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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Right to bear arms isn’t unlimited

September 12, 2013

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By Joseph J. Ellis

Los Angeles Times

There is an opinion abroad in the land that the right to bear arms is unlimited, an absolute right, like the right to vote or the right to a fair trial.

This heartfelt conviction has surfaced lately in state legislation that attempts to nullify federal gun regulations. For the nullifiers, and many others, the broadest possible right to bear arms is purportedly enshrined in the Second Amendment and recognized in the Supreme Court case Heller vs. District of Columbia.

And yet, no matter how prevalent or fervently held, the opinion that the Bill of Rights supports and the high court acknowledges an absolute right to gun ownership is just plain wrong.

The language of the Second Amendment is quite clear: “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.” As the minority in the Heller decision argued, and more than a century of judicial precedent at the federal level established, the right to bear arms was not an inherent right of citizenship but rather a right that derived from service in the militia.

James Madison’s thinking

The historical context in which these words were crafted clarifies what was in James Madison’s mind when he wrote them. In 1787-88, seven of the states that ratified the proposed Constitution did so on the condition that Congress give consideration to adding several amendments if and when it went into effect. These states proposed 124 amendments, none of which mentioned the right to bear arms but several of which mentioned the fear of a standing army.

When Madison sat down to write what became the Bill of Rights in the summer of 1789, those 124 proposed amendments served as the basis for his deliberations. He distilled from them an essence of 12 amendments, subsequently reduced by the states to 10. The 2nd Amendment represented Madison’s attempt to respond to the fears of a standing army by assuring that national defense would reside in the states and in militias, not at the federal level in a professional army. The right to bear arms derived from the need to assure that state militia could perform its essential mission.

All this was what constitutional scholars call “settled law” until Heller, in which the high court ruled that the right to bear arms, despite the language of the Second Amendment and the historical context of its creation, existed independent of service in the militia. Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion is a tour de force of legalistic legerdemain, a lengthy journey through English common law, colonial charters, state constitutions and obscure 19th century court cases. Given Scalia’s judicial philosophy as an “originalist” — meaning he believes his opinions should be guided by the original intent of the framers — his failure to assess Madison’s motives in drafting the Second Amendment is strange, much like a devout Christian explaining his faith without mentioning Jesus.

Scalia’s caveats

But even Scalia, fully aware of the legal precedents he was overturning, saw fit to insert the following caveats near the end of his opinion:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. … Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

These caveats create a crack through which significant gun control legislation might flow. Indeed, expanded background checks and limits on automatic weapons, the key provisions in the post-Sandy Hook gun legislation debated (and defeated) by Congress earlier this year, fit comfortably within this space.

Take issue back to people

But gun control advocates need to be realistic. The Heller decision, no matter how misguided, is itself “settled law,” and the current composition of the Supreme Court will defeat any challenge to its sweeping, if limited, mandate. In addition, Congress is demonstrably hogtied by the National Rifle Assn., and even though many states (Colorado, Connecticut and New York among them) have tightened gun ownership laws since the massacres in Newtown, Aurora and Tucson, another half a dozen are trying the nullification gambit.

Given all this, the only alternative is to go back to “the people” themselves, where there remains good reason to believe a clear majority wants sensible reform at odds with the agenda of the NRA and the nullifiers. Remember: As 2013 began, an astonishing 89 percent of voters, including 75 percent of NRA members, were in favor of expanded background checks, and sizable majorities favored a ban on sales of semiautomatic weapons. Months later, polls still find most Americans are in favor of checks, “assault rifle” bans and restrictions on who is allowed to purchase guns.

Legal core for gun rights

The terms of a national discussion would no doubt include the gun violence tragedies we’ve faced, but it should also focus on the legal core of the gun rights issue: the Second Amendment and the Heller decision. These two tools, so often used to fight gun control, can and should be used to affect reasonable reform.

The intent of the founders needs to be heard and understood. The men who hammered out the Constitution, argued for its ratification and underlined our liberties with the Bill of Rights, would urge us to think about the issue this way: How do we balance the right to bear arms against the collective security of the American people?

