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Guns

First off, I believe that the Second Amendment is an individual right. That belief is based on knowing what ‘a well regulated militia’ meant at the time the words were written, and references to the right during the early years of the US.

That said, if requiring people to register and provide proof of identity to vote, another individual right, is Constitutional, it is difficult to understand how putting the same restrictions on gun ownership would be materially different.

Earth-bound Misfit, another gun owner, makes the point that given the conditions in the theater in Colorado, an armed civilian in the audience wouldn’t have been much of a threat to the murderer. I would add, that reviewing what is known about those conditions, when I was in law enforcement and practicing regularly, I wouldn’t have had a valid shot. Departments take a dim view of officers who shoot bystanders, and there is no way of avoiding them when people are panicking, The light from the projector would have been reflected and refracted by the smoke/vapor so your real aiming point would have been muzzle flashes, and you would have needed a head shot to take him out as he was wearing a ballistic vest.

It was fortunate that he decided to use a large capacity magazine on the AR-15, as that greatly increased the probability of the weapon jamming, which it did. It is also fortunate that he didn’t use the grenades he had in his apartment.

The first things politicians might consider in reaction to this shooting is to actually fund the enforcement of our current laws. Passing laws that aren’t enforced is a waste of money.

One change that should be considered is a requirement that the purchase of weapons and ammunition occur in person with the purchaser supplying the same identification that is required to vote. That would certainly reduce the possibility of guns being sold to undocumented immigrants or terrorists.

18 comments

1 Steve Bates { 07.25.12 at 2:47 am }

The Supreme Court has confirmed your interpretation of the Second Amendment as containing an individual right. Hecate (yes, that Hecate, who apparently is/was an attorney) points out that it is a principle in law that judges are supposed to interpret and rule based on the entire applicable text of the law including any stated intent or purpose expressed in it, which makes me wonder if the first clause of the Second Amendment is somehow interpreted as chopped liver. But put that aside for the moment…

If, as the nut-jobs repeatedly express in reciting their worst nightmares, Obama (read: any agent of the government) is coming to take away their guns, exactly what are they going to do to stop that government… any well-equipped modern police force, let alone any part of the U.S. military… from doing exactly that? Ditto for people who rant on about the implied right of revolution in the Second Amendment: do they really think they can revolt against an oppressive US government with a few AK-47s they acquired at gun shows? Really? Pull the other one… And if one of them intends to be the hero of an Aurora-theater-like situation, I do hope they will inform me in advance so I can avoid that particular theater on that night. Most of the gun nuts I have talked to over the years are just that: nuts.

In researching my post on the subject, I ran across a statistic that gave me pause: among the 31,000+ gun deaths in the US in a recent year, several thousand more were ruled as suicides than as homicides. So if you buy a gun to protect your family, you may be accomplishing something else altogether. Notwithstanding what Wacko Wayne may tell you, the fact that you have a right to own a gun does not automatically make it a good idea for everyone to do so.

2 jamsodonnell { 07.25.12 at 5:09 am }

Hmm if other peole in that cinema were armed what would the death count have been then?

Not meaning to sound smug as it is certainly not perfect, but I think I prefer our gun control laws than yours

3 Bryan { 07.25.12 at 12:44 pm }

Jams, anyone firing a weapon under the circumstances present in that theater would have been displaying ‘a depraved indifference to human life’ [as we would say in the court filings] and the number of victims could easily have doubled. The walls were not stopping the bullets from the AR-15 and were entering the rooms on either side. There was no safe way of taking out the shooter without further endangering other people.

Further, any police officers responding would have probably shot anyone with a gun in the area.

Steve, there is no ‘one size fits all’ in this question. In my area the response time for law enforcement can be hours and budget cuts are making it worse. I have held a guy who broke into a neighbor’s apartment for an hour before a deputy showed up to take him into custody. We have had rabid raccoons and foxes in the neighborhood that need to be put down. If you live in a city, you don’t have those issues.

As for Hecate’s premise – oh, yeah, that was really the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, the way the superior weapons of the US military triumphed over the civilians.

Guns are tools, very dangerous tools. If you aren’t ready to put the time and effort in learning how and when to use them, don’t own one. Most people who buy guns for home protection are just holding them for the first burglar who breaks into their house.

4 Steve Bates { 07.25.12 at 4:32 pm }

Clarification: That was me advancing the questionable premise. Hecate was the one who said judges are expected to rule according to the whole applicable text of the law. I think she’s right; let’s not hang her for my misdeeds.

