ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Mass Shootings Do Little to Change State Gun Laws

We take a look at what’s happened legislatively in states where some of the worst shootings in recent U.S. history have occurred to see what effect, if any, those events had on gun laws.

An injured person is carried out of Norris Hall at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on April 16, 2007 after a student opened fire and killed 32 students and faculty members. (The Roanoke Times, Alan Kim/AP Photo)

Following the mass shooting in Connecticut, the Obama administration and lawmakers around the country have promised to re-examine gun control in America.

ProPublica decided to take a look at what's happened legislatively in states where some of the worst shootings in recent U.S. history have occurred to see what effect, if any, those events had on gun laws.

We found that while legislators in Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, New York, Texas and Colorado sometimes contemplated tightening rules after rampage shootings, few measures gained passage. In fact, several states have made it easier to buy more guns and take them to more places.

Here's a rundown of what's happened in each of those states:

Virginia: After 23-year-old Virginia Tech student Seung Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty members at the university in April 2007, then-Gov. Tim Kaine assigned a blue-ribbon task force to examine gun policies in the state. The task force made dozens of recommendations that, among other things, suggested that the state intensify background checks for gun purchasers, and ban firearm possession on college campuses. None of the recommendations became law.

The most significant change in Virginia came two weeks after the shooting when Kaine signed an executive order requiring the names of all people involuntarily committed to mental health facilities to be provided to a federal database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Licensed gun dealers are supposed to check the database before they sell anyone a gun.

President George W. Bush subsequently signed federal legislation requiring all states to submit their mental health records to NICS, but to gain the support of the NRA, Congress agreed to two concessions. It made changes to the way the government defined who was "mentally defective," excluding people, for example, who had been "fully released or discharged" from mandatory treatment. The law also gave mentally ill people an avenue for restoring their gun rights if they could prove to a court that they had been rehabilitated. After the law passed, the NRA pushed state lawmakers to limit roadblocks for people applying to regain their rights.

Virginia is particularly open to restoring peoples' gun rights. A 2011 New York Times investigation found that the restoration process in the state allowed some people to regain access to guns simply by writing a letter to the state. Others were permitted to carry guns just weeks or months after being hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

This past year the Virginia state legislature repealed a law that had barred people from buying more than one handgun per month — a law put in place because so many guns purchased in Virginia were later used in crimes committed in states with more restrictions.

The legislature also has made several changes to its gun permitting process. In March, the state eliminated municipalities' ability to require fingerprints as part of a concealed weapon permit application. The state used to require gun owners to undergo training with a certified instructor in order to get permits, but in 2009 it adopted a law allowing people to take an hour-long online test instead. Since Virginia adopted the law, the number of concealed handgun permits the state has issued increased dramatically and many of the permits were issued to people who live in other states where Virginia permits are accepted.

In 2010, Virginia became one of five states to allow permit holders to carry concealed and loaded weapons into bars and restaurants.

Alabama: In Alabama, gun control advocates have won two small legislative victories since March 2009, when 28-year-old sausage plant worker Michael McLendon went on a three-town shooting spree, killing 10 people.

In 2011, the state made it illegal for people to buy weapons for someone else who doesn't have permission to carry one or to provide false information about their identity to a licensed gun dealer. The law was intended to help crack down on gun trafficking. (According to data compiled by non-profit Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the state had the fifth highest rate of crime gun exports in 2009.)

After Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in February 2012, the Alabama state legislature made a slight revision to its version of a law known as the "castle doctrine," which is meant to allow property owners to protect their homes against intruders. Alabama changed its law so that a shooter would only be entitled to civil immunity for shooting a trespasser if the property owner reacted "reasonably."

Arizona: After former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head in a hail of bullets that killed six and wounded 13, a bill was introduced in the state legislature to limit gun magazines to 10 bullets, but the bill failed in the face of pressure from the gun lobby. A similar bill was proposed in Connecticut last year; it didn't pass either.

In March 2012, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill with the opposite effect, forbidding the Arizona Game and Fish Commission from limiting magazine capacity for any gun approved for hunting.

According to rankings assembled by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Arizona is "49th out of 50 — having enacted some of the weakest gun violence prevention laws in the country."

Arizona doesn't require a license to carry a concealed firearm in public, nor does it limit the number of firearms that someone can buy at once.

New York: After a mass shooting at an immigration services center in Binghamton, N.Y., where 13 people were killed and four were wounded, the state assembly entertained several bills on gun control. None passed. One bill would have given police more control over records related to firearm sales. Another would have banned 50-caliber weapons and allowed people to turn them into the state in exchange for fair market value.

Perhaps the most controversial bill in the package would have required the use of a technology called microstamping on all bullets sold in the state.

Using this technology, a serial number could be stamped on bullet casings so they could be traced back to a particular gun. The gun industry argued that the technology would be too expensive and was still unproven. Some gun manufacturers were so upset by it that they threatened to leave the state. The bill passed the Assembly in June, but the Senate did not vote on it.

In January 2012, the legislature repealed a law that previously required handgun manufacturers and dealers to share information about bullet casings and ballistics with the state. Critics of the law said the database used to maintain the information cost too much and didn't help police.

Texas: There's been no effort to tighten gun control in Texas since Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, 39, killed 13 and wounded 32 at a military processing center at Fort Hood in 2009.

In 2011, legislators passed two bills that gave gun carriers greater freedom to take their weapons to more places. One bill restricted employers from prohibiting guns from vehicles in parking areas and another allowed foster parents to carry handguns while transporting their foster children, as long as they are licensed carriers.

Colorado: Colorado's state legislature has not convened since Aurora graduate student James Eagan Holmes, 24, killed 12 and wounded 58 in a movie theater in July. At the time, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper suggested that families of victims needed time to grieve before a discussion on gun control could begin in the state.

After the Connecticut shooting, Hickenlooper said that "the time is right" for the state to consider stronger gun control legislation. He has introduced a measure to strengthen background checks for gun buyers.

“There’s been no effort to tighten gun control in Texas since Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, 39, killed 13 and wounded 32 at a military processing center at Fort Hood in 2009.”

Does anyone else think that the Ft. Hood shooting pokes a big, big hole in the theory that if all of us were armed, mass shootings would be more easily stopped? I mean, it happened on a military base. Weapons all over the place—and people trained to use them.

