Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thirteen words the NRA would like to shoot down

1. A

2. well

3. regulated

4. militia

5. being

6. necessary

7. to

8. the

9. security

10. of

11. a

12. free

13. state


Anonymous said...

Certainly a cheery little post for the holiday season.

Interesting that with all the hubbub (hubbub?) about Bill Ayers during the election I have been unable to get a conservative to spell out the conditions under which they would take up arms against a tyrannical U.S. government.

This question arises, of course, following the oft repeated refrain "We are freedom loving people with guns, bring it on... (UnAmerican name of your choice here.)

For the record, I have no objection to gun ownership. And as much as I hate to see gang members with Uzi's I've about decided trying to control ownership is futile.


dudesworthy said...

I once watched an interesting documentary on Celtic Europe; some archaeological dude had dug up an iron age sword in Ireland.

He immediately said that the period of history that this object came from was a violent period.


Because, unlike other iron age tools, swords have only the one use; to kill people.

Interestingly machine guns also have only one use.

How many more times do we have to turn on the TV and see news reports about young students being massacred by some machine-gun-toting lunatic before the NRA gets it?

Erin O'Brien said...

My point was to draw attention to the fact that the 2nd amendment is so often truncated, both figuratively and literally. It makes absolutely no reference to self-defense and qualifies the right to bear arms with the thirteen words listed above.

Unless you are part of a "well regulated militia," your right to bear arms is subject to legislation and control--that is if you acquiesce to the Constitution.

My position stands as always: let 'em bear all the effing arms they want, just tax the shit out of the ammunition. The more deadly it is, the higher the tax. Very low tax on traditional hunting ammunition. Maybe ammunition purchased inside shooting ranges is tax free. Shoot all the deer and targets you want. But that automatic and semi-automatic shit is just plain stupid in the hands of the general public.

Yeah, yeah, go on about the black market. Everyone who buys and sells ammo there is an instant criminal. Maybe we can start throwing them in jail. Aw hell, community service is good enough for me--they can don an orange jumpsuit and pick up trash in front of the building where they work, or maybe their church.

Kirk Jusko said...

The real problem is not the occasional nut who shoots up a shopping center, as scary as that may be, but the kind of shoot-em-ups we see in dense urban areas on a daily bases, usually among poor, desperate people (according to the latest economic reports, that may soon include everybody but Oprah Winfrey).

Leaving aside for a moment the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment's tortured language (couldn't the Founding Father have simply written "State regulated militias are allowed to have guns"? Would've been a lot more easier to understand, huh? I suspect they, too, were divided on the subject), I think Rudy Guliani had the right idea (a rarity.) Gun control should be a local matter. What works for Mayberry doesn't necessarily work for Gotham City.

Kirk Jusko said...

Tax ammunition? Ha!

Maybe that would work.

Amy L. Hanna said...

Hand guns are made for killin'/
Aint no good for nothin' else

~ Lynyrd Skynyrd

Toby said...

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”

Let's tax the Feds when "they" sink a tomahawk missile into our homes under the "un-American, how dare you think for yourself - you are a traitor" clause.

Merry Christmas, Erin. Big smooch.

Toby said...

After thought - there should be a warning label tacked to the constitution.

"Do not try this at home... or anywhere."

Hal said...

I have a libertarian streak on many issues, especially guns, and anything else the government considers contraband, or anything else people want the government to consider contraband.

Not that I'm an NRA member or anything, but I think guns - especially semi-automatic weapons, offensive weapons - are a symptom and not a cause. Why do people want and need these guns? Why do people want and need guns, period.

That's the question that should be asked, because overregulation and overtaxation of guns only makes them more expensive, and more certain that the wrong people will get them, it seems to me.

Anonymous said...

I think what's missing here is an understanding of the word "militia."

At the time our Constitution was written, we didn't really have a standing Army as such. Sure, the U.S. Army's Birthday is June 14, 1775, but our history is replete with examples of a small standing Army relative to our population. For example, our entire Armed Forces were under 100,000 before WWII; at the end, it was 15,000,000, and we quickly demobilized.

A militia, as understood in the days of the Founding Fathers was very much a citizen soldier army. Basically, citizens taking up arms to oppose oppression. It was not by any means a standing Army or a professional military. Think the minutemen.

