet shooting, often in organized groups like rod and gun clubs. Most of the gun owners I know fall into that category. Is there no legal defense for such activity outside the self defense doctrine?
9.27.2005 7:52pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
And let's not forget all the reasonable proposals which have actually been enacted. Like the New Jersey law which made an old style .22 lever action rifle illegal. The design was over a century old and is best used for hunting squirrels and rabbits, yet, because it will hold 22 rounds of .22 Short New Jersey classified it as an assault rifle. It's probably easier to kill a human being with a baseball bat than it is with a .22 Short round. A man who won such a rifle in a lottery and stuck it in his gun safe years ago was convicted of a felony. Which means that he, a collector of old firearms, is no longer allowed to own any.

This sort of law is perfectly reasonable to anyone who doesn't know beans about firearms. After all, it's perfectly reasonable to put a hard limit on the number of rounds a rifle can hold, right? But those of us who do know something of the subject don't find it reasonable at all.

I'm in favor of having reasonable restrictions on firearms - which means there are a very large number of unreasonable laws and regulations which should be repealed. Let's do that first, and then we can talk about new restrictions.

Yours,
Wince
9.27.2005 8:00pm
Justin (mail):
Wow, the list of politicians who advocate bans on handguns is big. It'd take a whole few minutes to make a larger list of politicians who have advocated banning the practice of Islam. Clearly, you have your priorities straight :).
9.27.2005 8:00pm
Justin (mail):
BTW, an honest question for Professor Volokh:

Would you support legislation requiring states and local governments to permit guns in their vicinity?

If the best way to handle abortion is through federalism, with people who do not like the local law having the ability to move, why is this NOT the best way to handle gun laws? (this is more of a legal question than a policy one, as city gun bans do not work, my home location of DC being an obvious example).
9.27.2005 8:02pm
Jimbeaux (mail):
Great, Eugene. You've now invited every nutball to swarm around you with accusations that you're mccarthyizing Prof. Wenger (or some such thing).
9.27.2005 8:10pm
Shelby (mail):
Justin,

I have seen many people call for an outright ban on guns. I have never seen any politician (or, indeed, anyone else) call for a ban on the practice of Islam. Could you spend a couple of minutes getting a start on that list? I'd truly be interested to see it.

That said, gun ownership rights are as much a part of our Constitution, natural culture, and fundamental human rights, as are rights to the free practice of religion. Why is it misplaced for Eugene to spend time on one but not on the other? I believe this also addresses your question about abortion rights versus gun-ownership rights, though fwiw I'm in favor of both.

Regarding the broader question Eugene raises, how is this proposal different from a ban on employees' free speech outside of work? Should employers be able to require their employees to not, e.g., write letters to the editor? Even on topics unrelated to the work or the employer? I see serious public policy issues, which seem to apply as much to the Second Amendment as they would to the First. Though like you, I'm libertarian enough to think people have a lot of latitude to do stupid things.
9.27.2005 8:14pm
bt (mail):
Not only would the firm lose 35% to 50% of potential employees but possibly that same amount or more of potential customers. I don't own a gun, yet I am very pro individual rights intrpretation of the 2nd amendment and would look very unfavorably on any company that would intrude to this extent on the constitutional rights of their employees.
9.27.2005 8:14pm
duglmac (mail):

I know it's a hypothetical, but it begs some more questions. How would it be enforceable? Can they also ask you to sign an agreement to have conservative views and vote republican in the next election? Does the company now get to ask you about it on a lie detector test?

This reminds me of the company that banned their employees from smoking. I'm not sure what became of that, but it just seems to me that there is something wrong when a company can force behavior outside the context of work.

The company I work for bans firearms on company property, but they also ban alcohol, bombs, illegal drugs, etc.
9.27.2005 8:33pm
Splunge (mail):
Well, Mr. Volokh gets a little overexcited here, I think, perhaps by momentarily forgetting the historical truth that anything that thoroughly pisses off 30-50% of the American population -- e.g. making it near impossible for them to hold a job just because they own a gun -- is not going to fly, not now, not ever, not in this Republic -- or at least not until after the Revolution, when the new People's Temporary Dictator has begun ruling by emergency decree.

It doesn't matter if it's Constitutional. It doesn't matter if a law is duly and solemnly passed by some weird conjunction of public inattentivity, agenda-driven media complicity, and politicians conniving with a wily minority. It doesn't matter if all our betters on the TV networks and in the universities tell us we shouldn't think the way we actually do.

When the truth hits home and people get angry, they speak, and clearly enough. The politicians on the wrong side of the question lose their jobs and new politicians ride to power with a mandate to undue the folly of yesterday. It may take time, but it'll happen. It's already happened many a time since 1776 -- gee, just ask ex-Governor Gray Davis -- and it will happen many a time more.

So Mr. Volokh's fear as stated is rather a chimera. Which leads one to wonder: is there a bit of academic vanity that underlies this post? I fear Professor Volokh, like many another highly-educated, successful and intelligent man (certain Presidential candidates spring to mind), thinks poorly enough of the intelligence and thoughtfulness of the average American voter that he imagines it's very possible we might be snookered into supporting something (or at least apathetically failing to resist something) that seriously comprises our interests, only to "wake up" later and realize (too late!) that we've given away the store.

Mmmm. But if one truly feels that way, it won't do to live in a democracy, because in one you're always at the mercy of the intelligence and foresight of the average voter, or juror. (I shudder myself at the prospect, mind you: clearly democracy is dangerous nonsense, the worst of all possible political systems except...uh...for...erm...anything else that's been tried....)
9.27.2005 8:59pm
PersonFromPorlock:
"...but it just seems to me that there is something wrong when a company can force behavior outside the context of work."

To quote Milo Minderbinder, "have you no respect for the sanctity of the business contract?" I suspect this will be defended as an exercise of contract law, at least until some hourly worker points out that he is therefore employed twenty-four hours a day and where's his overtime pay?
9.27.2005 9:06pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Attitudes vary throughout the country. It's true that it'll be hard to get a gun ban enacted in Colorado or in Alabama; but it may be much easier in Chicago, Washington, D.C., or New York. People who believe in gun rights don't just worry about their own rights; they also want to protect the rights of people in other jurisdictions, where gun rights are much more jeopardized.

