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February 17, 2012

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A cute map of our state-by-state differences when it comes to the worst:

http://pleated-jeans.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/The-United-States-Of-Shame-Chart/

Just to play with it, I read today at Digby's joint that the Utah legislature is going to do away with sex ed in the schools altogether unless it is abstinence-only.

Funny, that local legislative color, given that Utah, according to the map, has the highest rate of on-line porn subscriptions among the 50 states. I guess they aim to privatize, offshore, and automate sex education for their kids.

Vermont took another tack to limiting out-of-wedlock births by somehow conniving the highest infertility rates in the country.

Montana has the worst drunk-driving problem in the country, but it looks like they have the courtesy to drive to Wyoming to engage in fatal car crashes while driving drunk.

Louisiana has themselves a wicked gonorrhea problem, especially during Mardi Gras when tourists from Utah visit hepped up on porn but not knowing how to open a condom wrapper, not to mention having just passed through Colorado to get coked up.

Presumably New Jersey elected a fat guy to lower their highest tax rates in the country.
Now maybe Mississippi can elect a skinny guy to raise their low taxes to fight their obesity plague.

Washington state has the highest incidence of bestiality, but the animals in question apparently flee to Alaska, the suicide capital of the United States to kill themselves and/or vote for idiots for Governor.

North Carolina has the lowest teacher salaries, which ought to piss off Texas, which has the lowest high school graduation rates. Somehow Maine garnered the top spot in dumbness, despite their higher teacher salaries and graduation rates.

Florida has the most identity theft, which explains why Marco Rubio doesn't know what country he's from and also why most of those free Medicare scooters are being stolen from the rest of us by Tea Partiers using aliases.

South Dakota is the rape capital, Nebraska has the most violence against females, so is it any wonder that the males in those states don't settle in Oklahoma and try to mess with the highest population of female criminals, who probably kick the formers' butts if they tried anything.

They drink all day and everything in Arizona, while in Wisconsin they compress their alcoholism into short spurts of binge drinking.

Have at it.

I can't for the life of me figure why there is any difference between quartering Federal troops in a woman's vagina and quartering state militias in a woman's vagina.

Also, odd that the same political party who used Willie Horton as the centerpiece of a Presidential campaign now doesn't want Willie or his victims access to birth control AND wouldn't mind so much if the victims were forced to have Willie's unwanted babies.

Unless the victims live in Rhode Island.

States-righters: the original promoters of diversity.


I do not think that a resident of Virginia Beach or NYC or LA should be able to dictate that an Idaho rancher should live according the coastal life style.

The laws for firearms, as for many things, are quite different in ID and NY.

So, your wish has been granted.

I am a Militia of One.

OK then, what you're making makes total sense now.

I should be allowed to own any weapon system I desire if I can afford it.

You'll forgive the rest of us Militias Of One if we collectively respond with a resounding "No Freaking Way Dude".

No, avedis, you cannot have any weapon system you can afford. The 2nd Amendment does not grant you that right, and nobody occupying the same continent (or, possibly, planet) as you is interested in you having that right, either.

Nor, frankly, do I find it believable that you would be interested in any random individual US citizen having that right, either.

I don't mean to speak for you, I just don't believe you're that reckless or dumb IRL.

In Switzerland private citizens are all members of the militia/military and they keep fully automatic assualt weapons in their private residence. Works out just fine. Not as weird as you want to make it out to be.

The Swiss system is that while you are an active militia member, you keep an automatic weapon and ammunition at home.

If you use that weapon and/or ammo for anything other than military training or actually repelling an armed invasion of the nation of Switzerland while under the direct command and control of the Swiss army, your @ss is grass.

So, not quite the gun-owning nirvana you are imagining.

And no, not weird at all.

As I have said here and elsewhere on a number of occasions, IMVHO the Swiss system is extraordinarily reasonable, and I'd be delighted if we did something similar.

...but they've got a long way to go before any gun controller would want to replicate their system here.

Not so fast, Brett. Liberals need to arm. The Swiss plan looks good for that purpose, and our youngsters can work off a few calories in the bargain and spend less of their time running up burdensome student debt. Might make war less palatable to our "political class" as you call them.
;)

This is an interesting press release from ATF.

10 years for one count each of: (i)conspiracy to make a false statement or representation with respect to information required to be kept in records of a licensed firearms dealer; (ii) possession of a firearm bearing a removed or obliterated serial number; and (iii) making a false statement or representation with respect to information required to be kept in records of a licensed firearms dealer?

That seems a little harsh.

http://www.statisticstop10.com/Causes_of_Death_Kids.html

Sapeint I don't know where you get, "The incidence of children's death from guns is about the same as children's death from car accidents (circa 2003)". See the link above. circa 2002. Auto accidents far outweigh gunshot deaths. 14 gunshot deaths for a childrens' mortality rate of 0.46%. Fuel for liberal hysteria? Sure. Reality enough for serious policy making? Not really.

"No, avedis, you cannot have any weapon system you can afford. The 2nd Amendment does not grant you that right..."

Hmmm. So my militia can't have these weapons but Blackwater and similar private org.s can?

What's up with that?

Personally, I'd draw the line at tactical nuclear weapons.

Avedis,
The sovereign state may piece out some of its monopoly of force on a contract basis to a designated private actor. It is subject to withdrawal at any time.

But you have to apply. I'm sure there's a form somewhere.

Ah, the "Weberian" definition of the state, which typically gets thrown out with no recognition that it is fundamentally contested.

That's the European concept of the state, which was consciously repudiated here in America, where the people are viewed as the sovereign, who partially and contingently delegate some of THEIR sovereignty to the state, not the other way 'round. "Novus ordo seclorum", a new order for the ages.

You really can't understand either the Declaration of Independence, or the 2nd amendment, if you're determined to view the state from a European, fundamentally statist, standpoint.

"The sovereign state may piece out some of its monopoly of force........"

So you agree then that gun control is all about preserving monopoly force and perhaps less about the Bill of Rights however interpreted?

Good.

Agreed. The line should be drawn at tactical nukes.

Excellent point Bre. That's what I'm talking about.

However I am afraid you used too many commas.

"Bre" is, of course, Brett... Don't know why it cut off my name.

I'm more than a bit of an originalist, which I regard as essentially a form of intellectual honesty: That's just how you interpret texts, unless you're determined to arrive at a meaning you find congenial regardless of where the text actually takes you. Which is just intellectually dishonest. Sophistry doesn't have a bad enough rep anymore, because it's so convenient for a government that doesn't like it's constitution.

From an originalist perspective, the 2nd amendment isn't so much about hunting and target shooting, (Those would have naturally fallen under the unenumerated rights of the Ninth amendment.) as it is about making sure that a militia can be raised at need even if the government doesn't want it to be possible.

To that end, the people are guaranteed the right to own and carry "arms", which was understood to mean, in http://davekopel.org/2a/LawRev/hk-coxe.htm>Tenche Coxe's words, "Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier..."

That is to say, we have a right to own and practice with whatever weaponry is normally carried by soldiers. Nothing too terrible for the government is too terrible for the people, because such rights as the government has, it can only have gotten from the people.

In short, if the government doesn't want machine guns to be "arms", it has to stop issuing them to it's troops.

Further, I'll note that the federal government actually has no constitutional authority to ban ANYTHING, anything at all, outside of the District of Columbia, and such land as it has purchased with the permission of state governments. So, no, the federal government can't ban nukes.

State governments could, of course, as they aren't carried by soldiers, and so don't fall under the 2nd amendment. But that's no consolation to liberals, because liberals don't really conceive of state governments as real, somehow. Anything worth doing has to be done at the federal level...

