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April 16, 2007

Comments

I'm in the unorganized US militia, and so are you.

well-regulated != unorganized.

i can't be called up to serve in any militia unless there's a draft. in that case, i won't be required to use a weapon of my own; i will be provided one by the State.

but, we do have a well-regulated militia. it's called the National Guard.

Without the Second Amendment, Congress was already required to provide for and arm the militia, and reserve the authority of appointments and training to the states, while providing the militia to the Executive.

right, which makes the 2nd amendment seem like either a half-assed attempt to weasel a general right to own guns for everyone under cover of the need for States to maintain organized militias of their own, or not a general right at all. for a general right to own guns, it's terribly worded - that entire first clause is basically irrelevant. if a general right is what they really intended, they should've left it off . but they didn't.

i'm willing to accept that because of the way events played out, that we do have that general right now. but i really don't think that's what the Constitution says.

However, that still wouldn't account for cases where women pulled a gun and did not successfully shoot their assailant.

This is sort of the brandishment myth, which holds that there are millions of would-be victims out there dissuading their attackers merely by possessing a firearm, and gosh, we never hear about these incidents because the encounter simply terminates. It's a good folk tale, but if it were true I think John Lott wouldn't have had to resort to so many fabrications in his attempt to prove it.

"more likely to be the victim of a handgun homicide than to use a handgun in a justifiable homicide."

Of course, self defense, in order to be successful, does not have to result in the attacker ending up dead. But counting things that way IS a pretty effective way of setting aside almost all self defense uses of firearms, isn't it?

Steve,

Yeah, I agree with you; I probably shouldn't have included that line.

I don't really want to get involved in this but there is another researcher who provides some evidence along Lott's line and who, unlike Lott, is a well-respected member in good standing (no sock puppetry, etc., ) of the academic community. IIRC, his name is Gary Kleck (no time to even google though, sorry)

Some observations:

Per the Bureau of Justice, slightly over half of all firearm deaths are suicides.

Lots of folks that are killed with a firearm are killed by a family member or someone they know. It's called a domestic dispute. Hard to know how permission to carry will prevent that, unless we want to start bring our handguns to Thansgiving dinner.

The rate of access to firearms, and of death and injury by firearms, among minors in the US is astoundingly high compared to similar countries.

Per Statemaster, the US jurisdiction with the highest per capita rate of death by firearm is the District of Columbia. Next in line, in order, are the states of Alaska, Louisiana, Wyoming, Arizona, and Mississippi. Number 50 is Massachusetts. Barring DC, the West and the South, where gun laws are generally more permissive, are where folks are getting shot to death at the highest rate.

Here you go:

http://www.statemaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-death-rate-per-100-000

Make of it what you will.

The factors that contribute to death by firearm are numerous. If somebody, somewhere, has done a credible, independent, peer-reviewed study of the relationship between permission to carry a concealed weapon and the rate of death or injury by firearm, I'd be mighty glad to see it.

By "credible" I mean one that factors permission to carry a concealed weapon out from all of the other manifold factors that come into play. By "independent", I mean not sponsored by someone with an axe to grind.

Americans like guns. Hard to pin down why, exactly, but they do.

It's equally hard to pin down if, and how, that relates to what makes a guy arm himself to the teeth and mow down innocent folks by the dozens on a nice spring day.

What I will say is that your odds of rendering a resentful, pissed off, disaffected young man harmless is much greater if he's not armed. Whether you're armed or not.

Most folks that feel strongly about gun ownership in this country are not, in fact, members of a citizen militia. They hunt, they like to shoot target, or they just like guns for whatever reason. But maintaining a well regulated citizen militia is not, in fact, the motivation for most gun owners. We have one, it's called the National Guard. If they wanted to be in it, they could go sign up.

I'm not sure I actually have a point to make here, other than to say that everything anyone has said on this thread so far, including me, is basically dwarfed by the pain and grief of the families of the people killed at VT today.

Please, let's let them bury their children, and then we can have the policy discussion later.

Thanks -

Re: Gary Kleck smells fishy. For example in a posting supposedly written by him he starts comparing anti-gun advocates to UFO believers...

I am highly skeptical of any survey of a population as non-homogeneous as this countries population.

As a sanity check, there are more than 100 readers of this blog, if his numbers are even close to right at least one person who reads this will have personally used a gun to defend themselves

Von,
I live in VA, and although I cannot speak to VA Tech's gun regs, I can assure you that this is not a state that has limited guns! But at the same time, I cannot imagine a college where the students felt the need or desire to carry weapons to class...nor their profs. What world do you live in?

"Lots of folks that are killed with a firearm are killed by a family member or someone they know. It's called a domestic dispute."

It's called criminals having families and aquaintances.


Russell, I hear you - but the subject has been broached, and will be discussed willy nilly, so let's have at it.

I speak as a gun owner: let's not arm everyone on the theory that a "well-armed society is a polite society." That may be true in Switzerland, but it is not and never has been true here. The Wild Wild West wasn't known for its civility, and pre-WWII America is no longer pre-WWII America. Hearkening back to those times in order to address what the country's like today is silly.

Our cities are overcrowded. A lot of people have anger management issues, and rejection issues, and emotion control issues in general. Being in crowded urban areas exacerbates those problems. Saying that if everyone was armed, everyone would be safer, in view of those conditions, is just plain nuts.

Once in a while - let me emphasize, once in a while - you hear about someone who shoots someone before the second someone can shoot a lot of people. That happens so rarely as to be an anomaly. The overwhelming, overwhelming evidence is that more guns = more innocent people getting shot.

You can say that's because people aren't trained to use guns properly. You might be right. However, the NRA isn't pushing to make training mandatory in order to own a gun; in fact, it opposes any conditions or limits on gun ownership. Also, all the training in the world can't overcome what happens when a crazy, enraged, drugged person decides to go on a rampage.

Think about it. A shooter in a crowded area causes panic, people running and pushing and screaming. The theoretical Hero has a gun - but can't fire without hitting innocent panicked people, and can't be heard yelling "Down!" over the panicked screaming. Nor will anyone know he's the theoretical Hero: all they know is that there's another person waving a gun around. Increase the number of theoretical Heroes with guns, and you've a got a recipe for bloody disaster.

And the shooter? By definition, someone who walks into a crowded area to start killing people is nuts, okay? Just how much do you think that lunatic is thinking about maybe someone else being armed? Just how much of a deterrent is that, really - esp. if he's planning on killing himself anyway, sa they usually do, and just wants to make sure he takes an honor guard with him?

Please. Put away those cinematic fantasies. Relegate them to their proper place in make-believe. Deal with reality. Just once, for the love of God, deal with reality.

That last comment's sort of tautological, isn't it?

The Second Amendment's a relic. What the founders had in mind with that clause really doesn't map neatly onto "the National guard" OR to "private citizens can own semi-automatics". And while I wouldn't ban private gun ownership given the option--there is room for legitimate self defense and the gov't shouldn't ban hunting for the same reasons it shouldn't ban, oh, golf--I don't see it as providing any meaningful protection at all against government tyranny. See: Saddam Hussein's Iraq. See: Taliban Afghanistan. Think what our military could do to a group of people with handguns if it wanted to. See: the many, many liberal democracies without a right to bear arms. It just doesn't compare to an independent judiciary, habeas corpus, the right to counsel, freedom of speech and of the press....as far as protecting individual liberty it's no more useful on a day to day basis than the Third Amendment, and unlike the Third there's a real potential downside.