We aren't surprised that New Yorkers who support abortion rights -- but who needn't worry much about major restrictions in their own state -- work to protect the abortion rights of Texans. Why should we be surprised that Texans who support gun rights, but who needn't worry much about major restrictions in their own state, work to protect the gun rights of New Yorkers?
9.27.2005 9:07pm
Justin (mail):
Eugene, if I may, I was just wondering what you *personally* felt about the issue. Since you firmly believe that Texans should have abortion and gay sex restrictions should they want to, why is there not the same respect for those (and trust me, I'm not one of those) who want to ban guns in the "blue" states. Why does federalism only protect one sort of moral majority dictatorship?
9.27.2005 9:10pm
Boris A.Kupershmidt (mail):
Any company that enacts such
a contract provision should consider
many other costs involved, such as:
1) mass boycotts by people
not enamored of constitutional rights
of their fellow citizen being violated;
2) the potential lawsuits of people/survivors/
their-estates/families of those
subjected to the violence in workplace and
deprived by the corporation of their ability to defend themselves;
3) the possible insurance fraud should the judgement comes against the company after a trial and the company asks
their insurers to cover the amount awarded against it.
It's a big can of headaches which all the asinine
anti-gun proposals should consider on the costs side.
9.27.2005 9:24pm
Jed (mail) (www):
Since you firmly believe that Texans should have abortion and gay sex restrictions should they want to, why is there not the same respect for those (and trust me, I'm not one of those) who want to ban guns in the "blue" states.

Because the 2d Amendment speaks a lot clearer than mythical penumbras.
9.27.2005 9:45pm
Joel Franklin (mail):
Splunge: "So Mr. Volokh's fear as stated is rather a chimera."
I didn't read fear into his statements at all. Wenger suggests a solution; Volokh assumes the solution is implemented and finds low benefits + high costs. This makes demonstrates his point that the anti-gun crowd doesn't see the costs of their policies.

Larry Faria: "Is the doctrine of self defense the only counter argument..."
Apart from the 2nd Amendment, it's the only counter argument with sufficient weight. Guns DO kill people. (When's the last time you heard of a drive-by knifing? Ever hear about the DC Knifer who terrorized a city by stabbing random people from 100 meters away?). I don't think "But I like my hobby!" and "My great-grandpa had one!" can stand up to that fact very well. The self-defense argument, that gun ownership prevents more deaths than it causes, is pretty strong.
9.27.2005 9:53pm
Matt Tievsky (mail):
Splunge: "Well, Mr. Volokh gets a little overexcited here, I think, perhaps by momentarily forgetting the historical truth that anything that thoroughly pisses off 30-50% of the American population — e.g. making it near impossible for them to hold a job just because they own a gun — is not going to fly, not now, not ever, not in this Republic — or at least not until after the Revolution, when the new People's Temporary Dictator has begun ruling by emergency decree."

Doesn't that logic fail to explain why homosexual sodomy is now legal throughout the country? (Granted, that was by judicial decision, even that would have been impossible without sufficient popular support, and given the number of prosecutions nationally, it was practically true earlier than Lawrence). What about gay marriage? We seem pretty well on our way to that once-inconceivable outcome. (For the record, I favor both changes.)

Professor Volokh and gun prohibitionists are making the same, quite valid argument: You can get to an extreme and presently unpopular political endpoint by favoring small changes initially. If you desire that endpoint, that's a reason to favor small change. If you don't desire that endpoint, that's a reason to oppose small change.
9.27.2005 9:56pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Justin: Since Volokh probably won't get around to responding to you, I'll handle his light work. Why do you think "federalism" means people can't disagree with state policies? You can argue that Texas has the Constitutional power to outlaw abortion or sodomy without saying people are forced to accept it without complaint. The same applies to gun restrictions even if you concede for the sake of argument that the 2nd amendment doesn't grant a "right" to own a gun any more solid than the "right" to abortion or sodomy.

But if you had simply read the post, Volokh has already answered your question:

"Now as it happens, I'm libertarian enough to think that such a proposal should be legal; a private employer should generally be free not to employ people whom it doesn't want to employ. Some laws restrict this in some measure, for instance as to race or sex discrimination, but I don't support expanding those laws. A few states already ban discrimination based on lawful off-the-job behavior, and gun ownership may be one such example, but I think that this should be left to the market and social norms, not to legal constraint."
9.27.2005 10:03pm
Bruce:
Eugene, your post is a little loose with the term "gun ban." Kaimi didn't suggest a "gun ban," he suggested some companies may want to contract for non-gun-ownership with their employees. That's not a "ban" any more than my desire to earn more than minimum wage means I am "banned" from fast food jobs. Based on this post, and a quick look at the list you've compiled, it seems possible to me that your list is not full of gun-ban advocates, but rather gun-regulation advocates, and that you and your interlocutors (who say no one is calling for a ban) are just talking past one another.
9.27.2005 10:48pm
SomeJarhead (mail):
Forget wacko left-wing employers. Come joing the Marine Corps. In the gun club, your first weapon is on the house.
9.27.2005 11:06pm
Inspector Callahan (mail):
I'm libertarian enough to think that such a proposal should be legal; a private employer should generally be free not to employ people whom it doesn't want to employ.

I guess I'm NOT a libertarian then, because this smacks of the same totalitarian, freedom grabbing that's done by governments all of the time. It doesn't make it any more right for employers to take away civil rights than it does for the government to do so.

If a person agrees not to have a gun (or use tobacco, or play hockey, or downhill ski, or vote Republican - can you see the slippery slope?) at work as a condition of employment, then fine. But I only work for that employer 8 hours of the 24. What I do during that other 16 is MY business and no one else's, unless said employer is paying me for 24 hours of work a day.

The Constitution guarantees freedoms. Why shouldn't it do it all of the time, instead of only part time?

TV (Harry)
9.27.2005 11:11pm
Justin (mail):
Daniel, go take a class on reading comprehension, read the paragraph again, and try once more. I understand Volokh is pretty liberterian and does not oppose private contracts (as opposed to state regulations) which restrict an individual's ability to use a gun.
9.27.2005 11:51pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Perhaps you should re-read your question (with or without the aid of a reading comprehension class).