Aw cripes!

We cede the tactical nukes, tanks, interplanetary laser weapons, and rail guns to the government and we the people get to keep the shotguns, the hunting rifles, the handguns, and the derringers so we can shoot each other in darkened upstairs hallways without a "who goes there?" or spray a little automatic gunfire around the public square.

That we humor each other over the inside joke that it might be substantially any other way here or in Europe is one hell of a time waster but yet another reason to expand bandwidth.

I'd vote today to withdraw my assent to government force. Disarm the government, including the IRS and all local and state law enforcement. Disband the military. Find Eric Prince and give the vermin a desk job and return the Blackwater "campuses" to wildlife refuges.

Let see how that works.

Meanwhile, Wayne La Pierre sows fear among squirrel hunters which leaves only the squirrels wondering why so many commas were wasted on keeping their murderers in business.

And quite frankly his demagogic support for concealed carry in bars, public buildings, churches, etc has me wondering whether I just shouldn't start the shooting to roust out the assh*les who think they need to carry a weapon in my presence while I'm carrying out whatever business I have in any of the above mentioned venues.

Why exactly do Second Amendment purists cling to the impure, ridiculous, muddled phrasing of the Second Amendment?

How about a rewrite. You get one comma and a lengthy footnote listing the specific weaponry an American citizen may possess .... in 2012.

Have at it. Flamethrowers better be on the list.

"Why exactly do Second Amendment purists cling to the impure, ridiculous, muddled phrasing of the Second Amendment?"

Because it's the highest law of the land. Already the highest law of the land. And we see no reason to shift the burden from you repealing it, to us getting it reenacted.

Would I have written it differently in the first instance? Likely not, were I a member of that generation, as I'd have been writing to the standards of that time's punctuation and style.

The amendment is not particularly hard to understand, for people who are not at pains to fail the task.

Fine.

In which case, all, (wo)me$n R created(;) e=qual?

Which era's customary punctuation and diction is that?

let's just ban abortions and birth control along with certain weapons and cannabis. OK?

Ok!

So, no, the federal government can't ban nukes.

See, for a lefty, I am basically a second amendment hawk. IMVHO it's sound, constitutionally and otherwise, to not allow a ban on the ownership of firearms. Again IMVHO, the 2nd Amendment was written to ensure that private citizens would have guaranteed access to firearms. Further, IMVHO the context in which the 2nd Amendment was written was one in which there was a justifiable suspicion of standing armies, and a concern that military force not be exclusively available to the federal government.

Shorter me: I am far from hostile to the idea that private citizens should have constitutionally guaranteed access to firearms, not least because it creates a counterbalance or bulwark against a tyrannical central government.

It doesn't bug me at all that there are 200 million firearms in private hands in this country.

If I were a hard core 2nd Amendment advocate, I would seize upon this as the best available olive branch. If you are looking, in any way shape or form, for common ground, that is about as good as it is going to get.

That said, when folks talk about "a militia of one", or "the federal government has no authority to ban nuclear weapons", I have to say that you have left me behind.

If you are not operating under, and are not responsible to, the authority of the government of the state you live in, you do not meet the constitutional definition of a militia. You may be an individual, or a group of individuals, who like to shoot guns and play soldier. But you are not a militia.

If you think that the federal government has no rightful authority to ban the private ownership of nuclear weapons, you are straight up living on a different planet from me, and not one I care to visit let alone live on.

In short, it's an interesting hypothetical point, perhaps one that would be fun to bat around in the grad student lounge while passing the bong around, but IRL it's freaking insane.

And I mean no personal disrespect to Brett when I say this, because quite frankly I both enjoy and value his perspective here.

But if following the logical consequences of your point of view leads you to the point where the personal ownership of nuclear weapons is an option, you may want to think about walking that back a bit.

I mean, seriously, WT freaking F?!?

As always, my two cents.

Regarding Blackwater, since you ask, I would like to see that outfit broken up and sold for parts, and Eric Prince behind bars. Outsourcing military and/or diplomatic security functions is horsesh*t.

A cute map of our state-by-state differences when it comes to the worst:

I can, and am quite willing to, personally attest and affirm that MA, my state of residence, has the worst freaking drivers in the United States of America.

Utter and complete crap drivers, rudely and aggressively so. Intentionally and determinedly bad. It's a point of pride.

Your typical NYC cabbie is, head and shoulders, a superior driver when compared to the average MA motorist.

Well, whether a second amendment hawk or dove, I do like to remain reality based: "Citing the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report reveals that 2,827 children and teens died as a result of gun violence in 2003 more than the number of American fighting men and women killed in hostile action in Iraq from 2003 to April 2006."

Walking, talking, breathing people can't have their brains blown out by abortion, birth control, or cannibis.

Hey, let's ban certain types of abortion, birth control or cannibis, but leave the safest and most useful types, the vast majority of types of those things, readily available. (Analogies are fun!)

"If you are not operating under, and are not responsible to, the authority of the government of the state you live in, you do not meet the constitutional definition of a militia. You may be an individual, or a group of individuals, who like to shoot guns and play soldier. But you are not a militia."

Indeed, this is true, and I frequently commented back in the early '90's, that if the federal government had really wanted to deal with the militia movement in a way so constitutionally sound that they couldn't put up the least argument, they would have simply said, "Fine, you're a militia. We hereby appoint the following officers to run you."

But, of course, the problem was they didn't particularly care whether anything they did was constitutionally sound, which was part of why there was a militia movement in the first place.

This does not, of course, change the fact that the 2nd amendment guarantees a right of the people, not the militia. Because, of course, if it did the latter, the government could negate the amendment by just not HAVING a militia, which possiblity was just exactly what the amendment was supposed to deal with: A government that didn't want a militia.

After all, a well regulated militia may be necessary to the security of a free state, but the state doesn't necessarily want that freedom to be secure.

Sapient, it is well worth remembering, when you read statistics like that, that the group "children and teenagers" includes criminals who happen to be eightteen or nineteen, and who are generally viewed as adults. Who make up by far the majority of those deaths, which is they're not broken out by particular ages in gun controller statistics.

Suffice to say that, when one gangbanger old enough to vote or join the army kills another gangbanger old enough to vote or join the army, and gun controllers weep about the accidental death of a "child", I am unimpressed. You want to save children from accidental deaths, there's lower hanging fruit, like, say, banning bathtubs.

sapient the majority of those killed in your reference statistic are teens. Only like 50 +/- are children. The teens overwhelmingly involved in shootings associated with gangster and other criminal lifestyles. So what killed them? Guns or criminality? Or that and a host of social ills.

As much as I am for legalized drugs I am sure drug abuse has killed per annum at least as many youths but probably also was a feature - probably a contributing feature - in the gun deaths you cite.

I am not at all impressed or moved by your dead shot children gambit.

"Walking, talking, breathing people can't have their brains blown out by abortion, birth control, or cannibis."

Says you. Other people say that cannabis will definitely scramble your brains and that abortions literally scramble a child's brain.

You guys are looking for rational arguments as to why you should be free to have the things you want while still denying others the freedom to have what they want. Doesn't work. For the Constituion to work it needs to apply to everyone at all times and it needs to be left free from interest group interpretation.

...and it needs to be left free from interest group interpretation.

It is heartwarming to watch Avedis and Brett devolve to anarchism over the course of this discussion. pffft! Who needs federalism? Sovereignty by any other name is merely another lie to perpetuate oppression! Moving it from the federal to the state level does nothing to address the overarching problem.....the fact that the state itself is inherently immoral.