The modern day interpretation would be the Army National Guard. The Guard is run by each individual state, with a two-star General as the Adjutant General of that state. Governors control these forces until such time they are federalized and brought under the control of the Department of Defense at the Federal level. This is how we've sent them to war in the past and how we do it today.

As I see it, the second amendment has two parts - it speaks of a militia, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Back when it was written, people bearing arms and a well regulated militia were part of the same puzzle. Essentially, people bearing arms became the militia, so ensuring their right to keep and bear them was essential to a well regulated (and armed) one should the need arose for it. Certainly this isn't the case today (Joe Q. Public isn't going to be asked to take out his daddy's shotgun and man a post in Iraq, for example). But the right to keep and bear arms remains one of the amendments, and one I think should be left alone. Criminals have always been able to obtain ever more deadly weapons. Are we to submit ourselves to their goodwill, saying "don't shoot, don's shoot" when they're pointing a Mac 10 at our head? Speaking only for myself, I say no.

Another thing I'd add is that ammunition is just that - ammo. A .50 caliber round used for hunting is, by and large, just like the ones we use in the military. Same goes for 9mm, .45, .303, .306, etc. Where they differ is if they're hollow points, dum-dums, etc. Certainly, certain types of ammo cause more damage than others. But even "average" ammo in the hands of someone who knows how to handle a weapon can inflict deadly wounds. A 9mm aimed at someone's head that hits it's mark is more than likely going to kill someone, regardless of the type of ammunition. So taxing it, I think, won't matter.

One last thing I'd point out. One of the first things Adolf Hitler did when he gained power was take guns away from the people. And we all know what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945. Taking away guns isn't the answer - punishing those who abuse the rights guaranteed under the constitution in accordance with our laws is. Commit a crime with a gun? Go to jail. Threaten another person with a weapon? The slammer for you.

BTW, for the record I do not own a gun. But I know how to use one, responsibly.


Anonymous said...


Sorry for hijacking the blog but that felt so good this morning I had to come back and do it again.


Read a writers blog long enough, literary gems jump off the keyboard.


Harry Finch said...

The opening of the Second Amendment isn't a qualifying clause, but a prefatory one; although the difference can be debated. The second half is a recognition that the right precedes the existence of federal or state governments. The right to bear arms was not invented by the Constitution. Nor does the Constitution grant the right. Its foundation lies in common law.

Al is correct about eighteenth century militias. Private ownership was the means of maintaining a public armory. In today's Guard, though, there is no need for private ownership in order to maintain a militia. That condition, however, does not negate the recognized right to bear arms.

This year the Supreme Court ruled that self-defense is a central concept of the Second Amendment. While the Amendment says nothing about self-defense, we do know the Framers were concerned not only about invasion by a foreign power, but also by a tyrannical internal authority. (There's a reason why we have a president and not a king.)

If we accept that there exist rights to privacy, abortion, marriage, etc, where none are specifically spelled out, then we have to accept interpretations of the Second Amendment as well.

On the other hand, despite words like shall not infringe, we also accept that no rights are absolute. Freedom of religion does not allow human sacrifice. You cannot say whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want. We still struggle with the meanings of cruel and unusual punishment, and unreasonable search and seizure.

So what does it mean to bear arms? I think that's where the opportunity to regulate gun ownership lies. A nuclear warhead, a Tomahawk missile: these are arms private citizens are banned from owning. In some states you may carry a concealed weapon, in other not. In many you need pistol permits. In Vermont you do not. But even in Vermont, you can't bring that same handgun into the office with you. So the question is the reasonableness of the restrictions.

I come from a family of hunting gun-owners. My father was a pair of boots in WWII, and I have to say I'm grateful he killed as many fascists as he could.

I don't own a gun. But that's another topic.

Erin O'Brien said...

Yeah, we do have to accept interpretations. Selling as many guns to as many people all of the time with very little regulation just plain doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

And I'll be goddamned if every NRA member wouldn't agree with me when he's staring at a gun pointed at HIM. Right then, he'll tell you that no one should have sold THAT GUY a gun.

Anonymous said...

The difference is that NRA guy probably would be packing anyway, and the gun pointed at him would have a response in kind.


hoosierboy said...

Here is another one that is often misinterpreted:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Most people ignore the second clause of that sentence. In fact many think the words "seperation of church and state" appear in the Constitution.

