I just invited ‘the enemy’ to Boomershoot 2005

One of the email lists I subscribe to is about biometrics.  One of the most active posters on the list is Henry.  Henry was the main reason I wrote this on ID cards and he was a significant impetus on my airplane security essay.  It was my email discussions with Henry on gun control that finally pushed me to the point of finally writing my Just One Question essay.  If you follow some of the links you can see some of his writings on the subject of ID cards.  He thinks the Federal government should mandate Universal Biometric Identification (UBID) and the use of the UBID should be so pervasive that it would be impractical or impossible to function in society without it.  And, of course, he is proponent of gun control.  And it is no surprise he is from New York City and a lawyer.  In his mind gun owners are insecure and fall back to “primal fears” and use “deadly weapons“ as their “security crutch”. 

Recently Henry posted a pointer to this GAO report on gun control and terrorism to the biometrics email list.  I responded with this:

Assuming they want to keep the contents of the list secret this is a sticky problem.  In the case of the using the list for restrictions on who can fly they can approve the person to fly then put undercover Air Marshals on the flight.  But in the case of the firearms purchase what are they going to do?  Forbid them from buying and hence let the suspected terrorist know they are “the list”?  And if the person is in the country lawfully what is the government justification for denying a guaranteed civil liberty?  They can’t very well deny the liberty without due process.  And if given due process the intelligence data used to put the person on “the list” would come to light and perhaps terminate that source of intelligence.
Interesting problem–and as near as I can tell, unrelated to biometrics.
And the discussion was on again.  Ultimately that discussion lead to my inviting him to the Boomershoot again (he declined last years invitation).  The objective is for him to actually meet some gun owners rather than have his perceptions be based on ignorance or worse yet, Hollywood.  The most recent portions of our discussion follow.

From: Henry J. Boitel
Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2005 7:15 AM
To: Huffman, Joseph K
Subject: Chicago Tribune | Gunman kills 7 in rampage


Feel free to put this comment on your web site, so long as it is quoted in full. Please advise me if you use it.

Have you noticed that whenever this sort of thing happens ( see today’s article concerning killings at a church service and see also recent stories concerning killings in courtroom and murder of  Judge’s family) the weapon of choice is almost always a gun.  You recently said that there should be no greater controls on guns than on the simultaneous possession of a match and gasoline.  I hear about that combination being used within the United States for intentional homicide very rarely.  In fact, even in societies where gun ownership; is very restricted, in the absence of war or rebellion, there does not appear to be anywhere near as much homicidal and destructive violence as there is in the United States.

So many of our citizens have their constitutional rights permanently terminated or substantially abridged by the wrongful or negligent use of firearms, that a fair and reasonable view must conclude that substantial restrictions ought be placed on the ownership,  registration and tractability of firearms.

In view of the indisputable, very substantial amount of death and destruction that we have experienced on an ongoing basis, it takes a peculiar kind of reasoning defect not to take that harm into consideration when discussing whether there ought be more controls imposed.  Even amongst those who claim that it is a constitutional right to “bear arms” and that such a claimed right allows no restriction on the type or extent of arms any person may have,  it is beyond understanding that those who hold such views will not consider whether there ought be a revision of that claimed constitutional right.   You see, the debate does not simply end on the question of ones view of what the Constitution means, the regular slaughter of innocents compels confrontation with the question of whether such a Constitutional provision ought exist.

Henry J. Boitel
New York

[Henry included a link to a Chicago Tribune article about several people who were killed in church shooting in Brookfield WI.  That particular article requires registration.  Similar news stories appear here.]

From: Huffman, Joseph K
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 11:09 AM
To: ‘Henry J. Boitel’
Subject: RE: Chicago Tribune | Gunman kills 7 in rampage

There is just one question to be answered. 


It takes a peculiar sort of reasoning defect to not take into account all the good that comes from having access to effective personal defensive tools.


From: Henry J. Boitel
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 11:50 AM
To: Huffman, Joseph K
Subject: Re: Chicago Tribune | Gunman kills 7 in rampage


Your effort to control the discussion would be laughable were it not for the many thousands of people who are killed and injured and terrorized each year by the misuse of weapons.  I am happy to see that you agree that the real issue is not what the Second Amendment means, but rather, whether guns have a gross negative impact upon society.  There is a real problem with people who are born into fear or who develop a sense of insecurity such that their primary security crutch is a deadly weapon.  No matter how much one talks about the needless bloodshed, they return to their primal fears.

The gun control issue is not going to go away on either side.  My hope is that those in favor of greater control will eventually organize into an effective movement.

Have a blast,
Henry J. Boitel

From: Huffman, Joseph K
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 12:26 PM
To: ‘Henry J. Boitel’
Subject: RE: Chicago Tribune | Gunman kills 7 in rampage

There are many anti-gun organizations in the U.S.  I could provide a list for you if you wished and suggestions at to which ones are most effective if you wish to contribute to them.  The problem they have is they have lots of tragic stories to motivate their activists, millions and millions of dollars in donations, but they are intellectually bankrupt.  They cannot demonstrate any benefits from their successes or the successes of firearms restrictions in other countries.  Ultimately they stumble when the facts are presented to the legislatures and the people.  The Internet has made the problem much worse for them and they are rapidly loosing ground.

You refusal to address my question would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that MILLIONS of people each year in the U.S. use firearms to defend themselves from serious injury or death.  The benefits of easily accessible defensive tools far out ways any disadvantages of those same tools being used for criminal ends.  And as one attempts to restrict the access of those tools it appears that one always ends up restricting the availability to the people that use them for good more than from the people that use them for evil.

If the permission to use your email extends to the email below I will use that on my blog.

Thank you.

“The blast” will be on May 1 this year (http://www.boomershoot.org/2005/blast.htm).  You, as always, are welcome to attend.  We are expecting extensive press coverage this year so if you don’t make it out there yourself there should be some main stream media coverage that you can find out what you missed.  And if you wish to get in on the manufacture of homemade explosives without turning over personal details to the government this will be your last opportunity.  See our press release for more details: http://www.boomershoot.org/2005/SafeExplosivesAct.htm


From: Henry J. Boitel
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 12:48 PM
To: Huffman, Joseph K
Subject: Re: Chicago Tribune | Gunman kills 7 in rampage


I am on the way out the door and will be out of town for a few days.  My permission to use what I have written only extends to the emails we have exchanged today, taken as a whole, and not segmented.  If you want me to write a gun control piece as one essay, I would be happy to do so.

I am tempted to come out and observe the roll your own explosives crowd,  Although I doubt I can make it, are you able to ensure my safety from hostile factions? The type that get red in the face and wild in the eye when you refer to their fascination, insecurity and inability to see the danger they promote?  

Best wishes,
Henry J. Boitel
New York

From: Huffman, Joseph K
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 1:02 PM
To: ‘Henry J. Boitel’
Subject: RE: Chicago Tribune | Gunman kills 7 in rampage

You would be quite welcome to write an essay on gun control for me to publish on my web page.

The greatest physical dangers you would face at Boomershoot would be sunburn, hypothermia (one never knows), and tripping over a clump of grass.  Everyone is there to have fun.  Causing you or anyone else physical harm would at best only be a momentary pleasure and would be bound to get them talked about (adapted from a Robert Heinlein quote).  Your psychological model of gun owners is common but disproved.  I can probably find the research papers if you are interested.
Have a nice trip.



109 thoughts on “I just invited ‘the enemy’ to Boomershoot 2005

  1. Joe,

    That was a brilliant post and an inspirational idea to invite the gentleman to the event. I just want to point out several things.

    I don’t generally admit it, but in the real world, I am an insurance adjuster. Your comparison of guns to a match and a gas can are probably more apropos than you realize. Tens of thousands of people are killed by the results of arson every year. Compare that to the statistics regarding gun accidents with children and you are looking at a 1,500 to one ratio.

    Secondly, I guess I’ll be leaving my “Love It or Leave It” hat and my camo face paint at home, if I’m trying to appear moderate.



  2. Hi Joe,

    Can you please send me Mr. Boitel’s email address?

    I’d like to send him a pleasant email, and share with him that, as a Range Safety Officer at Boomershoot, I will make sure that shooters adhere to gun safety protocols. Safety has been the standard at all Boomershoot’s I’ve ever attended.

    I would also like to share with Mr. Boitel the story of my evolution from couldn’t-care-less-about-guns into becoming a firearms instructor — which has nothing to do with hunting or sporting, and everything to do with self-defense and independence…

    If Mr. Boitel cannot make it to Idaho for Boomershoot, I will try to arrange a hands-on session with him, at a gun range in (or close to) his hometown. He sounds like a decent guy, but just a bit misinformed, combined with formulating his viewpoints out of emotion and fear, rather than logic.



  3. Thanks to both of you. Email address is on it’s way to Steph via her boomershoot.org account.

  4. Of course, Henry might get hit by a bus on the way to boomershoot. A possibility several orders of magnitude more likely than that he will be harmed by any weapon AT boomershoot. me, I just wish I could afford to be there myself.

  5. Joe and Friends,

    The temptation to come out and see a bunch of The View From North Central Idaho of a bunch of red-necked, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthals is getting stronger. Conservation is good for its own sake, but it is even better if one can get to see nature in the wild.

    I sincerely appreciate your kind offers.

    If my wife gives me permission, you may well see me or both of us.

    I guess I should also check with the company that makes the panic button I wear to see if the signal will carry out there. It would be difficult to adjust to life without a panic button, even for a few days.

    Then there’s the insurance company, extra therapy sessions before depature, etc. Are there any other preparations I should make? Do you have hotels out that way, or is it still boarding houses? How about transportation, it has been a while since I have been on a horse, and I never was much good on a mule [although I am a certified [certifiable, you might say] liberal Democrat).

    Sepaking of mules, do the radio stations out there carry much more than the bleating of rightwing talk shows. What a bunch of crybabies. They still can’t get over the fact that FDR, one of our greatest presidents, was ever elected.

    Anyway, what I am really interested in finding out is why those among you who are anywhere close to the border of normality, are opposed to reasonable gun regulation.

    Best wishes and have a blast,


  6. Boomershoot IS therapy.

    The nearby motels are listed here:


    If they haven’t filled up from all the Boomershoot people the Helgeson has free wireless internet service.

    Directions and suggestions on transportation are here:


    If your panic button (whatever that is) doesn’t work just stay close to Stephanie. She is a certified NRA firearms instructor and will protect you and/or give you instruction on how to use a loaner handgun safely. Or you can just yell “Help!” and a hundred people, with guns, will be there in a few seconds to save you.

    And please do bring your wife. My wife enjoys spending time with the non-shooting women during the event.

    Radio reception in Orofino, the closest town where you probably will stay, is limited to just one station unless you have cable I think. I don’t know what it carries because I can’t receive it from where I live. From the boomershoot range you can receive numerous FM stations, as well as AM, that carry at least a small variety of formats other than political talk shows.

    If you want to help with the making of reactive targets please plan to show up on site by midday on Saturday.

  7. Henry you said, “…why those among you who are anywhere close to the border of normality, are opposed to reasonable gun regulation.”

    Your question presumes facts not in evidence. And no, not the part about “normality”. You presume there is such a thing as “reasonable gun regulation.” That gets back to my one question:


    If no one can show where a gun regulation has been a force for good, as opposed to just good intentions, then it is not reasonable. It is at best a waste of resources, perhaps an enabler of crime, and in the worst case an enabler of genocide.

  8. Joe,

    I find it funny (ie., peculiar, not haha), that persons who are often critical or dismissive of lawyers, in other contexts, often fall back on legal expressions to try to establish their point. I should say that most of my time in courtrooms relating to guns has not been for the purpose of proving how dangerous or helpful they are, but rather in defending or prosecuting persons who have caused the deaths of others by using guns.

    Here are some questions for you to chew on:

    1. Is it true that carrying a gun, for purposes other than legitimate hunting, is either a sign of hostility or a sign of fear? [Lets leave law enforcement officers out of this, since that is an overlappying but different discussion]

    2. Can you establish, give or take several hudred million deaths, that firearms held for purposes other than hunting have been “a force for good”? ie., that if firearms, as weapons, had never existed that the world would be a worse place?

    Best wishes,


    Henry J. Boitel

  9. Oh, Joe, You are so clever. I am looking for answers, not conclusions. Explain yourself.

    I also think you should rephrase your question that is surrounded by a speech. Your one question is:

    “Can you demonstrate just one time, one place, throughout all of human history, where restricting the access of handheld weapons to the average person made them safer?”

    While it is obviously a tactical effort to define the limits of dicussion so as to produce as to pre-empt discussion and leave a misleading impression, I think that it should atleast be rephrased to be:

    Can you demonstrate just one time, one place, throughout all of human history, where restricting the access of handheld weapons to people made anyone safer?

    The first change modifies “the average person” to “people”. There is no such thing as an average person. Morover, the moment an average persons causes a wilfull or negligent harm to another, you would take him out of the average category and make him a criminal or idiot. You define the problem out of existence.

    The second change modifies “them” (meaning the gun possessor) to “anyone” meaning anyone. I hope that gunowners are safe, but by definition, except for gunowners who shoot themselves or who get themselves into situations where they are shot or arrested, of course a gunowner is “safer” packing a gun, than he is without it. However, there is the rest of the population to consider. Moreoften than not, gun owners shoot other people. Again, this is a situation where you defined the problem out of the question.

    I guess that is enough for now.

    Best wishes,


  10. Dear Joe,

    While you are thinking about the foregoing, the following article, in today’s (can I use the name here?) New York Times, includes some important insights about gun environments that bear upon the issue you try to reach with your “one question”:

    March 19, 2005


    Put Down Your Gun


    In an unmarked corridor on the fifth floor of Bronx Supreme Court, a heavy steel door marks the point at which the custody of a prisoner is transferred from the New York City Department of Corrections to a court officer. The beige paint on the door is chipped and scratched, and the tiny pane of thick plexiglass is nearly opaque from grime. On one side of this door are courtrooms filled with jurors and judges, spectators and lawyers. On the other are bare walls, bars and handcuffs.

    There is a sign on the side of the door that one sees when passing from the court side into the realm of corrections. It, too, is scratched and worn, but its simple admonition suggests a fundamental change that could go a long way toward preventing the kind of deadly violence that erupted in an Atlanta courtroom last week. It reads: “No Weapons Beyond This Point.”

    The massacre in Atlanta, in which a defendant grabbed a gun from a sheriff’s deputy and then killed Judge Rowland W. Barnes, another sheriff’s deputy and a court stenographer, is sure to fuel hours of analysis by security consultants on how to guard judges more effectively and make our courthouses safer. Law enforcement unions will undoubtedly call for more manpower and a higher officer-to-defendant ratio. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that anyone will propose a sensible solution that could have prevented the killings in the first place: making courthouses gun-free zones.

    The typical hall of justice is chockablock with weaponry. Court officers, court clerks, parole and probation officers – not to mention police officers – all carry handguns for the ostensible purpose of maintaining order and security. This stands in stark contrast to our prisons. While corrections officers may carry weapons in public, in nearly every jail and prison across the country those guns get checked at the door.

    One of the elemental rules of a prison is that any weapon will eventually be turned against its owner. That sane and simple logic dictates that firearms are restricted to the guards in the towers and on the perimeter. With no guns to take away, the net result of overpowering a guard is just that – having overpowered a guard. Nobody is going to shoot his way to freedom.

    This bit of prison wisdom leads to the question of why anyone should be carrying a gun inside a courthouse. Most courtrooms are terrible places in which to fire a weapon – they’re small and crowded and any shooting is highly likely to cause innocent casualties. They are also easy places in which to restrict the possession of weapons – most have a secure perimeter and rules that require most everyone entering or leaving to submit to a search.