5 Bryan { 07.25.12 at 7:59 pm }

Frankly, Steve, I personally believe that the people who claim to own weapons to defend themselves from the government are in serious need of professional help. Corporations are a much bigger threat to peoples’ rights than the government. A really good lawyer is the most effective defense against both, much more effective than trying to turn your house into another Alamo.

6 Steve Bates { 07.25.12 at 9:58 pm }

I’ve been to the Alamo several times in my life (San Antonio is close, and can be a very low-cost vacation), and to me at least, it’s far easier in our times to imagine it as a mission than as the scene of a battle. But in either role, I cannot comprehend people’s turning their homes into fortresses… or centers of obsessive evangelism. The Alamo was what it was; I wish the idiots who long for an experience like that last battle would just move to some already war-torn country for their thrills.

I agree absolutely on the relative threat of government and corporations, though in certain hands, government, too, requires close observation.

7 Badtux { 07.25.12 at 10:29 pm }

It wasn’t government that stole 1/3rd of my retirement fund via fraud. Just sayin’.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not similar at all to the situation of a democratically elected government dealing with a small minority of folks who want to form their own militia and overthrow the government at gunpoint because they feel that rule by the majority is “oppression”. That latter situation never works out well for the insurgents, the majority of people don’t like thugs with guns and practically flock to narc on them to law enforcement, and our law enforcement can handle these goons just fine without any help from the military thank you very much. Just ask David Koresh. Oh wait, you can’t :twisted:.

Regarding guns, they are tools. They’re not magic. They’re good for some things, but other things, they aren’t. I don’t carry a hammer everywhere just in case a nail pops up that needs hammering, so I don’t “get” the folks who carry a gun everywhere just in case a criminal pops up that needs shooting. The reality is that you’re far more likely to drop the hammer on your toe than encounter a nail that needs hammering during the course of your daily routine, and you’re far more likely to *shoot* yourself in the toe than come across a criminal that needs shooting in the course of your daily routine. (No joke, that — seems like every few weeks I run across a story along those lines where someone managed to shoot themselves in the toe or butt or some other embarrassing place while trying to remove their concealed weapon from its place of concealment).

Of course there’s exceptions to that general rule, just like there’s time you *should* carry a hammer. But a revolver is no more magic than a hammer, in the end — it’s a tool, and if you’re not in the midst of hammering things, why bother?

8 Bryan { 07.26.12 at 1:37 am }

Steve, I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that I think the militia crowd are sociopathic losers who shouldn’t be allowed to own anything more dangerous than a butter knife, but the guys who wrote the Constitution assumed that ‘every able-bodied man’ would respond to the call to defend their community from all threats, and felt that these men would be more effective if they were armed. The problem is that these whackoes don’t want to protect the community because they view the community as the enemy.

If they would just leave the rest of us alone, no one would care, but they insist on causing trouble and pushing things until they can no longer be ignored. They also want all of the benefits offered by the community, without paying for them.

The reason I mentioned the Alamo is because of the way it ended, which is the same ending as the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. This is what these people are inviting by their conduct.

Oh, yes, Badtux, Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of what happens when the community battles against even a modern military, not what happens when a bunch of sociopaths attempts it.

I had to carry a sidearm for most of two decades. At least the Air Force let me turn it in when I wasn’t on duty, and when the classified was in the vault, but law enforcement wants you to haul it around 24/7.

You can crack a toilet if you aren’t careful when you drop your pants, and the hammer spur chews up the lining of a suit jacket. It is a first class PITA. No matter what you do, you have to make provisions for the damn gun and the extra ammunition. You have to be very careful around children, and it doesn’t help you on the dating scene, which is one of the reasons cops tend to hang around with other cops all the time. It is a real downer. I would need a really great reason to ever do that again. The only possibility would be really great wealth, but it that case I would hire people to carry the guns.

9 Badtux { 07.26.12 at 11:07 am }

I would say that Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of what happens when the community battles an outside invading military. The goal is to make it too expensive for that military to hang around, not to defeat that military via force of arms. The latter simply isn’t happening, there isn’t a single tactical encounter between U.S. forces and insurgents where the insurgents walked away and the U.S. forces didn’t, with the exception of the roadside bombs and IED’s and even there the death toll is trivial by the standards of even American highways — more Americans die of traffic accidents on any major holiday than die in Afghanistan or Iraq in a typical month even back when both wars were “hot”. The insurgency is a nuisance at best to the Army and Marines — an *expensive* nuisance, but still only a nuisance, militarily. But that’s not what the insurgency is about — it’s about forcing the U.S. military to go home.