Just like the Second Amendment, things are often subject to interpretation.

Erin O'Brien said...

Al, that's a fallacy and you know it. Privately owned guns contribute to many many many more tragic accidents than thwarted crimes.

Little kids finding them. Angry drunks shooting someone over nothing. Hunting accidents (see Dick Cheney) ...

I wish I had time to find a reliable link that has the numbers on this--or just about any cop.

Anonymous said...


Yes, tragic accidents. But as everyone (well I hope everyone) knows accidents happen, tragic and otherwise. Most rational people will do everything they can to avoid them, but they happen nonetheless, whether they involve a weapon or not.

If I'm to follow the logic, we should take away hot cups of coffee from people. Why? Because they might spill it on themselves and get burnt. Or cars - can't have those on the road. People might run into each other, cause and accident and possibly fatalities. No skydiving either - that chute might not open. And ban hunting all together. While we're at it, bowling, golf, skiing, ice skating etc. are all threats to life and limb, so they're gone too.

What I'm saying is yes, sometimes guns get in the hands of folks who shouldn't have them. So do cars, parachutes, and hot cups of coffee,, etc.. If we are to go down this road, where will it end?

I'm a firm believer that when it's your time to go, you're going, regardless of method, and regardless of whether it involves a gun or not. I believe this because during the First Gulf War, I watched as a vehicle not 100 yards from mine was hit by an 100mm antitank gun. Had I been in that vehicle's position, I wouldn't be writing this today. One man was killed, and two wounded. One was a good friend of mine.

In the same engagement, I had a mortar round land between mine and my platoon sergeant's vehicle, not more than 50 yards or so from me. Luckily I lived to tell the tale, but it could have been very different. It wasn't my time to go.

Should we do all we can to prevent those who clearly should not have access to guns do not receive access? Yes. Should gun owners handle their weapons responsibly? Yes. But not everyone is responsible, and the bad guys more often than not will get their hands on guns. That, I submit, isn't a fallacy. Nor is the NRA guy who's packing.


Harry Finch said...

Al - I think I've made clear I'm with you on the right to own guns. However, I don't believe you can fairly compare guns to automobiles and cups of hot coffee. Yes, horrible accidents happen in cars, but the automobile is intended as a means of transportation. Bowling balls are meant for gutters (in my case), ladders for elevation. Guns are built for killing, or at least to harm. That is what they are for. Granted, target shooting is a recreation, and gun collecting is a legitimate hobby; but guns weren't invented to complement targets. Their purpose is to kill.

Not to go entirely off-topic, this reminds me of a conversation I keep having with my brother about hunting. He claims he hunts for exercise, to bond with friends and family, and to enjoy the outdoors. I say he can do all those things without hunting. I ask him to simply admit he wants to kill a deer. I have no problem with the concept of killing a deer, but I have the damnest time getting deer hunters to own up to their purpose in going into the woods with a gun during hunting season. It's okay to want to kill a deer. I just don't understand the dishonesty or self-deception that goes with it.

Erin O'Brien said...

what Finch said.

Anonymous said...


The said (initial, anyway) purpose of a bow and arrow was to kill. Yet there's no one that I know of lobbying to outlaw them. Knives are also intended to kill (hunter-gatherers were the earliest form of food production - they killed game and often each other), but we don't outlaw them either. If we're to be intellectually honest about this (restricting access to implements whose primary purpose is to kill) we'd have to include bows and arrows, knives, swords, daggers, spears, etc. All of them were designed to kill. So were pikes, maces, lances, etc. And catapaults.

Erin brought up the topic of accidents that happen with guns, and my point was that accidents happen with any number of things. We do our best to minimize their occurrence, but they happen nonetheless. And people die. I wish it were otherwise, believe me, but it isn't.

Some folks tend to see the world as it is (I'm one of them). Others tend to see it as they would like it to be (I think Erin falls into this rubric, but of course I will defer to her commentary to that effect). To me, the simple fact is that people kill people, not guns (yes, I can hear the "you're quoting the NRA" comments coming). The guns are only the means, not the end. If we took away guns, trust me, people around the world would invent new ways to kill each other, ever more efficiently. Don't believe me? One word - Nazi. Those folks invented new techniques to kill that even the most staunch anti-gun person would work day and night to oppose.

