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Randy Barnett v. the "Gun Nuts" and the 9/11 "Truthers"--

I read Randy Barnett's last post on the nasty attacks he received after his views were misconstrued either by a reporter or a blogger (or both).

One of the funniest evenings I ever spent with Randy was at an AALS convention when a prominent historian told Randy and me about his work, which he said would take on the "gun nuts." Randy switched into his prosecutor mode and began carefully interrogating the historian on just what views qualified one as a "gun nut." Was a scholar who believed that the Second Amendment protected an individual right a "gun nut"? Why would someone refer to people who took such views as "nuts"? And if the scholar didn't mean that individual rights scholars were "nuts," then why would he bother in his historical scholarship to take on some non-rational fringe that no one took seriously?

I don't recall if Randy questioned whether "gun nuts" existed, though his distaste for the epithet was obvious; Randy was quite effectively challenging the tendency of anti-gun rights scholars to label serious people with which they disagreed as nuts.

As I wrote during the Bellesiles scandal, I don't understand the passion with which people on both sides approach guns. On that occasion, my research reached conclusions that made the pro-gun rights crowd happy, but when I later wrote critical things about John Lott, I received some pretty strong emails in the genre that Randy received today.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Randy Barnett v. the "Gun Nuts" and the 9/11 "Truthers"--
  2. CNS Messes Me Up:
An0n:
[Post suggesting correction deleted. Thanks, AnOn, I caught the typo you noted even before anyone commented here and I tried 3 times to correct it a few minutes after posting, but Powerblogs was being particularly balky this morning--or perhaps it is something with my new computer.]
6.14.2007 11:55am
OrinKerr:
It reminds me of the feedback I received the one time I blogged on gun-related issues, in a post discussing whether professors should carry guns to counter a VA tech-style attack. When I suggested that it was a bad idea, DailyPundit responded:
It may be malign of me, but I can't help but hope that when the next man with a gun stalks slowly toward a classroom door, it is Kerr and those like him on the other side, praying and screaming and waiting futilely for rescue to arrive from their dreamworlds.
I remember thinking, hmm, yes, that does seem rather malign of him, doesn't it?
6.14.2007 11:56am
Steve Plunk (mail):
Could the passion surrounding guns be because people see it as an indicator issue of government power? The same way environmentalist see certain species as indicator species of overall environmental well being many of us see the gun issue.

With firearms part of the constitution it makes it even more important as a measure of balance between people and the government which serves them.
6.14.2007 11:57am
JosephSlater (mail):
On the other hand, if there really is a classroom with Orin Kerr and a number of "those like him" present, I would like to sit in and listen.
6.14.2007 11:58am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

There definitely are lots of gun nuts out there, but most of them -- IMHO -- would much rather collect, shoot and talk about guns than about gun-rights scholarship (NTTAWWT). I shoot, I hunt, and I've had a job where I carried a gun, but I'm not a gun nut, and I frankly have a hard time understanding the attraction (obsession) that guns have for so many people. It's a little nuts.
6.14.2007 12:00pm
Mark Field (mail):

I don't recall if Randy questioned whether "gun nuts" existed


If he did then, the recent emails he got should have changed his mind.
6.14.2007 12:18pm
cvt:

And if the scholar didn't mean that individual rights scholars were "nuts," then why would he bother in his historical scholarship to take on some non-rational fringe that no one took seriously?

So what if the historian couldn't define his terms with the same precision as the law professor? Does that mean that there are no gun nuts and that the historian shouldn't take them on? There are many historical myths that support irrational opinions. One of the things that historians try to do is dispel those myths. That can be as valuable a defining one's terms.
6.14.2007 12:18pm
MikeM (mail):
About 5 years ago I wrote a letter to the Chicago Tribune suggesting that strict constructionism would mean that no one should be prevented from owning front-loading muskets. This resulted in a barrage of emails (mostly stopped before they reached my computer) from someone who probably qualifies as a "gun nut," or at least as someone who can't take a joke.
6.14.2007 12:19pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
I've been puzzled by some of the pro-gun nuttiness myself, as with a recent episode where a long-time writer about hunting got tremendous flak for suggesting that an AR-15 (or something similar) wasn't really a good hunting rifle. I suspect that some of it is due to fear: when prominent politicians try to outlaw all centerfire cartridges as "armor-piercing bulets" and classify my house as an "arsenal" because I bought a couple of boxes of cheap .22 ammo at WalMart, I get a little paranoid myself.