But if, in the fertile imaginations of these “patriots”, the U.S. Army was running around the USA with hobnailed boots, that strategy used by the Iraq and Afghan insurgency works about as well as Saddam’s Soviet strategy of “retreat and wait for winter” to match his Soviet weaponry. Uhm, the Army would *already* be home in that case, just as Iraq has no winter :).

Which isn’t to say that there have not been cases where an insurgency , unsupported by foreign powers, overthrew the established government and came to power. The October Revolution is of course a prime example of that happening. But if Kerensky had been supported by an Army that had the discipline, training, and weaponry of the U.S. Army, and a police force with the training, weaponry, and intelligence capabilities of a typical big-city U.S. police force, the Bolsheviks would have been slaughtered. But in the event Kerensky had of course already lost the support of the Russian Army and the Russian Army had never been a particularly well-trained or well-armed force in the first place, as well as most of it being at the Western Front. The same decidedly cannot be said to be true of the U.S. Army… it is well trained, well armed, and if told that a mob of armed revolutionaries is attempting to overthrow the government by force rather than by vote, would have absolutely no problem opening fire on said mob of revolutionaries and slaughtering them.

10 Bryan { 07.26.12 at 2:38 pm }

The problem in the US is that a major segment of the military and the police would side with the ‘insurgents’ as they are part of the same culture that distrusts government. Things would get very nasty and protracted. I see it resolving itself into another Civil War, not a revolution.

11 Badtux { 07.26.12 at 10:20 pm }

I don’t know how many of the younger cops and soldiers that you know, Bryan. On the cop side, I’m seeing three types of cops now — idealists, thugs, and paycheck-gatherers. The thugs will kick butt for the government because that’s how they get their kicks. The paycheck-gatherers will kick butt for the government because that’s how they get their paychecks. The idealists… well, they may be a problem, but they don’t tend to last long as cops nowadays. Meanwhile, on the soldier side, what I see is a lot of disillusioned youngsters who joined the military because the alternative was worse, they’re there for the paycheck. Most of the young soldiers I know are cynical and disillusioned and not really into overthinking the orders they get from their chain of command, simply assuming that said orders will be stupid and brutal and utterly impractical but attempting to do them anyhow is what a soldier does. I’ll just note that after reports of shots fired at rescue workers in New Orleans after Katrina, when the National Guard was sent into New Orleans with loaded weapons and orders to kill anybody who was a threat to public order, there wasn’t a single soldier who refused that order, which basically was ordering them to shoot their fellow Americans.

Frankly, as long as the soldiers and cops are being paid by the government, with the current force composition of the military and police force, I can’t see that the small number of ideologues in their ranks would be able to turn the military or police forces against the government. The deep cynicism of a large majority in those positions pretty much says they’re going to continue working for whoever gives them a paycheck… which, in general, is *not* going to be some right-wing militia losers attempting to overthrow the government at gunpoint.

Which of course is why the right wing is attempting to attack the paychecks of the military and police forces… but that’s another story.

12 Steve Bates { 07.26.12 at 11:27 pm }

“Branch Davidian compound”

Referring to the number of “wives” that fellow had, I took to calling it the “Branch Chlamydian” compound…

13 Bryan { 07.26.12 at 11:40 pm }

Badtux, I see them every day as I am surrounded by the largest Air Force Base in the US, and possibly the world. It is the home of the AF Special Operations Command, a Special Forces brigade, airborne weapons systems testing, F-35 training, the Ranger school, AF/Navy EOD school, etc. With a dozen axillary fields in addition to the main base, and a half million acre national forest, the military is still part of my life.

The fundies have done a good job of infecting the military with their brand of whacko religion, and the Tea Party has a large presence in the county.

Jerry Boykin wasn’t the only off the wall general in the Army, and John Catton wasn’t alone in the Air Force.

I wouldn’t put any serious money on what the military would or won’t do, nor would I bet on the police given the current decreases in their pay and benefits. Things are pretty dicey. Fox News is not exactly unknown at places where the military and cops hang out locally.

14 Bryan { 07.27.12 at 12:02 am }

That was terrible, Steve 😉

15 Badtux { 07.27.12 at 10:04 pm }

I’m afraid I don’t hang out with the officer class, since I’m from the grunt class. It’s well known that the Air Force Academy might as well be called Jesus Academy and some of the officers in other services may be a few Bibles shy of a full load. Thing is, there’s also a lot of ambitious people willing to take their place if they decided to not obey the government and were dismissed by the Presidential administration and the grunt class would gleefully follow the orders of their new officers to arrest their old officers because they have a generalized disdain for the officer class and allegiance to their paycheck that far outweighs any devotion to Fox News. In other words, I’m not seeing that a tyrannical government would have any problem maintaining the allegiance of the armed forces and police forces even with all the Fox News kool-aid drinkers and fundies in their ranks, as long as the paychecks keep coming.

That last of course being the biggy. If the USA turns into the world’s largest failed state, as seems increasingly likely, and the paychecks stop flowing to cops and soldiers… well. All hell breaks loose then. I don’t even want to think about it, because it’ll make Somalia and Afghanistan look like paradise, because neither Somalia nor Afghanistan had modern professional militaries and police forces before they disintegrated. Body count would be high. Really high. Really really high. Ugh.

16 Bryan { 07.28.12 at 10:52 pm }

You can’t avoid the ‘officer class’ down here, because this is one of the places where they retire. My Dad retired as an officer, but that was because he had a direct commission from World War II and had a medical retirement. I was on the list for E-6 when I got out. That said, I was part of the 4% of the Air Force on flying status, and had an intel specialty, so I was subjected to a lot of officers. The ‘plane drivers’ were OK, but you had to keep the others in line or they would think they knew something. The sad fact is that the intel courses for officers were a pale shadow of the courses for the ‘enlisted trash’.

I talk to the NCOs, and they are really unhappy with the way things are in the military. Religion and politics are forbidden topics under DoD directives and regulations, but the military has really become infected with both. It was creeping in after the military went all volunteer, but it exploded under the Shrubbery. Units aren’t unified, they way they were before, and it makes the NCOs nervous. Of course, the stress of multiple deployments is playing hell with effectiveness.

17 Badtux { 07.29.12 at 12:43 am }

NCO’s are what makes a unit work. If the NCO’s are unhappy, something needs to be fixed, because unhappy NCO’s are units that aren’t working. Of course, the officers who would need to fix things are the actual problem, so… yeah.

Thing is, the unhappy NCO’s are exactly the sort of people who would have no problem at all receiving orders to “take out” some of these militia dimwits who think stocking up on AK-47’s and ammo will allow them to overthrow a “tyrannical government” (a.k.a. a government which doesn’t allow them to impose their religion upon others at gunpoint). And yes, there are some enlisted who would sympathize with the militia dimwits, but unless things have really gotten bad they’re still going to go along with their NCO’s. And there are still plenty of ambitious officers who are more in love with being perfumed princes than in love with their Bibles, they might grumble about their orders but the last militia dimwit who thought the police and military would join the cause ended up being executed for his crimes. (Timothy McVeigh, recall, believed that his actions would be the signal for the revolution that overthrew what he felt was a tyrannical government… instead it pretty much ended the militia movement for a decade because the government cracked down *hard*).

In other words, cynicism and fatalism rule at the low end of the totem pole, and ambition still outranks the Bible in the officer ranks of the Army. (Probably not in the Air Force, but the Air Force would not be used against militia types anyhow). If the types stockpiling AK-47’s really think this is going to let them overthrow a “tyrannical” government, they will be sadly disabused of that notion if ever attempting to do so.

18 Bryan { 07.29.12 at 2:53 pm }

McVeigh was another John Brown, with dozens more before and after.

I sometimes feel that the NCOs are worried that sooner or later orders won’t be obeyed. There is a lot of resentment over the lower ranks being prosecuted while the officers get off when something goes wrong [like Abu Ghraib]. When you add in the talk over changes in benefits, the grumbling gets louder.

We both know that a lot of the equipment doesn’t work the way it should and the logistics suck. It doesn’t help when the Air Force can roll out a functioning base with air conditioning in a week, while the Army and Marines are stuck in shelter covers for months. Rumsfeld went to war with ‘the Army he had’ and didn’t do much to fix it.

I’m waiting for the time when troops are demand to see written orders before coming to Attention, because they are tired of being scapegoats for officers. I’m not sure how violations of the Posse Comitatus Act will go down, but we were always told not to give orders that you don’t think will be obeyed.