Framed in this fashion, we can all come together as fellow citizens to discuss in a sensible rather than strident tone where the line needs to be drawn between our rights and our responsibilities.

All that’s required is that we channel our inner James Madisons, and even our inner Scalias. There is no unlimited right to bear arms — on that these two men agree, and so should we.

— Joseph J. Ellis is the author of “Founding Brothers” and, most recently, “Revolutionary Summer.” He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

Comments

stevieboy 1 year, 4 months ago

LOL...Left wing liberals are so funny...blame the gun instead of the criminal using it..

Abdu Omar 1 year, 4 months ago

Uhh, Stevie, did you read the article?

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

You can regulate gun ownership the same amount you can regulate speech.

Tell your democrat leaders to keep pushing gun regulations. We've seen the result of that in Colorado.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

A constitutional right is a constitutional right. The constitution is not a buffet.

chootspa 1 year, 4 months ago

Which one of the rights also has the words "well regulated?"

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

The militia is "well regulated". The next clause puts it plainly for citizens:

"the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

Also, the supreme court has ruled you have no right to absolute freedom of expression. I say for every limit on gun ownership, we place an equal limit on every other right. Maybe then the liberals will keep their hands off the rights they don't approve of.

.

Armored_One 1 year, 4 months ago

Very true, Liberty, but unfortunately, the vast majority of people still refuse to accept the fact that ALL of the Amendments were written well over a century ago. I don't care how forward thinking a person is, there is a natural limit on what can be foreseen as a potential problem. That limit is the natural evolution of a society. Remember, when the Amendments were written, slavery was still perfectly legal.

Can you name any of the Bill of Rights, other than the Second Amendment, that is treated as sacrosanct? The other nine have been reorganized, restructured, and almost rewritten from the ground up, but, somehow, a gun is more important than anything else in this nation.

This turns my stomach to write, but so many people in this nation hoped that Westboro Baptist Church would lose some of their right to protest, and thus part of their First Amendment rights. We put things first that are the most important. More people were willing to surrender someone else's First Amendment rights than they are to accept any regulation of their own lives.

Why is a gun so holy?

In_God_we_trust 1 year, 4 months ago

Remember, "well regulated" is a stated freedom of the people, not a restriction on the people, but a restriction on the Federal government.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

That doesn't make sense.

Article 1, Section 9 gives the federal government the authority to arm, train, organize, etc. militias. So a "well regulated" militia would be one that is armed, trained, organized, etc. by the federal government.

As such, it is in fact not a restriction on the federal government at all.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

"You can regulate gun ownership the same amount you can regulate speech." Just what does this statement really mean, Liberty? Speech can be regulated. One perfect example: draft cards. Try again.

chootspa 1 year, 4 months ago

Or shouting fire in a crowed theater.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Slander, libel, inciting to riot, advocating the violent overthrow of the government, fraudulent advertising, etc. as well.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

I personally have acted in a stage production where the word "fire" was shouted every night.

bad_dog 1 year, 4 months ago

Pure speculation on my part, but I'll bet that theater wasn't very crowded. One man show, perhaps?

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

No, it was a 1200 seat proscenium arch stage. We had about 50 actors. The play was called "ghetto" and was about life in a Jewish ghetto under Nazi rule. It was a musical but they wouldn't let me sing.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

Not really. I don't have a very good singing voice.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

Let's make it so you have to have a background check before you are allowed to speak. How about we do that? Sound good to you?

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

Or how about a reasonable background check before you can vote?

weeslicket 1 year, 4 months ago

please refer to your earlier post re: 1200 seat proscenium arch stage

tomatogrower 1 year, 4 months ago

Obviously there are regulations to speech too, L275. One of the conservative's heroes, Scott Walker is having all kinds of protesters arrested. And you can't yell fire in a crowded room, unless there is really a fire.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

Sure, there are restrictions on speech. So lets add more restrictions on speech until they equal the restrictions on gun ownership. Fair is fair.

Maybe we can have a 15 word limit per sentence.

