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Presidential candidates on the Second Amendment:

If you take Second Amendment issues into account when deciding whom to support, or if you simply are interested how the candidates will likely fare with an important bloc of voters, here's a preliminary assessment of some of the people who have been listed as likely or definite candidates. As much as possible, the ratings are based on actions while in government, rather than on current rhetoric. Of course the list can also be read in reverse order, to assess the probable allegience of voters who are very strong gun control advocates. These rankings are subject to revision, as additional information is acquired.

Top tier. Nearly perfect pro-Second Amendment records: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas). Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-Vir.). Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.).

Very good. Not a perfect record, but still a very positive one overall. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.). Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-Wisc.). Former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

Mixed: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)(mostly positive record, except for lead sponsorship of two terrible bills: McCain-Lieberman, a badly-written bill which would have given the BATFE the authority to administratively eliminate any or all gun shows, and McCain-Feingold, the campaign speech restriction law which significantly affects right-to-arms groups).

Poor: Former Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.). Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). As noted by, inter alia, the Boston Globe, Romney's flip-flops on guns are part of a larger record of inconsistency.

Almost perfect anti-Second Amendment record: Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Former Vice-President Al Gore (in Congress, a nearly perfect pro-gun record until 1989, when he switched sides). Al Sharpton (D-N.Y.).

Record of anti-Second Amendment leadership: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)(very effective in pushing gun control during his tenure as Judiciary Committee chairman). Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa). Former Mayor Rudy Guliani (R-N.Y.)(even worse than his predecessor, Democrat David Dinkins; indeed, based on his record, arguably worse than Sen. Clinton).

I don't know: Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska). He has been out of Congress for 25 years, and I don't know his voting record from his 1969-81 Senate terms. Given that he represented Alaska, and that he was (and is) a fervent populist, I would be surprised if he had a record of support for gun control.

In the comments, please focus on information to make these rankings more precise, rather than arguing the pro/con merits of the Second Amendment or gun control.

One final note: It's nearly impossible to rate the candidates overall on "civil liberties," since the ranking would depend on the relative importance that one gives to, say, property rights vs. privacy rights vs. abortion rights vs. speech rights. But Rep. Ron Paul, as a libertarian, would have to rank pretty high. Conversely, one would have to be concerned about Mayor Giuliani's record as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which includes a number of highly-publicized, reputation-destroying white collar criminal prosecutions which were later overturned in appeal, in part because of prosecutorial over-reaching. One would also have to be concerned that Gov. Romney has enlisted the fund-raising talents of Mel Sembler, the entrepreneur who created a highly profitable chain of teenage drug "treatment" programs which have been been successfully sued for false imprisonment, assault, and other forms of child abuse.

plunge (mail):
This particular debate is so twisted and dishonest that it's just plain frustrating. Pretty reasonable regulations on gun ownership (generally those meant to reducing mass trafficing that affect actual regular gun owners not a whit) are counted as extremist anti-gun positions, and vice-versa.

How would I make the rankings more precise? I dunno: better question: how would I make the issue less warped by hysteria and misrepresentation for transitory political gain?
1.23.2007 4:57am
anonVCfan:
anti-Second Amendment is a bit of a loaded term, no?
1.23.2007 7:24am
SimonD (www):
anonVCfan - hoho!

one would have to be concerned about Mayor Guliani's record as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which includes a number of highly-publicized, reputation-destroying white collar criminal prosecutions which were later overturned in appeal, in part because of prosecutorial over-reaching.
If the worst thing that can be said about a candidate is that their record suggests that they would zealously take care that the laws be faithfully executed, that doesn't seem to be a damning indictment. Even if the laws being enforced are bad laws, recall President Grant's observation - "I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."
1.23.2007 8:01am
Robert R.:
Despite widespread usage, the word "choice" is not an exclusive synonym for "abortion." There are many choices that the so-called "pro-choice" crowd would like to ban.

How many times have you heard a self-proclaimed "pro-choice" politician say something like, "While I am personally against private gun ownership, I would not interfere in someone's right to choose whether or not to own a gun?" The answer is never.

Of course, no one wants to actually ban guns. But then again, after the Civil War, no state actually made it illegal for blacks to vote. But for some strange reason, the rules and regulations imposed -- e.g. poll taxes, literacy tests, and other forms of voter intimidation -- had the same result. Between its ratification in 1870 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 15th Amendment was as widely ignored as the 2nd Amendment is today.

Likewise, guns will not be outlawed. Instead, there will be so many draconian rules and regulations -- some vague, some contradictory -- that make gun ownership so costly and so burdensome that only the well-connected with high-priced lawyers will bother, or can even afford, to own a gun. This has already happened in some areas of the U.S.A.

Or, as my friend PeenieWallie once said, "The law is basically so convoluted that you'd need an attorney and a hundred grand to determine what you actually have the right to do. So, to be on the safe side, you cower in fear and hope you're not prosecuted" (e-mail, Feb. 23, 2006).

The only way we'd ever get to "pretty reasonable regulations on gun ownership" is to scrap the existing body of gun control laws and start over. Adding more rules at this point -- even if the rules being added are "reasonable" -- still results in more rules that make it more difficult to exercise one's rights.

An example of the good faith of the anti-gun crowd is their belief that (1) a 5-day waiting period (or instant background check) to purchase a gun will reduce crime, and (2) a 30 - 90 day waiting period, a more detailed background check, submitting photos and fingerprints, a training requirement and several hundred dollars in additional costs, will cause crime.

Scenario 1 is, of course, the Brady Bill. Scenario 2 is generally what's required to get a concealed weapons permit. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out what principle guides the anti-gun groups on these two issues.
1.23.2007 8:13am
PersonFromPorlock:
Plunge:

Pretty reasonable regulations on gun ownership....

...have historically been only the first slice of the salami. There isn't a place in the country with draconian gun laws that didn't start out with some "pretty reasonable" act that was celebrated by its sponsors -- once it was passed -- as "a good first step."
1.23.2007 8:17am
Henry Bowman:
I don't know what Richardson's voting record was when he was a Congressman, but he made a big deal of getting his own concealed carry permit last year, even though I very much doubt he actually uses it. He also made certain to travel to the NRA's Whittington Center near Raton, NM, to sign New Mexico's [amended] concealed-carry law last year. In other words, he supports 2nd Amendment rights thus far. Of course, Al Gore did, as well, for a while, until he did a 180.


[DK: Richardson was very good in Congress, except, when fulfilling his duties as a regional whip, he lobbied for the Clinton "assault weapon" ban. In his heart, he knew better -- since in 1989 he had inserted in the Congressional Record a short monograph I wrote which criticized AW bans.]
1.23.2007 8:17am
paulhager (mail) (www):
Ron Paul is running for President?!

What's the skinny on Fred Thompson with respect to the 2nd? He says he's not running but he's also acting somewhat like a candidate.
1.23.2007 8:28am
TJIC (www):
Robert R:

Excellent comment!
1.23.2007 8:45am
Whadonna More:

Ron R: only the well-connected with high-priced lawyers will bother, or can even afford, to own a gun. This has already happened in some areas of the U.S.A.

If you don't want to be the poster boy for plunge's allegation that your position is merely hysterics please provide a citation to the areas of the U.S. where no one without aid of a high-priced lawyer owns a gun.
1.23.2007 8:56am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> This particular debate is so twisted and dishonest that it's just plain frustrating. Pretty reasonable regulations on gun ownership

I agree. I'd love to see some experimentation in gun laws. However, to do experimentation, one has to try something and if it fails, abandon it and try something else.

It's pretty clear that we have some failed gun laws. Where is the support to identify and repeal them so we can try something else?
1.23.2007 8:57am
Henry Bowman:
Yes, paulhager, Ron Paul is running for President, but the MSM is doing its best to insure that as few people know this as possible.
1.23.2007 8:59am
Ken Kukec (mail):
Nice to see how well some folks are complying with the request that comments "focus on information to make these rankings more precise, rather than arguing the pro/con merits of the Second Amendment or gun control."
1.23.2007 9:27am
Cosmo (mail):

If you don't want to be the poster boy for plunge's allegation that your position is merely hysterics please provide a citation to the areas of the U.S. where no one without aid of a high-priced lawyer owns a gun.