    The appropriate mix of proper manpower and alternative technology – stun belts (which fit under a person’s clothing and can zap him with 50,000 volts), pepper spray and other nonlethal weapons – can secure defendants without guns. (Or, even if handguns are the only weapon that make citizens and court officers feel secure, there is no reason they can’t be restricted to a small group of guards at critical points of entry and exit.)

    Police and court officers will not take kindly to being stripped of their weapons; it is an article of faith among them that being better armed than the bad guys is critical to safety and security. But they need only consider the blood on the floor of that Atlanta courtroom to see the folly of that belief.

    David Feige, a public defender in the Bronx and Soros Justice Media Fellow, is the author of the forthcoming “Indefensible.”

  11. Dear Joe,

    Happy Name Day!

    I wonder how Saint Joseph made it through those perilous times without a firearm?

    As luck would have it there is a second article in the New York Times, authored not by an eastern lawyer, but by a western judge. Stick with it and you will see how it bears upon your reworded “One Question”

    Best wishes from your friend,


    March 19, 2005


    Personal Safety and Public Justice


    Denver — IN 27 years on the federal bench, I have received two threats serious enough to warrant around-the-clock protection. The first was from a woman who offered $500 to anyone who would kill me because I had affirmed an order deporting her boyfriend. In the second, I was mistaken for another judge who had ordered firearms confiscated.

    In both cases, I was protected by the United States Marshals Service, and the suspects were prevented from doing any further harm. But like all judges, I know that my job can be dangerous. I was saddened but unsurprised at the murders of a state judge in Atlanta and the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago in recent weeks.

    The predictable response to these murders will be a demand for more protection for judges: more guns, barriers and electronic paraphernalia. Yet one nation under guard is not the answer. Tying judicial security to the war on terrorism risks destroying the very institution we seek to defend.

    The danger that judges face is not likely to be related to terrorist organizations; there is no tradition of organized groups killing judges in this country. Not even in the 1930’s, when the mob was being prosecuted by people like Thomas E. Dewey, did it resort to taking aim at judges. Dewey, for example, was the target of a murder plot, but further attempts – as well as plans to assassinate a state court judge – were scotched by none other than the notorious gangster Louis Buchalter. We leave judges alone, he is reported to have said, because they’re the only hope we have. Gangsters lack conscience, not common sense.

    Another problem with judicial security is that it is unexpectedly difficult to define. After the shooting in Atlanta, for example, one defense lawyer described security at the courthouse as “absolutely atrocious,” while a judge there said it was “phenomenal.” The lawyer focused on poor training for security officers, while the judge noted that judges have a private elevator and their own parking garage.

    The lawyer saw vulnerabilities beginning at the courthouse door. The judge saw security everywhere but the precise location where his colleague was shot: the bench. Under the prevailing mindset, nobody is safe.

    The answer is not to convert courtrooms into fortresses or to cloister judges behind barricades. It is to create a sensible state of elevated awareness throughout the judiciary – not only about the need for better security but about the specific nature of the risk.

    Since 1970, 10 state and federal judges have been murdered, seven of them in job-related incidents. Those who threaten judges are almost always disturbed individuals seeking revenge. (The murderer of the mother and husband of the judge in Chicago was sadly typical: he was an embittered former plaintiff.) Of the three federal judges killed in the last quarter-century, all were killed by men disgruntled with their treatment from the federal judicial system.

    In state courts, violence is more likely to occur over domestic relations matters. In federal courts it is more likely to come from litigants representing themselves, particularly those who have fired their lawyers, in emotion-laden cases alleging violations of civil rights or injuries to self-image, cases that deeply involve notions of personal worth.

    Metal detectors at courthouses and beefing up security can thwart impulsive acts, but they are ineffective against long-simmering resentments or the detailed plans of paranoids. For those we rely on intuition.

    Judges receive instruction on how to vary their departure time and route between home and chambers, install alarm systems and report threats and suspicious activity to the marshals service. But we get no training in analyzing pleadings and correspondence or profiling potentially troublesome personalities – or how to treat such people once they are identified. The goal should be to narrow the field of potentially troublesome people to permit the marshals to focus on those who are truly threatening. Doing this would not only make the courts safer, but would also show that the system is committed to fairness.

    When that woman put out a $500 contract on my life, the marshals service suggested I carry a gun. I followed this advice for a while, but then I gave it up. It made me uncomfortable.

    Carrying a gun made me look at everyone with an attitude that made fairness and impartiality impossible. This, in the end, is too high a price to pay for judicial security: it cannot come at the cost of justice.

    John Kane is a senior judge in the United States District Court for Colorado.

  12. Henry, I’m very busy preparing for my wife’s birthday party.

    I don’t mind you tweaking the question some but the manner in which you suggest leaves open the possibility of answering, “Yes, of course, Hitler and his thugs were made safer by disarming the Jews.” or some such unsatisfactory answer.

    See also my Quote of the Day for today: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2005/03/19/ which says, “It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep may be.”

    And it would appear that you are admitting that people who own, and presumably carry, guns are safer than those that don’t. The question you (and I) wish answered is, “Is the general population safer with many people owning and carrying guns?” That depends on how many “sheep dogs”, to continue the analogy, there are among the sheep and the wolves. The vast majority of the gun owning population are better described as “sheep dogs” than “wolves”. Those that are afraid of guns and want all guns removed from society are the sheep. My Quote of the Day for tomorrow will shed more light on this.

    And if you wish to provide prisons as an example of where restrictions of guns makes people safer and use that as a model for society as a whole then that doesn’t require a response from me.

    The judge that carries a gun and then feels it changed his attitude to the defendants is not a representative sample of gun owners. As an instructor I have taught many people, including a judge, how to defend themselves with a firearm. That particular attitude change has never been reported to me.

  13. Happy Birthday to Barb.

    Joe, you have hit upon an important point. Putting aside people who accidentally shoot themselves or who, because they have a firearm, get themselves into situations where they are harmed or imprisoned, it is true that just about anyone who has a firearm handy will feel and probably be “safer” than he or she otherwise would be. That result applies whether or not the person with the firearm is a good guy or a bad guy. Guns don’t discriminate. They find their way into the hands of good people and bad, wize and stupid, old and young. That certainly is one of the sound reasons why there should be substantial regulation of firearms possession. Firearms are equal opportunity enablers – frequently finding themselves into the wrong hands.

    Your comments about sheep and wolves do not particularly add anything to this discussion.

    Do you know how many people were reported as being shot by firearms in the United States in the past five years?

    Best wishes,


  14. Henry, I don’t know the answer, I could look it up but your question is irrelevant. A modification of the question that would make it relevant would be “How many people were criminally or accidentally shot in the last five years.” This removes the people in the population represented by your question that were legally shot by the police and private citizens. And still that number is almost irrelevant unless it is compared to another number. That number would be something along the lines of the answer to the question, “How many people legally used a gun in defense of themselves or other innocent life in the last five years?” You will find the ratio of those two numbers various from about 1:1 (using a misapplied criminal victimization survey to answer the second question) to about 1:30 at the other extreme.

    The crux of firearms regulation question is, “Can a firearm regulation reduce the first number more than it reduces the second number?” If so then you can make people, on the whole, safer by implementing that regulation. But to the best of my knowledge the answer is no. These questions are really just another way of getting to my “one question” and result in the answer I expected all along–“No.”

    The sheep, wolves, and sheepdog analogy is particularly appropriate because if you can increase the number of “sheepdogs” in the population without increasing the “wolf” population the “sheep” will be safer. In fact increasing the number of “sheepdogs” will reduce the “wolf” population because some of them will “starve” (criminal activity becomes to risky to engage in), be injured and/or killed, or be captured. As you reduce the “sheepdog” population you increase the “wolf” population because the “sheep” are so plentiful and “feeding” on them is a low risk activity.

    Now, PLEASE, YOU answer my question.

  15. Joe,

    I have already told you that your question is, inadvertnatly no doubt, a setup.

    1. In any, but totalitarian societies, the burden is upon the shooter to justify the shooting. The reason for that is obvious.

    2. My guess is that, when you talk about shooting of wrongdoers, your assummption appears to be that a claim of wrongdoing should be accepted at face value. We have no way of knowing how many shooting by police or private citizens are on par or on the statistical path of some of the notorious shootings of innocent people in the past five years.

    3. As far as I am aware there are no statistical compilations of circumstances where one law envorcement officer shoots another, either when one or both are on duty or when both are off duty. The number is substantial, based simply on the ones of which I am aware. That is not to say that cops should not have guns or that cops are bad people. It is a reflection of how dangerous guns can be even in the hands of trained professionals.

    4. Them, of course, there are incidents like the one you are featuring on the main page of your blog. Should coitus interruptus explosivus be excused because it occurred in the heat of passion or was a shot in the dark or was simply an accidental discharge or bang? Are you preparing to give your readers tips in answer to your question of how the technique could have been improved?

    Best wishes,


  16. 1. The last time I looked our system of justice was still “innocent until proven guilty”. That applies to the use of firearms as well as baseball bats for self defense. Furthermore not all defensive uses of a gun involve shots being fired. The mere display or even the claim that someone has a firearm is frequently enough to deter an attacker.

    2. No. There are thousands of shootings each year that even though the shooter is known they are not charged with a crime–because there was no crime committed.

    3. The gun handling (in regards to safety) of cops is generally considered to be far worse than the average private citizen. Cops carry guns because they are required to, whether they appreciate them or not. Private citizen carry them because they want to, there use is a hobby, and they tend to obey the safety rules more rigorously.

    4. There three safety that must be followed at all times. These Darwin Award candidates violated all three of them.

    Henry, not only has the CDC found there is no reliable evidence that any attempted firearm regulation has made people safer but the National Academy of Sciences came up with the same conclusion. The Department of Justice sponsored research on “assault weapons” came up with similar conclusions in their numerous research efforts. Your persistence holding onto failed ideologies indicates you either have evidence you are not sharing or that evidence is irrelevant to you. In either case I have zero tolerance for discussions with people with that mindset.

  17. Joe,

    I will be disappointed if you exist this discussion on a pompous noite.

    You know better than to characterize the CDC report as you have.

    In fact, the summary introduction to the report clearly states:

    “The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes. (Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.)”


    The limited regulations, the lack of uniformity across state borders, and the lack of properly funded statistical information, all contribute to the fact that it is difficult to draw any conclusions as to the efficacy of existing regulations.

    The first few paragraphs of the report lay out the background against any discussion must take place:

    “Although firearms-related* injuries in the United States have declined since 1993, they remained the second leading cause of injury mortality in 2000, the most recent year for which complete data are available (1). Of 28,663 firearms-related deaths in 2000 — an average of 79 per day—16,586 (57.9%) were suicides, 10,801 (37.7%) were homicides, 776 (2.7%) were unintentional, and an additional 500 (1.7%) were legal interventions or of undetermined intent.

    “An estimated 24.3% of the 1,430,693 violent crimes (murder, aggravated assault, rape, and robbery) committed in the United States in 1999 were committed with a firearm (2). In the early 1990s, rates of firearms-related homicide, suicide, and unintentional death in the United States exceeded those of 25 other high-income nations (i.e., 1992 gross national product US $8,356 per capita) for which data are available (3). In 1994, the estimated lifetime medical cost of all firearms injuries in the United States was $2.3 billion (4).

    “Approximately 4.5 million new firearms are sold each year in the United States, including 2 million handguns. In addition, estimates of annual secondhand firearms transactions (i.e., sales, trades, or gifts) range from 2 million to 4.5 million (5,6). Further, an estimated 0.5 million firearms are stolen annually (6). Thus, the total number of firearms transactions could be as high as 9.5 million per year.

    “The 1994 National Survey of the Private Ownership of Firearms (NSPOF), conducted by Chilton Research Services for the Police Foundation, under sponsorship of the National Institute of Justice, indicated that American adults owned approximately 192 million working firearms, an average of one per adult (7). The NSPOF also indicated that firearm ownership was unevenly distributed in the population: only 24.6% of U.S. adults owned a firearm (41.8% of men and 9.0% of women). Another survey (2) found that 41% of adult respondents reported having a firearm in their home in 1994, and 35% did so in 1998. A third survey (8) reported that 35% of homes with children aged <18 years had at least one firearm. Rates of firearm ownership in the United States also exceed those of 14 other nations for which data are available, with the exception of Finland (9).

    “Of the estimated 192 million firearms owned in the United States at the time of the 1994 NSPOF survey, 65 million were handguns; 70 million, rifles; 49 million, shotguns; and the remainder were other guns (7). Among handgun owners, 34.0% kept their guns loaded and unlocked. An estimated 10 million handguns, one sixth of the handguns owned, were regularly carried by their owners, approximately half in the owners’ cars and the other half on the owners’ persons.

    “The manufacture, distribution, sale, acquisition, storage, transportation, carrying, and use of firearms in the United States are regulated by a complex array of federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This review examines firearms laws as one of many approaches to reducing firearms violence (10,11). ”

    Best wishes,


  18. As one editorial (http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/101303/opi_13753216.shtml) put it:


    Gun control groups deplored the alleged “lack of studies” on gun control.

    CDC spent $2.6 million on gun studies during the previous administration. Same results.

    In the most recent CDC study, a task force of 14 experts spent three years reviewing 51 different studies and could find no evidence. At some point, one might surmise that there isn’t much gold in that mine.

    If guns kill people, then more guns should kill more people. Yet, deaths and injuries from firearms have declined for the past 10 years, even though 4.5 million new firearms are sold each year.


    If all the thousands of gun restrictions that have been tried have yet to show results after millions of dollars are spent in analyzing the results and billions have been spent in enforcement just what is it you think will work that hasn’t been tried someplace already?

    Restrictions on a guaranteed civil right must have exceedingly strong justification. Where is your evidence for whatever restriction you think is justified?

  19. Joe,

    What I said about the CDC report can, similarly be said about the National Academy of Sciences report. Your suggestion that either one of them helps to establish the value of a firearmed society, simple is not correct.

    The NAS report can be found at:


    At the outset of the report, under the heading “Major Recommendations”, the following appears:


    “Empirical research on firearms and violence has resulted in important findings that can inform policy decisions. In particular, a wealth of descriptive information exists about the prevalence of firearm-related injuries and deaths, about firearms markets, and about the relationships between rates of gun ownership and violence. Research has found, for example, that higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide, that illegal diversions from legitimate commerce are important sources of crime guns and guns used in suicide, that firearms are used defensively many times per day, and that some types of targeted police interventions may effectively lower gun crime and violence. This information is a vital starting point for any constructive dialogue about how to address the problem of firearms and violence.

    “While much has been learned, much remains to be done, and this report necessarily focuses on the important unknowns in this field of study. The committee found that answers to some of the most pressing questions cannot be addressed with existing data and research methods, however well designed. For example, despite a large body of research, the committee found no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime, and there is almost no empirical evidence that the more than 80 prevention programs focused on gun-related violence have had any effect on children’s behavior, knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about firearms. The committee found that the data available on these questions are too weak to support unambiguous conclusions or strong policy statements.

    “Drawing causal inferences is always complicated and, in the behavioral and social sciences, fraught with uncertainty. Some of the problems that the committee identifies are common to all social science research. In the case of firearms research, however, the committee found that even in areas in which the data are potentially useful, the complex methodological problems inherent in unraveling causal relationships between firearms policy and violence have not been fully considered or adequately addressed.

    “Nevertheless, many of the shortcomings described in this report stem from the lack of reliable data itself rather than the weakness of methods. In some instances—firearms violence prevention, for example—there are no data at all. Even the best methods cannot overcome inadequate data and, because the lack of relevant data colors much of the literature in this field, it also colors the committee’s assessment of that literature.”

    In view of the huge number of deaths and injuries that are firearms related, to me, at least, the lack of adequate data is incomprehensible.