You should care about all of your rights, not just the ones you want to exercise.

repaste 1 year, 4 months ago

So are all guns allowed? M-60's? Grenade launchers? unlimited period? 110mm shells? Reason would dictate some restrictions.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

I think any non felon should be allowed to own any weapon in use by any law enforcement agency. Any non felon should be able to own any weapon that isn't classified as long as they pass the appropriate background checks and can properly secure the weapon.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Wait a minute - why shouldn't felons be able to own weapons?

In other threads, you've said that anybody who's served their time should retain all of their constitutional rights, haven't you?

And, what would justify "background checks"?

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

"Wait a minute - why shouldn't felons be able to own weapons?"

They can't because of the Kansas Constitution. I think they should be allowed to after there sentence is complete.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Felons are still felons even after they've served their time.

And, if you really believe that everyone should retain constitutional rights, why would you agree with the KS constitution on this one?

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

I know they remain felons, I think they should be given back their rights when their sentence is completed. I don't agree with this aspect of the Kansas or US Constitution. Really, I think it should be in the Bill of Rights.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Then why do you say "any non felon should be allowed to own"...??

It's inconsistent with your belief as stated in this post, and in other threads.

tomatogrower 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh please, Liberty. I know lots of people who own lots of guns. Obama hasn't knocked on their door to take them away, and won't. Most of them are responsible gun owners, some of them though are stupid and one of them is just a little mentally off. There is nothing wrong with requiring gun owners to go through training and pass a mental stability test. I own guns, and I would be willing to do both those things. And singing songs in a state capital doesn't kill anyone, so there is a big difference, but they are still arresting the singers. Sticks and guns will break your bones, but words will never kill you.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

Obama would gladly sign legislation limiting magazine size to 15 rounds. That is enough to not allow him or his party any opportunity to do anything more than make suggestions regarding gun control.

"Sticks and guns will break your bones, but words will never kill you."

Guns will never kill you either.

weeslicket 1 year, 4 months ago

"Maybe we can have a 15 word limit per sentence."

yes. just start there.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 4 months ago

A lot of Democratic political resources are being invested in "gun control" efforts these days. Perhaps not enough in creating jobs and improving the economy.

We have seen a lot of Republican resources focused on Benghazi and blocking anything Obama does.

If the effort was only about establishing a gun registration database or about eliminating 30 round or higher magazines, then why the attack on the 2nd Amendment? Think....

I am always interested in how public opinion is influenced by propaganda because of the sophistication of politicians, their strategists, and the control and power of the media. They would not be spending mega-billions on elections every year if these techniques did not work.

When Bill Clinton was running for election, as the story goes, a sign was hung on the door that said,"IT's THE ECONOMY STUPID".

Perhaps what these people need to do is print more of these signs. Obviously, they are avoiding the most important issue in America today and that can only mean they like the status quo. The rich are getting very rich these days and the rest of us don't seem to matter much.

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

Ellis undercuts his own argument. If he really wanted to argue for reasonable limitiations to the 2nd Amendment he shouldn't have started by claiming THE PEOPLE don't really have a right to keep and bear arms. He poisoned the well by starting his argument in way that makes him appear like an extremist from which there is no possibility of determining reasonable limitations. It is already clear that in his mind all restrictions are reasonable considering there is no right in the first place.

Reasonable people can disagree on the intrepretation of the 2nd Amendment, but if I wanted to make an argument for a reasonable solution to the same-sex marriage debate, I wouldn't start by trying to convince others that homosexuality is a sin. That would only make sense if I was trying to argue against same-sex marriage entirely.

Is Ellis only used to making arguments to people that think like him?

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

Many gun rights absolutists conflate what is in the Constitution with their own personal feelings on the matter.

We are a nation of laws based on the Constitution, not a nation based on the personal opinions of absolutists.

I am skeptical of Constitutional originalists, but the consistent originalist interpretation in this case supports reasonable gun regulation.

Many originalists disagree, confirming my suspicion that the originalist argument is used to support personal opinions about the Constitution and not what is actually there or intended.

Peacemaker452 1 year, 4 months ago

How can “the consistent originalist interpretation in this case support..reasonable gun regulation” while at the same time “many originalists disagree”?

We are not a nation “based on personal opinions” but we should base our interpretation of the 2nd Amendment on your opinion of Constitutional originalist and absolutionists.

You are talking in circles.

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

Read carefully. My point is the those who claim to be originalists are in fact truly not, but instaed invoke the originalist label to support their personal opinions and not what the Constitution actually says or implies.

tomatogrower 1 year, 4 months ago

And they do not figure in the fact that firepower now is about 1,000 times greater than the firepower at the time of writing of the constitution. I would think that the founders of our country would not be impressed by how efficient we have made killing.

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

LibertyOne writes: "A constitutional right is a constitutional right. The constitution is not a buffet."

And then.

"The militia is "well regulated". The next clause puts it plainly for citizens: "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed""

Hmmm. Sounds like a buffet menu to me....

Peacemaker452 1 year, 4 months ago

The militia would be a lot more “well regulated” but squeamish, weak minded, spineless crybabies always complain when they gather on the public square with their personal firearms to practice.

You do know that “well regulated” means “well practiced”, don’t you?

Peacemaker452 1 year, 4 months ago

Try again.

Why don’t you try looking at some writing that is contemporary with the Bill of Rights, you will clearly see what is meant by a well regulated militia.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Well, I believe that Article 1, Section 9 of the constitution gives the federal government authority to arm, train, organize, and regulate militias.

So, the phrase is clearly meant to be an organized group overseen by the federal government, not just a bunch of guys with guns.

Peacemaker452 1 year, 4 months ago

I believe that Satirical spells it out pretty clearly below.

Also, please remember that the 2nd Amendment, specifically guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms to the people, not the militia or the government, was adopted over two years after the Constitution. This would mean that it takes precedence over any restrictions in the original, although I don’t believe any exist.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

It's more of a matter of understanding the reasons for the amendment.

Originalists claim to want that, so they should want to understand exactly why the 2nd amendment was written, and for what purpose.

voevoda 1 year, 4 months ago

Even if "well regulated" means skilled and practiced, it still implies orderly supervision, and keeping firearms out of the hands of persons who cannot use them safely. That would preclude any individual deciding for him/herself that his/her skill level suffices to bear arms in accordance with the provision of the Second Amendment.

So in fact, the "well regulated" = "well practiced" reading would require much more restrictive gun laws than those in place prior to the Heller decision.

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

voevoda...

Please read my arguments below. The militia clause has no impact on the substantive clause (the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed). So, regardless of what well regulated means, it doesn't impact gun laws for individuals.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Well, that's the current view, with Heller.

But, if the reason we want people to be able to bear arms is so that we don't have a standing army, and can assemble a militia instead, then now that we have a standing army, that need no longer exists.

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

Jafs..

It is the current view with Heller, and the current view based on the English language.

Simply because the Founding Father put in one reason to keep and bear arms doesnt' preclude other law abiding reasons. As I have already stated, the precatory language in no way restricts the operative clause or the substantive right given.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

If one wants to understand the constitution and amendments in context, then the writings of the founders are useful in that regard.

Many seem to think that the 2nd amendment was written so that they can participate in shooting competitions, or hunt, or protect themselves against the government, etc.

Any evidence that this is the case?

If the letter is correct, then it's clear that the reason for the 2nd amendment was to prevent standing armies, and allow for the states and militias to defend the country instead.

That's clearly not the case any more. I wonder if "originalists" are bothered by that, and would prefer that we return to the original national defense idea.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

"Many seem to think that the 2nd amendment was written so that they can participate in shooting competitions, or hunt, or protect themselves against the government, etc."

One thinks the second amendment was written so the government can't arbitrarily tell him he can't have a firearm. He thinks gun ownership should not be denied any American citizen without due process of law.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Ok.

But, if this letter is correct, the right to bear arms was directly connected to the desire not to have a standing federal army, and was enacted so that state militias could be organized for national defense instead.

Now that we have a standing national army, we don't have that need - perhaps the 2nd amendment should be reconsidered in that light in some way.

voevoda 1 year, 4 months ago

I saw your argument below, Satirical, before responding. I can't agree that the content of the Second Amendment must necessarily reflect the thinking behind the Article 1 of the Constitution, because the Constitution was written before the Second Amendment.

And if militias were irrelevant to the Second Amendment, it would not have contained a reference to them. Ergo, militias have something to do with the Second Amendment. There is plenty of room to debate how militias and private gun ownership ought to be connected, but the Second Amendment itself connects them. That is irrefutable.

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

If we are going to have the Constitutional argument, then it should be noted the the first clause, "A well regulated militia..." is precatory language and in typical statuory interpretation cannot and does not impose any enforceable oblication on the right granted (the right to keep and bare arms).

Furthermore, the 2nd Amendment doesn't say the right of the MILITIA to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It says the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms...

Finally, is it possible that the "people" being referred to in the 2nd Amendment is really code for militia? Unlikley since the term "people" in the rest of the Constitition and Bill of Rights refers to individuals.

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

Art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution, in granting Congress the right to provide for the organizing, arming and disciplining of the Militia, reserves to the States “the Appointment of the Officers and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

If Congress really wanted to reserve the right to keep and bare arms to the militia, it is likely to have put it there, rather than in the Bill of Rights, which deals with the rights of people.

Satirical 1 year, 4 months ago

If background check prior to exercising a constitutional right is completely reasonable, then it should apply to voting as well as owning a gun.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Agreed.

I am wholeheartedly in favor of making sure that those voting have the right to do that.

Are you likewise in favor of making sure that those buying guns have that right?

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

Why should it apply to voting? These are two very separate and different things, and blindly equating them is nonsense and fallacy.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

You have a right to own a gun, but you have no right to vote.

They ARE completely different things. I'm glad you cleared that up.

Those of you that think you have a "right" to vote, you march right down to your polling place and demand to vote tomorrow morning. You always have the right to free speech, you always have the right to bare arms, and you always have the right to due process. You always have rights. They don't come around once a year.

You do have the right to equality year round, fellow citizens. Even on election day.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

That's a funny argument.

You have the right to vote in elections - it's not a right that needs to be exercised all of the time.

It's good to have bare arms, although some people really should wear long sleeved shirts :-)

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

"You have the right to vote in elections"

You have the right of equality. You always have it.

What other rights do you think are you afforded only once per year (really every other year at the federal level)?

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't know, I'd have to think about it.

But, the fact that it's not a right that's continually exercised doesn't mean it's not a right.

It just means it's a right that doesn't need to be continually exercised.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

If constitutional rights are granted to citizens, and not non-citizens, then it makes sense to ensure anybody trying to exercise those actually has that right, whether it's voting or buying a gun.

I don't understand either the left or right on this one - they seem to have different standards for different rights, which doesn't make sense to me at all.

The reason to have background checks on gun buyers is so that people who don't have that right (convicted felons, those adjudicated mentally ill, etc.) can't buy them legally.

The reason to have background checks (or voter id requirements) for voters is so that people who don't have that right (non citizens) can't vote.

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

I am always amused by these gun rights absolutists attempting to support their personal opinions about gun regulation and the Constitution by trying to redefine words that have well-understood and precise meanings.

"well regulated" doesn't mean that at all, but in fact the opposite, unregulated. They usually just ignore altogether the word "militia".

For example, from Satirical: ""A well regulated militia..." is precatory language and in typical statuory interpretation cannot and does not impose any enforceable oblication on the right granted (the right to keep and bare arms)."

Huh? Great fun.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

...and the pearl that you must have missed. :-)

mi·li·tia noun mə-ˈli-shə : a group of people who are not part of the armed forces of a country but are trained like soldiers

Full Definition of MILITIA

1 a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency b : a body of citizens organized for military service 2 : the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service See militia defined for English-language learners » See militia defined for kids » Origin of MILITIA

Latin, military service, from milit-, miles First Known Use: 1625 Other Military Terms

bivouac, logistics, petard, salient, sally, supernumerary, tactical militia noun (Concise Encyclopedia) Military organization of citizens with limited military training who are available for emergency service, usually for local defense. In many countries the militia is of ancient origin. The Anglo-Saxons required every able-bodied free male to serve. In colonial America it was the only defense against hostile Indians when regular British forces were not available. In the American Revolution the militia, called the Minutemen, provided the bulk of the American forces. Militias played a similar role in the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. State-controlled volunteer militias in the U.S. became the National Guard. British militia units, begun in the 16th century for home defense and answerable to the county sheriff or lord lieutenant, were absorbed into the regular army in the 20th century. Today various paramilitary organizations, from U.S. white supremacists to revolutionaries in the developing world, use the term militia to accentuate their populist origins.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/militia

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

So, the National Guard?

A bunch of individuals owning firearms does not a militia make. The only examples of militia-like organizations that I can think of in the recent past are white supremacist or black power organizations. Otherwise, where are the militias?

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

I think the key words are "trained" and "organized".

nwtransplant 1 year, 4 months ago

Forget about what it says about a militia. It also says that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. People and a militia are not the same thing. We can argue till the end of time, and we will just have to agree to disagree. The group with the most amount of money and clout will get their way. The fact is that the police cannot protect you (stop anybody who wants to harm you), all they can do is arrest the perpetrator. The police did not stop any of these nut jobs from killing people, so we had better be prepared. I will not carry a gun on my person, because I'm in a wheelchair and it just would not work. Anybody who breaks into my home will be sorry they ever had that thought. I will probably be sorry if I ever have to shoot somebody, because I could never know 100% if they had intended to kill me. Being sorry is definitely better than dead.

nwtransplant 1 year, 4 months ago

I am not contending that I have the right to own cruse missile or a fighter jet. I just want to be able to adequately protect myself and my family.

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 4 months ago

Why not? Cruise missiles and fighter jets are arms.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

Correct. You can own a Jet fighter and you can own not just a cruise missile, but an ICBM.

http://collingsfoundation.org/tx_f-4dphantom.htm

http://www.spacex.com/

coebam 1 year, 4 months ago

It is the same worn out arguement. The left sadly believe if guns are removed from law abiding citizens all gun violence be stopped immediatly in the country. However, most of the the anti-gun establishment doesn't want to talk about who, rather than what, is actually doing the majority of the killing and violent crime. You see, it does not matter what magazine capacity, or what furniture is on a rifle, or what caliber the gun happens to be. All that is irrelavent, because people do the crimes, not the guns. A GUN IS A TOOL. The left like to blame the NRA and the evil firearms manufacturers, but that really is not fair is it? They like to blame the CCL guys for making cities that were once peaceful, and violence never ever happened, into the old west were shootouts are as commen as a kids soccer game. REALITY is it's the criminals, the badguys, the drug dealers, the gang bangers, the felons.

Because fixing the REAL root causes of violence in this country is too hard to do. Taking away a law abiding citizens guns is far easier than changing an entire culture. A culture where human life is worth no more than what ever is in a purse or cash drawer of a quik trip. A culture where others property is "anyone's" property, all you have to do is take it. A culture where the punishment does not necessarily deter a crime.

You see - people are the problem. Not guns, knives, bats, chipper shredders, take your weapon of choice. It's PEOPLE, not the tool used in a violent crime. Until people have a higher respect for one another this will not stop. I don't know how I can explain this any more clearly guys. Bad people like to hurt other people. Some people choose to be able to defend themselves if a dangerous situation arises. If you don't like guns, don't own one. But the thought process of "if all guns are banned......." is just plain unreasonable and honestly silly. It's been said a thousand times, but no one seems to grasp it. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

I can't find, in the comments, where anyone wants to ban guns. Nobody wants to take away your guns, bubba.

tomatogrower 1 year, 4 months ago

Don't bother, Kathy. They don't listen when we tell them no one is coming for their guns. They just go out and buy more guns and ammunition. The gun and ammo manufactures are loving having Obama for president. They are making a bundle. What's funny there are people I have known all my life who never owned a gun until recently. It's reverse psychology. The Twinkie company went under, because they didn't update their product and no one wanted it anymore. Then they go broke, and all of a sudden everyone wants a Twinkie. They still taste bad, and they have even more preservatives in them, but when people thought they couldn't have any, they wanted them. Same with guns. Suggest that Obama is going to take their guns, and they go out and buy more. Should have bought stock.