The answer is not gun control, but people control. The gun does NOT kill people by choice, the person or persons using the gun kill others by choice. To take away guns from responsible people whom use their guns for sport shooting, hunting, target shooting, or for home protection, is to empower those people whom make irresponsible choice to use guns on others. If you take away the peoples right to bare arms, to protect them homes and family’s from those people that make the choice to use guns in the wrong manner, the only thing you are doing is giving the power to the criminals. Thus the criminals can and will over power the honest, responsible gun owners and only create more damage in the long run. DO NOT ban the gun impose stricter policies for gun ownership include a 6mo mental evaluation before any purchase can be made, do back ground checks into the types of medication the person trying to purchase a gun is on or has been on for at least 1 yr. make a friends and family check to ensure that anyone in the household also is mentally stable. This is to ensure anyone whom may have access to the gun is also in good mental health. The gun is not the problem here, people are the problem. However who will ever admit that, except those that are truly honest and responsible. I am well trained and can tell you honestly that if you ban guns you might as well ban pencils, hammers, screw drivers, nails metal pipe, and a whole lot more things as anything can be used to harm/kill anyone in the right hands. So people really think about what you doing.. The gun is NOT the problem. The people/person is.

abinico warez

Jan. 3, 2013, 3:37 p.m.

Gun deaths are about 12,000/yr. Medical industry kills 200,000/yr - so which laws do you think we need to change?

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

Jan. 3, 2013, 3:52 p.m.

@Chris. 

I guess it’s been a while since you were in the military or on a military base.  Let me refresh your “memory”: First, when you passed through the gate to enter the base, you may have noticed a sign saying “Weapons not Permitted”. 
Too bad MAJ Hassan couldn’t read.
Second, although, as you say, it is true that on a military base there are weapons and people trained to use them, the weapons are not “all over the place”.  Indeed, although there are usually people all over the place, the vast majority of the weapons are located in a few special places known as armories where they are stored, unloaded and inaccessable except to a few, under lock and key.
Third, you may recall that base security at Fort Hood was provided by a civilian agency, not the military, and you know what they say: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

Gunther Steinberg

Jan. 3, 2013, 3:58 p.m.

The gun mania in the US, helped along by the exposure to violence on TV and films, will not change. From the earliest days, when slaughtering the native population was encouraged, the gun has ruled the country.
 
Remarkably (?) guns are not allowed in government buildings and schools.
Why the limit? - The day that someone shoots up Congress or the NRA convention, there will be changes,— or all members are issued guns, in line with the NRA suggestion on schools.

The NRA and gun manufacturer’s lobby manage to do well at the expense of the peaceful citizens. Criminals will always get guns - it is a right?!

InsaneJay, I see what you’re saying, but my point was that many gun proponents are saying “If more people are armed, it will stop the bad guys with guns.” But if that were true, an armed nutjob wouldn’t have been able to kill 13 people and wound 32 others on a military base filled with trained & armed people. See my point?

And no, I’m sorry, a pencil/hammer/screwdriver/etc. does not and cannot inflict as much damage as even a simple handgun. Never ever. Yeah, you can stab someone with a pencil. But you’d be pretty unlikely to kill 30 people with a pencil before someone stopped you.

To say that only people who are “truly honest and responsible” identify people as the problem, and not guns, is equivalent to saying “Anyone who doesn’t share my opinion is a liar and a bad person.” If that’s really what you believe, fine. But it doesn’t add anything to the public discourse.

As for the comparison to the medical industry (abinico warez), I think that’s an irresponsible connection to draw. The “medical industry” is not designed to kill people, for one thing. Secondly, your stat of 200,000 people “killed” each year is extremely vague, to the point of being a useless stat. Do you mean people who die on the operating table? People who mistakenly overdose on prescription medicine? People who are misdiagnosed? All very different things. Lastly, regulating one aspect of society (guns) has nothing to do with another (medicine). It’s not one or the other. If your roof is leaking, the contractor doesn’t say “The shingles and the flashing are both letting in water. You can only fix one.” Likewise, when it comes to saving American lives, it would be ridiculous for us to change just one thing that’s killing people.

This is really stupid. State gun laws are illegal and are the cause of shootings. Killers know that they are safe because no one else has a gun to stop them with.

“I guess it’s been a while since you were in the military or on a military base.  Let me refresh your ‘memory’”

I’m sorry, was that really necessary? In order to make a valid point about security on military bases—which you did—did you have to preface it with a swipe about my knowledge of said bases?

This is what bothers so many people about the discourse in America today. Even the fact-based answers come with veiled insults.

@chris

It’s not a swipe—it’s an observation. For the record, I’m ex-military and haven’t been on a base since 9/11—the day most bases were closed to the public. I, too, was stunned by your apparent ignorance or indifference to security concerns surrounding the men and woman we hire to protect our national interests. As a Vietnam era veteran familiar with intracene conflicts that plagued troops during that war, I appreciate the reason soldiers aren’t allowed to carry weapons on base. But when soldiers are ordered to disarm, I expect someone to watch out for force security.

Your answer was not fact based. You asserted no facts—you proffered fallacious arguments that others quickly debunked. Either you know and acknowledge that military bases don’t allow soldiers to carry guns, or you twist the facts to support your preferred policy position. You chose the latter. You lost the argument. Maybe that’s what bothers so many people about discourse in America - they can’t win with fallacious arguments.

@martin

I meant HIS answer. I asked a question, he seemed to offer an answer that was fact-based. But he couldn’t do it without insulting.

And neither can you, apparently. No, I don’t know what kind of security is on military bases, so I am ignorant in that respect. Is that really such a shock, that a civilian wouldn’t know what kind of security exists on a military base? That’s the whole point in asking a question, to get an answer. If I had known I’d get such snide ones, I wouldn’t have bothered.

For the record, no, I am not at all indifferent to security concerns of our men and women in uniform. If you knew anything about me and my family, you’d know that to be way off base.

Again, I didn’t know that military bases don’t allow soldiers to carry guns. (I didn’t find that out until I read Walter D. Shutter’s comment, which I saw after posting my response to InsaneJay.) Your assertion that I must either know that OR be twisting facts doesn’t even make sense. If I HAD known that soldiers on bases were largely unarmed, THEN perhaps I’d have been twisting facts. But I didn’t have that knowledge, so at the time I was pointing out a logical inconsistency between two things I thought were true. It turns out that one of them (bases being full of armed soldiers) wasn’t true. It would have been great to get that information without the contempt, but I guess that’s what I get for coming to the internet and expecting any kind of civility.

This isn’t a win or lose. I’m trying to have a grown-up conversation and hopefully learn some things. But if it makes you feel better, go ahead and declare victory.

James M. Fitzsimmons

Jan. 3, 2013, 4:40 p.m.

How many mass murderers behaved in demonstrably pathological and/or radical ways prior to the violent incident? Nidal Hasan, for example, made no secret of his radical Islamic fundamentalist sympathies prior to his acts of terror yet nothing was done by responsible officials. Why not? Political correctness?  And is this failure to speak out evident in other mass murder cases, for different reasons? Why? How can we encourage people to speak out i.e. “if you see something, say something”. What laws do we have to protect people who speak up? The earlier we interdict in mass murder plots the better.