    Best wishes,


  20. Almost for certain the numbers you see are the total number of injuries and deaths. The justified shootings are almost always lumped in with the unjustified. As soon as you start trying to separate the criminal from the “praiseworthy” uses of firearms the issue becomes far less clear–as the CDC and the NAS both state. And without clear evidence to justify restrictions the government has no business spending limited resources on enforcing a restriction that might actually make things worse instead of better.

    And if you want my personal opinion the CDC and the NAS researchers know the truth lies on the side of gun ownership and are just uncomfortable reporting it. Most of the researchers involved have long histories of producing research results that were anti-gun ownership. For them to say the issue is not clear was a big step for them. But that is just a guess on my part. And of course I have my biases.

  21. Joe,

    This gets us back to a point I suggested in my initial comments. You have a bias in favor of guns, grounded in what you feel threatened by, and I have a bias in favor of attempting to do something about all of those unwarranted deaths and injuries, From where I stand, the scale leans heavily in my favor.

    I rarely hear gun people talk about what they propose be done to cut down on unwarranted death and injury. I am sure you would say there is more education and training needed. You will get no argument from me on that. However, my belief is that it will not make enough of a difference. As a side note, everything has a price. Do you have an estimate of how much it would cost to give everyone the education and training they ought have?

    It all comes down to the three R’s: Regulation, registration and restriction. They lead to accountability. A firearm is an inherently dangerous instrumentality. Going back hundreds of years, the common law has had a clear rule with regard to inherently dangerous instrumentalities: strict accoutability and liability. See. for example – http://www.state.wv.us/wvsca/jury/inherently.htm

    Best wishes,


  22. Henry, if you were the prosecutor and just rested your case the defense attorney would move for a dismissal on lack of evidence and received it. You have presented ZERO evidence than any of your suggestions would make ANY difference. All you have is an hypothesis that has been tested hundreds of times all over the world for a 100 years or more. And the result for all the expense is, “The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”

    The defendant walks. Come back again when you have some evidence.

    There are roughly 8 to 10 BILLION bullets sold in the US each year (http://blog.joehuffman.org/2004/11/21/) . Millions of people carry a loaded gun with them nearly everywhere they go every day. A gun is not considered an “inherently dangerous instrumentality”. The use of explosives (as in your link) require far, far, more care than a firearm.

  23. Joe,

    We have not yet arrived at the trial. We are still in the process of gathering information. This is a dialog. Calm down that trigger finger and disuss facts rather than hasty, convenient, admittedly biased conclusions.

    If you will read the prior materials carefully, you will see that the studies to which you have made reference say that there is NOT enough information available to conclude that weapons laws are NOT effective. They do not even go into the question of whether more stringent laws would or would not be more obviously effective.

    On the issue of dangerous intrumentality, see:

    Responsibility of Firearm Owners and Dealers for Their Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms: A Survey of the Caselaw – http://articles.corporate.findlaw.com/articles/file/00566/000570/title/Subject/topic/Injury%20%20Tort%20Law_Personal%20Injury/filename/injurytortlaw_2_192

    Best wishes,


  24. I read the entire page on the issue of firearms as a “dangerous instrument”. As near as I could tell there was no general finding of a firearm as such. Yes, there were a few cases but it general they were not considered such.

    As the “defense attorney” in this case I am not under any obligation to assist the prosecutor. Therefore when you come up with some evidence that one or more of your three R’s will make society safer rather than more hazardous let me know so we can proceed with the “trial”.

  25. Joe,

    Perhaps we can reach a point of agreement. You were quite enthusiastic in referring to the studies produced by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences. Those studies demonstrate that available statistical information is inaduate to form an opinion, one way or other other, as to the effectiveness of existing gun control legislation. That leaves open the question of what better information would show and also leaves open whether more stringent gun control would more readily yield such information.

    Will you join me in asking Congress to mandate and fund the objective gathering of adequate information that would assist in coming up with reliable conclsions as to the impact of gun regulation?

    Given the sheer number of people who are killed and seriously injured by firearms, it is difficult to justify not pursuing all reasonable efforts to obtain worthwhile information — whereever it may lead.

    You seem like a thoughtful person who dislikes wrongful death and injury at least as much as you like the proliferation and use of firearms. Let’s get the facts so that you can make a decision that is not simply based upon what you would like to hear.

    Best wishes,


  26. “That leaves open the question of what better information would show and also leaves open whether more stringent gun control would more readily yield such information.”

    It also leaves open the question of whether less stringent gun control would more readily yield such information. It seems to me that the complete bans that have been implemented in various countries would be a ready source of data to be utilized without infringing any further on the rights and (potentially the) safety of people in this country.

    One also has to ask if a moderate amount of gun control doesn’t provide any measurable benefits at what point do you expect the benefits to occur? At what point do the mechanism by which the previous efforts fail no longer exist? And will any effort be more successful than the restrictions we have placed on the use of recreational drugs?

    All that aside, I’m all for more information. The problem with this particular research topic however is that it has a history of becoming very politicized. There were millions of dollars that were given to “researchers” that produced blatantly unwarranted conclusions. It was so bad that when Congress held hearings on all the junk “science” they produced the researchers and managers didn’t even show up. Researchers always have biases of some sort and most work hard to put them aside and go through peer reviews to further guard against biases making their way into the final results. But with a political hot potato like this it’s much harder because it might be a career limited move if you produce something that pisses off some powerful Congress critter. Please note I have not placed blame for shoddy work on either side of this issue. Although the history is rather one sided I worry that errors in the other direction are just as likely with the proper change in political winds.

    I think the solution is for the research to be funded by someone other than Congress. I’m not sure who that would be. Perhaps some foundation that has no obvious political alliance or a private University that doesn’t get substantial funds from government sources.

    “You seem like a thoughtful person who dislikes wrongful death and injury … Let’s get the facts so that you can make a decision that is not simply based upon what you would like to hear.”

    The same appears true of you. And will you continue to gather facts and make a decision based upon where those facts lead you rather than simply based on what you would like to hear? Which leads me to my final question for this post. Have you and your wife made your reservations for attending Boomershoot 2005 yet? My time will be very limited but two other people have volunteered to be your “guide” for the event. Both are smart, articulate, and have long term goals which are incompatible with causing someone with whom they disagree physical harm.

  27. Joe,

    There has been a pause in our exchange because I have been trying to figure out how I could possibly attend Boomershoot 2005. Seriously, my bet is that you have a great bunch of people and that it will be a lot of fun. As pro-gun control and pro-explosives control as I am, and as little contact as I have had with such things outside the criminal justice system, I am as impressed as anyone might be by the skill of target shooting, the noise and chaos of controlled explosions, and the camaraderie of people getting togther to do what they like to do.

    That said, it does not come at a good time and it is outrageous that it can cost more to travel to places within our country than it does to travel halfway around the world. The bottom line is that I will not be able to make it there.

    Last night I heard a discussion relating to the shootings at the school on the Indian Reservation. The statement was made that “Guns should not be left within the reach of depressed people.”

    1. Do you agree with that view;

    2. I realize that the question of who is and who is not “depressed” is problematic, but can you get by that for the moment and get to the root of the issue?

    3. Assuming that, as a general rule firearms should be as freely available and carryable, as you sometimes advocate, do you believe that issues of mental stability ought weigh into whether a person should be permitted to possess a firearmm?

    4. If you do, how would you word the standard?

    5. If you do not, can you state in absolutes what, if any, limitations there ought be on the right (or privilege) to own a firearm.

    6. As an extension of 5, do you think there should be a difference between the right to own and the right to carry? If so, what is that distinction?

    Have a blast,


  28. Sorry you won’t be able to make it. I understand the issues and I really appreciate your trying to make it work for you. I know you aren’t just saying that you gave it consideration too. I saw your hits earlier this week on boomershoot.org regarding directions and accommodations.

    On to your questions:

    1. and 2. If the view was modified to be “suicidal” or “suicidal tendencies” rather than merely “depressed”, then my answer would be a qualified “yes”. The reason being is that there are some studies (but not all) that indicate a somewhat positive correlation between firearm availability and suicide rates. In fact, I tell my students that if there is someone in the house that has tendencies towards suicide to give serious consideration to removing the firearms from the home or putting them in a very secure safe that person doesn’t have access to. In one case I contacted the wife of a couple we know and highly recommended she remove the guns I knew her husband owned from the house for that very reason. She had already considered that but hadn’t acted on it until I gave her that little extra push. In any case that danger must be weighed against other dangers such as an abusive ex-boyfriend/husband that recently threatened them.

    The qualifications are:

    A) Similar restrictions should be placed on people’s access to cars. I personally know two incidents where drivers committed suicide by head-on collisions with other vehicles. In one case my cousin was severely injured and in the other my friend Ry managed to leave the freeway at 70 MPH to avoid the head-on and only had clean up his own the vomit afterwards–the driver and passenger of semi-truck a mile further on were killed along with the suicidal driver. I only personally knew one person, a great uncle, that committed suicide with a firearm. Too small, and probably biased, a sample to draw any conclusions from but a worthy hypothesis to explore.

    B) As you indicate, it’s tough to measure mental state accurately and objectively.

    C) I am hesitant to get the state involved because of the potential for abuse. For example: the abusive ex-boyfriend could convince his mental-health/police/whoever buddies that his ex was depressed, suicidal and should have her guns, needed to protect her from the ex, taken away. Even further down the slippery slope is that you might ultimately have to have an annual pysch exam in order to retain possession of your firearms.

    3. and 4. “Mental stability” is again tough to define. Currently Federal law says that firearm possessors must never have been involuntarily committed to a mental health hospital. I have never spoken out against that restriction however I don’t think it is the proper domain of the Federal government. That is more appropriately the domain of state law.

    5. If the person is not safe to have possession of a firearm (or matches and a can of gasoline) then they aren’t safe to have freely walking around in public. Yes, I advocate the access to firearms for some ex-felons–particularly non-violent felons.

    6. I can’t think of any reason to make that distinction. Do you have something in mind that I might not have considered? Of course I can see a reason to prohibit carry in some hazardous environments perhaps some areas of a oil refinery where there are high concentrations of explosive vapors or in a fireworks or explosives factory, the same sort of place where you might prohibit smoking for similar reasons.

  29. Joe,

    1. I will return soon to the issues concerning mental instability. I have to do a bit of rearch into it. For the time being, let me say this:

    It is clear that a person who has been adjudicated to be a danger to himself and to others ought not have use of or access to a firearm. My sense of fairness tells me that determinations of whether a person is mentally unstable should not be left to beauaucrats and that one should not be deprived of rights and privileges accorded to the general population unless there is adjudication.

    I think that convictions for crimes of violence, violenct domestic relations history, public intoxication, use of judgment altering drugs (whether or not prescribed) all ought shift the burden, automatically, to the applicant to establish that he can be entrusted with a gun. [It is likely that a number of peace officers who feel the effects of that rule, if fairly enforced].

    I asked you if you draw a distinction between the right to own and the right to carry because when weapons are carried the potential of their being misused, in the heat of anger, is much greater. A person who owns a firearm and uses it only under defined circumstances, without the right to carry it in public, is less likely to use it wrongfully. Keep in mind that “less likely” is not same as “will not”. Life is mainly chracterized by probablities.

    More on the foregoing at another time.

    2. You frequently refer to the Canadian experience. I came across the following editorial from the Canadian Medical Association Journal – 2003. They make a good point concerning the cry for proof as to the effects of gun control. As you know, the gun abuse problem in the US is far worse than it is in Canada.

    Best wishes,


    Reasonable control: gun registration in Canada


    Over the past decade in Canada, roughly 1200 people have been killed and another 1000 wounded, every year, by firearms.1,2 Gunshot wounds are the third leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15 to 24.2 We rank fifth among industrialized nations in the incidence of firearm-related deaths in children under age 14.2 The estimated cost of gun injuries and deaths in Canada is $6 billion per year.3

    Over the past 30 years most affluent countries, with the exception of the United States, have adopted national programs to control the ownership and use of guns by private citizens. In Canada this has included legislation in 1978 to license new gun acquisitions; additional requirements for owner screening and gun storage were introduced in 1991. Compulsory gun registration, which has been causing all the fuss lately, was written into the Firearms Act (Bill 68) in 1995, which also provided for the establishment of a centralized database. This legislation strengthened licensing provisions through further background and community checks, notification of current and former spouses of the acquisition, renewal of acquisition certificates every 5 years and other provisions. More power was given to firearms officers to investigate complaints and initiate the revocation of licences. As of Jan. 1, 2003, the deadline for registration, about 75% of owners had registered 5.8 million of an estimated 8 million unrestricted firearms.

    The Auditor General’s report that the registration system has been mismanaged by the federal government at a staggering cost to taxpayers has led to calls to dismantle it. This would be a serious mistake. Registration is a key part of the strategy to reduce mortality and morbidity resulting from the misuse of privately owned guns and the illegal trade in firearms.

    Reason and evidence support this view. David Griffin, Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, stated in a presentation to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs4 that licensing and registration of firearms “discourages casual gun ownership” and “has been effective in preventing people who should not have guns from getting them.” As a result of the legislation, Griffin reported that “tens of thousands” of “unwanted, unused and unnecessary” firearms had been turned in to police.

    Eighty percent of firearms deaths arise from suicide; 15% are homicides and 4% are classified as “accidents.”1 It is both common sense and a long-standing public health strategy to reduce this toll by controlling access to guns, especially by anyone likely to use them irrationally or with criminal intent.

    What the registry adds to gun control is that it links the firearm to the owner. Because the registry makes the owner responsible for specific guns, he or she is more likely to store them safely. This reduces the chances that children, people suffering from mental illness or addicted to drugs or alcohol, or people involved in personal disputes will use a firearm. It also reduces the chance of theft. Stolen guns are increasingly traded for drugs or sold to illegal international arms traders.5 Jurisdictions with licensing, registration and other controls report that fewer guns are available to criminals.6 Registration also provides police with the information needed to enforce firearm prohibition orders and to recognize risks in volatile situations such as domestic violence.

    There will never be undisputed evidence that a law or public policy has achieved, by itself, the desired effect. But most citizens, even if they disagree with a law, will abide by it. Our gun-control legislation has encouraged owners to construct safe storage places for their guns, to buy and sell them legally and to register them. Also, importantly, laws are an expression of societal values; in this case, they serve to educate the public about the risks inherent in gun access and to reinforce the ideal of public safety above the privilege of private ownership. We encourage the federal government to stick with the gun registration program and get the job done. — CMAJ


    1. Firearm deaths, 1970–1999. In: Causes of death. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2000. Cat no 84-208.

    2. Cukier W. Firearms regulation: Canada in the international context. Chronic Dis Can 1998;19(1):25-34.

    3. Miller TR. Costs associated with gunshot wounds in Canada in 1991. CMAJ 1995; 153(9):1261-8.[Abstract]

    4. Griffin D. Issue 3: Presentation on behalf of the Canadian Police Association. Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. In: 37th Parliament, 2nd sess. Ottawa: House of Commons, 2002 Nov 27. Available: http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/2/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/lega-e/03eva-e.htm?Language=E&Parl=37&Ses=2&comm_id=11 (accessed 2003 Jan 24).

    5. Report of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects; 2001 Jul 9-20; New York. Available: http://disarmament.un.org/cab/smallarms/files/aconf192_15.pdf (accessed 2003 Jan 22).

    6. Webster DW, Vernick JS, Hepburn LM. Relationship between licensing, registration, and other gun sales laws and the source state of crime guns. Inj Prev 2001;7(3):184-9.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

  30. Henry, you wrote:


    I think that convictions for crimes of violence, violence domestic relations history, public intoxication, use of judgment altering drugs (whether or not prescribed) all ought shift the burden, automatically, to the applicant to establish that he can be entrusted with a gun.


    I could accept that as long as there is a working process for it. Currently there is a process provided for in U.S. law by which a convicted felon can get his or her firearms rights restored but it isn’t funded. Therefore in essence it is non-existent.

