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June 11, 2009

Comments

Thanks! There's a meme growing out there that all we progressives want to do is demonize this poor, innocent racist murderer -- we care nothing for the dead Steven T. Johns.

Johns is a hero. By moving to interdict a rifle-toting killer, he probably saved a lot of lives. His heroism can't be much of a salve to his family, but he deserves honor for it.

What I don't understand is how a person like von Brunn gets to live for 88 years without somebody shaking him by the lapels and yelling into his face, "Are you nuts, or what?"

I don't buy the lone psycho theory. Lone psychos nurture their delusions and hatreds in secret. Maybe the Unabomber was a lone psycho. But this von Brunn character was advertising his viciousness. Advertising it to people who clapped him on the back and called him a hero. There was nothing lone about him.

I'm sure we will hear simple run-of-the-mill nativists like Tancredo and Buchanan absolve "the responsible white separatist community" of being on the side of the Devil. Why the Devil turned out to be on "the responsible white separatist" community's side is a question that the nativists will studiously avoid.

--TP

I wonder if there is any significance in the guy committing his act at the age of 88 since that number plays a role in the movement (as code for Heil Hitler, H being the 8th letter in the alphabet).
At that age he could almost be a first-generation Nazi.

I heard about this via an online friend, who noted that if, in the past year, there had been three attacks by American Muslims on a conservative whites-only church, on Operation Rescue, on the offices of NRLC, all accompanied by statements from mainstream American Muslims that of course they condemned the violence but they also felt for the killers and they understood their motivations...

..what do you suppose the official and unofficial reaction would be? After 9/11, over twenty-seven thousand Muslims were investigated or interrogated: over six thousand were arrested: I'm not sure how many were deported (over three thousand in "targeted deportations" by 2003), mosques were vandalized, people who looked like Muslims were attacked, and six years later relatively ordinary right-wingers like OCSteve were seriously arguing that Muslims are scary and deserve to be kicked off public transport if they act too Muslim in public.

What happens when white men commit terrorism and ascribe Christian values as their motivator and their supporters go "well, you can understand their wanting to do it, even if I don't actually support murder, no indeedy"...

Mass roundup of white Christian men planned in the next few months? Elderly white Christian men kicked off planes for scaring the passengers by being too Christian in public?

Before any more conclusions are jumped to – it’s coming out that he hated neocons, the Bush administration, the Republican candidates, and Christians as well. He was also a Truther. No, I won’t link the vile posts that is based on. I had to go take a shower after reading them.

But in short the man hated just about everything and everyone.

I suppose killing a black man at the Holocaust Memorial Museum counts as some kind of twofer in his demented mind.

It's no mystery.

He existed and was nurtured within a community. And that community includes elected and appointed government officials as well as corrupt law enforcement and justice system officials. It includes passive "neighbor" enablers, and it includes a populace which just doesn't give a damn and stands idly by, devouring the entertainment provided by, the terrorists until it is directly affected.

I emailed you previously with more detail about this very issue of domestic terrorists in context of community, Hilzoy. Please let me know if you didn't receive it.

Steve,

It's not that unusual for right wing extremists to hate on the GOP. The GOP is seen, by them, as weak tea. Just as many left wing loons hate on the Dems (not saying there aren't good reasons for critique of the two major parties, of course)

From the TPM profile:

"On December 7, 1981, a man named James W. Von Brunn pulled out a sawed-off shotgun at the Federal Reserve Board headquarters, claiming to have planted a bomb and threatening to take members of the Board hostage."

What I want to know is how in hell this guy ever got his hands on a firearm.

I will preempt Brett and point out that IMO the 2nd Amendment assumes a pre-existing right for people to own and use firearms for self-defense and any other reasonable use.

However.

If you bring the guns to the Federal Reserve Board and start threatening people, your gun owning career should come to an immediate end.

Never mind that, if you publicly call for the killing of Jews, blacks, or red-haired Iowans named Bob, your gun owning career should come to an immediate end.

Von Brunn was a violent guy, openly calling for violence against other people, with a history of using guns in acts of political violence and terrorism.

I want to know how the f**k this guy got his hands on a gun.

Somehow "responsible white separatist community" seems rather oxymoronic.

Thanks for the emphasis on Mr. Johns. I wish more attention were paid to the victims of such acts, rather than giving the perpetrators the fame they crave.

I want to know how the f**k this guy got his hands on a gun.

Thanks to the NRA, anyone regardless of criminal background or mental incapacity can easily purchase about any weapon he or she desires.

It's also unsurprising von Brunn made his living by peddling his nonsense to gun shows.

"Somehow "responsible white separatist community" seems rather oxymoronic."

I can imagine a responsible white separatist community. I'm not sure what the point would be, but I can imagine it.

A *responsible* white separatist community would not threaten folks who are not white, and would not tolerate, let alone encourage, folks who did so.

I'm not aware of any such community.

Folks who want to live in a white-only world are going to find it increasingly hard to live on planet earth. Maybe they should adjust their goals to something more realistic, like getting along with people who aren't like them.

Just a thought.

For the life of me, I cannot understand people like this. It's not just the completely insane beliefs, and the willingness to kill people, but letting your entire self become warped into pure hatred.

If we're lucky we'll soon have an answer from Megan McArdle, who can explain to us that, if one believes that blacks and Jews are conspiring to take over this country (which McMegan will assure us that she herself does not), it is not only morally permitted, but morally necessary to behave in this way.

Back in one of the earlier Tiller threads somebody (incorrectly IMO) noted that the anti-choice movement was the only mainstream political movement with a terrorist wing.

Von Brunn, at first glance, appears to be a good example of a terrorist with different connections to the mainstream right.

For example, back in December, von Brunn received accolades on FreeRepublic.com for one of his anti-Obama rants.

With respect to the Civil Rights movement, for instance, Jones notes that “virtually every black leader in the 20th century had a Jewish mentor, backer or controller who introduced him to revolutionary ideas or organizations.” Jones sees the process as Jews “luring Blacks away from Christianity into fantasies of heaven on earth, which could only be brought about by the violence which flowed from Messianic politics.”

From:
The Occidental Observer Newsletter

I've heard this "meme" [?] from activists who thought I was not sufficiently anti-Zionist. That is, since I was brought into the Left by Labor-Zionist types, and grew up in a Christian Zionist, my views had a "Judeophilia taint" (I ain't kidding).