New York City. Though handguns are not outright prohibited, the procedure for getting a permit to even own one is outrageously burdensome. And even then, you have to be pretty well-connected to get your petition approved.
1.23.2007 9:34am
Josh Poulson (mail) (www):
McCain actively campaigned for gun show restrictions in Oregon, supporting though commercials on television the extremist ballot measure brought forward by Portland Democrats who had failed to get their restrictions through the legislature.
1.23.2007 9:54am
countertop (mail):
How does Al Sharpton have a voting record on guns??

Label him an anti second amendment leader, sure. But last time I checked, he wasn't elected to any office that had a voting record.

Concerning Thompson, just had a conversation about him over breakfast with a former staffer. Didn't sound like he was running, rather it sounded like he was getting ready to fully support someone else (who is listed here but I'm not saying)
1.23.2007 9:56am
Mark Buehner (mail):

please provide a citation to the areas of the U.S. where no one without aid of a high-priced lawyer owns a gun.


Its illegal to buy, sell, transfer, or own a handgun in the city of Chicago.
1.23.2007 10:09am
Elliot Reed:
How can this mean anything without knowing something about your substantive view of what restrictions on gun ownership the Second Amendment permits and forbids? I know you're an individual-right-view supporter, but that on its own only gets you so far.
1.23.2007 10:14am
Houston Lawyer:
My understanding that if you apply for a class 3 firearms permit the chief law enforcement officer in your county of residence is required to approve of the purchase. In many counties, including Harris County, the chief law enforcement officer will not sign off on any purchase. It may be possible to sue him to enforce such a sign off, but who has the time and money for that.

I have been meaning to get licensed to carry a concealed weapon for about 5 years now, but the licensing requirements are a pain in the ass and I haven't devoted the time or money necessary for it. Why don't we work on reasonable restrictions on speech?
1.23.2007 10:25am
MartyB:
I hate it that Guliani scored so poorly, and couldn't support him as the situation stands. But FWIW, I think he is honest and if he would make an unambiguous promise to support gun rights in the future, with a plausible rationale, I would tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think. At least enough to vote for him against Clinton, Obama, et al.


[DK: His current theory, for the Republican primaries, is that gun control should be a state issue. That would be fine with me, except that there's already an immense body of federal gun laws, a federal gun regulatory agency, and federal prosecutors who do gun cases. Based on the record of how he enforced the NYC laws, it's hard to believe that we wouldn't see a return to the worse enforcement excesses of the Nixon or Clinton years. As for his credibility, remember that he flipped 180 degrees on abortion after he lost his first mayoral run. He changed from being pro-life to opposing even restrictions on partial-birth abortion.]

The probability of his doing that seems very very low.
1.23.2007 10:42am
PubliusFL:
MartyB: "I hate it that Guliani scored so poorly, and couldn't support him as the situation stands. But FWIW, I think he is honest and if he would make an unambiguous promise to support gun rights in the future, with a plausible rationale, I would tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.

What rationale *could* be plausible, with his record?
1.23.2007 11:02am
Steve:
While I understand the principle, I think it's absurd to extrapolate someone's record as a big-city mayor into a prediction of what they would do in a national office. The people of New York are never going to elect a mayor who doesn't believe in gun control, but that doesn't mean Rudy Giuliani would try to turn the whole country into New York City.

And whoever said that no one owns a gun in New York unless they're well-connected with a high-priced lawyer - surely you're joking. We could go down to the jailhouse and conduct a survey of those imprisoned for gun crimes if you have any real doubts.
1.23.2007 11:04am
K Parker (mail):
Mark Buehner,

Except for aldermen, you forgot to add (and as we all just recently learned.)

That's right, folks, while banning handguns for everyone else, the folks who govern Chicago give themselves different rules to live under.
1.23.2007 11:24am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Its illegal to buy, sell, transfer, or own a handgun in the city of Chicago.

The initial claim was that "only the well-connected with high-priced lawyers will bother, or can even afford, to own a gun. This has already happened in some areas of the U.S.A." So far, the only examples given have been of municipalities where the ownership of handguns is severely restricted. As I am sure you know, handguns are but a subset of guns. Where in the U.S. is gun ownership (not just handgun ownership) so bothersome and expensive that only the well-connected and wealthy can own a gun?
1.23.2007 11:25am
countertop (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

Well, Washington, D.C. for one.

New York City (especially now under the Felon Bloomberg)

Chicago

Hawaii

New Jersey
1.23.2007 11:31am
SG (mail):
Uhhh... Rudy was the US Attorney for the SOUTHERN District of New York, not the Eastern District (a huge difference, as anyone who has worked in either of those rival offices can attest), and can you give specifics on which "reputation destroying" cases were reversed for prosecutorial overreaching? That is a common comment about Giuliani, but I have not found much "there" there.


[DK: Thanks for the correction of my foolish error on the SDNY. The Princeton/Newport case was one of Giuliani's worst prosections, starting with the grandstanding, publicity-mongering method of effecting the arrest, and the made-for-TV "perp walk."]
1.23.2007 11:34am
Rattan (mail):
The error in some of the rankings is that the original intent behind the Second Amendment is being ignored. The right to carry arms should be read to cover arms contemplated when the amendment was ratified. The amazingly accurate rapid fire and easily concealed guns and people bearing them now being restricted are plainly outside of the types of weapons intended to be allowed to citizens under the Second Amendment (it says arms not 'fire arms' or machine guns, bazookas, grenades, assault rifles (the name says it all) etc.).

More precisely, we should focus on restrictions on sword and knife ownership, carrying of which by followers of the Sikh religion, for instance has not been encouraged on airplanes, despite their religious tradition to do so. Box knives and the like are closer to the type of arms covered by the Second Amendment, but they too are on the banned list for entry into just about any Federal office and, of course, airlines merely because of the misuse by the September 11 hijackers. I myself lost a nice Swiss Army knife that I forgot to remove from my bag when I needed to visit a Federal office as they would not even keep it. I understand now that such knives, scissors, tweezers etc. are being sold by the Federal Government on eBay, presumably for profit.

The lions of Second amendment noted in this entry have not shown any indignation over the restrictions placed on implements having sharp blades in Federal offices and facilities, the very places where compliance with the Second Amendment should be at the model best. I give all of the top ranked candidates a well deserved F for undermining the Second Amendment and for hypocrisy. to the rest an F+ would suffice for they at least have some kind of a reason to restrict who bears arms (such as the Amendment covers citizens in state militias and the like).
1.23.2007 11:43am
K Parker (mail):
Uhh, Steve, whoever said that about NYC was most certainly talking about legal ownership. I flatly disbelieve that any more than a tiny minority of those in prison for "gun crimes" held legal permits for those weapons.
1.23.2007 11:57am
Steve:
I didn't know "legal ownership" was a concept consistent with the Second Amendment.
1.23.2007 12:10pm
JB:
As to Giuliani,

New Yorkers have a much different picture of him than the rest of the country. In his first term, he took over a crime-ridden city and through tough police tactics (aggressive pursuit, tough rhetoric, cracking down on quality-of-life crimes) he cleaned the city up. In his second term, he continued to use the same tactics on a city that was relatively peaceful--the result, 3 high-profile shootings of innocents by overaggressive police, all of which were handled poorly due to the employing of the same old tough rhetoric.

Giuliani is a law-and-order man with one tool in his toolbox. He's the man for the job when you need that tool, but he doesn't know when to try other solutions.

Of course, he had a huge PR boost after 9/11, but, for all the liberal worry about Bush's use of 9/11 to stay in power, it was Giuliani who attempted to use emergency powers to extend his mayoral term beyond that which he was elected to "deal with the consequences of 9/11." I don't think his PR boost from 9/11 is qualitatively different from Bush's.

This is not a man I'd feel confident entrusting the highly complex world position of the United States to, especially after such an imperial power-absorber as Bush. Giuliani wouldn't relinquish any powers Bush claimed, and would be a long-term Libertarian disaster for that reason. He should find some other crime-ridden city and turn that one around--that's a better use of his talents than trying to run the country.
1.23.2007 12:13pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
countertop:

Thank you for playing--try again. As I pointed out, those jurisdictions strictly regulate the ownership of handguns. But the ownership of long guns is still not heavily regulated. Where in the U.S. are there serious impediments to the ownership of long guns? After all, the second amendment is concerned with a "Well regulated militia". It seems to me that even the most staunch gun-rights advocates would admit that the state could as part of it's effort to maintain the well-regulated militia, could require registration of firearms (just so it could know what kind of firepower the "well regulated militia" possessed and it could depend on in the event of an emergency). Furthermore, as a militia weapon, handguns are of little value.
1.23.2007 12:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I myself lost a nice Swiss Army knife that I forgot to remove from my bag when I needed to visit a Federal office as they would not even keep it.