None of this necessarily means I don't think it's an individual right. I think there's a plausible textual argument either way, and I like to read the Bill of Rights broadly so I should probably do so with the Second Amendment too. But "well regulated" would seem to imply that Congress can regulate.

Phil, the crack about Padilla and a private army....I think he's talking about people who supposedly support the NRA out of their commitment to liberty, yet are actively in favor of what was done to Padilla. There are plenty of them.

I'd guess that all of this is going to turn out to be pretty irrelevant to the horror at Virginia Tech today. I don't think concealed carry permits would've helped; I don't think the sort of gun control measures that would be possible about our country changing its whole relationship with guns would've helped.

It's called criminals having families and aquaintances.

Well, you know, after the fact that is self-evidently so.

How many folks who killed someone with a firearm had a criminal history prior to the event? I don't know. Do you? How do you know? Or do you just presume?

For the record, and not that it has any bearing on the events of the day, I'm a second amendment hawk. Which is to say, it seems to me that the founders did not wish for the state to have a monopoly on the ownership of firearms.

I don't hold that position because I think the average person is safer, or not, because they do, or don't, own a firearm.

The reasons for the relatively high rate of death by firearm in this country are numerous. Good luck proving that keeping and carrying makes you, or anyone else, personally safer in their day to day lives. As far as I can tell, the evidence just isn't there.

Thanks

That was evidently very successful advertising by the gun lobby:

I hope you don't ever labor for a second under the misimpression that I give a rat's ass about the gun lobby. I do, however, read newspapers, and I've read accounts of many women having shot and injured or killed attackers over the past several years. Anecdotes, of course, don't prove anything, but those are real women who might have been raped, beaten or worse had they not had the means to deter their attackers. That counts for something.

Despite the promises of gun-industry advertising, a woman is far more likely to be the victim of a handgun homicide than to use a handgun in a justifiable homicide.

Which, in a single phrase, argues away handgun use by women which results in injury to the attacker and therefore deterrence but not death. I can, thus, ignore the rest of your pointless cite.

surely someone has gone through and counted this as it is one of the standard arguments....

Yes, surely. That doesn't make it incorrect.

And who says that a hand gun is the only effective defense weapon?>

I don't know, but if you find someone who does, I suggest you argue about it with them.

Me, I'm not comfortable telling a woman who might weigh 100 lbs. dripping wet that she's gotta rely on pepper spray to deter rapists. If she thinks a handgun is a better equalizer, I'm not in a position to disagree with her.

Aren't most of the places where gun ownership is not associated with a lot of violence pretty rural? I mean in Switzerland and Canada--are people in Geneva and Toronto heavily armed?

Phil, the crack about Padilla and a private army....I think he's talking about people who supposedly support the NRA out of their commitment to liberty, yet are actively in favor of what was done to Padilla. There are plenty of them.

I don't think so: triolbite seemed to be saying, "If you really think you need guns to protect against government tyranny, there's some government tyranny right there -- have at it!" It's a silly argument. and if that's not what trilobite meant, he or she should have phrased it a lot better. The fact that one doesn't take the most insanely extreme action right now in support of one's beliefs doesn't mean he or she doesn't hold those beliefs.

The Second Amendment's a relic.

So let's repeal it.

Katherine, those other places where 'everyone's armed' don't also, SFAIK, have deeply embedded cultural fantasies about manliness, heroism or personal autonomy growing out of the barrel of a gun.

It's actually kind of miraculous that we don't have these massacres more often than we do.

Aren't most of the places where gun ownership is not associated with a lot of violence pretty rural? I mean in Switzerland and Canada--are people in Geneva and Toronto heavily armed?

New Zealand certainly is. Guns are a pretty vital tool if you're living remotely and have large livestock (putting an animal out of its misery is quite important) as well as for shooting pest animals like rabbits and possums (and larger predator animals in places like Canada I'd assume).

The key thing is that our laws are set up to discourage guns as defensive weapons (to the point where ordinary police do not carry guns), there are strict rules about ownership,types of gun, storage and traveling (you can't travel with an assembled gun).

Apparently there's quite a high takeup of martial arts as a result.

surely someone has gone through and counted this as it is one of the standard arguments....

Yes, surely. That doesn't make it incorrect.

I was hoping the people who quote it would produce said numbers.

Cleek,

If the militia is already armed in Article I, by Congress, and the Amendment refers to the right of the people to be armed, how can any reasonable interpretation lead someone to believe the intent is to arm the militia again?

It's not politically possible to repeal it and I don't think it's all that necessary. In the meantime, yeah, it's in there....But I sure wouldn't suggest it to any country drafting a new Constitution, and I'm not going to have much patience or respect for arguments that give it the same importance of free speech, habeas, etc.

Switzerland may not have "systematic gun violence", but it *does* have rampage shootings. A 2001 massacre at a local Swiss parliament killed 14.

And as a college instructor, I find the concept of concealed carry on campus terrifying. During a seminar two years ago, one of my students threatened to leap over the table and "kick another student's ass". I thought for a moment he actually would, as did everyone else in the room. The would-be assailant was ex-military, large, and passionate, and I wasn't looking forward to placing myself in his path. But thank God I didn't have to wonder: "will some of my students try to `deter' him with a hail of gunfire"?

Yes, for us to feel safe on campuses again, we obviously need more guns.

By the way, let me add to the chorus: Lott's work on guns has been so thoroughly discredited that it is probably Exhibit A in the recent history of fraudulent social science. The big clue is that you can't conduct a major telephone survey which leaves no trace---no paper records, no expenses, no former employees, nothing. And I'm not inclined to give him any benefit of the doubt, since his brandishing statistics seem outlandish on face.

I was late to the news today, and therefore late to the discussion here. A little earlier I visited a track and field board (!), where, under the heading "Things Not Track and Field," a similar threadjacking from tragedy to gun control had started several hours earlier. To be fair, it began with an offhand anti-gun comment, not with the "let's all carry guns" lobby, but it degenerated fast.

I was furious, and became more so the more I thought about it. Allow me to quote myself, rather than try to recapture the moment:

(1) Doesn't anyone here care enough about what happened today to actual people to stop - just for a moment - obsessing about gun control and the "right to bear arms"? Or is every tragedy nothing but an opportunity to score political points?

A plague on both your houses!


(2) OK, you (Zzzz) did spare "just a moment" for the victims. And the shooter. Good for you. [He informed us he had said a rosary for both]

But within hours of the shooting, you - and I realize you were not alone - were off on your political rant. These discussions don't just happen. [His actual phrase was that they "arise."] They happen because people decide their politics are more important than mourning, or respect, or healing, or simple human decency.

You - all of you who were involved in this, not just Zzzz - couldn't even wait 24 hours.

Geez.


(3) I just rechecked the thread - for some reason I can't check it while composing a message. The story broke shortly after 9 AM. About five hours later, shortly after 2 PM, the question of gun control arose here (and Zzzz was not the one to start it, to be fair) and from then on the thread went due south

Five hours. Then I guess we can take the black armbands off and put on our fighting Red and Blue colors again.