"If we're lucky we'll soon have an answer from Megan McArdle..."

i think megan and ross already explained all this just the other day.

the problem is, that anti-semitism is becoming in this country an issue upon which people have no reasonable political recourse. perfectly reasonable anti-semitic regulations have been excluded from the democratic process.

If anti-semitism were returned to the democratic process, this landscape would change dramatically. Arguments about whether and how to restrict jews—as many advanced democracies already do—would replace attempts to shoot jews at museums.

if liberals would only allow some sensible regulations, like making all jews wear yellow arm-bands, preventing them from holding public office, etc. etc., then sensible centrist americans would not be forced to shoot them.

heh.

i had a Doctor Science moment with kb's 9:24. it took me a while to catch the joke... i'm sitting here thinking, "woah, kb's actually mad there isn't room for anti-semitic opinions in our democratic process? now that's somekinda moral relativism!"

A possible lesson to be taken away from the shooting:

Security guards deserve better pay, better benefits, and a better union.

Yes?

Yeah KB, the Supreme court, in an undemocratic fashion, has made it so there is no democratic outlet for anti-semitism. The opinion of 9 judges has completely shut out a whole means of democratic expression for a segment of the population that views the Jewish conspiracy as a life or death issue.

"If you bring the guns to the Federal Reserve Board and start threatening people, your gun owning career should come to an immediate end."

Quite true!

"Thanks to the NRA, anyone regardless of criminal background or mental incapacity can easily purchase about any weapon he or she desires."

Gee, I thought it was due to the existance of a robust black market. You know, kind of like criminals and nutcases can get their hands on heroin?

It is true that we oppose making law abiding people leap through a lot of hoops to exercise this civil liberty. The fact that the criminals can just walk around the hoops makes the hoops more or less pointless.

"The responsible white separatist community condemns this," he said.

I think he means "supremacist."

"the anti-choice movement was the only mainstream political movement with a terrorist wing."

I donno, doesn't the environmentalist movement count as a mainstream political movement? They've got a terrorist wing.

A possible lesson to be taken away from the shooting

Guns don't kill people, because it would have been just as bad if Von Bronn had entered the museum unarmed, gone up to Stephen Johns, and subjected him to a tirade of racist and anti-Semitic abuse, and Johns had had to go home at the end of the day and complain about how many rotten people they are in the world.

But fortunately Von Bronn had free access to guns to defend himself against government tyranny, which is so important to preserve a free nation. And thus, the vital importance of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights is demonstrated to all concerned.

Gee, I thought it was due to the existance of a robust black market.

Guns come from somewhere, BB. Pretending they magically materialize on the black market is ludicrous. Fact is, you or I could go to any gunshow and get just about whatever we want if we have the cash--with no questions asked. Additionally, we can go to our local Pennysaver or local classified and get weapons with no questions asked.

It is true that we oppose making law abiding people leap through a lot of hoops to exercise this civil liberty.

However, in sparing so-called law-abiding citizens the onerous task of demonstrating they're not criminals and/or deranged, the NRA is allowing criminals and kooks free access to guns.

"I'm not aware of any such community."

There is one, Randy Weaver and his family were part of it. It's small, it generally doesn't get reported on, and they're all nuttier than a fruitcake. But they're generally harmless fruitcakes, so long as you leave them alone.

I donno, doesn't the environmentalist movement count as a mainstream political movement? They've got a terrorist wing.

Well, groups like EarthFirst or ELF and others certainly have committed illegal acts against property, but they haven't killed anyone. Ecoterrorism is pretty much a myth.

ABC reported last night that the rifle was "nearly 100 years old" but nothing about how it came into his possession

Tree spiking isn't merely an illegal act against property, it frequently results in the logger being injured, and occasionally killed.

Neither is raming ships on the high seas, and Greenpeace had a ship specially modified for ramming purposes.

Then there's the Unabomber.

The fact that ELF hasn't killed anybody (if that is true) is mostly luck. They set fires in tinder-dry Southern California. They could have easily killed hundreds with a single big gust of wind. (And weather reports said no wind is not nearly good enough). Arson in Southern California is seriously asking for dead people. Much more so than in lush states where you can't turn acres of brush to ash in a couple of minutes.

I've lived through snowing ash twice in 5 years, with one fire thought to be arson and another to be a cigarette butt.

ELF fires have more spark than a single cigarette.

In any case if you want to see a fascinating case of insane, crazy hatred in profile, there is this really good article on Fred Phelps (the God Hates Fags guy). I'm not sure I strictly recommend it. It is deeply disturbing.

yeah, but while i'm willing to call out the earth-firsters for making my side look bad, i am totally not taking any responsibility for fred phelps. he ain't one of ours.

nor do i think he is a debit against the right-hand side of the ledger, either.

phelps is so far out there, he is neither right nor left nor anything. hard to know what *planet* to assign that guy to.

of course, i realize that he was driven to it because positions like his have been excluded from the democratic process, so he's entitled to do anything after that.

but man, that's one sick dude.

NPR said this morning that:

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled Kill the Best Gentile. In 1983, he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.

Charming guy.

"I donno, doesn't the environmentalist movement count as a mainstream political movement? They've got a terrorist wing."

No.

There is no connection between the mainstream groups and the tiny groups of extremists. Operation acts as a front for it's terrorist wing. Thne memebers of the w=terrorist wing are active in Operation Resuce and Operation Resuce supplies the rhetoric (murdering babies etc) that motivates the terrorists. Operation Resuce has kewpt up decades of intimadation of their selected targets.

mainstream environmental groups do not use inflated over heated rhetoric demonizing various target. (Which isn't to say they don't criticize, but the criticisms are grounded in fact and discussed in a manner that is not calculated to promote hate.) I can't think of a singel example of a mianstream enviro group that has intimidated anyone. let alone kept up a decades long campaign of intimadation. Envio groups are mostly conventional political action groups and/or legal action groups with very litte in the way of public grandstanding.

I hope that some kind of memorial fund will be established for Big John's family.

Actually, there's been one documented injury as a result of tree spiking and no deaths. Tree spiking has been condemned by EarthFirst and opinion is divided in ELF.

Unabomber? Is that why his 'manifesto' railed against "leftists?"

"mainstream environmental groups do not use inflated over heated rhetoric demonizing various target."

Are we counting Greenpeace as a mainstream environmental group? Though I suppose they may have cooled, it has been about a decade since I saw anything too ridiculous but I haven't really been paying attention to them.

And to be clear, I wasn't trying to tar anyone with Phelps. The cite I linked is just a fascinating if frightening look at his crazy-hatred.

"What I don't understand is how a person like von Brunn gets to live for 88 years without somebody shaking him by the lapels and yelling into his face, 'Are you nuts, or what?'"

I rather imagine that it happened a number of times.

I'm reasonably sure this is not a terribly effective cure for either mental illness or crazy ideas.

The written equivalent on blog threads doesn't seem to work well, either. Though people do keep trying it.

The responsible white separatist community condemns this," he said. "It makes us look bad."

This reminds me of the Harry Hutton quip that Nigerian email scam artists unjustly smear those honest Nigerians who wish to give $47M to perfect strangers on the internet.


'Are you nuts, or what?'"

"I'm reasonably sure this is not a terribly effective cure for either mental illness or crazy ideas."

oh, sure. when i ask that on blogs, i'm not looking to cure anyone.

i just ask in order to get the information, out of pure disinterested curiosity.

"oh! so you *are* nuts! very good. thank you!"

Jadegold, thanks for the reminder -- I haven't visited chasemeladies in a long time.

Then there's the Unabomber.

Please note that this old chestnut linking the Unabomber to the left is being thrown about by someone who essentially accused Gary Farber of dishonesty.

Before any more conclusions are jumped to

Alas, OCSteve, too late. We have a guest of Neil Cavuto's blaming Obama for creating an environment for these shootings via class warfare; another Cavuto guest noting a possible link to Obama's Cairo speech and visit to Buchenwald; Tammy Bruce blaming Obama's "pandering to the Jew-hating Arab world" for encouraging Mr. von Brunn; and Rabbi Pomerantz, a NY State chaplain, blaming Obama for "creating a climate of hate against us" as he "positions America against the Jewish state." So, you know, I'm getting a little bit tired of being told to stop "politicizing" and "jumping to conclusions" by linking these people to the causes they're actually linked to. And I'll note that there wasn't a massive hue and outcry forcing a walkback of the DHS report on left-wing domestic terrorism, if we're demanding equivalence at any cost here.

Um- if you are a felon- thats having been convicted of a crime that nets a year or longer prison sentence-you are banned for life from even being in "contructive posession" of a firearm. He was convicted of many violent felonies and so, therefore, he had committed many more felonies to be in posession of a firear.
Obviously, passing MORE laws, isnt a solution.
Ditto being commited to a mental institution OR being adjudged mentally uncapable bars you forever from possessing a firearm.
The violent wack job wasnt given those frearms by the NRA.
"Well, THEY do it" isnt a good reason to throw about loaded language, imho.
Those folks who want to simply live "seperate" be they white, black, lesbian- have every right to do so. They loose a lot, but its a choice. Again IMHO.
I dont know whether this guy should have been involuntarily committed ages ago, or last month- By whom? What would we be delegating here?-but he certainly should have been a "person of interest". How much prying does the State do on minor , non threatening "outlaws" who fall into various demonizable catagories? This loud crackpot, with a history of violent political felonies???? Of THAT variety?
Theres a lot that stinks here, but not free association or citizens firearms ownership.

Useful!

A thread where everyone can stand on the back of the murderer and point to their favorite 'other' who is to blame.

Mutt: The problem is felons do gain access to weapons because there is an absence of laws preventing them from doing so. If I'm a felon who wants a firearm, there is no mechanism preventing me from doing so. Same goes if I have a record of mental derangement.

I'd also note that even I'm a felon/lunatic, my attempts to purchase weapons from an FFL will very likely not result in my prosecution or conviction because of loopholes in the law.

The lack of laws (or loopholes therein) are there because the NRA wants no laws restricting access to any firearm.

Sorry, but if I'm *truly* a 'responsible, law-abiding' gun owner--I'm not really too concerned about demonstrating that I'm truly responsible and law-abiding.

Dear Hilzoy: I hope you are well.

Horrible and tragic what happened to Mr. Johns. I hope his soul is with God.

Reminded me of what happened a week or two ago when a crazy killed that butcher, George Tiller. And the Muslim who shot up that Army/Navy office, killing one and wounding another. We live in bad times.

Sincerely,

A thread where everyone can stand on the back of the murderer and point to their favorite 'other' who is to blame.

Of course. Because it is logically impossible for any such accusation to be true.

"The violent wack job wasnt given those frearms by the NRA."

Neither you nor I know where he got the gun.

And personally, I think we do need another law. You should not be able to buy a gun through private sale if you would not be able to buy it from a licensed gun dealer, for whatever reason. Currently, you can.

"There is one, Randy Weaver and his family were part of it."

I wasn't aware that Weaver was a white separatist, but I'm in general agreement with the argument that we, by which I mean the government, had little or no reason to mess in Randy Weaver's life. The Ruby Ridge incident was, IMO, stupid and unnecessary. And folks got killed.

Yeah, if folks want to go off and live by themselves for whatever reason, mazel tov. If they want to own a lot of guns, I have no particular problem with that as long as they don't threaten violence on other people.

"doesn't the environmentalist movement count as a mainstream political movement? They've got a terrorist wing."

I would say that ELF meets the legal definition of a terrorist group. Greenpeace, I don't see it.

It's hard to describe the Unabomber as the "wing" of anything other than his own paranoid delusions.

The difference I see between ELF and organizations like, frex, Aryan Nation, or WAR, or any of the other white supremacist groups, is that they aren't looking to kill anyone. At most, they seek to destroy property. In general they seek to harrass people who are doing things they find destructive to the environment.

It's not an insignificant distinction.

There also is not an industry of pundits claiming that our national policies or leadership are somehow driving people into burning down housing developments or blowing up SUVs.

I'd like to see zero tolerance on the right for folks who defend or in any way justify political violence. I don't want the law involved, and we shouldn't need the law involved. I'm talking about a speck of self-awareness and responsibility.

"Mutt: The problem is felons do gain access to weapons because there is an absence of laws preventing them from doing so. If I'm a felon who wants a firearm, there is no mechanism preventing me from doing so. Same goes if I have a record of mental derangement."

On the contrary, there IS a mechanism. The national instant check system. It doesn't effectively prevent felons from obtaining firearms for the same reason drug laws don't effectively prevent users from obtaining drugs: There's a black market.

Since the existance of a black market would prevent the mechanisms from working no matter who stringent they were made, (See illegal drugs, again.) and since the mechanisms impede the exercise of a civil liberty, there's little reason to make them more stringent, except to harrass the law abiding.

A common enough motive among gun control advocates, of course, so calls to make it more stringent can be expected to continue.

Here's a proposal to chew on: Once somebody has been identified as a prohibited person so far as gun ownership is concerned, tatoo a scarlet letter on their forehead. "F" for felon, "N" for nutcase. It would simplify the checking at the point of sale, and be rather helpful to the rest of us, too.

"Greenpeace, I don't see it."

There was the little matter of having a ship specially modified for ramming other ships on the high seas. I suppose you could call that piracy instead of terrorism, if you felt so inclined, but non-violent it wasn't.

"You should not be able to buy a gun through private sale if you would not be able to buy it from a licensed gun dealer, for whatever reason. Currently, you can."

Then you'll have to provide non-dealers access to the instant check system, or some other way to expediently determine a potential buyer's status. There are privacy issues there, and abuse issues on the part of the government, too. (The last administration but one was in the habit of randomly shutting down the system for days at a time for 'software maintanance', which is a bit iffy for a government service you have to use to exercise a civil liberty. The last adminstration seems to have found it possible to maintain the software without shutting down every dealer in the country for several days. We'll see if the shutdowns resume with this administration.

Bottom line, you've got to remember that you're messing with a civil right. You can only justify going so far in infringing it's exercise, given the meager return the inevitable existance of a black market guarantees.

"Mutt: The problem is felons do gain access to weapons because there is an absence of laws preventing them from doing so. If I'm a felon who wants a firearm, there is no mechanism preventing me from doing so. Same goes if I have a record of mental derangement."

There are mechanisms, such as background checks for most legal means of obtaining guns. But Brett and the other gun nuts are correct that there's nothing resembling a perfect mechanism.

"And personally, I think we do need another law. You should not be able to buy a gun through private sale if you would not be able to buy it from a licensed gun dealer, for whatever reason."

I'm fine with that, but I also observe that we have lots of laws against Some Drugs, and yet we don't seem to be getting very far in eliminating drug use or sales of Some Drugs. I don't see closing the gun show loophole as somehow dramatically changing the difficulty of obtaining a gun in America if you really really want one.

As ever, I persist in thinking that gun absolutists are indeed nuts for perceiving any and all gun laws as Just The First Step Towards Complete Confiscation, and I persist in thinking that folks who think that if we just pass a few more laws, we'll be able to eliminate, or even drastically limit, the number of multiple gun killings, are approximately equally delusional.

Some things are popular with many Americans: alcohol. Many drugs. Gambling. And guns.

Where there's large demand, there will be large supply. If folks who believe yet more prohibition laws against one of these things will be reallydramatically effective this time can explain either why more prohibition won't be equally effective against all of them, or why their favored prohibition Will Be Really Different, No, Really, from the others, I'd find that quite educational.

"Alas, OCSteve, too late. We have [....]"

Oh, and so many many more. Debbie Schussel has her universal answer: it's the fault of Muslims. Kathy Shaidle knows it's just as much leftists as rightists. MacRanger also knows it's really leftists. Etc., etc.

Really, knowing these folks, one needn't actually read their sites; one can just write their screeds in advance for them.

License to own.

Have one, you can buy a gun.
Don't have one, you can't.

Sell or give a gun to someone without a license to own and you're an accessory to any mayhem they whip up.

Bring a shotgun to the Federal Reserve Board, call for the killing of Jews, blacks, Mexicans, or red-haired Iowans named Bob, and you lose your license to own.

That doesn't seem to be too complicated to me.

Yeah, it doesn't close off the black market but it does close off the private sale market.

Licence to own? It's a civil right. A licence is permission from the government to do something. A right is, by definition, something you don't need permission to do, it's something you're entitled to do whether or not the government wants you to.

A licence to pray, a license to speak, a license to publish, you name the civil right, it would be as legitimate.

Want to ease the concerns, build a bit of trust? Start treating gun ownership like the civil right it is. Maybe a civil right you don't like, but it's still a civil right. Until you do, we'll always assume, with some justice, that it's a right you want to extinguish.

We don't need licenses for the law abiding. We need anti-licenses for the criminals.

There was the little matter of having a ship specially modified for ramming other ships on the high seas. I suppose you could call that piracy instead of terrorism, if you felt so inclined, but non-violent it wasn't.

Actually, I call it legal ship ownership. How many people did they kill with it?

Come to think of it, this is almost certainly the Sea Shepherd you're talking about. Greenpeace kicked Paul Watson out thirty years ago over his violent tactics, so if it involves the Sea Shepherd, it ain't Greenpeace. Or does the benefit of the doubt over degrees of association still only apply to violent right-wingers?

Brett, is there something inconsistent about a state having a "shall issue" policy/law (which 39 states do for concealed carry), and requiring that those so issued a license have, you know, a license (also called a "permit")?

An awful lot of fervent gun-rights folks I know seem fine with that.

Only two states, "Vermont[13] and Alaska,[14] allow a non-felon, at least 16 or 21 years of age respectively, to conceal-carry without requiring a permit as a fundamental right."

Perhaps you should look into getting SCOTUS to look at that.

To continue quoting Wikipedia (which I wish people would quit referring to as "wiki," because there are thousands of wikis; it's a generic term), "As of July 2008[update], two states (Wisconsin[15] and Illinois[16]) and Washington D.C.[17] have no provision for legal concealed-carry."

As a practical matter, there isn't exactly a wide-spread suppression of people's ability to legally obtain arms in this country. One might think that might go somewhere towards building that "bit of trust" you say you'd like, if you were really looking for it, rather than more or less insisting that complete confiscation of all guns follows only a breath behind any regulation at all of guns.

We need anti-licenses for the criminals.

how would this work in practice ?

you show up to a gun shop with your anti-license, and they refuse to sell you a gun ?

cause i don't see a "prohibited buyer" database of any kind going over too well.

Pretty much any right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights comes with limits on when and how it can be exercised.

A "license to not own" is not practical, especially in the private sale arena, and is basically what we have now, and what everyone interested in gun rights hates anyway.

Want to peacably assemble with 100 of your best friends on the steps of town hall, or basically anywhere you're likely to get in the way and bug people? You're probably going to need a license.

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. Want to start a newspaper? You'll probably need to get something akin to a license to do so.

I have the right to vote, but if I don't register with my Town Clerk, I will be turned away from the polling place.

Etc etc etc.

You can think whatever you like, but in my particular case I have no interest in taking away anyone's legitimate right to own a firearm.

I'm just pointing out that it would be pretty straightforward to put a mechanism in place that would make it possible for folks who buy, sell, and trade firearms on the private market to know who they could, and could not, legitimately provide a firearm to.

It would not be hard, it's just political suicide for anyone outside of the state of MA and maybe some of the larger cities to suggest it.

"cause i don't see a 'prohibited buyer' database of any kind going over too well."

Would that be anything like this?

"I'm just pointing out that it would be pretty straightforward to put a mechanism in place that would make it possible for folks who buy, sell, and trade firearms on the private market to know who they could, and could not, legitimately provide a firearm to."

Would that be anything like this?

Operating a strip club is a civil right as well, but licensing requirements for strip club operators have been upheld by most courts. I hope that opponents of gun ownership don't discover the so-called "secondary effects" doctrine, a la City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, 475 U.S. 41 (1986), to gut the Second Amendment in the same manner that the prudes have gutted the First Amendment.

MDS, I was refering to the Rainbow Warrior; Had a bow filled with concrete for ramming purposes.

Gary, concealed carry permits are permits to carry a gun hidden, that's not a civil right. Carrying one openly is a civil right.

And I made a suggestion above for the anti-license. It wasn't a joke. Though I suppose we could do something in the nature of an RFID chip instead.

"Carrying one openly is a civil right."

I've read DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al. v. HELLER, and it says this:

[...] nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
It then goes on to say that:
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
Finally, it says:
[...] In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment , as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.
It doesn't say anything about any absolute right to openly carry weapons outside the home.

Of course, maybe some future activist Supreme Court will "find" such a right in the constitution, even though it's not in the text.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and guess that you won't have a problem with such a penumbra that isn't in the text.

Would that be anything like this?

exactly.

and many 2nd amendment absolutists hate NICS.

"Would that be anything like this?"

I think requiring private gun sellers to check buyers via NICS would be fine. Apparently, however, it is widely considered to be overly onerous to ask them to do so.

The reason I suggested a license to own is that (a) it seems like it would just be easier than having to call a federal database hotline, and (b) it puts the burden of demonstrating that the buyer should be allowed to buy on the buyer, rather than the seller.

It seems like a simple enough idea, albeit one that (like everything else in the world) could be gamed or got around.

At the moment, if you are a white supremacist race war advocate, an ex-felon with a long history of gun violence, a muslim terrorist wannabe, or just a pissed off nutcase, you can go to Craigslist or a gun show, find a gun for sale, and go buy it. The seller is under no obligation to discover if you're a violent wacko or just some guy who likes to shoot varmint.

That seems like a pretty big hole to me.

Gary, Scalia is a lousy originalist on his good days, and Heller wasn't one of those. He even got wrong which side had lost at the circuit level and appealed to the Supreme court in the Miller case.

Of course he was going to come up with some kind of half assed reading of the amendment that kept almost all gun laws intact: He hates overturning long established laws, and considers fidelity to the Constitution a secondary consideration in such cases.

The reason we don't whine about concealed carry permits, is because hiding your gun isn't a civil right. At the time the 2nd was adopted, carrying a gun hidden was considered a disreputable act, the sort of thing a criminal would do, and was widely outlawed.

And carrying is just bearing, and there's a right to bear arms. If you can't carry concealed, you certainly must have a right to carry openly. And so the state courts in a number of states have ruled, based on language not that different from the 2nd, in state constitutions.

Brett - what's your view on the ability of private enterprises to exclude patrons who are openly carrying? E.g., if the local tavern decides that it will not serve anyone openly carrying and asks such a person to leave the premises, can they be forcibly removed by the constable and convicted of tresspassing?

A licence to pray, a license to speak, a license to publish, you name the civil right, it would be as legitimate.

So South Carolina doesn't require marriage licenses now? Interesting.

a license to publish . . . would be as legitimate.

Is broadcasting considered publishing?

FWIW, I am currently serving on our county grand jury, and according to one of our detective liaisons, most of the guns currently being used in crimes are not stolen, they are straw purchases. Make of that what you will.

Or Michigan, if that's where you got married. I assume you had to get a license for that?

Of course, Ugh; You don't have a right to exercise your civil liberties on somebody else's property.

Gary, concealed carry permits are permits to carry a gun hidden, that's not a civil right. Carrying one openly is a civil right.

This is making me feel all dirty and originalist, but I'm much more favorably disposed to open carry than concealed carry. And more favorably disposed to open long gun carry than sidearms. Since that's the sort of thing more useful to an 18th-century citizens' militia.

And hang on, are we talking about the current Rainbow Warrior, the three-masted schooner that does environmental tours? Or the original trawler? Because I'm not sure the best example of ecoterrorism in action is provided by a ship that was bombed by French Intelligence on its way to a nuclear testing protest, with one activist fatality. And I didn't think she had a bevy of sunk whaling or seal-hunting vessels to her name. Unless... Of course! The Lusitania! Man, the Germans got a bum rap that time.

He [Scalia] hates overturning long established laws

Okay, the Lusitania thing is starting to seem a lot more plausible.

There was the little matter of having a ship specially modified for ramming other ships on the high seas. I suppose you could call that piracy instead of terrorism, if you felt so inclined, but non-violent it wasn't.

Yeah, see, I'm fairly certain that "modifying a ship for ramming" if it never actually rams anything is neither piracy nor terrorism, and as someone who I am absolutely, positively, 100% certain is opposed to banning firearms or ammunition because of their potential bad uses or for cosmetic reasons, you should bloody well know better.

I have the right to vote, but if I don't register with my Town Clerk, I will be turned away from the polling place.

This is a great point, russell, since as I recall Brett requires making voters show a state-issued photo ID at the time that they vote. Fair-weather libertarianism strikes again, I suppose.

Actually, for the most part I'm in line with the post. And I'm going to look like an asshole contrarian when I say

As a result, a good man was killed, and a child will grow up without a father.

is crap. Who f*cking cares if he had kids? Would the crime be different if he were a lifelong bachelor? No. Same crime. Let's let go of that bullshit, since it doesn't inform anything but our boo-hoo glands.

My apologies if this has already been said.

"My apologies if this has already been said."

No, you're the only one with such a sensitive, empathetic, soul.

No, you're the only one with such a sensitive, empathetic, soul.

Oh, come now. He deserves some credit for "it doesn't inform anything but our boo-hoo glands."

Yeah, see, I'm fairly certain that "modifying a ship for ramming" if it never actually rams anything is neither piracy nor terrorism

Thanks for picking up on this, Phil. It's what I was trying to get at with the whole "Actually, I call it legal ship ownership. How many people did they kill with it?" But then we moved on to Rainbow Warrior, which somehow makes me think of Patrick Stewart in Jeffrey: "Can I do this, or will I look like some sort of gay superhero?"

"And I'm going to look like an asshole contrarian when I say"

Actually, you can leave the "contrarian" part out.

"MDS, I was refering to the Rainbow Warrior"

Seriously, I think you're mistaking it for Watson's "Farley Mowrat".

Brett, please provide more information of the ship you claim was modified for ramming by Greenpeace.

I haven't followed GP for years, but I think you're confusing Greenpeace and Sea Shepard.

As usual, ">http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/">
Orcinus is the place to go for connecting some of the dots among recent episodes of right-wing violence.

All this talk of banning or regulating guns reminds me of the debate over legalizinig drugs. But the only drug I would like to legalize is marijuana. Banning and criminalizing pot has not worked, and I doubt it ever will work. To say nothing of the sheer absudity of treating people who only grow or possess a small amount of marijuana like criminals.

My preferred scenario would be to legalize and regulate pot the way we do cigarettes and alcohol. That is, smoking marijuana would be legal if you are over age 21. HOWEVER, only if you smoke pot in ways which will not harm others: NOT while driving cars, flying planes, and other activities where carelessness would endanger people. IOW, driving a car while stoned should get you treated like a drunk driver.

It's also my hope that legal marijuana would divert most of the colossal profits collected by criminals into the hands of law abiding citizens. IOW, let the tobacco farmers of North Carolina diversify by growing pot.

As a conservative with some libertarian leanings, I rather hate to say this, but legal marijuana would be a profitable source of taxation. Bleah.

Sincerely,

Von Brunn, at first glance, appears to be a good example of a terrorist with different connections to the mainstream right.

For example, back in December, von Brunn received accolades on FreeRepublic.com for one of his anti-Obama rants.

Posted by: Ben Alpers | June 11, 2009 at 09:16 AM

Then maybe you should take another glance.

Sure, on the one hand, one of the few rants he wrote that doesn't mention Jews got some play at Free Republic when someone reposted it there... on the other hand, he hated every presidential administration going back at least as far as Reagan because he thought they were all secretly being run by Jews, he hated Christianity because he though it was created by Jews as part of some conspiracy, he also hated a number of conservatives, media outlets like The Weekly Standard and Fox News, and pretty much everyone really.

Except for Hitler... the only bad thing he had to say about Hitler was he didn't go far enough. So he somehow managed to be a holocaust denier and holocaust enthusiast at the same time.

Has he ever railed against big government as a matter of principle, or has he only railed against what he saw as Jew-controlled government? Is he in favor of free markets, or does he only care that markets are free of Jews?

Neither is raming ships on the high seas, and Greenpeace had a ship specially modified for ramming purposes.

Get it straight, Brett. You're not talking about Greenpeace, you're talking about the Sea Shephards' ship from 25-30 years ago.

And it wasn't "specially modified," it was purpose-built even earlier with a reinforced bow for ramming other vessels- by Norwegian codfishermen during their quasi-war over prime fishing grounds in the North Atlantic. The Sea Shepherds bought it for a song and went out to face down whalers. Having already been hit by ramming attacks from whaling ships, they put out with a ship equipped to fight back in a cat-and-mouse game of mutual intimidation on the high seas.

Sea Shepherds were, in the 1970's, all about literally sinking whaling vessels in port and obstructing them at sea. Today, they focus on the latter, but consider themselves more like vigilantes than pirates. They claim to be enforcing international law in the absence of any serious effort by governments to do so. They've also been, as I understand it, deputized by the Equadoran government to protect the Galopagos Islands from exploitation- which gives some legitimacy to their claim of being a voluntary law enforcement service.

At any rate, they've got nothing to do with Greenpeace- their founder, Paul Watson, broke off from GP way back in the beginning of the global environmentalist movement precisely because GP refused to take such direct action, focusing more on publicity stunts to garner public sympathy rather than directly preventing the whaling industry from functioning by forcing them to spend more on insurance and security.

Oh, and their current flagship was originally a seismic research vessel. It is reinforced below the waterline so it can withstand the explosive charges detonated beneath it while underway. Such charges have been used against them by the Norwegian Navy.

And, once again, NOBODY has been killed or injured by the Sea Shepherds- though property has been damaged- and neither they nor Greenpeace has ever advocated violence against persons.

on the other hand, he hated every presidential administration going back at least as far as Reagan because he thought they were all secretly being run by Jews, he hated Christianity because he though it was created by Jews as part of some conspiracy, he also hated a number of conservatives, media outlets like The Weekly Standard and Fox News, and pretty much everyone really.

So what led him to act now rather than earlier? And where are the liberals who seized on his comments against earlier Republicans as 'telling it like it is'. I suspect there were none, but I would welcome correction.

There are always a number of crazies floating around like free radicals (the chemistry kind). It does tell us something when they catch on something (like Operation Rescue or the Freepers)

Oh, one more thing...

On the contrary, there IS a mechanism. The national instant check system. It doesn't effectively prevent felons from obtaining firearms for the same reason drug laws don't effectively prevent users from obtaining drugs: There's a black market.

The NICS is not truly national. Only 30 states are actually fully compliant with it. Virginia is one state that refuses to participate- which is why the VT shooter was able to purchase handguns there over the counter despite his technical disqualification from doing so due to his history of mental illness.

This guy in DC? Used a plain old rifle. I seriously doubt he had to go to any black market to get it. His 1981 incident? Involved a sawed-off shotgun- an illegal modification of a perfectly legal gun, easily bought in any sporting goods department with no check of any kind necessary. No black market.

The black market is in 1)illegally imported automatic weapons, 2) illegally modified semi-auto weapons, 3) unregistered handguns, virtually all of them stolen and shaved. The latter two categories are the biggest and every single one of those illegal guns started out as a legal gun.

So what led him to act now rather than earlier? And where are the liberals who seized on his comments against earlier Republicans as 'telling it like it is'. I suspect there were none, but I would welcome correction.

There are always a number of crazies floating around like free radicals (the chemistry kind). It does tell us something when they catch on something (like Operation Rescue or the Freepers)

Posted by: liberal japonicus | June 12, 2009 at 04:02 AM

I don't know what set him off this time, but this isn't the first time that he's acted... he already went to prison for six and a half years for acting on one of his antisemitic delusions. The FBI was aware of him, at least for a while, so maybe he was laying low... or maybe he wanted to wait until he hit the magic number of 88 years old.

I don't think one of his rants being reposted at Free Republic tells us much... it's basically just a wayback machine for left-bashing rants. All sorts of garbage winds up there. For all I know, some Moby posted it there just to laugh at the people high-fiving over it not realizing that it was written by a Jew-hating freak.

I'm more interested in what he has to say for himself... everything that I've seen so far seems to indicate he was completely driven by racism, and all of his other ravings flow from that. He thinks Obama, of all people, is controlled by Jews... is that really how you see right wingers? If it is, I suppose next you'll be telling me that Jeremiah Wright is a right wing extremist.

Well, I'm not planning on telling you anything about Jerimiah Wright, but there's this.

I don't know where you put Andrew Breitbart in the right wing iconography, but he feels that von Brunn was a multiculturalist.

"but I think you're confusing Greenpeace and Sea Shepard."

Yeah, seems like. The link to Greenpeace might not be that strong, but we're still talking the environmentalist movement. But I was at least partially wrong.

"The NICS is not truly national. Only 30 states are actually fully compliant with it. Virginia is one state that refuses to participate-"

Good for Virginia!

Look, you can get cocaine, heroin illegally. Prohibitions don't work, they at most inconvenience the person seeking the prohibited item. And gun ownership is a civil right. A civil right a lot of people in the Democratic party don't like, but one a rather large portion of the US population exercise, and treasure.

My position, and it's common, is that you're only justified in going so far in impacting the exercise of a civil right, to merely inconvenience criminals. And that's not very far at all.

Try inconveniencing the criminals instead. I've already made a proposal, upthread: Mark the people deterimined to be barred from buying guns, in a very visible fashion. So that the guy selling an heirloom rifle at the flea market will know that the potential customer in front of him is a homocidal maniac or violent felon.

Would it make life hard on nuts and felons? Yeah, so what? They've earned it. Well, some of them have, but felony inflation is a separate issue. Just STOP making life harder on the vast majority who haven't earned having a civil right stripped from them.

I'm serious about this. What's your objection, somebody getting into an elevator with Von Brunn might have had a clue as to who they were volunteering to be locked up with?

Mark the people deterimined to be barred from buying guns, in a very visible fashion...Would it make life hard on nuts and felons? Yeah, so what? They've earned it.

I have a very sweet friend who has bipolar disorder. As far as I know, she has absolutely no desire to have a gun. This is fortunate, because, despite her sweetness, I would really not want her to have access to one when she was delusional, because she was having problems with her meds. Why should she should be branded because she's not suitable to own a gun? And how do you think that would make the rest of her life, which is already hard? How would you feel if everyone on the bus, in the shops, at church can look at you and judge you?

But of course, I suspect that, as common, Brett is thinking about civil rights that people like Brett ought to have, and has no worries about the rights that people unlike Brett ought to have.

"What's your objection"

Since you appear to ask in good faith, I object to mutilating or disfiguring people as a form of criminal punishment.

And even though it was not unknown in the founders' time, I suspect (and hope) that it would not survive a modern "cruel and unusual punishment" test.

I'm with AndYNot, von Brunn's weapon was apparently a plain old rifle, and I doubt he got it through the black market. My guess, FWIW, is that he bought it or traded for it through plain old private sale.

Private sale to folks who shouldn't have guns is not the biggest problem we have, but it is one that has a pretty damned simple solution.

Mark the people deterimined to be barred from buying guns, in a very visible fashion.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yeah, it's just a damned simple solution which inconveniences a hundred or so law abiding citizens, for every criminal it inconveniences. And only inconveniences the criminals.

I think it represents something sick in our legal system that it would rather infringe on the rights of the law abiding, than impose on the criminal.

"Since you appear to ask in good faith, I object to mutilating or disfiguring people as a form of criminal punishment."

So, you'd rather impose on a hundred law abiding citizens, than interfer with the fashion statement of one criminal? Ok, then, make it a neck band, or implanted RFID chip.

The point is, rather than requiring the vast majority of law abiding people to prove they're law abiding, to exercise this civil right, make the people who are barred from its exercise identifiable in some way.

We know what can go wrong with making the people who aren't barred from owning guns prove it: The system for doing so can be deliberately shut down for days at a time, at will, making it easy for the government to obstruct the exercise of a civil liberty nation-wide at the click of an icon.

That's a pretty big thing that can, and did, go wrong.

"Yeah, it's just a damned simple solution which inconveniences a hundred or so law abiding citizens, for every criminal it inconveniences."

Not sure where this is coming from, but...ok.

"And only inconveniences the criminals."

Who says you can't hold simultaneous, contradictory thoughts in your head?

"We know what can go wrong with making the people who aren't barred from owning guns prove it"

That's not what I asked, though.

The link to Greenpeace might not be that strong, but we're still talking the environmentalist movement.

There's something about this reasoning that's bothering me, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

no need for accusations of contradiction.

"and only inconveniences the criminal" means

and does not effectually prevent criminals from getting guns, only makes a temporary and ineffectual inconvenience.

you just need to take the "only" with the "inconveniences" rather than with the "criminals". it's not only criminals that it inconveniences, but, so far as the criminals go, it's only an inconvenience to their acquiring guns.

Beat me to it, KB.

Ok, Slart, what's your thing that can go wrong, that's comparable in scope to the government shutting down the nation-wide exercise of a civil liberty, (A major aspect of it, anway.) with the press of a button? Because that strikes me as a fairly big something to have go wrong, and it has happened a fair number of times since NICS was implemented. Usually over weekends with big gun shows scheduled.

Yeah, it's just a damned simple solution which inconveniences a hundred or so law abiding citizens, for every criminal it inconveniences.

I'd like a cite for that statistic, please.

The point is, rather than requiring the vast majority of law abiding people to prove they're law abiding, to exercise this civil right, make the people who are barred from its exercise identifiable in some way.

Again, every single person in this country who gets married has to get a license from their county or state in which, among other things (depending on jurisdiction), they have to attest that they are not currently married to someone else or otherwise ineligible to marry this person. Why are we inconveniencing law abiding people this way?

Again, you have, on these pages, supported requiring voters to display a state-issued photo ID at the time that they vote, despite the fact that this inconveniences mostly law-abiding, registered voters and is likely to catch next to nobody committing a crime. Can I take it you're rescinding your support for inconveniencing law-abiding voters from exercising this civil right?

Again, assuming that broadcasting is a form of "the press," in order to open a broadcast facility you have to find a clear frequency in your geographic area, conduct engineering studies (at your own expense) showing that you will not impinge on the signal of adjacent frequencies, and obtain a license from the Federal government, despite the fact that a free press is a civil right.

Ok, Slart, what's your thing that can go wrong,

With branding or mutilating felons? Well, let's see, recently we had a mob in Philadelphia beat an accused child rapist nearly to death. Let's see if we can all predict what will happen if we start branding them.

I always come back to the argument comparing legal firearms to legal automobiles - cars are recognized as potentially lethal, though people rarely use them maliciously as such. Thus, we empower the government to regulate their use. A registration, a use license, and mandatory insurance is required. If a person is determined unfit to drive (for a range of reasons) their license is taken away.

There is no current movement of people demanding their inalienable right to drive or own vehicles without government oversight. Most people probably appreciate the fact that we're attempting to keep drunk drivers off the roads, requiring inspections of cars so shitty vehicles don't fuck shit up on the freeway, requiring a certain level of vision, requiring speed limits and responsible actions, re-licensing at appropriate intervals, etc. There are no paranoids that feel that the government is out to take their car, or wants to know why they want a car, etc. If you qualify, no worries. The money is a racket, fer shure, but it's the gubmint, after all.

If one is in violation of any vehicle-related law, there are strong penalties. A moving violation can result in immediate arrest. Drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter are jailable offenses.

I've hoped that we as a nation could use this metaphor to guide the licensing of gun ownership, as guns are really much more dangerous and insidious as dangerous possessions go. If we overhauled the gun registration to be as responsible, comprehensive, and free-as-possible, then we could focus our attention on the criminal acts of owning an unregistered gun or being an unlicensed gun operator. Sorry to bring the "If you're not a criminal then you have nothing to worry about" argument, but in regard to gun control, that's how I feel.

And while I'm asking for cites, I'd like one regarding this alleged repeated, purposeful shutdowns of NICS during the Clinton administration. Because I think you are being less than truthful about it.

As noted before, the NICS process is full of loopholes. Fewer than 5% of prospective gun buyers who are turned down by the system are prosecuted. Additionally, about 5% of those who are prosecuted are convicted. Essentially, this means the NICS process is toothless.

I'd also note the following scenario: say I'm a law-abing citizen on 1 Jan and I purchase a gun from an FFL. Let's say I'm arrested and convicted of a felony on 30 Jan. There is no mechanism available to ensure I relinquish the gun I purchased earlier. In fact, there's no mechanism that tracks the fact I'm a felon and a gunowner.

at any rate, the glitchiness of a new computer system created by a bunch of federal workers is sometimes seen as evidence of typical government incompetence, rather than sinister dark plots.

Jingo, the standard answer to the gun-car comparision from the 'gunners' is that cars or similar vehicles are not mentioned in the constitution* and that they can therefore be regulated (relatively) freely while the 2nd amendment is (notoriously) interpreted as making any regulation unconstitutional.

*apart from the hidden amnendment that protects SUVs and makes it the primary duty of government to provide cheap oil ;-)

"I think it represents something sick in our legal system that it would rather infringe on the rights of the law abiding, than impose on the criminal."

I don't believe the Constitution guarantees the right to immediate ownership of arms. Requiring a background check does not infringe on the right to bear arms.

And regarding the system shutting down on weekends of big gun shows, so what. Gun shows don't fall under the law (yet) anyway. And the NRA is adamant about making sure they never do.

The shooter was a loner. I don't think he was part of any conspiracy. But I do find it interesting that he, apparently, was at least partly motivated to act now because of his belief that the Obama adminsitration was out to take guns away from everybody. This was also what prompted the individual in Pittsburgh who killed police.

This belief did not just suddenly occur to them one day. It has been hammered by the NRA and right-wing commentators like Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity. And there is absolutely no reason to believe it is true.

The standard answer is that you can buy a car at age 3, without any sort of licence or background check. That you can buy or build your own, as big or as small as you want, from a motorized unicycle to a huge bus, from a golf cart to a 600mph jet powered effort to break the land speed record. That a driver's license is a license to drive on government owned roads only, and does not apply to driving on private property.

That people who compare cars and guns really have not thought through how much more regulated the latter are already.

The standard answer is that you can buy a car at age 3, without any sort of licence or background check.

This is, of course, absolutely false, as a 3-year-old is not legally capable of holding title to real property nor of being financially liable for its operation in case of accident.

Hartmut - yeah, heard that... the extension to that is that we do regulate arms to some extent - it being illegal to own a grenade launcher, or missles, etc. The argument may be, at what point does regulation become odious? In the same way that free speech has limits (don't cry movie in a crowded firehouse), we seem to have already determined that there are limits to the second amendment. The question is, how can we maximize the rights of the second amendment while at the same time deterring the maximum amount of illegal use? This has the potentiality of being seen as a positive, as the US would seek to bring as many unregistered gun owners into the fold. Gun owners feel like they're on the fringe. If legal gun ownership becomes 'normal', then the paranoia about 'they'll take my gun away' may fade.

I know this is hopelessly naive, but I think this is the only common ground we're ever going to find on this one.

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