pageok
pageok
pageok
Only a Paranoid Would Worry About Guns Being Banned:

I routinely hear this argument -- no need to worry about the slippery slope, or about this or that Presidential candidate, or whether the Second Amendment is read as protecting the right to bear arms. Given how much Americans love guns, only a paranoid would worry about guns being banned. The only things that are really on the table, or likely to get on the table, are some modest regulations. A few thoughts in response.

1. Calls for total bans on handguns or all guns: It doesn't take a paranoid, it seems to me, to worry about gun bans when many leading politicians, news outlets, and other institutions have called for such bans. See here for a list (which is not intended to be complete). Recall also that one American jurisdiction (D.C.) does make it illegal for you to keep any gun ready for self-defense, even in your own home. (The D.C. Circuit decision striking down that ban on Second Amendment grounds hasn't yet taken effect.) Chicago and some neighboring cities ban handguns; New York, I'm told, makes handguns quite hard to get.

2. Worrying about fellow citizens' rights: It's true that the overwhelming majority of gun owners, and of gun rights supporters, live in jurisdictions in which it's unlikely that gun bans or handgun bans will be enacted any time soon. But so what? California abortion rights supporters worry about Louisiana women's access to abortions, not just about their own. You wouldn't tell them, "look, you live in California, why do you care about constitutional protection about abortion rights," because people who see something as a basic human right tend to worry about their fellow citizens' access to that right, and not just about their own. Why then assume that American gun rights supporters are purely in it for their own self-interest?

3. Looking down the road at possible future proposals: Gun rights supporters, like abortion rights supporters, free speech supporters, and supporters of other rights, also sensibly try to think ahead, not just to next year but also some decades down the line.

Take, for instance, bans on semiautomatic weapons (not fully automatic weapons or even so-called "assault weapons," but all semiautomatic weapons). Barack Obama is on the record as endorsing a total ban on "the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons." Now this would cover the majority of all handguns now being manufactured, as well as many rifles and quite a few shotguns. But I acknowledge that by itself it won't dramatically restrict people's ability to defend themselves, because revolvers (for handguns), bolt-action rifles, and pump-action shotguns would still be legal, and would be pretty much as effective for self-defense as semiautomatics.

Yet what would happen after this ban is enacted? To the extent the ban would have any effect on criminals, it would lead them to shift to revolvers, bolt-action rifles, and pump-action shotguns. Crime using those kinds of weapons would thus go up.

What do you expect a President Obama and others who take his view to do? Just say "Well, we were for a ban of semi-automatic weapons, and that's all we were for; though now more gun crime is being committed with non-semi-automatic weapons, we're not going to touch them"? Or would it be likelier that they'll start talking about "closing the revolver loophole," or banning "assault revolvers," or dealing with the "skyrocketing revolver crime rate"?

It doesn't take a paranoid to assume that the pro-gun-control forces would take the latter course -- and might succeed in that course, at least in many jurisdictions. It may take some years for that to happen. But people who care strongly about what they see as an important right want to preserve it not just for now, but for decades to come, not just for themselves, but also for their children.

So I wouldn't condemn those who worry about broad gun bans as paranoid, just as I wouldn't condemn those who worry about broad abortion bans as paranoid. When lots of people keep talking about banning guns, when some cities have banned handguns, and one has banned possession of any guns in a state in which they can be immediately used for self-defense, and when a leading Presidential candidate is on the record as supporting a ban on all semiautomatic guns, being worried about gun bans -- not for the whole country today, but for some of your fellow citizens today, and perhaps for many more in a few decades -- is perfectly reasonable.

Thanks to Cory Hojka for the pointer to Obama's opinion on semi-automatic weapons.

Martin Ammorgan (mail):
First they came for habeas corpus...
5.9.2007 8:18pm
scote (mail):
Ooohhh. Scary. The Boogieman as President Obama.

You know what worrying about President Obama banning guns is paranoid when the current president asserts the extra constitutional power to arrest and hold any and all people indefinitely without trial.

It is specious to hold out the Liberal Boogieman when the "conservative" in charge has done far more to damage our fundamental, constitutionally enumerated rights. I point this out not to troll, but because the right to own guns is irrelevant if we don't have the right to challenge illegal arrests. In addition, the Supreme court cannot be said to be predisposed to a "semi-automatic" weapons ban making the whole argument hypothetical whereas the loss of Habeus Corpus is real.
5.9.2007 8:19pm
Justin (mail):
I don't honestly care much about guns one way or another, so don't interpret this as taking a side, but...

There's an argument to be made that if gun lobby groups were amenable to more commonplace regulations, even less regulation than we require to drive a vehicle), then the arguments that would lead those to want to ban guns would be undercut. If the pro-gun lobby had the appearance of actually trying to keep criminals from effectively getting guns, then the anti-gun lobby wouldn't be able to push through a total ban under the guise of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
5.9.2007 8:40pm
Mark Jones (mail):
Given that the Supreme Court has shown a cowardly tendency to dodge Second Amendment cases for decades, thereby enabling states to blithely ignore the Second Amendment for all those same decades, whether or not the Supreme Court is or isn't "predisposed" to support a ban is irrelevant. A right you can't get enforced isn't much of a right in practice. A court that won't hear cases touching on the right in question is giving the would be infringers tacit permission to do as they please.
5.9.2007 8:47pm
Ian Argent (mail):
Since the current state of regulation is a good bit less than that required for automobiles (ownership of an automobile is essentially completely unrestricted, and "carriage" of automobiles in public is on a shall-issue basis), complaining that the "Gun Lobby" opposes "the same level of regulation" as that required for car ownership is a tad specious.

I'd love to have the same level of regulation as for automobile ownership - I'd be able to buy the rifle and handguns that I have my eye on instead of having to wait up to 30 days (possibly longer) to do so.
5.9.2007 8:49pm
Vinnie (mail):
The NRA would jump on treating guns like cars. I have a license to carry a gun and drive a car. Only one of them is good nationwide. I can buy any car I can afford, put it on a truck and drive it on private property without a license or any paperwork at all.

Does that mean that I can carry my concealed pistol in New York? D.C? Can I put a .50 caliber machine gun on each corner of my property?

I would vote for just about any politician that does not see the bill of rights as a Chinese menu: "I'll take 2 from column A and 3 from column B.
For the record: "Where are the common sense regulations for voting? Stupid politicians kill more people than guns.
5.9.2007 8:55pm
juris imprudent (mail):
There's an argument to be made ...

Neville Chamberlain made that argument, and more persuasively than you Justin.

It's all quite reasonable you know.
5.9.2007 8:56pm
Boulder Law (mail) (www):
Prof. Volokh:

You say revolvers would not be included in a "semi-auto" ban, but why not? Double action revolvers function effectively the same as a pistol, every time you pull the trigger the gun fires, until it is empty.

Single action revolvers might go unbanned, but then the rate of fire can be similar, so what's the basis for banning one but not the other?

I read semi-auto ban as indicating two things: (1) ignorance of firearms and (2) a desire to ban at least all handguns.
5.9.2007 9:06pm
KeithK (mail):
"Ooohhh. Scary. The Boogieman as President Obama. "

Whether or not Obama qualifies as a boogeyman, this is certainly a good example of a mainstream politician who wants to take guns away. Then again, maybe he was just tired when he said that.
5.9.2007 9:12pm
Justin (mail):
I think my broader point (insults aside), was that creating a comprehensive licensing scheme, having some minimal requirements concerning capacity and knowledge of gun safety, a ballistics database, and a national gun registry, would all help deprive the pro-gun lobby of the gun-ban arguments. But both sides take "absolutist" approaches, and its possible whene you take that approach that you are going to lose.

NB - when Obama tries to take stances like the one he is taking there, he opens himself up precisely to the attack EV is making - that since the other side does not favor a moderate position, they cannot be trusted even with moderate regulations. My point was that it goes both ways. When pro-gun advocates refuse to take a moderate-position, then anti-gun absolutists can argue that only a full ban can protect people.
5.9.2007 9:23pm
KeithK (mail):
It's absolutely true that folks tend to be absolutist on both sides of the gun issue. In this I see a great parallel between gun rights and abortion rights. Supporters of each right tend to be absolutist as a defense against those who seek to eliminate that result.

Speaking for myself, I would gladly trade reasonable minimum training requirements for shall issue licensing. I can't agree with the idea of a national gun registry though because it doesn't seem to bring much value in crime prevention but has too much value for potential confiscatory purposes. Again, when prominent politicians state a goal of completely banning guns it's wise not to meekly accept measures that would facilitate this.

As for a ballistics database, it provides so little value as to not be worth serious consideration.
5.9.2007 9:32pm
Brian K (mail):

I can't agree with the idea of a national gun registry though because it doesn't seem to bring much value in crime prevention but has too much value for potential confiscatory purposes.


so much for the idea of treating guns like cars...you have to register your car.
5.9.2007 9:43pm
BladeDoc (mail):
Yeah scote because one administration is taking rights away we shouldn't worry about the next taking more away. Great the ultimate tu quoque arguement that will result in a police state. When the conservatives are in power it'll be for the good of the state and when the liberals are in power it'll be for your own good. Well I have an idea, how about we worry about ALL the infringements on our civil liberties -- and I'll prioritize (for myself, mind you) the one that strips away my ability to defend myself when push comes to shove. Even from the government if it comes to that.
5.9.2007 9:50pm
Viscus (mail) (www):

Whether or not Obama qualifies as a boogeyman, this is certainly a good example of a mainstream politician who wants to take guns away. Then again, maybe he was just tired when he said that.


Or maybe the stupid survey he checked should have had more precise answers and defined the term "semi-automatic." A lot of people who are not familiar with guns confuse "semi-automatic" with "automatic." If you say "semi-automatic" the image they have in their head is a machine gun. Only later when I became more familiar with guns did I learn that most guns are in fact semi-automatic.

Obama's position is not clear based on this survey. I think it is best not to overreact absent a clarification.
5.9.2007 9:52pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> I think my broader point (insults aside),

Your first attempt at making that point assumed things that are simply not true.

> was that creating a comprehensive licensing scheme,

To what end? Feel free to point out the actual effects of such schemes (they have been implemented) or explain why this one will be different if those effects are not the ones that you predict. (No, you don't get to ignore relevant experience, even if you don't know about it, at least not if we're to take you seriously.)

> having some minimal requirements concerning capacity

How does capacity matter? (You're likely making a technical argument here, so we'll expect you to understand the technology in making the case.)

> and knowledge of gun safety,

Ah, gun safety. What fraction of the gun problems have any relationship to safety?

Remember, no one expects car licensing to affect folks who want to drive get-away cars.

> a ballistics database,

Ballistics change even if the owner isn't trying to make them change. Is it reasonable to assume that the desired targets won't make any effort along those lines?

Again, you're relying on technology, and it doesn't work the way that you're assuming. If you disagree, you're going to have to provide relevant supporting facts, not just "fingerprints help solve crimes".

> a national gun registry, would all help deprive the pro-gun lobby of the gun-ban arguments.

Since that hasn't been true anywhere else, why would it be true in the US? (Oh, and the US has a universal registry. If you're going to argue that it's ineffective, you get to explain how it works and how it should be modified. And no, you don't get to say "it will be better".)

Here's an easy question - what fraction of "crime guns" today could be tracked to the criminal through a perfect registry? What fraction of gun crimes could be solved? (Note that in most cases, the gun isn't available.)
5.9.2007 9:54pm
Brian K (mail):

I'll prioritize (for myself, mind you) the one that strips away my ability to defend myself when push comes to shove


you really think you can defend yourself from a SWAT team with a semi-automatic pistol?
5.9.2007 9:54pm
Viscus (mail) (www):

you really think you can defend yourself from a SWAT team with a semi-automatic pistol?


I think you can defend yourself better with a semi-automatic pistol than without one.
5.9.2007 9:56pm
Malvolio:
I think my broader point (insults aside), was that creating a comprehensive licensing scheme, having some minimal requirements concerning capacity and knowledge of gun safety, a ballistics database, and a national gun registry, would all help deprive the pro-gun lobby of the gun-ban arguments.
That point might be broad, but it is also wrong. Dr. Volokh has written extensively on the slippery slope and this would make a perfect example. Each of these restrictions makes more restrictions that much easier on a practical level and that much more plausible ("Hey, we already do a and b, why not c?")
[W]orrying about President Obama banning guns is paranoid when the current president asserts the extra constitutional power to arrest and hold any and all people indefinitely without trial.
Just holding the counter-factual belief that the current president asserts the power to arrest and hold any and all people without trial is a pretty severe form of paranoia.
5.9.2007 9:58pm
BladeDoc (mail):
Wow, typing fast, without paragraph breaks and about guns -- even I think I'm a kook when I read that last comment.
5.9.2007 9:59pm
Brian K (mail):

I think you can defend yourself better with a semi-automatic pistol than without one.


Have you seen the videos of what happens when you pull a gun on a SWAT team? or even point one at them?
5.9.2007 10:08pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Brian K,

First, there are civilians as skilled at firearms use as members of SWAT teams. Second, this whole scenario, where SWAT teams come after law-abiding citizens is highly improbable (practically nil).

That said. If this outlandish scenario were to occur and a SWAT team was hell-bent on executing you, I think you would be better off with a semi-automatic weapon than without one. I don't really think you can argue otherwise with a straight face. Obviously, it would not guarantee anything, but it would increase your probability of survival a tad bit. =)
5.9.2007 10:14pm
Justin (mail):
Without getting into it here, I think there are substantial flaws in Volokh's slippery slope argument, so relying on that won't convince me.
5.9.2007 10:17pm
Alex 2005 (mail):
This is intended for Prof. Volokh:

A personal question, if there were no "individualistc" 2nd Amendment (indeed - no 2nd Amendment at all), would you still oppose gun control laws because it's poor public policy?

The reason I ask is that I am never quite sure if you are against gun control laws because it infringes upon a constitutional right (which, of course, is reason enough) or because it's bad policy.
5.9.2007 10:18pm
Justin (mail):
If the US had a universal gun registry (as opposed to an ad hoc licensing and registration scheme), we'd easily be able to tell who the last legal owner of any particular gun was. Obviously, that currently isn't the case.

You add a ballistics registry to that, and it would be a substantial boon to cops. And while those registry's are hardly foolproof, even moderate effectiveness would be a huge step up.
5.9.2007 10:19pm
Russ (mail):
ight Justin. And we should carry it further.

If the press can't self regulate to keep classified stories off the front page, we wouldn't have to call for more restrictive laws on what they can print. And if criminals would just hand over self-incriminating evidence, we wouldn't have to find ways around warrants.

See, we can all play this game!
5.9.2007 10:23pm
Dave Wangen (mail):

If the US had a universal gun registry (as opposed to an ad hoc licensing and registration scheme), we'd easily be able to tell who the last legal owner of any particular gun was.


Just like Canada, right?

You _are_ aware of how well that particular universal national gun registry worked, right?
5.9.2007 10:35pm
Brian K (mail):
Viscus,

I was carrying on a previous posters thread concerning the dichotomy displayed by many conservative in regards to gun rights and other rights.

propose requirement to register guns and all hell breaks loose and yet they'll voraciously defend overbroad no-fly lists and massive privacy intrusions. removing habeus corpus is not a problem nor is kidnapping citizens and sending them to secret prisons, yet if some conservatives even think you might possibly even be thinking about confiscating guns then all hell breaks loose. the difference in respect for these rights makes no sense to me.

I bring up the example of the SWAT team to show how useless having a pistol is if the government for some reason decides you are a national security threat.
5.9.2007 10:39pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Stop with the cars already!

I can buy/build a vehicle of any size and horsepower. I can even import one illegal car per lifetime from other countries. I can own a tank or a bulldozer or a mobile crane. All without permission of anyone.

I can drive all these vehicles on private land without a license or permission of any kind beyond the landowner's.

I can drive any car on public streets and roads with a license from any country on earth (no matter how easy it is to bribe issuers in that jurisdiction).

I can drive a car registered anywhere on earth in the US (as long as I deny that I am resident).

Pretty light regulation.
5.9.2007 10:39pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
When pro-gun advocates refuse to take a moderate-position, then anti-gun absolutists can argue that only a full ban can protect people.

And if that causes a dead-lock I consider that better than being "accomodating".

Justin, just for a moment consider that everything you pose is all give and no take. Where's the carrot for the RKBA supporter? That's the way this argument is usually posed - give up some of your rights now or all of them later. That isn't much of a compromise.

Or perhaps you really are serious about treating guns like cars - I can buy as many as I want/afford, with no limit on capacity (horsepower), etc. In which case you are arguing for a substantial reduction in gun control from our current situation.
5.9.2007 11:09pm
Vinnie (mail):
"ballistics registry" Lets kill this idea with facts, take a sample from my gun. 5 minutes with my range bag. No match, no sign of fowl play. No special skills.
5.9.2007 11:15pm
scote (mail):
Malvolio writes:

Just holding the counter-factual belief that the current president asserts the power to arrest and hold any and all people without trial is a pretty severe form of paranoia.


Sorry, Malvoio, we can have a debate on the merits of gun control but the simple fact is that I'm correct on the Bush position on indefinite detention.

This Administration has asserted the right to detain any person, US citizen or not, secretly and indefinitely at their sole discretion. The question is not whether this is true but how often they have used this power and how often they intend to use this power in the future. They asserted and used this power and then had it codified in to law (a mere formality since they assert that the President has the constitutional right to violate any law necessary to execute his "Commander in Chief" role) in the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

While I agree that it is true that one can multi-task and worry about the endangerment of more than one constitutional right at a time, my issue is with those who would make the foolish mistake of worrying about gun rights in a future administration but dismissing the fact that the current one is taking away their right to Habeas corpus.

The current administration has institution has instituted secret laws, secret warrantless wiretaps, secret warrantless data-mining of virtually all Americans phone records, secret arrests, secret detentions, secret courts, secret indefinite detention without Habeas corpus, secret torture, secret "extraordinary rendition" (torture, outsorced) and the literal claim to be above the constitution. And instead, some people are holding up a Liberal presidential candidate up as the anti-constitutional rights Boogieman! Priceless.

Your second amendment rights do you no good if you are in jail forever without charges or the right to Habeas Corpus. Habeas is much more important to prioritize.
5.9.2007 11:23pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
scote-

I share your apprehension about what the current Administration has done, and in particular, setting the state for what a future one may attempt. With that in mind, consider well what Judge Kozinski says:

The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed--where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
5.9.2007 11:41pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

If the US had a universal gun registry (as opposed to an ad hoc licensing and registration scheme), we'd easily be able to tell who the last legal owner of any particular gun was. Obviously, that currently isn't the case.
Since a big fraction of criminally misused guns are stolen, what good does this do? I've read one BATF report that indicated about 40% of guns criminally misused and seized in New York City were stolen before the first retail seller. They were stolen at the factory, in transit to wholesalers, or to retailers.

Oh, you do know that convicted felons are exempt from mandatory registration, don't you? Haynes v. U.S. (1968) ruled that it violates the Fifth Amendment to punish someone for failing to register a gun if they can't lawfully own it. Only those who can lawfully own a gun can be punished for failure to register.



You add a ballistics registry to that, and it would be a substantial boon to cops. And while those registry's are hardly foolproof, even moderate effectiveness would be a huge step up.
Some states have already done this, and had their system running for a couple of years. And the number of crimes solved?

By the way, ballistics registration doesn't work as a real world crime solver for the following reasons:

1. A lot of bullets aren't recovered in good enough shape. they get badly damaged, especially hollow point ammunition.

2. The rifling marks change over time--and if you make an effort to do so (by running a thin rattail file through the barrel) they change very quickly.

3. Shotguns have no rifling--and that's typically 9% of U.S. murders.

Even when you recover perfect rifling marks from the bullet, the ballistic registry has two additional problems:

1. If a gun was stolen from the lawful owner (or it was reported stolen, which may not be the same thing), then the ballistics registration helps you how?

2. As the number of records increases, the harder it gets to match a bullet to a gun. I have a detailed explanation of the statistical problems with this approach here. While the rifling marks are distinctive, they are not quite as unique as fingerprints--especially when the rifling changes over time, unlike fingerprints.
5.9.2007 11:48pm
Truth Seeker:
If the US had a universal gun registry (as opposed to an ad hoc licensing and registration scheme), we'd easily be able to tell who the last legal owner of any particular gun was.

And it would be oh so easy to say, "General, have the troops collect all the guns, here;s the list."

With the left arguing that international law trumps constitutional rights, and that our courts should look more at international law, a full gun ban is not hard to imagine.

Clayton how about doing a book, How to Hide Your Guns When the TIme Comes.
5.9.2007 11:59pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
was that creating a comprehensive licensing scheme

Because requiring a license to execute a human right is acceptable? Because any reasonable licensing scheme would avoid turning into a de facto ban by consistently refusing to give out licenses, or simply do nothing by merely checking the same lists the NICS does?
having some minimal requirements concerning capacity

Tell me, how having 5 bullets and six gang-bangers attacking me is productive to self-defense, or why it's hard to kill an unarmed and unfighting individual with one bullet?
and knowledge of gun safety,

The police, at this point, can't teach their own idiots gun safety. Given how few civilian gun deaths are due to poor gun safety with legal guns, and that +100-300 USD worth of training can certainly prevent a lot of folk from owning guns, I'd say that's a fairly unfair choice.
a ballistics database,

Which has never worked in those places that have tried it?
and a national gun registry,

Er, yeah, I'm not even going to start with the problems in this one.

I'm sorry, but we've already given up, among other things, the right to privacy (gun sales records must be maintained for 20 years and given to the BATFE whenever the BATFE decides to ask), the presumption of innocence (self-defense is an 'affirmative' defense, meaning you must be able to prove that, not that the prosecutor must prove you were actually guilty), and protection from prior-restraint laws. We can't associate with whoever we want (I can't let someone prohibited from owning a gun into my up stairs without breaking a federal law). Daring to bring a gun into public requires police permission in most states.

In return we've gotten... er... well, nevermind, we've had to go head-first against the gun-fearing wussies for every single step of the way despite that. Every state that allows perfectly lawful citizens to own handguns and carry them is followed with. The "Gun Show" loophole comes up every time a gun show comes through town (because apparently it's not enough to commit a felony if you were to sell a gun to someone ineligible as current law has it, but the law must also somehow prevent gun-owning people from even meeting). Safe travel laws are just plain ignored by cops.

We've made more than enough damned compromises.
5.10.2007 12:03am
Bill Woods (mail):
Brian K: I bring up the example of the SWAT team to show how useless having a pistol is if the government for some reason decides you are a national security threat.

And if your car gets stuck on the tracks in the path of a freight train, wearing your seatbelt will be equally useless. But that isn't a good argument against wearing seatbelts, since there are far more scenarios in which the seatbelt might help.

Furthermore, having a pistol doesn't oblige you to try to shoot it out with the SWAT team; you could choose not to. If you don't have a pistol, you have no choice.
5.10.2007 12:06am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
One reason that I have heard for objecting to gun registration is that if guns are registered, then the government has an easy time seizing guns when they are banned. At present, it is a lot more difficult.

Indeed, I know people who are paranoid of the government enough that they purchase guns illegally (though they have clean records) just to avoid any sort of government records.

Of course, then there is the Tennessean published a list of concealed carry permit owners, essentially telling everyone, including criminals, who in that state most likely owned handguns. The list was apparently later taken down.
5.10.2007 12:08am
PubliusFL:
"so much for the idea of treating guns like cars...you have to register your car."

Wow, I was unaware of the national car registry. And you generally only have to register your vehicles if you plan to operate them in public. Which is more like a carry permit than registration of ownership.
5.10.2007 12:11am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton how about doing a book, How to Hide Your Guns When the TIme Comes.
That's not the time to hide them.
5.10.2007 12:16am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

One reason that I have heard for objecting to gun registration is that if guns are registered, then the government has an easy time seizing guns when they are banned. At present, it is a lot more difficult.
That's not paranoia, either. The second director of Handgun Control gave an interview to the New Yorker in 1976 in which he stated that mandatory handgun registration was one of the steps on the way to complete confiscation of all handguns.
5.10.2007 12:18am
maxx:
Question: is a modern (double action) revolver "semi-automatic" in the sense that Mr. Obama speaks of? If not, why not?
5.10.2007 1:51am
Brian K (mail):

Since a big fraction of criminally misused guns are stolen, what good does this do? I've read one BATF report that indicated about 40% of guns criminally misused and seized in New York City were stolen before the first retail seller. They were stolen at the factory, in transit to wholesalers, or to retailers.


That of course means that 60% of guns are stolen after the first seller. Since 60 is greater than 40, that means that guns stolen either from the first seller or after the first seller are a bigger problem.
5.10.2007 2:19am
K Parker (mail):
Justin, be defensive about "insults" if you like, but perhaps a better course would be to either
(a) simply not comment on topics where you're completely uninformed, or

(b) if you really do know how closely regulated firearms already are, and are just pretending not to so as to further your argument, then just take it like a man when you're caught at it and dispense with the whining.
5.10.2007 3:17am
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Question: is a modern (double action) revolver "semi-automatic" in the sense that Mr. Obama speaks of? If not, why not?


It is a distinction without a practical difference. The mechanisms are entirely different but a revolver is still capable of "firing as fast as you can pull the trigger". We all know how much that feature scares the soccer moms and the bedwetters. That just makes revolvers "next".
5.10.2007 3:31am
M. Au-Lim:
To address point (1), I offer the following quotes about this issue from your neighbours up north:

"As to confiscation, those who oppose registration allege that it is the first step to confiscation. To them I respond that in 1940 the government of this country introduced mandatory registration of rifles and shotguns as part of the war effort. There was compliance and no confiscation. To those persons I say that in 1977 when the present system of firearms acquisition certificates was introduced, the voices again were raised that confiscation would be the inevitable result, but there was no confiscation. This is the position of the people who have run out of real arguments against gun control. They are trafficking in fictions."
- MP Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Liberal Party)
House of Commons, June 13, 1995

"The Firearms Act is about licensing and registration, not confiscation."
- MP Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice, Liberal Party), July 31st, 1998

"... we're not interested in confiscating their guns, as long as they are legitimate gun owners, as long as they store them appropriately, transport
them appropriately and so on ..."
- MP Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice, Liberal Party)
September 22, 1998, Ottawa