Chris: Thanks for your posts. They show evidence of higher level critical thinking skills - unlike the dug-in hostile cherry-picked responses you’ve been receiving so far.

Insane Jay: I’ve copied and pasted parts of a previous comment I made moments ago on ProPublica’s previous article on gun control, “By the Numbers: Comparing Spending by Gun Rights and Gun Control Interest Groups.”

“All guns DO kill. Simplistic, yes. True, yes. More people with guns = more people killing each other with guns. We all know powerful assault weapons with extended clips are preferred by nut-case narcissists who want to be remembered for spectacular results.

The real conversation should be about whether or not we want to regulate or continue super-excelling at being the most violent developed nation on the planet. Googling “crime statistics gun violence homicides firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop. (most recent) by country” will lead you to some startling statistics on the nationmaster.com site. The US comes in at #8 in gun deaths (3.6 deaths per year per 100,000 in population). In rates of killing each other off, we’re still lagging behind South Africa, Colombia, Thailand, Guatamala, Paraguay, Zimbabwe, and Mexico.

When we fail to acknowledge or be concerned about the reality that over 30,000 people in this country are killed by guns every year, we’re agreeing the death toll is an acceptable risk in living here. Much easier than going through the arduous process of making the changes necessary to reduce the carnage. Per day, we average 87 deaths caused by gun shot wounds. That’s 3.625 deaths per hour.

A must read: please google “Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Firearm Fatality: Comparing the United States With Other High-Income Countries, 2003” Among the 23 highest income countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States.”

@James M. Fitzsimmons

I think you’re probably right, there are signs before a lot of these incidents—many of those signs are only obvious after the fact.

But it’s tricky to try to identify people before they do something crazy. If someone were devoutly Christian and vehemently anti-abortion, would that be enough for the police to suspect him/her of planning an abortion clinic bombing? I wouldn’t want to see it come to that.

The question is, even if I suspected someone and told police, what could they reasonably do about it? Keep the guy from going to church or search his house for explosives, just because the guy gave me the willies? What would we as Americans consider “reasonable” preventative action on the part of authorities? And are we willing to subject ourselves to that if someone else thinks our beliefs or habits are kooky enough to arouse suspicion?

Thanks Carolyn. This is my first time reading or commenting on a ProPublica story, and it’ll probably be my last. It looked like the kind of publication that attracted people who wanted to move beyond the catty comments, but perhaps that’s not the case. In the future I’ll stick to people I already know to be logical when I have these conversations. If I want venom, I can get it from the CNN.com comments all day long.

And evidently, even ProPublica isn’t comfortable with my level of participation thus far. My most recent comment is “awaiting moderation,” and I suspect this one will also be held in limbo as soon as I click “post.”

So far, this comment board isn’t worth the effort.

Chris: If it’s awaiting moderation it may be because you put a URL in it. As far as the “quality of discourse” here, it might help you to know that there are a lot of NRA supporter groups providing links to make it easy to reply to ProPublica’s articles about gun control.

Here’s the thing, the fact that soldier’s aren’t allowed to be armed while on base is even more proof that arming the general civilian population would do nothing to prevent mass murder with guns (and for the record, I agree that it’s not guns that kill people…it’s actually the bullets!). If you have to take away the guns from a bunch of supposedly highly trained and disciplined individuals due to fears about internecine conflicts getting out of hand, then exactly what do you expect will happen when you have a bunch of poorly trained and undisciplined yet heavily armed individuals (i.e., civiIians) walking around.

But let’s stick to evidence here. There are several states where the possession of concealed weapons is allowed. Can anyone point to even one instance where a heavily armed (i.e., with automatic and semi-automatic weapons) individual was stopped from committing mass murder by someone armed with a handgun or other concealed weapon? Didn’t think so as it hasn’t happened (and probably never will).

There is no doubt that the NRA and gun nuts in general have totally twisted and distorted the 2nd amendment to suit their purposes (i.e., mainly to make a s**tload of money and/or make up for feelings of inadequacy and/or emasculation). They totally ignore its historical and semantic context.

For the record, I grew up around firearms and am not afraid of them (even own a handgun) but do have a healthy respect for just what they are capable of. I am definitely not against anyone owning firearms for self-defense (e.g., to protect one’s home or person), but this whole idea that somehow owning firearms, even automatic weapons means the populace could overthrow a tyrannical government is so fantastical and ludicrous that it is beyond all belief. 

Although I believe the right to bear arms in the U.S. is a constitutional right, I also believe that it is totally within the rights of society to place reasonable limits and restrictions on that right. Just as the right to free speech doesn’t give you the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, the right to bear arms shouldn’t give you the right to own automatic weapons, etc.

I just signed a petition to ask all Legislators (in State and Federal) to sign a pledge not to accept NRA money.  It’s the NRA promoting guns on the State and Federal level which must be stopped so that we can have sensible gun laws, execute them, and stop the enormous amount of innocents being killed. The NRA has so much money to lobby and so much power, it’s like they are in charge and run things. How can We, The People, continue to allow this?

@ Mike Jackson: Great post!!

walter d. shutter, jr.

Jan. 3, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

@Mike Jackson

“Can anyone point to even one instance where a heavily armed…individual was stopped from commiting mass murder by someone armed with a handgun or other concealed weapon?  Don’t think so as it hasn’t happened (and probably never will)?”

That’s a tough one, Mike, as we would necessarily have to prove a negative.  However, for your consideration, here are five contenders which you can Google for verification:
1. Pearl High School, Pearl MS 1997
2. High School, Edinboro, PA same year
3. Appalachian School of Law, Grundy VA 2002
4. Courthouse, Tyler TX 2005
5. Church, Colorado Springs, CO 2007

@Mike Jackson and @Walter D. Shutter, Jr

Most states that permit concealed carry of firearms require a class be taken by most applicants, and in all these classes that I am familiar with one point is strongly emphasized: Even in the face of a mass-murdering sociopath, you do not fire a weapon when there is a chance the round will strike an innocent.

For each of Shutter’s examples of legally armed bystanders putting down mass murderers, there are probably at least two to five incidents where a legally armed bystander drew a weapon, then realized that the murderer had innocents behind them, and they didn’t fire. In such a position, the most responsible thing to do is flee, or at least try to get to a better position. Often, these people are murdered before they get that chance.

An additional point: According to Gavin de Becker, an expert on criminal profiling and institutional security and founder of a premier school for bodyguards, all mass-murderers display signs of severe mental disturbance before committing their massacres, without exception. The society at large, at least according to him, is not sensitive to the real signs of a problem and is over-sensitive to the wrong ones. I recommend his book “Gift of Fear,” and there is a new one as well whose title eludes me at the moment.