(4) Zzzz characterized his contribution to the politicization of this tragedy as simply correcting misinformation.

If he had left it to his brief message of 14:42, OK. [On who can own assault weapons]

But by 14:44 he was back with "What a tragedy that no one was able to defend themselves and those around them" and a spirited defense of gunownership, which does not exactly fall under the category of correcting misinformation.

Nor were his contributions of 15:01, 15:23, 15:48, 19:07, and 20:10. This was full-fledged partisan debate. This was dancing on corpses to make his point. (It's too early to dance on their graves, I assume.)


Sheesh.


I hate to use the same language on my friends here at ObWi, but as a wise man once said:

"If the shoe fits, stick it in your ear."

One of our difficulties in addressing the issue of gun control is the false notion of all-or-nothing. There seems to be an assumption on the part of opponents of gun control that this is a black-and-white issue: either everybody can have all the military hardware they want, or nobody can have anything. Framing the issue this way is dishonest and misleading. Our problem is to set limits somewhere between the two extremes. I would suggest an obvious limit: no automatic weapons. There is absolutely no justification for anybody owning an automatic weapon.

I think we can also agree that hunting weapons should be allowed. So the real issue boils down to handguns. I confess that this issue is not so clearcut. The debatable issue is, should a citizen have the right to own a weapon that is intended for use against human beings? I tend towards a negative answer, because I don't trust most people to handle a weapon responsibly. Too many people lose their tempers. Too many people misunderstand what's happening (such as the chap who murdered a trick-or-treater one Halloween). Too many people can't load or carry a gun without shooting themselves or others. (Recall the case of the idiot who posed his dog with a shotgun for a photo, and the dog somehow fired the gun, wounding it idiot.) Put all of these together, and I conclude that society would benefit from a ban on ownership of all guns save hunting rifles and shotguns.

Katherine: And while the codes were silly and widely flouted, there was a dorm fire a few years before me started by people who would light their couch on fire and try to put it out really quickly as a party trick.

Wait, I missed this. Did you go to Yale?

maybe.

:)

Well, let's put it like this: one of my high school friends burned down a Yale dorm in 1994 or 1995, I forget which. I have a feeling it's a small world, after all... (:

hey Brett Bellmore, instead of hanging around here making vague digs, why don't you go back over to Yglesias's and face up to the stupidity of your claim that "a lot of times mass murders are prevented by some bystander packing a gun who shoots the potential killer before s/he kills a bunch of people."
[note: not a verbatim quote, but preserves sense of claim. Link if you want it (Bellmore at 4:42 PM); scroll down for responses.]

They happen because people decide their politics are more important than mourning, or respect, or healing, or simple human decency.

dr_ngo:

I'm honestly confused. I didn't know anyone at VA Tech. Obviously I feel bad for the dead and their families and communities, but it doesn't really affect me. I think most people are in the same boat.

Since I don't know affected people, I can't mourn very well and there's no healing for me or anyone I know to do. I honestly don't see why discussing politics is disrespectful or indecent.

I'll grant you this: the politics never occurred to me until I read Von's post. As terrible a tragedy as this is, I don't think a single horrific incident has policy implications. I've been arguing about general policy and I don't think I've even mentioned the VA shootings.

Are we supposed to stop political disucssions after all horrific, nightmarish violent shooting sprees? Only the ones in the US? Because if the lives of Iraqis count as much as the lives of American college students, I don't think we're going to be able to disucss politics or gun control for a very long time.

I'm sorry this upsets you, but you need to understand that your beliefs about the propriety of political discussion are not self evident to the slower among us (i.e. me). Please enlighten, if you can stomach discussion.

In response to these commentators, I would start with the Lott study, which cannot be so easily dismissed...

Yeah? Well I've got a Chick Tract that says the Pope is the antichrist. It also cannot be easily dismissed.
Yes, their both nuts, but since Chick isn't a demonstrated fraudster & doesn't lavish praise on himself via sock puppets, I think he has the advantage here.

Seriously, there are plenty of arguments to be made for letting people have guns, but invoking Lott to defend this is like invoking Piltdown Man to defend evolution.

Von,

I'm curious why you immediately thought of guns. After all, the second amendment deals with arms, not guns.


In any event, it seems like people could protect themselves using tear gas grenades or regular grenades or breakable canisters of sarin or butyric acid. I suspect that in a crisis, these weapons could be much more effective than firearms given the poor marksmanship of most gun owners and the stark raving terror of the situation.


Does the second amendment cover these weapons as well? For some reason, I'm having trouble finding some of them on froogle.

The arms/ordinance distinction is something to keep in mind when thinking about the 2nd amendment. Cannons and the like weren't thought to be covered. I suspect that gas weapons would be considered not targeted enough to be covered (from a historical point of view)

Arms were personal weapons--the machine gun is the interesting borderline case in my mind.

Seb,

This author comments on Volokh when the constitution was drafted, morters, grenades and canons were considered acceptable for private citizens. Indeed, the constitution's authorization for letters of marquis seems to necessitate the legality of private warships at the time of drafting. Can you provide a cite for your statement that cannons were not thought to be covered?


Also, I'm having difficulty discerning the difference you allude to when saying that gas weapons would not be targeted enough to fall under the second amendment's purview. Can you explain your suspicion and provide a cite for it?


What basis do you have for asserting that the term arms referred only to personal weapons?

Since I don't know affected people, I can't mourn very well and there's no healing for me or anyone I know to do.

Were you affected, or were you to know affected people, would you want other people invoking the cause of your suffering at this juncture?

Phil: I hope you don't ever labor for a second under the misimpression that I give a rat's ass about the gun lobby.

When someone repeats as a truism something that is patently not true but has been used as advertising by a powerful lobby, I think that while you may think you don't give a rat's ass about that lobby, your opinions have nonetheless been influenced by it.

I do, however, read newspapers, and I've read accounts of many women having shot and injured or killed attackers over the past several years.

And you probably didn't read the same number of anecdotes of women who were shot by attackers. Not nearly as newsworthy. Women being attacked/raped/murdered by someone they know doesn't make the newspapers nearly as often as a woman being attacked/raped/murdered by a stranger, even though it happens far more often. And, obviously, stories about women who fought off their attacker are more newsworthy than the depressing and commonplace story of women who didn't.

Anecdotes, of course, don't prove anything, but those are real women who might have been raped, beaten or worse had they not had the means to deter their attackers. That counts for something.

And there are real women who have been murdered by handguns. More of them. A lot more. They count for something, too - but they're dead.

Me, I'm not comfortable telling a woman who might weigh 100 lbs. dripping wet that she's gotta rely on pepper spray to deter rapists.

But you are comfortable, evidently, telling women any weight and size that she's gotta put up with the risk of being shot dead.

If she thinks a handgun is a better equalizer, I'm not in a position to disagree with her.

Well, you are if you're willing to use common sense. Pepper spray is a much better equalizer than a handgun, because a woman who wants to stop a rapist - who is most likely her husband or her boyfriend or at least someone she knows and cares about - is free to use it without worrying about long-term disablement or the risk of being tried for murder. Therefore she is more likely to use it before her attacker gets within arm's reach of her, takes the handgun away from her, and rapes her anyway. You are as free to use that argument as I am. The gun lobby, however, would prefer she bought a handgun - even though it's more likely to be used to kill her than her using it to defend herself.

Ah see -- as per usual, you aren't as interested in having a discussion as you are telling other people what they think and believe. Carry on then, and enjoy yourself. You'll not receive the opportunity to interact with me again, so I hope you enjoyed your last self-satisifed little bit of repartee.

Just so long as next time a woman tells you she wants a handgun to defend herself, you buy her a pepper spray...

The 2nd amendment is an individual right, referring to weapons an individual can bear. I think this precludes crew served weapons such as ships, airplanes, cannons, and heavy machine guns.

I think for the founders it was an easy and reasonable decision to root for private firearms given the technical situation of the day. The best army in the world managed about 5-6 shots per man and minute under controlled conditions and the average army managed about a third of that on the battlefield. The standard military firearm was for low range use (100 m) against massed targets and pretty useless for aimed fire beyond 50 m. The only exception were the Jäger (German for "hunter") troops that used their own civilian hunting rifle (or wadded smoothbore) for precise and long range shots (but abysmal reloading time).
Armed civilians at the time would therefore typically have possessed firearms useful for sniping and one-on-one situations and superior to standard military hardware. For a homeland defense based more on guerilla warfare than clashing conventional armies this was ideal, especially because the firearms were also household tools. Today standard hunting weapons/ammo are no match for assault or high-powered sniper rifles and no decent hunter would use an automatic weapon.
This just as a reminder why the situation then is difficult to compare to today and why a possibly useful part of the law may (or may not) has outlived itself and that a change may be at least discussed reasonably.
The discussion here is in my opinion for the most part quite reasonable compared to what I am used to on this topic.
Btw, I expected the "the 2nd amendment is sacred" crowd to jump to the occasion the moment I heard about the massacre having taken place.

Another thing: I think it is only a matter of time before someone goes on a similar killing spree with full body armor. Will there be a call for tank rifles then?

As a more practical proposal for discussion:
Would it be useful to have trained armed and armored guards (2-3 should suffice) at schools and on campuses for incidents like these?

The 2nd amendment is an individual right, referring to weapons an individual can bear. I think this precludes crew served weapons such as ships, airplanes, cannons, and heavy machine guns.

What about shoulder-fired SAM, Panzerfaust/bazooka, knee mortars, flame throwers etc.? All those are banned to my knowledge* but they blur the old distinction between portable gun and artillery.
And what about the only thing around at the time of the founders already: hand grenades?
(for further blurring: rifle grenades)

*and there are some people that think all those are indeed covered by the 2nd amendment. I personally know somebody who would include portable nuclear weapons.

If the militia is already armed in Article I, by Congress, and the Amendment refers to the right of the people to be armed, how can any reasonable interpretation lead someone to believe the intent is to arm the militia again?

and yet, the first clause of the 2nd Amendment is all about the militia. if they wanted to describe a general right, that first clause is irrelevant and confusing. that's what my "sky is blue" thing up above was going to be about - if that clause about the militia is unimportant to the rest of the sentence, you should be able replace it with almost anything and still get your right to bear arms. but should we assume it's irrelevant ? is "they just tacked-on this purposeless clause" a "reasonable interpretation" ?

Despite being man portable, most of the above are still crew served, and there would be an assistant assigned. And according to the Holy Grail, hand grenades require one person to carry, one to read the instructions, and one to toss (though this may only apply to the "holy" variety).

But I agree that the definition gets harder when you start talking about m203 grenade launchers, hand grenades, claymore mines, etc. It may simply be that the founders intended the amendment process to be used when the definition no longer worked.

I think it is only a matter of time before someone goes on a similar killing spree with full body armor.

the LA bank robbery had a different motive, but the heavily armed and armored gunmen managed to kill a lot of people before they were stopped.

Cleek,

It is not confusing, it is indicating that the right to arms includes military weapons.

And in the one case on point, Miller, the court determined that only weapons with a military purpose can be owned (as opposed to something only good for hunting, or target shooting):

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a "shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length" at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.

The question is, what would Prof.Reynolds say concerning armored amok shootists*?
This would not per se invalidate the argument for rape defense by gun (a rapist with full body armor is probably like a vampire using a gas mask against garlic, i.e. handicapped) but it would in my view pretty much spoil the "arm all the students" reasoning.
Would someone argue for one tank rifle in every classroom?

*As I said, just a matter of time, therefore something that should be discussed** (if a honest discussion is wished for)
**in general, not just by some commenters on a blog

Body armor can be defeated by larger rounds. The kind worn currently is good for 7.62 rounds, but nothing larger. Large hunting rifles and sniper rifles are not defeated by the armor. I don't think we need to arm with bazookas to defeat it.

It is not confusing, it is indicating that the right to arms includes military weapons.

i doubt i would ever come up with that reading of that sentence unless i was trying damned hard to use it as a way to rationalize a situation.

Must be the USSC was rationalizing.

Common Sense: "Obviously I feel bad for the dead and their families and communities, but it doesn't really affect me. I think most people are in the same boat."

This statement saddens me immensely. Donne comes to mind.

Must be the USSC was rationalizing.

it wouldn't be the first time - nor the last.

I don't think any other reading makes sense at all, even if this one is somewhat tortured. "People," as used anywhere else in the Constitution, does not refer to the militia. Nor does it refer to "States" as People. Typically legal documents require the same meaning for words through out. Further, since the militia is already armed, having it arm the militia is redundant.

Having the second phrase rationally relate to the first, and therefore refer to military weapons being kept and born by the people, seems the most logical of alternatives.

and therefore refer to military weapons being kept and born by the people, seems the most logical of alternatives

only if the people are also the militia. which they aren't - at least not today. and even in the 1790's, it's clear that many of the Founders thought that a "well-regulated militia" wasn't the general mass of citizens, but rather the trained, organized and commanded State-controlled armies.

let's agree to disagree here. i fear a circle is forming.

Were you affected, or were you to know affected people, would you want other people invoking the cause of your suffering at this juncture?

Anarch:

If I was affected, the last thing on my mind right now would be what some wankers on the internet were wanking about.


Even if I had been affected and the invocation bothered me, that's not something that would magically change 24 hours after the tragedy, or a week after, or a year after or ever. I really don't get this waiting period concept, as you can probably guess.


Furthermore, I didn't invoke the cause of anyone's suffering. I'm participating in a general discussion of gun control that may have been started by the VA shootings but doesn't have much to do with them. I've already stated that I think the policy implications of the VA shootings are precisely nil.

This statement saddens me immensely. Donne comes to mind.

john,

WTF? Seriously, WTF? If people want to tell me that my emotions are somehow wrong, that's fine, but I'd like an explanation of why I'm supposed to feel the mandatory feelings that I've been mandated to feel.


Look, there are 6 billion people on this planet. Many thousands will die horrible tragic deaths every single day. I've got three choices:

* Mourn only those people that I had some connection with.

* Mourn everyone and be completely crippled by grief and unable to function.

* Mourn Americans.

Option 2 is a non-starter because I've got a powerful need to eat. Option 3 is hardly better (lots of Americans die horribly every day), and it strikes me as immoral to boot. I try to believe that American lives are worth no more and no less than third world lives.

I really don't get why my statement is so saddening. I don't see how the world would be improved if everyone was crippled by grief.

Common Sense. I wasn't saddened because you are not crippled by grief. I think you are taking my statement too personally.

The point is that your statement reflected a common sentiment that I (meaning only me, not speaking for anyone else) find saddening. It is a commentary on how we as a society have insulated ourselves. It is neither a judgement nor a condemnation. I am not telling anyone how to feel. I am expressing my own feeling.

john,

My apologies then. It is somewhat frustrating to be out of step with the mainstream but not get any concrete information on how one is out of step. I read too much into your comment.


I still don't get why that would be sad though. I think I (and most people) have difficulty seriously grieving for someone we to which we have no connection and for whose death we are not responsible. That seems like human nature, not anything wrought by our society.


10,000 years ago, when hunter/gatherer tribe A met up with tribe B and told them that tribe C had died in a freak accident, do you really believe that tribe B shed tears for the people that they had never seen before?

I can empathize with Common Sense. Unlike with Columbine, news of this tragedy left me feeling mostly numb. I think my first reaction was more quizzical ("Again?" I thought. "How is that possible? Why are we still here, in this place, where this can happen?").

I'm sure once the stories of the victims come out, my sense of the real nature of the senseless loss will emerge, but right now I'm mostly just speechless. It seems surreal, this shooting, as if I wouldn't at all be surprised to wake tomorrow and realize I had dreamt it.

That won't happen of course, and I recognize how callous it would seem to somone who knows a victim to read such distance in my response, but this sort of thing is, sadly, no longer unthinkable. So when it happens, the initial shock is supplanted by a more practical reaction: I immediately switch to what should the school be doing right now (get the wounded to the hospital, sweep the campus for co-shooters, keep calm, etc. etc.).

I don't mind tying this to my sense of things in general post-9/11. That day took me by surprise and it took weeks to recover. I think I'm on an emotional autopilot now, though. Breaking news of some violent event makes me run through my safety checklist. I've been trained, in other words. Do what you have to do to minimize the impact, and then, and only then, take stock of the human tragedy.

Like I said, it wasn't so much about grieving. It was more the statement about not affecting someone because the person or people who were the victims were not personally known.

Again, it is not a judgemental statement. And in some ways, it caused me to think of the "no man is an island" reflection by Donne.

In a way, I can also agree that I am not personally affected, and I find that sad. Whether it be one person or 33 who die a needless death, I consider myself lessened somehow or someway. It is hard to explain.

Did the WTC tragedy affect you in the sense that you knew someone involved? Perhaps you did, I don't know. I didn't, but it affected me. Is what happened yesterday somehow different because it was on 1/100th the scale, or it was a single person doing the shooting rather than 19 terrorists flying planes into buildings?

I can come up with plenty of questions. I don't have the answers.

Some general reactions:

1. Is it inappropriate to discuss gun control in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy? At first I was inclined to give this notion some credence, but after consideration, decided against it. Here's my line of thinking:

The notion of a period of mourning is based on the desire to demonstrate sincerity of grief. If the new widow gets married the day after she is widowed, people conclude that her grief is insincere -- therefore she hews to a requirement that she not do so for some interval. If the orphaned child attends a wild party the day after his parents are killed, his grief is considered insincere. We expect people to demonstrate the sincerity of their grief by refraining from enjoyable activities for some interval.

The problem here is, are total strangers expected to feel grief? In support of this is the notion that this is a tragedy of such magnitude as to constitute a national tragedy affecting all of us, and therefore all of us should feel grief. The problem is, I don't feel grief; I feel concern, I feel some sadness, but not grief. Tears don't come to my eyes, but I do shake my head and mutter, "What a shame." If someone were to condemn me as insensitive (and I recognize that no such condemnations have been made), I would shrug off such condemnations as mistaken.

The argument can be made that this is a national tragedy and therefore we as a nation, not as individuals, should demonstrate some grief by refraining from some activities. They delayed Mr. Gonzalez's testimony for this reason. I won't question their decision, but then, I wouldn't question them if they decided not to. Ultimately, expressions of grief are an entirely personal issue, not something to be expected of anybody. Those who prefer not to discuss this issue at this time deserve respect for their decision -- just as those who prefer to discuss it. Live and let live, folks.

I'd like to make some other points, but I've other tasks to attend to. I will observe, however, that Mr. Bush will be attending the convocation this afternoon at the school. I hear that he will use the occasion to announce and justify an invasion of Iran. ;-)

I find jrudkis' Second Amendment arguments disingenuous.

When Madison penned the Second Amendment, it read as follows:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.

When this version was debated by the Founders, the clearly military intent of this amendment was not debated. Instead, what was debated was the "religiously scrupulous" portion. It was feared such a clause might be used to deliberately exclude certain groups (Quakers, Catholics, etc.) from military service.

Is what happened yesterday somehow different because it was on 1/100th the scale, or it was a single person doing the shooting rather than 19 terrorists flying planes into buildings?

in many ways, what happened yesterday is really only different in scale, to things that seem to happen at least once a month in the US. there were two workplace shootings in the past two weeks; there is almost always a headline about a murder on CNN.com (this week, it was the preacher slaying); school shootings happen very frequently - and after a while, they all blend together.

yes of course, they all suck. but they just don't surprise me much any more. this one is remarkable mainly because of the numbers, not because it happened.

i'm sure i'd feel differently if i knew anyone who was personally affected.

Ultimately, expressions of grief are an entirely personal issue, not something to be expected of anybody. Those who prefer not to discuss this issue at this time deserve respect for their decision -- just as those who prefer to discuss it. Live and let live, folks.

But it's not just about our own feelings, is it? I agree that at the personal level, we can feel different amounts of grief. Some of us may wish we felt more, but that's also personal.

Yet this is about behavior, not feelings. It's about decency and respect, not just our emotional state.

I assume that when you're abroad, you don't wear a bathing suit in a Spanish cathedral because, hey, you're not Catholic. Nor would you (I hope) wear shoes in a Buddhist temple in Thailand. Nor would you throw rocks and shout insults at a passing funeral, since you didn't know the guy.

"Common sense" asked above how long the period of restraint should be. I don't know, except that I feel sure it's at least 24 hours. (At the Munich Olympics in 1972, the Israelis felt strongly that the Games should be cancelled after the massacre of the Israeli athletes. The officials felt otherwise, and the Games went ahead - after a 24 hour suspension.)

I know some people love to talk about gun control (for OR against). As it happens I don't, but in general I accept "live and let live" on such discussions. But is a 24-hour moratorium too much to ask for? Are your own feelings SO important that you feel free - or even feel obligated - to dance on the corpses of people with whom you are not personally acquainted?

Eeyore: "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others,makes all the difference. Or so they say."

"This author comments on Volokh when the constitution was drafted, morters, grenades and canons were considered acceptable for private citizens. Indeed, the constitution's authorization for letters of marquis seems to necessitate the legality of private warships at the time of drafting."

Acceptable in some states doesn't mean acceptable in all which doesn't mean Constitutional right. The distinction between 'arms' and 'ordinance' existed at the time. If I made a Constitutional right to internet access, the fact that DVDs were allowed wouldn't mean that they were covered in the right. This is what happens when we allow the free-form liberal Constitutional jurisprudence to reign--we lose track of the actual words of the Constitution. If you wanted to, you could make an argument that 'arms' really meant 'arms and ordinance' but it isn't inevitable. And it surely isn't inevitable enough to play the "sarin gas is clearly allowed therefore we should eviscerate the Constitutional right because that is unacceptable". That wouldn't fly in the free speech understanding. Speech can be used to directly incite violence. We don't allow that, but the argument for protecting speech which directly incites violence is much stronger than the "sarin gas" argument. I don't see any one using that fact to generally discredit the right to speech.

I think this is pretty much wrong too: " It just doesn't compare to an independent judiciary, habeas corpus, the right to counsel, freedom of speech and of the press....as far as protecting individual liberty it's no more useful on a day to day basis than the Third Amendment, and unlike the Third there's a real potential downside."

The reason that the Third amendment isn't currently topical is because the government doesn't often try to take over people's houses for troops. The government rather regularly makes attempts to restrict 'arms' ownership, so the amendment's protections are regularly in play.

You can make a personal judgment that if you were writing a Constituion you wouldn't include the right. But that doesn't mean it is some sort of lesser Constitutional right. It has all the Constitutional weight of the 1st Amendment and the habeas protections. To fail to take that as seriously as either of those undermines those protections--if you can downgrade the weight of one based on your personal politcal understandings, you are going to have difficulty marshalling Constitutional force on your favored protections because other people might downgrade them in their personal understandings. If there is a serious problem with a Constitutional right, the proper thing to do is amend it. Narrowing it out of existance may be easier, but justifying that kind of action is a tool that you won't be happy with except in the hands of people who agree with you politcally. The whole point of having a Constitution is to put certain rights beyond that easy kind of game.

But is a 24-hour moratorium too much to ask for?

if we all stopped talking about gun control for 24 hours after every shooting in the US, we would literally never talk about it. many thousands of people die after being shot in the US, every year. guns are involved in roughly 1/4 of all violent crimes in the US (of which there were 5.2M in 2006)

it's a giant problem.

I have to admit that I don't feel actually "affected" by this type of incident anymore. Not because those events are not horrible but they have become so "common" that it mainly registers in the "statistics" department. It would probably be quite different, if it happened right round the corner or involving someone near to me.
The same with reports on Iraq. By now it would more or less suffice to put a box on the sports page with GIs vs. Insurgents and Sectarian Killers vs. Civilians scores with a short notice of where and by what method (like the "yards of ground won in last battle" of WW1).
That tends to be the only "real" information in most reports these days, everything else is "generic details".
Look at the reports for new school shootings and you will find a list of "previous record holders" in almost every single one of them (the same with train wrecks, ferry sinkings etc.).
It's nothing to be proud of.

The distinction between 'arms' and 'ordinance' existed at the time.

Could you elaborate, please?

My understanding is the term "arms" is a wholly military term. As one wag put it, one doesn't bear arms against rabbits. Further, the term "arms" has, throughout history, has included all weaponry and associated military equipment.

I don't have the stomach to look, but presumably some idiot bloggers have pulled immigration into the discussion now, since the shooter was from South Korea.

Dr. Ngo:

You are correct, of course. Speaking for myself only, the shoe is lodged in my ear.

However, these thoughts, random and probably incoherent:

The Internet, in particular the phenomenon of political blogs, has enabled a sort of national political, and infectious Tourette's Syndrome.

But, it may be that engaging in what seems like crass and inappropriate chatter so soon after the event is a kind of consolation for some (again, not speaking for anyone but me).

When I was younger I could never understand why mourning people, even before their loved ones are buried, were expected to be so hungry. Family and friends come bearing oppressive quantities of food. Strangers, show up at the door with vats of chili, three-bean salad, and elaborate desserts.

Meanwhile, a loved one, gone where and why gone I couldn't fathom, disappears. Hungry? Not me. How about we all vomit and tear a new hole in the sky to get at the meaning of it?

Conversely, maybe something else happens during shocking events like the VA Tech atrocity. It may be, as Walker Percy observed, that events like these, even for direct, surviving participants, are oddly and perversely, enlivening events. He writes of battlefield survivors who awake and see, really see, the hand at the end of their arm for the first time in their lives.

Somehow, reality is heightened and those moments remain vivid and thus, yes terribly, set apart from other more mundane moments which ought to be accorded more value.

At this moment, the stock market is up 55 points. The OxyClean guy is yelling about stain removal.

If life was important (I tell myself), they would shut up and stay in bed.

If the type of mass murder with efficient weaponry is so awful (I tell myself) then every educational institution should be shut down indefinitely as a protest until there is a five mile high pile of guns turned in by the population.

Instead, classes will resume soon and some individual, heart turned black by life's meanness, is cleaning his weapon and counting his ammo to see if it equals his well-nursed grudges.

I often wish the hundreds of thousands of individuals slaughtered on the highways annually would all die, if they must, in one collosal fiery catastrophe on a Wednesday afternoon, just so it would make an impression.

I can't quote poetry either at times like these. The beautiful words of the poet always seem to come just in time for the gravestone engraving, when they would have done more good had they occurred to the shooter this past Sunday afternoon, as he noticed the beauty of the light filtering through the trees,

Dr. Ngo:

My response is to your first comment. Hadn't read the second one.

dr ngo, I like your distinction between behavior and emotion; in the end, behavior is the only thing we can meaningfully discuss. However, the observation by itself doesn't take us in either direction; it serves to focus our attention.

However, when you appeal to "decency and respect", I think you contradict yourself. Those are vague terms, and they are NOT behavioral. I think we have to dismiss them from our considerations.

Your comments regarding inappropriate behavior inside a place of worship are way off the mark. Those cases are distinguished by a strong sense of territoriality; it is the territoriality that gives the feelings of the owners of the territory the right to impose behavioral expectations on guests. I am not a guest in my own country, I am a citizen; there is no territoriality that anybody can use to impose any behavioral expectations on me.

You go way off track with this comment:

But is a 24-hour moratorium too much to ask for? Are your own feelings SO important that you feel free - or even feel obligated - to dance on the corpses of people with whom you are not personally acquainted?

This is a self-righteous comment whose fault is easily exposed by mirroring it back at you:

Is freedom of speech too much to ask for? Are your own feelings SO important that you feel justified in imposing them upon others? Are you going to wave this bloody shirt in our faces in an attempt to stifle free discussion?

I hasten to add that I place the mirrored comments in italics because they do NOT represent my beliefs. I present them to demonstrate how unfair your comment is.

You are welcome to dismiss me as a callous and uncaring person; I could reciprocate by dismissing you as a self-righteous tyrant -- BUT I DON'T because I really do believe in the 'live and let live' dictum. I commend that dictum to you.

The term arms was used contemporaneously to provide for both self defense and state defense:

The Pennsylvania Constitution which was adopted in 1790 states: “that the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.” This was a restatement of a previous document, The Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights which in 1776 stated “that the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves, and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by the civil power.” Vermont later adopted this amendment verbatim in their own Declaration of Rights.

I also don't see how the original version changes anything with regard to the "people" vs "militia." If they intended to only allow arms for the militia, they would have stated it. Instead, they armed the militia in article 1, and provided that the people can be armed in the 2nd amendment. Whether everyone would be forced to serve in the militia was dropped from the amendment.

Did the WTC tragedy affect you in the sense that you knew someone involved? Perhaps you did, I don't know. I didn't, but it affected me. Is what happened yesterday somehow different because it was on 1/100th the scale, or it was a single person doing the shooting rather than 19 terrorists flying planes into buildings?

I knew people who died on 9/11. I have a friend who was permanently disabled on 9/11 while fleeing the WTC. For almost 20 years, my father had a window office on the 88-92 floor of the WTC (thank God, he had been moved to a different city years ago). I was affected, but I think that's because I actually knew people involved and because the scale was massive.


I spoke to people about what was happening and some people did immediately bring politics into it. That didn't bother me at all; I didn't think it was disrespectful. The part that bothered me was that their politics tended to really stupid.

I have not been trying to say we shouldn't look at the issue of gun control, or non-control. In fact, I do see where it can be of some benefit. As JT pointed out, in some ways it is a catrhartic process for some.

I respect your feelings, I really do. And I do understand the "not affected" attitude. I remember a time where that would not really been stated. When everyone would have said that something like this affected them for better or worse.

And yes, cleek, the scale can be used in both directions.

This was a random event. Shear dumb bad luck. That's why it shocks so much--we can all identify with it. Will I be shot the next time I'm hanginng out in some crowded public place, the mall, my class at the community college, a parking lot, the grocery? Will I read on the news that some maniac was shootin people in Chicago and find out that my sister died? It probably won't happen again for anothher five or six years but when it does it could be anywhere and affect anybody. So we have no defense but hope.

On the other hand the very day tragedies in America are things that most of us are safe from. If you aren't married to an abuser, you are unlikely to be shot by one. If you don't get involved in drug deals you are unlikely to be killed if one goes bad. In my fifteenn years of teachinng at least four (that I can think of right now) of my students died from gunfire, all in very avoidable incidents.
So it's not that people don't care about the every day tragedy in the nnewspaper but there is a kind of distance: that won't happen to me.

And as someone observed upthread we can't mourn for every death or we would all be mourning all the time. After all, today's news, or tomorrow's will have another thirty or so Iraqi deaths. There isn't much choice except to go back and forth between thinking about it and being depressed to deciding not to think about it and stop being depressed. What the Buddhists call the samasara.

Samsara. Extra "a".

just remember, even a handgun (not even two!) is no match for a heroic 9/11-inspired Derb

Derb was in a movie with both Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee.

Careful who you're messin with.

Erasmussimo: Is freedom of speech too much to ask for? Are your own feelings SO important that you feel justified in imposing them upon others? Are you going to wave this bloody shirt in our faces in an attempt to stifle free discussion?

Let's see:

1) Asking that people withhold the discussion of politics while the affected mourn the dead.

2) Asking that people withhold their calls for decency while people who were unaffected by the tragedy discuss its ramifications in the (bloodless) abstract.

There's a flaw in that argument all right, but it ain't his.

if we all stopped talking about gun control for 24 hours after every shooting in the US, we would literally never talk about it.

I think the point is not to stop talking about gun control, but to stop using a particular incident to talk about gun control -- especially if one is going to use it to advocate one's particular hobbyhorse -- in its immediate aftermath.

I think the point is not to stop talking about gun control, but to stop using a particular incident to talk about gun control -- especially if one is going to use it to advocate one's particular hobbyhorse

there are threads where people are not talking about other things. this one, however, is not such a thread.

and, the 24 hours is past...

Derb is more disgusting than usual. The point when "you're going to die anyway" isn't always going to be obvious, and second-guessing people's perceptions of it based on press reports and rumors you've heard one day after those people died is tasteless. Also, complaining about the rationality of people who think they're about to die is like complaining about the dancing ability of someone with a broken leg.

and, the 24 hours is past...

Which is why I'm talking about it ;)

Anarch, sorry - i didn't mean to be as snippy as that came out. i was trying to say that obviously, people do want to talk about their hobbyhorses (this thread is big, after all). but if it makes anyone uncomfortable, maybe this thread isn't the best place for them to be hanging out today.

Derbyshire, stupidly, conflates the VA Tech ambush and whatever transpired on Flight 93 on 9/11.

The passengers on that flight had time to consider the worst and the enormous odds and collect their wits.

The kids in that classroom had no time to react, except as all untrained people do in an ambush, diving for cover.

Derbyshire, in placing his theoretical self in tights and a cape in that situation, forgot to account for the time it would take him to whimper and lose control of his bladder, before vanquishing evildoers far and wide.

reynolds or anyone couldn't possibly predict what would happen...

Exactly. I don't know the source of the Dirty Harry theory of crime prevention but it is totally inapplicable here. More guns on campus would not have saved lives.

Think about it - suspect starts shooting then two armed people pull out their guns and start shooting back. Then some late-comers show up with their guns and see people shot and the two people holding guns so they start shooting - and on and on.

This doesn't even get into the danger to bystanders and guns are being fired from every direction.


I don't think you talk to people about the public policy implications of their personal tragedies 24 hours or 24 years later, unless they want to or unless there's some really compelling reason to do so. (Don't know what that would be.)

The rules for other people--well, don't talk about issue x with someone if he is likely to get upset and there's no sufficiently strong reason for upsetting him.

I avoided contributing to this thread because I don't have any strong opinion on gun control, because I happen to be too bothered by this to read about it yet (massacres in Virginia hit harder than massacres in Iraq) and because I know there will be someone who would see it as inappropriate. But I'd talk about it in a heartbeat if I had something to say and I knew my listeners wouldn't be offended. I was talking to my mother about why 9/11 might have happened on the morning it happened, when I was frantic with worry about friends and loved ones. (None died, as it happened, but I didn't know yet.) People aren't all the same, and I don't think people of my stripe are necessarily morally inferior to those who differ, but then I would think that.

Isn't Derbyshire the guy who fell off his ladder when he was painting his house?

I thought that's why the other thread was created, and that seemed a good idea to me: one for the mourning and one for the politics discussion.

I felt for those victims; I've been that age, could empathize easily with the shot students. What I thought of was the blog of the daughter of a friend, who is doing the last year of highschool in Texas (exchange program). She described a few months ago how they had to pracise what to do when the 'lockdown' command was given over the intercom. Practising what to do in case of a crazy killer in school is NOT a thing we are familiar with - which suprised quite a lot of her classmates.

von, think this through. Suppose VA Tech allows responsible individuals who have obtained concealed carry permits to have their handguns on campus. People who get permits tend to be serious sportsmen and very responsible, so I'll spot you any and all claims of the form that we'd see mad students popping off classmates in calculus class.

In return, spot me the deterrence argument. Someone who is so far gone as to go on a mass killing spree isn't going to deterred by the thought that someone might possibly have a handgun.