Property is theft!
Workers of the world unite!
Power To The People!
One big union, One big Strike!

Welcome to my world!


Russell: Are those MA drivers really that bad?

There was an era in my life that I would have traded a tactical nuke for a pound of good maryjane, but I got over it.

I think the Taliban, in fact, trade their poppy crops for any kind of high-powered weaponry they can get their hands on out there on the true free market we all aspire to.

What, a guy can't request a simple rewrite of an amendment without being accused of gun-grabbing?

How about adopting the haiku form for all of the Amendments.

Or maybe e.e. cummings style with the words arrayed all over the page.

If I have time in my busy blogging schedule I might try rewriting the Amendments in the hilarious mode of those lists of do's and don't's (feral apostrophes) the traveler finds on cheap Chinese hotel room doors.

Or maybe in the soporific style of the instructional assembly manuals that come with any number of kid's toys under the Christmas tree or unfinished furniture with the diagrams of nine different types of screws and locknuts.

Really, I'm surprised those skeptical of government (which, at OBWI, is just about everyone, but each to their own tastes) haven't reacted to the odd phraseology and punctuation of the Second Amendment as they do to nearly all written government pronouncements: How many addled bureaucrats did take it take to write this crap? It seems to change directions more often than Donald Trump's combover. But what do you expect from a bunch of unelected elitist, snuff-driven bureaucrats meeting in private to decide for us what kind of government THEY decide is going to be shoved down our throats."

See, if the Founders had written the documents in an online forum, we would have been arguing in court for the last 235 years about why, why, for what earthly reason, did they put EVERY word, comma, and jot in italics.

Department of manipulative statistics, sapient, that one is a doozy.

First its definition of children is 2-19, but its photo sets focus on toddlers.

Second it includes suicides, apparently under the theory that people can't kill themselves without guns? (Ask Europe about that one btw, or Japan with its much higher suicide rate and much lower gun ownership rate).

Third, in typical fashion 6 of their 8 points don't even address the largest component of gun death--gang violence (which BTW is largely fueled by drug money that wouldn't be so easily available under legalization regimes) and the two they have are really pie in the sky idealistic. Also that violence tends to be by the 17-19 year component of the statistic, less children, more adult.

Interestingly I would tend to suggest that drug legalization would reduce those statistics more quickly and with less government intrusiveness than trying to create yet another status/possession crime.

Trying to enforce large scale possession crimes is exactly what is corroding our civil rights vis-a-vis the police in this country. I'm not thrilled with the idea of ADDING to that rather than subtracting from it.

That is a policy preference that has nothing to do with federalism. But it illustrates Brett's point about how centralization of rules is a gamble, it spreads out bad rules which wouldn't have taken root everywhere.

"But it illustrates Brett's point about how centralization of rules is a gamble, it spreads out bad rules which wouldn't have taken root everywhere."

Aside from your questionable use of commas I agree with this statement completely Sebastian.

"Department of manipulative statistics, sapient, that one is a doozy."

Exactly. There is more than a hint of disingenuous argument when someone as intelligent and adept as sapient misuses statistics in this manner.

But what do you expect from a bunch of unelected elitist, snuff-driven bureaucrats meeting in private to decide for us what kind of government THEY decide is going to be shoved down our throats."

Insofar as they insured the soundness of their loans to the Continental Congress to pay for the Revolutionary War, they succeeded admirably.

Says you. Other people say that cannabis will definitely scramble your brains and that abortions literally scramble a child's brain.

Okay. So you're disputing the fact that guns can blow people's brains out, literally, whereas those other things cannot, by citing some people's subjective characterizations. Yet, I'm one of the people searching for a rationalization.

I doubt even the most conservative of judges would support your completely absolute and absurd interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Say "la vee."

"So you're disputing the fact that guns can blow people's brains out, literally, whereas those other things cannot, by citing some people's subjective characterizations. Yet, I'm one of the people searching for a rationalization."

Huh? WTF?

I am just saying that some people say that abortion is murder and some people say that drugs will fry your brain and kill you just as dead as a gun; albeit more slowly.

You don't like to have these people's opinions turned into law because your disagree with them.

Your disagreement does not make them wrong.

Abortion, after all, does end a life jusdt as surely as a gun does. The humaness of that life that is ended is the subject of endless debate, but it is a life of some sort nonethe less.

People do die from drug related conditions and accidents or more directly from overdoeses etc. Just as dead as if shot in the head by a gun.

You and I are ok with these risks and ethicical questions - though honestly i am almost on the fence regarding abortion - and therefore want people to be free to make their own choices.

You are not ok with guns. I don't know why and it doesn't matter. What does matter is that if you are not ok with something you want to restrict other people's freedom. I am not ok with that aspect of your approach because honestly I don't see where you are any different from those seeking to ban abortions and wage war on drugs.

You are not for freedom as per the Constitution. You are for imposing your brand of liberal agenda.

You are not ok with guns. I don't know why and it doesn't matter. What does matter is that if you are not ok with something you want to restrict other people's freedom.

Therein lies the rub. Saying I'm not ok with guns may or may not be accurate. What I'm not ok with is an absolute interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that allows anyone to have any weapon that can be produced. The reason I'm not ok with that is because I see the potential for one person to violate the rights of and restrict the freedoms of others. If you could only hurt yourself with a given weapon, it wouldn't matter a wit to me if you had it.

The funny thing about this whole discussion is that I don't really have a strong opinion one way or the other about existing gun laws because I haven't really examined them very closely. You may be able to convince me that most of them are unconstitutional, or at least unnecessary. I don't have a great desire to see people denied access to guns just for the sake of denying people access to guns.

I just see some serious problems with your absolute way of viewing gun rights in that it ignores other rights, as though the right to keep and bear arms trumps all others, even if only potentially.

But I live on the coast.

I'm bi-coastal, which really gets the geographical originalists up in arms.

The sh*t really flys in fly-over country.

Isn't it interesting that three people managed to gainsay sapient in the exact same manner without even attempting to provide a single cite? Not saying they are or are not correct, but we're just supposed to, I guess, inherently trust them for some reason. Despite at least one of them having gotten one easily discernible fact fabulously wrong in this discussion already, and another having a history of being … a unique interpreter of history.

You want a cite for the fact that "children and teens" includes 18 and 19 year olds? Or you just doubt that the firearm death rate for 17-19 is higher than for 4 year olds?

Ok, seriously, when you've been fending off a sh*t-storm of fraudulent and misleading stats for years, you tend to forget that somebody who isn't on the receiving end might want proof those are turds, not tootsie rolls.

http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvacci.html>GunCite- Gun Accidents

Or, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/guns.htm>Gun Safety for Kids and Youth

From the latter:

"Of the total firearms-related deaths:

73 were of children under five years old
416 were children 5-14 years old
2,896 were 15-19 years old"

http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdgaga.html>Betcha think a gun in the house is 43 times more likely to kill somebody in the house than an intruder, too. ;)

"The reason I'm not ok with that is because I see the potential for one person to violate the rights of and restrict the freedoms of others. "

Yeah. Me too. That one person (or entity) is the govt.

Another is the criminal that seeks to harm me or my loved ones.

http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html

A link off of Brett's link is really interesting. It speaks to how often guns are used defensively against an attacker. Apparently happens much more frequently than even I thought.

Regarding your specific concerns, avedis, how big of a personal arsenal would you need to thwart the government or a criminal? And how much risk should your arsenal be allowed to pose to others before your rights begin to encroach on theirs?