Mr. Jackson, I believe we could have a healthy debate, especially if I were able to consult the historical documentation and statistics. I agree with at least some of your sentiments but disagree in some others. I must admit a certain bias, however - if it were not for the easy access to firearms granted to law-abiding US denizens, I would be dead twice over.

@walter d. shutter. jr.
Your observation that we would necessarily have to prove a negative is spot on. Yet after researching your contenders, I find them less than compelling examples of strapped civilians preventing mass murder. Three of the five (1,4,5) were handled by trained professionals, a fourth (3) by three unarmed men, and in the fifth (2), the gunman was confronted after he’d run out of ammunition.

1. Pearl high school 1997: After he had shot his victims, the young gunman was detained by the assistant principal who was also a US Army Reserve Commander. The young gunman was not shot.
2. Edinboro, Pa 1998: The young gunman had already shot his victims in two locations. In the 2nd location and had run out of ammunition by the time he was confronted. He was not shot.
3. Appalachian School of Law 2002: The three fast acting men who detained the gunman were not armed. The gunman, of course, was not shot.
4. Courthouse, Tyler TX 2005: The gunman had already killed his victims and was shot and killed by police some time later after a car chase.
5. New Life Church, Colorado Springs 2007:  The gunman fatally shot two and wounded three others before being shot and killed by a parishioner who was a former policeman acting as security guard. The gunman was then still capable of turning his gun on himself and committed suicide.

Here is a short synopsis of the shooting incidents Walter refers to.

As you will notice, for the most part the shooters were not heavily armed (i.e., with military style assault rifles, body armor, etc.) and instead had only handguns or a hunting rifle. Also, most were stopped/subdued by trained personnel and/or police, and not heavily armed ordinary civilians.

Whether these examples bolster the argument for arming civilians or banning them from owning military style weapons such as assault rifles, etc., I will leave to the readers to decide.

Pearl High School MS – After killing own mother at home by stabbing and bludgeoning her to death, shooter went to school and killed two (including his girlfriend) and injured seven. Shooter was apprehended as he tried to escape by school’s assistant vice principal who was an Army Reserve officer who retrieved semiautomatic handgun from his truck in school parking lot. Type of weapon used by shooter was a hunting rifle. 

Edinboro PA – 14 year old suicidal male kills 1 injures 3 with a .25 caliber pistol at a school dance. Stopped when he runs out of ammunition by owner of dance venue who has shot gun, holds shooter until police arrive.

Appalachian School of Law VA – Shooter kills 3 injures 3 with a .380 semi-automatic handgun. Stopped by off duty police personnel (one of whom was a former Marine) who subdue and handcuff perpetrator.

Courthouse Tyler TX – Shooter ambushes wife and son, kills 2 and injures 4. Engages in gun battle with police officers who were already present. Police armed only with revolvers, shooter has military style rifle, a MAK-90 (styled after AK-47) and is able to keep police pinned down. Nearby civilian (who is wearing a protective vest) hears shots and joins in battle. As shooter’s attention is focused on police civilian is able to sneak up and get into position from which he is able to wound and eventually kill shooter with a Colt .45 caliber pistol.

Colorado Springs CO – In two separate incidents at religious compounds (but on the same day about 12 hours apart), the same shooter kills 4 and injured 5. Stopped at the second shooting by former police officer acting as church security officer who is able to wound shooter, who then takes his own life. Shooter had only a handgun at first shooting but was heavily armed at second. In addition, an alert had gone out to community after first shooting took place.

As I said in my first post, I fully support the right of individuals to own weapons for the purpose of self defense, such weapons being limited to handguns, regular rifles/shotguns, etc. But I believe they must be properly trained in how to use such weapons, the responsibilities involved, and that society has a right to control the type and amount of such weapons that civilians may own.

There are already extensive restrictions on the ownership of automatic weapons. A true “assault rifle” is a select-fire weapon, that is, it is capable of automatic fire, and is legally classified in the US as a machine-gun. I do not believe any legally purchased machine gun has ever been used in a mass murder in the US. Only one well-documented case is known where a legally purchased machine gun was used in a murder by its owner, a police officer, Patrolman Roger Waller. Now, such weapons do occasionally get stolen, sometimes even from the military or the police.

Additionally, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics, approximately 80% of all firearms used in crime in the US are stolen or otherwise black-market.

I’m sorry, that’s the Bureau of Justice Statistics, I got my bureaus confused for a moment. I can’t link directly to the website in this form.

The sad reality is that politicians want votes, and nothing gets in the way of that objective - whether it is morally sound, or not.

Guns are here to stay…period. Now, with that statement, I would like to navigate to the real issue; types of weapons, ammunition and capacity of magazines.
  How many Americans own a single shotgun or revolver that was handed down for generations? I own a single shot shotgun, .22 caliber Sears Roebuck rifle and a 16ga. shotgun. All of these weapons are more than 50 years old. Firearms like these have and always will be a part of our society, whether we like it or not. Personally, I don’t have an issue with these types of guns. These seem to have a general purpose usefulness (hunting, sporting etc) in many settings.

My real problem comes with the very leathal killing machines like the AR-15, 15-30 bullet capacity magazines and other military style weapons. These weapons are smaller, lighter and more easily concealed, the capacity to shoot more leathal ammo has also been ignored. Why do any civilians NEED to have a .50 caliber long range military rifle, hollow point or armor piercing bullets or a FN Five-seven hand gun? (used in several mass shootings)

I believe most (not all) Americans can objectively see the difference between a natural wood, nearly piece of art, American hunting gun and a military style, high round capacity, killing weapon not suitable for hunting or protection. I know that there is a tremendous resistance to ANY type of rule governing weapons and their possession. Why can’t there be some type of middle ground? Disscussion? Common rationality? Simple….its about fear and $$$.

We have heard at naseum, the right to bear arms and to protect yourself. If you need an AR-15 to protect yourself or property, you don’t need a weapon….you need to move. Hunters don’t want or need military weapons for deer, elk, bear etc. just like fishermen don’t need to use dynamite to blow fish out of the water.

Please read and intrepret this exact quote of the Constitution. Bear in mind that the US had no army and the real threat was the constant invasion possibility from the British to retain or reestablish THEIR colony. This short ammendment really hinges on the placement of a comma.

Ammend II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,  the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Phil, I might be more extreme than you, but I don’t see the Second Amendment as talking about troops from London, because the Third Amendment (soldiers can’t take over your house) wouldn’t have any bearing on an invading force.