"I was just wondering what you *personally* felt about the issue." - He answered that directly. I quoted it earlier. Re-read it if you need to.

"why is there not the same respect for those (and trust me, I'm not one of those) who want to ban guns in the "blue" states. Why does federalism only protect one sort of moral majority dictatorship?" - This part of your question I answered. You could re-read it if you like. Opposition to a particular policy does not speak to the power of the state to enact the policy. This is the answer I'd give if I assumed that the right to bear arms was on par with the right to abortion and sodomy, which I don't, but I'll assume it if you like for the purpose of your question. In my opinion, however, the question is baseless because there is no comparison.

Comprende?
9.28.2005 12:07am
Shelby (mail):
Regarding restrictions on activity outside of work, I know (without delving into research) that some are routinely upheld; others are more carefully scrutinized. Employees have a common-law duty of loyalty to their employer, and cannot act in contravention of that duty even outside the scope of work. For example, a salesman for Company A cannot sell for competing Company B on the weekends.

It's less clear to me what restrictions there are on, e.g., criticizing your employer on your own time. Public employees generally have more latitude to do so. Obviously, restricting specific things owned would be even more invasive. Though if the idea is to save lives, it makes much more sense to restrict employees' ownership of swimming pools than of guns.

Any employment-law types want to point out where I've gone wrong? ;-)
9.28.2005 12:18am
Bob Woolley (mail):
If there were a job I wanted badly enough that I'd consider agreeing to such a restriction, here's how I'd handle it. I would write a letter conveying to my best friend ownership of all my firearms. I would then ask him if he would like me to store his new guns at my house, since, after all, his safe is already full. I'm quite certain that he would agree to such an arrangement. I could then honestly sign a document saying that I did not own any guns.

And if the practice became widespread enough that many people couldn't find a trustworthy friend to transfer ownership to, I suspect small businesses would crop up, offering to buy your entire collection and store them at your house.

Odd that a law professor offers--apparently seriously--a proposal with a loophole so large that one could fit an elephant (or an elephant gun) through it.
9.28.2005 12:47am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Eugene,

You may have used a bad example in Colorado. While the state itself is reasonably pro-gun, there are significant portions that are not, notably liberal Denver and Boulder. Before the state-wide mandatory concealed carry law went into effect, I think it was Denver county that had, by far, the lowest rate of issued permits in the state - a couple dozen for some half a million residents - all seemingly friends of the mayor or the chief of police. Denver was also able to litigate itself out of a state ban (passed at the same time as the mandatory issue law) on local gun ordinances - in order to retain its silly ban on "assault weapons". Most likely, conspirator Dave Kopel could correct some of the details here.
9.28.2005 1:58am
Californio:
Speaking of culling out risk factors, what of employees who insist on driving over powered sports cars? Or [insert here any indicia of indulgence in risky/impulsive behavior] ? Are not the excitable or the passionate also prime candidates for potentially violent reactions in the workplace? What about gender typing? Are not the majority of workplace shootings the work of deranged Male employees/ex-employees?
9.28.2005 2:16am
Tom R (mail):
First: I'm generally a Don Kates-style "liberal skeptic" about gun control. Secondly: I don't own one. Thirdly: I live in Australia, which has strict gun controls, so the issue is hypothetical for me.

It's true that, if we focus on the "willingness to obey" side, someone who will break the law against murder will also happily breach a contract. But look on the other side: "ease of enforcement". The safest time to catch someone who could potentially shoot up his/her workplace is not when s/he's armed and going postal, but when s/he is caught unaware with a gun in his/her locker at work, contrary to the work contract.

What about false positives and false negatives? Someone who wouldn't break a contract (probably) also wouldn't commit murder. (Not unlawful murder, at any rate; if the govt sanctioned it, you might get a lot of "scrupulous Auschwitz clerks" types). On the other side, not everyone who breaks a contract would also commit murder, but willingness to do so does show a certain reckless disregard. You could treat the contract as a kind of "fence around the Torah", an early-warning trigger of an unacceptable risk of tendency to commit the greater harm.
9.28.2005 2:34am
Jeroen Wenting (mail):
You forgot to take into account the little fact that most gun crimes (including workplace shootings) are comitted using firearms acquired and/or modified illegally, therefore firearms that are already illegal under current law.

Therefore a law banning firearms at any level doesn't reduce the crim rate one bit, in fact it increases it as it prevents law abiding people from defending themselves and therefore makes the act of comitting a crime that much safer and easier for the prospective criminal (which could well lead to people now deterred from entering a life of crime because of the risk involved to consider that risk acceptable).
9.28.2005 3:55am
Dillon Kuehn (mail) (www):
Inspector Callahan, you write:

If a person agrees not to have a gun (or use tobacco, or play hockey, or downhill ski, or vote Republican - can you see the slippery slope?) at work as a condition of employment, then fine. But I only work for that employer 8 hours of the 24. What I do during that other 16 is MY business and no one else's, unless said employer is paying me for 24 hours of work a day.


The issue of restrictions on the use of tobacco seems significantly different to me than those pertaining to gun ownership. If you smoke, whether on or off the job or both, you are almost guaranteed to have higher health expenses than should you not. If the employer provides employees with health insurance, your doctor visits for smoking related illnesses actually MAY BE the business of your employer. You are doing something outside your work that almost certainly will create significant economic costs for your employer.