" Far from confiscating, it does the exact opposite and legitimizes the owning of firearms. Certainly property registration does wonders for land titles and land values as it does for motor vehicles and other forms of property. Why would it not be true with firearms?"
- MP John McKay (Scarborough East, Liberal Party)
House of Commons, September 22, 1998

"There is no reason to confiscate legally owned firearms."
- CFC website, as quoted in a letter by MP Garry Brietkreuz, September 21, 2000 (http://www.garrybreitkreuz.com/publications/letter10.htm)

"This is not about confiscating guns. I resent the implication and the mythology that is portrayed by using that statement because it is incorrect."
- MP Lynn Myers (Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada, Liberal Party)
House of Commons, November 8, 2001

"For years, firearm owners have expressed fears regarding the confiscation of firearms. This is a concern I heard loud and clear when we held consultations with firearms organizations last fall. But, in fact, those fears have not materialized."
- William V. Baker, Commissioner of Firearms
Remarks to the Canadian Professional Police Association Annual General Meeting, August 26, 2004

So far so good, right? No one's taking your guns. At least up until:

"I've come to the conclusion that significant change is needed. I've come to the conclusion that we should ban handguns."
- Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, Liberal Party
Campaign Stop in Etobicoke, Ontario, December 8, 2005

So, to summarize:

We're not taking your guns.

We're not taking your guns.

We're not taking your guns.

We're not taking your guns.

We're not taking your guns.

We're not taking your guns.

We're taking your guns.


Ten years from Bill C-68 (mandatory firearms registration) to a call for a ban.

Thank you for playing.
5.10.2007 3:50am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> you have to register your car.

Actually, you don't. You only have to register it to use it on public roads.

Note that there are no restrictions on who can own cars, even those that are registered to drive on public roads. (Yup, folks with multiple DUIs are completely free to buy and own cars, cars that they can't legally drive on public roads.)
5.10.2007 3:59am
Brian K (mail):
M. Au-Lim,

You neglected to mention that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to own a gun.

Also registration laws have existed in Canada since 1934. Nice job with the quotes though trying to imply some sort of liberal conspiracy...too bad facts got in your way.
5.10.2007 4:17am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I think my broader point (insults aside), was that creating a comprehensive licensing scheme, having some minimal requirements concerning capacity and knowledge of gun safety, a ballistics database, and a national gun registry, would all help deprive the pro-gun lobby of the gun-ban arguments. But both sides take "absolutist" approaches, and its possible whene you take that approach that you are going to lose.
First, let me note that for no other right besides guns to liberals advocate this approach. We don't hear liberals tell the ACLU, "You should just accept reasonable regulations on speech, so that would-be censors will leave you alone." We don't hear liberals tell NARAL, "You ought to accept reasonable restrictions on abortion, so that pro-life people will stop campaigning against abortion." We don't hear liberals tell the ACLU, "You ought to accept Guantanamo Bay, so that the Bush administration won't go further in restricting habeas."

If anybody believed that the groups proposing "reasonable" regulations were doing so in good faith, rather than as a first step on the proverbial slippery slope, it might be a different story. But nobody believes that (e.g.) parental notification laws will satisfy anti-abortion groups, or that "registration" will satisfy anti-RKBA groups. Slippery slopes are real. I can't tell you how many not-big-fans of the fourth amendment I've heard say, "You already accept (e.g.) these searches at airports, so why not here"?

Second, there's no such thing as a "ballistics database." They might as well invest in a national psychic phone line to solve gun crimes. It's junk science.
5.10.2007 6:55am
law clerk (mail):
"[P]eople who see something as a basic human right tend to worry about their fellow citizens' access to that right . . . ."

The right to own a gun may be a right guaranteed to all Americans, but a "basic human right"? You can't be serious . . .
5.10.2007 11:20am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K writes:



Since a big fraction of criminally misused guns are stolen, what good does this do? I've read one BATF report that indicated about 40% of guns criminally misused and seized in New York City were stolen before the first retail seller. They were stolen at the factory, in transit to wholesalers, or to retailers.





That of course means that 60% of guns are stolen after the first seller. Since 60 is greater than 40, that means that guns stolen either from the first seller or after the first seller are a bigger problem.
Since the justification for national gun registration was to trace how illegally used guns were obtained, how does it do you any good to know what the last lawful owner was for a stolen gun?

You are so intent on picking nits that you missed the whole point of why gun registration doesn't work: stolen guns!
5.10.2007 11:56am
wuzzagrunt (mail):

The right to own a gun may be a right guaranteed to all Americans, but a "basic human right"? You can't be serious . . .


Is the right to defend one's life a basic human right? Of course it is. Does one lose that by virtue of a debilitating injury that makes hand to hand combat impractical? Howz about old age, slight stature, etc., etc., etc........?

The means to defend one's life and limb is not implied, nor is it assumed. It is explicit in the right to keep and bear arms language of the 2A. That the framers didn't make the right to self defense an explicit article in the BoR is because that right goes back further than the Old Testament. They also didn't ennunciate a specific right to pick the lint out of your own belly button. Some things are just too obvious for words.

Or ought to be.
5.10.2007 11:57am
Truth Seeker:
The right to own a gun may be a right guaranteed to all Americans, but a "basic human right"? You can't be serious . . .

It is a basic human right to be able to defend yourself and your family against those who would kill, rape, rob you. So, yes, owning a gun is a basic human right. It's dangerous world. No governmrnt has the right to take away your best defense.

If the Jews in 1930s Germany or the victims in Rwanda, or Bosnia, or Cambobia had guns then they would not have been slaughtered by the millions. Guns are equalizers. They make a 90 pound woman equal to a 250 pound goon.
5.10.2007 12:02pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
The right to own a gun may be a right guaranteed to all Americans, but a "basic human right"? You can't be serious . . .
He's serious, and don't call him Shirley . . .

The philosophical underpinning of the Bill of Rights is that these are, well, rights that adhere to humans by virtue of being humans, not privileges granted by a government, nor rights that are natural only for people living in the United States, and that the enumerated rights are a nonexclusive list.

I think there's good reasons why each and every one of the rights incorporated into the Bill of Rights should have been there, and as a utilitarian argument, I'll suggest that those eager to dispense with one (either in the US or as a general principle) out of utilitarian concerns might find that others' utilitarian concerns might make others equally disposable.

Beyond that, I hope it's not exactly news that genocide has been successful only against largely-disarmed populations. It's perhaps possible that there's some connection?
5.10.2007 12:18pm
Happyshooter:
you really think you can defend yourself from a SWAT team with a semi-automatic pistol?

Ask the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto in 43 who defended themselves against police forces and ended up head to head with 2,000 panzergrenadiers. They were armed mostly with handguns, sport rifles, and IEDs.

They ended up dying, but they took a lot of the bad guys with them and tied up a major combat formation which was badly needed in the east. If they gave a good account of themselves against armored infantry I would expect that they could have taken some cops playing part-time SEALs.
5.10.2007 12:33pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
The right to own a gun may be a right guaranteed to all Americans, but a "basic human right"? You can't be serious . . .


Well, it isn't a civil right, since it's not expressively provided by the government. The right, when recognized, exists regardless of nationality, ethnicity, and religion. That matches the definition of human right.

You can try to marginalize it if you like, but the disarm to keep the tools necessary for self-defense is a very strong even outside of humans.
5.10.2007 12:49pm
r78:
When I read posts fantasizing about taking on a SWAT team with a handgun, I can only laugh.

I shoot IDPA and Practical competitively and do fairly well. But let me tell you, if a SWAT team is about to make entry into my house, I would get as far away from my gun safe as I could.
5.10.2007 2:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
As somebody has pointed out, a universal gun registry would lead to midnight "dynamic entries" at the last known legal owner's home. And, since the start of the entire op was the discovery that the gun was used in a crime, by definition, it wouldn't be there.

"You're paranoid. Snork ho-ho."

"Slippery slope? Jeesh, that's the oldest one in the book."

"Too late now, chump. Nothing you can do. You're screwed."
5.10.2007 2:56pm
Brian K (mail):

Since the justification for national gun registration was to trace how illegally used guns were obtained, how does it do you any good to know what the last lawful owner was for a stolen gun?

You are so intent on picking nits that you missed the whole point of why gun registration doesn't work: stolen guns!


And you're so jaded by biases that you can miss the obvious.

It allows detection of patterns. This is part of the rationality for the watch lists, illegal wiretapping and certain patriot act measures that some (most?) of you conservatives are so hell bent on having...funny how guns are exempt from logic that you expect everyone else to follow.

Are guns stolen more often from certain gun shops? That would suggest either deliberate (giving guns to people who should get them then reporting them stolen) or non deliberate (not securely locking windows) action on the part of the gun store owner...both of which can be dealt with directly by the police or legislature. Was the last legal owner of the gun a relative of the criminal? If so was it stolen or given to the criminal? Do certain have guns stolen out of their houses more frequently than others? This can be dealt with analogous to the gun store. Are a lot of guns stolen in one part of the country but used in crimes in another? If so that is suggestive of a gun running ring that can be investigated by the FBI. Being able to follow the chain of ownership of a gun can provide a lot of valuable information to the authorities.
5.10.2007 4:40pm
juris imprudent (mail):
This is part of the rationality for the watch lists, illegal wiretapping and certain patriot act measures that some (most?) of you conservatives are so hell bent on having...funny how guns are exempt from logic that you expect everyone else to follow.

So, do you support intrusive govt generally, or only for guns? In other words, are you the same kind of hypocrite you accuse conservatives of being?

There are many gun owners who are appalled by the imperialist bent of this Administration. Thanks for recognizing us.
5.10.2007 4:59pm
BladeDoc (mail):
I realize I'm responding late -- but yes people with access to small arms, ingenuity, and the will to fight CAN indeed fight an advanced military to a standstill -- see Iraq.
5.10.2007 5:36pm
Brian K (mail):

So, do you support intrusive govt generally, or only for guns? In other words, are you the same kind of hypocrite you accuse conservatives of being?


No I do not support intrusive government. But if you are going to demand that I give up my rights I see no reason why the logic used shouldn't apply equally to all sides.
5.10.2007 5:49pm
juris imprudent (mail):
But if you are going to demand that I give up my rights I see no reason why the logic used shouldn't apply equally to all sides.

Who here is demanding that you give up your rights? How about instead of such a pointless tit-for-tat, we agree to respect ALL of EVERYONE's rights?
5.10.2007 6:16pm
Vinnie (mail):
If anybody is going to give up rights why is it us and not the criminals? If we can't trust them with a gun why can we trust them with a car?
5.10.2007 8:14pm
illspirit:
Is it even necessary to look at it as a slippery slope? Or are we forgetting that Ted Kennedy and friends have tried several times to ban all hunting rifle ammunition because it can penetrate police body armor which is only rated for handguns?
5.10.2007 8:16pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian K. Please admit you're joking.

The chain of ownership of an illegally-owned gun...?
If the gun is stolen from the gunshop, you don't need a national registry to know it. By the time it gets to the criminal's hands, it may have had half a dozen possessors.
It may have lain in a drawer for five years.

The analogy with sniffing the ether for "patterns" fails for at least one reason. That is, the pattern involved includes a bad guy on one end. The "pattern" you seek involves a good guy on both ends, before the whole thing disappears.
5.10.2007 9:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K loses it:

It allows detection of patterns. This is part of the rationality for the watch lists, illegal wiretapping and certain patriot act measures that some (most?) of you conservatives are so hell bent on having...funny how guns are exempt from logic that you expect everyone else to follow.

Are guns stolen more often from certain gun shops? That would suggest either deliberate (giving guns to people who should get them then reporting them stolen) or non deliberate (not securely locking windows) action on the part of the gun store owner...both of which can be dealt with directly by the police or legislature. Was the last legal owner of the gun a relative of the criminal? If so was it stolen or given to the criminal? Do certain have guns stolen out of their houses more frequently than others? This can be dealt with analogous to the gun store. Are a lot of guns stolen in one part of the country but used in crimes in another? If so that is suggestive of a gun running ring that can be investigated by the FBI. Being able to follow the chain of ownership of a gun can provide a lot of valuable information to the authorities.
If you mean that guns are being falsely reported stolen by gun stores, this doesn't require national registration. Gun stores are already required to report thefts to BATF. If they don't do so, how does mandatory registration help?

If you mean that guns are being falsely reported stolen by individuals, then how does registration help that? They have reported the guns stolen! You find the gun on someone, and either give them a plea bargain in exchange for turning states evidence against the person that sold them a gun and reported it stolen, or you prosecute them for stealing the gun.

And again: you are giving examples of how gun control will help enforce gun control laws. What about the laws against murder, rape, robbery? Or are you a good little liberal, and consider those less important? I'm serious: in California, sale of an assault weapon carries a minimum four year prison sentence. When I left California, forcible rape was only three years.
5.11.2007 2:25am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K writes:

It allows detection of patterns. This is part of the rationality for the watch lists, illegal wiretapping and certain patriot act measures that some (most?) of you conservatives are so hell bent on having...funny how guns are exempt from logic that you expect everyone else to follow.
So you are agreeing that these are okay, as long as they are for a noble cause, like gun control, but not okay to stop terrorists.
5.11.2007 2:37am
vik:
<b>BrianK Wrote:</b><blockquote>you really think you can defend yourself from a SWAT team with a semi-automatic pistol?</blockquote>

Perhaps we shouldn't have militarized our police in the <i>first</i> place.

Also you're also strengthening the argument that all citizens (police, SWAT, off-duty cops, and plain-Janes like you and me) all have access to the same weaponry, no more, no less, so that we don't end up with a superclass of citizenry to whom the rules don't apply equally.

<b>Viscus wrote:</b><blockquote>where SWAT teams come after law-abiding citizens is highly improbable (practically nil).</blockquote>
I cannot disagree more with this...
Here's a great link to the Cato institute that has a clickable map with SWAT abuses...
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.cato.org/raidmap/">cato SWAT </a>
a bit of googling will get you other sources besides the Cato Institute if you or anyone else reading dislike them in particular.
5.11.2007 4:02am
vik:
BrianK Wrote:
you really think you can defend yourself from a SWAT team with a semi-automatic pistol?


Perhaps we shouldn't have militarized our police in the first place.

Also you're also strengthening the argument that all citizens (police, SWAT, off-duty cops, and plain-Janes like you and me) all have access to the same weaponry, no more, no less, so that we don't end up with a superclass of citizenry to whom the rules don't apply equally.

Viscus wrote:
where SWAT teams come after law-abiding citizens is highly improbable (practically nil).

I cannot disagree more with this...
Here's a great link to the Cato institute that has a clickable map with SWAT abuses...
http://www.cato.org/raidmap/
a bit of googling will get you other sources besides the Cato Institute if you or anyone else reading dislike them in particular.
5.11.2007 4:03am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Viscus writes:

Second, this whole scenario, where SWAT teams come after law-abiding citizens is highly improbable (practically nil).
Intentionally, I agree. If we reach that point, the only solution is going to be revolution. And that's a lot easier with an armed population than an unarmed one.

Most of the incidents where "no-knock warrants" have been improperly served were either accidents (wrong address) or overzealous cowboys who didn't consider the possibility that their informant misled them. A few of them were not accidents. The murder of Donald Scott appears to have been motivated by a desire to add his land to the Malibu National Park, and he wasn't interested in selling. It was easier and cheaper to launch a raid that was clearly based on lies by law enforcement than to do eminent domain on his land. Cases like this are not generally solved by force of arms (which tends to make things worse unless you have a larger group fighting back than the police) but by reforming our legal system. I don't have much hope of that happening anytime soon, unfortunately--and it won't ever happen if Brian K gets his police state wet dream where all lethal force belongs to the government.
5.11.2007 11:12am