    In regards to the carrying of a weapon and the heat of anger you might be surprised at the reality. To the best of my knowledge there have not been any published studies on it but some writers and numerous people report that people carrying guns take extra effort to not get in situations where they could loose their temper. They specifically restrain themselves from hostile acts because they are carrying a gun. They report things like, “If I hadn’t been carrying a gun I would have punched that jerk in the mouth.” They carrying of a gun means you will be held to a higher standard of behavior should a situation become physical. People recognize this and deescalate situations to avoid the risk of actually using their gun. We talk about this and teach de-escalation in the NRA Person Protection class.

    The editorial you quote fails to recognize the benefits of firearms ownership and hence concludes that discouragement of firearms ownership has no drawbacks. It also doesn’t address whether the money (nearly $2 Billion by some estimates) spent on registration would yield greater benefits if spent on police or educational efforts.

  31. Joe,

    As to you first two paragraphs of your note, it looks like we are on the path to agreement that under those circumstances there ought be gun restrictions and that such restrictions will work only if there is proper funding to implement and enforce the restrictions. It would be interesting to hear from others, who follow this blog, as to whether they have a view on what I have just stated.

    The third paragraph is the kind of self-serving conventional wisdom that we all engage it to butress what we like, but that is, otherwise, meaningless. Of course people have to take extra care if they own or carry a firearm. Of course, most people who own or carry guns take the precautions that they ought take. The problem is that we have a very large number of people who are killed or injured as the result of gun misuse or negligence in the storage of firearms. The issues are whether: a) this is a social problem that should be addressed by regulatory measures; b) such measures are justified either because they will directly reduce injury or because they will better fix accountablity for such injury?

    As to the editorial, I think it does a pretty good job of speaking for itself. Your comment would be relevant if the editorial was advocating a ban on guns. It does not. The last paragraph of the editorial is particularly to the point:

    “There will never be undisputed evidence that a law or public policy has achieved, by itself, the desired effect. But most citizens, even if they disagree with a law, will abide by it. Our gun-control legislation has encouraged owners to construct safe storage places for their guns, to buy and sell them legally and to register them. Also, importantly, laws are an expression of societal values; in this case, they serve to educate the public about the risks inherent in gun access and to reinforce the ideal of public safety above the privilege of private ownership. We encourage the federal government to stick with the gun registration program and get the job done.”

    Best wishes,


  32. Joe,

    As a supplement to my last note, here is an article from the March 31, 2005 issue of Texas A&M The Battalion (http://www.thebatt.com/news/2005/03/31/Opinion/Pro-Does.The.United.States.Need.More.Strict.GunControl.Laws-907457.shtml)

    Best wishes,


    Pro – Does the United States need more strict gun-control laws?

    By S R

    Published: Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Despite President Bush’s aggressive anti-terrorism program, the Bush Administration has a blind spot when it comes to gun laws in America. The number of people killed by firearms has unfortunately risen after seven consecutive years of decline, and there are critical loopholes and ambiguities in the United States’ federal gun laws. In light of this news, the Bush Administration must focus on keeping U.S. citizens safe from internal threats.

    While the Second Amendment clearly gives citizens the right to bear arms, Americans have continued to radically abuse this right. Elaborate mass shootings frequently haunt the nation’s front pages, and smaller incidents casually go unnoticed. According to bradycampaign.com, 82 people die from gunshot injuries in the United States every day. This number alone is reason enough to immediately re-examine the roots of this recurring problem and implement suitable solutions. Brian Malte, the outreach director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, believes that it’s time for the public to realize the severity of the problem with gun control. He told the Los Angeles Times, “When you have a lot of these incidents happening at about the same time, people start to put one and one together.”

    Past and present gun-related statistics can be partially attributed to the recklessness of Congress and the Bush Administration’s lack of gun law reformation. Bush’s 2005 budget could possibly force 88,000 police officers off the streets, causing a deficiency in state security. Congress’ failure to renew the familiar assault weapons ban has immunized gun manufacturers from civil liability for letting weapons fall in the hands of gun traffickers, snipers and terrorists – a critical factor in the dramatic nationwide killing spree.

    In 1999, Bush verbally endorsed the assault weapons ban and still articulates his pledge to sign the bill with little hesitation if it reaches his desk. But sticking with a political trend of unfulfilled promises, he hasn’t called on a single Congressman in support of its renewal. As a president who has been relentless in pressuring Congress on almost every issue important to him, his actions (or lack thereof) in regard to the bill are undoubtedly questionable and negligent.

    Federal law concerning gun sales and ownership is a complete legislative mess. The vague regulations have forced states to fill in the gaps, causing a plethora of troublesome loopholes. As a result of the poorly written laws, a category known as private sellers exists, where anyone who wants to sell guns from his private collection doesn’t need to conduct background checks, keep any records, research the buyer’s qualifications or be knowledgeable of firearms in any way.

    Since the horror of Sept. 11, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has repeatedly reminded us that the airplane hijackers used box cutters – not guns – to terrorize the nation. This observation holds little significance when compared to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, which found that 47 suspects on an FBI terrorist watch list legally purchased firearms in the United States last year. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., told the Associated Press that the “FBI knows that terrorist access to guns in our country is a real problem. Hopefully, the FBI can talk some sense into the rest of the Bush Administration and put the safety and security of the American people ahead of the interests of the gun lobby.”

    By examining specific cases involving links between terrorism and guns, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has revealed alarming results that scream for reformation. Specifically, the study found that gun shows are a breeding ground for terrorist gun sales; nothing in federal law prevents terrorists from instantly amassing arsenals of weapons; the irresponsibility of the gun industry allows corrupt gun dealers to funnel guns to terrorists, and the loopholes in the law have allowed terrorists to buy military ammunition magazines and “gun kits” through the mail that can be assembled into untraceable assault weapons.

    The Brady Campaign issues an annual report card that analyzes and grades each state based on a checklist of overall gun safety. The Campaign claims that while some states have successfully strengthened their laws and blocked efforts by gun lobbyists to weaken existing laws, a number of states continue to drag their feet on gun safety measures. Texas received a D- for its efforts, a slight decline from previous years; and eight other red states with equally insufficient grades are still pursuing an easier system for citizens to carry concealed handguns.

    A false sense of security has surfaced within the United States, and gun-related fatalities are a constant reminder of this inadequacy. While the Administration’s efforts have protected us from malicious outsiders, they have neglected to acknowledge the trend of trigger-happy Americans. Without a doubt, the government should bite the bullet on gun control and start prioritizing the safety of its citizens.

  33. “There will never be undisputed evidence that a law or public policy has achieved, by itself, the desired effect…”

    This paragraph completely misses the points I have been making. Has this public law achieved ANYTHING other than spending between one and two BILLION dollars and make some people feel like they have “done something”? See for example what I chose as the “Quote of the day” yesterday: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2005/04/01/

    The editorial you most recently quoted is irrelevant. It is nothing but a rehash of the Brady Campaign’s talking points (http://blog.joehuffman.org/2005/04/02/). Where’s the evidence? What are the facts? And if you do the correlation between the Brady “report card” and the crime rate in the various states as I did (http://blog.joehuffman.org/2005/01/17/) you will find there is NO correlation between their “grade” and the crime rate. So what good do those laws do us?

    You say, “The third paragraph is the kind of self-serving conventional wisdom…”

    I can see how your statement applies to what you said about firearms being used in the heat of anger–very “conventional wisdom”. My rebuttal of that is based on personal experience and the testimony of many people who carry firearms.

    Further rebuttal to you using that as an excuse to restrict the carrying of firearms is that in order for you to justify such a restriction with “without the right to carry it in public, is less likely to use it wrongfully” you must demonstrate this outweighs the losses that occur when people need a weapon to defend themselves or other innocent life and don’t carry a weapons simply because the government told them not to. Keep in mind that people that are willing to use a weapon in a crime aren’t going to much care if they carry a weapon in violation of the law. Any restriction you impose on the general population will affect the normally law abiding far, far, more than the willful criminal. And since defensive uses of firearms outnumber offensive uses of firearms by a substantial number you will always reduce the defensive uses more than the offensive uses. Hence restricting the carrying of firearms only INCREASES the total number of successful violent crimes. See also my quote of the day for today: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2005/04/02/

    It all boils down to my one question again.


    P.S. I had read Runnel’s opinion piece about 6:00 AM yesterday. I recognized the Brady lines in it but didn’t bother to rake her over the coals about it until you brought it up. Thank you for giving me the incentive.

  34. I have to give you both due credit for a thorough and spirited discussion of this subject. I am only going to address a couple points.

    Firstly, Henry and yourself refer to a CDC report. I, personally, do not credit that agency with any integrity whatsoever. The quote that intrigued me was this:

    “Research has found, for example, that higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide,…”

    This is one of those statments that is removed from logic. It does not state that suicide rates are higher in homes where a firearm is present; it clearly states that that means is what is preferable to other options available. If I stated that homes where rope is available, the rate of suicide by hanging is increased, that would be a meaningless statment. People use the means available.

    My only other comment is Henry’s post about getting shot around a bunch of gun enthusiasts for the fact that he recommends “the 3 R’s.” That is a silly allegation or point. My father always points out that the safest place in the world to be is at a gun range. There are law-abiding, armed people all over the place.

    In the interest of debate, I will be linking this conversation on my blog.



  35. Benjamin,

    I think I should make two things clear: 1) To the extent that I expressed a concern about the safety environment or the goodwill of those who attend, those comments were made in jest, and if that was not clear, I apologize. My sense is that Joe and those who assist him are probably models of firearms and explosive safety and are not inclined toward anti-social conduct. 2) As regards just about everything else I have said, I have been quite (I almost said “dead”) serious – that includes the reference to the 3 R’s. To the extent that I quote published material, I do so because I think it should properly be part of a discussion of this subject.

    You are correct to point out that gun suicides are more likely to occur in a place where there is a gun. In that sense, the fact is useless. There is, however, an underlying issue that relates to all unjustified firearms violence: If the firearm had not been available, would the violent act or the extent of its consequences have occurred? As an attorney, I have been involved in enough homicide cases, at trial or on appeal, to have reached the conclusion that, in many cases, the violence or the extent of the resulting injury, would not have occurred were it not for the availability of a firearm. That is due to several factors that we can discuss. Do you or Joe or any of the other readers disagree with my point, as a general proposition? I understand you may come back and say that this has to be counterbalanced by situations in which the presence of a firearm prevented violence or limited it to jusifiable self-defense. That is a separate issue (i.e., where the balance of the equities comes out). Before we can get to it, we should have some agreement as to what goes onto the scale.


    Your dismissal of the “heat of anger” use of firearms is directly contrary to what experience demonstrates. There are two broad branches relating to heat of anger or heat of passion.

    The first relates to the situation where person “A” becomes overwhelmed with a desire to inflict harm or punishment and will attack person “B” with anything that is available, including a chair or bare hands. If the gun is available and is used, the resulting injury is likely to be more devestating than if it were not available.

    The second relates to the situation where person “A”, while angry, is still mindful of his own safety, and will not attack unless he or feels confident of having superior force. A firearm is more likely to provide that inducement to go forward than any other weapon or thing.

    Knives, automobiles, baseball bats, ropes, broken bottles, and weighted objects each exist in far greater numbers than firearms – yet the number of intended serious injuries and deaths caused by each of those things is substantially fewer than those causes by firearms. Do you dispute that point? As regards purely accidental serious injuries and deaths, from the foregoing list only automobiles exceed firearms, but the two situations are not comparable. Human involvement with automobiles is far greater in time and numbers than with firearms. This last point can be discussed further, if the difference is not clear.

    Best wishes,


    Best wishes,


  36. Benjamin,

    I just took a look-see at your blog, and I see that you have characterized the instant discussion as one in which Joe “. . . has had a spirited discussion with a gentleman who is strongly against private ownership of any kind”.

    Where did you get the idea that I am against private ownership of any kind? This sort of discussion is difficult enough without one side mischaracterizing the position of the other. Please correct the misunderstanding.

    Best wishes,


  37. Henry,

    When I said “spirited,” I meant it. You are by no means the run-of-the-mill, lazy Brady-type gun banner. You are articulate about your beliefs and that comes across quite well.

    Firstly, I will address the “availability” and “heat of anger” arguments. I applaud you in admitting that suicide statistics amount to mere conjecture when arguing about the necessity of regulation in stopping people from hurting themselves. Personally, I feel that if an adult miscreant wants to snuff himself, fine. The argument revolves around the availability of firearms to underage people, who may or may not be mature and prepared for those kinds of conditions. Every responsible gun-owner I know takes precautions to prevent accessibility to children. My father had a shotgun growing up that was bolted to the wall. I tried to get it out once and spent 45 minutes giving myself a backache.

    As to the “heat of anger” argument, I have carried a gun off and on for awhile now. Long before that I carried a knife. In a closed quarters situation, I would probably rely on that much more than a firearm. Knives are more easily deployable and useful at a range under 3 feet. Conversely, if I were a sadistic criminal and wanted to inflict the maximum amount of horror on an individual, I would likewise use a cutting instrument. The idea that a gunshot wound is more horrible than, say, bludgeoning someone’s head with a piece of rebar is merely naive.

    As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, I am a property adjuster. My job sometimes necessitates me being in situations that aren’t good for my health (crackhouses, regions that are hostile to outsiders, etc.) My disdain for attorneys does not stem from the adversarial position I sometimes find myself in with them, it is their insulated view of the world.

    As to my blog mentioning your being against private ownership altogether, I will update that post to say that you dispute that. I will pose this question here and elsewhere; if you are not against private ownership, what are you against? What do you consider “reasonable measures” in the process of infringing on an enumerated right?

    Best Regards,


  38. Dear Mr. Boitel:

    I recognize that you have good intentions. I once thought that gun registration, regulations, and more laws were “reasonable” and no big deal.

    After being shot at, assaulted (separate incident), experiencing two break-ins while home alone (two other occasions), and, after hearing the stories of various friends of mine were held at gunpoint, I began thoroughly question my thoughts that gun restrictions were reasonable, and no big deal…

    All of the above incidents happened in Chicago – a city with some of the nation’s strictest gun laws. For example, Chicago has a full ban on hand guns. It’s illegal to even maintain a hand gun in one’s own home.

    After enduring disturbing levels of crime and gun violence, I began to ask – and I’ll ask you the same: If gun laws are so successful, then why so much violence, crime, and guns in Chicago? The same goes for other cities with highly restrictive gun laws, such as DC, NYC, LA… Shouldn’t these places be extraordinarily safe, and free from guns, period?

    Not so.

    Because, no matter how well-intentioned, gun laws do more harm than good. We could pass another 20,000+ more guns laws, to go with America’s existing approx. 20,000 gun laws, and it still _will not_ stop “bad guys” from getting guns. The law is irrelevant to criminals.

    Gun restrictions, do, however, disarm citizens, thereby putting guns only in the hands of cops and criminals. Unarmed people are easy prey for thugs.

    The beauty of legal concealed carry (the discreet carrying of hand guns) is that the surrounding population benefits as a whole. _Everyone_ need not conceal carry a firearm to deter thugs; the mere thought that someone _might_ be armed serves as a deterrent to would-be attackers.

    There is a wide array of glaring data online and in print demonstrating the perils of, and unintended consequences of, “reasonable” gun laws. I encourage you to visit this link to an excellent .pdf book that recaps some of the topics you and Joe Huffman have discussed:


    In the abovementioned book, all data is backed up with reliable sources.

    We (you, Joe Huffman, supporters/opponents of gun control, me) all share in a desire to reduce violence. We disagree on how, exactly, to do that.

    Education is better than passing more laws. I became a certified firearms instructor so I could teach others how to follow gun safety protocol. This knowledge isn’t solely for future gun owners – it’s helpful even for those who don’t plan to own a gun.