Perhaps there exists a better solution (perhaps providing health insurance that does not cover smoking related illnesses or skiing related accidents), but I do think that there is consideration for an employment contract restricting tobacco use. It certainly does not strike me as the employer "taking away rights."
9.28.2005 4:42am
Brett Bellmore (mail):
I wonder how hard it would be to establish that businesses, if they deny you the right to defend yourself, take on the duty to provide that defense on their own nickle, and liability if they fail in that duty? I suspect that would quite rapidly cause companies to reasess the probable consequences of all sorts of employee gun bans.
9.28.2005 7:23am
Ananda (mail):
Some of us are still waiting for that list of ten politicians who advocate banning the practice of Islam, Justin... it should only take a few minutes, according to you, to compile such a list, and Eugene's list of pols endorsing a gun ban was 9 long. I cannot speak for others, but I confess I am beginning to think you may have been doing some "substantial exaggeration" which is, after all, against this blog's comments policy.
9.28.2005 8:27am
Random Jerk (mail):
JUST A SUGGESTION:

Since it is an established fact that drug/alcohol use is correlated with increased absenteeism and sick time, employers should consider using the same power the good law professor urges them to assert to protect both their companies and their employees' health. The best way to discourage drug use would be to forbid employees from registering as Democrats or from voting for Democratic candidates. After all, Republicans usually don't fire up the bong on the weekends. To stop alcohol use, they should simply be prohibited from owning cars, because this would not only reduce DUI-related accidents, but keep the employees from reaching readily available sources of alcohol.

If you think these proposals are slightly unrelated to the problem they were put forth to solve (and just a little politically tainted), then you have no business urging the disarmament of 10-40% of the population to prevent a statistically improbable workplace shooting.
9.28.2005 9:59am
W J J Hoge (mail):
It seems to me that an employer who would want me to waive my rights under the Second Amendment as a condition of employment would be in a similar position to one who wanted me to waive a First Amendment right. Or a Fourth or Fifth Amendment right. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a court could find that such a contract violates public policy.

Here's a question for you lawyers: Why shouldn't a business that invites the public on to its premises but restricts the possession of firearms or other means of self defense on its premises be liable for any injuries to a member of the public who is assaulted on those premises?
9.28.2005 10:43am
Seamus (mail):
"After all, Republicans usually don't fire up the bong on the weekends."

You're right; in my experience, they don't wait for the weekend.
9.28.2005 10:44am
Bob Christensen (mail) (www):
The cost to society would be much higher as criminal behavior increases in the areas where it is now constrained by widespread ownership/possession. A number of studies point to decreased serious crime in those areas of the country most heavily armed.

It is not coincidental that a disproportionate majority of "multiple slayings" take place in the very states that most limit ownership and possession. I am reminded of the Washington State resident who drove all the way to Los Angeles so that he would have a safer environment in which to shoot people.

I couldn't quite talk my firm's HR people to include a statement in favor of legal possession in the workforce in our Team Member Handbook, they certainly did remove from it any restrictions on legal possession, and I feel safer every day because of it.The cost to society would be much higher as criminal behavior increases in the areas where it is now constrained by widespread ownership/possession. A number of studies point to decreased serious crime in those areas of the country most heavily armed.

It is not coincidental that a disproportionate majority of "multiple slayings" take place in the very states that most limit ownership and possession. I am reminded of the Washington State resident who drove all the way to Los Angeles so that he would have a safer environment in which to shoot people.

I couldn't quite talk my firm's HR people to include a statement in favor of legal possession in the workforce in our Team Member Handbook, they certainly did remove from it any restrictions on legal possession, and I feel safer every day because of it.The cost to society would be much higher as criminal behavior increases in the areas where it is now constrained by widespread ownership/possession. A number of studies point to decreased serious crime in those areas of the country most heavily armed.

It is not coincidental that a disproportionate majority of "multiple slayings" take place in the very states that most limit ownership and possession. I am reminded of the Washington State resident who drove all the way to Los Angeles so that he would have a safer environment in which to shoot people.

I couldn't quite talk my firm's HR people to include a statement in favor of legal possession in the workforce in our Team Member Handbook, they certainly did remove from it any restrictions on legal possession, and I feel safer every day because of it.
9.28.2005 10:47am
Aultimer:
After looking at this, it strikes me that the lefty reaction to gun rights and righty reaction to gay rights flow from the same logic circuit in the brain - "I don't know any nice people who want a [same-sex partner/gun] and I read about this [queer/violent] behavior that I find unpleasant, so there ought to be a law."

Evidence abounds in NRA propaganda about "converts" to gun sport/ownership, and in stories of "converted" gay-haters (Gingrich?), who see the light based on nothing more than a personal experience that there are, in fact, good people on the "other" side.

This is exactly why simple-minded majoritarianism must be tempered by representative democracy with checks and balances like a pragmatic (rightys may read "activist") judiciary.
9.28.2005 11:01am
eddie (mail):
Shelby says:

gun ownership rights are as much a part of our Constitution, natural culture, and fundamental human rights, as are rights to the free practice of religion


Please tell me you are being ironic. But are your really arguing that even without the 2nd Amendment (which itself is not an absolute license for gun ownership) the right to own a gun is more "natural" and "fundamental" than the right to . . . say . . . do whatever you want in your own bedroom? Shelby, in the absence of the 2nd Amendment are you arguing that a valid penumbra of the constitution is the right to own a gun unfettered by any limiting legislation, whether federal, state or local.

Professor Volokh has created a straw man, viz. the rabid politician who wants no guns at all, to prove that those who think any regulation on guns is bad are not paranoid. This is a neat little trick of "lawyering" (in ancient times this might have been called "sophism").

The real danger in arguments of this sort is that they provide a patina of respectability, gravitas and "support" to statements like the one Shelby makes.

Do we really want to base our "values" on the belief that man has a natural and fundamental right to possess a fairly modern and deadly piece of technology?

I find this discussion to be pathetic and a sign of the decay any sense of proportion in this society. One extremist is not an extremnist when compared to another extremist. And the point of all this is to win the argument, the game, the law, the election without a regard to the common good.

This is the folly of relativistic morality. And coming from those who purportedly are "conservative" and concerned with the preservation of all that is good and valid about tradition, such relativism is quite jolting.

Pardon me while I shoot all of the messengers, with a gun that was provided to me in the womb. I just need the target practice.
9.28.2005 11:48am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> the right to own a gun is more "natural" and "fundamental" than the right to . . . say . . . do whatever you want in your own bedroom?

It is if you believe that a gun protects your security in said bedroom.
9.28.2005 12:21pm
musterion (mail):
Several thoughts. Smoking as an activity, why couldn't the company charge the smoker the difference between him as a smoker and the insurance for a non-smoker. Would this run afoul of ADA since smoking is an addiction ?