Extreme passions abound elsewhere, too. Here in Indiana, the big issue in the last two elections has been daylight savings time, which we adopted on nearly a straight party-line vote. Our local congressman lost his seat last election, in part because he hadn't tried to stop DST (even though that's a state-law issue). We also get very upset about (1) people buying things from foreigners, and (2) people selling things to foreigners (which gives them "tainted money"). So it's not just us gun nuts. Indiana really is a nice place, just colorful in bizarre ways.
6.14.2007 12:22pm
frankcross (mail):
I suspect that guns are basically a stalking horse for a much broader societal perspective. For the antigun people, they see rights as symbolic of a "Wild West" Deadwood type society. For the progun people, they see gun regulation as symbolic of "communism."

The intensity would come from the association. It's certainly rational to be extremely intensely anti-communist, and hence be extremely intensely anti-gun control as its stand in.
6.14.2007 12:25pm
therut:
Oh please. It isnot that hard to figure out. How many free speech nuts are out there. Many I would say but the left loud mouths and MSM of coarse take their side as well as the newspapers. They had a arsenal of lawyers that have been nutty for many, many years and ther is great USSC protection of many nutty free speech righ ideas. The 2nd amendment is a bastard child of the BOR and is constantly under attack without any clear cut USSC of much Federal Court protection. How many politicians across the spectrum screech about firarms ownership and want to BAN it completely? How many State and local entities infringe on the 2nd amendment? What would be the uproar if there were as many forces aligned aganist free speech still around screaming and constantly filing bill after bill and lawsuit after frivilous law suit and even saying the 2nd amendment should be repealed? Just bring up flag burning about the only fringe free speech idea around and everone is upset. Get real. It is obvious.
6.14.2007 12:43pm
markm (mail):
As Steve Plunk said, I find someone's position on gun control to nearly always be a quick and reliable indicator of their position on many other issues of governmental power. If they don't trust citizens with guns, they just don't trust citizens and will be for nanny-state regulations, against property rights, and for speech codes. If someone favors gun rights, they may or may not want to infringe on other freedoms - but the chances that they won't are better.

So, even though I can't see well enough to shoot straight, and have never been much interested in guns, I do use "gun control" as a litmus test when looking at a politician.
6.14.2007 12:46pm
Hattio (mail):
Steve Plunk;
That is absolutely brilliant. I think you've hit the nail on the head for why people care about this issue so much. For the gun rights types, its the indicator issue for freedom, for the gun ban types, I think it indicates whether we're willing to protect the children and make the world safer.

But, anyone who doubts the existence of gun nuts just isn't paying attention. I have a friend who buys approximately a gun a month...and has for like 10 years. He has two gun safes, both completely full, and he's had to support the foundation where he lives to hold up their weight. He has two guns of most decent models, and he probably only actually shoots most of the guns once a year if that. He is a gun nut. Dont' get me wrong, he has every right to own these guns with no restrictions. FWIW, if I were to make a list of people I know most likely to flip out and go on a shooting spree, he would be near the bottom out of all my friends.
6.14.2007 12:54pm
markm (mail):

I've been puzzled by some of the pro-gun nuttiness myself, as with a recent episode where a long-time writer about hunting got tremendous flak for suggesting that an AR-15 (or something similar) wasn't really a good hunting rifle. I suspect that some of it is due to fear: when prominent politicians try to outlaw all centerfire cartridges as "armor-piercing bulets" and classify my house as an "arsenal" because I bought a couple of boxes of cheap .22 ammo at WalMart, I get a little paranoid myself.