    For example, what would you do if you happened to stumble across a gun by accident? Would you know how to remove the ammunition? Would you even know if it had ammunition in it, period? Would you know how to turn on the safety switch? What would you do if a child had found a gun, and s/he brought it to you? (That’s kind of a trick question because a child trained in gun safety would know not to touch or carry a gun – they would instead stop, refrain from touching it, but tell an adult about the gun immediately.) Would you even know how to safely hold the firearm?

    Learning how to handle firearms isn’t just for gun owners.

    Back in my Chicago days (long before I’d been trained in firearms), the cops were scouring my neighborhood, looking for a gun that had been thrown aside by a gang banger who’d just committed a crime. It was then that I realized if I were to stumble across a gun – whether on the street or who knows where – I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to hold it, or how to make it inoperable. Sure, I could just not touch it, but what if a child brought a gun to me? Or what if a gun was found in a “public” place, and it would be negligible to leave it, rather than move it to a safer location?

    Furthermore, my first visit to a gun range wasn’t for the intention of owning a gun. Rather, I’d previously received gun-free self-defense training in which we were taught how to perform weapons retrieval – in other words, how to get a gun in your hands if you were held a gunpoint. My intentions in my first visit to a gun range were to learn how to handle a firearm, if I were to retrieve it from being held a gunpoint.

    Again, learning how to handle firearms isn’t just for gun owners.

    I know you are unfamiliar with firearms. As a certified firearms instructor, I offer to you and your wife the same invitation that I offer to my students who are survivors of assault: free gun training.

    Please note that my specialty is not in marksman (er, markswoman?) training whatsoever. I teach Guns 101 to beginners. My class is geared towards people like you who’ve never handled a gun before. The majority of the curriculum focuses on safe handling of firearms, followed by learning how to operate a hand gun.

    Also, if you were to join us at Boomershoot (a very different kind of shooting – more geared towards recreational fun), I’d be happy to satiate the concerns you’ve expressed regarding “safety” at the event, for I serve as a Range Safety Assistant at the shoot. You’ll quickly learn that there is no need to feel threatened. Gun owners at Boomershoot are polite, respectable people.


    Hopefully you will turn around your opinions, just as other proponents of gun control have reversed their beliefs after encountering facts, rather than knee-jerk emotions. This includes people such as Ms. Paxton Quigley, author of _Armed and Female_ and other publications. http://www.paxtonquigley.com/




    More firearms data:


  39. Benjamin,

    I am making an effort in this discussion to draw a clear distinction amongst what I suspect, believe or know. We all sometimes use words that are intended to mean one of those but covey one of the others. If you catch me not making myself clear, please point that out. I will do likewise with you.

    One of the things that does not work well in this type of discussion is the mistake or tactic of mistating the other person’s position. You have characterized me as being against all private gun ownership. I pointed out that this was a mis-statement. You are now going to put something on your blog that I “dispute” your statement. That would not be a fair way to put it. What you should do is either delete the statement or make clear that you misspoke or even say that you think I am just hiding being moderation and that you think I really want to ban all private firearms. Do think it would be fair for me to say you are an insurance claims adjuster and that your position is that all claims should be defeated regardless of merit? Then you would come back and say you have never said any such thing. Would it then be fair for me to simply say that you dispute what I said about your position? You get my point.

    As to guns and suicide, I did not say that suicide statistics are pure conjecture. I don’t know what the stats are with regard to the number of people who use guns as compared to the number of people who use other means. I will look to see what information is available on the point. There are a lot of factors that would be involved in trying to draw any conclusions. Do gun owners commit suicide more or less often than the rest of the population? When they do commit suicide what is the means that they usually use. If gun owners commit suicide more or less often, is it because the type of mentality that wants a gun is more or less likely to commit suicide or is it because the possesion of a gun makes one more or less likely to commit suicide? etc. The same questions can be asked about people who get access to guns owned by someone else. etc.

    In addition, this discussio is not going to have much meaning if it revolves around your personal motivations or my personal motivations. We are talking here about social policy, not about whether your or I may be good, bad, crazy, suicidal or possessed of poor impulse control.

    It is also important not to demonize classes of people. I don’t see what it adds to this conversation for you to say: “Personally, I feel that if an adult miscreant wants to snuff himself, fine.” There are a lot of people who commit suicide, with and without guns, who cannot be characterized as “miscreants”.

    Best wishes,


  40. Stephanie,

    Many thanks for your kind offer. As noted in an earlier posting, my wife and I will not be able to attend Boomershoot, and it has absolutely nothing to do with a personal safety concern.

    I understand your concerns about your personal safety and how they led to your becoming a firearms-oriented person. It is also interesting that a signficant motivator for your was the fact that a lot of bad people have firearms. I am at least as concerned as you are about that, I simply do not believe it that spreading more firearms around is going to remedy that situation. I do think that better control of firearms and increased accountability for the misuse or wrongful transfer of firearms will have a beneficial influence.

    I will look at the information you cite, and we can then pick up the threads of the points you make.

    On a personal note, while I am not a firearms user, I have been involved in a number of cases that involved the alleged or actual misuse of firearms and, therefore, I have had a good deal of opportunity to study the situations in which such events arise.

    Best wishes,


    Best wishes,


  41. Henry,

    I apologize for the updated post. I will update it again and just say that you won’t answer the question. I think that should be fair enough.

    In your last post you state that this discussion will have little merit if it revolves around personal motivations. Then you go on to impugn my profession while repeatedly referring to “cases” you’ve seen.

    As to the statistical argument, it’s rather simple. Statistics like the numbers on teens committing suicide at a much higher rate than any other demographic are demonstrative and independent of most variables. By stating that gun owners commit suicide with guns more than people than don’t own guns is not only obvious, when one thinks about it, but a sensational statistic that only serves to obfuscate the argument.

    I own a lot of guns and if I ever had the overwhelming urge to top myself, that would be the simplest means to that end. And, if I ever chose such a cowardly route, I would consider myself a “miscreant.” I don’t know what other word describes a person who is willing to deliberately cause grief to their loved ones.

    I may show my true colors here, but I don’t believe in “social policy.” I think the government’s social policy should be to leave me the hell alone.

    Again, apologies for mischaracterizing your argument. That will be fixed in a moment.

    Thanks and regards,


  42. Benjamin,

    The only thing worse than a discussion with someone who tends to twist words, is a discussion with person who twists words who also is holding a firearm.

    I suggest you read the prior correspondence more carefully and decide whether your proposed further effort at correcting the record actually does so. You will find that my writings do not suggest I am against the private ownership of firearms and I know that you have never asked me my position on the subject.

    As a footnote, your comments about your profession establishes a point. I did not make any adverse comment about your line of work. I made clear that it would be unfair of me to do so and it would compound the unfairness if I played word games under the guise of a correction.

    As for the remainder of your comments, I think they go beyond the purpose of this discussion.

    Historically, the phrase “straight shooter” has had a complimentary meaning that goes well beyound target practice. If this kind of dialog is to be worthwhile, we all have to be straight shooters.

    Best wishes,


  43. Henry,

    In my comment dated 04/02/05 at 9:33 AM I specifically ask:

    “I will pose this question here and elsewhere; if you are not against private ownership, what are you against? What do you consider “reasonable measures” in the process of infringing on an enumerated right?”

    Based on this quote, your allegation that I never asked the question is specious, at best.

    As to my profession, you directly imply that my job is denying claims, not handling them fairly based on contract language.

    I also stated my view on “social policy,” a phrase which you made central to the discussion. I don’t see how my view of “social policy” could be as you paint it:

    “As for the remainder of your comments, I think they go beyond the purpose of this discussion.”

    I thought social policy was the purpose?

    In any case, have a good weekend.



  44. Benjamin,

    It appears to me that we are speaking or reading in two different languages. I do not have the time or inclination to play word games with you.

    1. You attributed to me a position that I have not stated, and you have been jumping around rather than simply acknowledging your error.

    2. I think it is clear from my writings that I am in favor of:

    a) Registration of firearms and firearm transfers – similar to the registration system relating to automobiles, and with similar consequences concerning the liability for civil or criminal misuse or negligence by the owner and by whoever the ower permits to use the weapon.

    b) Licensing of people to possess a weapon, and restrictions on circumstances when the weapon may be carried — again similar to automobile driver licensing. Whether a license is issued to a person and what, if any, restrictions are on the license would depend upon whether the person has the requisite training and whether the person’s physicial or mental or behavior characteristics demonstrate that he or she is unable to properly use a weapon or is so unstable as to present a serious risk to himself or to others or has a criminal background that traditionally has been held to disqualify him from public trust.

    c) Some types of firearms should be barred from private ownership or use because they are so far removed from leigitimate hunting as to be unsportsmanlike and because their firepower can cause such grave mass destruction to human life that their availability to the private sector is not warranted.

    d. Apart from licensing restrictions, of the type already noted, there should be designated places where firearms should be absolutely barred from being carried on the person of private persons. For example, schools, planes, court houses and other places of strong public debate and dispute.

    As I said in my message to Joe on March 2, 2005: “It all comes down to the three R’s: Regulation, registration and restriction. They lead to accountability.”

    If you think that I cast some aspersion on your line of work, I cannot help that since I am not responsible for limitations on your ability to read. Go back and read what I wrote and quote for us, in context, what I said.

    Social policy is what this line of discussion has been about. Your comments about social policy (“I may show my true colors here, but I don’t believe in “social policy.” I think the government’s social policy should be to leave me the hell alone.”) pretty much mean that there is no point in having any discussion with you. I wonder how your fellow boomers would feel if you decided to make your own rules at boomershoot concerning when and where and how you will shot your weapons(s)or tend to your natural functions. Adolescent comments dismissive of social policy don’t belong in adult discusssion, expept, perhaps, as Exhibit A.

    Best wishes,


  45. Henry, you seem to be falling for the old “high powered” canard from the gun-ban crowd, in making your distinctions. It’s trivial to list hunting arms and cartridges which far exceed the typical targets of gun control in their ability to inflict “grave mass destruction on human life”, should someone decide to employ them in such fashion. Further, the deciding question isn’t the unfortunate “legitimate sporting purposes” test, regardless of the adoption of that phrase in various laws and/or regulations. Such regulations fly in the face of the true purpose of being armed, which is self preservation — against violence or the threat thereof, perpetrated against the individual by thugs. The “hunting” test is just a red herring which takes attention away from the real question.

    Regarding social policy at Boomershoot, vs. that enforced by the government, Boomershoot is a voluntary gathering of individuals, and there are indeed societal norms in that context, some dictated and enforced by the host and his assistants serving as instructors and range officers, but also those adhered to as a matter of course because intelligent, sensible people do not engage in behavior repugnant to others — out of respect for the sensibilities of one’s fellows. Social norms arise independent of government dictate; surely this is obvious. And, the rules that Joe will have for conduct on the range will overlap the common-sense behavor of the participants. And, certainly, there’s also overlap with actual government rules as well. But this sort of social policy as law is rooted in natural rights, and is congruent with not infringing someone’s rights, as long as they also refrain from infringing on others’. My possession of firearms infringings on none of your rights; it doesn’t endanger you in any way.

    Regarding suicide, Kevin Baker has thoroughly covered this argument already.

    This”>http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2003/06/this-is-kind-of-thing-that-really.html”>This is the kind of thing that really irritates me

    Just looked at the clock, and find I’m late heading out the door. Forgive me for not digging through all”>http://www.google.com/search?q=suicide+site%3Asmallestminority.blogspot.com&sa=++Google+Search++&lr=lang_en”>all of Kevin’s postings mentioning suicide for more of his treatment — perhaps later.

    And, as long as I’m referring to Kevin Baker, he’s also address the “we need more studies” argument in Evidence”>http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2004/12/evidence-of-absence-while-still.html”>Evidence of Absence

    As long as I’m writing. Aside to Joe: Might be a mini-boomershoot happening in my neck of the woods, depending on whether anyone decides to spring for an order from Skylight”>http://www.tannerite.com/”>Skylight High Explosives Corp.

  46. Jed,

    Thanks for your thoughtful note.

    1. Historically, on both sides of the gun control issue, there has been discussion of and accomodation of the ownership and use of weapons for hunting and target shooting. It makes sense, in setting the basics, to make clear that such uses would or would not continue under a proposed gun regulation system. When it is not mentioned, there is always someone who trots out that red herring.

    2. If you agree that reasonably hunting does not involve cutting animals in half with a spray of bullets or using armor piercing ammunition to take the animal down or to hit a paper target or even an explosive target, then we can move on to other things. – Like whether is appropriate to ban such weapons for hunting and target shooting.

    3. Your point is that what this is really about is whether people ought have an unregulated or barely regulated right to own and carry weapons for the purpose of protecting themselves and those close to them.

    Do you have a view on whether there should be any limitation on:

    A. The type or number of weapons that a person can have for that purpose?

    B. Who should be permitted to own firearms?

    C. Places to which firearms or certain firearms should be prohibited to be taken?

    4. I agree with you that there is a difference between a private gathering on private property and activities that one undertakes in public areas or that substantially impair the public good. As you might guess from the way I worded that sentence, I see that difference as be the valid grounding for reasonable regulation.

    5. I have read the item you refer to at the “Smallest Minority” blog (http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2003/06/this-is-kind-of-thing-that-really.html

    It concedes that a solid majority of SUCCESSFUL suicides in the US use firearms to commit the act. He then jumps to figures that show suicide RATES are higher in several other countries where guns are not as available as they are in the US. So, to him, that proves something. To me, the jump to other countries, such as Japan or Scandinavia is an anlytical error. Japan has a much greater suicide culture than the US – it is bound in with a sense of honor that does not find analogy in the US. Similarly, there has been a lot of study done on the influence that long nights or long days have on Scandinavian suicidal depression. Am effort to comapre those situations to the US is as invalid would be a claim by me that if there were a high rate of gun possesison in those countries, the suicide rate there would be much higher than it is. It is undeniable that persons who have a gun available in the US are much more likely to succeed at suicide than a person who does not.

    6. It is not my view that we need more studies. I think the value of gun control, along the lines I have previously described, is adequately established by the known facts. However, I think that if we have better recording keeping and gathering of information, the need will become obvious to at least some of those of you who are pre-disposed to wide open gun ownership and carrying.

    For what it is worth, there is an article in the NY Times today that suggests the pro-firearm lobby is prevailing. See: Shootings Fuel a Drive to Ease Gun Laws – By KATE ZERNIKE – April 3, 2005 – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/national/03guns.html

    I hope that what we are seeing there is only a short term blip.

    Best wishes,


  47. Henry,

    My first impression of your note to Jed is “WOW!” You have no idea what you are getting into.

    Most people that read this blog, and especially Jed, come from a completely different mindset that makes it very difficult to talk to someone with your mindset. Their mindset is, “The Federal government has enumerated powers. If it’s not expressly granted to be in their domain then they don’t have the authority to restrict and/or regulate.” In the case of the First Amendment the government must show a very strong case for the good of the public before restricting speech or religion. And so it is with the Second Amendment.

    Neither you, nor millions of others of a like mindset, have been able to show ANY regulation or restriction of the Second Amendment has accomplished ANY good, ANY time, ANY place, throughout of all human history on this planet. You have opinions and you have “common sense”. But you don’t have any data. Not with all the things that have been tried for a hundred years or more. Before you can justify ANY regulation of ANY type it is up to you to supply the EVIDENCE. Not opinion, not some weak argument. If you have some regulation or some restriction that hasn’t been tried then fine, let’s hear it and we’ll discuss it. Or if you have some evidence I’ll be glad to discuss it. The article in the NYT is the result of a people starting to see the truth. The false promise of gun control is fading fast. Get used to it. We have played defense for over 70 years and now we are on the offense. We are on a roll and this time we are going to bury it. It’s time you realized it.