As I've said, we should, of course do all we can to limit the access of certain individuals who shouldn't be handling firearms. On the other hand, I'm not optimistic that those individuals would obtain such weapons, legally or otherwise. Again, IMHO the issue is not so much guns as what we do with those who abuse the right.

Finally, I've been a lot of places (as I suspect others who habituate Erin's Blog have been too) in my time in the Army. Accidents happen, trust me, whether they involve firearms or not. Restricting access to them may minimize the amount of accidents that occur with weaponry, but trust me, folks will find new ways to blunder into accidents that will cause any amount of pain and suffering.

BTW, I'm not an NRA member, nor do intend on becoming one in the future.


P.S. It's snowing like hell up here. I dug out my truck today, and I'll probably have to do it again tomorrow.

P.S.S. I'm glad I didn't bother to go to the local sports bar and watch the Browns. Good God they suck.

Zen Wizard said...

It's funny because most people don't realize that you can read this clause inversely, and require every able-bodied male of a certain class in a jurisdiction to have a weapon (presumably when there is a clear and present danger. I linked the Militia Act of 1792, but there is a law in Kennesaw, Georgia that requires every homeowner to have a gun. Of course the elected DA would have to be batshit to ever enforce it so no one has had standing to challenge it.

My point is if you go to that link and read how specifically it describes the weapons, you can sure as hell require someone to take a safety class for a license, regulate caliber, etc.

jonas said...

Well, I spose I'll jump in here. Part of the big problem with this particular debate is that there are seemingly large amounts of conflation and little actual knowledge. Seems to me the people who are the most vocally anti-gun know the least about them. Or, about the people who actually use them, responsibly.

There are far more responsible gun owners than criminal. So, my rights (as they now stand) are to be restricted because of a minority? A minority who will break the law, regardless of whatever restrictions are added. You know, cuz, they're criminals. Al's right...people will motivation will find a way to do terrible things to one and other. Work on that motivation...cuz that's the problem.

Now, he also raises another point that I've also brought up: the argument re: gun accidents seems blind to other realities. How many kids drown in pools every year? How many kids swallow poisons from under the sink? Drunk driving? Anyone calling for the ban on pools, cleaning agents, or cars? Nope. We're happy to blame that stuff on poor parental supervision and decision making. But, somehow when it comes to guns...once we get rid of them, the world is safe again. That doesn't track.

Hey, so why is it that DC's crime a murder rates were so high, despite very tight gun laws?

I'm just saying, I understand that people dont like guns. But the reality is the problems in our society are so embedded and long standing that restricting my rights is no where near a real solution.

And no, no NRA membership here, either.

Erin O'Brien said...

Okay, let me give everyone a different perspective. Since I am a writer doing what I do, I cannot do it anonymously. A writer's brand is her name. Hence, because I tread a path of ideas, I have to accept that people will have reactions to what I do. This is how it is for most journalists, particularly columnists and essayists.

People contact writers like me all the time. Most are completely legit kudos or complaints. Then there are the crazies.

People want to tell me off, screw me, kill themselves in honor of my brother, tell about the Catholics and Nazis and on and on and on .... There is one guy who repeatedly says that I'm not worth wasting a bullet on. Nice, huh?

Here is just one example of the sort of thing I field:

You are really a hot c*** for a 40-year-old. Do you have a lot of hair on your p****? Would you like to f*** someone and then feed me a hot cream pie from your c***? Would you enjoy blowing another guy and then giving me a hot French kiss while your mouth of full of his ...

And that's just an excerpt--a verbatim excerpt. Sometimes I get pages and pages of this kind of stuff.

And whenever I write about something controversial, the publication is usually followed by a bunch of hang-up calls.

I have never taken any of these to the cops because none of them came right out and threatened me, nor have I ever gotten so much mail from one source that I could call it harassment. This is just how it is for writers like me. It is not unusual. You just deal with it.

But when you get this crap on a regular basis, you start to really wish that assault weapons were not available to the general public.

Because if one of these shitbag nutcases wants to do me harm, they are not going to push me in fucking pool or pour hot coffee on me. And it is delusional to say that I should carry a gun because the idea of guns as self-defense is a FUCKING JOKE.

A nutcase is not going to announce himself so the two of you can have a regular gunfight at the OK Corral.