How would it play out if you required as for a term of employment that you must have a concealed carry permit? Or that you must carry openly.
9.28.2005 12:33pm
Gordon (mail):
It's nice that gun owners should worry about their gun rights.

I have some worries too:

I worry that the guy in the car next to me that I accidentally cut off has a gun and will use it.

I worry that one of my daughters will go to a friend's house where the parents have unlocked guns "hidden."

I worry that a customer at our front counter may decide to resolve his complaints with a firearm.

I worry that other kids at my daughter's high school may decide to pull a "Columbine" with weapons available from Mommy and Daddy's stash.

I worry that my autumn hike in the woods will be interrupted by a hunter's rifle blast mistaking me for a deer.

So we all have worries, don't we?
9.28.2005 12:33pm
Houston Lawyer:
"Professor Volokh has created a straw man, viz. the rabid politician who wants no guns at all, to prove that those who think any regulation on guns is bad are not paranoid. This is a neat little trick of "lawyering" (in ancient times this might have been called "sophism")."

Australia, Canada and Great Britain, all of which have legal systems and traditions very similar to ours, have greatly restricted firearms ownership by members of the general public. These restrictions range from registration (Canada) to confiscation (Australia). In addition, Great Britain has apparently denied its citizens the right to use deadly force in self defense. Just because gun owners are paranoid, doesn't mean that no one's out to get them.
9.28.2005 12:41pm
Ken Willis (mail):
Three points that havn't been mentioned:

1. Gun owners in America have seen total gun bans in the UK and Australia so their fear is not paranoid. Canada has what amounts to a de facto gun ban with all its silly restrictions.

2. Since the gun ban in the UK crime has soared, especially crimes against persons. The Gun ban has been a failure in the UK. The situation in Australia is not as bad but crime has increased there also. The gun ban in Australia was an emotional response to one incident, the Port Arthur mass shooting by a madman. Crime has increased and Australia is no safer from such incidents that it was before the gun ban. Gun bans do not ban guns from everyone, just the law abiding.

3. The most violent places in the world, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, have always banned gun ownership [by the law abiding].

Gun owners are not at all paranoid to be constantly vigilant. The right of self defense is a fundamental God-given inalienable right, which governments can only repect or take away.
9.28.2005 12:44pm
Hal Bowman (mail):
I am not qualified to comment on the second amendment and how it should be interpreted. But since the issue of defending oneself and property with firearms has come up, is there any good, reputable source that could provide the data underlying these claims? Such as:
1. Number of times handguns/other guns have been successfully used in defense in the home?
2. Number of times handguns/other guns have been successfully used in defense on the street/outdoors?
3. As above, in place of business (shopkeepers, etc.)
4. Number of accidental injuries/deaths in the same places.
5. Number of times a gun was used to murder in these places (I use my personal gun to shoot someone at home, at work, on the street) when the person doing the shooting is not, say, a gang member or professional criminal?
9.28.2005 12:54pm
LisaMarie (mail):
Gordon,
I have some worries too:

I worry that the guy in the car next to me that I accidentally cut off will ram me with his vehicle, run me off the road, or follow me to a parking lot and physically assault me.

I worry that if I have kids, one of them will go to a friend's house where the parents have been lax about driving instruction and supervision, get in a car with her friends, and get in a deadly wreck.

I worry that a customer at the front counter may decide to drive his car through the front window if he gets pissed.

I worry that I will be on the road when kids at the local high school borrow their parents' cars, pack four or five kids in, drive 100 mph down the freeway because they think it's a thrill, and end up killing themselves and others.

I worry that my walk across campus will end with me being run down by a jerk who thought if he drove fast enough he could make it through the crosswalk before I did instead of having to wait 30 seconds for me to cross the street.

So we all have worries, don't we? But guns are special, right?
9.28.2005 1:03pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Hal,

There are an absolute minimum of 68,000 defensive gun uses every year in this country, but more likely numbers are higher. (Most people are reluctant to tell when they have driven off a criminal by displaying a gun, since brandishing a firearm is usually illegal, although not in cases of self-defense.) Time after time, Kevin at the Smallest Minority has made a excellent case that guns solve about as many problems in terms of crime as they cause. He has a good recent piece on workplace violence.

I like Kevin because he tries hard to tell the truth while advocating his (and my) position. The Violence Policy Center concentrates more on advocacy.

Either way, I believe that hunting, self defense against crime and armed rebellion are all fundamental human rights. The Second Amendment was intended to be directed at the last, but serves the other two as well.

Yours,
Wince
9.28.2005 1:42pm
Gordon (mail):
Lisa Marie:

Nice try. Straw men (and women) all.

I would suggest a compromise. Let's get a case to the Supreme Court that once and for all elicits an interpretation that gun ownership is a constitutional right.

And then let's register the nation's guns and require training and testing, just like we do for automobiles.

Then gun owners can be assured that their guns won't be confiscated. And the rest of us can know that there is at least some of the gun violence plaguing our society can be abated.
9.28.2005 1:44pm
Gordon (mail):
Wince and nod:

Armed Rebellion is a fundamental human right !?!?

Is your name really Osama bin Wince?
9.28.2005 1:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I have seen many people call for an outright ban on guns. I have never seen any politician (or, indeed, anyone else) call for a ban on the practice of Islam. Could you spend a couple of minutes getting a start on that list? I'd truly be interested to see it.


Anyone care to bet that list is probably as long as the list of cases in which RBG affirmed prostitution convictions? ;)
9.28.2005 1:55pm
jallgor (mail):
Inspector Callahan: I disagree with so many parts of your post. You talk about freedom while completely igtnoring the fact that the employer has rights and freedoms too. Nobody has the right to a job. As Eugene mentioned, short of some protected areas such as race, sex or age why shouldn't an employer be allowed to use any criteria they want when they hire people. It may not be fair but it's life. Your slippery slope argument is inneffective because I am happy to slide right down it. If I want to ban all tobacco smoking, gun toting, hockey playing, downhill sking, republicans from my company why shouldn't that be my right as an employer?