My reading is that the Second Amendment exists to allow us to (if we wish) protect ourselves from an administration that decides that people of a particular color, religion, or belief should be rounded up and executed.

Mind you, I don’t own a gun.  I don’t want one, and I won’t allow them into my home.  But, given that we sent Japanese Americans to internment camps in World War II, tolerated slavery for a couple hundred years (and still haven’t entirely stamped it out), and have a raft of laws from the last fifteen years giving the government permission to kidnap, torture, and kill any of us without due process, I support the right to own whatever weapons you can stomach using.

I fall on the side of self-control, rather than gun control.  I think people on antipsychotic medications (a common thread in nearly every shooting) should be monitored for adverse reactions.  Gun licensing should include an ethical side.  Gun sellers (and owners) should be on the hook for any damage someone does with their gun, because who better to judge the intent of purchase?

The analogy I used elsewhere is driving.  For all the complaining we all do about our commute, you never see someone driving along the lane dividers or even (more than maybe once a year, in a bad situation) the shoulder.  Doing something like that would get a lot of raised eyebrows (and middle fingers—I’m a New Yorker, after all), but there’s little risk to pulling that kind of stunt, and a substantial benefit.

Why?  Despite what our leaders would have us believe, people, on average, aren’t jerks and aren’t stupid.

Likewise, a car can drive over a hundred miles an hour (speaking of which, why should any of us be allowed to own a car that’s specifically designed to break the speed limit?  Have any of you who have asked about the magazine size of guns questioned that?), and is basically a battering ram.  You can explode the gas tank with the force of about five sticks of dynamite.  Yet, they’re not used as weapons.

To eliminate a weapon (which, by the way, can be imported from a war zone cheap—PayPal to the right person in Central America or an ex-Soviet Republic, from what I hear) just because you or I don’t see it as useful for what the hicks in the NRA claim they’re for (home defense and hunting) ignores what the Bill of Rights is talking about.

By the way, the best argument I can think of FOR gun control?  The people who claim (and the examples they produce) that civilians can and should murder people in the street they feel are breaking the law.  That’s a seriously slippery slope.

All responsible, honest gun owners deplore what happened in Sandy Hook and most would have laid their lives on the line to protect these beautiful children. They are not, however, willing to politicize this tragedy to advance their rights to self defense, like the second amendment haters are doing.

It’s disgusting – but completely in character and therefore expected – to hear many shouting for ‘an honest discussion on guns’ while leaving honesty completely out of their discussion. Here are some facts that you WON’T hear during this ‘honest discussion, from those jumping on the anti-second amendment bandwagon:

1. The Second Amendment says NOTHING about hunting and target shooting. It was created to protect citizens against bad guys, both individuals and over-reaching governments: ESPECIALLY over-reaching governments. The colonists suffered many abuses from the King until the British soldiers took steps to take away their weapons and ammunition – this caused the famous ‘shot heard ‘round the world’. If the soldiers had succeeded and the citizens had simply rolled over, this country would not be the beacon of hope to the world that it has been for so long: a beacon because of the freedoms and opportunities afforded its’ citizens by the constitution and bill of rights. Ask the citizens in Egypt or Turkey how badly they wish they had the right to own weapons for ‘the security of a free state’ at this very moment. Even President Kennedy had concerns about a US Military coup in this country – for those of you who want to insist we have nothing to fear from our government (while complaining that they can’t buy a large soft-drink in NYC).

2. Gun deaths have decreased by 50% over the last ten years, in spite of private gun ownership quadrupling in the same time period. This blows the argument that more guns create more violence, completely out of the water.

3. Many of those screaming to ban ‘assault weapons’ and ‘military-style weapons’ have no clue what either of these is. They certainly weren’t among those used by the pathetic Adam Lanza or most mass-murderers. Yet in spite of this ignorance they want the rest of us to believe and accept what they have to say.

4. Assault weapons are already banned for 99% of citizens – it takes a special permit to own one.

5. The second amendment haters are always complaining that the average gun owner has no training and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to own guns. Yet when a gun owner purchases 5,000 rounds of ammunition to obtain training over a long weekend at the range, they scream that no one should have that much ammunition. As usual, they want it both ways. And yes, it’s easy to go through that much ammunition in 2-4 days at the range.

6. The second amendment haters use the fact that black-powder weapons were used at the time of the constitution and bill of rights and therefore should be the only weapons that private citizens should be allowed to own. They conveniently ignore the fact that the government troops had the same weapons, yet they don’t want to limit the GOVERNMENT to those outdated weapons. They want us all to pretend that self-protection is possible with slingshots and sticks, against a heavily armed government. And they want us to defend ourselves with single-shot weapons instead of 30-round magazines.

7. The second amendment haters want to pretend that gun owners only need 1-3 rounds in order to successfully defend themselves against the multiple intruders that currently engage in home invasions. This while knowing full well that the intruders will have high-capacity magazines.

8. The second amendment haters – including the main stream media – refuse to acknowledge the THOUSANDS of lives that are saved every day by responsible gun owners. This would erode their position, so it must be ignored.

9. Second amendment haters like to talk as if they know what the founding fathers were thinking when they created the second amendment. Yet few – if any of them – have read the only book that I have seen to date that deals with precisely that issue: Stephen Holbrook’s’ Second Amendment. If they have read it – they completely ignore the truths presented therein. If they haven’t read it – they are grossly misinformed. Both scenarios are acceptable when you are more interested in an agenda than the truth.

10. Diane Feinstein - one of the leading California politicians fighting for more gun control - has a permit to carry and DOES carry a weapon for personal defense in spite of the protection offered due to her position. The rules she wants to pass are for the rest of us - not for her and her pals in politics. This is hypocrisy of the highest order.

By all means, let’s have an honest discussion. But no discussion can be considered honest without acknowledging the previous points.

11. Politicians have personal protection, as do banks and government buildings. Whose safety is more important: that of politicians or that of our children? Let’s have security measures in place in our schools to protect the most defenseless in our society.

It takes a particular kind of fool to believe that reducing individual freedoms will result in more safety and security. Benjamin Franklin was right when he stated (paraphrased): ‘those who will give up essential freedoms for temporary security, deserve neither freedom or security”.

Gunther Steinberg states: “The NRA and gun manufacturer’s lobby manage to do well at the expense of the peaceful citizens.”

I disagree. I think they do well at maintaining the constitutional freedoms that our forefathers sought so hard to obtain, to the BENEFIT of the peaceful citizens. Self-protection IS a right - it’s the most basic right there is.

“After the law passed, the NRA pushed state lawmakers to limit roadblocks for people applying to regain their rights.”

You write that like its a bad thing.

Never trust someone when they say they believe in something, BUT…..