    Until you come up with evidence or some idea for a regulation that has not yet been tried then I really don’t have the time or the energy to put up with your bigotry. I defeat bigotry by getting the largest possible participation and press coverage of Boomershoot that I can. I’ll have writers from NYC and Los Angles. I’ll have a television show crew from Seattle. Dealing with individual bigots like you is not worth my time.

    Just answer the one question Henry, just one question: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2004/12/14/

    Best wishes Henry. And remember that when the pro-gun people crush the anti-gun people in the legislatures we will treat you a hell of a lot better than we were treated by the anti-gun people. It’s always been that way. Look at your history books.

  48. Henry,

    First of all, in good faith and the interest of casting your case, I will update the post with your a, b, c, and d points, without commentary. As those are your words, and without my qualification, it should state your position.

    The “social policy” argument seems to be the one that is getting under my skin. You liken what transpires under private rules and conditions set by a property-owner to what you would like the government to do. There are numerous gun events that take place across the country that I have never felt inclined to take part in. If Joe’s philsophy was “make your own rules at boomershoot concerning when and where and how you will shot your weapons(s)or tend to your natural functions,” I would doubt his ability to manage a range and, therfore, would probably not attend. If Joe relinqueshed property rights to anarchy, I would think that he is out of his mind.

    On my own land, I set the rules as well. That’s called liberty.

    Additionally, you miss the point. Some of these people don’t hunt at all. Much of the point is the ability to utilize deadly force when it is authorized by the actions of another. What y’all sometimes miss, is it takes a larger, more powerful, bullet to take down a Cape Buffalo than, say, me. So hunting rounds are completely ideal for self-defense. Women are especially capable of utilizing a firearm in self-defense, as they may not have the upper body strength to utilize a knife or other object.

    As a footnote, I was hoping to keep this discussion civil and respectful, but you cast my arguments as “adolescent” in a conversation that is “adult.”

    Please don’t condescend, Henry. You’re a smart guy and need not resort to that sort of sophistry.

    As it is Sunday night, I can no longer wish you a fine weekend, but hope that your Monday is not that bad.



  49. Joe,

    I expected more of you than the emotional outburst of your last note. I trust it is the result of your being worn down by the preprations for your boom boom bash. So, I will leave you alone for the time being. Try to get some rest.


    It is not clear to me what your latest post adds to this discussion.

    As far as I can see, the primary differences being advanced here relate to fear. I fear the misuse of guns, you all fear that someone is going to hurt you if you are not packing a firearm. I put forward the large number of violent deaths and injuries caused by guns in the US, as compared to levels of violence from all causes in other countries (outside of war and rebellion), and you put forth generalizations concerning liberty.

    I took it from early on in this thread that Joe, at least, agreed that the ultimate question is not what the Second Amendment means, but whether, as presently regulated or unregulated, private firearms have a gross negative effect upon society. I point to the legions of dead and disabled. You point to some generalized feeling of greater safety.

    All of you are invited to be more specific in your position, as I have been in mine. Answer the questions I put to Jed:

    Do you have a view on whether there should be any limitation on:

    A. The type or number of weapons that a person can have for that purpose?

    B. Who should be permitted to own firearms?

    C. Places to which firearms or certain firearms should be prohibited to be taken?

    While doing so, you can chew or gag on the following editorial from today’s NY Times.

    Best wishes,


    Guns for Terrorists – Published: April 4, 2005


    If a background check shows that you are an undocumented immigrant, federal law bars you from buying a gun. If the same check shows that you have ties to Al Qaeda, you are free to buy an AK-47. That is the absurd state of the nation’s gun laws, and a recent government report revealed that terrorist suspects are taking advantage of it. There are a few promising signs, however, that the federal government is considering injecting some sanity into policies on terror suspects and guns.

    The Government Accountability Office examined F.B.I. and state background checks for gun sales during a five-month period last year. It found 44 checks in which the prospective buyer turned up on a government terrorist watch list. A few of these prospective buyers were denied guns for other disqualifying factors, like a felony conviction or illegal immigration status. But 35 of the 44 people on the watch lists were able to buy guns.

    The encouraging news is that the G.A.O. report may be prodding Washington to act. The F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller III, has announced that he is forming a study group to review gun sales to terror suspects. In a letter to Senator Frank Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat, Mr. Mueller said that the new working group would review the national background check system in light of the report. We hope this group will take a strong stand in favor of changes in the law to deny guns to terror suspects.

    In the meantime, Senator Lautenberg is pushing for important reforms. He has asked the Justice Department to consider making presence on a terrorist watch list a disqualifying factor for gun purchases. And he wants to force gun sellers to keep better records. Under a recent law, records of gun purchases must be destroyed after 24 hours, eliminating important information for law enforcement. Senator Lautenberg wants to require that these records be kept for at least 10 years for buyers on terrorist watch lists.

    Keeping terror suspects from buying guns seems like an issue the entire nation can rally around. But the National Rifle Association is, as usual, fighting even the most reasonable regulation of gun purchases. After the G.A.O. report came out, Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s executive vice president, took to the airwaves to reiterate his group’s commitment to ensuring that every citizen has access to guns, and to cast doubt on the reliability of terrorist watch lists.

    Unfortunately, the N.R.A. – rather than the national interest – is too often the driving force on gun policy in Congress, particularly since last November’s election. Even after the G.A.O.’s disturbing revelations, the Senate has continued its work on a dangerous bill to insulate manufacturers and sellers from liability when guns harm people. If it passes, as seems increasingly likely, it will remove any fear a seller might have of being held legally responsible if he provides a gun used in a terrorist attack.

  50. Benjamin,

    I visited your blog to see how you implemented your effort “… in good faith and the interest of casting your case, I will update the post with your a, b, c, and d points, without commentary.”

    Your method of presentation is pretty much what I would have expected of you.

    Best wishes,


  51. Henry, dear boy,

    I will answer your questions directly. I think Joe had a point, in that you cannot intrinsically understand his readers. Everything you think will make things better will make things worse, to my mind.

    Maybe this is a hurdle that cannot be overcome.

    a) I think I should be able to own anything I want to. Machine guns, crazy large caliber rifles, auto-pistols, etc.

    b) People who have been adjudicated to be mentally screwed up, should not own arms. Outside of that, everyone else should. Switzerland is on of the most gun-crime free countries on the planet, because everyone has a military rifle under their bed.

    c) Nowhere. If you look at the most recent incidents (Red Lake, that church in Wisconsin, and the courtroom in Atlanta) they were all places where civilians were banned from carrying firearms. This is not to say that the tragedies could have been avoided, but the death toll in each incident might have been lesser had a teacher, spectator, or worshipper would have had immediate access to a firearm.

    I also did not understand why my post was, what you termed, a “method of presentation is pretty much what I would have expected of you.”

    Tell me what you want me to say, and I will say it; outside of saying you are right.



  52. Henry, first off, I’m just not going to get into the suicide argument. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day. And besides, it’s irrelevant to the fundamental question anyway.

    Moving on then, I’m not quite following you, because you seem to first admit that the hunting argument is a red herring, but still to try to use it to frame some sort of argument about “reasonable” gun control. Well, to borrow a phrase from your bailiwick, “I object on grounds of relevance.”

    You want to move on to other things. But in truth, we won’t be able to get anywhere, because it seems we’re divided on first principles. I see no direct connection between the practice or sport of hunting and my right (and that of others) to defend my life and liberty, and that of others. There’s a derivative right, in that in order to preserve life, I have to acquire food, and hunting is one method of doing so. But that’s not primary.

    You understate my point. This is understandable, given what we’ve seen so far.

    “Your point is that what this is really about is whether people ought have an unregulated or barely regulated right to own and carry weapons for the purpose of protecting themselves and those close to them.”

    Close. But in my definition, the thugs who would deprive me and others of essential liberty could include the state itself, and so I take a Jeffersonian view. I’ll assume you’re familiar with Jeffersons applicable statements. The armed citizenry is the final check and balance. Now, given that this is the case, then we must be sufficiently armed to accomplish the task, should it arise.

    Now, before you attempt to set up a straw-man argument, I’d like to refer you to the indispensible Francis W. Porretto.


    Excerpt: “At the individual level, there is no argument for weapons of mass destruction. However, as long as a weapon can be used in a focused manner, such that the effects of its discharge can be limited to a well-defined target, it will remain the individual’s right to acquire one, if he has the means, for his own defense; the mass-destruction argument cannot reach it.”

    I hope that will suffice for an answer to your question A. I admit there’s an arguable border out there. For the moment, in order not to get off track here, let’s set the limit at anything which is standard individual or squad issue in any of the U.S. armed services. I can’t help but include another quote from Fran: “It is possible that the debate over what is and what is not a right will last until the extinction of our species. However, if an individual man possesses any rights at all, even the mere right to argue for his rights, by implication he must possess the right to defend those rights by force. For the defining difference between rights and any other sort of human possession is that it is morally acceptable to defend them by force and morally unacceptable to invade them by force.

    From that follows the Second Amendment and all that it implies at maximum extension.”

    B: (Ownership) Anyone who has not been proven to be incapable of handling the responsibility. But, we must be careful in how we define “incapable”. Benjamin mentioned mental incapacity. I could, in some cases, go further, but not much further. It’s a common practice that felons are denied certain rights, such as firearms possession, and in some (most?) jurisdictions, voting. I happen to disagree with this view, for the most part, because; 1) in our system, once a criminal has served his time, his “debt to society” or period of punishment, is complete — restriction of rights constitutes an ongoing punishment; and 2) there are simply far too many activities which are classified as felonies (example: I have a friend who has, on her record, a conviction for felony littering). I admit to struggling with this question, because I also have the thought that when someone demonstrates that they have no respect for the rights of others, I’m less inclined to care about respecting their rights. Quid pro quo, I think, or “Sauce for the goose”. I am however, wary of overreaching of the state with such a power of denial of rights. It’s historically demonstrable that the state will abuse it. If it were possible to be assured of due process and restraint in such a denial, I could be comfortable with a denial of some rights for certain classes of offenders (in practice, it’s impossible to enforce such a denial, except by incarceration or capital punishment). But I fear the slippery slope. And note that I started out with the verb “proven”. Burden of proof is upon those who would deny rights to establish with certainty that a given individual is not capable of bearing the responsibility of arms.

    Speaking of due process and proof, this ties nicely into your alarmist mention of those suspected of terrorist ties being able to buy guns. Please note that these are people who have yet to be even arrested and accused, let alone convicted. The further question is what sort of “ties” to suspect terrorist organizations will land one on the suspect list, or, as I recall seeing it referenced once, “persons of interest” list? Donations to a Mosque? I don’t mean to downplay the connection between radical Islam and terrorism, but I also don’t trust the state to get it right all the time. As a lawyer, you know full well that the government doesn’t always arrest and charge the person responsible for the crime. Else, why would need the court system? What other rights would argue should be abbrogated in the case of people who are merely “of interest”? 4th and 5th Amendment? If there is sufficient reason to deprive these people of their rights under the 2nd Amendment, then there should be sufficient reason to arrest them and charge them. Also, from a practical point of view, why tip them off that they’re under suspicion by denying them a purchase? Better, don’t you think, to increase surveillance at that point and arrest them if they break the law?

    Can you clarify why it is that you claim that we do not need more studies, when you previously cited the NAS report that said we need more studies?

    Castigating the NRA is hardly an argument, though I have castigated them myself. You might guess that my complaints are quite different from yours.

    Regarding liability of manufacturers and dealers: do you also favor such liability for mfrs. and dealers of other objects and ingredients used by terrorists? How about manufacturers of iron pipe? Chemical companies? Hardware stores which sell razor knives, iron pipe, fertilizer, and kerosene? Is there any end to your list, or is just those “evil” guns? How is any dealer or manufacturer supposed to know, in advance, the intentions of a buyer who is almost certainly at least a couple of transactions removed from his/her knowledge? Again, as a lawyer, don’t your recognize the question of intent? But if you’re going to argue proximate cause in the case of firearms, then for consistency, you must apply the same argument to other things. Yet I think you’ll find such an argument ludicrous. I infer that you apply this argument to firearms because of the potential for harm, but what is the potential for harm in a jerry can of gasoline, a bedsheet, and a book of matches?

    You mention denial of firearms purchases to illegal immigrants. From a U.S. jurisprudence point of view, I guess that the doctrine is that the Constitution secures rights to U.S. citizens. That is just a guess. My natural rights argument is that these immigrants are just as entitled as anyone else to the means of self-defense. In fact, I suspect they are much more likely to have need of such than you or I.

    How about getting back to first principles? Although I’ve gotten long-winded here, really, there isn’t any useful discussion we can have, until we get to the foundational argument. That argument, as I’ve stated, is that we have inherent rights, as humans, to protect and defend our own lives and liberties, and those of others.

  53. Benjmin and Jed,

    I am busy with other things today, and I will turn to your most recent comments tonight, hopefully. I think we are making some progress in getting the fundamental views and sharp differences out on the table.


    You state: “Tell me what you want me to say, and I will say it; outside of saying you are right. ”

    I don’t ask that you agree with me. I ask that you listen to my arguments and give me understandable responses that explain your views. I also ask that if you are going to quote me elsewhere you do so fairly and that you not smear some roadkill across the quote. How you accomplish that, I leave to you. Ironically, if you accomplish it, it enhances your position; if you fail to accomplish it, it demeans your position, except, perhaps with the wild-eyed and hopeless.

    Best wishes,


  54. A few answers for Henry:

    A. The type or number of weapons that a person can have for that purpose?

    What is your point? A gun is a gun is a gun. Only the conscious decision to misuse a firearm turns it into a vehicle of criminal intent. This is like asking how much and what type of freedom of speech one should have…it’s ludicrous. It brings to mind the stupidity of the current flap over the FN Five seveN being able to “defeat police body armor.” The body armor used in the now infamous Brady Campaign video is considered the MINIMUM amount of armor to be worn – and which would easily be penetrated by a 9mm +P (they used standard 9mm ammo in the demo) or a 50+ year old Tokarev pistol firing 7.62x29mm ammo. As reality has recently shown us, criminals may also purchase body armor and wear it – which means that I as a citizen should be able to purchase a weapon capable of protecting myself from a criminal who takes such precautions. Of course, unlike the officer in Texas who couldn’t bring down the perp, I know what a “mozambique” is and practice it for just such situations.

    B. Who should be permitted to own firearms?

    Current laws are pretty good in this area but could be improved. The denial of any right should only be based upon an inability to adequately understand that right (denial to minors and those with learning disabilities) or a demonstrated lack of sound judgment (a DOCUMENTED history of mental problems and/or violent crimes.) I disagree with ALL felons being denied firearms ownership because not all felonies involve violence, bodily harm, and/or firearms usage.

    C. Places to which firearms or certain firearms should be prohibited to be taken?

    To what end? What are trying to accomplish here? Frankly, I think we are much safer allowing carry everywhere than allowing a patchwork of places that deny the right. If you deny carry in a location, you end up with vehicles in the parking lot with unattended guns in them so that those seeking entry may comply. How is that safer? Real punishment and real enforcement. Simplify the laws, remove the ludicrous laws banning weapons for what amount to cosmetic reasons, get the BATF to actually do something about negligent dealers, have the BATF worry less about whether their employees have a college education and more about whether they know anything about firearms – you’re making a start on real gunscontrol that way rather than the moronic ideology that passing laws somehow effects criminals who don’t obey them in the first place.

    While doing so, you can chew or gag on the following editorial from today’s NY Times.

    So, the FBI and BATF are once again found to have no friggin’ clue what they are or should be doing in the area of firearms control? You think that somehow surprises gun owners?

  55. Dear Gregory,

    I will try to summarize, and I would appreciate your confirming back whether I have accurately done so.

    It appears that your view is:

    1. Any kind of firearm ought be available to be purchased and carried by anyone who does not fall into a disqualified category.