Zumbo didn't just suggest that the AR-15 wasn't a good hunting rifle (and of course it isn't for deer and larger game); he expressed amazement that people used them for hunting coyotes, and supported banning them. The first part of that showed some remarkable ignorance from a man who's supposed to be an expert on guns and hunting; the best "varmint" rounds are high-velocity, small-caliber, like the .223 cartridge fired by the AR-15, and hunters tell me the AR-15 is quite accurate enough for the job. The second part just plays into the hands of those who want to incrementally work towards banning all guns.

It was also pretty snobbish; he evidently thought that old-style guns with expensive wood fittings and bolt actions are good, but newer ones with fiberglass fittings are bad. I share his tastes, but I'm not going to criticize what others choose...

One thing I can say for Zumbo: He apologized well, making it clear that he had belatedly done his research and understood his error.
6.14.2007 1:05pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
I suspect that guns are basically a stalking horse for a much broader societal perspective.

I don't think so. There are a lot of people who really fetishize guns.
6.14.2007 1:19pm
whackjobbbb:
Yeah, Zumbo absent-mindedly took a shot at the anti "black gun" crowd, which uses the color and surface texture of a firearm as indicator of something or another... but always bad of course. It's sorta like those who pushed the full "assault weapons ban", a part of which supposedly banned some thumbhole stocks and pistol grips on longguns (ergonomically useful features, if you've ever spent any time in the field with a firearm, and take a look at the recent increase of sales of thumbhole turkey guns, as proof).

Sensible laws will be reviewed by sensible people, much like the Virginia tinkering underway right now. But if you're looking for "nuts", I suggest you broaden your scope of view, because they're on all sides of these issues.
6.14.2007 1:21pm
r78:
Yep, there are gun nuts. People who don't own any guns consider me one. I - who own less than a dozen guns - consider my uncle, who has nearly every model of every Weatherby rifle in every caliber produced to be a gun nut. Oh, and has duplicates of the ones he actually hunts with so that he never takes his safe queens out in the field.

Anyway, isn't it strange though that society refers to such people as "nuts" while not using that same term to describe people who collect, say, decorative teaspoons or hummel figurines? I concede there has not (yet) been a mass murder committed with hummel figurines . . .
6.14.2007 1:51pm
Hattio (mail):
r78;
I'm quite comfortable calling anyone who buys every model of anything (assuming they're not buying for resale) a nut.
6.14.2007 1:58pm
Alan Gunn:
Markm wrote:


Zumbo didn't just suggest that the AR-15 wasn't a good hunting rifle (and of course it isn't for deer and larger game); he expressed amazement that people used them for hunting coyotes, and supported banning them.



Right. But the tone of the attacks, even from normally reasonable-sounding people (Xavier, for instance), was extreme. It's one thing to say that Zumbo was wrong, once, after years of good work; it's something else to come as close as people did to calling for his scalp. I think the point of Professor Lindgren's post wasn't that people defend gun ownership, or even that they defend it vigorously (hey, I'll do that, myself), it was that they tend to get carried away. And, on the merits, I'm a little puzzled by the AR-15 and coyote hunting. Those things are heavy. I've hunted even less often that Mitt Romney, but I think I'd pick something less unwieldy if I did take issue with coyotes (which are now appearing in the Indiana suburbs, no doubt a sign that the apocalypse is near. I blame daylight time).

I will add, though, that elements of the anti-gun crowd can be dishonest in a way one doesn't usually, if ever, see the gun-rights people acting. See, for instance, the D.C. definition of "machine gun," which includes my perfectly ordinary Glock autoloader. And then there's the whole "assault rifle" farce, outlawing guns on the basis of cosmetic features.
6.14.2007 1:59pm
TriggerFinger (mail) (www):
I assume Alan Gunn is referring to the Zumbo affair. Zumbo did get a rather massive reaction. However, the reaction was fully justified by three factors:

1) he did not merely suggest the rifle type was a poor hunting choice, he labeled that type of rifle a "terrorist rifle" -- with the clear implication that anyone who owned or used one was a terrorist, or I suppose a terrorist wannabe.