Example above is Mike Jackson: “As I said in my first post, I fully support the right of individuals to own weapons for the purpose of self defense, such weapons being limited to handguns, regular rifles/shotguns, etc. But I believe they must be properly trained in how to use such weapons, the responsibilities involved, and that society has a right to control the type and amount of such weapons that civilians may own. “

Mike pretends to believe in the right of self-defense, while claiming the authority and the experience to tell us what the best tools are for that defense. At least he doesn’t want us TOTALLY helpless in the face of evil…..BUT close is nearly as bad

For the record, the military restricts firearm issuance in stateside “garrison” postings not because they fear shootings - they do it because there’s no need for weapons on a non combat posting on a day to day basis, and to issue them to the troops when they are not needed in an unnecessary risk to the weapons being lost/damaged/stolen.

Troops are free to purchase and possess personal weapons, and each post commander has discretion to dictate personal weapon possession and carrying policy on each individual base.

There was a movement at most bases to enforce a mandatory centralized storage policy after a few soldier and airman mass shootings in the 1990’s (personal weapons stored on a post armory and checked out for use), but that’s lost traction as its been demonstrated that said mass shootings are a very rare event.

Off base troops are expected to comply with whatever state and federal firearms laws are applicable.

There, and no snide comments.

To sum it all up….NOTHING WILL CHANGE! The article title is correct. Enjoy your semi-autos and zero gain arguments for years to come.

@John (of the “Phil, I might be more extreme than you…” post)

I LOVE your post! It’s all over the map, but I think we’re pretty much on the same page. Your statement that you fall on the side of self-control, rather than gun control is immediately followed by a pretty drastic statement (as viewed through the eyes of the NRA) in actually advocating gun control measures: Holding gun sellers and owners accountable for damages. I agree!

Your statement re: the 2nd amendment: “My reading is that the Second Amendment exists to allow us to (if we wish) protect ourselves from an administration that decides that people of a particular color, religion, or belief should be rounded up and executed.” In my own opinion I would add that many of our hard core 2nd amendment freaks out there are the very people I fear the most, since they’re well-armed, seem to be very paranoid, impatient, and appear to hate our government. I think of them first when contemplating groups who might want to overthrow our system rather than join us in trying to fix its many flaws.

Your last paragraph is a beaut! “By the way, the best argument I can think of FOR gun control?  The people who claim (and the examples they produce) that civilians can and should murder people in the street they feel are breaking the law.  That’s a seriously slippery slope.”

@cryolyn

Your fear fellow americans more than terrorists that despise us? You think gun owners hate our country? You really think ANY group could possibly overthrow our goverment? You think YOU are helping to “fix” our flawed system?

John: “Your fear fellow americans more than terrorists that despise us?”

You seem to conflate threats from outside and threats from within as being the same. They are not. The McVeigh types are the internal folks I’m worried about. They’re well-armed, love the 2nd amendment, and hate our government. 

Yes, I think I’ve tried very hard to fix our flawed system over the past few decades. I marched for civil rights, women’s rights, worker rights, etc. In many ways, the country we live in now is much improved over the very racist 40’s and 50’s I grew up in. Lots more to do. Always will be. Nothing will ever be perfect.

This whole argument about the Founding Fathers as wanting to ensure that the citizens of the newly established United States could overthrow their own government through armed insurrection is completely fallacious on a historical level. They wanted to ensure that “well-formed militias” could protect the U.S. from:

1.  Invasion by foreign governments
2.  Conflicts with the native population
3.  Slave uprisings
4.  Armed insurrections by their own citizens

Remember, at the time the 2nd amendment was written there was no standing army.

Why would the Founding Fathers want to encourage continuous armed insurrection or even the threat of it? The fact is they didn’t (as that would be rather suicidal to the newly formed federal government).

The fact that both shortly before and after the Constitution was ratified, George Washington himself (with the help of well-formed militias, of course) put down two separate armed insurrections by the citizens of the new country totally contradicts the myth that the Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that citizens have the right to engage in armed insurrection.

And who’s to say that the grievances (with the government) of a citizen or group of citizens are serious enough that they now have the right to commit armed insurrection?

And suppose their grievances did pass whatever test one might wish to devise. Certainly this has happened time and again in our nations’ history. Let’s take two recent examples: 1) the denial of the civil rights of African Americans since the end of the Civil War through the 1960’s (and beyond), and 2) the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

1)  Of course, there were many African Americans who encouraged and/or engaged in armed rebellion. Black Panthers come to immediate mind but there were others.

But as we all know African Americans ultimately gained their civil rights through peaceful means (marches, protests, civil disobedience, etc.) not armed insurrection.

It is also likely that if a majority of African Americans at that time would have taken up armed insurrection against the U.S. government, well the story would have turned out quite differently and would not have a happy ending, especially not for African Americans. 

2)  If any Japanese Americans had engaged in armed resistance against the U.S. government at the time they were interned, well this would have been taken as proof that the entire group was on the side of the Japanese government and not to be trusted.

I can assure you that far worse would have happened to them than internment camps. In fact, right now we would probably be discussing the genocide of yet another ethnic group in the U.S., or at the very least their forced repatriation to Japan and the subsequent prohibition of immigration from that country.

Another question to consider in this context, at what level of government is armed insurrection warranted? In other words, are city, county, and state governments valid targets, or is armed insurrection only properly carried out at the federal level?

It is quite easy to show, both through logic and historical analysis, that this whole argument that the 2nd amendment somehow ensures that the citizens can overthrow their own government through armed insurrection is both fallacious and faulty. Therefore, I believe it would be quite helpful if we could just drop it as a rationale for owning firearms.

If, on the other hand, someone (due to whatever paranoid fantasies they may entertain) still wishes to make the argument that the 2nd amendment guarantees them (or others) the right engage in armed insurrection against the U.S. government, then that would imply that their right to keep and bear arms cannot be limited in any way, shape, or form, possibly up to and including the right to maintain their own personal nuclear arsenal!

Oops! That should read “well-regulated militias” in my previous post, not “well-formed”.

@ Mike Jackson: Great post!

This article is about gun laws. My comment is that the National Rifle Association, which engages and financially supports the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), plays too great a role in the actual writing of laws. ALEC entertains State Legislators at Conventions where they are wined and dined and then engage in secretive collaborative meetings with groups like the NRA, which represents gun manufacturers. At these meetings they ghostwrite the model bills that the Legislators will introduce in their State Capitols. For instance, the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, which led to the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin was ghosted by the NRA, and promoted by politicians who accept NRA campaign money and are subsequently too petrifyed to go against the NRA’s wishes. On the national level also, too many legislators accept NRA contributions, and then go along with the NRA’s pro-gun agenda.
Thus, we end up with unrealistic gun laws that do not protect the people, and those laws have loopholes so the result is anyone can get a gun and we have one of the highest gun homicide rates in the entire world. (On the bright side, you might say the gun manufacturers make a lot of money—if you can consider that a bright side.)
As for the idea that good armed people could help to stop the bad shooters, let’s look at Mrs. Lanza. She was armed, taught her sons gun safety as per NRA recommendations, tried to help her mentally ill son with home schooling. If she had not had guns in her home she and the Newtown, Connecticut children would probably be alive today.

