Bob in the Heights, you’re on the air


In the short happy life of HIPRB! nothing has generated more comments (and thank you all) than the discussion of political polarization and irresponsible news media reporting which arose from the Tucson shootings this month.  DunnTower What most of you couldn’t be expected to know is that the transfer of Gabrielle Giffords here to Houston for rehabilitation has created a “local” story which Houston’s Leading Information Source can’t leave alone—so much so that my old friend Bob Eddy, who used to regularly regale a favored few with his thoughtful and entertaining rants during the Shrub Administration (until the relentless idiocy just wore him down), has been inspired by this development to return to the keyboard.  He’s given me permission to share with a wider circle.

Alright, please, enough with the teary Giffords coverage.  The vigils, the minutiae, the outpouring of sentiment, the blah, blah, blah.   It’s been over two weeks now and she’s still front page news —  even more so here, after she recently flew into Houston’s medical center.  When they ran out of anything substantial to say, the Chronicle ran stories on people that have survived “similar” brain injuries, or are even just patients at the same facility…Yaaaaawn…

Ouch, pretty cold there Bob…yes, but it’s not the congresswoman who pokes my ire, I surely wish her a full recovery and long life  —  being a Democrat.  It’s the nature of the story.  I’ve got two words — shit happens.  That’s right, in a country where any deranged nut job can legally — and in Nevada without even a permit — walk up to a political event in a crowded supermarket parking lot packing an automatic handgun with a 30+ ammo clip, you get nothing out of me other than “shit happens.”  Oh the shock, the horror, the humanity!!!  You would have to have been Nostradamus to have seen this coming!!  Let’s look at the math:

A state that even the local sheriff bravely characterized as “the wild wild west” (an opinion that got him absolutely reamed in the conservative media) + highly-charged political rhetoric fueled with blatant references to armed insurrection + everyday American sponge-brain = political vigilantism.

But you see, America loves a good story of triumph against adversity and tragedy.  We would much rather talk endlessly about Congresswoman Giffords’ time in recovery and rehabilitation hell, the incremental medical milestones with her heroic astronaut husband by her side, than why things like this keep happening.

Yes, the desperate, flaccid Democrats did themselves no favor by latching onto the kneejerk Palin connection before we knew anything about this guy.  And because they are a bunch of spineless weasels whose wallets get padded and arms twisted by the same NRA, they were powerless to take on the real nut of the issue and say “you know, after at least half a dozen similar horrific instances in the last 10 years, can we now at least all agree that America is full of nut-jobs ready to fulfill their fantasies and paranoias with a gun, and in such a volatile environment, is all the gun imagery and metaphors — sorry, used solely by the opposing party — acting in a responsible manner?  Is it even remotely appropriate in a public forum?”

The other night Bill Maher brought up a thought-worthy point:  Remember the pointy-brained tea bagger/gun nuts who showed up at all the town hall rallies during the 2008 campaign openly touting their side arms and rifles?

What if they had been black?

Ironically, poor Obama has become the best thing that ever happened to the gun market in the last 50 years.  Sales have skyrocketed ever since he’s been in office, and after this last shooting people couldn’t get to their gun outlets fast enough to purchase their own Glock 36 “before Obama tries to outlaw them!” 

Hey, Thelma Lu, believe me when I say this on my mother’s grave — Obama will propose weekly piñata parties on the White House lawn where all the scrappy immigrant kids get instant citizenship cards with every piece of candy bashed out of a hanging Ronald Reagan effigy before he even mentions in public the first syllable of  the words “gun control.”  He has waaaaaay too much other shit to stir up at the slightest provocation without tempting that bottom of the barrel wet dream.

Before closing I’d like to emphasize that what I refer to as sensible gun control has nothing to do with their abolishment, nor is it a slippery first step toward it.  Just some common sense rules for a nation that kills more people by hand gun violence every day than most countries do in a year.  Although Mexico is giving us a good run for the money…

You might not know, but Giffords’ astronaut husband Mark Kelly has a twin brother, Scott, who is currently commander aboard the space station.  After hearing about it, his official downlinked message included the sentiment “We are better than this.”  Really?  I’m not so sure.  Even as I type, there are states all over this country fighting for the right to openly carry arms into public parks, places of work, schools, restaurants and even bars.  Many have already won.  I haven’t heard churches mentioned yet, but my money says that can’t be far behind.  In 2004 we quietly let the assault rifle ban expire without a ripple.  Someone please explain to me why anyone in the 21st century should be able to legally possess an assault rifle, not to mention as many as he wants.  When America pictured itself as a modern society, did anyone really envision one where 200 years later people are still carrying side arms out in public?  Frontier justice…what does that say about us as rational, communal human beings?  Shit happens.   

And in closing, while we’re on guns, couldn’t someone please shoot Justin Bieber!?

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20 Responses to Bob in the Heights, you’re on the air

  1. thatmrgguy says:

    This was a well thought out essay and was easy to read, but you forgot to include some facts. Yes there is a lot of gun violence in the U.S., but it is mostly perpetrated by criminals on law-abiding citizens. Whenever you hear about a law-abiding citizen who uses a gun to protect themselves or their families from a criminal, very few news outlets tout them as heroes for standing up to the criminal element. Usually, they are excoriated in the news and a lot of times, are charged with a crime and even get sued by the criminal. So going after law-abiding gun owners is wrongheaded in my opinion.

    As far as “assault weapons,” there are no assault weapons sold in the United States unless it’s from one specially licensed firearms dealer to another or to a police force. The dealers have to pay a $200 yearly tax on each one. The BATF knows how many there are, where they are and who owns them. The so-called “assault weapons” everyone’s so hot about are just semi-automatic rifles, much like a Ruger 10-22. I know quite a few people who use AK-47 and SKS type rifles to hunt with.

    The criminal element doesn’t care about gun laws and won’t obey them. So why give criminals an edge they don’t need. That’s what happens every time a new gun control law is enacted. Hell, the government doesn’t enforce the laws we already have unless it’s against law-abiding citizens.

    Mike

    • Bob in the Heights says:

      Mike –
      Thanks for reading and your compliment regarding at least my writing style. As far as my lack of “facts,” I consciously chose not to go down that well-trodden road, rolling out statistics, because I felt it would only break most readers interest and sidetrack from the point I was trying to make – America would once again much rather skirt around, duck, put a flower on, or out and out ignore a difficult and complex issue than meet it head on in a public forum – even when it is killing us.

      However, since you prompted me, even a cursory cruise of the gun violence “fact” websites reveal a litany of tragedy and shame underscoring the first inaccuracy of your reply – that “it is mostly perpetrated by criminals on law-abiding citizens” – well, maybe if the victim is your wife, co-worker, a friend, or even yourself. The vast majority of hand gun deaths in America involve someone the victim knew – in other words, crimes of passion. Let’s take a look at a few:

      A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting, than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.
      – Journal of Trauma, 1998 –

      For children under the age of 15, the rate of suicide in the United States is twice the rate of other counties. For suicides involving firearms, the rate was almost eleven times the rate of all other countries combined.
      – U.S. Department of Justice, March 2000 –

      The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children aged less than 15 years was nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
      – Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 46(05): 101-105, February 07, 1997 –

      Gun violence is the second-leading cause of injury-related fatalities in the U.S. after car accidents. In Alaska, Maryland and Nevada as well as D.C., firearm death rates in 1998 exceeded those for car accidents.
      – CDC & Natnl. Vital Statistics Report, 1999 –

      And I could go on. And on. Clearly these are red flag indicators that we, as a nation, have a problem; and sadly it is uniquely an American one.

      Sorry, my first thought when I read “Usually, they (the gun users) are excoriated in the news and a lot of times, are charged with a crime and even get sued by the criminal” was that you must not live in Texas. Why, back in 2008 a Pasadena man, Joe Horn, was acquitted of all charges by a Harris County grand jury after not only shooting dead two men who were exiting his neighbor’s (yes, his neighbor’s) window with a TV set, but leaving a recorded rambling account of his clear intent on his call to 911.

      I’ve got to admit I am not totally up to speed on the technical legalities of assault rifle purchases, but your assurance that they are just “semi-automatic” is really just a matter of semantics and doesn’t make me feel any safer. They basically still serve the purpose of fast, multiple-victim destruction and as we all know, a simple trip to a gun show will get me all I need to convert it to automatic. Ask any cop his thoughts on the issue of gun accessibility in America.

      Then there are all those pesky laws eroding our personal freedom to dispel quick justice on our own! “That’s what happens every time a new gun control law is enacted” you say. Indeed…funny, I can’t think of any gun legislation passed in the last 50 years other than the savagely fought six-year battle to pass the Brady Act in ’93, and boy did Clinton get spanked for that one! He lost the House the very next midterm elections.

      Again Mike, no one, or not me anyways, is talking about gun abolishment. Yes, I am sure there have been some comparatively isolated cases where some law-abiding citizen thankfully had a gun. I actually have gun owners in my family. I’m just not sure how any clear-thinking person would think the answer is more guns, less restrictions. But if that’s where America wants to stand, if that’s the (ridiculously outdated) constitutional “line in the sand” they want to go down in history defending till the last shot is fired, well far be it for me to dampen the patriotic enthusiasm – just don’t ask me to be surprised, express any shock, or cry a tear when shit like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, and others happens.

      In closing, let us all take heart in the fact that according to the Brady campaign factsheet, so far this year there have only been 7202 – oops, no, the clock just jumped to 7208, people shot in America this year so far – 240 today.

  2. Pascal Piazza says:

    I would like to re-direct the debate. I invite Mike, Bob and all other readers to join me.

    What is the source of my right, your right and everybody’s right to firearm ownership in the U.S. (and hence the wellspring for the current debate)? The Constitution, of course, is the correct general answer. It is, however, the Ninth Amendment not the Second Amendment that is the specific answer.

    The Ninth Amendment recognizes our inherent individual rights. Those are the rights reserved to all of us. Parenthetically, the Ninth Amendment reminds us that the first ten Amendments do not define our rights, but rather define further limits on the scope of federal governmental power.

    There is an inherent right to own a firearm for protection, for food gathering and hunting, and for maintenance of family and property. This inherent right should inform what type of firearm, bullet or component ownership promotes the general welfare and which type of firearm, bullet or component ownership does not promote the general welfare — which the Constitution enshrines as a critcial role of the federal government.

    Parenthetically, the current Supreme Court reaches a similar threshold, yet it does so by doing violence to the text of the Second Amendment to yield a political objective when there is a more elegant argument posited in the Ninth Amendment. I prefer elegance over violence.

    This inherent right also tells us what type of firearm, bullet and component ownership serves personal whim and caprice. The federal government should have a greater right to regulate items that serve personal whim and caprice.

    This is how our government works. It regulates. When that regulation impacts a fundamantal right, the regulation fails unless it is narrowly tailored to meet specific criteria.

    It is easy to cite to my loss of life or limb if I am shot for more control. It is also easy to cite to the excoriation of the lawful use of firearms to argue against gun control. These arguments start the debate, but they do not end it. To suggest that there should be no regulation of firearms, bullets or components is to advocate no laws at all, as basic laws limit the use of firearms. To suggest that the lawful use of a firearm is detrimental is to advocate no laws at all, as why should there be laws if you will be penalized if you follow the law.

    The debate must be focused and the antidote to a diffuse debate is to tether the debate to why we own firearms in the first place. If we do that, we can assuage Mike’s concerns that firearms will be confiscated and Bob’s concern that not every firearm, bullet, or component needs to be readily available (e.g. at gun shows where I can purchase that piece to make a semi-automatic firearm an automatic firearm).

    So, I welcome Mike’s and Bob’s respective positions on why we have the right to own firearms. Then, I wiil be curious whether their respective arguments remain the same or or modified.

    Merci.

    Pace e salute.

    Pascal

    • Pat Ryan says:

      OK, I’ll bite: if the Ninth Amendment, “enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” is the source of my right to firearm ownership, than what right is provided me by the Second Amendment, “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.”?

  3. thatmrgguy says:

    I don’t have time right now, but want to clarify one thing. It is against the law, since GCA 1968, to sell or buy components that would enable one to turn a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic rifle. A gun dealer would not only lose his or her license and have all their merchandise confiscated, but would also face large fines and jail time. It is also against the law to tell or show someone how to rig a gun, but I’m sure one could find info on the internet somewhere.

    Mike

  4. Greg in the LC says:

    Regarding the right to openly carry into parks on your hip, etc., I don’t see how anyone could argue that’s a good idea. You’re telling me it’s fine to have an instant death delivery system in quick draw reach everywhere you go? C’mon! All the road rage instances in the last decade are because of that accessibility. Now you want to add that dangerous element into the workplace, parks, walking down the street? If you look at all the day to day opportunities of heated exchanges from anything to, you cut in line at the grocery store, to you’re sitting at my favorite park bench feeding my pigeons, but now you have a handy guaranteed way to shut that a$$hole up for good hanging off your right hip; it will most certainly turn into daily bloodbaths.

    Even law-abiding, sensible people are vulnerable to a flush of furious emotions when confronted with a fight or flight situation. Many times cooler heads prevail, but many other times fisticuffs ensue. Anyone who is angry enough to start throwing punches won’t have the presence of mind not to grab that 50 caliber, semi-automatic in a quick release holster, just begging to settle the argument for good. To think otherwise seems incredibly naive to me.

    But if that’s the way it is to be, then I want the right to carry hand grenades. My aim isn’t so good.

  5. Pascal Piazza says:

    The Second Amendment permits states, localities or combination of individuals to organize collectively (i.e. form militias) in a manner that is greater than the individual right to bear firearms recognized under the Ninth Amendment. The First Ten Amendments were directed to limit the enumerated powers of the federal government. The First Ten Amendments were not extended to state and local governments until the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment and subsequent precedent. Without the express provision of the Second Amendment, it could be argued that the federal government could prevent state or local governments from forming militias. The Second Amendment preserves the right to form a well-regulated militia.

    Many legal scholars, especially conservative legal scholars (who influence the current majority on the Supreme Court), are leary of the Ninth Amendment. They have reacted to the proposition of some scholars, especially radical legal scholars, who have tried to use the Ninth Amendment as the wellspring for a particular political agenda. Accordingly, the conservative legal scholars have tried to ignore the Ninth Amendment altogether or try to encumber the otherwise plain meaning of the Ninth Amendment with irrelevant vestigal historical baggage. Both approaches are wrongheaded.

    The Ninth Amendment is an invitation for us to understand the scope of basic individual nature and liberty that is neither conservative nor liberal, neither moderate nor extreme and neither religious nor secular. The answer is not found in the Constitution, as the Ninth Amendment speaks in terms of reserved, unenumerated rights.

    Hopefully, the ensuing debate from these blogs will help to define the parameters of basic individual nature and liberty. Then we will be [able to] answer the compelling issues of the day, including, without limitation, whether we should regulate firearms, bullets and components and, if so, how to do so.

    The intersection of the Age of Enlightenment (or better the Age of Optimism) and the Great Awakening in the United States formed the crucible in which the alloys of debate and argument were melded into the concepts that yielded the Constitution. We should conduct the same colloquy.

    Merci.

    Pace e salute.

    Pascal

  6. thatmrgguy says:

    What pisses me off most about the anti-gun crowd, is they automatically think that everyone who might carry a gun is some kind of crazy lunatic that’s just looking for an excuse to whip out his piece and shoot someone.

    Here are the gun control acts starting from the first one in 1934;

    * National Firearms Act (1934)
    This was the Act that started it all;

    The purpose of the NFA was to regulate what were considered “gangster weapons” such as machine guns and hand grenades. Then U.S. Attorney General Homer S. Cummings recognized that firearms could not be banned outright under the Second Amendment, so he proposed restrictive regulation in the form of an expensive tax and Federal registration. Originally, pistols and revolvers were to be regulated as strictly as machine guns; towards that end, cutting down a rifle or shotgun to circumvent the handgun restrictions by making a concealable weapon was taxed as strictly as a machine gun.
    * Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (1968)
    This Act mostly deals with wiretaps;

    The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (Pub.L. 90-351, June 19, 1968, 82 Stat. 197, 42 U.S.C. § 3711) was legislation passed by the Congress of the United States that established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). Title III of the Act set rules for obtaining wiretap orders in the United States. It has been started shortly after November 22, 1963 when evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy increased public alertness to the relative lack of control over the sale and possession of guns in America.
    * Gun Control Act (1968)
    This Act deals with interstate commerce of weapons;

    The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA or GCA68), Pub.L. 90-618, 82 Stat. 1213, enacted October 22, 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, is a federal law in the United States that broadly regulates the firearms industry and firearms owners. It primarily focuses on regulating interstate commerce in firearms by generally prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers.

    The GCA is codified as Chapter 44 of Title 18 of the United States Code, and is Title I of the U.S. federal firearms laws. The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) is Title II. Both GCA and NFA are enforced by the ATF.

    * Firearms Owner’s Protection Act (1986)
    This Act was for the protection of Federally licensed gun dealers after documented abuse by the BATFE. After passage of GCA 1968, the BATFE had pretty much free reign and used its authority indiscriminately. The FOPA was supposed to alleviate some of the pressure FFL dealers were receiving from the Feds.
    * Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993)
    This is the one everybody likes to cite;

    The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Pub.L. 103-159, 107 Stat. 1536) was an Act of the United States Congress that, for the first time, instituted federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States.

    It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 30, 1993, and went into effect on February 28, 1994. The Act was named after James Brady, who was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.

    * Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994–2004) (now defunct)
    Since this Act is now defunct, I’ll include the language that pertains to “assault rifles” from NFA 1934 as amended in the GCA 1968;

    Most current fully-automatic trigger groups will not fit their semi-automatic firearm look-alike counterparts – the semi-automatic version is specifically constructed to reject the fully-automatic trigger group by adding metal in critical places. This addition is required by the ATF to prevent easy conversion of Title I firearms into machine guns. Additionally, some fully-automatic trigger groups are also permanently modified in such a way that they can no longer be made to function as fully-automatic fire control devices. The ATF has listed required manufacturing procedures for modifying these fully-automatic trigger groups to make them into legal semi-automatic trigger-groups for civilian sales.

    For civilian possession, all machine guns must have been manufactured and registered with the ATF prior to May 19, 1986 to be transferable between citizens. These machine gun prices have drastically escalated in value, especially items like registered sears and conversion-kits. Only a Class-II manufacturer (a FFL holder licensed to manufacture firearms or Type-07 license that has paid a Special Occupational Tax Stamp or SOT) could manufacture machine guns after that date, and they can only be sold to Government, law-enforcement, and military entities. Transfer can only be done to other SOT FFL-holders, and such FFL-holders must have a “demonstration letter” from a respective Government agency to receive such machine guns. Falsification and/or misuse of the “demo-letter” process can and has resulted in long jail sentences and felony convictions for violators.

    As you can see, “assault rifles” that an individual can buy from a gun dealer CANNOT be made into an automatic rifle.
    * Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995
    This Act, revised from the 1990 Act voided by the Supreme Court, allowed that since just about any rifle/pistol made has sometime in it’s life crossed a state line brings them under the commerce clause and therefore are illegal to bring onto school grounds. (As a personal note, I remember in high school back in the seventies, students including myself, bringing rifles or shotguns to school. Of course, we left them in our vehicles and this was only during hunting season.)

    Here’s the link where you can find out all you want to know about gun control laws. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_law_in_the_United_States

    None of this probably answers Pascal’s question though. 😉

    Most gun owners probably dream about being able to own a machine gun or automatic rifle, or at least fire one, but that’s as far as it goes. Hunting and target shooting are pleasurable sports, though. I was taught firearm safety and how to handle a rifle and pistol properly by a Marine sharpshooter when I was twelve years old. Most gun owners my age have had similar type training given by a responsible adult teacher. Personally, I think gun safety should be a required subject in high school. Not only would a course like this train our up and coming leaders not to be afraid of guns, but will also give them self confidence, girls as well as boys.

    The Ninth Amendment is really not an amendment as we think of the other amendments. The Ninth is really a “protection clause” for the other amendments as well as other rights not enumerated in the first eight amendments.

    Now to get to the gristle…I don’t think responsible gun owners are against “reasonable” laws as pertains to gun control. The GFSZA 1995 is, on the surface, a good gun law, and most reasonable gun owners will go along with it. The NFA 1934 and the amendments added to it from GCA 1968 could also be construed as reasonable gun law. (But admit it, you’d really like to be able to fire a machine gun at least once, right.)

    I have a slight problem with this Act, Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (1968), as well as the Patriot Act signed into law by George W. Bush after 9/11. They give the federal government too much leeway to snoop on American citizens.

    The Brady Act, I’m not too sure about. They may have thought this was a good law, but there’s too much room for abuse, I think, on both sides of the law. Besides, I’m not too keen on the government knowing how many or what kinds of guns I might own. As long as I’m not breaking a “moral law,” I don’t think it’s any of their business. Keep in mind that all of these Acts are government statutes, not “common law.” Every citizen of America probably breaks at least one or two statutes every day. There’s tens of thousands of government statutes and even lawyers don’t and can’t know all of them.

    I think I’ve answered your question about gun components satisfactorily. I think law enforcement “might” have a point about what are commonly called “cop killer” bullets, although after doing a little research, I think it’s much ado about nothing.

    I also think that most of the new talk concerning gun control laws as pertains to magazine size is also a mute point. Newer semi-automatic hand guns such as the Ruger P95 come standard with a 15 round magazine. It doesn’t protrude out of the bottom of the grip. Magazine capacity is unimportant. You could reduce magazine size and a person would just carry more magazines. Takes about a half a second to swap one out. You’d have to outlaw semi-automatic pistols all together for any kind of magazine capacity law to be effective. A revolver on the other hand, takes a little longer, even with a speed loader.

    I said all of this to say that for me personally, I consider the Second Amendment as my gun permit and it should be for everyone else, too. If you don’t want to own a gun, then don’t. You have that right. But by the same token, it’s not your right to tell me whether or not I can have a gun or what kind of gun I can have. I have that right.

    I hope this answered questions brought up by Pascal and I appreciate constructive criticism.

    Mike

  7. thatmrgguy says:

    Shoot*, I messed up on my thingamabobs, but I think y’all can figure it out. And I see that Pascal made another post while I was writing this one. It takes me a while to think things through as I’m writing.

    * Gratuitous violent imagery or a substitute word for what I really meant. 😉

    Mike

  8. thatmrgguy says:

    I was going to say “thingamajig,” but thought it might be misconstrued as racist.

    Mike

  9. Pascal Piazza says:

    I thank Mike for his candor and his arguments. He makes very salient points. There are, however, two (2) characterizations that I dispute and one concept that has still not been addressed.

    I am not anti-firearm. I am not pro-firearm. I advocate for each person’s individual liberties, each person’s personal responsibilities, and the government’s duty to comply with its constitutional, enumerated powers. I respect all of the first Ten Amendments.

    I do not want to confiscate any lawful person’s firearms. I do not want to tell Mike what to do with his firearm, especially since he understands his responsibility for responsible training and for responsible use of his firearms (as I concur most firearm owners equally do). I too would like to see mandatory high school training in the proper use, care and maintenence of firearms.

    Mike’s arguments nudged my central thesis, but did not really address my main thesis. I, accordingly, digress.

    Mike agrees that some regulation is acceptable. I concur. There is a point, however, were a law crosses the line of regulation and becomes confiscatory or where a law crosses the line of reason and becomes someone’s whim or caprice. What is that point?

    To find that point, in my opinion, we must define the scope of the right to own and use firearms. If we express that definition, then we can know better which of the mosaic of laws Mike cites are good and which ones are not. If we simply state that the Second Amendment grants a right, but fail to define the right, then we yield a dilemma trending to an impasse: Mike has the right to own a firearm and the U.S. has the right to regulate that firearm but how do we reconcile the two rights when they conflict?

    I appreciate that some firearm owners do not want to define the scope of the right, because definitions tend to limit a right rather than express a given right. That is unavailing to me.

    So, I ask Mike: how does he determine that a rule, regulation, ordinance or law is a reasonable regulation of the ownership or use of a firearm? I appreciate the very constructive dialogue.

    Merci.

    Pace e salute

    Pascal

  10. thatmrgguy says:

    Pascal asks a good question. I’ll do my best to answer it, keeping in mind that I’m not a legal scholar, just your everyday better than average Carpenter.

    Lets see…The NFA 1934 might be considered reasonable law by most people. After all, we don’t want a bunch of gangsters running around with tommy guns and grenades now do we. The FOPA 1986 is good law as it puts restrictions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other law enforcement as pertains to harassing federally licensed gun dealers. The GFSZA 1995 on the surface is good law. We don’t want students carrying firearms to school, although it’s a PITA for an adult with a CCW to have to leave their gun at home while they drop their child off at school on their way to work or whereever.

    I left the Brady Act for last because this is the law that has the potential for the most abuse. I guess that’s why a lot of states are going to a “shall issue” law. Back in the Jim Crow days, you used to have to go to the local sheriff or chief of police to get a piece of paper that said you could carry a hand gun. If you were black or the chief didn’t like you for whatever reason, it wasn’t going to happen, you’d be turned down. You see, if most of the folks who support the Brady Act had their way, no one except the military and law enforcement would be allowed to have hand guns. And PETA would like to outlaw hunting as well as fishing.

    If there was one standard law or regulation that was non-ambiguous, where there were no loopholes for either gun owners or law enforcement, that people could understand, I think we could probably come to some kind of agreement.

    What the most vehement supporters of gun control would like to see happen though, is for the Fed to tax guns and ammo to the point that regular folks couldn’t afford to keep their arms. That’s basically what happened in Great Britain. The government put such a high tax on guns and ammo, that most people just gave them up rather than pay the exorbitant yearly tax.

    Hopefully I was able to answer your question.

    Regards, Mike

  11. Pascal Piazza says:

    The strength of this country is that the advise and counsel of a carpenter is as valuable and important as the advise and counsel of the greatest scholars (and of the rest of us that fall somewhere else on the spectrum). These blogs prove the value of this strength.

    I believe that Mike and I agree. We both want concrete laws that reconcile an individual’s right to own and use firearms, that same individual’s responsibilities, and society’s (or government’s) responsibility for a general welfare consistent with and protective of the former right and responsbilities. We merely approach the issue differently. My approach is a little more deductive in approach and Mike’s is a little more inductive in approach. Both are valid approaches and different paths often lead to the same destination. It is important to have a good start and even better end.

    It is unlikley that Mike and I will agree on what laws, regulations, rules or ordinances are good and which one are not, but as long as we are disussing why they are good or bad, then our country is healthy and hopefuly a little more wise.

    Merci.

    Pace e salute.

    Pascal

  12. Pat Ryan says:

    Bob, Mike, Pascal–you guys are great! You clearly have well-considered positions on the gun control issues and weren’t shy about asserting them; the way you did it, without resorting to personal attacks or belittling or demonizing differing views, does my cynical heart good. For others like me who want to be optimistic that the tone of political discussion can return to a reasonable level, you guys have given us reason to be optimistic. Thanks.

  13. thatmrgguy says:

    Well, there’s always the next discussion, eh? 😉

    Mike

  14. Tim L says:

    Pascal is a friend and, knowing my interest in this topic, invited me to take part in the discussion.

    Yesterday I wrote a long reply to Bob and his quotes of various anti-gun statistics. Mostly my rebuttals were clarifying what his statisics were implying vs. what they were really saying. For example, “A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting, than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.” Maybe this is true. But it ignores the instances where the presence of a gun (as in pointing a gun at a perpetrator of a crime) prevented harm coming to the good guy. This happens much more often than a shooting of a “perp,” just as being armed works for a police officer much more often than the actual shooting by a police officer. Most officers go their entire career without shooting their gun in the line of duty. But how many crimes does the officer prevent by having a gun in that career?

    But we could argue statistics forever.

    Most of us believe in the right to own guns and most believe that there should be some regulation, as there currently is. I personally believe that the current laws are enough to stop most gun crimes, if they were enforced. In the case of the Tucson shooting, the guy is most likely insane. It is against the law for an insane person to buy a gun. The failure, of course, is in the system for getting someone who was so apparently unbalanced to all who knew him, including the campus PD, to get that person labeled. Getting us to that level, having us all efficiently labeled sane or insane, would likely trod on many of our private rights. (Let’s go to the DMV–Dept of Mental Validity–once every four years for our license)

    The issue of the 32 round magazine and its inherent evil? Was Giffords shot with the 32nd round? No, the first I think. Was someone hurt with the 32nd? The 31st? I don’t know. The Brady bill had magazines limited to 10 rounds (though millions of higher capacity magazines were already in circulation). Would that have saved anyone? Who knows. Those 32 round Glock magazines were designed for the Glock 9mm machine pistol. They are about 10 inches long and certainly not very concealable, though he apparently did.

    As I stated above I wrote a long essay yesterday. I erased it after many many words were written after realizing that no matter what I wrote, I was most likely wasting my breath.

    A recent e-mail from a mutual friend of several on this board came to mind and I re-print it below. The topic is alcohol, but it could easily be translated to gun control (or most any other divisive topic for that matter).

    Judge Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr. (b. October 2, 1922; d. February 23, 1996, Alcorn County, Mississippi) was a judge, law professor, and state representative in the U.S. state of Mississippi, notable for his 1952 speech on the floor of the Mississippi state legislature concerning whiskey, which is considered a classic example of political doublespeak. Reportedly the speech took Sweat 2½ months to write.

    My friends,

    I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

    If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

    But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

    This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

    Control the gun of a criminal, hell yeah! Control the gun I protect myself and my family with, hell no!

    This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

    TL

    • Pat Ryan says:

      Thank you–another strong and reasonable argument of a point of view on an issue without vitriol or name-calling. (And to think that this is what was left after you erased your long essay.)

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