2) He called for banning that type of rifle.

3) As a long-time writer about hunting, Zumbo's comments came in the form of a betrayal rather than an expected attack from an enemy. I think it's entirely understandable that this produces a much more emotional response.

Are there people out there who are quick to judge and make comments that look crazy? Sure. But remember, we're talking about a group that has been described as crazy, dangerous, "nuts", even associated with criminals and terrorists for decades, simply for desiring to exercise their Constitutional rights. Not everyone is going to be articulate and even-tempered after that kind of persecution.
It's a big step from there to actually being either crazy or dangerous.

The gun debate is still firmly in the ballot box and the petition box, rather than the cartridge box, and I think we all want it to stay that way.
6.14.2007 2:11pm
whackjobbbb:
Gunn, the AR-15 is small caliber and is or can be set up for the flatshooting, long range work, as is often required for hunting Mr. Wil E. Coyote. I've never fired one, but I know folks who use them for open-sight match shooting, at ranges of 400 yards and more, for which a larger caliber isn't suited, oftentimes. In any event, it's silly that anybody would be against this type of firearm because it's colored black, and that sorta nonsense is much of why the antis are often viewed with such scorn.
6.14.2007 2:36pm
Parker Smith (mail) (www):
r78 -

I have been exposed to mass quantities of Hummel figurines under circumstances that very nearly made me want to die - does that count?

Alan -

You are right to blame the coyotes on the evil daylight saving time - since they have the extra hour of light after work to infiltrate Indiana suburbs. I'm told they eat cats, though - so isn't that a wash?
6.14.2007 2:37pm
Affe (www):
"I don't think so. There are a lot of people who really fetishize guns."

Yes. They're colloquially known as the "Brady crowd". To the extent that fetishism implies imparting moral qualities to inanimate objects, if I believed the breathless material put out by the various gun-control groups, I'd sacrifice a chicken every time I approached my safe to remove a Kimber or Sig.
6.14.2007 2:45pm
K Parker (mail):
Alan,

I don't know what AR-15 variants you've been shooting or handling, but I've never encountered one that was particularly heavy relative to other rifles of the same general caliber and barrel length.
6.14.2007 3:28pm
glangston (mail):
The true nuttiness about guns is that they have some innate power.
6.14.2007 3:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I think that most of the passion that surrounds pro-gun advocacy is not particularly unusual or condemnable at all; it is simply passionate belief that this is an important right, that it hasn't been sufficiently protected, and that guns are very important for self-defense. (I say this as a liberal who supports an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment but who also thinks that the arguments that such an interpretation would bar most gun control laws is ridiculous.)

That said, there are also clearly those people who have, shall we say, overly-passionate views on guns, people who literally believe that there will be an armed revolution against the government at some point, and people who are way too quick to lobby threats or death wishes against anyone who believes in gun control or asserts a narrower interpretation of the Second Amendment.

But I've talked to a lot of gun rights advocates, including a lot of NRA types who are political conservatives that I would find little common ground with, over the years, and I think the "nuts", if you will, are a very small part of the gun rights community. Most of them are just ordinary people who think this is an important right and that they should be able to protect themselves and their families. And there's plenty of good reason to be passionate about that.
6.14.2007 3:42pm
Alan Gunn:
K. Parker wrote:


I don't know what AR-15 variants you've been shooting or handling, but I've never encountered one that was particularly heavy relative to other rifles of the same general caliber and barrel length.



Just weighed it: 10 pounds, without the scope. For me (I'm pretty old), that's a heavy rifle. (Actually, it's a Bushmaster, not an AR--same basic idea, though.) But I really don't want to turn the comment thread into a discussion of coyote hunting. (The point about cats struck me as sound, though.)
6.14.2007 3:54pm
Horatio (mail):
http://www.lneilsmith.org/

Why Did it Have to be ... Guns?
by L. Neil Smith
lneil@lneilsmith.org

Over the past 30 years, I've been paid to write almost two million words, every one of which, sooner or later, came back to the issue of guns and gun-ownership. Naturally, I've thought about the issue a lot, and it has always determined the way I vote.