    2. If a person is entitled to carry a firearm he should be able to bring it anywhere he wants.

    3. The only people who should be disqualified from owning or carrying firearms are minors and persons of established unsound mind and persons who have been convicted of violent felonies.

    4. Federal Law Enforcement personnel do not adequately detect and arrest persons who engage in illicit firearms trade.

    I suspect that, as regards minors, you would permit them to use firearms so long as they are under the actual supervision of a qualified adult.


    Your position is pretty similar to Gregory’s, but more hard line.


    You seem to pretty much agree with Gregory, except you would deny private citizens the right to have firearms that are not capable of striking and limiting damage to a reasonably defined target.

    Both of you appear to feal that even a person convicted of a violent felony ought be able to demonstrate that he is likely to use a firearm in a proper, non-criminal fashion.

    Jed, it appears as though you would place a heavy burden on those who would deny a firarm to anyone, regardless of background. To that end you state the the burden on those who would deny would be to “establish with certainty” that the person is unfit to have a gun. I guess you men that to deprive anyone of a gun the authorities would have the same burden as they do in criminal cases, proof beyound a reasonable doubt, with the burden of proof being on the government..


    You raise the issue of what burden of liability ought be placed on dealers. More specifically, you want to know if I would place the same burden of liability on persons who sell other things that can be used in a homicidal way. You appear to think that if a gun dealer is going to have a responsibility for what a purchaser may do with a gun, then a lumber yard owner ought have a similar responsibility for what a person might do with a 2×4, and a pinao dealer might have a similar responsibily for what a customer may do with a length of piano wire.

    There is a logic to your argument; however, long ago, it was realized that any issue can be reduced to the absurd and if we let that happen we will not have any rules on anything.

    The point has been made very clearly by persons on this thread other than me: you are not seeking to defend hunting or target shooting, you feel the primary issue relates to guns that are purchased with the intent of using them against other human beings, either in a criminal way or as a means of self defense.

    Experience tells us that guns are far more of a consistent criminal or negligent danger to people than are knives, or 2x4s or broken bottles. Firearms are a reasonable regulatory class. That is not to say that otherwise neutral things may not give rise to seller liability.

    Man runs into store in obvious anger and tells the owner, “How much for a brick. I just saw my wife outside with her boyfriend and they will not live to regret it.” Owner gives or sells him a brick. Two people end up dead. I think her children would have a good claim against the seller.

    The law ought clearly define the obligations of a seller of firearms, and they should be penalized if they violate those rules particularly if the violation reasonably led to the misuse of a firearm. In the absense of violation, there should be no liability unless the seller has good reason to believe that the purchaser intends to misuse the weapon.

    Both of you raise a point as to which we would probably be in agreement. Rules of proof should never be suspended for a particular class, and there should not be different proof requirements depending upon one’s social or economic class, beliefs or origins, and there should be no assuumption that certain people are more likely to misbehave than others. Rules should be applied evenly across the board. Persons who are not citizens or who are here illegally, should be held to the same standard of proof when it comes to liability, as are citizens. However, a non-citizen can have the added penalty of being expelled from the country.

    I also think that laws ought be reasonably related to their objectives. That does not mean the law will stop crime; only that it will discourage and punish crime.

    Finally, it would be foolish not to agree that there is a chasm that separates us arising from the different circumstances in which we have been reared and lived. There are countless non-controversial examples of the different attitudes that people have about things ranging from food to homes to clothing to sport. There is a substantial amount of that in the firearms regulation dispute and, at the end of the day, one side will prevail, at least for a while. I think it is wrong for either side to view the debate as one of good against evil. It is really a question of judgment as is so much else in our society.

    I do not like it when you talk about the use of firearms against the government. Theoretically, any government can become so oppressive and dictatorial that revolution is warranted. We do not have that situation and we are not likely to have that situation. Moreover, you stand a much better chance of preventing it by going on the campaign trail and by the ballot box.

    Here it comes: If I were in charge and people were gathering weapons for possible use against the Government, I would take those weapons away from them. On the other hand, if the Constitution were formally suspended or if the evils associated with dictatorship started happening here, I would not hesitate to sign up with the founding fathers.

    Best wishes,


  56. “Experience tells us that guns are far more of a consistent criminal or negligent danger to people than are knives, or 2x4s or broken bottles.”

    Experience tells us nothing of the kind. Those weapons are used in violent attacks FAR more often than firearms…it just isn’t considered front page news. Where do you get these ridiculous assumptions – from the Brady Campaign?

    If you check out this UK website (http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/violence15.htm) citing a compilation of US violent crime data from 1993-2001 (using US Department of Justice Statistics), you see that during that period while 26% of violent crimes involved a weapon, only 10% of them involved firearms. Firearms trail knives and blunt objects as the source of serious wounds by a large margin and are also the weapon most likely to NOT be used at all during an assault (by a tiny margin over blunt objects and weapons of opportunity.)

    Sure, you can probably cite a single year that supports your claim but long-term trends are MUCH more accurate – and the long-term trend in gun violence and overall violent crime is ever downward as the number of states shifting to “shall issue” carry laws increases. Whether or not the two have a correlation is up for speculation. You can also grossly inflate your claims by citing ONLY stats for homicides…for while knives account for larger degree of serious wounds (those requiring hospitalization or resulting in death), firearms do result in more deaths (knives account for about 50% less homicides than guns, not a huge difference numerically – generally about 8,000 less killed.)

    As for your statements on my comments:

    1. Any kind of firearm ought be available to be purchased and carried by anyone who does not fall into a disqualified category.

    Yup…although I suspect you’re going to extend this to some ridiculous extent such as carrying full-auto MP5’s. I have no issue with current machinegun ownership laws as they are highly effective…I only oppose the 1986 receiver ban which has created an artificially high cost of ownership for legal full-auto weapons which only abuses those seeking legal ownership and does nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining such weapons.

    2. If a person is entitled to carry a firearm he should be able to bring it anywhere he wants.


    3. The only people who should be disqualified from owning or carrying firearms are minors and persons of established unsound mind and persons who have been convicted of violent felonies.

    It may be a bit oversimplified…but that’s 95% of the coverage.

    4. Federal Law Enforcement personnel do not adequately detect and arrest persons who engage in illicit firearms trade.

    Several recent GAO audits have been damning on this issue and I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes locally in reference to a negligent dealer. What more proof should I need? They actually have caught a few illegal machinegun owners/traffickers lately, so maybe the GAO reports have given them a kick in the ass…although relicensing Bull’s Eye Shooters Supply (which FINALLY had it’s license pulled after “misplacing” several hundred weapons) under a friend of the “former owner” and allowing the “former owner” to continue working there strikes me as ridiculous.

  57. Gregory,

    While you have embroidered it with more words, it appears that you agree with my summary of your position, except you have no objection to current restrictions on machinegun ownership and use. What is it about machine guns that warrant their being treated differently?

    You start out your comments by disagreeing with another comment I made: “Experience tells us that guns are far more of a consistent criminal or negligent danger to people than are knives, or 2x4s or broken bottles.”

    My comment was correct in two important ways:

    1. If we look at the number of people who are killed in the US by criminal or negiligent acts , far more die from gunshot wounds than from being hit with a 2×4 or stabbed with a knife or cut with a bottle.

    2. As the ration of people killed or seriously injued to the number of available guns, is greater by orders of magnitude than the ration of such people to the number of 2x4s or knives or bottles.

    I will await the comments of your fellow gunslingers as to whether the summary accurately reflects their position.

    Best wishes,


  58. Henry,

    Machineguns (and destructive devices which are similarly regulated) by their very nature demand a higher degree of responsibility than other weapons. While they are not necessarily “difficult” to obtain, one does have to submit photos, fingerprints, present yourself personally before a local Sherriff, consent to a rigorous background check and one is also are bound by much stricter handling and storage laws. These rules are not ridiculous (except that many law enforcement and BATF officers are almost thoroughly ignorant of them) and have proven themselves effective as only ONE legally owned machinegun has been used in the commission of a crime since the laws were enacted in 1934 and that was by a police officer.

    1. If we look at the number of people who are killed in the US by criminal or negiligent acts , far more die from gunshot wounds than from being hit with a 2×4 or stabbed with a knife or cut with a bottle.

    And eliminating guns does what? It will change the method of harm and create a new front runner for the most popular murder weapon (knives, check out the increasing trend of machete killings in gun control crazy Boston.) It literally does NOTHING else. If you want to talk about legislation which is about appearances and no substance, this is one as it merely bans a tool, it does nothing to target the root causes of most violent assaults.

    The second effect that more gun control will have is becoming more and more evident in the UK which has long had a near blanket ban on gun ownership. They have discovered that it is easier criminals to make a modern submachinegun than any other weapon…and that it is easier and cheaper for the criminal element to manufacture them than smuggle them in. Several high profile murders and numerous arrests have turned up increasing numbers of “home grown” MAC-10’s (almost ALWAYS with sound suppressors) on the streets of Scotland, Ireland and England.

    I’ll posit that a far more effective way to reduce violent crime would be to legalize a wide range of what are considered “recreational” drugs (and tax the hell out of them just as we do other “recreational” drugs like tobacco and alcohol), thus virtually eliminating the illegal drug trade. One only need look at how Prohibition caused a HUGE wave of crime which was virtually eliminated by legalization (not to mention a huge increase in alcoholism) to see the proper course. At least, unlike a gun ban, this would actually cause a decrease in violent crime…unlike the HUGE increases in violent crime seen in virtually every country which has taken the firearms banning course.

    2. As the ration of people killed or seriously injued to the number of available guns, is greater by orders of magnitude than the ration of such people to the number of 2x4s or knives or bottles.

    Absolutely untrue…did you even look at the statistics I noted? Please cite some support (no Brady Campaign or similar agitprop please) if your going to make such ridiculous statements. I’ve cited support for mine…if you are going to continue to act like you don’t need to back your statements up with some sort of proof, this conversation is even more pointless than more gun legislation which doesn’t simply target criminal usage.

    The delusion you live under is painfully evident…reducing the number of guns will reduce violent crime. That is patently ridiculous and how you can believe that in light of the evidence from countries which have gone that route is unfathomable. Guns do not cause violent assaults, violent assaults create gun statistics…but only because they are available. Evidence from the UK and Australia already shows that reducing the number of guns is only marginally effective at reducing even gun attacks and violent crime increased dramatically in both countries (over 200% in Australia alone) after widespread gun bans. Please cite some substantial evidence that gun control can reduce violent crime or simply stop stating what you cannot PROVE.

  59. Gregory,

    You are in error. Fortunately, your error amounts to words on a web blog. When one makes an error with a firearm, it is frequently all over but the burying and maybe the jail time.

    In one of your earlier messages, you were in the right ball park (but on the wrong end of the stadium). You said:

    “If you check out this UK website (http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/violence15.htm“>http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/violence15.htm) citing a compilation of US violent crime data from 1993-2001 (using US Department of Justice Statistics), you see that during that period while 26% of violent crimes involved a weapon, only 10% of them involved firearms. Firearms trail knives and blunt objects as the source of serious wounds by a large margin and are also the weapon most likely to NOT be used at all during an assault (by a tiny margin over blunt objects and weapons of opportunity.)”

    If we turn to the statistics, even as summarized by the source you cite, it is clear that in violent crimes where a weapon is used, the weapon of choice is a firearm. More armed violent crimes involved guns that involved sharp or blunt objects or anything else.

    As noted by the study you quote:

    “#From 1994 – 1999, the years for which data are available, about 7 in 10 murders at school involved some type of firearm, and approximately 1 in 2 murders at school involved a handgun.

    # For nonfatal violent crimes, offenders were more likely to have a firearm than a knife or club.”

    What the study does not tell you, but what logic compels, is that people armed with weapons are prepared to do agressive things that they would not have done if they simply had a close combat weapon available such as a bat or a knife. Indeed, the very obsession that some of you have with weapons is that they permit a bravado that would not otherwise be there.

    A whole slew (good word) of crime statistics information is available at the Departemtnt of Justice web site – http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/welcome.html

    Dig in it to your heart’s content.

    The summary that you credited. earlier in this correspondence follows my sig, and can be found at http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/violence15.htm“>http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/violence15.htm

    Best wishes,


    This U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics report discusses the nature and prevalence of violent crime by armed offenders, along with victim consequences, from the age 12 or older, from 1993 – 2001.

    Title: Weapon Use and Violent Crime 1993 – 2001 (United States Document)

    Author: U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics

    Date published: September 2003

    Number of pages: 12

    The data focuses upon victim characteristics (sex, race and ethnicity, age, and annual household income); victims’ injury details; place and time of the violent incident; and homicides involving armed assailants. Figures also show trends on weapon use by offenders.

    Key findings

    Estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicate that between 1993 and 2001:

    *From 1993 through 2001 violent crime decreased 54%; weapon violence went down 59%; and firearm violence 63%.

    *Males, American Indians, and Hispanics, the young, and those with the lowest annual household income were most vulnerable to weapon violence in general and firearm violence.

    * Approximately half of all robberies, about a quarter of all assaults, and roughly a twelfth of all rapes/sexual assaults involved an armed assailant. About 90% of homicide victims were killed with a weapon.

    * Approximately 26% of the average annual 8.9 million violent victimisations were committed by offenders armed with a weapon. 10% of the violent victimisations involved a firearm.

    *From 1993 – 2001 the number of murders decreased 36%, while the number of murders by firearms dropped 41%.

    * From 1994 – 1999, the years for which data are available, about 7 in 10 murders at school involved some type of firearm, and approximately 1 in 2 murders at school involved a handgun.

    *For nonfatal violent crimes, offenders were more likely to have a firearm than a knife or club. From 1993 – 2001 the rate of firearm violence fell 63%

    * From 1993 through 2001 blacks accounted for 46% of homicide victims, 54% of victims of firearm homicide, but 12% of the U.S. population.

    * For the 9-year period beginning 1993:

    o 23% of white victims of violence and 36% of black victims were victims of violence involving an offender armed with a weapon.

    o 7% of white victims and 17% of black victims were involved in incidents in which an offender was armed with a gun.

    * 45% of all violence with a weapon involved victims between ages 25 and 49, and 38% involved victims between ages 15 and 24. Blacks were about 9 times more likely than whites to be victims of gun-related homicides (25 per 100,000 blacks age 12 or older, versus 3 per 100,000 whites.)

    * The likelihood of an injury was the same for victims facing armed and unarmed offenders (26%); serious injury was more likely from armed offenders (7% versus 2%).

    Violent Crime Location

    The most common locales for armed violence and gun violence were the streets: those away from the victim’s home (30% of violence with a weapon, and 35% of gun violence), and those at or near the victim’s home (27% of armed violence and 25% of gun violence).

    Most violence occurred while the victims were engaged in leisure activities away from home (27% involving a weapon and 27% firearm violence), alongside commuting to work (23% involving a weapon and 25% firearm violence).

    Weapons and violent crime

    Between 1993 and 2001, about 26% (or an annual average of 2.3 million) of the estimated 8.9 million violent crimes in the United States were committed by offenders armed with

    * guns

    * knives

    * or objects used as weapons.

    [chart will not rep;roduce in this blog]

    Definitions of weapons

    Firearms include handguns (pistols, revolvers, derringers) and shotguns, rifles, and other firearms (excluding BB and pellet guns and air rifles).

    Sharp objects include knives and other sharp edged and/or pointed objects (scissors, ice picks, and axes).

    Blunt objects include rocks, clubs, blackjacks, bats, and metal pipes.

    Other weapons include ropes, chains, poison, martial arts weapons, BB guns, and objects that could not be classified.

    Firearm violence accounted for 10% of all violent crimes; about 6% were committed with a knife or other sharp object such as scissors, ice pick, or broken bottle; 4% with blunt objects such as a brick, bat, or bottle; and 5% were committed with unspecified/ “other” objects used as weapons.