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

I can find two state senators that were thrown out because they pushed a law banning the sale of magazines larger than 15 rounds. They want to take them away, but the people want allow them to.

Armored_One 1 year, 4 months ago

Idle, silly question, but when was the last time a firearm was fully and truly banned in this nation? Last I knew, in the last 50 years, none have been outright banned, just the manufacture of new ones of those particular models, and even those laws were circumvented.

Kind of hard to know what would and would not happen if it's not allowed to happen in the first place.

Seth Peterson 1 year, 4 months ago

Facts: There are no major pushes, especially by the government, to take away the guns of our people or their rights to own guns.

coebam 1 year, 4 months ago

@ Kathy & Tomato - you two completely missed my point. It's not about banning anything. I am not paranoid. I am not Scared Barry is coming for my guns. You can legislate all kinds of laws into infinity. You can put limits on mag capacity. You can say if this kind of gun has that, it's illegal. It does nothing to stop violence. That is the essence of my point I am trying to make. PEOPLE are the problem. Violent people that don't care about anyone else. It's not guns or any other weapon for that matter that is the problem. Again it is PEOPLE! Geez - read and think!

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

"The left sadly believe if guns are removed from law abiding citizens all gun violence be stopped immediatly in the country".

I left your spelling and grammar intact, even though incorrect.

Also, it's just incorrect to claim that's what the "left" believes - nobody I know believes that at all, so it's a silly way to start a good discussion.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

Coebam: we certainly do understand where the problem lies. Unfortunately, your argument emulates the lies presented by the extreme right, i.e., "if all guns were banned", in order to instill irrational fear. If anyone understands the social aspects of violence, it would be us leftys, right? LOL

coebam 1 year, 4 months ago

"If anyone understands the social aspects of violence, it would be us leftys, right? LOL"

What does that even mean? I am confused???

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

I think he meant the left knows violence.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Kathy is almost certainly a "she", given her screen name.

And, no, she meant that "lefties" understand the social aspects of violence quite well, and are often advocating for ways to deal with those forces, like poverty, unemployment, etc.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks, jafs. That is exactly what I meant. I was kindof in a hurry, and obviously forgot I was dealing with the comprehension challenged. :-)

coebam 1 year, 4 months ago

http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons-ban-summary

It’s not just the extreme right, and the likes of the NRA whipping up gun ban paranoia. According to Mrs. Feinstein, and her 2013 proposal, it appears to me as if she would like to confiscate a significant number of firearms from law abiding citizens. There would not be much left in my safe if I had to surrender guns that are considered an assault weapon according to her proposal. So that said Kathy, I think some people may be justified in their gun ban paranoia. Both right and left can be overly ideological in their political positions. This bill is over the top and I could not see any way it could have passed. However, some obviously thought it had a chance and acted in a manor they thought best.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Did you read your link?

Almost immediately after the first section, it specifically excludes any guns that are lawfully owned at the time of the bill's passing, which means nobody would take your guns away.

If they're in fact legally owned now, that is.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 4 months ago

I am disappointed that you didn't mention the grandfather clause of her proposal as jafs pointed out. Why did you ignore that part?
I imagine you think I am all for banning all guns, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I was raised in a household with guns, taught how to respect, clean, handle and shoot from an early age. My sons and grandson have been taught as well. I believe a person should be able to protect their home and hunt for food. I would really like to understand fear you have of the unknown, but it just doesn't make sense to me. Don't you realize you have a ring in your nose, unable to think for yourself, and are being led around by the media? What is it that you fear? Civil unrest? A race war (few will be honest about this one), or do you believe Palin's bogus claim that the government is stockpiling weapons and ammo in order to kill us all?
Thank goodness my dad also taught me to consider my associations and their intentions!