I've been approached by weirdos on the street twice. My first thought was: shit--hope this motherfucker doesn't have a gun. The first time I didn't have my cell phone yet, the second time, I pulled out my cell and called someone so the mother fucker had to worry about who I might be talking to.

So no, I'm not worried about the responsible gun owners or the hunters or the sportsmen. I do not think they should have their rights curtailed because there are nutjobs out there. I just think you ought to have to be able to track weapons, pay attention to whom you sell them to and get the goddamn assault weapons and heavy artillery under very strict regulation.

You gotta get close to someone to kill them with a knife. A human is a big animal. How many guys go hunting armed only with a fucking knife? Don't tell me about knives and pools and coffee.

Do I own a gun? Sure as hell do. It's the one my brother John killed himself with.

jonas said...

Fair enough. But how does this get accomplished w/o blanket laws than cannot discriminate between the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys'? The laws, as they are, try to do this very thing. And yet...people break the law.

Again, back to the car: anytime I'm out on the road after midnight, I am concerned that people are drunk. But, I don't think we should outlaw tractor trailers or SUVs (at least, not for that reason). And yes, I know, guns are made for "killing", and car are not. Except in all those many case of people who shoot for sport.

I guess I just haven't seen logical suggestion on how to "get guns off the street" can be done w/o discriminating against those who have not, nor are likely to break the law.

It's not like I don't understand why people don't like them, and believe they're not needed.

Here's the thing: I wasn't raised with guns. Wasn't raised a shooter, or a hunter. But I am one now. And those changes have nothing to do with politics. In fact, I have begun to resent that its such a political issue. Because of gun ownership and use, my politics are often assumed (wrongly) by others.

Anyway, not trying to pick fights. But, like several other topics we've discussed here, this isn't simply a black/white or red/blue issue.

Harry Finch said...

The trick, Jonas, is how to balance public safety with individual rights. And public safey - or the common good - even in America, is vital to the survival of any society. As Hemingway said in his greatly underrated novel, To Have and Have Not, a man alone ain't got no chance.

I believe the problem the Supreme Court had with the D.C. law was that it was a blanket. They did not rule out regulating gun ownership, they said you couldn't just ban guns.

The idea that responsible gun owners are being discriminated against when reasonable gun laws are enacted doesn't fly. Rights are not absolute. Every law, by nature, restricts individual rights.

Guns were a huge technological advance in killing. JFK was not murdered by an archer with a longbow. John Lennon wasn't done in by a knife. Some neighborhoods in certain American cities are plagued by drive-by shootings, not drive-by spear chuckings.

I fully agree with, and support, the right to own guns. But I also recognize there is a problem with guns in America.

You are probably right that more people die in swimming pools than they do by gunshot wounds. But you know, a swimming pool is made for swimming. It's really difficult to hold up a liquor store with a swimming pool.

By the way, buddy, will you be home for the holidays?

Erin O'Brien said...

Let's start here: a digital photo and fingerprint accompanying every single firearm purchase. Make gun manufacturers responsible for making gun owners identifiable. Maybe just start with the handguns and leave the traditional hunting weapons alone.

Good guys shouldn't have any reason to worry about that, right? But we all know that the NRA would freak over such a proposal. And that's because they want to sell as many guns as possible and couldn't care less where they end up. They'd pull some emotional bullshit: Why, good American gun owners are being treated like criminals! What crap. They want to arm inner city gangs with as many weapons as possible. And they use delusional Americans straight from the bread basket as soldiers to protect their right to sell sell sell.

Nothing threatens like a gun. Those guys in those cars were no threat to me. I could get away--as long as they didn't have a fucking handgun. And believe me, if you are in that situation, the only thing you will care about is whether or not they have a gun.

You can't pull a knife on me when you're sitting in a car. Any primitive weapon is only as good as the person wielding it. There is absolutely no comparison between knives and guns--just as there is no comparison between ancient hand-to-hand combat and modern day battle.

You shoot a bear, okay you shot a bear. You kill it with a knife and that will garner respect. The bear's got claws, you've got a knife. It's a fairer fight. Don't tell me about how people kill, not guns. Guns are more lethal than any other weapon. ANYONE can kill with a gun. Not so with a primitive weapon.

When I see these miserable mother fuckers online talking about their guns and how their going to show me their guns and all the rest of it, it just turns my stomach. And believe me, they wave the flag the whole time, the miserable fucking anonymous cowards. How they're going to protect themselves against Obama and the socialists and mouthy broads like Erin O'Brien.

Anonymous said...

"You can't pull a knife on me when you're sitting in a car. Any primitive weapon is only as good as the person wielding it."

As is any firearm. Trust me. Not everyone, for example, qualifies as an expert marksman on a rifle range in the Army.

"There is absolutely no comparison between knives and guns--just as there is no comparison between ancient hand-to-hand combat and modern day battle."

Sure there is. They are both designed to kill. The only difference is in efficiency. Bullets are more efficient than knives. Unfortunately. And hand to hand combat today is the same as it was when the Romans battled the Carthaginians - a nasty, dirty business, up close and personal.

Erin: Before you think I'm being insensitive, I too had to deal with a family member taking his own life. My sister's fiance killed himself. It was a difficult thing for me to sit with her at the memorial ceremony. I'm sure it was just as difficult (if not more so) with your brother. Suicide impacts everyone as we both know.

"You shoot a bear, okay you shot a bear. You kill it with a knife and that will garner respect. The bear's got claws, you've got a knife. It's a fairer fight. Don't tell me about how people kill, not guns. Guns are more lethal than any other weapon. ANYONE can kill with a gun."

Not if they're not competent with it. Again, trust me.

"Not so with a primitive weapon."

Not true. See my comments on the Romans and Carthaginians. Anyone can kill with a primitive weapon. They don't require the amount of skill that a gun does. A gun means you know what sights are, how to breathe when pulling the trigger, how to keep the weapon clean so it will fire when the trigger is depressed, how to use rear and front sights, etc. A knife requires no such skills, though it does require a knowledge of anatomy to determine where to use the knife to best advantage.

"Good guys shouldn't have any reason to worry about that, right? But we all know that the NRA would freak over such a proposal. And that's because they want to sell as many guns as possible and couldn't care less where they end up. They'd pull some emotional bullshit: Why, good American gun owners are being treated like criminals! What crap. They want to arm inner city gangs with as many weapons as possible. And they use delusional Americans straight from the bread basket as soldiers to protect their right to sell sell sell."

The last time I looked, the NRA doesn't sell weapons. I could be wrong though. My take is they of all groups should be concerned where they end up - nut jobs getting them is definitely not in their interest. Again, I'm not an NRA member so I'm not intimately familiar with what they're doing here.


deangc said...

There are so many complexities to this whole argument...

I just want to say that I don't understand why the NRA (the National Rifle Association) defends handgun ownership so vigorously. There is no shortage of spurious arguments in this debate (on both sides) but I just don't get the idea that widespread handgun ownership is a good idea.

Actually I do understand why the NRA is so defensive. They view handguns (and probably rightly so) as a slippery-slope issue. Once handguns are banned, then long guns will be next.

It is no longer possible to ban guns. Can't be done. There are too many of them, and the culture too embedded, and too mind-bogglingly stupid.

O'Brien, I just have so many thoughts on this particular subject that I can't put them all down. But for damn sure it sickens me that cowardly shitweasels send you abusive email. I don't think you should worry about such people, because cowardly shitweasels are cowardly shitweasels because they're small and afraid, and typing abusive shit to a woman makes them feel powerful for a little while. But they don't even have the balls to put their own name to their swill, so I don't think you should worry about them having the courage to actually do anything.

The cowardly shitweasels should also worry. Odds are good that they are less anonymous than they think.

Anonymous said...

To echo Dean:

Shitweasels be damned. You, Erin, deserve better than they dish up.


Erin O'Brien said...

Anyone can kill with a gun.

And how would you pull off this with a knife?

So still not buying it Al. Tell you what--you come on over here with those shitty knives you're trying to unload and go in my backyard. Take out the ten point buck that hangs out back there with one of those and I'll start believing.

If that's too tough, then just show me how to julienne a carrot with a Glock, baby.

As for the nut cases, I only brought it up to show what it's like to rub up against that element. That email goes on and gets worse. I get loads of other stuff too. My point is that you're protecting everyone's right to own a gun and not all of them are LL Bean picture perfect. Maybe some of you have dealt with that sort, maybe not. I have and probably always will. Isn't it wonderful knowing the NRA makes sure every one of them can have plenty of guns too!

Yay! Go America!

And drunk drivers? A bartender can be held responsible for serving them, but GOD FUCKING FORBID gun sellers and manufacturers for taking any responsibility for their lethal product. And before you take up their cause, cry a few sympathy tears for the cigarette manufacturers and those huge lawsuits they field.

deangc said...

I've never been a fan of the idea that servers are responsible for what drunks do.

Even so, it is more defensible than making gun makers responsible for what is done with their products. There is at least a sliver of an argument that a server should not be serving someone whose judgement is already impaired. That argument cannot be made in the case of gun manufacturers. The American problem is not a gun manufacturer problem. It is a gun culture problem. We have nearly as many guns per capita in Canada, and something like 1/4 the gun murder rate. Might even be less than that.

And tobacco merchants lied to people about addiction and death for years. I don't believe you can equate them at all.

HOWEVER... I am partly on your side. I guess that means I'm on the gun fence. I think the problem in the States is that of a culture that values the handgun as a symbol of masculine power. I don't believe that ownership of long guns contributes to that, or at least contributes much.

That amendment, the one about the well-regulated militia, is a problem, and I don't see it becoming less a problem in my lifetime.

Erin O'Brien said...

Dean, I agree with you on every count. My point about smoking is that we all put the butts in our mouths. I knew full well how bad it was for me when I did it, so did everyone else who is currently under the age of 50, but that's not stopping them from blaming Big Tobacco for their addiction.

But you are dead on about gun culture. It is hopeless. All I can do is hope and pray me and mine stay out of the crossfire.

jonas said...

The equivalent to the gun manufacturers is not a bartender. It's Budweiser, Jack Daniels, and Ernest and Julio Gallow. No one sues the manufacturers of alcohol, but we should sue the manufactures of guns? That makes no sense. Who is to blame when crazy/stupid people do crazy/stupid things? My thought would be the person doing the crazy/stupid thing. Responsibility needs to stay with the individuals doing these things.

Yes, a gun might make going on a rampage easier. Might. But, if someone is at the point of going on a rampage, do we honestly expect that they might reconsider if they couldn't get a gun? Methinks not. Lots of ways to cause massive havoc, lots of ways to kill. As Al pointed out, we've been doing alot longer than the gun has been around.

Erin O'Brien said...

And what about that 8-year-old kid? Did he kill those men or did the gun? Does anyone believe he would have killed those men had he not had access to a gun?

Yes, crazy people do crazy things. Guns make them even more dangerous. Columbine would not have happened with knives. I suppose bombs could wreak that kind of havoc. Maybe we should let someone start selling those. After all, they could make homemade bombs if they wanted, so why not turn a buck on it? I'm sure there's a whole contingent who'd love to blow up explosives for fun. Of course they'd be real responsible about it and keep them locked up when they weren't using them for recreation ... it's not like I've never seen a two-fingered teenage boy who misunderstood an M80.

Okay, you are probably right about gun manufacturers, but they piss me off to no end. They produce something that, when properly used for it's sole intended purpose, kills people. And they are protected by this incredibly powerful lobby: the NRA.

Zen Wizard said...

Whatever happened to that "national rifling database" the ATF was going to start after the DC Sniper Killings?

Are we just going to wait for the next sniper killings or what?

Harry Finch said...

Jonas said: But, if someone is at the point of going on a rampage, do we honestly expect that they might reconsider if they couldn't get a gun?

Based on studies of suicide, at least, we can reasonably believe that there is a sponteneity element in the decision to go on a rampage. We know for a fact that the greater the distance between the decision to kill oneself and the ability to act on that decision, the less likely it becomes that one will commit suicide. So it's not a stretch to say that when the psycho plans to kill all his classmates, the execution of that plan is facilitated by quick access to his personal stockpile of weapons.

jonas said...


Sure. Now. Take guns away. You don't think people who aren't right in the brain don't have a learning curve?

I'm not sure where this inexplicable belief in people comes from. Crazy people (both literally and otherwise) will act on their compulsions. To suggest that guns make it easier, therefore we ought do something about that seems to imply that there are not other ways to be crazy. Shit, people did crazy things before guns. They will do them after. Jack the Ripper did pretty well for himself w/o guns. Oh, and there were guns back then.