People accuse me of being a single-issue writer, a single- issue thinker, and a single- issue voter, but it isn't true. What I've chosen, in a world where there's never enough time and energy, is to focus on the one political issue which most clearly and unmistakably demonstrates what any politician—or political philosophy—is made of, right down to the creamy liquid center.

Make no mistake: all politicians—even those ostensibly on the side of guns and gun ownership—hate the issue and anyone, like me, who insists on bringing it up. They hate it because it's an X-ray machine. It's a Vulcan mind-meld. It's the ultimate test to which any politician—or political philosophy—can be put.

If a politician isn't perfectly comfortable with the idea of his average constituent, any man, woman, or responsible child, walking into a hardware store and paying cash—for any rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything—without producing ID or signing one scrap of paper, he isn't your friend no matter what he tells you.

If he isn't genuinely enthusiastic about his average constituent stuffing that weapon into a purse or pocket or tucking it under a coat and walking home without asking anybody's permission, he's a four-flusher, no matter what he claims.

What his attitude—toward your ownership and use of weapons—conveys is his real attitude about you. And if he doesn't trust you, then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?

If he doesn't want you to have the means of defending your life, do you want him in a position to control it?

If he makes excuses about obeying a law he's sworn to uphold and defend—the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights—do you want to entrust him with anything?

If he ignores you, sneers at you, complains about you, or defames you, if he calls you names only he thinks are evil—like "Constitutionalist"—when you insist that he account for himself, hasn't he betrayed his oath, isn't he unfit to hold office, and doesn't he really belong in jail?

Sure, these are all leading questions. They're the questions that led me to the issue of guns and gun ownership as the clearest and most unmistakable demonstration of what any given politician—or political philosophy—is really made of.

He may lecture you about the dangerous weirdos out there who shouldn't have a gun—but what does that have to do with you? Why in the name of John Moses Browning should you be made to suffer for the misdeeds of others? Didn't you lay aside the infantile notion of group punishment when you left public school—or the military? Isn't it an essentially European notion, anyway—Prussian, maybe—and certainly not what America was supposed to be all about?

And if there are dangerous weirdos out there, does it make sense to deprive you of the means of protecting yourself from them? Forget about those other people, those dangerous weirdos, this is about you, and it has been, all along.

Try it yourself: if a politician won't trust you, why should you trust him? If he's a man—and you're not—what does his lack of trust tell you about his real attitude toward women? If "he" happens to be a woman, what makes her so perverse that she's eager to render her fellow women helpless on the mean and seedy streets her policies helped create? Should you believe her when she says she wants to help you by imposing some infantile group health care program on you at the point of the kind of gun she doesn't want you to have?

On the other hand—or the other party—should you believe anything politicians say who claim they stand for freedom, but drag their feet and make excuses about repealing limits on your right to own and carry weapons? What does this tell you about their real motives for ignoring voters and ramming through one infantile group trade agreement after another with other countries?

Makes voting simpler, doesn't it? You don't have to study every issue—health care, international trade—all you have to do is use this X-ray machine, this Vulcan mind-meld, to get beyond their empty words and find out how politicians really feel. About you. And that, of course, is why they hate it.

And that's why I'm accused of being a single-issue writer, thinker, and voter.

But it isn't true, is it
6.14.2007 4:08pm
whackjobbbb:
Gunn, the Bushmaster recommended for coyote hunting weighs about 8 pounds, and I walk around the field all day long carrying longguns weighing more than that, which a stationary coyote hunter won't be doing of course. This is an appropriate weapon for that activity, Zumbo notwithstanding.
6.14.2007 4:21pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Remember Niven's Law.
6.14.2007 4:22pm
Ken Arromdee:
But, anyone who doubts the existence of gun nuts just isn't paying attention. I have a friend who buys approximately a gun a month...and has for like 10 years.

A lot of responses are like this and I think they're missing half of the point. There are people who could be legitimately labelled gun nuts--but the historian's suggesting that "gun nut" and "anyone who defends the Second Amendment" are synonymous. It would be silly to interpret his words as "well, sure, only a fringe element are gun nuts, and I'm working hard to fight that fringe element".
6.14.2007 4:30pm
Hattio (mail):
Alan Parker,
No, the coyotes eating cats are not a net wash. It's a net gain.
6.14.2007 4:39pm
Sebastian (mail) (www):
I think the "gun nut" label probably applies quite nicely to me :)

Passion about the issue is rooted in two things really, at least from the pro-gun side. I can't speak too authoritatively on what motivates anti-gun folks, though I suspect it's largely fear of guns for some, and loosely knitted pacifist philosophy for others, or some combination of the two.

But the two things that drive the motivation are a desire to continue a loved sport and pass it on to future generations. And a desire to preserve the meaning of the constitution, and limitations on government.

I fit more in the latter type, in terms of the political activism. I also have strong feelings about, say, the commerce clause, but there's been little success, and there's little hope of success, for limiting Congress's power in that area. If I devoted time and energy into restoring limits on congressional power through the commerce clause, I think I'd feel a lot more depressed and dejected :)
6.14.2007 4:57pm
Tully (mail) (www):
I've never fired one [AR-15], but I know folks who use them for open-sight match shooting, at ranges of 400 yards and more, for which a larger caliber isn't suited, oftentimes.

Long-distance shooters stick to the calibers they're allowed to use under Camp Perry National Match rules, where the course of fire extends out to 600 yards. It's the Gold CUp of American distance shooting.

The .308 [7.62 NATO M-14] and .30-06 [M1 Garand] ruled that roost forever. The .223 [M16/AR-15] is picking up ground because it can match the accuracy without kicking your shoulder up as bad, and because competing service members want to use what they're used to.

At distance the larger calibers are more suited for hunting purposes for obvious reasons, given equal accuracy.

Gun nut? Who, me?
6.14.2007 5:58pm
whackjobbbb:
If you pulled all that off the top of your head... then yes you sir are officially a gun nut. =;-)
6.14.2007 10:00pm
dwlawson (www):
I only recently got back into guns and it was due to my intense interest in history---particularily U.S. history around the time of the revolution, but also fiction such as the Aubrey/Maturin series.

I'm passionate on the subject and have to sometimes rein myself in as my associates and family don't all share that passion.

I only own a few guns (most of those black powder replicas) but that is somewhat due to residing in Chicago. I'm interested in guns for self defense, but also out of historical context and primarily out of a sense of what is logical and right.
6.14.2007 10:33pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that L. Neil Smith has a good point. A politician's position on gun control often is a very good metric as to his real views and intentions. Ditto to some extent as to non-politicians.

It comes back to the Declaration of Independence and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "Life" is first, and for a reason. Without it, none of the rest are useful.

I operate from the point of view that while all life is precious, that of myself and my loved ones are even more so. The problem being first that there is no government guarantee that my life will be protected by the government. And no one is going to be as interested in my own life as I am.

Sure, maybe, just maybe (but I doubt it), people in the aggregate would be safer if there were a lot fewer guns in this country. But that is the aggregate, and I am unwilling to sacrifice my life, and those of my loved ones, to the aggregate. At least, not without very good reason.

If this sounds like the difference between communitarian and individualism, it probably is. The gun controllers are, almost always, communitarians (and since socialism is based on communitarianism, more often socialists). They are insisting that I sacrifice my security in the name of the good of the whole.

But invariably, just as in socialism, some lives are more important than others. The politicians who back taking guns away from the American people often seem to make sure that their own lives are well protected, either through exceptions to the gun laws, or use of private or public security guards.

Am I a gun nut? I don't think so, owning approximately the country's average number of guns (one). But I do agree with Smith that a politician's stance on gun control says a lot about his or her stance on government power and the extent that the politician is willing to sacrifice my life, liberty, and wealth to their own conception of the community's good.
6.14.2007 11:06pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Orin Kerr quotes the DailyPundit:


It may be malign of me, but I can't help but hope that when the next man with a gun stalks slowly toward a classroom door, it is Kerr and those like him on the other side,...


"It may be malign of me..."? As they used to say on The West Wing, "D'ya think?!"

Which reminds me how much I used to watch and hate that show. Here is one quote from Jed Bartlett on the Second Amendment. (Keep in mind this PRESIDENT of the U.S.!


We can't all just agree it's a stupid-ass amendment that was written before there were street lamps, much less police forces, and move on?


Luckily, I didn't have a gun, or my TV probably would have been history. ;-) I settled for yelling at the screen, "They were ALL written before there were street lamps, you ignorant twit!"

He didn't respond.
6.15.2007 12:13am
ATRGeek:
There obviously are quite a few people in the United States who are passionate about owning guns, and many of them react very strongly to the notion that their guns might be taken away from them. I personally don't find that at all surprising--to me guns are like cars in that sense, and there are plenty of "car nuts" in the United States as well. And I expect those "car nuts" would often react just as strongly to the notion that their cars might be taken away from them (in fact, just ask anyone in the repo business).

And that is one of the reasons that I think it is a bit unfortunate that this whole issue has been constitutionalized, and cast in terms of rights rather than simply sound public policy. I realize many of the "gun nuts" (or, as I would put it, the people passionate about owning guns) see the Second Amendment as an important protection, and many of them sincerely believe that the ownership of guns is an important political right. But frankly, that is the sort of argument that actually scares other people (the idea that these guns might actually be used for political violence).

In my view, then, it likely would have been better for all concerned if guns were not constitutionally singled out for special treatment from similar things, like cars. And I believe in such a case it actually would have ended up making no more sense to Americans to try to take away everyone's guns than it would make sense to try to take away everyone's cars.
6.15.2007 11:47am
therut:
Oh get off it. Of coarse those who are afraid people might use their firearms for pollitical reasons want to take them away. That is the point of the Constitutional Right. I can not believe anyone thinks they are FREE if the State holds all the power of force espically violent force. That has got to be the most wussy idea I have ever heard. Maybe to some they would sell their freedom to the hope of The STATE to bend to their will ALWAYS by street theatre. NOT ME. I am not soo nieve. Good Grief. I guess the welfare state has become so important to people that they are happy as long as their very basic animal needs are meet they will sell their FREEDOM for nothing but housing, healthcare, food, clothing, drugs and all and any kind of sex. Free taxpayer money is the opium of the masses. Sad.
6.15.2007 12:12pm
ATRGeek:
therut,

Well, do you think the people would be FREE if the state held all the power of movement? And why isn't that just as good a reason for there to be a constitutional right to own a car? Or how about if the state held all the power of healing? Would you like to see a constitutional right to own first-aid kits?

Now, I actually think there is a sense in which our Constitution does protect those things to some degree. Professor Barnett has some interesting thoughts on this subject, and the bottomline is that if you take our Constitution's requirement of limited government seriously, and give at least some teeth to things like the Necessary and Proper Clause and Due Process Clauses, then there may be judicially-enforceable rights in areas like travel and medical care.

But I don't think the "gun nuts" do themselves any political favors when they claim that tools which are capable of violence are somehow more fundamentally related to freedom than tools related to travel, or health, or so on. That does, as another poster indicated, evoke images of shootouts on the street ala "the Wild West", and even if you personally think there is nothing wrong with that, I think a lot of your fellow citizens have no desire to return to such conditions.
6.15.2007 2:42pm
whackjobbbb:

...many of them sincerely believe that the ownership of guns is an important political right. But frankly, that is the sort of argument that actually scares other people (the idea that these guns might actually be used for political violence).


Geek, you say that as if it's a bad thing? I think the Founders might say it is a necessary thing... that fear. And I of course agree with the Founders.


In my view, then, it likely would have been better for all concerned if guns were not constitutionally singled out for special treatment from similar things, like cars. And I believe in such a case it actually would have ended up making no more sense to Americans to try to take away everyone's guns than it would make sense to try to take away everyone's cars.


Well, if somebody tries to illegitimately take away my car today, I have a swift and sure answer for them, should I choose to exercise it, and attempt to keep my car in my possession where it belongs. But if the antis have their way... my answer won't ever involve that exercise... because it would be precluded. So EVERYTHING can be taken away... if this one thing is taken away... and that's why the Founders understood that it must be written into the Constitution.



But I don't think the "gun nuts" do themselves any political favors when they claim that tools which are capable of violence are somehow more fundamentally related to freedom than tools related to travel, or health, or so on.


Actually, that's the "gun nuts'" strongest point in all this.

I didn't get into guns until about 5-6 years ago, but like that article mentioned earlier up here, I always found myself temperamentally leaning towards the "gun nuts". I believed as they did about the Constitution and all that we've established, and the antis just simply don't... is all. So I just finally closed the deal and purchased a gun and officially joined the gun nuts, but other than that, nothing much has changed, I'd say. The socialists are still socialists, and want to undermine the Constitution... like that stupid West Wing nonsense.
6.15.2007 3:18pm
ATRGeek:
whackjobbbb,

I am pretty sure you are a parody of some sort.

But for others who might sympathize, I will note that regardless of how "strong" you personally feel the point you are making might be, that doesn't mean that point will actually be persuasive to your fellow citizens. And that was my point: whackjobbbb's fantasy of using his gun to ward off people who try to "illegitimately" take his car (and I think there are a lot of repo men who have had to confront that very situation, since some people do not seem to think a mere failure to pay one's debts constitutes a legitimate reason to take a man's car), that image is probably not going to help your political cause.

Which, in fact, is probably whackjobbbb's agenda (to hurt, not help, your political cause). So I would think about that.
6.15.2007 6:18pm
therut:
You are assuming whackjobbb would consider it illegitimate for his car to be repossed. Where you got that I do not know. I assume he meant somone stealing it from him the rightful owner. In Texas he could take appropriate aim with his firearm to remedy that situation legally. Of coarse, he could mean the unlawful taking by the government of his private property. For that he would probably just hire a lawyer. But if the government tomorrow gave all citizens 30 days to "turn em all in" there might be a general uprising of "We the people". Wonder what Jefferson would think??????
6.15.2007 8:02pm
whackjobbbb:

I am pretty sure you are a parody of some sort.


Well, you're certainly entitled to that thought, Geek! (have you socialists removed that part of the Constitution yet?)





I will note that regardless of how "strong" you personally feel the point you are making might be, that doesn't mean that point will actually be persuasive to your fellow citizens.


I'm not really trying to "persuade" you, Geek. You don't seem to persuadabale, per your thoughts, so it's more about presenting the data and leaving it at that.





And that was my point: whackjobbbb's fantasy of using his gun to ward off people who try to "illegitimately" take his car (and I think there are a lot of repo men who have had to confront that very situation, since some people do not seem to think a mere failure to pay one's debts constitutes a legitimate reason to take a man's car), that image is probably not going to help your political cause.


Again, self defense is arguably the most personal and persuasive element for those supporting 2A stuff, and the reason they've advance their views so much over the last 15 years or so, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what you're claiming to be the case. We're just on opposite pages, I guess, so I'm not gonna try to persuade you... I'll just present that data point for you and stop.




Which, in fact, is probably whackjobbbb's agenda (to hurt, not help, your political cause). So I would think about that.


The political cause is going fairly well, I'd say. A number of concealed carry laws coming out... castle doctrines popping up here and there... some kook blows away 32 people in VA and nary a peep from you shrill antis... ol' whackjobbbb must not be hurting the cause TOO much, Geek.
6.16.2007 12:03am