The reason you used to be able to take swiss army knives and box cutters onto planes (and five year olds can still buy them with impunity) is precisely because they are not considered weapons or "arms". Now because of the heightened security after 9/11, they confiscate all kinds of silly things (like the guy in front of me who had an allen wrench confiscated boarding a plane--apparently they were afraid he was going to disassemble the plane in flight).
1.23.2007 12:23pm
Anon Y. Mous:

Mixed: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)(mostly positive record, except for lead sponsorship of two terrible bills: [...], and McCain-Feingold, the campaign speech restriction law which significantly affects right-to-arms groups).



One final note: It's nearly impossible to rate the candidates overall on "civil liberties," since the ranking would depend on the relative importance that one gives to, say, property rights vs. privacy rights vs. abortion rights vs. speech rights.


I'm no fan of McCain-Feingold, but it's looks like you are holding McCain to a different standard than the others. As horrible as McCain-Feingold is, it's a separate issue.
1.23.2007 12:24pm
Houston Lawyer:
A well regulated militia would have assault rifles and machine guns. Machine guns are very difficult to buy, and you cannot legally own one manufactured after 1986. A well regulated militia would also have RPGs and hand grenades. I haven't seen any of those at the gun shop.
1.23.2007 12:25pm
Ellen:
Ownership of long guns is severely restricted in New Jersey. You have to obtain a firearms ID card to purchase one, and the process will take at least 3 months, and, depending upon the town where you live, may take a year or more. Each police chief sets his own requirements for the FID, and can demand a letter of reference from your employer, for example, if he chooses. Then, if you move to another township, you don't just change your address, but start your application all over again with that police chief's requirements. And air guns are subject to all the same regulations as firearms.
1.23.2007 12:30pm
wooga:
Sticking to the point re: making the rankings more precise, I think you have to take into account the candidate's views on federalism, especially as how Guiliani will likely adopt a federalist stance to excuse his leftward mayor actions. Specifically, if the Second only acts as a limit on the feds from taking your guns away, then it is not a blanket grant of "the right to bear arms," but rather an affirmation of state sovereignty on the issue.

So you have to look at multiple factors:
1. Do they believe the second amendment should be incorporated as against the states? (Guiliani can say 'no' here, and then take the NRA position on all other points - protecting himself in the primaries)
2. Do they believe the second amendment creates an individual right to bear arms?
3. Do they believe the second amendment allows a right to bear handguns?
4. Do they believe the second amendment allows a right to bear [insert 'assault rifle' descriptions, preferably based on actual function rather than looks]?
5. Do they believe the second amendment allows concealed carry? (again, given the generally accepted state regulation on this point, a Guiliani response would theoretically be that 'states have unfettered discretion to permit or ban concealed carry')
6. Do they believe gun ownership is a fundamental civil right?

Me, I'm hoping Guiliani tries the federalist tact, as it would invariably draw media attention to Rep. Paul and his freaky consistency on federalism.
1.23.2007 12:33pm
Hattio (mail):
As to Mike Gravel, I would have been 10 when he got out of office 25 years ago, so I don't really remember any of his positions. But I can pretty much guarantee that he didn't support gun control. Alaska was much more liberal then, it's true, but I don't think anyone would have supported someone looking to impose gun control. Also, 25 years ago gun control was not really the national issue it is today.
1.23.2007 12:50pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> As I am sure you know, handguns are but a subset of guns.

In another volokh.com thread, gun control advocates argued that it was inappropriate to use a long gun for self-defense.

The combination of "no handguns" and "long guns are inappropriate for self-defense" is "interesting".
1.23.2007 1:03pm
PubliusFL:
Steve: "The people of New York are never going to elect a mayor who doesn't believe in gun control, but that doesn't mean Rudy Giuliani would try to turn the whole country into New York City."

Except he DID try to turn the whole country into New York City.

wooga: "Sticking to the point re: making the rankings more precise, I think you have to take into account the candidate's views on federalism, especially as how Guiliani will likely adopt a federalist stance to excuse his leftward mayor actions. Specifically, if the Second only acts as a limit on the feds from taking your guns away, then it is not a blanket grant of 'the right to bear arms,' but rather an affirmation of state sovereignty on the issue. . . . Me, I'm hoping Guiliani tries the federalist tact, as it would invariably draw media attention to Rep. Paul and his freaky consistency on federalism."

Except Giuliani's record is not consistent with a state sovereignty/federalist position. He forcefully and explicitly called for much stronger FEDERAL gun controls. He argued that New York City's gun problems could only be solved by Congress imposing stricter gun laws on the whole country. That's an overtly anti-federalist (in a modern federal versus unitary sense) position.
1.23.2007 1:23pm
Spartacus (www):
J.F. Thomas:

"as a militia weapon, handguns are of little value."

Nonsense. And trolling to boot--get back on topic.
1.23.2007 1:28pm
Lars Theriot:
One Question for Senator Obama:

Mr. Senator, You've voiced your support of the Chicago Bears very publicly on several occassions... I wonder if you could tell us whether or not you think Tank Johnson ought to be allowed to play in the Super Bowl, and if so, how does that square with your equally public support of stronger gun control laws?
1.23.2007 1:52pm
Mr. X (www):
Yes, paulhager, Ron Paul is running for President, but the MSM is doing its best to insure that as few people know this as possible.


And by Mainstream Media, you mean Pajamas Media, who doesn't have him listed in their front page Presidential straw poll...
1.23.2007 1:52pm
Josh Poulson (mail) (www):
My reading of the Second Amendment leads me to believe that any citizen's possession of and practice with a personal weapon with reasonable utility to a militia should be wholly unrestricted.

To me, an extremist view would expand this to include any crew-served or strategic weapon. The other extreme would include infringement or restrictions on possession or use of personal weapons.

The State of Washington Constitution's own provisions on firearms mesh nicely with this view: (Art I, Sec. 24) "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."
1.23.2007 1:54pm
countertop (mail):
JF Thomas - thanks for playing again yourself.

Your statements regarding handguns is pretty much hogwash.

As to places where its nearly impossible (if not impossibel to own a long arm) again, I say, Washington, D.C.

In DC, which I know the best, there is an absolute 100% prohibition on the ownership of handguns. Long guns are technically legal, though impossible to buy (no gun dealers in the city) and require extensive licensing by the city. If you call the police department to get the papers, you are told they don't have them and no process exists to process them.

Then, on the off chance that you can get one legally (very very off chance) you must keep it disassembled and are not even allowed to assemble it for cleaning purposes or to carry from one room to the other in your house. In fact, technically, you would need to request permission from the police to move it from one room to the other in the house.

Of course, those who are very well connected dont have these problems. If you are tight with the mayor, you can probably get the police chief to process the permit application (though the question would still remain where can you purchase one and how would you import it into the city).

If you are super well connected, you can be deputized as a federal marshal and then all restrictions are lifted.

Others have addressed NJ. I know my brother, who still lives in the hell hole, had to hire an attorney and threaten suit in order to get his local chief of police to sign off on his firearms ID card - over 1 year after submitting it - was required to undergo a psychological examination (at his own cost) and was then warned not to purchase "any weapon of murder because we are watching you." Process cost him almost $1000, and thats just to register so that in the future he could seek permission to actually buy a gun (let alone giving him permission to buy one).

Ellen, when I was a teenager, I was actually arrested in NJ for possession of a bb gun. Had gone squirrel hunting with some friends and someone saw us walking into the woods from our car (it was on my own property and I had a small game license). Cops greeted us with guns drawn and then arrested me for being 18 years old (it was 2 weeks after my brithday) and without possession of a FOID card. Luckily my parents knew the police chief at that time and were able to get me sprung without any charges being filed but I made the decision then and there to move out of the state and dedicate my life to countering the asinine lies of gun banning bigots everwhere.

Chicago is the same, as is Boston and New York City (though I don't have specifics on either right now - have to get back to work)
1.23.2007 1:56pm
SG (mail):
Mr. Kopel -- you mention the Princeton/Newport case as an example of Giuliani's prosecutorial overreaching. I will admit to not being particularly familiar with this case, though I had heard of it as an offshoot of the Drexel cases. As far as I can tell, there are four Second Circuit cases that mention "Princeton" in the same sentence as "Newport." They all involve this matter. One of them, U.S. v. Regan, 937 F.2d 823 (2d Cir. 1991) did involve some reversed convictions, but not on the grounds of prosecutorial overreaching; the reversal seems predicated on the district court's refusal to give a good faith instruction with respect to the fraud charges. Of note, all of the defendants were convicted of at least one count (conspiracy) that was upheld on appeal, so it does not appear as though anyone "walked" after the reversal. Is it possible that you are referring to the forfeiture part of these prosecutions? It does appear that the Government took a somewhat aggressive line on that front, and lost on some of the property it tried to forfeit, but that is hardly having a "white collar criminal prosecution[] ... later overturned in appeal," as you stated above. If you can point to a specific opinion reversing a Giuliani-era SDNY conviction for prosecutorial overreaching that appears to have been the result of office policy (as opposed to simply actions confined to one particular case), could you please mention the citation in the comments here? My apologies if I missed the case to which you were referring; I will agree that my search was not exhaustive. Many thanks.
1.23.2007 1:59pm
Oren (mail):

I didn't know "legal ownership" was a concept consistent with the Second Amendment.


In your opinion can the various states, in compliance with 2A and 14A, exclude from firearm ownership the following (check all that apply):

[ ] Felons
[ ] Violent felons only
[ ] People formerly committed
[ ] Perpetrators of domestic violence
[ ] People that cannot demonstrate the necessary level of knowledge/skill to safely use a gun (in parallel to driver's licenses)
1.23.2007 2:00pm
Josh Poulson (mail) (www):
Felons can be separated from other rights, for example, the right to vote. I don't see why there's an issue with separating them from the RKBA.
1.23.2007 2:53pm
Lamar (mail):
No discussion of anybody's stance on Federalism? No recognition that a mayor of a big city has a vested interest in being pro-control? No definition of "anti-gun leadership"? Even though each of these is sufficient to make your list laughable, the thing that really makes us laugh is was your assertion that campaign finance laws are anti-Second Amendment. You are comparing apples to greco-roman wrestling. I'm pro-gun, and I understand why some restrictions are necessary in NYC. That's why we have federalism, and that's why regulation should be a state by state issue. Your list is rather worthless given that you left out more factors than you defined.
1.23.2007 3:03pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Rattan (mail):

The error in some of the rankings is that the original intent behind the Second Amendment is being ignored. The right to carry arms should be read to cover arms contemplated when the amendment was ratified.


Clearly then, the First Amendment does not apply to and does not prevent the government regulating and banning radio, TV, telephones, telegrams, and communications over satellite, underwater cable and microwave. Not to forget the medium we are currently using - the Internet.

Please respond to my message using your quill pen - which existed when the First Amendment was ratified.
1.23.2007 3:08pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Rattan (mail):

The error in some of the rankings is that the original intent behind the Second Amendment is being ignored. The right to carry arms should be read to cover arms contemplated when the amendment was ratified.


Clearly then, the First Amendment does not apply to and does not prevent the government regulating and banning radio, TV, telephones, telegrams, and communications over satellite, underwater cable and microwave. Not to forget the medium we are currently using - the Internet.

Please respond to my message using your quill pen and ink - which existed when the First Amendment was ratified, and are therfore protected.
1.23.2007 3:10pm
Kevin P. (mail):
J. F. Thomas (mail):

Furthermore, as a militia weapon, handguns are of little value.


JF, you like to just make up stuff, don't you? :-)

Incidentally, since you are from New Orleans, here is the Fifth Circuit's opinion:


We reject the collective rights and sophisticated collective
rights models for interpreting the Second Amendment. We hold,
consistent with Miller, that it protects the right of
individuals, including those not then actually a member of any
militia or engaged in active military service or training, to
privately possess and bear their own firearms, such as the
pistol involved here
, that are suitable as personal, individual
weapons and are not of the general kind or type excluded by
Miller.

(emphasis added)
1.23.2007 3:14pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Lamar:

I'm pro-gun, and I understand why some restrictions are necessary in NYC. That's why we have federalism, and that's why regulation should be a state by state issue.


How about free speech? The free practice of religion? The right to be secure in one's home against arbitrary search and seizure?

Are these to be subject to local government fiat as well?

The Bill of Rights is not a buffet where you can pick and choose.
1.23.2007 3:17pm
Ken76 (mail) (www):
Rattan said:

The error in some of the rankings is that the original intent behind the Second Amendment is being ignored. The right to carry arms should be read to cover arms contemplated when the amendment was ratified.


The arms contemplated were those which could be borne and used by the individual private soldier, a formula which applies perfectly well to today's weapons.

To get back to the topic, I used to say that if Giuliani or Romney would have a road-to-Damascus on the Second I'd consider supporting them (there's nothing Honest John McKeating could do or say to give him any credibility with me on anything). I'm no longer certain I'd trust Giuliani or Romney, either.

Additionally, somebody challenged Dave's ranking of Sharpton. Here's what ontheissues.org has:

Require background checks, licensing, and fingerprinting. (Jan 2004)
Supports federal gun licensing &registration. (May 2003)

Require background checks, licensing, and fingerprinting
Which principles do you support regarding guns:
Renew the ban on the sale or transfer of semi-automatic guns, except those used for hunting.
Maintain the current level of enforcement of existing federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
Strengthen the enforcement of existing federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks on guns.
Require background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows.
Require a license for gun possession.
Establish a national database of ballistic "fingerprints" to track guns used in criminal activities.
Source: Vote-Smart Presidential National Political Awareness Test Jan 8, 2004

Supports federal gun licensing &registration
Q: Do you support licensing and registration at the federal level?
SHARPTON: I support it. We must do whatever we can to regulate how guns are used. I've been a victim of a stabbing. Violence is something very serious in this country. We must take it seriously. We have the right to bear arms, but we don't have the right in the Constitution to vote, we don't have the right to health care. We need to evaluate what we are as a country, and part of that is regulating people's ability to get firearms.


Seems pretty conclusive to me. But I bet Rev. Al has armed bodyguards....
1.23.2007 3:47pm
Kwix:
Federalism has no bearing on the RTKBA. Per the 10th amendment:

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

Just as Free Speech, Press and Religion are enforced by the 1st amendment the RTKBA is enforced by the 2nd amendment and is applicable to the entirety of the United States.
1.23.2007 4:13pm
PubliusFL:
"Federalism has no bearing on the RTKBA. Per the 10th amendment"

I don't read the 10th the same way you do. Assume a hypothetical power to regulate private ownership of firearms. Since the Constitution does not delegate such a power to the United States (i.e. the federal government), and does not prohibit the states from exercising such a power, according to the 10th Amendment that power rests with the states.

Now, I think there *is* a very good argument to be made that right to bear arms *was* among the privileges and immunities intended to be protected from state interference by the *14th* Amendment.
1.23.2007 4:21pm
Ken76 (mail) (www):
To reinforce PubliusFL's point, I would cite John Adams's "rights antecedent to any earthly laws" statement (as a debating point, not a point of law). Natural rights either are or they ain't. One supposes, based on reading of the founding documents, that this here republic was founded on the proposition that they are.
1.23.2007 4:25pm
Jonesy:
I think Ron Paul is for "states rights" re guns and believes that the 2nd Amend only applies to the Federal gov't. That would mean if a state wanted to ban hand-guns, for example, Ron Paul would think that that was Constitutional. I dont consider that being "a perfect pro-2nd amend record". Someone with a perfect 2nd Amend record would believe that the 2nd Amend protects citizens gun rights no matter which state they live in.
1.23.2007 4:35pm
Rattan (mail):
Kevin P. said (in the context of original intent):
"Clearly then, the First Amendment does not apply to and does not prevent the government regulating and banning radio, TV, telephones, telegrams, and communications over satellite, underwater cable and microwave. Not to forget the medium we are currently using - the Internet.

Please respond to my message using your quill pen and ink - which existed when the First Amendment was ratified, and are therfore protected."

Funny, but my quill pen is not required exclusively as other implements for writing were also available at the time. Printing was already there so here it goes.

As to original intent, it is Justice Scalia who should provide more illumination with that troubled strain of analysis. I recall the Breyer-Scalia discussion promoted in this blog as being instructive. It was.

As to the sharp edged weapons, no one took it up, but they too are regulated with gusto, but simply lack the bang that firearms have. Hence the fashion of focussing exclusively on firearms in the context of what passes for Second Amendment scholarship.

The example I gave of a Sikh's right to bear arms as part of their religion (fortunatly interpreted to be a sword, dagger etc.) actually nails two amendments. Granted, Sikhs although present on earth, may not have been known to the framers and adopters of the Amendments, and hence may be outside the purview of even more narrowly construed original intent.

The point of all of this is that analysis without focus on the harm or the end result is goofy. Some of the analysis behind the rankings apparently infected the Iraq policy, when the arms dumps of Saddam were not secured. A few thousand American soldiers have died in an insurgency fueled by the ready availability of military grade munitions and an overly friendly policy towards weapons in the hands of civilians.

The key to a sensible understanding and implementation of the Second Amendment is pragmatic thinking. Liberalizing gun ownership in a gang-ridden inner city is goofy policy based on wishful thinking. Pragmatism is why Giuliani 'overeached' and anyone else responsible for administering would tend to do as well if keen on actually doing the job.

The list does not reflect such analysis. I do not see pragmatism in this discussion, even though it is very much a part of fruitful legal analysis. The discussion is more of an attempt to attach labels to potential candidates without any investigation of why are these candidates suspected of harming the interests of the citizens by merely promoting restrictions on handguns in a society having a high rate of homicides? Any ideas?
1.23.2007 4:54pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Rattan:

The key to a sensible understanding and implementation of the Second Amendment is pragmatic thinking.


Meaning... I want to ignore it because I am so pragmatic.

Been there, done that, had that discussion. You are new to it, apparently.

Which other parts of the Bill of Rights do you want to pragmatically ignore?
1.23.2007 5:17pm
plunge (mail):
"Others have addressed NJ. I know my brother, who still lives in the hell hole"

Yes, because, if it takes 3 months and a background check to get a sniper rifle, it's a hell hole. But, you're not totally nuts, or anything. Right?
1.23.2007 5:35pm
countertop (mail):
A sniper rifle????

thats the problem with you gun banning bigots. Everything is labeled something else and its why the hunting types keep rejecting your tired and false lies as well.

My Remington 700 deer rifle is your sniper rifle.
My Ruger 10/22 with a 25 round magazine is your assault weapon
My Browning BPS is the rapid fire pump action death sprayer.
My colt detective special revolver is an assault handgun.
1.23.2007 5:43pm
mediageek (mail):
"Funny, but my quill pen is not required exclusively as other implements for writing were also available at the time. Printing was already there so here it goes. "

Far be it for me to point out the painfully obvious, but a manually-operated printing press is not in any way analogous to typing up a note on a computer and posting it on an internet forum.

Also, to the poster up-thread who wanted examples of longarms being unfairly regulated, just try to purchase a newly manufactured AR15 anywhere in California and see how far that gets you.
1.23.2007 5:46pm
Robert Goodman (mail) (www):
As mayor, Giuliani even formed an anti-fireworks task force that operated not only elsewhere in the state, but in neighboring states. They shut down a permitted fireworks convention upstate and discouraged them from being held in nearby states, on the excuse that the event would disguise smuggling of fireworks into New York City.
1.23.2007 5:59pm
straightarrow:
bottom line, all the gun control laws are illegal. "shall not be infringed" means something.

So, anti-second amendment is not an inappropriate moniker for advocates of gun control. There are no reasonable gun control laws for those who obey the law, remember.."...shall not be infringed."? Which is clearly stated in the Supreme Law of the Land. Any law or regulation that violates the constitution is illegal. Period. It may be enforced by the application of abused power, but it is still illegal.

Behavior and actions with arms are not protected under the constitution if criminal activity is involved. Possession and bearing of arms cannot be a criminal activity as the laws prohibiting them are circumscribed by the bedrock document upon which the foundation of our nation rests.

If you "reasonable restrictions" guys want to restrict criminal activity and criminals, I'll help. But do not count on me to help you violate the Constitution because it makes you feel safe.
1.23.2007 6:32pm
Kevin P. (mail):
plunge (mail):

Yes, because, if it takes 3 months and a background check to get a sniper rifle, it's a hell hole.


Citizens in NJ have gone a whole year while waiting for a Firearms ID without which they cannot keep a gun in even the home.

The worst story I ever heard of in NJ:
A Convenience store owner had an FID card and legally kept a gun in his store.
An attempted robbery took place and he fought off the robber with his legal gun.
The police arrived and took his (only) legal gun into custoday as evidence. He was not charged in any way as he was defending his property.
He was now defenseless and applied to buy another gun.
The permit takes weeks and so he (illegally) acquired a gun while it was still in process.
His store was robbed a second time and he again fought off the robber with his second gun.
This time he was taken into custody for illegally possessing a firearm.

This is the kind of mindless injustice that happens to law abiding citizens when gun control dreams are enacted into reality.
1.23.2007 6:43pm
straightarrow:
The error in some of the rankings is that the original intent behind the Second Amendment is being ignored........-rattan

You are wrong about that. I'm not going to assume you are being disingenuous, therefore I must assume you know very little of your civics or history.

Read USC 10, title 49 (I think, on the title) It is clear by the passage of only the tenth law passed after the adoption of the Constitution that the intent was for implements capable of military use in war is what was protected by the second amendment. Also read the Federalist Papers, all those we consider great men in our nation's birthing made it plain that your statement referenced above is just plain wrong.

You can google all that I have mentioned or, in keeping with your thesis travel to DC and look up the handwritten with quill pen documents.

If we took your thesis to its extreme we would have to delete a great many words from our language. Many of the advances since that time are in fields that didn't even exist then. So naturally many of the words that came into being because of the expansion of knowledge would have to be regulated or expunged from our linguistic endeavors. Because based on your interpretation, only the words that existed at the time of the ratification of the Constitution are protected.

I find that remarkably inane.
1.23.2007 7:02pm
Kevin Murphy:
Guliani's problem here with the base (unlike his abortion and gay rights problems) might be solvable. There's a big difference between gun control in a specific urban setting, and gun control nationally. Kansas is not NYC. He could mention that, and also say that he's been re-evaluating the NYC experience, and finding that gun control even in NYC was overrated.

Not that he will.
1.23.2007 7:11pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):

Thank you for playing--try again. As I pointed out, those jurisdictions strictly regulate the ownership of handguns. But the ownership of long guns is still not heavily regulated. Where in the U.S. are there serious impediments to the ownership of long guns? After all, the second amendment is concerned with a "Well regulated militia". It seems to me that even the most staunch gun-rights advocates would admit that the state could as part of it's effort to maintain the well-regulated militia, could require registration of firearms (just so it could know what kind of firepower the "well regulated militia" possessed and it could depend on in the event of an emergency). Furthermore, as a militia weapon, handguns are of little value.


Long guns (in which machine guns and "semiautomatic assault weapons" are included) are severely regulated in NJ, MA, CA, NY and CT for starters.

Traditionally, one could tell the militia was adequately armed when you mustered them. If they didnt have their weapons or failed to show for muster, they could be fined.

Registration of firearms should remain forbidden because every country in which it has been successfully attempted, it was eventually followed by confiscation.

Handguns are of terrific military value, which is why every military in the world issues them. Many soldiers arent in combat roles and a rifle would get in the way of them using equipment and handling paperwork- thus they have little need for more than a compact close range self defense arm. The pistol may eventually be replaced with the PDW, but for now it is still the weapon of choice for military, LEO and civilian self defense.
1.23.2007 8:03pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Registration of firearms should remain forbidden because every country in which it has been successfully attempted, it was eventually followed by confiscation.

This of course is unadulterated bullshit. Any number of countries, including almost all of the countries we would consider modern democracies, have strict and effective firearm registration regimes, and almost none of them have confiscated their citizen's guns. I will cite three specific examples that have strict gun control laws where people just love their guns and hunting: Germany, Canada and Australia.

Handguns are of terrific military value, which is why every military in the world issues them.

Oh come on, handguns are not battlefield weapons. They are issued to officers (and in the U.S. Army field grade officers and above qualify on 9 mms, Captains can choose the 9mm or M-16 or 9mm, all others must qualify on the M-16). MP's are the only other MOS that qualify on the 9mm (maybe, just maybe, tank and Apache crews are issued pistols, I'm not sure--I know all the other armored vehicle and helicopter crews have M-16s) . Everybody else, from cook to mechanics, are issued M-16s. Of course, all marines are riflemen.
1.23.2007 10:40pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
bottom line, all the gun control laws are illegal. "shall not be infringed" means something.

So are you saying that guns should be completely unregulated? A crack-addicted five year old paranoid schizophrenic pedophiliac sociopath with tourettes and uncontrollable spasms should be able to go up to the local 7-11 and be able to buy a fully automatic AK-47?

Just wondering how serious a nut case you are.
1.23.2007 10:51pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Kansas is not NYC. He could mention that, and also say that he's been re-evaluating the NYC experience, and finding that gun control even in NYC was overrated.

Gun control in this country probably doesn't do much good. But owning or carrying a gun doesn't do much good either. Contrary to what John Lott and the NRA would have you believe, More Guns don't mean Less Crime. And no matter how many people you sue to shut them up, the statistics just don't show that being armed to the teeth helps one bit in lowering violent crime, and might actually contribute to it simply by putting more guns on the street. After all, all those guns used in crimes have to come from somewhere. Guess what, most of them are stolen from law-abiding citizens or gun shops.
1.23.2007 10:58pm
Kevin P. (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

This of course is unadulterated bullshit. Any number of countries, including almost all of the countries we would consider modern democracies, have strict and effective firearm registration regimes, and almost none of them have confiscated their citizen's guns.


You don't have to go very far - registration followed by confiscation has happened in the United States. New York City started registering all long guns in the 1960s and then used the registration lists to confiscate guns that they arbitrarily declared to be "assault weapons" in the 1990s - from citizens never accused of any crime. A similar thing has happened with SKS rifles in California that were legally registered and then ordered to be turned in.

Unadulterated bullshit = J.F. Thomas saying that he isn't on particularly strong ground.
1.24.2007 12:10am
Kevin P. (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

Any number of countries, including almost all of the countries we would consider modern democracies, have strict and effective firearm registration regimes, and almost none of them have confiscated their citizen's guns. I will cite three specific examples that have strict gun control laws where people just love their guns and hunting: Germany, Canada and Australia.


A 15 minute Google search finds that Australia did in fact confiscate entire classes of firearms that were registered - in 1996 and again in 2002.

I have no fear that J.F. Thomas will ever change his mind about anything, but for the rest of the readership - this is typically how gun control arguments fare when subject to scrutiny.

I leave Germany and Canada as an exercise for the reader.
1.24.2007 12:26am
straightarrow:
Canada has done or tried confiscation after starting its failed registry. They have not yet been successful, but that is not due to the Canadian government's good intentions. Go ask a Canadian outdoorsman. I used to know several. I even used to know a Canadian law officer whose job it was to "retrieve" (how's that for Newspeak) unregistered firearms and registered firearms that had been outlawed post registration law. So there may be some unadulterated bullshit alright, but it's coming from you, J.F.

As for your nutcase comment, that sounds like projection from a man who believes he can't be trusted. And since he feels superior to everyone else, if he can't trust himself to behave properly, why then, no one else can be trusted either. Nutcase, yeah, I think you might be. However, your argument isn't with me, it is with the people like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Monroe, Madison, Hamilton, Marshall, Hancock. Do you posit that they were nutcases? They wrote the rules.

As for the practical, I used to carry either my shotgun or my rifle to school more mornings than not. That way I could hunt my way back home. Always had hunting companions because they did it too. Nobody shot up the school, nobody even thought anything of it. I can remember as a young boy being able to go into a hardware store, or a Western Auto and buy a long gun with nothing more than the price of the piece. But you see I could be trusted. I could be trusted to not do what you fear and I could be trusted to understand that freedom for me is worth a little risk that others might misuse their freedom. Misuse of freedom and commission of crime is and was already against the law.

If I could be trusted to keep the law, I could be trusted with arms. If I could not be trusted to keep the law, why would you suppose a law denying me legal access to arms would be obeyed? Is it not more symptomatic of someone being a nutcase to suppose that a person of criminal intent is deterred because of a law? That is why we call them criminals, because they break the law.

If you are really interested in the safety and security of the people how do you think making them helpless or denying them the tools of defense makes them safer in the face of naked aggression or criminal assault?

Are we talking nutcase, yet?

In the last century more than 200 million people were murdered by their own governments after being disarmed by those governments for their safety. Every disarmament started with registration of weapons. You can do a Casey Stengel on it and look it up.

Joe Huffman asks only one question of people that argue as you do about restricting arms.(guns are but one among arms)

I now ask it of you.

Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?

Give that a shot. There is much evidence to the contrary, and to date no one has been able to answer that question with a legitimate example. I do not believe you will be the first.
1.24.2007 3:16am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Give that a shot. There is much evidence to the contrary, and to date no one has been able to answer that question with a legitimate example. I do not believe you will be the first.

You ask me to prove a negative, which of course is almost impossible (if the Jews in Germany or Kulaks in Russia had guns they would have still been killed in their millions) Although of course, in Russia a bloody civil war with tens of thousands of deaths on both sides was fought before the communists did finally win.

So where are your examples of the evidence to the contrary. Where are the modern examples of citizen ownership of guns protecting civil rights? Let's get away from personal defense and just focus on preventing takeover or overthrowing an oppressive dictatorship.
1.24.2007 9:21am
BF (mail):
From J.F. Thomas

"After all, all those guns used in crimes have to come from somewhere. Guess what, most of them are stolen from law-abiding citizens or gun shops."

Not that I think your last line is true. But who cares? Please, take a few seconds and re-read your own words. If it were true, and I have to assume you believe as much, why would you take action against the law abiding and not the thieves? Why the preference?
1.24.2007 10:00am
BF (mail):
Since I'm still here a quick reply to J.F.

Usually the oppressive dictatorships you're asking to be pointed out, have in their oppressive style of dictating, removed the guns (or as many as they could) from the hands of those over whom they dictate. That's the great enabler for further oppression. If there were no guns to begin with the dictating is much easier from the get go.
1.24.2007 10:20am
PubliusFL:
J.F. Thomas: "Oh come on, handguns are not battlefield weapons."

I think Lt. Frank Luke, 1Lt William B. Turner, Cpl Alvin York, Pvt Thomas A. Baker, Corpsman R.E. Bush, PFC Jack Hanson, Staff Sgt J.J. McGinty, MSG Gary Gordon, and SFC Randall Shughart would disagree with you. Guess what they have in common?

From the trenches of World War I, to the jungles of Haiti and the South Pacific, to the "tunnel rats" of Vietnam, to the narrow alleys of Mogadishu, there have been countless occasions where U.S. servicemen have chosen a handgun as their primary weapon under the circumstances.
1.24.2007 10:56am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If it were true, and I have to assume you believe as much, why would you take action against the law abiding and not the thieves?

And why does drying up one source of illegally procured guns (those stolen from law-abiding citizens) preclude actions against those who steal from law-abiding citizens. You assume that just because I support reasonable registration and ownership restrictions on some classes of firearms (and have no problem with outright bans on handguns if that is what the people of a community wish) that I don't think that those who steal firearms and use them in crimes should be punished. How you make that leap of logic is beyond me as I never said or implied anything of the kind.

Usually the oppressive dictatorships you're asking to be pointed out, have in their oppressive style of dictating, removed the guns (or as many as they could) from the hands of those over whom they dictate. That's the great enabler for further oppression. If there were no guns to begin with the dictating is much easier from the get go.

That's a very nice sentiment but you still haven't provided a concrete example. Citizen ownership of guns has done precious little to guarantee civil rights, especially since the advent of the airplane. Look at Somalia. It is armed to the teeth, yet all you have there is constant war and thuggery. Finally, a central government emerged that at least looked like it could bring law and order to the capitol. But it was too Islamic and all it took was a marginally equipped army with a few modern tanks and aircraft from Ethiopia and all the privately owned guns meant absolutely nothing in the face of an organized army with a few tanks and airpower--especially when an AC-130 was thrown into the mix.
1.24.2007 2:46pm
straightarrow:
Google the Battle of Athens, Tennessee circa 1947 or 48. There is one right there. Or better yet, how about the American Revolution? Did you forget that one?

Or the impetus behind the Magna Carta. Though force wasn't employed, it was promised by an armed populace if King John didn't grant civil rights. I think the conversation was something like, "You can keep your throne if you sign the Magna Carta, otherwise when we win the civil war we will behead you." Look it up.

How about the Warsaw Ghetto. Almost no weapons but they held off the German Wehrmacht for weeks with the few weapons they had. Of course the few they had allowed them to capture some German weapons also.

How about the Hungarian Revolution? They were successful in causing a Soviet retreat. They would have kept their independence if we had kept our word. But the thing is, they did expel their dominators.

Or the Afghanis expelling the Soviets from Afghanistan.

It appears you are not nearly as well informed as you would have us believe.

You ask me to prove a negative, which of course is almost impossible =JFThomas

You are now being disingenuous. I did not ask you to prove a negative. I did not ask you to show where it did not happen. I asked you to show where your philosophy has even once improved the lives of the ordinary man in all of history. You ran from that like a scalded dog. If you have no evidence at all that what you say is true, despite all the evidence to the contrary, why do think you will persuade thinking men.

Especially when you advocate breaking the law? Remember the Constitution? That is the Supreme Law of the Land and you want to violate it, because it makes you feel safe?

Especially after your display of immorality do I challenge your good intentions. What display of immorality? Ok, how about this one?

(if the Jews in Germany or Kulaks in Russia had guns they would have still been killed in their millions) -JF Thomas

Your position is that since you believe the Jews and Kulaks may have died anyway, why not make it easier for the killers? No wonder you feel the way you do. You got a screw or two loose.
1.24.2007 5:35pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
How about the Warsaw Ghetto. Almost no weapons but they held off the German Wehrmacht for weeks with the few weapons they had.

And they were ultimately unsuccessful. The Ghetto was liquidated and almost everyone was killed. Same with the Hungarian revolt (where the revolutionaries managed to expel Soviet forces from the city center for a couple of days--hardly a defeat of the soviet military). Even you admit that it was doomed without outside assistance. When eastern europe did finally shake the shackles of the Soviet Union, it was almost entirely peaceful (Romania being about the only exception, and arguably the one you could have called me on--including the Soviet Union itself).

As for Afghanistan, the Russians were doing just fine, thank you, ruthlessly suppressing the Mujahadeen until we began supplying them with Stinger missiles and the Russians could no longer wipe out entire villages from the air with impunity. Furthermore, it is true that the Afghans drove the Russians out of their country (and guerrilla wars to expel foreign powers are of a different nature than wars to free oneself from the shackles of a homegrown oppressor). But what did they get in exchange? Never ending civil war and narco terrorism until the people were so sick of it they turned to the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban to restore law and order to the country. Hardly the triumph of democracy, civil rights and freedom over oppression. It took invasion by yet another outside power to restore the trappings of democracy to the country. And even now, we are not sure if that is going to work out.

Your position is that since you believe the Jews and Kulaks may have died anyway, why not make it easier for the killers?

Well no, my argument is that confiscation of guns does not inevitably lead to genocide. To indulge in fantasies of "what if the Jews had been well armed and fought back" is a silly historical fantasy akin to "what if Gen. Lee's Army was armed with AK-47s". It doesn't make any sense to think about it. Of course an authoritarian regime is going to do everything in its power to strip the victims of its pogroms of power and means of self defense before it proceeds with its plans. It does mean that we need to stop the genocide long before the governments gain power.
1.24.2007 7:28pm
straightarrow:
You are being disingenuous again. You have moved the goalposts. I answered your question, so you change the parameters, shame on you.

Go look up the history of genocide. Yes the confiscation of arms has almost universally ended in genocide. I don't want to live on the 2% where that is not so. If you do, go where it is already fact.

I notice you did not address the American Revolution or the Battle of Athens. Why could that be?

You also purposely misinterpreted the lessons of history. You are correct that the Warsaw Ghetto eventually fell. You ignore the fact that the point is if a woefully unarmed contingent as the Jews in the ghetto could stop the Wehrmacht in their tracks for 8 weeks, what could they have done had they not been so woefully underarmed. Your dancing around that point is a de facto endorsement of my position and that of our founders.

I don't know if you are old enough to remember 1956, but I am. The Hungarians drove the Russians completely out of the country, not the city center as you claim. That is a deliberate falsehood on your part. And it held for a solid week. A week in which an unarmed populace drove the second strongest military in the world from their country. They did it with makeshift weapons they could fashion from everyday items. Mostly Molotov cocktails. Had they been able to obtain the weapons they needed during that week the Russians very likely would have not reinforced their occupation forces and re-entered Hungary. They would cerainly have given more weight to the possibility of prohibitive losses had the Hungarians not had to rely on gasoline and glass jars alone.

Again your argument underlines the false premise of your position. You are arguing that confiscation of firearms is acceptable from a people because everywhere it has been done the people were not able to overcome being unarmed when faced with oppression. Even when they succeeded or partially succeeded with few or no arms, your position is that them being unarmed proves that had they been armed they would haven't fared better? What kind of nutcase are you?That is the most illogical argument I have ever seen.

Your position that confiscation of arms is acceptable because some places where an armed populace threw off the yoke of the oppressor the victors weren't angelic? How does this diminish the accomplishment of their exercise of arms? Again an illogical nonsequitir.

We didn't even talk of Cuba. Where an armed segment of the population overthrew a dictator. That they replaced him with another dictator in no way diminishes the importance of arms in the hands of the citizen. If you doubt that, you might note the lesson wasn't wasted on Castro. Gun confiscation was practically his first act as Dictator in Chief for Life.

You also make one of the most stupid arguments I have ever heard regarding the Holocaust. Which by the way was preceded by gun control and confiscation of firearms. Six million Jews and seven million others were murdered in horrendous ways, many starved to death as they were forced to labor for the Fatherland.

"what if the Jews had been well armed and fought back" is a silly historical fantasy akin to "what if Gen. Lee's Army was armed with AK-47s". -Thomas

You make that statement, but it is of whole cloth. You do not make any legitimate argument that it is a silly historical fantasy. You cannot. You also ignore the very strong likelihood that had those 13 million victims of the Holocaust been armed the state would not have had the courage to engage in the genocides it did.

Proof of that is the fact that they didn't while there was a chance that would meet armed resistance. They did not embark on the Final Solution until gun control and confiscation had been the law for a period of time sufficient to disarm their citizenry.

All history is against you. All logic is against you. Your own arguments reguire that helplessness of the victims be a fait accompli before your dire scenarios are a possibility.

Further, I know you did not google or research in any other way,genocides of the 20th century. Well, I don't know it for a fact, but I am doing you the courtesy of assuming you did not. Otherwise you have purposely lied. Only ignorance or dishonesty would allow you to say gun confiscation does not lead to genocide. I assume you just didn't care enough to actually know what you are talking about. That is about as generous as I can be.

I can hardly wait to see where you move the goalposts again.
1.24.2007 10:28pm
straightarrow:
J.F. Thomas, I must ask you this question.

Would you endorse armed robbery if the robber was really stressed out about his lack of money and feel so much more secure if he could just rob enough to have a comfortable lifestyle?

Please answer that question. I assure you it is asked in all seriousness.
1.24.2007 10:34pm
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
Romney got a B from the NRA while he was governor in one of the bluest states. He's made it clear that he's always been very much in favor of personal gun ownership for hunting and self-defense purposes, and his record confirms that as far as I can tell. He's just against assault weapons, which he thinks are useless for hunting and overkill for self-defense. I don't see how any reasonable person could complain about such laws, but I guess extremists like to mask themselves as purists.

This is just one of many issues that the Boston Globe has spurred bloggers to misrepresent Romney on. Most of the flip-flop charges are invented. He's been consistently against discrimination against gays on most issues but opposed to gay marriage. He's been consistently pro-life on the moral question, but he's moved from a libertarian view on criminalizing abortion to a more conservative view on illegalizing it. He acknowledges that that's a change, and he's given an account of how he, like Sam Brownback, Ronald Reagan, and many others has changed his mind on the issue. There are lots of other issues on which Romney has unfairly been portrayed as a flip-flopper, but I haven't seen anything yet that convinces me that genuine conservatives shouldn't get behind him. I've treated this issue more extensively here.
1.25.2007 11:20pm
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
Also, two people listed in the post are not candidates for president and don't intend to be. John Kerry has just recently announced his intention not to run, but Jim Gilmore has been out of the race officially for a couple weeks now.
1.25.2007 11:23pm
straightarrow:
I don't see how any reasonable person could complain about such laws, but I guess extremists like to mask themselves as purists. - J. Pierce.

I would those that hold the view displayed in your quote above as extreme. I view people that advocate breaking the law as extremists. Make no mistake about it. That is what you are proposing. I tend to try not to break the law. However, if I do or decide to, I certainly wouldn't call those that believe in obeying the law extremists?

From whence do you derive the authority to label the law abiding as extremists, while you advocate the breaking of it?
1.26.2007 2:02am
straightarrow:
Isn't that you know .....extreme?
1.26.2007 2:04am
Unix-Jedi (mail) (www):
I don't see how any reasonable person could complain about such laws, but I guess extremists like to mask themselves as purists.

I don't know how any reasonable person could jump into a discussion on gun control and be that ill-informed, but I guess the ignorant (or the dishonest) like to mask themselves as thoughtful.

He's made it clear that he's always been very much in favor of personal gun ownership for hunting and self-defense purposes,

Not so. What a politician says is one thing. We're also looking at his record, and what he's done.
And that is far, far, far less clear. He certainly did not attempt to make owning firearms for "hunting or self-defense" easier when he was governor.

and his record confirms that as far as I can tell.

No. It really doesn't, that's what's been being discussed here.

He's just against assault weapons, which he thinks are useless for hunting and overkill for self-defense.

Then "he" (Is that you, Mitt?) is either ill-informed, or being deliberately deceptive. There's really no alternative to those two options.

Either you (and "he") don't know that "assault weapons" (a made up definition comprising cosmetic options) can be very well suited to hunting, are excellent choices for home defense, (and are indistinguishable from other "hunting" or "self-defense" weapons) or you're distorting in a Sugarmaneque way. ("The semi-automatic weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase that chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons." — Josh Sugarman, 1988, Violence Policy Center.)

This is just one of many issues that the Boston Globe has spurred bloggers to misrepresent Romney on.

If we presume that you've accurately represented Romney - then you rebut that it's a misrepresentation. It's that you don't seem to like the representation, it's effects, and it's meaning - a totally different issue from the Globe "mis" stating the case.
1.26.2007 11:00am
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
Straightarrow: Exactly how is it breaking the law to consider the hyper-libertarian view on this issue extreme? The only view in my quote is that such a view is extreme. You then said whoever holds that view is breaking the law. I'm not following. There is no law against believing anyone to be extreme. I am not advocating breaking any law. I don't even know what law I could possibly be advocating breaking. Do we have thought crime laws in this country? Not last I knew.

Unix-Jedi: My position is a philosophical one, and it's not based on facts about what guns are like but about what it is reasonable to complain about. The only information needed is what the U.S. Constitution says. The second amendment is very clear that there's a right to own guns. What it doesn't say is that we have a right to own whatever guns we feel like or that we have a right to get guns as easily and quickly as we want to. I don't see any language about all kinds of guns or about how easy it is to get guns in the second amendment. As far as I can tell, understanding the Constitution is all that's required for labeling the hyper-libertarian position extreme, so I'm not sure why you think it has anything to do with being informed or uninformed.

If Romney's gubernatorial gun record was as miserable as people here are saying, how did he ever get a B from the NRA? That's pretty good sign that he's not too heavily in favor of gun control legislation for hunting and self-defense. Remember that a B is good. It's just not excellent, which is what an A is. People here seem to be treating him as if he didn't even pass.

It's a little strange to suggest that I'm Mitt Romney when a quick look at my blog would show you that I have views no Mormon would like. I don't expect everyone who reads my comments here to investigate my blog, but I hold those who suggest that I'm Mitt Romney to a much higher standard.

I know the difference between machine guns and assault weapons, thank you very much. The fact that assault weapons are not machine guns does not mean you really need them to go hunting. You don't really even need guns to go hunting, but the second amendment provides a right to own them, so I think the government has an obligation to allow us some access to guns. How unrestricted that is and how much the government knows about what guns we have doesn't seem to me to be specified in the second amendment, and therefore the extreme libertarian position that it's immoral for any gun restirction seems unwarranted to me on constitutional grounds. What that has to do with being informed about the nature of assault weapons, I have no idea.
1.26.2007 6:12pm
Unix-Jedi (mail) (www):
Jeremy Pierce:
My position is a philosophical one, and it's not based on facts about what guns are like

Then you might want to not state "factual" notes on political issues. You made a (factually incorrect) statement to explain Romney's position (and then declared the accurate description of that exact same position as false).

If Romney's gubernatorial gun record was as miserable as people here are saying, how did he ever get a B from the NRA?

There's a simple answer to that: the NRA's grades are relative, and often not accurate. If you're not aware of firearms, and the firearm culture, you probably aren't aware of how little NRA grades carry among many.

That's pretty good sign that he's not too heavily in favor of gun control legislation for hunting and self-defense.

You're repeating your asseration that is factually incorrect. That doesn't improve your standing as someone who "knows the difference, thank you very much".

The fact that assault weapons are not machine guns does not mean you really need them to go hunting.

You don't know what you're talking about. "Assault weapons" are defined by cosmetic details.
Totally irrelevant to their suitability - or un - for hunting.
Factually, those same cosmetic details are often conducive and beneficial for self/home defense.

And if you live in Mass - where you have to have the FOIA card to shoot guns at rental ranges, and the number of weapons you can purchase is heavily regulated, it might make rather a lot of sense to buy 1 that will serve all purposes, wouldn't you agree?

All of which is still crossing the goalposts you've moved away from what the 2nd Amendment is about. (And the topic of this post.)

It's a little strange to suggest that I'm Mitt Romney when a quick look at my blog

It was a joke. You faithfully reproduced the campaign spin, thus the comment. You said: This is just one of many issues that the Boston Globe has spurred bloggers to misrepresent Romney on. But what the Globe reported was accurate - and even your own factually short "arguments" in defense of Romney show that it was accurate, and correct. Only the Romney campaign would be doing that. Hence the joke.

I'm not sure what is "philisophical" about denying the accuracy of something, and then reinforcing how correct the original was - but then, I'm not a incredibly philisophical person.

Point of disclaimer: This is my hunting and defense longarm. (Note it is not an "assault weapon".
1.26.2007 9:37pm
straightarrow:
"Exactly how is it breaking the law to consider the hyper-libertarian view on this issue extreme? The only view in my quote is that such a view is extreme. You then said whoever holds that view is breaking the law. I'm not following. There is no law against believing anyone to be extreme. I am not advocating breaking any law. "-J. Pierce.

You seem to have had a breakdown in reading comprehension. I said whoever holds that view is advocating the breaking of the law. You are free to believe what you want, and I would not disabuse you of that right. I am free to know that your view is wrong and I am free to say so. The extreme position here is yours. That would be the position that advocates ignoring the Constitution and passing laws that are repugnant to it and therefore null and void. The breaking of the law occurs when these laws that are repugnant to the Constitution are enforced. Enforcement of those laws and more is your stated position, ergo, you advocate breaking the law. You know the one I refer to, the Supreme Law of the Land. You know the one that says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. All the positions you advocate are infringements, once again, that is advocacy of breaking the law.

I have no doubt you are well intentioned and believe our society would be better if your ideas were followed. You just simply are wrong. As both a practical matter and as a matter of the real law of the nation. I understand you believe you are calling for obedience to the law.

However, that is actually what I am calling for. Your call for obedience to the law would be a noble endeavor if you meant the supreme law, and not those laws actually prohibited by our Constitution. It doesn't strengthen your argument that you have a lot of company in this desire to violate my rights and your rights as a citizen. It just means more people are mistaken, mostly. Some have evil design that can only be completed against a helpless populace, but those are very few.

There is nothing hyper-libertarian in my view, I merely want the law observed. That's not even a political position. It is simply a law abiding citizen wanting the law abided by all.
1.27.2007 5:58pm