So, here's a question: alcohol "causes" all sorts of bad things, right? And so the country banned it. All better, right? Sooooo, why did we lift Prohibition? How many alcohol related fatalities, injuries, etc. a year? Compare that to gun deaths etc. My guess is the numbers aren't even close. And yet, here we are, drinking merrily...and ANY of us could kill someone behind the wheel.

"But guns are meant to kill." Right (only, kinda). And alcohol isn't. Correct. So, why is is so much more ok to have so many more alcohol related deaths?? Explain that logic....

Harry Finch said...

Jonas - If you have been reading the thread, you'd see that I have not suggested banning guns. I have argued that there is a constitutional right to bear arms. I am only balancing that with the recognition that there is a problem in America with guns.

To say that people intent on killing will kill is a half-truth not based on research. They may very well kill. But you can't ignore the studies which suggest that it is otherwise when the means of killing are not so accessible.

And this argument that other things, such as swimming pools and alcohol kill far more people than guns is not valid for this debate. Yet it keeps getting made.

We are not discussing all the ways people die. How many people die of old age? Are you going to accuse me of wanting to outlaw old age?

Anonymous said...


You and I will not agree on this topic, so I will leave it at that. I respect your views though I don't necessarily agree with them.

And I hope it's easier for you to sit now. The world is a much bleaker place without your writing.


jonas said...


The argument has been: guns are the CAUSE of bad things (like death). Its been implied many times (here, and other places): take away guns, life gets better.

How is that different from Prohibition?

Yes, I know you don't advocate an anti-gun stance.

Half-truth implied deception. Logic suggests people have and will continue to kill each other until we provide reasons for them to not want or need to...regardless of the ability to. Tell you what, I'll do some checking into the murder rates on the UK, where they've done alot to get the (hand)guns out of general population.

And yes, you're right, this has to to with Aristotle's (and all subsequent, or previous) argument re: 'the good life'. And if push came to shove, I can live w/o guns. I don't use them for self defense. I don't even hunt or shoot much these days.

Other than taxes (which criminals either won't pay, or can easily afford), how do laws stop bad guys from getting guns?

jonas said...

Some stats:

In Canada, very tight laws on handguns, and yet gun crime stays the same, AND people use knives and clubs more:

An essay on whats going on in England, despite highly restrictive gun laws (hint: crime/violence doesn't go away):

Rise of knife crime in England:

This of course doesn't deal with accidents. And I get that. But, the crime/violence argument has yet to pan out. So far...

Harry Finch said...

Jonas - Had time this morning to only scan the sites you provided (sounds like a cop-out, and I suppose it is, but I really need to beat the storm to work). Interesting stuff that I would like to spend more time with.

Last night, after my last comment, I turned to my trusty Everyman's Library collection of Orwell's essay. In his As I Please of May 1944, he mentions that German bombs had killed close to seven thousand children, while auto accidents had killed more in the same time period. This somewhat cold statements has always bothered me, but now I see he was merely stating a fact and not justifying German bombs killing children. The point of the essay was to say that we must all take responsibility for the consequences of our positions (in that case, England doing all in its power to win the war). He wrote: ...there is something distasteful in accepting war as an instrument and at the same time wanting to dodge responsibility for its more obvious barbarous features.

What's that got to do with our gun debate?

This is what I'm gettting at: if you are a right-to-bear-arms-rights absolutist, you need to be responsible for that position and recognize that guns can be a destablizing force in civil society; if you are a gun-control advocate, you need to acknowledge what the Constitution (per the Supreme Court) says about the right to bear arms, and you need to concede that so far gun laws have been a big failure.

I think your research is a positive response to our debate.

That's where I'm leaving it, because, goddamnit, tomorrow's Christmas.

So: Peace.

Ms OB - Love you, baby. Consider the novella. I only say that because I think so highly of you.

jonas said...


As always, a voice of reason. Then again, what absolutist ever gets it right? Moreover, who am I to not give you want you want? Peace it is.

In support of your sentiment: Merry/Happy/Joyous whatnot to all....

Erin O'Brien said...

what Finch said.

And an echo on what Dean said--it's about gun culture. I don't mind collectors and hunters and even gun enthusiasts. But here is a short post that is part of what I detest about casual gun intimidation.

As Harry said. You get this too. It's not all LL Bean, nor is it all wigged out snipers.

Now you boys go have a nog. I am off to work out and write a new-yearsy column!

Luvya all--