But, again, I don't have any specific limits in mind. I would guess that you'd be able to have about as much as you could possibly need for practical purposes if I were the King of Gun Laws.

"....how big of a personal arsenal would you need to thwart the government or a criminal? "

I guess up to and including the Jihadist have. Seems to thawrt the worlds greatest militaries very effectively.

"Isn't it interesting that three people managed to gainsay sapient in the exact same manner without even attempting to provide a single cite? "

I read and quoted from his cite...

I don't have a great desire to see people denied access to guns just for the sake of denying people access to guns.

I agree. But you would think that asking people to register their guns, or be required to take "gun safety ed," or to be restricted (at all) in the amount of damage that one emotionally disturbed person can do in a 5 minute period - you know, kind of like driving is restricted to people who have proved that they have reached a certain age, can see the road, and know how to operate the car - you would think that these minor safety requirements would just "kill" people.

I said upthread that I knew a kid who killed another kid with a gun. But upon further reflection, I knew that kid when I was a kid. Since I've been grown I can think of at least 2 other people I've met who, when kids, killed another kid with a gun. I also knew personally two women who was killed by their husbands with a gun: one case was murder; in the other, the man was exonerated - he was just "cleaning his gun." Yeah, right.

Anyway, guns are a very quick way for people who have volatile tempers to act out impulsive aggression with very deadly results. I have conceded that people who agree with me on this issue have lost the battle, and it's not something that I even think about much anymore. Except that Virginia is now being run by people who don't respect any aspect of the Constitution other than their interpretation of the Second Amendment. Despite the fact that the VA Tech shooting happened here (most of these victims were probably 19 or over, so I guess they should have been packing heat themselves), there is a refusal to concede that automatic weapons just aren't a great thing for everyone to have.

Again, I'm done with this battle. My side has lost. But nobody's going to be changing my mind anytime soon about whether people should have these kinds of weapons.

Sorry, Brett, I'm not going to click links to issue advocacy sites that, if I were to proffer some pet-issue equivalent, you would dismiss out of hand as hopelessly biased. I'm sure you understand.

I believe the Second Amendment is an individual right. I believe in a right to self defense. I believe in a right to own a firearm for protection or hunting or sport or whatever. (I nearly bought one myself after we had a break-in last year before reason got the better of me and the words "horse" and "barn door" came to mind.)

But I don't believe that people should be able to have whatever size and capacity ordnance they want, whenever they want, up to and including weapons of mass destruction. I believe there are significant social ills that result and need to be taken into account, because you don't know who the bad guys are until they become bad guys. (Like the Cleveland firefighter who, a couple of years ago, shot three of his neighbors dead in cold blood on the Fourth of July. He had 12 guns in his house.) And you'd better believe that I cast a skeptical eye at people who are vocally anti-government (and have short tempers, a propensity for misattributing blame, paranoia and/or stated frequent alcohol and drug use) and who are enthusiastic about getting as many guns with high-capacity magazines as I can. I'd let my 16 year old nephew have a gun before I'd let them have one.

And, in the interest of fairness, here's a defensive gun use from my own city from just yesterday: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2012/02/duplex_owner_wounds_young_intr.html

I guess up to and including the Jihadist have.

The 9/11 guys came to the table with box cutters and some martial arts training.

Not making any particular point here, just an observation.

And you'd better believe that I cast a skeptical eye at people who are vocally anti-government ... and who are enthusiastic about getting as many guns with high-capacity magazines as I can.

I am with Phil on this.

My druthers, open carrying hand guns and assault rifles, along with signs explaining how the 'tree of liberty' needs to be 'watered', to open political meetings would result in forfeit of your right to keep and carry.

IMVHO that behavior is nothing more or less than explicit physical intimidation. It is, precisely, brownshirtism.

So, folks who are inclined to engage in that behavior should be happy that the current powers that be are more accommodating of them than I would ever be.

"...that the current powers that be are more accommodating..."

You guys still have it backwards. The govt doesn't get to dole out rights to us as it sees fit. Quite the opposite. We give the govt power as we see fit. Ideally in very limited amounts and in very limited situations.

You can live free and accept that freedom can be messy and even a little bit dangerous or you can abdicate your freedom to the govt for the false promise and illusion of safety. You guys have chosen the latter where guns are involved. I choose the former.

Where drugs are concerned we are on the same page because drugs don't scare you as much as guns and therefore you don't seek the protective skirt hems of the govt.

Any time we are fearful and give the govt power to "protect" us from what we fear we create a host of problems with long term ramifications. Among these problems is that once given power the govt grows proportionally more dictatorial and more greedy. It never returns what it was given. Precedents are created. The police state expands.

You guys have chosen the latter where guns are involved.

It seems you're not reading very closely, unless the only way not to choose the latter is to believe there can be no restrictions on or regulation of weapons possession whatsoever. I'd also say the freedom you seek is illusory. There's really no way you're going to stop the government if it is truly determined to disarm or kill you, and it's highly unlikely that such would be the case in the first place. It seems to me a weird, paranoid fantasy.

As far as criminals go, a shotgun would probably be sufficient, not that I think you should be limited only to having a shotgun (read twice if necessary).

The messy part of your stated version of freedom just happens to involve a lack of freedom for other people, but you either don't see that or don't care. Liberty!

In my local news, 14 of the 16 indictments handed down by the grand jury were drug charges. None involved weapons charges.

link

"Sorry, Brett, I'm not going to click links to issue advocacy sites that, if I were to proffer some pet-issue equivalent, you would dismiss out of hand as hopelessly biased. I'm sure you understand."

Phil, the second link was to the http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/guns.htm>University of Michigan Health System. While I don't suppose I'd go so far as to describe them as "utterly unbiased", to describe them as an "issue advocacy site" does seem a bit much, especially since, to the extent that they have a bias on the subject, it's closer to yours than mine.

I 'understand', I simply don't approve of people who ask for cites, and then reject them without even clicking on them. Apparently without even affording them mouseovers, given your rejection of that one.

"There's really no way you're going to stop the government if it is truly determined to disarm or kill you...."

I disagree. I'd say the Taliban has done a pretty good job of stopping the best of the US Mil.; just as their predecessors, the Muj, did to the Russians.

Ditto the Viet Cong.

Chechnyans versus Russians....so so, but at least gave it a fighting chance.

Should I go on with examples?

"it's highly unlikely that such would be the case in the first place. It seems to me a weird, paranoid fantasy."

Well, it's not something I sit around thinking about much less losing sleep over. In fact, prior to this thread I probably had not thought about since before the last thread of similar content either here or somewhere else and that was a long while ago. You really have too many stereotypes popping up in your head when it comes to gun issues. However, let's ask 6 million Jews how much of a paranoid fantasy it is. How about 1.5 million Armenians? How about 10 million +/- Russian "enemies" of Stalin et al.? Cambodian enemies of Pol Pot? .........?

It can't happen here because....well.....it just can't....? Is that going to be your response?

"There's really no way you're going to stop the government if it is truly determined to disarm or kill you...."

I disagree. I'd say the Taliban has done a pretty good job of stopping the best of the US Mil.; just as their predecessors, the Muj, did to the Russians.

Ditto the Viet Cong.

Chechnyans versus Russians....so so, but at least gave it a fighting chance.

Should I go on with examples?

"it's highly unlikely that such would be the case in the first place. It seems to me a weird, paranoid fantasy."