So we're just talking about the likelihood someone stood up and pulled a Jack Bauer.

First rhetorical question: how many concealed carry permittees do you think there'd be? In my hometown, you had to be a resident in good standing and have a clear record, and be at least 21 years old.

If there's a similar requirement, this rules out most college kids. They're too young; their county of residence is far away. So figure a fairly small number, and most of them are going to be seniors.

Second rhetorical question: how likely do you think it is one of these seniors is positioned to take down the shooter, capable of doing so, and doesn't get shot by police or other students?

Third rhetorical question: how likely do you think it is that having more guns on campus will result in other gun deaths? I spotted you the "responsible gun owner", so let's say, maybe one or two extra deaths per year on all college campuses combined. Someone will snap; someone's gun will get stolen; someone will have an accident; someone will feel suicidal.

At two per year, we'd have more deaths in the last forty years from accidents than we would from all the college massacres combined. We have about one major shoot-up every five or ten years. They're awful, but they're rare. To me this incident seems to be extremely poor evidence for concealed carry permits on campus. Hard cases make bad law.

No, to get real, US-style gun violence, you need to be messed up in precisely the way the US is: You must have regions with relatively free gun ownership bordering regions where guns are heavily restricted. It's the mix that allows guns to travel where they can do maximum harm.

....

I'm not suggesting that this tragedy would or could have been avoided had it occurred where concealed weapons permits are common.

It's hard for me to see how you aren't suggesting exactly that. It sure sounds like you're saying the problem is that people can get guns where they're easy to get and take them to where they can do the most harm, namely places where guns are heavily restricted.

And if this place had been somewhere that concealed weapons permits were common then it wouldn't have been one of the places where they can do the most harm.

If that wasn't what you were saying, what *were* you saying?

I’m not sure what to think of the role of the blogs in all this. I’ve been somewhat disgusted by a few things: the quick speculation and rumor mongering, the second guessing, and most especially the plastering everywhere of the few grainy pictures of victims while hundreds of parents around the country were no doubt in a total state of panic and trying frantically to get information on their loved ones. In this of course they were no different than the MSM.

I’m not really too upset about the immediate politicizing of the issues. I hang out on political blogs so why would that surprise me? Everything gets politicized…

On the positive side there is the normal quick dissemination of information - lack thereof in the earliest hours, but the normal functioning as news aggregates as more reliable information came out was useful. Today some sites are compiling information, links, and pictures for individual victims.

Hilzoy’s post was very timely for me – without it I would be doing some inappropriate second guessing concerning the shooter’s creative writing teacher. Fortunately I read Hilzoy’s post before I read those reports and spouted off half-cocked somewhere. (Thanks for sharing that Hilzoy).

This notion that college students should be carrying guns on campus to prevent the kind of thing that happened yesterday is too stupid to deserve serious consideration, and I'm not sure why anyone still thinks Von is entertaining such a notion. This notion is also irrelevent to the real debate that can be had on the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

One thing I find interesting is the "use the amendment process" argument usually coming from the pro-gun side. It's as though they would be fine with such an amendment repealing or weakening the 2nd because their real concern is with respecting process and the authority of the constitution, not with losing their guns. "Well, they finally did the right thing and amended the constitution. I guess I can stop harping about my need to obtain whatever gun I want without restriction."

"Well, they finally did the right thing and amended the constitution. I guess I can stop harping about my need to obtain whatever gun I want without restriction."

Gun control issues have high political valence. Much like discussions about free speech, the debate is often subject to being deformed by the outrage of the day. Like free speech, government gun control is intentionally limited by the Constitution. One of the reasons for that is to avoid moment to moment emotional changes in the laws. If you think that the rules are broken or largely damaging to the country, the proper remedy is to amend the Constitution, not play the kind of legal games that would cause you to freak out if they were played with your personally favored rights. If you can't convince enough people to agree with you--well, some rights are protected by the Constitution to keep them from getting tampered with by people who can't get a super-majority. Take comfort in the fact that the same structures exist to protect the rights you do like. Before we criticize that the Constitutional process doesn't perfectly align with what we think is important, and that it is too difficult to amend, judge it against all the rights it protects that you do like.

There are huge disagreements about gun control. Nevertheless it involves an explicit Constitutional right. When evaluating the process, you have to look at what it protects. If, in the set of explicit Constitutional rights you only have a serious problem with gun rights and you don't like the difficulty getting your preferred politics enacted, balance that against all the explict Constitutional rights that you do like and the difficulty their opponents have in getting their preferred politics enacted.

If you like that it is really difficult to pass laws against free speech, if you like the guarantee of a trial, strengthen the Constitutional process that makes Constitutional rights sacrosanct until the society bothers to go through the process to change them.

If you can convince enough people to repeal a very basic part of the Bill of Rights, of course that is a completely different story from when you can't.

If that wasn't what you were saying, what *were* you saying?

I thought I was bemoaning the instant politicization of this event, while acknowledging that I had the same insta-thought as the insta-pundit. But having an insta-thought isn't the same as making a policy prescription -- although I do tend to think that there's too much concern over whether and how folks have guns, when the real issue is whether and how they use them.

First rhetorical question: how many concealed carry permittees do you think there'd be? In my hometown, you had to be a resident in good standing and have a clear record, and be at least 21 years old.

FWIW, I had a concealed weapons permit as a college student. I believe that I got it at 21, although I don't know if that was the age restriction. I never owned or carried a gun, however (the gun permit came at about the same time I help found the college's libertarian party, so can be viewed as a $20 political nod) (no, I'm not still a libertarian).

Wow, Sebastian just made the first comment of his with which I unequivocally agree.

Now, am I the only person who wants to wait in the parking lot of the National Review offices and deal John Derbyshire the ass-whipping of his life, just for the hell of it?

Ezra Klein on Derb (with a health policy tie-in).

If nothing else I imagine Derbyshire is getting the intertubes version of an ass-whipping as we speak.

I do tend to think that there's too much concern over whether and how folks have guns, when the real issue is whether and how they use them.

no, the real issue is that an emotionally unstable kid was able to buy multiple guns, plus enough clips and ammunition to shoot 32 people at least three times each (and who knows how many rounds spent on the wounded and on total misses).

and yet people like you and Reynolds (a fncking teacher himself!!!) say that putting more guns into schools is a good idea.

yes, people who shoot other people are "criminals". BFD - like being able to label the shooter will bring back his victim(s). how about we don't sell guns to crazy people? think that infringes on someone's rights? too bad - i hereby proclaim that my right to live trumps your right to arm crazy people.

best line ever, at that Ezra link:

    John Derbyshire is like the Dwight Schrute of punditry.

Sebastian,

I largely agree with your response. It's not that I don't think there are people with real interest in the sanctity of the constitution arguing against what they feel is unconstitutional gun control. It's that I feel that there are plenty of people who become valiant defenders of constitutional rights only when the right being defended at the time is the right to keep and bear arms. I guess it's just human nature, but I still find it interesting. You could probably find the inverse at, say, the ACLU. I don't know this as a fact, but I would guess they don't spend a lot of time worrying about government regulation of fire arms possession.

The ACLU does not have a position on the Second Amendment at all. They simply ignore it.

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