@ Gabrielle: Beautiful post! Chillingly accurate.  There’s a great website, “Alec Exposed”, which details the actual (rather than stated) objectives and activities of the organization, and they’re achieving some real success in getting some major corporations to drop their membership. Even Walmart cut ties with them!

The NRA, of course, is an integral part of their leadership.

Your last paragraph about Mrs Lanza is heartbreaking.

Gabrielle,
“...we end up with unrealistic gun laws that do not protect the people, and those laws have loopholes so the result is anyone can get a gun and we have one of the highest gun homicide rates in the entire world.”

No gun laws “protect the people” only the people can protect themselves.
All ‘gun laws’ do is forbid those who obey them from breaking whatever proscription is involved. It was illegal for Lanza to possess the pistols he took to Sandy Hook. It was illegal for him to bring guns onto school property. If you outlaw guns, you will only prevent the law-abiding from having them and leave them at the mercy of the criminals who will break the law to possess them. Yours is a head-in-the-sand argument not supported by real world experience. As for the U.S. having a high “gun homicide” rate, is anyone less dead when killed by another means? The U.S. is tied with Argentina at number 50 for homicide rate.

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.html

To imply that homicide rate is influenced by gun ownership among the law-abiding is dishonest in the extreme. The highest homicide rates prevail in those nations which strictly prohibit guns to citizens, Mexico for example.

@Carolyn

You assumed I meant from the outside. I don’t consider any terrorist a fellow American even if they are born and live here. What kind of assault rifle did mcveigh use? Stereotypes don’t promote positive change in our country, you should know that.

@MJ

Good points except for the last line. Is it possible that even those horrible times in our history just didnt create enough animosity throughout enough individuals to prompt such an insurrection?

I agree though, it’s not realistic to expect a rational organized overthrow of government. I also think its not even possible .....real assault rifles > civilian semi-autos. Hopeless fight.

But what about the LA riots? When police ran away and left citizens to defend themselves from mobs of criminal looters…..you think you would have a chance against a mob with a bolt action or handgun when they have banned semi-autos, maybe even full autos cuz they don’t care about the law? Is it possible this is the kind of situation our forefathers had in mind?

The issue is where does it stop? It’s easy to slowly take something away piece at a time. You trust the government has your best interests in mind when deciding laws?

@Gabrielle

So you are saying our laws are influenced heavily by money? I don’t believe it! About crazy lanza….if his mom didn’t have guns he could have decided to do a mcveigh and cause even more destruction….again placing blame in the wrong area.


These troubled individuals have problems deeply rooted in how distorted our society has become, and honestly I don’t even know where to start on how to help them….that’s what should be discussed.

@ John: You, of course, have heard the oft-repeated phrases, “home grown terrorist” or “domestic terrorism”. The term “anarchist” is also used. McVeigh was the most spectacular. Other examples are the 2009 shooting of a guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the murder by “sovereign citizens” in 2010 of two Arkansas police officers, eco-terrorists, etc. There are right wing, left wing, and single issue home grown terrorists. You may not wish to include them as your fellow citizens, but in fact, they are.

Which leads me to your question, “You trust the government has your best interests in mind when deciding laws?”

This question lies at the heart of what I find so disturbing about the paranoia element in our escalating arms race - stockpiling guns as tools to use against our own government. Extreme examples are home grown terrorists, but include “survivalists” who live their well-armed lives in isolated well guarded compounds or booby-trapped bunkers waiting for the inevitable attack from our government. Extreme yes, but that paranoia exhibits itself in varying degrees in far too many who think of our government as “them” (the enemy) rather than joining the “we,us” process to try to make it better. Government fearing people are generally passionate protectors of what they perceive to be their “rights” in stockpiling arsenals, but have made it clear they don’t hold responsibility towards any of us for owning them. We are quite expendable. I fear them far more than I do my own government since government does change course, albeit slowly, according to input from the us, the majority.

When I think of how slowly we move through that process and how broken we seem to be at times, I have to remind myself of the strides we’ve made in my lifetime: Civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, worker safety laws, consumer protection laws, environmental protection laws, etc. Apparently we’re not completely hamstrung in creating legislation which improves the lives of ordinary citizens over the long haul - corporate interests aside.

Which leads to your question, “So you are saying our laws are influenced heavily by money? I don’t believe it!”

You’re kidding, right?

Another thought I’ve often repeated: Beirut was recently the jewel of the middle east - a thriving and growing banking center and education community. They destroyed themselves from within via a civil war since their unregulated, well-armed feuding citizens couldn’t find enough common cause to hold their country together. Everyone lost and Lebanon is still in ruins. Self fulling prophesies: If enough of us allow fear to rule us, fear will rule all of us. Fear will then destroy us.

@Carolyn

Citizens sure, but not what I believe to be an American as I stated previously. They don’t deserve the title.

Your extreme description surely only represents a miniscule amount of people. I don’t know too many individuals that can even afford what you describe. To me, it seems paranoid to be afraid of such an extreme example.

For someone who claims to have fought for civil rights, why do you generalize and stereotype one group so much? Was it a slow process when citizens of Japanese decent/origin got swooped up? (it started 2 months after pearl harbor). Are you saying that’s what the majority of the people in our country wanted?!

I don’t fear the government, but it often doesn’t feel like there is an “us or we” when certain major and minor decisions are clearly made without input from the people. You are lying to yourself if you think decisions are based solely on the wants of the majority.

Yes I was joking, it seems obvious corporate interest can’t be put aside. I believe those interest are the true influence of many decisions, not protests.

Beruit? Irrelevant…Our citizens arms are regulated, we have no reason to fight each other, our common cause to get along is our freedom in this country. Most Americans aren’t scared of much, I would liked to hope.

The article asks the question!
Are we going down the same road with Sandy Hook, we know the facts, witnessed the history.
But this is worse, the worst yet.
Children, twenty of them.
You can only imagine the scenes inside the school.  Scenes, photos we’ll probably never see.
Which maybe we should see.

They’re is no defence against surprise attack. That defence is called a war zone.
I’ve been collecting interesting posts since this thing happened, this is one of the best i think,
posted on Gawker.