"What I do during that other 16 is MY business and no one else's, unless said employer is paying me for 24 hours of work a day."
Except, if I want to fire your ass because I think you mow your lawn funny during your off hours that's my perrogative.

"The Constitution guarantees freedoms. Why shouldn't it do it all of the time, instead of only part time?" Right, including the freedom not to hire people you don't like for no rational reason (with the exceptions noted above).

Freedom works both ways.
9.28.2005 2:00pm
Robert Rose (mail) (www):
Shelby, in the absence of the 2nd Amendment are you arguing that a valid penumbra of the constitution is the right to own a gun unfettered by any limiting legislation, whether federal, state or local.


Certainly it is. That penumbra of the constitution is known as the Ninth Amendment. In the absence of the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms would still be an unenumerated right retained by the people according to the Ninth Amendment. As such it should be subject to no more regulation, interference, or governmental intrusion than the right to privacy. Owning a gun should be subject to no more regulation, taxation, registration, or licensure than having sex or an abortion.


Please tell me you are being ironic. But are your really arguing that even without the 2nd Amendment (which itself is not an absolute license for gun ownership) the right to own a gun is more "natural" and "fundamental" than the right to . . . say . . . do whatever you want in your own bedroom?


Given that the right to keep and bear arms in the absence of the Second Amendment springs from the same Ninth Amendment that the so called right to privacy is derived from, I would say they are more or less on equal footing legally in terms of how fundamentally they are guaranteed as a right of the people. But given that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is given it's own individual amendment, I would indeed call it more fundamentally protected--by design.

Regarding your use of the word of "natural" in your question, the basic impetus to stay alive and defend your life in the face of imminent peril is emotionally / biologically / darwinistically / naturally / animalistically more fundamental than the urge to have sex. You can't breed if you're dead. Therefore, allowing people to have the tools and therefore ability to satisfy their natural compulsion to self-defense is a more fundamental responsibility of government.
9.28.2005 2:18pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Gordon,

I was thinking Thomas Jefferson Wince, myself. Consider the Declarion of Independence, particularly this bit:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
And what means did Jefferson believe was necessary to alter or to abolish that government? Err, armed rebellion.

So go ahead, repudiate the American Revolution, which was fought against some of the mildest tyranny in history. I know the Founding Fathers are out of fashion with some. Not me.

On the other hand, bin Laden does not believe armed rebellion is a human right. It is only a human right in order to establish the caliphate. He would prohibit armed rebellion against the caliphate.

Yours,
Wince
9.28.2005 2:19pm
Robert Rose (mail) (www):

And then let's register the nation's guns and require training and testing, just like we do for automobiles.


On what grounds? I need a license and a registered vehicle to use the public roadways. How about the same only if I use public firing ranges? After all, I can drive an unregistered, uninspected jeep around in my back yard all day without a drivers license and I will not be have broken any traffic or administrative laws.
9.28.2005 2:24pm
Joel Franklin (mail):
Lisa Marie:
60% of your worries can be eliminated without governmental intervention:
- Don't cut people off.
- Control your daughter's whereabouts.
- Stay out of woods with deer and deer hunters during deer season.

60% of your worries would not be eliminated by firearms confiscation:
- The guy in the car next to you has a CAR. Cars kill 25,000 annually.
- Your daughter's friends may have drugs, gasoline, penises, or other items potentially harmful to her health.
- A kid with a knife could kill more the Columbine shooters did. The sound of gunshots would frighten students away, but if someone slumped to the floor after being stabbed, students would stop to see what happened. Crowded hallways are target-rich environments.

This leaves the man willing to murder over a customer service complaint. I have no simple answer to this; for the sake of argument, I will grant that firearms confiscation would eliminate such murders. I think it likely, though, that this benefit would be outweighed by the cost of allowing the murders that are currently prevented by gun-owners acting in self-defense.
9.28.2005 2:56pm
Ken Willis (mail):
Hal,

Targeting Guns, by Gary Kleck and More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott are two books which together answer everyone of your questions. Kleck shows that there may be as many as 2 million defensive gun uses each year and that in approx. 98% of the time the criminal breaks off the attack when before any shots are fired.

The methodology and analysis is fully explained in both books and the gun control nuts have never been able to successfully refute it.

LisaMarie,
Experience disproves everyone of your fears with about 37 states now having some form of "shall issue" gun permitting system and several million permits issued to law abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm.
9.28.2005 2:58pm
roy solomon (mail):
I can drive an unregistered, uninspected jeep around in my back yard all day without a drivers license and I will not be have broken any traffic or administrative laws.

Actually, many municipalities including mine have inacted ordinances restricting unregistered vehicles on your property. They are under the nusiance category, to preclude junkyards.
9.28.2005 3:17pm
Gordon (mail):
Wince and nod:

Well, I certainly wouldn't want to go against anything Thomas Jefferson said.

The question I have for you is whether you think you should, by your very own lonesome self, be the judge of what form of "mild government tyranny" justifies armed rebellion?

The Weathermen certainly had their own ideas on this subject in the 1970's. As did the Symbionese Liberation Army.

I assume you don't have these standards. What are yours?
9.28.2005 3:19pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> And then let's register the nation's guns and require training and testing, just like we do for automobiles.

Interestingly enough, that's exactly what "shall issue" CCW laws do, yet such laws are strongly opposed by gun control advocates.

I trust that the person who made that suggestion HAS supported such laws....

BTW - No one thinks that the car laws have anything to do with intentional-with-car crime. In fact, they're mostly for revenue purposes.

Also, with-car problems are largely due to incompetence/intentional acts while with-gun problems are, for the most part, competent and intentional acts. Does the proposer find that difference important? (Does the proposer think that a competence test will filter out armed robbers/murderers?)
9.28.2005 3:39pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Let's say the standard is something unbelievably high... let's say Bush has taken over as dictator and imposed a military empire... and he is confiscating all firstborn children to sacrifice to Karl Rove's eternal hunger. I think we can all agree that this would call for armed rebellion, and it is our natural right to abolish the government.