Norm Jennings 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm not opposed to everything stated in this opinion. However, I do think the focus on the argument is somewhat a tangent to the primary concern, how to reduce the threat of violence without unnecessarily restricting freedoms (whether based on a particular persons interpretation of the bill or rights or the opposite).

I know this. The marketers of firearms and ammunition have never blasted through their previous sales targets like they did since the President began the discussion of additional restrictions. My friends who have a business that includes the sales of these types of wares have been unable to even stock their inventories at usual levels since the demand has increased so dramatically.

The most painfully slow and ineffectual measures are what democracy often requires in the modification of long-perceived freedoms. In fact, "quick fixes" often add volatility to an already inflammatory circumstance. The bottom line as fuzzy and gray, as it might be, is that young men do not feel equipped and/or empowered to meet the societal changes in the preparation for, and meeting the definition of sucess in our times. Any mental vulnerability in a man is still considered a weakness rather than a human limitation with accepted and product ways to seek support without eliciting ridicule and/or judgment. The product is the slaugher that we have all grieved.

No gun law will fix this. Without a gun the same person will turn to explosives, or poison, or another device of shocking and unnecessary death. I know that I'll be judged as a "gun nut," or "nullifier," or "NRA stooge" for acknowledging this truth. All the same, I don't believe in round pegs in square holes, nor in demonizing my neighbor for not recognizing the same. Both sides have valid concerns unmet by their opposition, unfortunately the more "intellectual" on both sides simply use the ivory tower to ridicule their opposition rather than to recognize that both sides have holes in their arguments.

This is why we all feel both grief and guilt as each of these events occur, because most of us are guilty in petty argument rather than embracing the need to move the discussion toward a less violent tomorrow.

For the part that the writer attempted to discuss without being "strident" I applaud the writer.
For the portion of mindlessly throwing around labels like "nullifier" and making broad accusations of the NRA and its membership, the writer will have to share part of the feeling of guilt and grief from the next tragedy with the rest of us.

In_God_we_trust 1 year, 4 months ago

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights settles the argument of those that would try to pick apart the 2nd amendment. It clearly states that the Bill of Rights are listed FREEDOMS and RESTRICTIONS on the Federal government, including the Supreme Court and Congress, and the President. The 2nd amendment says "shall not be infringed", the 1st amendment says "shall make no law". The liberal argument is false and over, concerning the 2nd amendment and any of the Bill of Rights. That is why there is an amendment change process, not just simple legislation.

Garth Atchison 1 year, 4 months ago

It is easier to get a gun than to vote. We have no problem limiting the right to vote, but guns are off limits. So some rights are fair game and others not. Can someone explain to me the hierarchy of the bill of rights so that I can determine which one is more important than all the others?

Peacemaker452 1 year, 4 months ago

“It is easier to get a gun than to vote.” You are talking about two different processes, not the underlying rights; apples and oranges.

“We have no problem limiting the right to vote, but guns are off limits.” There are over 20000 laws in this country at all levels that limit a citizen’s ability to obtain, own, carry and use firearms. How many laws limit the right to vote?

“Can someone explain to me the hierarchy of the bill of rights so that I can determine which one is more important than all the others?” Are you still trying to compare voting to guns? If you are, please note that there is nothing in the first 10 Amendments, commonly known as the Bill of Rights, which addresses voting. You will, however, clearly find the words “shall not be infringed” in relation to the right to keep and bear arms.

Garth Atchison 1 year, 4 months ago

20,000 is a big number, care to elaborate?

lwctown 1 year, 4 months ago

The founders used the word "people" in the 2nd amendment to give the right to the people not the state.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Heller, stated:

Nowhere else in the Constitution does a “right” attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right.

jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

And yet, this was a change in the interpretation.

So, for over 200 years, it was understood differently, and then recently changed. I would think that generally speaking, people closer to the founding would have understood things more as originally intended than we do now.

It wasn't really a question of individual vs. state, by the way, the question was individual vs. collective right.

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