Well, it's not something I sit around thinking about much less losing sleep over. In fact, prior to this thread I probably had not thought about since before the last thread of similar content either here or somewhere else and that was a long while ago. You really have too many stereotypes popping up in your head when it comes to gun issues. However, let's ask 6 million Jews how much of a paranoid fantasy it is. How about 1.5 million Armenians? How about 10 million +/- Russian "enemies" of Stalin et al.? Cambodian enemies of Pol Pot? .........?

It can't happen here because....well.....it just can't....? Is that going to be your response?

I agree, it's not a topic I've given a lot of thought since the government stopped burning it's own citizens alive. Did give it a lot of thought back then, though.

At present, the armed population of the US has the entire US military outnumbered about 30 to one. Assuring that was, according to founders' statements, largely the point of the 2nd amendment, so I'd say it has, despite the worst efforts of gun controllers, worked pretty well.

With such a huge disparity of numbers, even assuming that a civil war didn't lead to large parts of the military switching sides, (There are select forces which could probably be counted on to fire on Americans, but you wouldn't want to rely on most units being willing.) and assuming US ground forces won every single engagement, the US going to war with it's own population would be a losing proposition. And that's even setting aside the fact that the military needs to be supported by the very country it would be attacking, and so would be faced with a logistics nightmare. It's not like you can expect to win a war carpet bombing your own cities...

Again, this is as planned, the point of having an armed populace is to take the military being able to effectively subjugate it off the table.

The most likely scenario pitting the US military against the nation's armed citizens would be some President deciding that he was going to make a real effort to forcibly disarm the country. I have a hard time imagining even the most virulently anti-gun President being that stupid. But, again, that's not to say they don't have their daydreams, only to say that deterrence works. But it works only because we spent decades fighting the gun control movement's efforts to reduce the number of gun owners by attrition to the point where it might have been feasible.

So, in short, I don't see the government trying to use violence to disarm Americans, and terror didn't work out so well when they tried it. They're back to resorting to subterfuge, and handicapped more than a little by the fact that they have to lie about what they're up to throughout most of the country.

But an ambition thwarted is not the same as lack of ambition, and those of us who fought in the political trenches over the last few decades to beat back the gun control movement have little interest in humoring people who think they were nice folks only interested in reasonable regulation.

They weren't, and aren't.

It seems to be true, that while a human can be intelligent,
mankind as a group are stupid lemmings one follows the other .
group thinking, and the milgrim experiments prove this.

when expanded powers of the government are opened due to a flimsey case, then the door to total state control has already been opened. Our lives are now on servers, cameras etc all getting compilied - for what? not in our individual or even marginal best interest.

Germany had such a record system, history played that one out.

It is only a matter of time before all our private lives, individual freedoms are long gone, if not already lost and we are too ignorant to know it.

So all the guns vs no guns is all a moot point.
those who want guns and amo will have it ,
black market items may well fund a new economy that favors others than the 1% new markests will about.

I disagree.

Well, not so fast. HSH seems to be placing this issue in the context of the individual as opposed to the state or the yin/yang of freedom amid a sea of others (i.e., society) and their rights.

You assert an undivided universal right to arm yourself to the teeth because of the possibility of....black helicopters?

To bolster your case you cite....civil wars. It strikes me that civil wars are situations where armed combatants, acting in highly disciplined (yo! freedom!), armed groups inflict inhumane violence on each other to determine ultimate sovereignty. 'We The People' is nice, but sometimes there are more than one version of just which of us constitute the 'We' part.

Under normal circumstances, this is not an issue. We are not in conditions of civil war or anarchy. Sane gun regulations under such conditions is not evil. The aggregation of unrestrained gun ownership has rather obvious implications for social tranquility (Wyatt Earp, which see).

And also please be advised that if the civil war comes, you will have all the opportunity you could possibly ever desire to join your side and fire weapons. It's pretty much the way things roll when that happens....as your historical examples so aptly demonstrate.

Regarding the confiscation of commas, turns out there were two versions of the Second Amendment, one version ratified by Congress and one ratified by the States at the time.

So, it was rewritten with fewer commas, apparently without informing anyone to this day. Samuel Adams was said to have drunkenly accosted fellow patriots in the Boston pubs patting the pockets of his waistcoat and demanding the return of the two missing commas, or else.

From Wikipedia:

"There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with slight capitalization and punctuation differences, found in the official documents surrounding the adoption of the Bill of Rights.[5] One version was passed by the Congress,[6] while another is found in the copies distributed to the States[7] and then ratified by them.

As passed by the Congress:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.[8]

The original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights, approved by the House and Senate, was prepared by scribe William Lambert and resides in the National Archives."

By my count, that's a two to one ratio of Federal government commas over state commas.

Federal and State periods were in balance from the get-go -- one each.

I see no provision at any level for individual possession of semi-colons, question marks, exclamation points, or quotation marks.

I knew a guy once who kept colons in locked storage for special occasions, but I heard through the grapevine that his punctuation armory blew up before he could use them on the government or individuals out to get him.

You could see the smoke cloud from miles away.

He lost a testicle and some livestock.

You guys have chosen the latter where guns are involved.

The folks disagreeing with you on whether any or all ordinance should be available to private citizens represent a quite broad spectrum of opinion.

There is no "you guys" who have chosen anything in particular.

You react to the phrase "the powers that be". The powers that be are in that position because a lot of people voted for them.

You may view a prohibition on private ownership of, frex, machine guns as a crazy power grab on the part of an unaccountable tyrannical state.

I, personally, view it as a government implementing the will of the people, in the interest of the people.

There aren't that many people in this country who are interested in the widespread ownership of machine guns, let alone hand grenades, bazookas, etc.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees that private citizens can keep and bear arms. In this country, private citizens can, in fact, keep and bear arms.

So, mission accomplished. Well done, founders.

If the requirements to keep and carry that are in effect in NY, or MA, or CA, or wherever, are not to your taste, and it's that important to you, I'd say don't live there.

It's a free country, you can live anywhere you like.

See, federalism!

I note and am in general agreement with Brett's comments on the Waco and Ruby Ridge raids, and also on Bloomberg's enforcement of NYC rules on people who happen to be stuck in the airport for reasons not of their choosing.

All of those things suck. IMVHO.

I'll also chime in to say that I wish we had the 2nd Amendment text what was presented to the states. It is coherent English, unlike the text passed by Congress.

Damned commas.

Ahem.

Three commas for the Federal government and one for the states.

Three to one ratio.

My bias regarding commas, like that regarding guns, is the fewer the better.

So, just by doing an accurate count, we aren't as overly comma'd as previously estimated.

Headed in the right direction.

security of the state can be from enemies foreign AND domestic

Russel, punctuation was rather informal at that time, with commas being placed wherever you thought somebody was going to pause for a breath. Perhaps the 2nd amendment was transcribed by somebody with a breathing disorder?

"You may view a prohibition on private ownership of, frex, machine guns as a crazy power grab on the part of an unaccountable tyrannical state.

I, personally, view it as a government implementing the will of the people, in the interest of the people."

The government is, purportedly, implementing the will of the people, in the interest of the people, any time it legislates on any topic. Abortion, say. Or whether you can buy pornography. The reason we have a constitution is to require that will to be tempered on some topics.

"There aren't that many people in this country who are interested in the widespread ownership of machine guns, let alone hand grenades, bazookas, etc."

Funny thing, you make it virtually impossible to get a license to do something, prohibit items manufactured more recently than the 1980s from being sold, and impose a 10,000% tax on the ones you do permit sale of, and demand for just about anything goes down.

I have no particular interest in having a machine gun under the current legal environment, (Couldn't afford to keep it fed...) though were the law more reasonable, a select fire semi-auto weapon would be no more pricy than the semi-auto version, and why wouldn't there be demand for more options at the same price?

Indeed, were the law more reasonable, it wouldn't be illegal to sell guns with noise suppressors, (Which, Hollywood to the contrary, don't reduce the noise to a quiet "thwip", just to a level which won't cause deafness.) and the incidence of deafness among gun owners would decline substantially. But I guess it's just the will of the people that gun owners suffer deafness for their choice of hobby.

Just curious, Brett. What hobby thing would you be shooting at with a machine gun? Is there machine gun target shooting? Blowing away many, many animals at once? What kind of hobby is it to kill massive numbers of (defenseless in the face of machine gun fire) creatures? Again, just wondering since it's not a "hobby" I can imagine enjoying in my wildest dreams or nightmares.

In his 2/24 11:30 post, Seb talked about the authors of the Constitution trying to find a balance. I think that's exactly right.

IMVHO, we currently have a reasonable balance between the right of people who are interested in owning a firearm being able to own one, and the right of everyone, including folks who are gun owners, to live with a reasonable level of safety and general public order.

Not all gun owners are responsible. Not all gun owners are even all that sane. Not all gun owners understand how to safely manage, handle, and operate the firearms they already own.

Some people are violent, reckless, and/or stupid. Do you want to institute a "not violent reckless or stupid" test for prospective gun owners?

I'm guessing the answer is "no".

So yeah, I think it's a good idea to not let private individuals own machine guns.

As Brett notes upthread, the current very wide distribution of firearms among the population, along with the natural disinclination of the military to attack their own countrymen and women, makes it unlikely that our own military will be used against us.

Mission accomplished.

I guess it's just the will of the people that gun owners suffer deafness for their choice of hobby.

As an aside, when I practice drums I either wear sound-isolating headphones or rifle range ear protectors.

When I play loud gigs I have a set of db-reducing ear plugs that I wear. I got mine from my audiologist, they weren't terribly expensive.

I'm sure these things are available to gun hobbyists as well.

Back in the day, commas were inserted to let the out-of-breath take a moment to compose themselves.

Semi-colons were inserted to permit those with consumption, those gasping for air as a result of sexual innuendo brought up in company, those Founders who hyperventilated over whether or not taxation should be opposed even WITH representation, and the Barney Fifes among the populace patting their pockets frantically for their bullet in case an American Indian should show up at the fence line with a Trojan Turkey to retire to their beds until the next Circuit Judge passed through.

Periods are self-explanatory. The speaker was dead.

In the event of a question mark, a mirror was held up to the speaker's mouth and someone ran off to invent ice in a kind of Ted Williams let's save the head option in case Abner Doubleday required a batting coach.

Say this comment to yourself in the voice of Edward Everett Horton and consider Henry Ford's words that "History is Bunk".

"Is there machine gun target shooting?"

Well, duh, of course there is. For people who can afford that much ammo, anyway. I hear it's a blast, something like the rush from driving a drag racer.

Mind, you probably figure the government could reasonably ban drag racers, too; Too dangerous for driving to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk, after all.

And the sound level of a firearm discharging in your hand is sufficiently high that neglecting to wear ear protection even once can permanently degrade your hearing. But I suppose you're right, it makes perfect sense to require an FBI background check and $150 tax to own the $1.50 gun equivalent of a muffler.

A funny story about stupid government stuff. On the drum tip, not guns.

A buddy of mine back in college days sent away to India for a set of tabla. Tabla are the drums used in classical Indian music, at that time it was hard to find them in the US.

So, the guy gets a call from customs. The drums are being held in NJ, and they want to know what's in them. One drum is basically a large metal bowl, the other is a wooden cylinder, and they're sealed by the skin heads, which are held in place by about a million leather straps.

Customs, of course, is curious because the wooden drum is kinda heavy, heavier than you might expect, and they come from some obscure corner of India, and they look like they'd hold a lot of whatever you might put in them, and they smell kinda funky.

Who wouldn't want to know what was inside?

So, says the customs guy, if you don't mind, we just want to cut those leather covers off so we can take a peek. Is that OK?

Buddy jumps in the car and high-tails it to the Port Authority to rescue his gear before the customs morons can turn it into a useless pile of metal, wood, and shredded hide.

So, yeah, government is a PITA. The alternative sucks, too, only more so.

Full automatic fire is not all that accurate in shoulder fired rifles/carbines. It is best for suppressive fire during fire and manuever tactics. It is best for this Mil application.

If the purpose of the 2nd ammendment is to help keep tyranny in check then citizens should be able to own weapons comparable to what is available to the govt. Otherwise, no need. Yet, ownership could still be a right without any other purpose that enjoyment (i.e. pursuit of hapiness). Full auto fire can be a blast.

So, the guy gets a call from customs.

That was nice, anyway.

In other news, another day, another mass shooting.

"Russel, punctuation was rather informal at that time, with commas being placed wherever you thought somebody was going to pause for a breath. "

This is . . . not true. I don't know a more polite way to put it.

I mean, for one thing, have you never read a novel from the same period? For another, do you honestly think the writers believed someone could say "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" without breathing, but not "A well-regulated militia?"

Stick to engineering. Whenever you delve into issues of writing and language and syntax it's just bad for everyone.

"IMVHO, we currently have a reasonable balance between the right of people who are interested in owning a firearm being able to own one, and the right of everyone, including folks who are gun owners, to live with a reasonable level of safety and general public order."

I think so too, which is why I don't really understand how gun control or the lack thereof is supposed to be a counter-example in our system. First, if you want something to be considered Constitutionally important, amend the Constitution and stick it in there. Guns are so there are Constitutional minimums that the states have to deal with.

My point remains that the balance has shifted really really far toward the "federal government makes rules in any area it wants" zone and that there are lots of issues where there is no good reason for that.

and that there are lots of issues where there is no good reason for that.

...back on topic again...won't you ever cease? And "lots"? "Lots"? Really?

Reel off twenty or so. Should be easy, neh?
(really want to get off this gun discussion...). Find something else to fire up the troops!

speaking of "firing up", what happened to the cannabis discussion? And what do guns have to do with cannabis any how?

Unlike guns, cannabis does not enjoy some consitutional minimum that the states must adhere to.

Some of the founding fathers were hemp growers. They probably couldn't imagine a need to include or inummerate the various crops that a farmer could grow in the consitution. After all, what sort of bizarre power elites would criminalize such a useful crop as hemp? In fact, it would seem that laws concerning crops would be exactly the sort of thing best left to the states.

Some where way up thread, way pre-gun discussion, I asked on what consitutional peg does the federal govt hand its hat when making cannabis illegal nationally. There was no answer. Is the law constitutional?

I asked on what consitutional peg does the federal govt hand its hat when making cannabis illegal nationally. There was no answer. Is the law constitutional?

Yes.

No, (I've already related a legal opinion from the dawn of the war on drugs, when they were still admitting this.) but the Supreme court has been suborned, and no longer issues honest rulings on the subject. Legal 'realists' will insist that this is functionally equivalent to constitutionality, but it's not, in as much as it requires you to have a dishonest Court.

Reel off twenty or so. Should be easy, neh?

I don't know if I'll hit twenty or not, but off the top of my head:

1. Speed limits
2. Land use
3. Licensing requirements (what they are, whether to have them) for some professions or trades
4. Public utilities (whether to have them, what things are provided, operations)
5. Wildlife management, perhaps also fisheries
6. Gambling (whether to allow it, whether it is a public or private enterprise, rules for who can operate a gambling facility)
7. Motor vehicle licensing and operation
8. Many, or at least some, aspects of natural resource management - mineral and water rights, etc.

So, there's 8 in about 5 minutes. Lots of these already are devolved to the states, and that seems good, to me.

There are also lots of things were, IMVHO, a mix of state and federal responsibility is appropriate.

Education, where many details of operation could be devolved to the states (or beyond), but where national standards for curriculum and performance are, IMO, a good idea. Pi should never be equal to 3, even if the state of Indiana wishes it to be so.

Financial regulation and corporate governance.

Some public assistance programs. Medicaid is currently funded and operated by a mix of federal and state effort, and that seems to be reasonably effective.

The thing that first got me thinking in terms of federalism was the national speed limit. 55 mph in the west, where cities are hundreds of miles apart?

Not everything makes sense, or at least the same kind of sense, in every context.

I dunno as I am a simple guy, but it seems pretty straightforward to understand the non-constitutional point that Brett makes and it seems like one has to suffer painful logical gymnastics to arrive at the constitutional position that sapient presents.

Thanks to both for answering my question.

Another school shooting today, btw. This one's about half an hour from where I'm sitting.


10 kids died in mostly preventable car crashes today - and the day's not over yet.

http://www.car-accidents.com/teen-car-accidents.html

I dunno as I am a simple guy, but it seems pretty straightforward to understand the non-constitutional point that Brett makes and it seems like one has to suffer painful logical gymnastics to arrive at the constitutional position that sapient presents.

The thing that bugs me is that this (hemphasis mine):

The Ninth Circuit cast doubt on the CSA’s constitutionality by isolating a distinct class of activities that it held to be beyond the reach of federal power: the intrastate, noncommercial cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician and in accordance with state law.

did not narrow the circumstances sufficiently to disallow federal enforcement under the Commerce Clause.

Meanwhile, judging from my experience, people who want to smoke weed and don't have to worry about employment-related testing (or whatever concerns aside from legality) are smoking weed. So, constitutional and civil-rights concerns aside, resources in law enforcement, court systems and incarceration are being, um, wasted.

The Constitution of this great land will not be fully realized until a teenager can mount a howitzer on a Buick and drive it through the school cafeteria wall and put a shell through he and she who done em wrong.

I suspect the police answering the 911 call in Phil's shooting example are filling out CRIME reports while the police answering the car crash 911 calls are filling out ACCIDENT reports.

But I suppose being obtuse is the better part of valor.

Commas. 220 years later and the placement of commas is a salient issue.

Seriously, I like the founders and all, and having a written constitution seems a good idea, but at some point things get a little out of hand.

I mean, to go all legal realist for a minute, I'm not sure why we're to adhere to what a bunch of aristocrats thought were good ideas more than 220 years ago. I guess on rule of law grounds this is a decent course to take, but unfortunately it also happens to require going up to 11 to effect changes, and so other outlets will be found.

Thus we get SCOTUS effecting changes, which on balance I think has worked out well, because getting 3/4 of 50 states spread out across nearly 5000 miles to agree on anything when, like, any person 18 years and older can vote, is a fair bit different and more difficult than getting the white male landed gentry of 13 colonies along the Eastern seaboard (COASTAL ELITES!!!) to agree.

That said, not sure what changes to suggest. Musing, the Senate needs to go, quite clearly, maybe re-district the House without regard to state lines? Perhaps even redistrict the states (e.g., does the dividing line between Kansas City MO and KS make any sense at all? Or, to hit closer to my home, Omaha and Council Bluffs?).

Yeah, I really wish we had never brought car accidents into this. On a micro level, the vast majority of people in this country can't live a normal life without driving. On a macro level, our economy would be crippled without people driving. That's how sh1t gets done day to day, unfortunate as that may be, given how we have structured our society. Not that there aren't plenty of restrictions on how, when and where people can drive, anyway, as implemented to address the health and safety of the general public, mind you, if any of that sounds familiar. (Sheesh...)

"Commas. 220 years later and the placement of commas is a salient issue."

No, 220 years later and people who've lost the political fight over gun control have been reduced to whining about punctuation. Doesn't make it particularly salient.

We pretend to adhere to "what a bunch of aristocrats thought were good ideas more than 220 years ago" because the resulting document is the only basis today's aristocrats have for ordering the rest of us about, so they don't dare admit their contempt for it.

If they ever set out to get rid of it, they'd have a civil war on their hands, because it's a heck of a lot more popular than they are. And, oh does that rankle them.

"I mean, to go all legal realist for a minute, I'm not sure why we're to adhere to what a bunch of aristocrats thought were good ideas more than 220 years ago. I guess on rule of law grounds this is a decent course to take, but unfortunately it also happens to require going up to 11 to effect changes, and so other outlets will be found. "

We don't absolutely have to have a Constitution. We could have a purer democracy where Congress can do whatever it can pass. I'm pretty sure that could cause other problems though. The problem with our current straddle (don't bother trying to amend the Constitution and just hope to appoint judges who will do what you want) is that it elevates the political importance of judges, it kills transparency [unless you are so naive as to believe that judge nominees actually answer truthfully in confirmation hearings], it dramatically reduces accountability [judges are almost impossible to get rid of, their mistakes are VERY difficult to correct, and they don't have very many feedback mechanisms to discover when the are wrong even on pure legal issues, much less on policy issues] and it can lead to semi-random results depending on what judges are on the panel that you get unless your case goes all the way to the Supreme Court [which even lots of worthy cases don't].

It is another balance issue that we've allowed to drift further and further out of whack, to the point where people seriously talk about the most important part of electing a President as being the fact that he appoints Supreme Court Justices. That is nuts.

Brett: If they ever set out to get rid of it, they'd have a civil war on their hands, because it's a heck of a lot more popular than they are. And, oh does that rankle them.

I don't think I disagree with this general sentiment, but I would argue that any resulting civil war would probably be a product of what (most) people think the Constitution says as opposed to its actual text and 220+ years of SCOTUS/federal court case law. IIRC the general populace wouldn't approve the Bill of Rights if put up for a vote, at least based on polling data from a while back (early 1990s).

There's nuts and then there are nuts:

Wyoming craves an aircraft carrier from which to launch punctuation sorties against ...... I don't know, Coloradans?:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/things-happen-quickly-sometimes.html

Without a saltwater port within a couple thousand miles or so, a quick glance at a map shows Yellowstone Lake and Flaming Gorge Reservoir as the only freshwater bodies of water that might be able to handle the draft of an aircraft carrier.

I'd sink it with a kamikazi raid but I'm afraid the keel would come to rest with the deck still 40 feet out of the water and ten we'd have to spend the rest of day strafing the cowboys rushing to and fro on horseback in their tooled boots and turquoise belt buckles to their battle stations.

America's laugh track grows more manic by the day as we approach pratfall Armageddon at the hands of cackling ignoramus risen to the rank of Admiral and piped on board by neurathenic sociopathic tea-tossers.

Let us now commission the U.S.S. Douchebag.

Seb - I don't think I disagree with your comment either. But suppose the Constitution flat out said it couldn't be amended,* what then? Do we need a revolution every 50-75 years? I mean, I'd argue close to the "unamendable" point right now. So....?

Count: Let us now commission the U.S.S. Douchebag.

Funny, I have a draft TiO post where I ask whether the GOP nominee candidates know they're running for President of the United States of America/Leader of the Free World and not, like, Mayor of Douchebagville.

I can't decide if it's scarier that they know or don't know.

"Wyoming craves an aircraft carrier...."

See? And all i want is a M249 SAW and maybe a few RPGs. Wyoming is pretty darn near Idaho - the Idaho of my examples (see above). So I think I am being pretty reasonable.

Why oh why strafe the cowboys? Some Coast dweller fantasy?

And, not to further any stereotypes that I have been trying to dispel, but seriously, if you don't like the Constitution (i.e. the fundemental law of the land) you can always become an expat somewhere where there is no foundational doctrine and the laws are always changing along with the ruling huntas; except you might not like it because such places tend to have a lot of gun violence.

"Some Coast dweller fantasy:

I've lived in Colorado for going on 35 years.

I've worked with Wyomingites and they are fine people but, heck, if cowboy sailors on an aircraft carrier gone aground in Worland seems funny, think how hilarious strafing them might be.

Plus, I'd love to see the Wyoming Navy march in review during the Cheyenne Days parade.

And, not to further any stereotypes that I have been trying to dispel, but seriously, if you don't like the Constitution (i.e. the fundemental law of the land) you can always become an expat somewhere where there is no foundational doctrine and the laws are always changing along with the ruling huntas

I keep hunting (!) for the A. Whitney Brown commentary from Saturday Night Live where he says at one point that we're in this together because a bunch of white slave owners didn't want to pay their taxes, but can't seem to find it.

The thought of 16 inch naval guns built after single action colt model, writ giagantic is kinda funny; esp with yosemite sam at the helm.

"but I would argue that any resulting civil war would probably be a product of what (most) people think the Constitution says as opposed to its actual text and 220+ years of SCOTUS/federal court case law."

I think that would have to be, "as opposed to it's actual text OR 220+ years of Scotus/federal court case law."; The actual text and the case law aren't exactly in agreement, especially over the last 80 years or so.

"I'd argue close to the "unamendable" point right now. So....?"

I wouldn't agree. So far as I can tell no one has seriously tried to put an amendment up on anything important in my lifetime. When was the last serious attempt at an amendment? Flag burning in the 1980s? That is 30 years ago. (The marriage amendment wasn't serious so far as I can tell, it was a rallying point).

Brett, obviuosly we are screwed by dumb ass consumerism culture and fat and happy libs and conservatives alike.

"Freedom" is a joke to be trademarked, branded and sold by whatever special intrest group has enough bucks to make it fly for the cause du jour. Learn to live within your fears. That is hapiness American style.

Doesn't make it particularly salient.

Things are easier to interpret unambiguously if they parse well grammatically.

And actually, my mention of the commas was meant to be humorous.

Oh well, I'll be here all week, try the veal.

We pretend to adhere to "what a bunch of aristocrats thought were good ideas more than 220 years ago"....

Plus all of the ways it has been changed by amendment, plus all of the ways it has been interpreted in the intervening 220.

If they ever set out to get rid of it, they'd have a civil war on their hands, because it's a heck of a lot more popular than they are.

If we decide it's no longer working well, we have options other than civil war.

you can always become an expat somewhere where there is no foundational doctrine and the laws are always changing along with the ruling huntas; except you might not like it because such places tend to have a lot of gun violence.

That would the UK, for one. Not so much gun violence, at least as compared to here. Not in the last 300 years or so, anyway.

What doesn't seem to be registering with either you or Brett is the idea that your understanding of what the text of the Constitution says and/or means may not be authoritative.

You're welcome to your reading of the text. So are the rest of us.

And no, it's not blindingly self-evident what the text means in all cases, nor is it always self-evident what the authors intend.

In the case of the 2nd Amendment, if you're not opposed to a standing professional army, and you're not expecting all able-bodied citizens to participate in a citizen militia under the command of the state government, you're not aligned with what the framers had in mind.

Somewhat uniquely among the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment includes not just a statement of the right, but an explicit purpose for the right. We can argue about whether the right is intended for individuals or a corporate "the people", but the reason that the right is guaranteed is stated quite specifically.

I'm not hearing much talk about disbanding the US Army and introducing universal conscription into state-level militias. All I'm hearing is "I want a gun, dammit!"

If you're gonna go originalist, you have to sign up for the whole enchilada.

"So far as I can tell no one has seriously tried to put an amendment up on anything important in my lifetime."

The ERA?

I often ask myself, self, how is it that the Bible, the Constitution, the Koran, and every printed word by the Regnery Press must be "interpreted", when every word is the literal, unmovable truth, there being no synonyms nor feral punctuation, nor ambiguity ever in the utterance of men, though I'm not so sure about women, the masters of ambiguity?

Once a document is carved in stone, why have judges?

As to the Constitution itself, and subsequent case law, I'm a big fan. I'm in love with the idea that the Constitution is a living document that exists on basic principles, and is interpreted by judges trained in the common law, who apply the principles to novel facts, unfolding a successive recognition of various human (and perhaps animal and environmental) rights, increased dignity, increased social compassion, and in the end evolved humanity. Obviously, as a human institution, it doesn't always work so divinely, but eventually (perhaps) it works pretty well.

My view of the Constitution is an aspirational one. It's a view shared by many, and the degree to which it is borne out depends on who ends up on the Supreme Court. That's why I fight for executives share my view, and who appoint Supreme Court justices who share my view of the Constitution.

The UK, by the way, doesn't have an integral written Constitution, but (contra russell's point) any British lawyer will point out that it does have a Constitution. The fundamental documents of British history (the Magna Carta is an obvious example), as well as leading cases in the common law, comprise fundamental legal doctrine that is, in essence, a Constitution. Our Constitution is similarly no longer an integral document, but consists of the original document, plus interpretive case law.

My love for the system doesn't always translate into a love for each opinion of the Supreme Court. Obama has appointed justices with whom I agree 90% of the time. That's a huge reason I would support him - that his appointees bring the aspirational closer to the real.

As to what the "founders" had in mind about the Second Amendment, it's informative, but not conclusive. There weren't machine guns in 1776 or 1789, much less mustard gas and barbed wire, or nukes. We figure out what principle is at stake as applied to a wholly different world. Reasonable people can (and obviously do) disagree.

Brett: I think that would have to be, "as opposed to it's actual text OR 220+ years of Scotus/federal court case law."; The actual text and the case law aren't exactly in agreement, especially over the last 80 years or so.

You see, this is sort of my point. The Constitution is a short document. It includes vague and general statements like "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;" and "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers", and "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" etc.

The meaning of these words is not exactly clear in a great many situations. So the courts fill in the blanks, provide context, and address ever-changing factual scenarios. And yet for some there is this belief that everything is/was perfectly clear and the damn SCOTUS has screwed it up, or had it right at one point and then screwed it up, or finally fixed things in 2010, or whatever.

Every time this topic comes up, I ask Brett to give me a clear, unambiguous definition of "cruel and unusual punishment," and he never, ever, ever does. Because tackling the topic would give away the game, and force him to admit that things change with the times, and thus we cannot simply go by the words on the page.

Sebastian: So far as I can tell no one has seriously tried to put an amendment up on anything important in my lifetime. When was the last serious attempt at an amendment?

Obviously this depends on what you mean by seriously and important. Phil notes the ERA. Potential others: Balanced Budget? Repeal Roe? You poo-poo the marriage amendment, but I'm not so sure. Line item veto? Term limits?

But perhaps no one has seriously put up an amendment on an important issue in recent memory because they know there's no chance of it ever passing? As I've noted before, there hasn't been a "real"* amendment since 1971. And I'm actually shocked that the 24th Amendment was ratified (I can't imagine it being ratified today).

*I'd argue the 27th Amendment is an outlier given its history.

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