Are you saying we should all have to wait until this happens to arm ourselves? Think of the lines at the gun shops!
9.28.2005 3:45pm
billb:
Andy, the shall-issue laws don't register the guns, just the carriers. But 2 out of 3 ain't bad (register guns, training, and testing).
9.28.2005 3:52pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Gordon,

Considering that you're Mr. "Mountain of Statistics," I'd think you'd know that the risks you're worried about are statistically speaking, astronomically lower than many others such as death by non-intentional car accident, drowning in the bathtub, choking on food, etc.

That's true for both you and your children.
9.28.2005 4:45pm
Gordon (mail):
Robert Lyman:

Putting aside the constitutional aspects of this issue, and looking at it from a cost-benefit perspective, perhaps someone should estimate the number of lives saved and number of crimes solved if national gun registation were enacted and then compare that number to the cost of implementing such a system.

THAT is the true measure of whether to register guns, not a comparison of deaths from guns to deaths from choking on food.
9.28.2005 5:13pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Andy, the shall-issue laws don't register the guns, just the carriers. But 2 out of 3 ain't bad (register guns, training, and testing).

Many actually do and some of the others are in states that have universal registration reqts.

I do appreciate the registration question though. What should the penalty for failure to register be? If it isn't much, then it won't affect any serious criminal. If it is, then it will be inflicting serious penalties on folks who haven't done anything else wrong (and probably still won't be imposed on serious criminals).

So, registration fans, what is the appropriate penalty?

BTW - I forgot to mention that the fifth amendment comes in here. Many of the folks who you don't want to have guns can't be forced to disclose that they're breaking the law by owning guns....

Yes, I am assuming that you're intending registration as crime control. Feel free to provide a different justification that registration actually accomplishes if you want registration but are unwilling to argue that it helps with crime.
9.28.2005 5:14pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Agreed on the cost-benefit analysis Gordon.

Don't see how registration addresses your fears, though. Banning might, at least for some of them, but mere registration? Not going to do much about career criminals, who can't be forced to register (they have a 5th Amendment right not to incriminate themselves), won't help find stolen guns (they're no longer in the hands of their registered owners), won't force stupid people to store/use guns responsibly, won't convince you to wear hunter orange and/or stay out of the woods during deer season (speaking of stupid...)

A number of states do have registration requirements, and pro-gunners are constantly asking the authorities in those states how many crimes their (expensive) registries have solved, and the number is always in the low zeros. Really, what idiot 1) commits a crime with a registered gun, and 2) leaves a note behind with its serial number?

Registration always struck me as the second-most useless gun control law (regulating the cosmetic appearance of guns, AKA "assault weapons" bans, being #1). It's primary use seems to be to make confiscation easier. And it will cost a HUGE amount of money to get to 50% compliance or so, as Canada's experience has demonstrated.

Your suggestion of a training requirement might have genuine utility if incompetence were a major cause of death, but given that intentional homicide is a much bigger problem than accidents, it doesn't seem like there's a lot to be gained there, either.
9.28.2005 5:48pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Gordon,

Hurrah! You asked the next logical question, which is, "When should we rebel?" On Second Amendment forums it's a question often asked, and the answer is usually, "Not yet." Sometimes someone makes a suggestion. The South answered the question thus, "When a President is elected who proposes that slavery may not be extended into any more territories or states." I don't think much of that reason.

My brain tends to run screaming away from the question. It doesn't like it at all. Are you sure we can't just have an election, instead? Please? But here are two reasons I which would (I hope) cause me to be brave enough to seek out like-minded individuals and rebel:

1. Establishment of a dictatorship.
2. Large-scale democide.

Number two is very unlikely unless number one happens.

In short, I am very much not itching to join a rebellion. But then I'm not itching to exercise my right to burn a flag either. What would your reasons be?

As regards gun registration, it typically does not help solve crimes. Most crimes are committed by criminals who aren't allowed to buy guns. They obtain them through the black market. These guns are never registered. The vast majority of murders in this country are gang-related, and registration just won't help.

But in every country where guns have been outlawed it seems to have followed this pattern:

1. Some guns are outlawed.
2. The remainder of the guns are registered.
3. The politicians promise never to use the registration for confiscation.
4. New politiicans are elected.
5. The rest of the guns are outlawed and the new politicians use the registration for confiscation.

This pattern seems to have happened again and again. Can you see why gun owners aren't too keen on registration? I'll tell you what. Let's make the NRA's Eddie the Eagle training manditory in the public schools instead. It teaches kids this, "If you find a gun don't touch it, leave the area and tell an adult." That will even cover the kids whose parents are gang members and whom registration won't help.

Yours,
Wince
9.28.2005 5:57pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
I wonder what else Gordon is willing to decide on the basis of cost-benefit. For example, if we find that shall-issue has more benefits than costs, is he willing to support it?

Or, are gun bans special? His huffiness when someone pointed out that the danger he's concerned about pales in comparison to other dangers suggests that he's just looking for an excuse.

BTW - I note that he didn't include some of the most significant costs of registration, hasn't discussed the penalty for non-compliance, and still hasn't provided any reason to believe that registration will reduce crime. I'm sure that those are oversights that he's working to correct because he really is data driven.
9.28.2005 6:49pm
Shelby (mail):
Eddie:
Please tell me you are being ironic.
Um, no.

But are your really arguing that even without the 2nd Amendment (which itself is not an absolute license for gun ownership)
I never considered it "absolute" any more than there is an "absolute" right under the 1st Amendment, or any other. Fraud or incitement, anyone? How about some peyote at that religious ceremony?

the right to own a gun is more "natural" and "fundamental" than the right to . . . say . . . do whatever you want in your own bedroom?
I was talking about religion, not sex. I stand by what I said -- the right to own a gun is AS natural and fundamental as the right to freedom of religion.

Shelby, in the absence of the 2nd Amendment are you arguing that a valid penumbra of the constitution is the right to own a gun unfettered by any limiting legislation, whether federal, state or local.
See above, no rights are unfettered. If nothing else, they ceaase where they sufficiently infringe on the rights of another. And I didn't bring up "penumbras," jsut the 2nd Amendment, which is explicit. We can talk about Roe and Griswold elsewhere.

Professor Volokh has created a straw man, viz. the rabid politician who wants no guns at all, to prove that those who think any regulation on guns is bad are not paranoid. This is a neat little trick of "lawyering" (in ancient times this might have been called "sophism").
No, if you follow his links, he has shown in their own words that there are "rabid politician[s]" who want no guns at all. He does not address "any regulation," and never indicates that all regulations are invalid. I've seen him endorse regulations that prevent felons convicted of violent crimes from owning firearms -- and that's just an example.

The fact that some people really are out to get you, has some bearing on whether you're really "paranoid."

Do we really want to base our "values" on the belief that man has a natural and fundamental right to possess a fairly modern and deadly piece of technology?
I dunno. You get your printing press, I get my gun. Sounds fair.

I find this discussion to be pathetic
Then I guess you won't be reading this.

And the point of all this is to win the argument, the game, the law, the election without a regard to the common good.
Sometimes having the argument helps point the way to the common good, and hence the law and the election. That's why I'm here, anyway.

This is the folly of relativistic morality.
???

And coming from those who purportedly are "conservative" and concerned with the preservation of all that is good and valid about tradition, such relativism is quite jolting.
Preserving long-standing rights is relativistic (and is that really the word you want?), and Eugene and I are "conservative"? Maybe you should define your terms.

Pardon me while I shoot all of the messengers, with a gun that was provided to me in the womb. I just need the target practice.
Oh-kay. Don't forget your earplugs.
9.28.2005 7:01pm
Shelby (mail):
Gordon:
perhaps someone should estimate the number of lives saved and number of crimes solved if national gun registation were enacted and then compare that number to the cost of implementing such a system.
I know there are many posters here more up-to-speed than I on estimates of lives saved / crimes solved with such a system.

However, Canada has helpfully given us a way to estimate the start-up costs. Over the past ten years, they've tried to get one off the ground; an estimated cost of $2 million has ballooned to $1 billion with no end in sight. That's in a country with 1/10 the US population, and a lower rate of gun ownership.
9.28.2005 7:06pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Side note to eddie. I've often heard that the pen is mightier than the sword. And dad blame it if various sorts of Marxists haven't killed 100 million people since 1917. And don't forget their murderous cousins the Fascists!

Arguably, therefore, the printing press is more dangerous than the gun, and the Internet, being even harder to control than a printing press, is more dangerous than either.

So, should we confiscate all copies of Das Capital and Mein Kampf? They are very dangerous. Maybe you should have a license to read them and all copies should be registered?

Or maybe we could try to protect all our non-absolute rights.

Yours,
Wince
9.28.2005 7:38pm
Tim Lambert (mail) (www):
Ken Willis cites John Lott's claim that "in approx. 98% of the time the criminal breaks off the attack when before any shots are fired." This is not true.

Houston Lawyer asserts "Great Britain has apparently denied its citizens the right to use deadly force in self defense." This is not true.

Ken Willis writes: "Since the gun ban in the UK crime has soared, especially crimes against persons. The Gun ban has been a failure in the UK. The situation in Australia is not as bad but crime has increased there also." This is not true.
9.28.2005 11:51pm
Ken Willis (mail):
Tim Lambert's "This is not true" links are to a website of one wacko anti-gun nut who posts political screeds on his website, which amount to nothing more than his unsupported opinions. Lott and Kleck have thoroughly detailed their methodology and noted their sources in their respective books. Their findings are widely accepted by intelligent readers.
9.29.2005 12:07am
billb:
Andy, I didn't mean to imply that I was pro-registration (I'm not). Thanks for the heads-up that some shall-issue laws require registration. Do you have a link?
9.29.2005 12:14am
Tim Lambert (mail) (www):
Ken Willis, I have provided support for my claims with, for example, links to the official crime statistics. Why did you write something so clearly untrue?
9.29.2005 12:27am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Thanks for the heads-up that some shall-issue laws require registration. Do you have a link?

No link, but Michigan is one of these states. The registration statutes in MI are 28.429 and 28.422. (The mandatory "safety inspection" includes recording the serial number and entering it in a state database.) The CCW law is 750.232.
9.29.2005 9:51am
Andy Freeman (mail):
28.425 is MI's CCW law. 750.232 is another registration law. (380.1313 requires police to consult the state's pistol registration database.)
9.29.2005 10:01am
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
You can improve Tim Lambert's first post by replacing the words "This is not true" with the words "I have good arguments against this." Others have good arguments against Tim's arguments, especially his contention that Great Britain freely allows its citizens to defend themselves.

Yours,
Wince
9.29.2005 11:45am
Tim Lambert (mail) (www):
OK Wince, let's see you present a good argument to support the claim that 98% of the time just brandishing a gun makes the criminal run away.
9.29.2005 1:16pm
Bob Williams (mail):
I don't know about the rest of you but I have used a firearm four times in my life to drive off attackers. One was a burglar in the middle of the night who dropped his crowbar and ran when heard my 12 guage pump action cycle. All three of the others were instances of my simply showing my handgun and watching the would be assailant flee. Only one of these four instances was reported to the police, because quite frankly it's a major hassle to tell the government that you defended yourself with a weapon.
9.29.2005 3:05pm
Bob Williams (mail):
I think most people who drive off a criminal just by showing a weapon would be reluctant to report it to the authorities, since most of the time the authorities in question seem to act like you were out of line for defending yourself at all.
9.29.2005 3:09pm
Medic (mail):
To Splunge:

Your comment that Mr Volokh's fear is a chimera shows that you have not done a lot of your research or do not have knowledge of gun laws in various states. Unfortunately in numerous states mine included (NJ) they already have ridiculous laws about guns. One cannot even get a concealed weapons permit unless you "know" someone or have to use it on your job (i.e. armored card driver / attendant). Never mind the ridiculous laws of high-cap magazines and many others there are. Now that all of these are in effect it is near impossible to get them removed. Now take that into consideration when the most violet city in the entire US is in NJ. Add to that that there are at least 4 other cities that no one would even venture into at night and tell me what you think? If normal law-abiding citizens were not held back from thier 2nd amendment constitutional right then I would be willing to say that there would be less problems. More guns do not solve the problem but when used properly they can help to contain the problem.
9.30.2005 3:31pm