CQMaine
I am retired teacher and Vietnam combat vet. I know the incredible destructive power of the M-16 (the base model of the BushMaster). It can fire 600 rounds a minute. It takes three seconds to empty a 30 round magazine on full automatic. On semi-automatic it takes less than 10 seconds to empty a magazine. This country is awash in these guns. You can purchase them in any number of sports shops, clothing stores and if you don’t want the government to know you have one you can always by it at a gun show.
But the craziest thing I ever heard of was the idea that we should arm teachers. I don’t fear crazy people, I don’t fear my government. Fear is the currency of the scoundrel. And it is the currency of tyranny. I do fear the NRA. Fear is the main paranoid currency of the NRA. I fear the ideas of Wayne LaPierre. But the only way to get over a fear of something or someone is to face it. We need to face down the NRA, and all gun nuts hiding behind sports and hunting organizations. The people who want to arm teachers need to be confronted. They need to be told that the hay days of their interpretation of the Second Amendment is over. If they want to play with assault weapons let them join a well-regulated militia like the National Guard or the Army Reserves – which will provide them with training, ammunition and a good safe place to store their military assault weapons when they are not using them.
Dec. 23, 2012 at 5:25 p.m

 

 

Do you think we,ll ever see the photos of the horrific scenes inside the school ?

Why does

@ John

I assume you’re referring here to the LA riots that occurred after the officers accused of beating Rodney King were found not guilty.  As I recall during those riots the vast majority of the looters were, in fact, not armed and that many individuals did, in fact, protect themselves with shotguns and handguns (even, at times, baseball bats!). You may also recall a previous incident in LA where two heavily armed bank robbers were able to keep the police at bay for several hours until being killed. (In fact, I believe this incident was a key factor that led to the LA police becoming heavily armed themselves.)

While you apparently disagree with the last paragraph of my previous post and must therefore feel it is flawed in some way, you don’t really say why. However, it is only using the very same logic that the NRA and gun nuts use to resist any and all reasonable attempts to regulate the weapons available to the citizens of this country (i.e., the “slippery slope” argument) and who insist on a literal reading of the 2nd amendment.

So let’s take a ride down that slippery slope and see what awaits us at the bottom.

Let’s focus on two key words in the 2nd amendment: “arms” and “infringed”.

The word “arms” refers to any type of weapon, especially including but not necessarily limited to firearms.

In the late 18th century those weapons would have included knives, swords, single shot muskets and pistols, and cannons shooting relatively unsophisticated cannonballs. All “arms” that both the government and the “people” could reasonably be expected “to keep and bear”, meaning that the two potential antagonists would be relatively evenly matched when it came to the weapons they possessed. 

Fast forward to the early 21st century. Not only do we have all of the weapons that existed in the late 18th century, but we also have a whole slew of extremely advanced and very lethal firearms as well as tanks, missiles, extremely sophisticated bombs, biological and chemical weapons and so on and so forth right up to and including nuclear weapons.

However, while the government possesses these weapons, the people not only do not possess them but are in fact expressly prohibited from doing so. Furthermore, even if the “people” were allowed to possess such weapons, the incredibly great expense involved in owning and maintaining them would prevent most (but not all) people from doing so.

The word “infringed” means “to encroach upon in way that violates the rights of another” and comes from the Latin “to break or crush” (Websters). Notice that there is no gray area here, a “right” is either violated or it is not violated.

OK so let’s interpret the 2nd amendment as meaning that the Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that the citizens of the newly formed country could overthrow their own government through armed insurrection. (To be sure, at the time the Constitution was written there were many to whom this was a concern, but these individuals were mostly anti-Federalists and/or opposed to ratification of the Constitution in the first place.)

Following this interpretation, the only way to ensure that the “people” (whoever they might be) could overthrow their own government through armed insurrection would be to allow them to possess any and all weapons (“arms”) available to the government, and that this right “to keep and bear arms” could not be encroached upon (“infringed”) in any way, shape, or form.

Therefore, in order to make sure the “people” and the government are on even grounds, then the “people” must be allowed to possess not only any type of firearm they so desire, but also tanks, planes (don’t forget drones), rockets, missiles, biological and chemical weapons, even nuclear weapons. If they are prohibited from possessing such weapons, then their right “to keep and bear arms” has been “infringed” and the prohibition is therefore unconstitutional.

I know that to most reasonable and/or intelligent people this is quite absurd to the extreme, but it is only the inevitable consequence of following the logic and reasoning, such as it is, of the NRA and gun nut crowd. (In other words, taking a ride down their own “slippery slope” and finding out what awaits us at the bottom.)

And that is the reason why this whole argument that “the 2nd amendment is there to ensure that the people can overthrow the government through armed insurrection” is so completely flawed, irrelevant, and meaningless to the discussion (re gun control) that it must and should be discarded.

@MJ
Semi- autos were used by Korean business owners to successfully hold off armed looters…they had shoot outs with them. Sure, use your baseball bat in defense, but I would rather have an advantage over a criminal that is trying to harm me than the other way around. It took thousands of marines, police, and national guardsmen days to get things under control. 

I didn’t agree with your last line in your previous post, I saw it as an obviously absurd to the extreme exaggeration, which according to you makes me a reasonable or intelligent person. Yet because I failed to explain that (obvious to me) reason, I’m

“using the very same logic that the NRA and gun nuts use to resist any and all reasonable attempts to regulate the weapons available to the citizens of this country (i.e., the “slippery slope” argument) and who insist on a literal reading of the 2nd amendment.”

Interesting conclusion to jump to…

I guess I didn’t express enough that I agree 100% with your statement that;

“this whole argument that “the 2nd amendment is there to ensure that the people can overthrow the government through armed insurrection” is so completely flawed, irrelevant, and meaningless to the discussion (re gun control) that it must and should be discarded.”

I believe the 2nd amendment has more to do with something between my Korean business owner example and what you said in your post about preventing armed insurrections.

@ John

It would seem that I misread your criticism of my earlier post, and if so for that I would apologize.

However, pleased do not take any offense at what I later wrote as this was not supposed to be directed at you personally, but rather was meant to be a critique of the general argument used to justify the 2nd amendment such that it ensures the people have a right to overthrow the government through armed insurrection.

As far as the right of citizens to protect themselves from criminals, I heartily agree with this argument, which, however, does not mean that there can be no limits placed on the type of weapon (and ammunition) owned and under what circumstances. (For what it’s worth, and I may be wrong here, but I highly doubt that very many of the LA looters were armed with military style automatic rifles. In fact, it is likely that none of them were.)

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Guns

Guns

We're probing the policy and politics of guns in America.

Get Updates

Stay on top of what we’re working on by subscribing to our email digest.

optional

Our Hottest Stories

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •