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Kristallnacht and Arms Control:

Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous anti-Jewish pogram in Nazi Germany. In Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews (Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law), Stephen Halbrook details how Kristallnacht was the culmination of years of Nazi success in disarming their opponents by using the "moderate" gun licensing and registration laws which had been enacted by the Weimar Republic. During the Kristallnacht pogram, new regulations were introduced which totally forbade Jews to possess firearms, edged or pointed weapons, and blunt weapons. A magazine article by Halbrook, Registration: The Nazi Paradigm, examines Nazi gun control polices both in Germany and in conquered nations.

Greedy Clerk (mail):
David -- as a Jew, I would appreciate it if you didn't use Kristalnacht and the holocaust to promote your pro-gun political views.
11.9.2005 1:00pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Another snarky comment aimed more at taking the poster down a notch than responding to the content. You drag the level of discussion down for everyone, GC.
11.9.2005 1:06pm
Gordon (mail):
Yes, this is quite a swipe at "moderate" gun registration/licensing laws.

But to focus the question away from the loaded rhetoric involved, when it comes to gun registration there are two questions.

First, is it constitutional? If individuals do indeed have a "right to bear arms," is mandatory registration an unconstitutional infringement on that right? I would be interested in Mr. Kopel's and others' viewpoint on this issue. Because if mandatory registration is unconstitutional, then we never get to the policy arguments.

Second, the policy arguments. What we as a nation must weigh in arguing about mandatory gun registration is, on the one hand, the societal benefits of mandatory registration vs. the possibility of a Nazi-like regime coming to power and using gun registries to take away these arms. I personally think the latter possibility is remote to the point of infitesimal.
11.9.2005 1:21pm
JB:
"During the Kristallnacht pogram, new regulations were introduced which totally forbade Jews to possess firearms, edged or pointed weapons, and blunt weapons."

Given the above quote, it seems to me absurd to blame Weimar-era gun laws for Kristallnacht, unless you want to show some sort of slippery slope connection between the former and the latter.
11.9.2005 1:25pm
Hank:
That's right -- the Nazis's real crime was taking away Jews' guns; if they hadn't done that then there wouldn't have been a Holocaust. (When is the last time you met a Jew with a gun anyway -- the Volokh conspirators aside?) Greedy Clerk is right, and non-Jews should be equally offended by the post.
11.9.2005 1:29pm
DNL (mail):
GreedyClerk:
What part of "never again" entails "ignoring history"? If disarming individuals could have credibly lead to the slaughter of millions, we should not write it off because if offends your sensibilities.

JB:
Kopel is not claiming that the laws caused Kristallnacht. He is arguing that the laws enabled the Nazis to take such acts. Instead of facing an armed Jewish populace, the Nazis faced Jews who were unable to meaningfully defend themselves. The gun laws were not intended, necessarily, to provide that result -- that we agree on. The gun laws intention does not matter, just the later result.
11.9.2005 1:31pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

First, is it constitutional? If individuals do indeed have a "right to bear arms," is mandatory registration an unconstitutional infringement on that right? I would be interested in Mr. Kopel's and others' viewpoint on this issue. Because if mandatory registration is unconstitutional, then we never get to the policy arguments.
I don't see that a mandatory registration law is contrary to the Second Amendment. However, there seems to be a privacy right that guarantees all sorts of amazing things. Doesn't it guarantee me the right to have a gun in my closet without you asking questions about it?


Second, the policy arguments. What we as a nation must weigh in arguing about mandatory gun registration is, on the one hand, the societal benefits of mandatory registration vs. the possibility of a Nazi-like regime coming to power and using gun registries to take away these arms. I personally think the latter possibility is remote to the point of infitesimal.
The policy argument is where mandatory gun registration fails, because the Supreme Court in Haynes v. U.S. (1968) ruled that convicted felons could not be punished for failing to register a gun--it violates their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. The Court ruled that only people who can lawfully own a gun can be punished for failing to register. So the people about whom you have reason to worry having a gun, are exempt from the registration requirement--and the people about whom there is little reason to worry, are required to register their guns. This makes very little sense.

I should mention that a 1968 survey of the 44 states with either mandatory or voluntary gun registration laws found about a dozen violent crimes solved over ten years using those records. That same survey discovered that New York State officials could not recall a single violent crime solved with gun registration records--in a state that has not only registered but licensed handguns since 1911.
11.9.2005 1:37pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

"During the Kristallnacht pogram, new regulations were introduced which totally forbade Jews to possess firearms, edged or pointed weapons, and blunt weapons."

Given the above quote, it seems to me absurd to blame Weimar-era gun laws for Kristallnacht, unless you want to show some sort of slippery slope connection between the former and the latter.
The Weimar Republic statutes and regulations (from 1928 and 1931) were discretionary as to whether a permit to own a gun would be issued or not. The reason for their discretionary nature seems to have been to disarm Nazis and Communists, both of whom were justly regarded as threats to public safety. Because the laws were sufficiently loosely written, upon taking charge, the Nazis simply used those discretionary laws for their own purposes, to disarm those who were considered a threat to the Nazi program (and pogrom).
11.9.2005 1:39pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

That's right -- the Nazis's real crime was taking away Jews' guns; if they hadn't done that then there wouldn't have been a Holocaust.
You will notice what the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto did with 10 rifles, 58 handguns, and a few hundred Molotov cocktails--they tied up an astonishing number of German solders for weeks. There's a chapter in Leni Yahil's _The Holocaust_ devoted to armed Jewish resistance to the Holocaust--and even with the generally low level of gun ownership by Eastern European Jews (sometimes imposed by law, sometimes by cultural tradition), there were many places where Jews with guns were able to save the lives of at least part of the community from Nazi genocide. If Eastern European Jews had been as well armed as the average American is, the Nazis would likely have run out of murderers--especially if the killers no longer see genocide as a low-risk activity.


When is the last time you met a Jew with a gun anyway -- the Volokh conspirators aside?
Frequently. I think I know almost as many Jewish gun owners as I know Gentile gun owners. Back when I was a gun dealer, I even had an Orthodox Jewish customer wearing a yarmulke! The saying, "Five Jews, six opinions" applies to gun ownership as well.

Greedy Clerk is right, and non-Jews should be equally offended by the post.
Why should anyone be offended by the reminder that disarming the victims is the first step towards genocide?
11.9.2005 1:46pm
Shtetl G:
Greedy Clerk said:

David -- as a Jew, I would appreciate it if you didn't use Kristalnacht and the holocaust to promote your pro-gun political views.

As A Jew myself, one of the lessons I've learned from the Holocaust is that every Jew should own a gun. I probably could not stop the next Holocaust myself but I'm not going to be herded into a cattle car without taking a couple of SOB's with me.
11.9.2005 1:50pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Because if mandatory registration is unconstitutional, then we never get to the policy arguments.

The constitution can be amended. One process for doing so involves debates and votes in the US Congress followed by debates and votes in the state legislatures. Surely that's not a huge hurdle for genuinely good/effective ideas.
11.9.2005 1:50pm
VFB (mail):
Greedy Clerk:

I too am Jewish and I take issue with your statement that "as a Jew" you disapprove of David Kopel use of Kristalnacht and the holocaust to support his views about gun control.

All people have the right to study history, and attempt to draw lessons from it. You are essentially stating that you "own" the history of Kristalnacht; and it can only be used to promote positions that you or the majority of Jews support. The Holocaust is an important field of study. We would have a much more shallow understanding of the Holocaust, and its causes if only ideas pre-approved by Greedy Clerk, were allowed to be presented.
11.9.2005 1:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
To my knowledge, no gun registration law has been found unconstitutional, except, of course, for the benefit of convicted felons. Some of us have the benefit of state constitutions that render the whole discussion moot. See Idaho Const., Art. I, sec. 11:
No law shall impose licensure, registration or special
taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition.
11.9.2005 1:57pm
Per Son:
Many people say that having guns prevents the government from running wild over the population.

Well, during Saddam's reign most homes at least one assualt rifle and plenty of ammo. Last time I checked, the government ran all over them.
11.9.2005 1:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Many people say that having guns prevents the government from running wild over the population.

Well, during Saddam's reign most homes at least one assualt rifle and plenty of ammo. Last time I checked, the government ran all over them.
Hmmm. What I read was that assault rifles were only available to Baath Party members and others with the right connections. That isn't to say that there weren't a fair number of hunting rifles in the country.

Widespread gun ownership is not a guarantee that the government will behave itself. It should be self-evident that an armed population has a better chance to fighting back against thuggish government than an unarmed population.
11.9.2005 2:03pm
GMUSL 2L (mail):
Greedy Clerk -- first, let me join in the chorus of other Jews taking issue with your criticism "as a Jew".

2nd, check out http://www.a-human-right.com and http://www.jpfo.org for lots of Jewish gun materials. Unless those websites were registered by the VC boys under fake names, of course.
11.9.2005 2:04pm
JimMNy:
Gordon

First, is it constitutional? If individuals do indeed have a "right to bear arms," is mandatory registration an unconstitutional infringement on that right? I would be interested in Mr. Kopel's and others' viewpoint on this issue. Because if mandatory registration is unconstitutional, then we never get to the policy arguments.




If we can require that car owners/drivers have a license that indicates proficiency in the use of a car and insurance to cover various forms of injury that can be done with a car certainly a gun can be subject to the same thing.
11.9.2005 2:11pm
Steve Plunk (mail):
Clayton Cramer has it spot on. If the Supreme Court has found a privacy right then certainly being secure in our homes would fit that interpretation. Gun registration invades the privacy of the home and violates that right.

It's not that an armed citizenry could defeat a government's army, it's that the leadership would have to think about how the armed conflict would be seen by it's supporters.

Without guns there is little risk of resistance and what resistance there is in inconsequential. People will go much more quietly when already stripped of the power to resist.
11.9.2005 2:16pm
Per Son:
FYI. I am not disagreement about the Jews would have lasted longer if armed, but unless the gun ownership was accompanied by tank, rocket, and bombers, an armed populace would have just made things last a bit longer.

Warsaw is a bad example, because germany underestimated the Jews there. Had the Nazis gone down with flame throwers or bombs in the first instance, the story would have come out different.
11.9.2005 2:17pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
JimMny - the difference there is that owning a firearm is a right under our Constitution; owning/driving a car is a privilege, and the Constitution has nothing to do with it.

It's anecdotal, of course, but it seems to me that over the years - at least in the U.S., and even more obviously in Great Britain - the more anti-gun laws that have been passed, the more gun crime has gone up. Possibly because criminals don't give a rat's ass about laws to begin with?
11.9.2005 2:21pm
Byomtov (mail):
Kristallnacht was the culmination of years of Nazi success in disarming their opponents by using the "moderate" gun licensing and registration laws which had been enacted by the Weimar Republic. During the Kristallnacht pogram, new regulations were introduced which totally forbade Jews to possess firearms, edged or pointed weapons, and blunt weapons.

Are you seriously suggesting that without the Weimar laws the Nazis would have been unable to carry out Kristallnacht? Are you suggesting that it was simply the end point of a Nazi disarmament program? These ideas are beyond absurd.
11.9.2005 2:22pm
Per Son:
Truthfully, has the more guns less crime statistic ever been verified (apart from John Lott)?

Also, does this argument take into consideration other precipitates of crime (rising poverty, lack of education, unemployment, etc.).
11.9.2005 2:24pm
guest (mail):

owning/driving a car is a privilege, and the Constitution has nothing to do with it.

It's a shame that the right to purchase, use, and dispose of a piece of non-contraband property is now seen as something wholly outside the reach of Constitutional protection.
11.9.2005 2:25pm
P J Evans (mail):
Re the 2nd amendment: "A well-regulated militia being necessary...."
We weren't planning to have a standing army at that time. The intent, as I read it, was to have a militia (think National Guard) in case of attack. This tends to be forgotten in the frenzy over registration and licensing. The country has changed, but I would say if you don't want registration or licensing, you had better be in a guard or reserve (police and sheriff's reserves count) or quit complaining.
11.9.2005 2:25pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
Another interpretation of the apparently anomalous Iraqi situation is that--horrors, what a politically inappropriate suggestion--prior to US intervention, perhaps many Iraqis were not living in fear under an oppressive dictatorship; perhaps, contra Bushian claims, they were not at great risk for being carted off at will to gas or torture chambers. It's just a thought. Alternatively, maybe,despite being well armed, Iraqi courage was hidden along side all those weapons of mass destruction...
11.9.2005 2:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It's not that an armed citizenry could defeat a government's army, it's that the leadership would have to think about how the armed conflict would be seen by it's supporters.

Without guns there is little risk of resistance and what resistance there is in inconsequential. People will go much more quietly when already stripped of the power to resist.
I would make this point a bit differently. A government has the military power to completely defeat a civilian population--but because most of our population lives in populated areas, the cost would be massive destruction of our cities and even more importantly, massive destruction of the illusion that it represented the people. Even Hillary Clinton would be reluctant to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute.

Without that willingness to use massive force, urban guerilla operations can take a terrible toll on a regular military. Many soldiers would reluctantly carry out their orders against unarmed civilians that could not fight back for fear of summary execution or court-martial. If the civilians were in a position to counterbalance the hazard of punishment, some significant number of soldiers would change sides.
11.9.2005 2:29pm
Gordon (mail):
In all the policy arguments about gun control, the opponents of registration and mandatory education always bring up the crime issue.

First of all, aren't crime rates, particularly murder rates, much higher in western nations without effective gun control and registration than with such control and regulation?

Second, the crime argument ignores the toll of non-criminal use of firearms, the accidental deaths of both children and adults, the suicides more easily executed with firearms, etc.

I don't know that registration alone would solve these problems, but registration plus training (analogous to a driver's license) would certainly reduce accidents and suicides.
11.9.2005 2:31pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
Mr PJ Evans says:

"Re the 2nd amendment: "A well-regulated militia being necessary...."
We weren't planning to have a standing army at that time. The intent, as I read it, was to have a militia (think National Guard) in case of attack"

Could Mr. Evans please indicate though any citations of well-researched historical or legal publications, that when the writers of the Bill of Rights said "militia" they meant "National Guard"? I had thought it fairly clearly established this was not the case. Or, alternatively, he could quit complaining...
11.9.2005 2:32pm
Gordon (mail):
Clayton Cramer:

Even Hillary Clinton would be reluctant to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute.

Showin' your true colors there, bucko. In the words of the Kinks,
Paranoia will destroy 'ya.
11.9.2005 2:34pm
Per Son:
Even Hillary Clinton would be reluctant to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute.

Clayton, why?
11.9.2005 2:35pm
guest (mail):
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean Hillary Clinton isn't out to get you.
11.9.2005 2:35pm
carpundit (www):
Shtetl G-

I'm with you. Every Jew should own, at least, a 12 ga. shotgun and a couple boxes of ammo. In my social circle, this is a very unpopular opinion. I stand by it.

CP
11.9.2005 2:37pm
Per Son:
I should also add that I am a Jew, and own a S &W 686 Plus (357 magnum with a 6 inch barrel and holds 7 bullets).

I say this only to premptively shield myself from accusations of gun hatred.
11.9.2005 2:40pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

FYI. I am not disagreement about the Jews would have lasted longer if armed, but unless the gun ownership was accompanied by tank, rocket, and bombers, an armed populace would have just made things last a bit longer.
There are a fair number of people that survived World War II because of delaying tactics that prevented the Nazis from exterminating them. This doesn't have to work perfectly to be good.

Warsaw is a bad example, because germany underestimated the Jews there. Had the Nazis gone down with flame throwers or bombs in the first instance, the story would have come out different.
Yup. And if every Jewish community in Eastern Europe had been as well-armed as the average American, there would have been severe shortage of Einsatzgruppen to carry out machine gunning the population--and there might have been some rather significant delays in filling the boxcars headed to concentration camps. Even if (and I am making an unwarranted concession strictly for argument's sake) the net effect of Jews fighting back had been that the German Army had murdered millions of Jews in their villages with flamethrowers and artillery, instead of shipping them to concentration camps, what would have been the result?

It would have tied up soldiers in these operations, not fighting Allied forces.

It would have denied the Nazis the slave labor that was the other product of the concentration camps.

It would have, in many communities, caused significant collateral damage among non-Jews, who in many parts of the Soviet Union, remember, initially greeted the Nazis as liberators.

It would have destroyed significant amounts of valuables that were confiscated from Jews by the Nazis, and which helped to fund the German war effort.
11.9.2005 2:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Showin' your true colors there, bucko. In the words of the Kinks, Paranoia will destroy 'ya.
For saying that Hillary Clinton would be reluctant to kill hundreds of thousands of people over politics? That's paranoia? Paranoia would be saying that we need to be armed because Clinton would be willing to do so.
11.9.2005 2:44pm
Houston Lawyer:
Is there any point in registering firearms if you don't intend to confiscate them at some opportune time? Most of those advocating firearms registration have a totalitarian mindset, allowing no free dissent from their positions. If we reach the point where the electorate allows mandatory registration, we will have already lost the war.
11.9.2005 2:44pm
cfw (mail):
Could 500,000 German Jews armed as the US citizenry is now armed have made an impact in response to the pogrom? Sure. Particularly if they had some organizations, ad hoc or otherwise, and a bit of military training. Look at how 15,000 armed insurgents have tied up US forces in Iraq.

The cost of widespread gun ownership - self-inflicted wounds, gun crimes against family and friends, gun crimes against strangers - generally outweighs the benefits of such widespread ownership. But, if a government has genocide in mind, or concentration camps, or violent pogroms, benefits of widespread gun ownership (among the targeted minority) are not rationally deniable.

Does this mean the US can and should encourage widespread gun ownership amongst targeted minorities, such as in Darfur? Perhaps so, assuming we do not increase total guns outstanding. In other words, buy up weapons in Compton, Iraq, etc. and ship them to the right folks in Darfur. Avoid creating new weapons, since they last 40 years with minimal care.
11.9.2005 2:45pm
murky (mail) (www):
A determined majority can always have its way with a minority. Arming the minority just creates an arms race. Do we give the minority tanks and nuclear weapons? What the minority needs is a good constitution and the rule of law. That's what Krystalnacht proves.
11.9.2005 2:45pm
Arthur (mail):
Inverse Godwin's law:

As an online discussion about Nazism grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hillary Clinton approaches 1. At least if Clayton Cramer is around.
11.9.2005 2:49pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

We weren't planning to have a standing army at that time. The intent, as I read it, was to have a militia (think National Guard) in case of attack. This tends to be forgotten in the frenzy over registration and licensing. The country has changed, but I would say if you don't want registration or licensing, you had better be in a guard or reserve (police and sheriff's reserves count) or quit complaining.
Let me recommend my book For the Defense of Themselves and the State. The notion of a militia was directly contrary to the National Guard (which was established in 1916 under Congress's authority to raise standing armies). The National Guard was what would have been considered a "select militia" in 1789--widely regarded as almost as dangerous to liberty as a standing army. Even proponents of standing armies were careful to emphasize that their primary reliance would be on the militia--which was all white men between 18 and 45.

In any case, the courts and recognized commentators such as St. George Tucker throughout the 19th century understood that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right not dependent on militia duty. (This created some serious problems for southern courts when having to come up with a justification for some of the first gun registration laws--which only applied to free blacks.)
11.9.2005 2:51pm
Curious Guest:
Shtetl G said:

"As A Jew myself, one of the lessons I've learned from the Holocaust is that every Jew should own a gun. "



Should all black people own guns?
11.9.2005 2:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


Even Hillary Clinton would be reluctant to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute.



Clayton, why?
Because I think Hillary Clinton believes that her various schemes are for the public good. Few people get up in the morning and say, "I'm going to enslave the American people, impoverish them, and destroy their ability to take care of themselves." This is usually the result of good intentions misapplied.
11.9.2005 2:53pm
Per Son:
Clayton, do you actually believe any American politician would consider killing hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute?
11.9.2005 2:54pm
Mr. Mandias (mail) (www):
"I would say if you don't want registration or licensing, you had better be in a guard or reserve (police and sheriff's reserves count) or quit complaining."

Would being in the "unorganized reserves" count? Just asking.
11.9.2005 2:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

In all the policy arguments about gun control, the opponents of registration and mandatory education always bring up the crime issue.
Because most people recognize that the accidents are noise, and suicides are very hard to prevent by taking away guns.


First of all, aren't crime rates, particularly murder rates, much higher in western nations without effective gun control and registration than with such control and regulation?
There aren't many western nations in that category. The U.S. is much more relaxed on gun control than many other Western nations--but then again, the U.S. is not much like those other nations in a lot of other respects. We are ethnically quite a bit more diverse than say, Denmark, or Sweden--and oddly enough, when you compare white non-Hispanic murder rates in the U.S. with European countries, or Canada, the difference largely disappears. You do need to compare apples and apples.


Second, the crime argument ignores the toll of non-criminal use of firearms, the accidental deaths of both children and adults, the suicides more easily executed with firearms, etc.
Accidental deaths are noise--typically 5% or less of all gun deaths. There is also reason to think that a lot of these may be suicides that are covered up for reasons of either shame or insurance.

Suicides are, in most years, the majority of gun deaths in the U.S. Guns don't dramatically change how easily suicides take place. To my surprise, the "success" rate for suicides isn't much different for guns and the other leading causes of death. Unless you are planning to prohibit ropes, bridges, and high buildings....


I don't know that registration alone would solve these problems, but registration plus training (analogous to a driver's license) would certainly reduce accidents and suicides.
Nope. A training requirement won't solve the accidents that are actually covered-up suicides, and it isn't going to solve the problem of gun accidents involving alcohol and other intoxicants (and these are pretty common). A study of gun accident injuries in Vermont back in the 1970s discovered that there was a very high overlap between people who injured themselves in gun accidents and drunk driving arrests. Surprise, surprise.

How will training reduce gun suicides? These are intentional acts.
11.9.2005 3:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Inverse Godwin's law:

As an online discussion about Nazism grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hillary Clinton approaches 1. At least if Clayton Cramer is around.
I was around the newsgroups when Godwin came up with Godwin's Law. The reason was that he was tired of being on the wrong side of the gun control debate--that is to say, on the side of the Nazis.
11.9.2005 3:04pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton, do you actually believe any American politician would consider killing hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute?
I guess you aren't reading very carefully. My point was that even someone as power-mad as Hillary Clinton would be reluctant to do that.
11.9.2005 3:05pm
Nobody Important:

If we can require that car owners/drivers have a license that indicates proficiency in the use of a car and insurance to cover various forms of injury that can be done with a car certainly a gun can be subject to the same thing.


This has been dealt with before, but if guns were regulated like cars, (1) gun control would be slightly more strict in some states, but (2) much less strict in others.

1. You would not need a gun license to own or use guns on private property.

2. Licenses to carry and use guns on public property (hunting licenses and concealed carry licenses) would be available for a nominal fee of $10 to $20 (rather than $100 and up), and much easier to obtain than they are now.

3. A gun license (whatever type) would be good in all states (more out of "comity" than a requirement, although Congress could mandate it).

4. Democrats would be demanding that gun licenses be made available to illegal aliens undocumented workers.

If cars were treated like guns,

(1) You wouldn't be allowed to drive within 1,000 feet of a school. Everyone would have heard of Steven Abrams.

(2) Driver licenses would be denied to persons based on the color of their skin, sexual orientation, or lack of donations to the sheriff's election campaign.

(3) Anti-car newspapers would be publishing the names of everyone with a drivers license, because "their neighbors have the right to know."

(4) Newspapers would refuse to run classified ads for cars sold by individuals.

(5) Anti-car-owner bigotry would be acceptable in polite society.

(6) You would need to get permission from the F.B.I. before buying a car.
11.9.2005 3:07pm
Captain Holly (mail) (www):

Clayton, do you actually believe any American politician would consider killing hundreds of thousands of Americans over a political dispute?


Hmmm. There's alot of people (myself not included) who would say that Abe Lincoln did just that...
11.9.2005 3:10pm
PersonFromPorlock:
So far as gun registration and nazis is concerned, it may or may not have been a factor in how easily the nazis accomplished their goals but it didn't change the goals themselves. In America, a nazi-like movement of any significance seems unlikely.

The real benefit of gun control (understood as the essential prohibition of gun ownership) is that it allows one to 'sit out' any threat to his neighbors. Being helpless, we have an excellent reason not to get involved. The people who ignored, for several hours, the screams of Kitty Genovese as she was being murdered in their street suffered no more than the mild inconvenience of disturbing noises because they had been careful to ensure, beforehand, that they lived in a culture of 'civilian' helplessness.
11.9.2005 3:16pm
Per Son:
PFP:

Or they live in a "me only" culture, where people do not care about their neighbors.
11.9.2005 3:21pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Is there any point in registering firearms if you don't intend to confiscate them at some opportune time? Most of those advocating firearms registration have a totalitarian mindset, allowing no free dissent from their positions. If we reach the point where the electorate allows mandatory registration, we will have already lost the war.
There is a legitimate theory of gun registration--that a gun that is criminally misused might be registered to the legal owner, or the gun can be traced back to the last legal owner, who can then be punished for failing to exercise proper care in the transfer of the gun.

The practical problems are:

1. Criminals don't usually leave a gun at the scene of the crime--unless they are at the scene of the crime as well, awaiting medical care or coroner.

2. Serial numbers on guns are rather hard to read when a criminal is using it in a crime. "Excuse me, sir, could you turn that pistol you have pointing in my face to the side so that I an read the serial number? Thank you, sir!" Ballistic registration has its own set of problems which are even more serious.

3. There are occasions when people with no previous criminal history suddenly go out and become robbers or murderers, but this is pretty rare. The vast majority of felonies are committed by minors (who can't legally buy guns), people with previous felony convictions, or who are mentally ill (usually can't legally buy a gun).

4. Without question, gun registration would catch some people who lawfully purchase guns, and then resell them to unqualified buyers. If I could be confident that this would be the only use of such records, I wouldn't have a big problem with mandatory registration. But gun control advocates have long stated that mandatory registration of handguns is a first step towards complete confiscation. See Nelson "Pete" Shields's intervew in the July 26, 1976 New Yorker.

5. A fair number of criminally misused guns are stolen, in burglaries (sometimes from National Guard armories and police departments), from manufacturers, and in transit to wholesalers and dealers--and even some from police evidence rooms! No registration law will do anything about these. There are proposals to mandate better security for guns, and these are in principle fine things--but in practice, they end up punishing people who may have been reasonable in their security efforts.
11.9.2005 3:23pm
Dan Schmutter:
David -- as a Jew, I appreciate your using Kristalnacht and the holocaust to demonstrate the clear correctness pro-gun political views.
11.9.2005 3:25pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

In America, a nazi-like movement of any significance seems unlikely.
Oddly enough, the biggest fans of gun confiscation tend to be the ones with the "BusHitler" posters.
11.9.2005 3:25pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

PFP:

Or they live in a "me only" culture, where people do not care about their neighbors.
There's a difference between caring about your neighbors, and getting yourself killed for them. I've had one occasion when I had to arm myself to deal with a kidnapping attempt going on across the street in California. (It took the police 45 minutes to respond to a 911 call I made about this kidnapping.) It was an unpleasant experience, having to decide if the point had been reached where I had to draw my weapon. Fortunately, while the kidnapper was stronger than the woman he was attempting to drag out of her apartment, the kidnapper was very, very drunk, so he would drag her down a few steps of the staircase, and she would get just free enough to start back up the stairs again. This went back and forth for some time.

There came a moment where I almost drew my weapon, because the kidnapper drew a very big knife and threatened someone with a golf club who had also come onto the scene. The guy with the golf club decided that the risk to himself was too high to get himself killed to protect a complete stranger. Fortunately, by this point, the kidnapper was sobering up enough so that he left the scene without his victim.

Would I have risked leaving my wife a widow and my daughter without a father, if I hadn't been armed? Probably not for a complete stranger.
11.9.2005 3:32pm
Hank:
Today is not only the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938, but of the Kaiser's abdication in 1918, the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Big day in German history (obviously).
11.9.2005 3:33pm
Dan Schmutter:
"Truthfully, has the more guns less crime statistic ever been verified (apart from John Lott)?"

Yes. See e.g. Plassman &Tideman specifically regarding Lott's findings, and more generally, Kleck (e.g. Targeting Guns)and Wright &Rossi (Armed and Consdiered Dangerous).

"Also, does this argument take into consideration other precipitates of crime (rising poverty, lack of education, unemployment, etc.)."

Yes.
11.9.2005 3:40pm
Public_Defender:
The biggest problem with Nazi analogies is that they don't persuade anyone of anything.

Do you think many conservatives would read an article with a title that compares any aspect of any Bush policy to a Nazi program?

Of course no.

Do you think many liberals would bother to read an article that compares liberal positions (on, say, abortion, stem cell research, gun laws or the treatment of the Schiavo case) to Nazism?

Of course not.

When you make a Nazi analogy, you almost always lose the ability to persuade people who disagree with you. And usually, that's perfectly justified.
11.9.2005 3:42pm
Shtetl G:
Curious Guest (www):
Shtetl G said:


"As A Jew myself, one of the lessons I've learned from the Holocaust is that every Jew should own a gun. "




Should all black people own guns?


That's not a bad a lesson to learn from the Holocaust too. I imagine a Klansmen in the 1930's wouldn't have felt so free to flaunt the law if he thought he was going to get shot.
11.9.2005 3:45pm
Dan Schmutter:
"When you make a Nazi analogy, you almost always lose the ability to persuade people who disagree with you. And usually, that's perfectly justified."

Of course, that's no reason to shy away from such analogies when, as here, they are perfectly correct.
11.9.2005 3:45pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Per Son:

Or they live in a "me only" culture, where people do not care about their neighbors.

Well, no. If they didn't care about their neighbors, they'd still care about themselves and so want to be able to defend themselves. Avoiding all personal responsibility for your own or others' safety is the essence of being dependent on government, which is why gun control is so important to Liberalism.
11.9.2005 3:50pm
Public_Defender:
Of course, that's no reason to shy away from such analogies when, as here, they are perfectly correct.

If you don't want to persuade people, why write?

I could make a similar argument that the Nazis depended on secrecy at the highest level, just like Dick Cheney. The Nazis protected domestic insustries just like the US has done with steel and still does with sugar. Etc., etc., etc. The Nazis supported the executive right to detain people the executive thinks are a threat to national security.

These are "perfectly correct" analogies, but they won't persuade anyone of anything. And they diminish the true evil of the Holocaust.

I come back to my point. Even if you have a valid argument, you lose your ability to persuade by making Nazi analogies.
11.9.2005 3:54pm
Dan Schmutter:
"Should all black people own guns? "


In fact, yes (or at least some).

See Robert J. Cottrol &Raymond T. Diamond, the Second Amendment: Towards an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration. 80 Geo. L. Rev. 309, 341-42 (1991) (in the North, blacks successfully defended themselves against mob violence by bearing arms in their own defense) (cited in Silveira v. Lockyer, 328 F.3d 567, 569 (Kozinski, J. dissenting)).
11.9.2005 3:56pm
Michael B (mail):
"The biggest problem with Nazi analogies ..." Public Defender

Well, this is not merely an analogy, it's a concrete historical example and therefore is applicable to at least some degree. Too, it doesn't claim to be conclusive. Only the degree of applicability is debateable, it cannot be summarily dismissed out of hand.
11.9.2005 3:57pm
Houston Lawyer:
Members of all unpopular minorities should be encouraged to arm themselves. In Houston, we have the Pink Pistols gun group which encourages gays and lesbians to arm themselves for self defense. This group annoys liberals to no end.

Many of the restrictions on gun ownership in the old South were put in place to make it difficult for the Negro to own a proper weapon. Our Secretary of State has publicly stated that her father, a minister, helped organize armed patrols of Black neighborhoods to stop encursions by the Klan. If you disarm a man, you place him at your mercy.
11.9.2005 4:00pm
Joshua (mail):
Could 500,000 German Jews armed as the US citizenry is now armed have made an impact in response to the pogrom? Sure.


As long as we're playing the what-if game, we should also consider one big negative consequence of an armed Jewish population in WWII. As Clayton pointed out, it would have thrown a huge wrench into the Nazi war machine. What everyone seems to overlook, though, is that this would also help that other murderous totalitarian regime on the block, Stalin's Soviet Union.

Is it not quite possible that a Nazi regime weakened by a Jewish resistance would have enabled the Soviets to not only defeat Germany but sweep all the way across Europe before the U.S. and Britain ever entered the war on the Continent? (In other words, that after WWII the Iron Curtain would have covered all of Europe instead of just the eastern half?) Granted, armed Jews could have tried to resist that occupation too, but Stalin doesn't strike me as having had any compunctions about crushing a rebellion by any means necessary.
11.9.2005 4:04pm
Captain Holly (mail) (www):

Should all black people own guns?

That's not a bad a lesson to learn from the Holocaust too. I imagine a Klansmen in the 1930's wouldn't have felt so free to flaunt the law if he thought he was going to get shot.


There's several instances in America's history where blacks did use guns to discourage would-be lynchers. One that I remember is that of Gen. Colin Powell's father-in-law, whom he describes in his autobiography as having to sleep with a shotgun on his lap in the front room of his Birmingham house during the summer of 1963 in order to protect his family.

Had there been mandatory firearms registration in place at the time, how difficult would it have been for Bull Connor or George Wallace to order the police go to that house and confiscate said shotgun, all in the name of "public safety"?
11.9.2005 4:05pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):
4. Without question, gun registration would catch some people who lawfully purchase guns, and then resell them to unqualified buyers. If I could be confident that this would be the only use of such records, I wouldn't have a big problem with mandatory registration.

Would you support, then, a constitutional amendment along the lines of: "The right to bear arms is a personal right held by every American; this right does not abridge the right of the government to require registration of handguns sold in the United States." [Change wording to taste]

That way, everyone could have their private right to bear arms (even in D.C. or San Francisco, and there would be a clear constitutional prohibition for doing the theoretical "bad stuff" with the registration information.
11.9.2005 4:07pm
Public_Defender:
"The biggest problem with Nazi analogies ..." Public Defender

Well, this is not merely an analogy, it's a concrete historical example and therefore is applicable to at least some degree. Too, it doesn't claim to be conclusive. Only the degree of applicability is debateable, it cannot be summarily dismissed out of hand.


But I still come back to my main point. You will not persuade anyone who already disagrees with you by drawing inferences from Nazi policies.

It was a "concrete fact" that Hitler believed that the executive should be able to detain people who the executive believes are threats to national security. But (justifiably) I'm not going to persuade any conservatives that Bush is wrong about that policy by saying that Hitler believed it too.
11.9.2005 4:13pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Would you support, then, a constitutional amendment along the lines of: "The right to bear arms is a personal right held by every American; this right does not abridge the right of the government to require registration of handguns sold in the United States." [Change wording to taste]

That way, everyone could have their private right to bear arms (even in D.C. or San Francisco, and there would be a clear constitutional prohibition for doing the theoretical "bad stuff" with the registration information.
I would not support it, for the reasons that I also listed--gun registration doesn't work as a crime prevention measure (although it could conceivably make a difference in a very, very tiny fraction of 1% of violent crimes), and it can't work for gun suicide or gun accident prevention, and it is guaranteed to be a complete failure for the 1/2 of U.S. murders commited with weapons other than handguns (knives, shotguns, fists, feet, arson, and way, way down the list, rifles).

If you want to spend resources on something that will make a real difference in violent crime rates, focus on:

1. Preventing physical and sexual abuse of children.

2. Encouraging families to stay together, or at least encouraging fathers to stay involved with their sons after they move out.

3. Identifying teenagers with significant emotional and mental illness problems likely to cause violence, and provide early treatment.

4. Locking up violent felons on their first conviction, and leaving them locked up.

5. Encouraging children to believe that there are some things that are wrong: murder; rape; robbery.

I live in a city (Boise) that has a murder rate that would be the envy of most European cities. We also have effectively no gun control laws, other than requiring a permit to carry concealed in cities. (About 5% of Idaho's population has a permit, and we recognize all conecealed carry permits from other states.) The rest of America can have this situation, if they want it. But for lots of Americans, they find the items I've listed above so distasteful (especially teaching right and wrong to kids) that they prefer gun control.
11.9.2005 4:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Public Defender

I respectfully disagree. Nazi analogies are overly used, unquestionably. However, when they serve as more specific historic examples or parallels, comparing "apples to apples" (and assuming the historic example is reasonably drawn and explicated), they can be instructive, even illuminating and persuasive. Essentially I'm only calling attention to the difference between hyperbole (exaggerated analogies) and more condign historical parallels.
11.9.2005 4:29pm
Per Son:
Clayton:

What is this Children are not taught right and wrong stuff?
11.9.2005 4:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton:

What is this Children are not taught right and wrong stuff?
There is nothing right or wrong; everything is culturally determined. Astonishing statements from liberals with whom I used to work in California:

"Well, maybe the Holocaust was right for that culture." This was a Jewish woman prepared to defend cultural relativism to its logical extreme.

"To interfere with a democratic's society death camps would be fascist." (A Princeton graduate, defending why private ownership of guns should be prohibited, and explaining why the Holocaust wasn't an argument against.)
11.9.2005 4:36pm
ak47pundit (www):
<blockquote>
In America, a nazi-like movement of any significance seems unlikely.
</blockquote>

Sadly that's just what they thought in Pre-Hitlerite Germany. After all Germany was the exemplar of western civilization and culture and the home of Goethe, Schiller etc...

Even the finest of societies do on occaision go stark raving mad, or even worse, they calculatingly perform acts of the utmost evil. I agree that a nazi-like movement seems remote in America and perhaps even impossible given the American ethic and cultural history, but one never knows. Better safe than sorry in any case.
11.9.2005 4:43pm
Per Son:
California must be different from anywhere else in the world I have been. Some quote from a "Jewish woman" or Ivey leaguer is meaningless. We can find quotes for just about anything and toss them back and forth - the fact is, most children are taught right from wrong (liberal or conservative).
11.9.2005 4:49pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I'm surprised that anyone would consider it improper to draw historical lessons from Kristallnacht or the Holocoust. The Israelis certainly have drawn such lessons, and they are armed to the teeth. Just walk around Jerusalem and you can see all kinds of civilians carrying guns.

We are all entitled to study history and learn from past experience. We don't need anyone's permission.
11.9.2005 4:51pm
Chuck (mail):
May I suggest that you seem to be overlooking an important point. If I as an individual cannot defend myself with a firearm agains criminals (breaking into my house, for example) who have obtained guns illegally, and I know that the police cannot arrive in time to save me from criminal violence and perhaps death (a well known problem), then I am doomed to live in fear all of my life and may suffer injury or premature death. I contend that I then have lost my rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
11.9.2005 4:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

California must be different from anywhere else in the world I have been. Some quote from a "Jewish woman" or Ivey leaguer is meaningless. We can find quotes for just about anything and toss them back and forth - the fact is, most children are taught right from wrong (liberal or conservative).
Maybe California is different. But these two examples I gave were typical of liberalism as I have experienced it--a belief that there is nothing right or wrong (except being a conservative, or a Christian, or a Republican).
11.9.2005 4:55pm
Publicola (mail) (www):
If the 2nd amendment were given the same deference that the first was (i.e. strict scrutiny applied) then I'd argue that registration was unconstitutional.

There are the privacy concerns, true, but my argument would hinge more on the chilling effect of registration. Then I'd concentrate on the de facto tax that usually comes with registration or licensing. (Was the case U.S. v Polluck where it was determined that a tax or fee couldn't be required of a constitutionally protected Right?).

Registration of a firearm implies that some future contact concerning said firearm is possible. There are a lot of folks who generally don't like having to deal with such things &would be disauded (or at least be given pause) if firearms ownership could only be done via registration. Add to that any penalties for improperly registering a firearm &overall I think it would have a significant chilling effect on the excercise of that Right to fail a strict crutiny examination.

I know of no registration program or licensing scheme which does not result in additional fees. That would run afoul of Polluck. Even if registration was provided at no financial cost to the gun owner then there'd still be the chilling effect argument to deal with.

Unfortunately strict scrutiny is not appllied to the 2nd, &even fairly conservative folks who claim to be originalists/textualists, etc. argue that it shouldn't ("...cause that'd allow people to own tanks!").

Aside from the constitutional question, registration simply doesn't do that much good to prevent crime. It does prove very helpful in the event of confiscation. &confications have happened in the u.S. NYC comes to mind, as does Cali. &on the federal level there is a registry of everyone who owns machien guns, short barrled rifles &shotguns &sound suppressors. The federal registry has not been used for confiscation, but it very well could. Registration is simply too convenient a method for achieving civilian disarmament. While it has only happened concerning limited types of firearm (assault weapons in Cali &NYC for example) the theorhetical danger far outweigh any perceived benefits.

What Mr. Kopel points out, but is missed by quite a few people, is that a law passed with good intent (regitration/licensing to keep the criminal element from being armed) can turn into a tool for a very heinous government (unarmed Jews being sent to concentration camps). The intent does not have to be present at the time the law is passed. I'm sure no one in 1920's or early 1930's Germany sought to disarm the Jew so they could be slaughtered. But once the mechanism is in place - the tool if you will - then the original intent isn't that important. It's how it's used right now that counts.

The purpose of the 2nd amendment was not to just have a militia ready to repel foreign invaders, but to ensure the people were not outgunned by the military of any government, even (&especially) our own. While the odds are very slim today that the feds will set up camps &herd undesirables into it, in 5 years the odds are a little greater &by 20 years or so the odds are 50/50. We simply do not know. In 20 years it could happen, or it could not happen. What the 2nd does (or should do if properly applied) is to aid in discouraging such an event from happening, or at least giving the undesirables a fighting chance. What gun registration &licensing accomplihes is a negation of the positive effect of an armed populace. The Nazi's knew this &used it to their advantage. So did Stalin, Pol Pot, etc... To paraphrase Kosinski; being unarmed in the face of such a government is a mistake free folk only get to make once.
11.9.2005 5:17pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
The cost of registration is an important issue. The general rule for laws mandating registration or background checks is that the gun owner or purchaser pays the fees for this. Why? He doesn't get a benefit from it, except if that registration is used to return a stolen gun to the rightful owner. The beneficiary (if there is one) to gun registration is the general society. The beneficiary for a background check (and I do believe that there is some slight benefit) is the general society.

The problem is that a lot of proponents of gun registration might have some trouble selling registration or background checks if the society as a whole had to pay these costs--because then it might cause legislators to ask, "Can't we get more benefit from other programs that cause this same amount of money?" Canada is now into the billions of Canadian dollars for their gun registry--and it is still hopelessly incomplete. It makes you wonder what else several billion Canadian dollars could have been spent doing instead, doesn't it?
11.9.2005 6:04pm
Barry (mail):
In response to the first comment...

David, as the son of two people who survived the Nazi regime, and one whose family narrowly avoided the Holocaust, I BEG you to continue to point out the parallels between Nazi policies and the "sensible" policies of those who would disarm the next victims of authoritarianism.

Thank you!!!
11.9.2005 6:29pm
Per Son:
Clayton:

I am a far lefty, and consort with many - many far lefties, and I have never once heard one arguing that there is no right and wrong and everything is relative, except for purely hypothetical or philosophical discussions. While I do here anti-Christian comments (unfortunately), it is almost entirely limited to the Christian Right (which can be described as a political movement or group in itself). My wife is Christian, as are many lefties, and I do not understand where your editorialisms about what the left does come from.

As for cultural relativism, I find libertarians, objectivists, and anarcho-capitalists to be the biggest pushers of cultural relativism. Additionally, cultural relativism is a tool used by anthropologists to understand cultures on their own terms. It is not simply a license to say all is neither right nor wrong.
11.9.2005 6:35pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton:

I am a far lefty, and consort with many - many far lefties, and I have never once heard one arguing that there is no right and wrong and everything is relative, except for purely hypothetical or philosophical discussions. While I do here anti-Christian comments (unfortunately), it is almost entirely limited to the Christian Right (which can be described as a political movement or group in itself). My wife is Christian, as are many lefties, and I do not understand where your editorialisms about what the left does come from.
From attending university and living in a leftist controlled county, Sonoma County, California.

As for cultural relativism, I find libertarians, objectivists, and anarcho-capitalists to be the biggest pushers of cultural relativism. Additionally, cultural relativism is a tool used by anthropologists to understand cultures on their own terms. It is not simply a license to say all is neither right nor wrong.
Sorry, but that's not the color of the sky in Planet California. Cultural relativism is the term used by leftists to justify that right and wrong are purely relativistic terms, and whatever a majority (or a majority of the Supreme Court, depending on the issue) wants is okay.

Now, I will concede that liberal means different things in different places. Most self-described liberals here in Idaho would qualify as moderates or conservatives by California standards. An acquaintance from Massachusetts taught in Boise for a year, and noticed that the left end of Idaho politics was to the right of the right end of Massachusetts politics.
11.9.2005 6:52pm
Per Son:
Clayton:

Fair enough. I have never been to Sonoma County. I can only speak about liberals in the Midwest, DC, Ohio, Europe and a few other places.

As far as the liberals spouting the stuff you say that they say, I have a better word - dumbass.
11.9.2005 6:55pm
Walter:

"As A Jew myself, one of the lessons I've learned from the Holocaust is that every Jew should own a gun. "

Should all black people own guns?


YES! along with all brown, white, yellow and red people.
11.9.2005 6:59pm
GMUSL 2L (mail):
Per Son, an objectivist who is a cultural relativist? Wow, now I HAVE heard everything!
11.9.2005 7:22pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> First of all, aren't crime rates, particularly murder rates, much higher in western nations without effective gun control and registration than with such control and regulation?

The question is whether gun control would reduce violence. Are there any instances of violence going down dramatically after its imposition?
11.9.2005 7:38pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Per Son: Might I suggest the following read -

The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values by Tammy Bruce

In case you aren't aware, Bruce is a self-described 'pro-choice, lesbian feminist' who has been virtually run out of 'the cause' for questioning the ultimate moral relativism, egotism, self-centrism, and lack of personal responsibility that numerous, 'liberal causes' prosyletize; e.g., feminism, homosexual activism, etc. She portrays a 'culture' of liberalism that uses the foundation of "thou shalt not judge" as their touchstone morality. Unfortunately, as a number of posters have alluded to, the only 'judgment' allowed is, ultimately: left-wing liberalism = good, right-wing conservatism = bad, left-wing moderates = 'temporarily misguided, remonstrate for redemption,' right-wing moderates = 'not beyond redemption, but definitely seduced by the dark side.'

Now, if that's what you wish to portray as liberals teaching good and bad, then so be it. It's kind of a vague morality. But, then again, so is the term "far left winger." Based on the comments I repeatedly see from self-described 'far lefties' who are offended when they perceive themselves as being lumped with the 'radical left,' I wonder what would happen when these 'chic' or moderate lefties actually came face to face with the realities of the true, far left.

Of course, there's Norman Barry's article on "Political Morality as Convention." Then you could look to Maldonado and Lacey's article entitled "Defining Moral Leadership: Perspectives of 12 Leaders." There are numerous others.

In the end, definitions of 'right and wrong' ARE highly relative to the perspectives, backgrounds, exeriences, and cultural 'training' of individuals. The culturally relevant utility of an individual's morality lies in its effects, consistency of application, and its relevance to the individual's life as a functioning member of society. As has been said: consistency is the key to predictability - predictability is the key to credibility.

This is the problem with the moral relativism of the left to which Cramer and others are referring. It is not predictable because it is perceived as highly malleble (inconsistent) based on circumstances. An example is that the death penalty is wrong, but abortion is an absolute 'right;' meaning an individual choice which speaks to a sense of 'relativity' in that the individual, not society, must CHOOSE between a set of 'good and bad' effects.

More broadly, government should respect MY privacy to get abortions, smoke pot, engage in a variety of sexual behaviors, etc. The individual has a 'right' to CHOOSE between a set of 'good and bad' effects. But, government (society) should disregard an individual's right to CHOOSE between 'good and bad' effects' based on the specifically enumerated (as opposed to judicially "found"), Constitutional rights when I/we (the left) view such a choice as inherently leading to bad effects; e.g., gun owners (right to own, privacy, etc.) or publically vocal (conservative) Christians. Isn't that a morally relative position based on a different set of beliefs as to what makes sense in a specific culture?

Of course, these are obvious, disparate examples. The true issue comes to the fore when dealing with the "gray" areas. Sexual predators who come up to a 7-year old on the street and ask if they touch themselves should be prosecuted; but, one must try to 'understand' why they did such a heinous thing and punish them accordingly. School districts who ask 7-year olds if they touch themselves are 'understood' to have the child's best interest at heart. Law-abiding individuals should not be allowed to own guns, because guns kill people. But, the individuals who kill people with a gun should be prosecuted, but only punished to the degree that it is 'their' fault. But, since guns kill people, how 'responsible' are the individuals? Ad infinitum.

This inconsistent application of morality is what leads many to question its credibility. "Lefties" bellow that 'thou shalt not judge' an individual's behavior, while screaming that the behaviors of those who oppose them are bigotry, homophobic, fascist, anti-Christian, repressive...WRONG.

This is the point in using historical incidents like Kristallnacht as 'cautionary' tales. They provide insight into the spatial-temporal realities and cultural vagaries of 'right and wrong.' If "the road to hell is paved with 'good' intentions," then it is vital that we recognize the historically consistent road signs created by those 'good' intentions; 'good' being a derivative of perceived 'right and wrong.' This is precisely why the Founding Fathers ensconced in our Constitution certain, unalienable 'rights,' so that 'We, the people' could protect ourselves from 'wrongs.'

In the end, "an individual human's beliefs and activities make sense in terms of his or her own culture" (cultural relativism) when "moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths but instead are relative to social, cultural, historical or personal references" (moral relativism). This is why social policies such as gun control (or lack thereof) must be tied to culturally relative/relevant references such as an historically contextual understanding of our Constitution for those policies, which are, in fact, moral or ethical propositions, to be personally relevant and understandable ('make sense') within our culture.
11.9.2005 9:11pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Should all black people own guns?

I remember once being brought up short by a G. K. Chesterton article from (I think) the 1920s. Chesterton quoted what he said was an American popular song. I think the words were

There once was a bold n*gger-boy
And that bold n*gger-boy had a gun,
And he wandered in comfort and joy
In de woods where de waterfalls run.

Chesterton's own point in mentioning this was that the descendants of slaves had a liberty free Englishmen did not, since there wasn't much "comfort and joy" for poor men wandering around in the woods with guns under the Game Laws. But it does paint a picture, that lyric, of a gun as the sort of natural equipment of a free man. Interesting.
11.9.2005 9:34pm
big dirigible (mail) (www):
"The biggest problem with Nazi analogies is that they don't persuade anyone of anything."

Now that's a challenge. How would one discuss Kristallnacht in a National-Socialist-free way? The NSDAP sort of comes with the territory, doesn't it?
11.10.2005 12:55am
big dirigible (mail) (www):
"Should all black people own guns?"

This is genuinely vile.

Tell me that wasn't an American who posted that. Any American worthy of the name should know that fundamental civil rights apply to everyone.
11.10.2005 1:08am
Laika's Last Woof (mail):
"Should all black people own guns?"

This was, of course, the original purpose of the National Rifle Association, the oldest and most prestigious civil rights organization in America.

Thanks to its standing up for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms regardless of race, the NRA's first political opponent was the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan lost: almost a century before the repeal of Jim Crow, the NRA brought the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms to all Americans.

Today the names of the gun grabbers have changed but their purpose remains the same — but the NRA stands strong, now as always, to ensure the vile political arc that begins with gun control and ends in Krystallnacht, lynching, and looting never gets off the ground.

I am proud to be a member of an organization with such a prestigious history. Then, as now, the NRA is on the forefront of the civil rights movement.
11.10.2005 2:22am
therut (mail):
Liberals really make me laugh sometimes. I wish for the Democrat party of the 1960's. They were not pushing gun control. It was not in their vocabulatry. I laugh with their hysterics about guns. Reminds me of the same hysterics about sex education. The liberals love sex education and the younger the children the better. How many times are we told that it must be taught as it saves lives, prevents pregnancy, decreases abortion and DOES NOT cause children to have sex. But try to get them to understand that children need to be taught gun safety at a young age, how to handle, shoot , load, unload a firearm, store one safely and they will screm NOT MY CHILD. I want them no where around those EVIL things. Why they might hurt themselves or LORD have mercy actually own one someday. It is funny. And didn't one of the amicus briefs in the Roe vs Wade argue self defense. Imagine that abortion as self defense aganist a fetus. But tell a liberal a gun in needed for self defense and the hysterics start again.
11.10.2005 2:30am
therut (mail):
Oh and I have a Jewish friend. A lawyer from NYC. He was a big liberal activist in the 1970's. Even got arrested laying in the street protesting a nuclear plant. Well today he live in Arkansas, owns guns, gave up lawyering and even votes Republician now. Amazing.
11.10.2005 2:33am
Public_Defender:
Fromt the Yates thread (one above this one):
Comment on how the nazis treated the mentally ill?

Should environmentalists have to comment on the fact that Hitler was one, too?
Kopel and his fellow conspirators should expect to see more Nazi analogies on their site. I don't think that raises the level of debate.
11.10.2005 5:41am
Brett Bellmore (mail):

Of course, that's no reason to shy away from such analogies when, as here, they are perfectly correct.

If you don't want to persuade people, why write?


In public fora such as this, you're generally not trying to persuade your opponent, who's usually already dedicated to the opposite position to the point of inflexibility. You're trying to persuade the people in the middle. Who might just not have enough emotional investment in gun control to be personally offended by having gun control's nasty consequences and history (Started out as a Jim Crow law, remember?) pointed out to them.

Are there any prospects of a Nazi like movement in the US? Sure there are! It's more of a slippery slope phenomenon than waking up one morning and deciding to commit genocide, after all. And this IS a country where not long ago the government slaughtered a not insignificant number of people down in Waco, and demonstrated in the process that they were quite capable of dehumanizing them to the point where the political fallout would be minimal. Today it would be even easier in some respects, as we've less freedom of speech now, and more secret police.
11.10.2005 7:19am
Matt22191 (mail):
Public Defender,

The link between gun control and democide deserves to be discussed. Any such discussion will necessarily involve discussion of despicable regimes, since only despicable regimes commit democide. If that meant that such discussions could never be persuasive, it'd be a very sad thing; the histories of such regimes, of how they came to power and how they were able to commit their atrocities, provide useful object lessons. Happly, I don't believe that's the case.

I agree that knee-jerk, spurious comparisons to tyrants and tyrannical regimes (e.g., "Bushitler") are unpersuasive to all but a few extremists. But that's not the sort of argument Kopel is making. I don't read him as saying, "the Nazis used gun control to facilitate democide; therefore, modern American gun control proponents are Nazis attempting to commit democide." Instead, I understand him to be suggesting that even gun control laws propounded by well-meaning people have, at various times, later been used by others to facilitate democide and that, therefore, we ought to be wary of gun control, even where its proponents are well-intentioned. That's a perfectly valid point, and it's far different from the sort of knee-jerk Nazi analogies that most people rightly condemn. If you can't see the difference, I don't think it speaks well of you.
11.10.2005 7:49am
Public_Defender:
The Waco thing is tin-foil hat material. The government made mistakes in the way it handled the matter, but if you violently resist law enforcement, you should expect an overwhelming and violent response. The fire was the fault of the thugs who fired machine guns at federal agents.

Nazi analogies rarely help much because the Nazis engaged in pretty much every government restriction on liberty. By necessity, government impinges on liberty. Nazi analogies are as strong (perhaps stronger) to warrantless searches, "national security letters," indefinite detention without trial, and the "war time" (and non "war time) powers the Bush administration supports. And we shouldn't not forget Bush's opposition to anti-torture legislation.

But when Sen. Durbin made a Nazi analogy, he was rightly criticized (although some of the criticism went over the top). But if Nazi analogies are instructive on the issue of gun control, perhaps Durbin's remarks were more fair than I thought.
11.10.2005 7:50am
Public_Defender:
Sorry for making two posts in a row, but I'm responding to a post that was made while I was drafting the previous one.

Matt22191, you could easily modify your statement to say
I understand him to be suggesting that even gun control detention-without-trial laws propounded by well-meaning people have, at various times, later been used by others to facilitate democide and that, therefore, we ought to be wary of gun control detention-without-trial, even where its proponents are well-intentioned.
You could insert any number of other issues, including the death penalty, search and seizure laws, tax laws, etc., etc., etc.
11.10.2005 8:05am
subpatre (mail):
Public_Defender, you're correct that any other word(s) can be substituted, but they won't make sense. You're confusing facilitate with the steps that happen along the way.

Other issues don't have the inherent capability to hinder the implementation of unconstitutional and/or tyrannical actions. Detention-without-trial, death penalty, search and seizure laws; all can be implimented before, after, or never. Only arms control is a prerequisite to easy demicide.
11.10.2005 9:43am
Publicola (mail) (www):
Laika,
The NRa was started in the 1870's by some Union generals who wished to improve basic riflery skills amongst the populace. Seems they weren't impressed with how a lot of yankees were shooting in the war twixt the states. It wasn't until the 1970's that it became officially active in politic, though in the 1950's soem NRA chapter were started by black folk who wanted to repel the klan (&ended up doing just that). Personally the NRA supports way too much gun control for my tastes. But I admit as an instructional organization they do good work.

PD,
Waco was nothing more than a bungled attempt at getting publicity in time for the appropriations bill by the ATFU. It involved an alleged $200 tax. &by all account the ATFU were the ones who started shooting first. Also I don't recall them ever finding machine guns there, let alone being ued. Well I take that back; two ATFU agents were hot with machine gun. But those belonged to another ATFU agent who had a flash bang thrown in the room he was in by those two agents he shot (this is the video of the agents on the roof) . But regardless you're not saying that force should have been initiated in such a manner &with such results over a $200 tax are you?

But move on to the Weaver case, or the thousands of people in jail not over violently (&imho justly) resisting an armed attack by government agents, but over simple paperwork violations (i.e. clerical errors, such as putting a previous address on a form out of habit). Matter of fact a felow named Wrenn is going through a bit of a hassle with the ATFU over such matters. Matter of fact Wrenn would highlight the chilling effect that registration can have on gun ownership. granted it's a subset of overall gun ownership (machien guns specifically) &the administrating agency (the ATFU) would have to study hard to even make it up to being incompotent, but the overall point is there; registration can led to undesirable legal complications for the registereee &therefore discourage folk from risking such hassle.

&a very good case can be made that the ATFU tries to make it harder to comply with the registration (or more precielt the regulations concerning it) in order to discourage gun ownership. Again this particular registration only applies to autmatic weapons, short barreled shotgun, large bore weapons (over .50, including field artillery) rifles, nonconventional firearms (cane guns, pen guns, etc...) &sound suppresors but if it were aplied to gun ownership generally I think a lot of folks would opt to not be gun owners rather than risk the potential legal hassles from making an honest mistake, or a the Wrenn case seems to point to, doing everything right but having the admistrating agency change the rules just to prosecute you.
11.10.2005 9:44am
Public_Defender:
Public_Defender, you're correct that any other word(s) can be substituted, but they won't make sense. You're confusing facilitate with the steps that happen along the way.

Other issues don't have the inherent capability to hinder the implementation of unconstitutional and/or tyrannical actions. Detention-without-trial, death penalty, search and seizure laws; all can be implimented before, after, or never. Only arms control is a prerequisite to easy demicide.
When a court has the power to force the release of someone the executive has detained without a trial, that certainly does "hinder the implementation of unconstitutional and/or tyrannical actions." The same can be said of any other trial protection. I guess you could say that the imposition of the death penalty permanently "hinders" the ability of the deceased to fight tyranny.

And yes, the FBI made mistakes in both the Waco and Weaver cases. But in both cases, no one would have been hurt if the subjects had peacefully surrendered.
11.10.2005 10:03am
Nobody Important:

big dirigible
Any American worthy of the name should know that fundamental civil rights apply to everyone.
11.10.2005 1:08am


I guess that exludes the ACLU from "any American worthy of the name."

If you look at their web site (right-hand column), they have "rights" categorized for the following groups:

HIV/AIDS
Immigrants' Rights
Int'l Human Rights
Lesbian &Gay Rights
Prisoners' Rights
Racial Justice
Rights of the Poor
Voting Rights
Women's Rights

Not "Rights for All Americans," but different rights for different groups.

But then, as Nadine Strossen said back in 1994, "I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty."
11.10.2005 10:17am
Jam (mail):
Greedy Clerk:

Have you ever heard of Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership?

http://www.jpfo.org


The issue with the "moderate" Weimar gun registration laws is that it made the job a lot easier for the Nazis. The the rise of the Nazis in Germany is an example of what could happen here if we are not vigilant.

As Will Rogers said of uS Congressmen: "America's only native criminal class." What if they decide to get organized?

Why make it easier on the tyrants?

Afraid of firearms? Do not own one and, if you ever find yourself needing one, I hope dialing 911 does not give you a busy signal.


"Come and Take It" - The men at Gonzales, Texas to the Mexican Army.
http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/dewittflgs2.htm


========================================================


Other quotes from FirearmNews.com
http://www.firearmnews.com/quote/

"When Xerxes offered to spare the lives of Leonidas, his 300 personal bodyguards and a handful of Thebans and others who volunteered to defend their country, if they would lay down their arms, Leonidas shouted these two words back: Molon Labe! They mean, 'Come and get them!'"

"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." - Dalai Lama, Tibet

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crime." - Cesare Beccaria, quoted by Thomas Jefferson

"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed- unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." - James Madison

"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." - Thomas Jefferson
11.10.2005 10:52am
Jam (mail):
If I am not mistaken, armed war veterans provided protection to Mr. King.
11.10.2005 10:56am
juris imprudent (mail):
Andy wonders

The question is whether gun control would reduce violence. Are there any instances of violence going down dramatically after its imposition?

I'm afraid you will be waiting a very long time to get an affirmative answer from anyone favoring gun control. In short, the answer is no.


PD opines

And yes, the FBI made mistakes in both the Waco and Weaver cases. But in both cases, no one would have been hurt if the subjects had peacefully surrendered.

The ATF was not interested in a peaceful surrender in Waco - they wanted to prove that all the money that had gone into their Ninja suits/equip and training was not wasted. They were STAGING a violent take-down for the media. It was the U.S. Marshalls that [first] screwed up at Ruby Ridge. The FBI handled both of the follow-ups exceedingly poorly. Was malice their intent - very probably not. But what is most disturbing is that afterwards, people got promoted not punished for the bad actions/outcomes.


Lastly, the point of the original post is that the Weimar gun laws (instituted with the best of intents) were utilized by bad people for evil purposes. Only of late have liberals come to learn that an all-powerful federal govt has it's disadvantages - particularly when it is in the hands of your political opponents.
11.10.2005 11:10am
Public_Defender:
Only of late have liberals come to learn that an all-powerful federal govt has it's disadvantages - particularly when it is in the hands of your political opponents.
Really? Conservatives, not liberals, attacked the Warren court for protecting the rights of the accused against an "all-powerful" government.

Conservatives, not liberals, have been working hard to make it easier for the government to put you in prison or kill you.

Conservatives (with a few exceptions), not liberals (with a few exceptions), have been pushing for laws and court rulings giving the police more authority to search you, your car, your papers, your electronic records, and your home.
11.10.2005 11:27am
Jam (mail):
Conservatives used to harp all the time about constraining the government only to Constitutionally delegated functions. Today they are now called pale-conservatives (purged from National Review). The type of conservatives you are talking about are the neo-conservatives.

If you want government to intervene domestically, you're a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you're a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you're a moderate. If you don't want government to intervene anywhere, you're an extremist.
--Joseph Sobran (1995)
11.10.2005 11:46am
Jam (mail):
Oops. It is paleo-conservatives not pale-conservatives.
11.10.2005 11:47am
murky (mail) (www):
Today is not only the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938, but of the Kaiser's abdication in 1918, the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Well, nobody said Germans aren't methodical. Note that by being regular with your history you maximize the number of workdays in the year rather than accumulating anniversaries all over the place.
11.10.2005 12:10pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
P_D, you've done a good job of demonstrating just how successful the Feds were at getting the general public to believe their talking points about Waco, despite those points having been demolished in court.
11.10.2005 12:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Conservatives, not liberals, have been working hard to make it easier for the government to put you in prison or kill you.
That's why liberals just passed a complete ban on handgun ownership in San Francisco?

That's why liberals passed California's assault weapon ban, which made sale of one of the banned rifles a more serious crime than forcible rape? (Four years in prison for sale of an assault weapon; three years for forcible rape).

Liberals do definitely believe in sending people to prison for crimes without victims. Don't pretend otherwise.
11.10.2005 1:13pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The Waco thing is tin-foil hat material. The government made mistakes in the way it handled the matter, but if you violently resist law enforcement, you should expect an overwhelming and violent response. The fire was the fault of the thugs who fired machine guns at federal agents.
You might want to read the book No More Wacos by Kopel and Blackman. Or you might want to watch Gifford's documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement. What started as BATF trying to get some good news coverage (hence the operation for the initial raid was called "Showtime," and included press releases before it happened) the week before budget hearings turned into something quite a bit worse.

Evidence that would have established who fired first--six foot high steel doors from the building--were "lost." More than $50,000 worth of cash, platinum and gold from the Branch Davidian safe--for which the Texas Rangers got a receipt from the FBI--was "lost." The claims that the FBI never used incendiary rounds turned out to be false, because attorney David Hardy found them in the evidence collection. The supposedly independent arson investigator that the government hired after the fire? His business card used the BATF offices as his address. At one point in the Treasury Department investigation of the initial raid, Undersecretary Noble wrote a memo directing that no future interviews be put in writing for fear of creating "Brady material" (stuff that the defense could use to demonstrate improper behavior by BATF). The original search warrant went on at considerable length about allegations of sexual abuse of children--matters not within the federal government's jurisdiction, and that had already been investigated by the competent local authorities, and found to be without merit.

I don't claim that Koresh and his followers were completely innocent of stupidity, but there was an awful lot that happened there that should have horrified liberals. But because this idiocy took place when one of their boys was in charge, they closed ranks, rather than ask how this horrifying result happened.

While there was certainly a religious fanaticism involved, there were some hard-headed reasons why Koresh and his followers didn't want to leave. There had been a dispute about ownership of the property, and they needed to maintain continuous of the place for five years to settle this dispute. Guess when that five years ended? During the siege.
11.10.2005 1:29pm
Public_Defender:
Liberals do definitely believe in sending people to prison for crimes without victims. Don't pretend otherwise.

Maybe, but so do conservatives. Think about drug laws and laws regulating adult consensual sex. Heck, conservatives even wanted to criminalize contraception at one point.

Coming back to the point of the thread, Nazi analogies are generally unhelpful in discussing American politics. Pretty much everyone believes that government should restrict liberty in one way or another. There are plenty of liberal and conservative positions that can be compared to some sliver of the Nazi agenda--so many that the comparisons are usually meaningless.
11.10.2005 2:41pm
Jam (mail):
Me thinks the growing governmental machinery that gives the government unprecedented information and control of people, people's movements and transactions is something that begins to approach Nazism/Fascism/Coimmunism. And the worse part is that the public in general and the bueaucrats in particular are increasingly calling for expansion.

Could you imagine during the Raegan years anybody throwing around the necesity to consider "martial law" for this or that? Most people are not shocked at the thought of imposing martial law anymore.

What is going to be the next thing that will no shock us anymore? City wide illegal confiscation of legally owned firearms? RFIDs to track our movements? Internal passports?
11.10.2005 2:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Coming back to the point of the thread, Nazi analogies are generally unhelpful in discussing American politics. Pretty much everyone believes that government should restrict liberty in one way or another. There are plenty of liberal and conservative positions that can be compared to some sliver of the Nazi agenda--so many that the comparisons are usually meaningless.
So you are going to abandon the liberal position that "Bush = Hitler"?

Will you agree that in light of the long history of using restrictive gun control as a gateway to genocide (and not just with the Nazis) that to be concerned when government attempts to disarm law-abiding adults is reasonable?
11.10.2005 2:55pm
Public_Defender:
Bush does not equal Hitler. I have never held or advocated that position. People who make that argument demonstrate that they should not be taken seriously.

But both the left and the right sometimes argue for liberty restrictions that have been part of the "long history" of the path to tyranny. That's why Nazi analogies in modern American politics are so rarely helpful.

As to the specific gun issue, I think people who make Nazi analogies to American policy or political leaders generally lose the right to be taken seriously or to have the substance of their point debated.
11.10.2005 3:33pm
Jam (mail):
The issue is not whether Bush is a Hitler but whether policies and laws pursued/advocated will setup a governmental regime/structure that will enable a dictatorship. And it does not have to be a Hitler like dictatorship. It could be an Allende, a Batista or a Balaguer type.

A very large segment of the uS citizenship are highly militaristic already.
11.10.2005 3:57pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

As to the specific gun issue, I think people who make Nazi analogies to American policy or political leaders generally lose the right to be taken seriously or to have the substance of their point debated.
I notice that you avoided answering the question, so I will ask it again: Will you agree that in light of the long history of using restrictive gun control as a gateway to genocide (and not just with the Nazis) that to be concerned when government attempts to disarm law-abiding adults is reasonable?
11.10.2005 4:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The issue is not whether Bush is a Hitler but whether policies and laws pursued/advocated will setup a governmental regime/structure that will enable a dictatorship. And it does not have to be a Hitler like dictatorship. It could be an Allende, a Batista or a Balaguer type.
Seriously: you think there's a realistic chance of a dictatorship being set up in the U.S.--and you would consider it just fine to have the government disarm the vast majority of the population?


A very large segment of the uS citizenship are highly militaristic already.
Huh? Could you clarify what you mean by this?
11.10.2005 4:19pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Could you imagine during the Raegan years anybody throwing around the necesity to consider "martial law" for this or that? Most people are not shocked at the thought of imposing martial law anymore.
You aren't old enough to remember when the U.S. Army--not National Guardsmen--patrolled American cities. There are circumstances that may require extraordinary measures for a short period of time: riots; invasion; insurrection. The real hazard isn't when these are needed to deal with an extraordinary crisis, but when they become generally accepted as a regular measure. I've argued before that the ACLU, if its goal was actually to protect civil liberties, would be on the side of a decisive defeat of al-Qaeda terrorists, because there would no longer be any popular support for extraordinary measures. The longer that we have to stretch out this war, the more the population will get used to curtailment of their freedoms.

Of course, liberals are quite prepared to advance their own fascist agenda in this manner--hence the support that liberals have expressed for restrictive gun control by claiming that it will prevent domestic terrorism. (As if al-Qaeda operatives are going to have any problem obtaining automatic weapons and smuggling them into the U.S.)
11.10.2005 4:35pm
Jam (mail):
Yes, I do think that a dictatorship is a realistic possiblility here in these uS. I point this out because I do not think that it is fine to disarm the citizenship. To disarm the citizenship is prima facie evidence of a goverment on the road to tyranny.
11.10.2005 4:38pm
Jam (mail):
Re. A very large segment of the uS citizenship are highly militaristic already.

Look at our churches. The flag of these uS is in the sanctuary. Look where the churches place the government flag in relation to the symbol of Christ. Military service is being viewed more and more like a spiritual endeavor.
11.10.2005 4:44pm
Jam (mail):
Cramer: All the talk about martial law recently had to do with disasters and pandemics. This is added to a highly militarized police, the use of the military in some law enforcement activities.
11.10.2005 4:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


Re. A very large segment of the uS citizenship are highly militaristic already.


Look at our churches. The flag of these uS is in the sanctuary. Look where the churches place the government flag in relation to the symbol of Christ. Military service is being viewed more and more like a spiritual endeavor.
There's a reason for that. It's a sacrifice--a willingness to put one's own life at risk for the benefit of others. In some circles, of course, that's a horrifying concept--that protecting others from terrorists is something good.

Your definition of "militarism" sounds a little peculiar to me.
11.10.2005 4:55pm
Jam (mail):
I guess I have known a few of the people that served, did the sacrifice bit, but as human beings they were, how should I put, less than gentlemen.
11.10.2005 4:59pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

All the talk about martial law recently had to do with disasters and pandemics.
What used to be natural disasters, after a generation of liberal control over all the major instruments of power, now turn into criminal disasters. The 1965 black-out of New York City, while terribly inconvenient, didn't turn into a massive crime wave--unlike what happened in the late 1970s. Before liberals ran everything, the vast majority, in a diaster, pulled together in crisis.

Liberals, by promoting the idea that materialism is the only real value (as expressed by the notion that "Religion is the opiate of the masses"), and that everyone should be looking out for Number One, have created a society where large numbers of people require little encouragement to advantage of bad situations.

Concering a pandemic: I don't see any realistic alternative to having the military enforce a quarantine.
11.10.2005 5:00pm
Jam (mail):
BTW, talk with your veteran friends and ask them about rampant drunkeness and sexual immorality in the armed forces.

Some of the best leaders in the world were soldiers. Also, some of the worst leaders in the world were soldiers.
11.10.2005 5:01pm
Jam (mail):
Do you think that the only way to "sacrifice--a willingness to put one's own life at risk for the benefit of others" is through the military? That is the militarization tht I am talking about, if you think that.

And please do not confuse me with a liberal. I am not.
11.10.2005 5:05pm
Public_Defender:
Liberals, by promoting the idea that materialism is the only real value (as expressed by the notion that "Religion is the opiate of the masses"), and that everyone should be looking out for Number One, have created a society where large numbers of people require little encouragement to advantage of bad situations.

Yeah, because historically, no one has ever hurt anyone based on a religious motive.
11.10.2005 5:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

BTW, talk with your veteran friends and ask them about rampant drunkeness and sexual immorality in the armed forces.

Some of the best leaders in the world were soldiers. Also, some of the worst leaders in the world were soldiers.
I don't know anyone that would dispute this. It doesn't wipe out that going into the U.S. military isn't something that you do for fun and games.
11.10.2005 5:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Do you think that the only way to "sacrifice--a willingness to put one's own life at risk for the benefit of others" is through the military? That is the militarization tht I am talking about, if you think that.
Why would you get the impression that I think that this is the only form of Christian sacrifice? That's a very strange way of thinking--like believing that there is only way to do anything.
11.10.2005 5:16pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Yeah, because historically, no one has ever hurt anyone based on a religious motive.
If you want to start counting up injuries suffered, your ideology has caused vastly more deaths in the 20th century in the Gulag, in Cambodia, in the Holocaust.
11.10.2005 5:19pm
Michael B (mail):
Weren't the Nazis the first to outlaw Nazi era analogies?
11.10.2005 5:50pm
Matt22191 (mail):
Public Defender,

My apologies for the long delay in my reply. Yesterday was a busy day.

If I understand you correctly, you're arguing that because lots of presumably well-intentioned restrictions on liberty have facilitated tyranny, it's pointless to observe that any of them has done so. Put more simply, you seem to think that we shouldn't bother trying to learn the lessons of history (because they're too numerous? or complicated?). If that's your argument, it's an odd one -- especially coming from one who seemingly values many of the constitutional protections that owe their existence to the founding generation's study of the lessons of history.

Let me also try to clarify the point that subpatre tried to make when he wrote:


Other issues don't have the inherent capability to hinder the implementation of unconstitutional and/or tyrannical actions. Detention-without-trial, death penalty, search and seizure laws; all can be implimented before, after, or never. Only arms control is a prerequisite to easy demicide.


You dismissed this suggestion that private arms have a special role in preventing or defeating tyranny, countering that many "trial protections" are useful in that regard. Yes they are, but only to a point.

"Rights" are little more than abstractions unless and until there is someone willing and able to enforce them through physical coercion. ("Mr. Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.") To the extent that a despotic American Executive Branch refused to enforce our rights against itself, those rights would be meaningless unless there was some extralegal protection for them. (You do of course realize that that's what's going on when a court "forces" the release of a prisoner, don't you? The Executive Branch complies with the court's order out of respect for the rule of law. If someone in the Executive Branch tries to interfere unlawfully, he's dealt with -- if necessary, by men with guns who will arrest or kill him if they must. But if the Executive Branch were to simply say "no" to the court's order, and the men with guns agreed, the prisoner would remain imprisoned. The court's little piece of paper would mean nothing unless people with guns dealt with the Executive Branch.)

Popular resistance is the only such extralegal protection that I know of. And although it's difficult in the best of circumstances, it's much harder without arms. In that sense I think the right to arms really is more fundamental, more inherently capable of interfering with tyranny, than the others you mentioned. Without it, the rights you do care about would be secured by little more than the magnanimity of the state. Considering that you seem to mistrust the state -- wisely so -- I'm a surprised that you seem comfortable with that prospect. But of course you're not at all unique in this regard. I've never understood why liberals, who're generally so suspicious of state power, would by and large be so enthusiastic about giving up their best chance at resisting it if things go terribly wrong.
11.11.2005 6:17am
Porkchop (mail):

BTW, talk with your veteran friends and ask them about rampant drunkeness and sexual immorality in the armed forces.


Jam,

Your comment is, I think, extremely tangential, but as a veteran, I have to ask, "What is your point?" It seems that you have led some kind of sheltered life. Soldiers, sailors, and Marines drink and chase women (or men, as the case may be in today's military). So what? That's been going on since time immemorial. Most of them, historically, have been young and single (not as much today as 30 years ago). The older, married ones usually don't (or didn't in my day) engage in either activity, at least not in the frequency or to the degree that the single ones do. In any event, I fail to see the relevance of either the allegation or your apparent disapproval to any point under discussion.
11.11.2005 8:47am
Jam (mail):
Matt22191:

Not only if "the men with guns agreed" but a large enough segment of the population to give sanction.

I think that we are almost at the point where a large segment of the population would set aside the Constitution in order to save it and that the soldiers in the military will follow orders.
11.11.2005 8:57am
Jam (mail):
Porkchop:

My point is that there is a growing tendency in [my] Christian circles to elevate soldiers, any soldier, to a status that may or may not be deserved. The fact that someone is a soldier is being made equivalent to rightous living and moral uprightness.

My issue is with the growing acceptance of the militarization of our society and the danger that it carries when combined with the growing power and centralization of power of the national government.

PS: My father was an Army Artillery Officer during the Korean War. He spent his time mostly as a training officer and, by the way he reacted, I think that he knew many trainees that did not come back from Korea. The war thankfully ended when he was about to be shipped off to Korea.
11.11.2005 9:15am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Look at our churches. The flag of these uS is in the sanctuary. Look where the churches place the government flag in relation to the symbol of Christ. Military service is being viewed more and more like a spiritual endeavor.

Flags in mainstream US churches is not evidence of any change because they've been there for decades, if not since the founding of the country. (Southern churches may have switched flags during the recent unpleasantness.)

The percentage of Americans who have served is currently at a low point and going down.
11.11.2005 9:59am
Public_Defender:
Matt22191,

There's a reason Skakespeare wrote, "First, let's kill all the lawyers." It's because the law is the first line of defense agaisnt tyranny. We can argue about guns and Nazis, but my points stands--if you are going to make Nazi analogies to current American policies, the Bush Administration is a target rich environment.
11.11.2005 10:08am
Porkchop (mail):

My point is that there is a growing tendency in [my] Christian circles to elevate soldiers, any soldier, to a status that may or may not be deserved. The fact that someone is a soldier is being made equivalent to rightous living and moral uprightness.

My issue is with the growing acceptance of the militarization of our society and the danger that it carries when combined with the growing power and centralization of power of the national government.


Jam,

Well, I will accept that as military service is less and less common, it is placed on a pedestal that certainly wasn't there when I was in the service 30 years ago. In fact, sometimes, when someone who wouldn't have given me the time of day back then "Thanks me for my service," I wonder why they are sucking up to me now. The perception of the noble soldier is one that comes and goes. That's one point of Kipling's poem, "Tommy Atkins." The soldiers themselves, however, remain more or less the same. The absence of a draft makes some difference in recruit/inductee characteristics, but I suspect less than some would like to think.

As to your second point, the United States is, if anything, a far less militarized society today than it has been since the 1930's. All of the services are the smallest they have been in decades. If you mean to say that society seems to be more ready to accept authoritarian measures, then I agree with your concerns. If your further concern is that those authoritarian measures might in some circumstance be backed by military force, that is also a valid concern.

The above validates the concerns in the initial blog entry. When people doubt that a few citizens with light weapons could do much against an organized, well-trained army, they assume that there would be some kind of pitched battle scenario. That, however, in not necessarily the way things might unfold. After all if a few thousand "insurgents" can tie up a considerable portion of the US military in Iraq, imagine what could happen in a country with a population of 300 million, roughly half of whom have access to arms. Unlikely as that scenario may be, it is, I think, one of the things that the framers had in mind in proposing the second amendment.
11.11.2005 12:18pm
Matt22191 (mail):
PD,

You might want to check out the exchange in Henry VI of which that quote is a part (Act IV, Scene 2). In context it's clearly a lawyer-bashing joke, not a comment on lawyers as noble champions of liberty.

Jam,

Not only if "the men with guns agreed" but a large enough segment of the population to give sanction.

Well, yes. But I'm not certain how big that segment if the population would need to be. (Not so terribly big, I suspect, and likely smaller if the rest of the population were disarmed.)
11.11.2005 12:28pm
Jam (mail):
Porkchop, you've got it.
11.11.2005 12:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Public-Defender,

There's certainly a reason Shakespeare wrote what he wrote in Henry VI, but in the end Shakespeare was no tyrant.

However, and it's a rich irony, when Hitler took over he didn't murder any lawyers for being lawyers per se - not even during the night of the long knives, the Roehm putsch. Instead the lawyers allowed themselves to be coopted, variously, much like the rest of the population. The rare exceptions (and they were rare indeed) were lawyers like Peter Bielenberg who partook in the German resistance, though very few lawyers were central to that small resistance inside Germany. (Bielenberg wasn't killed by the regime, but he is an example of a lawyer who did not allow himself to be coopted by that regime and did in fact play a tangential role in the resistance.)
11.11.2005 12:30pm
Jam (mail):
Matt22191, exactly.
11.11.2005 12:35pm
Michael B (mail):
An interesting sidebar, Katrin Himmler, great niece of Heinrich Himmler, is married to an Israeli Jew. Link.
11.11.2005 12:37pm
juris imprudent (mail):
PD,

Coming back to the point of the thread, Nazi analogies are generally unhelpful in discussing American politics. Pretty much everyone believes that government should restrict liberty in one way or another.

This isn't about analogies. The Weimar Republic, perhaps the most progressive regime on the planet at the time, passed gun control laws with the best of intents. These laws were targeted at arguably dangerous factions, such as the Nazis. [Kind of like the assault-weapons ban]. The problem is in the arrogation of power to the [federal] govt such that a very possibly beneficial law becomes a tool of oppression. Could you think of a better way to describe the Patriot Act?

Which brings me to my point about liberals and their regard for FEDERAL power. Since the Republican ascendancy you NOW hear some liberals championing federalism (whereas that had been a conservative position - at least when the conservatives were out of power). And conversely, many Republicans are now supporting federal control over local. Perhaps it is some sort of "when in Rome" thing.
11.11.2005 12:46pm
Jam (mail):
Public Defender, I goggled for "Roehm putsch" and found this:

HERMANN WILHELM GOERING is answering questions to the Iinternational Military Tribunal.

questioning of Goering

This seems to be a site that holds the transcripts of the IMT trial:
index
tgmwc

Thanks for teaching me something new.
11.11.2005 1:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
"Rights" are little more than abstractions unless and until there is someone willing and able to enforce them through physical coercion. ("Mr. Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.")
Hobbes said it better: "Covenants without swords are mere words."
11.11.2005 1:30pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
We can argue about guns and Nazis, but my points stands--if you are going to make Nazi analogies to current American policies, the Bush Administration is a target rich environment.
Things that the Nazis did:

1. Took control of all publishing houses, newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. And when did Bush do that?

2. Arrested political opponents. And when did Bush do that?

3. Passed laws to remove all members of a particular ethnic minority from their jobs in the universities (and of course, most academics went along, sometimes with enthusiasm). When did Bush do that?

4. Demanded an expansion of Germany into a greater German nation including all other ethnic Germans. I must have missed Bush's speech calling for anschluss with Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

5. Arrested large numbers of Reichstag members to assist in getting extraordinary powers granted. Hmmmm. Which members of Congress did Bush arrest?

6. Replaced city and state police officials with Nazi Party loyalists. When did Bush do that?

Now, if you want to argue that the Patriot Act is somehow analogous to the various emergency acts passed by the Reichstag, this could be an entertaining discussion. But oddly enough, even the vast majority of Democrats passed it--and there's not a single part of the Patriot Act that comes even close to Hitler's powers.

If you want to argue that the invasion of Afghanistan is equivalent to the invasion of Poland, or the invasion of Czechoslovakia after annexation of the Sudetenland, go ahead: I will be amused to watch you explain why Taliban Afghanistan is comparable to the military dictatorship of Poland. Most importantly, Afghanistan was giving aid and shelter to al-Qaeda, who attacked the U.S. (Or perhaps you think it was all some elaborate conspiracy by BusHitler and the Jews, as many liberals think.)
11.11.2005 1:41pm
Matt22191 (mail):
"Hobbes said it better."

No surprise. I was sure someone had. Thanks for the pointer.
11.11.2005 1:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Oh yeah, one more thing the Nazis did, that Bush did the opposite. The Nazis used existing gun control laws to disarm their political enemies and potential victims. Under the Bush Administration, existing gun control laws have been allowed to expire.
11.11.2005 2:46pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> We can argue about guns and Nazis, but my points stands--if you are going to make Nazi analogies to current American policies, the Bush Administration is a target rich environment.

Really? Feel free to provide examples, say 10.

What the white house dog books analogous to?
11.13.2005 8:29pm
Public_Defender:
Examples of Bush Administration policies that can be (unfairly) compared to Nazi policies:
-Detention without trial on order of the president;
-Torture of detainees;
-Lying about the torture of detainees ("We don't torture");
-Support for legal torture (by any reasonable definition);
-Killing of detainees;
-Killing of menatlly ill people (through the death penalty);
-Strong support for the death penalty;
-Support for draconian prison terms for low level offenses;
-Support for putting most criminal judicial decisions in the hands of prosecutors, not judges;
-Limits on the writ of habeas corpus;
-Increased powers of government surveillance;
-Increased use of the powers of government surveillance;
-An almost pathological inability to admit his own mistakes.
Again, I think these are unfair analogies. But they are as strong as the gun control analogy.

A Nazi anology is a rhetorical nuke. It generally kills thoughtful conversation and invites the "targets" to launch their nukes.
11.14.2005 4:54am