    This report specifies to the assaults committed to as:

    All assaults: represent simple and aggravated assault examined together.

    Aggravated assault: an attack or attempted attack with a weapon, regardless of whether an injury occurred and attack without a weapon when serious injury results.

    Simple assault: is an attack without a weapon resulting in either no injury or minor injury.

    Percentage of report findings

    Assault Type

    100% – All assaults

    27% – Aggravated assault

    (1%) – Did not involve a weapon

    (26%) – Involved a weapon

    73% – Simple assault

    The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

    The NCVS is the United States primary source on criminal victimisation information. Data is continuously obtained from a nationally representative sample of approximately 43,000 households comprising of nearly 80,000 persons age 12 or older. Household members are asked about the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of victimization.

    The survey enables the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to estimate the rate of victimisation for:

    * rape

    * attempted rape

    * sexual assault

    * robbery

    * assault

    * theft

    * household burglary

    * motor vehicle theft.

  60. Benjamin,

    Here is a PS. The web site of the US Department of Justice, notes amongst other things:

    * According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) in 2003, 449,150 victims of violent crimes stated that they faced an offender with a firearm.

    * The FBI’s Crime in the United States estimated that 67% of the 16,503 murders in 2003 were committed with firearms.

    Best wishes,


  61. F L A S H – Back to the OK Corral.

    How about some opinion concerning the following just in. I guess this means that if two people are in public and pereive each other as threat, they can do the fast draw thing.


    Florida eyes allowing residents to open fire whenever they see threat

    MIAMI (AFP) – Florida’s legislature has approved a bill that would give residents the right to open fire against anyone they perceive as a threat in public, instead of having to try to avoid a conflict as under prevailing law.

    Outraged opponents say the law will encourage Floridians to open fire first and ask questions later, fostering a sort of statewide Wild West shootout mentality. Supporters argue that criminals will think twice if they believe they are likely to be promptly shot when they assault someone.

    Republican Governor Jeb Bush, who has said he plans to sign the bill, says it is “a good, commonsense, anti-crime issue.”

    Current state law allows residents to “shoot to kill if their property, such as their home or car, is invaded by an unknown assailant.”

    But it also states that if a resident is confronted or threatened in a public place, he or she must first try to avoid the confrontation or flee before taking any violent step in self defense against an assailant.

    The bill, supported by the influential National Rifle Association, was approved by both houses of the Republican-run legislature on Tuesday.


  62. Henry,

    Quoted from the citation:

    Approximately 26% of the average annual 8.9 million violent victimisations were committed by offenders armed with a weapon. 10% of the violent victimisations involved a firearm.

    So how can firearms be used in more violent crimes than knives, clubs and other weapons if they only were used in 10% of the violent victimizations involving a weapon? Let’s make that abundantly clear…firearms 10%, other weapons 16%, no weapon 74%.. Let’s also remember that the report required as part of the trial period of the Assault Weapons Ban by Congress found that the evil assault weapon, the so-called “first choice of criminals”, constituted less than 2% of the weapons used (I think it was 1.8% but I can’t find the report offhand.) Do the math – that’s 4628 uses out of 8.9 million violent crimes…or around .05%. hardly worth the hue and cry being raised about them don’t you think?.

    You also seem to like the part about guns being used in more non-fatal violent crimes than knives or clubs – one must ask what your point is since you are effectively pointing out that when firearms are used they actually tend to result in LESS injury than knives or clubs.

    Also, please only quote sections you want to actually use…quoting huge texts when you only want to use part of it is rather tedious.

  63. Finally located the National Institute of Justice report on the web It’s in PDF form and available here (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/aw_brief1999.pdf). This report was a requirement in the text of the assault weapons ban which required a study of the effects to be used in the determination of it’s renewal. Oddly, it looks like our Congressmen may have actually read the report and flushed the AWB back to where it belonged – in the sewer. The result? Overall gun crime decreased during the study period but it had no correlation to the AWB (gun crime has decreased significantly and steadily over the past two decades.)

    In fact, at one point the study found that states with their own active assault weapons bans (NY, NJ, HI & CA?), which also have draconian “may issue” carry laws, had a drop in gun crime of only .1% whereas states with no assault weapons bans, many of which also have “shall issue” carry laws, had an aggregate drop of 10.3%. Once again, the law abiding free citizens make the stupidity of the People’s Republics of New Jersey, New York, Hawaii and Kalifornia look good in the overall statistics!

    My only issue with the NIJ report was the short period of time examined. I’m sure covering more years would make weapons banners look even more wrong given what can be gleaned from the DOJ and GAO reports I’ve been reading.

  64. Gregory,

    I tend to quote large sections since pieces taken out of context can be misleading. If you take the time to read the article you cited and I then quoted or the original data of the Department of Justice, you will see that what it actually means is that 26% of violent crimes involved weapons. 10% of violent crimes involved firearms, i.e substantiall more than 1/3 of the weapons vionent crimes involved firearms. Hence, the conclusion by me and the Department of Justice (not necessarily in that order) that the most used weapons in violent crimes are firearms.

    It does not pay to cherrypick data. The data is overwhelming that guns do a lot of harm to a lot of innocent people. The only thing you have in your bag is a lot of speculation concerning the crimes that would not have been committed were it not for people like you packing guns.

    The first rule of being a good son of a gun is not to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Best wishes,


  65. Gregory,

    The report you cited in your most recent post was published in March 1999 and related to statistics for 1994-1996.

    You might also want to review the DOJ report of September 2003, relating to statistics for 1993-2001.


    In any event, the press release issued by the Department of Justice does not quite view its report in the same way as you do:


    TUESDAY, MARCH 2, 1999 202/307-0703


    WASHINGTON, D.C. — There was a 20 percent decline in the criminal use of guns banned by the 1994 Crime Act immediately following its passage, as well as a decline of gun murder rates, according to a report released today by the Justice Department. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study, Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban: 1994-96, examined market trends such as prices, production and thefts to determine the ban’s effectiveness, and the consequences of the use of assault weapons.

    “The assault weapons ban has helped to reduce the number of murders committed with these weapons, especially murders of law enforcement officers,” said President Clinton. “We must continue to work together to keep these deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals permanently.”

    The NIJ study noted that the assault weapons ban may have reduced the gun murder rate and murders of law enforcement officers by those armed with assault weapons. Also, declining law enforcement requests for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) traces indicate

    that the criminal use of assault weapons decreased by 20 percent in the first year after the ban (as

    compared to 11 percent for all guns).

    In the two years prior to the law’s passage, primary market prices of the banned weapons and magazines jumped by upwards of 50 percent. Gun distributors, dealers and collectors speculated that the prohibited weapons would become expensive collectors’ items. Because the production of assault weapons increased in the months leading up to the ban, prices of those same weapons fell dramatically once the law went into effect.

    The Research in Brief being released today is a synthesis of “Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994,” a full report to Congress conducted by the Urban Institute and released on March 13, 1997.

    A follow-up study is being funded by NIJ and is scheduled for release in 2000. This study will assess the longer term impacts of the ban, which could differ substantially from today’s short-term findings.


  66. Interesting press release. It made even more interesting by the fact that the very stats it’s quoting as being indicative of the efficacy of the AWB (the alleged 20% drop in assault weapons usage) are considered HIGHLY circumspect within the NIJ report which clearly states that the number is HIGHLY unreliable. Dave Kopel of the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University does a great job of outlining the gun trace fallacy in his piece “http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/CluelessBATFtracing.htm“>Clueless”>http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/CluelessBATFtracing.htm“>Clueless: The Misuse of BATF Firearms Tracing Data” which you can read on your own time but here are the high points:

    Not all guns are traced. About one in two firearms used in a murder are traced, while only one in fifty are traced in assaults, and about one in a hundred for firearms robberies. How could this even remotely begin to give an accurately picture of the type of guns used in crime?

    The BATF rejects ALL requests for traces on guns made before 1990 because of a lack of data and you automatically skew the figures towards newer weapons…and many of the AK clones only gained legal importation status after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries so VERY few were imported prior to the early 90’s automatically skewing their numbers higher than many other weapons simply because of data availability.

    According to various studies, 40 to 60% of all traces fail…so even the data they do have isn’t very good.

    Only 1/7th of the traces made are associated with violent crime.

    The Cox report which is used by the Brady Campaign to cite criminal assault weapons usage in major cities which was created using BATF trace data has been compared to actual police data on firearms usgae in crime and was found to have overstated their use by 1000% for New York, Los Angeles and Washington.

    That’s just a smattering of citations…read it yourself and feel free to check his references as Kopel meticulously footnotes everything in the piece (http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/CluelessBATFtracing.htm).


    Oh yeah. Please explain to me what sort of math says that 1/3 of something is “most” as in your statement “substantially more than 1/3 of the weapons vionent crimes involved firearms. Hence, the conclusion by me and the Department of Justice (not necessarily in that order) that the most used weapons in violent crimes are firearms.”


    Don’t want to discuss the greater drops in violent crime in states with more relaxed gun laws or the fact that firearms used in crimes result far less serious injuries than other weapons I guess?

  67. Benjamin,

    For your the world is divided into two kinds of weapons – guns and evereything else, so I guess I can understand your difficulty in dealing with the math. The facts are quite simple, when it comes to violent assaults with a weapon, the weapon of choice (i.e, the weapon used more often than any other kind of weapon) is a gun.

    If you take a look at all of the things that people CAN assault other people with, in terms of numbers, guns are a very small percentage. Think about the numbers of knives, axes, bats, pipes, cars, steam irons, tire irons, billy clubs, broken bottles, heavy rocks, dynamite, flamable liquids and copies of the Sunday NY Times there are out there. If you look at the things that people DO assault people with, the most frequently used thing is a gun.

    Then if you look at the outcome in situations where the weapon is actually used, by far the number of fatalities and very serious injuries are overwhelmingly most often caused by firearms. [Your suggestion to the contrary, as to injury is the result of another misreading of the data. The data does show that when knives or blunt instruments are used they more often results in serious injury than when a gun is used. That fact is easily misinterpreted. A gunshot wound or a stab wound is, by definition in the report a “serious injury”. Knife and blunt instrument attacks are generally within circumstances that the attacker will use anything at hand to injure his victim. If THAT group of peoploe had a gun available, they would likely use it. Amongst people who use guns, the reverse is probably true. The person who can and does equip himself with a gun is less likely to less likely to leap to close combat if the gun is left home. Similarly, in crimes where a gun is carried by the perpetrator, he ususally keeps a more of a distance between himself and the victim, than would be the case with other types of weapons. That discourages the victim from taking defensive action, and therfore actual discharge of the weapon probably occurs less often. Is what I have said true in all cases. Of course not. It does , however, rationally explain the “serious injury” statistic as not standing for what you suggest.

    In fact, if we were to following your thinking, the best way to bring down the serious injury rate is to give a gun to all criminal types.

    Your point about the difficulty in tracing what guns were committed in what crime, is interesting, but, as far as I can see, it does not help your overall argument. When I write the new regulations, every new weapon manufactured will have some kind of definitive “fingerprint”, older weapons would be required to be retrofitted if REASONABLY possible, and/or all ammunition would have its own DNA markings. Don’t ask me how all of that could possible be done. I am simply trying to give you an idea of what should be done if it could be done. To the extent that tracing can be built in, it should be.

    Your final point about there being “greater drops in violent crime in states with more relaxed gun laws.”, assumes a correlation that I am not prepared to accept, without further taking the opportunity to review the data. Guns don’t cause crime. They facilitate it. Negligent use or storage of guns is not “crime” within common parlance, it is stupidity.

    It is fundamental to any logcal analysis that the simultaneous or successive occurrence of two events does not mean that one causes or contributed to the other, particularly when it comes to the type of conclusion you wish to draw.

    Please give me two or three of your best citations for the claim that there IS a correlation between less gun control and lower crime rates. Do you also have any data for the proposition that less gun control has been followed by fewer gun injury rates?

    Keep in mind that some people will be making the argument that there is a correlation between lower tax rates for the rich, on the one hand, and: more war, Popes dying, and the discovery of new celestial bodies, on the other hand. Then also there will be people who will make the correlation between “free” music on the internet and lower crime rates.

    Centuries ago, the logical falacy was described as “Post hoc, propter hoc”, i.e., after which therefore because of which.

    Best wishes,


  68. Wouldn’t you say that, logically, the burden of proof for removing or limiting a Constitutional right, especially one that says “shall not be infringed”, would lie in the hands of those who wish to remove that right and not in those trying to preserve that right?

    Show me your best three sources for PROOF that gun control actually REDUCE VIOLENT CRIME rather than simply altering the weapon of choice. You haven’t been very forthright in citing anything but have simply made off the cuff statements about what “we all know is true”…step up and show me your acumen.


    I truly like this point you make:

    “Your final point about there being “greater drops in violent crime in states with more relaxed gun laws.”, assumes a correlation that I am not prepared to accept, without further taking the opportunity to review the data.”

    Hmm, so you trust the NIJ report when you feel it suits your purposes and mistrust them when it doesn’t? Awfully convenient.

    “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” is one of my favorites and could have used it if I’d run out of things to day. While we’re devolving into platitudes remember that “post hoc ergo propter hoc” statement is a “gladis duo mucro” – a two-edged sword. While we’re in Latin mode I’ll also quote Seneca the Younger who said “quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentis telum est” which means “a sword is never a killer, it’s a tool in the killer’s hands.” Wisdom from 2000 years ago when the edged weapon was the weapon of choice…and truly no less deadly than a firearm.

    You have not yet given one iota of proof that removing firearms from the equation would do ANYTHING other than alter the demographics of weapons used to facilitate crime. If it can’t do anything more, it is a strawman (since we’re citing logical fallicies now.) Remember, you are attacking a Constitutional right here…the burden of proof is on YOUR side.

  69. Gregory,

    1. A. I don’t believe that the 2nd Amendment was intended to give everyone a right to have a gun.

    B. If that was the intention, it ceretainly was not the intention to give everyone a right to have a type of gunpower that is involved in semi-automatics, armor piercing, long range or cannon class firearms.

    C. If you go back over my earlier exchanges with Joe (I hope you are well and rested Joe), you will see that the discussion was lauched on the issue of whether guns in the general population, unregulated, are or would be an overall postive or negative, without reference to the Constitutional debate.

    2. I take it from your dancing around that you are not prepared to provide me with anything that demonstrates the causal relation between lack of regulation and decrease in crime.

    3. You are, once again, creating dummy targets to shoot at. I very specifically said, in my last message to you:

    “Your final point about there being “greater drops in violent crime in states with more relaxed gun laws.”, assumes a correlation that I am not prepared to accept, without further taking the opportunity to review the data. Guns don’t cause crime. They facilitate it.”

    In those two lines, I make clear that I want to look at the data and then provide you with the results of my analysis. I also make clear that I have no argument with the fact that it is the use of guns that kills. [The whole thing about guns don’t kill, people kill, is nonsensical and adds nothing to the discussion].

    My proof on the basic issue of the need for gun regulation and tracking is only the many thousands of people who are killed and injured by guns eveery year. It is the great disparity between homicide rates in the United States as compared to the rest of the world where wars are not in progress. It is the generally bad things that follow in a society where a culture of fear is promoted. [have fun with that one.] It is the shocking unreality of an environment in which people advocate the idea that, just about any gunpower is alright to be put in the hands of just about anyone and to be carried just about anywhere, unless it is proved that something bad is going to happen.

    Be not afraid Gregory. Be brave. Disarm. Show everyone that you do not need a big steel boomer to prove yourself.

    Best wishes,


  70. Henry,

    As it is the brink of a weekend, I’m ready to wade back into the fever swamps. My only complaint in the interim is that you keep adressing Gregory as “Benjamin.” I’ve never corresponed with Gregory, but please give him the due respect by adressing by the name his mother gave him and not mistaking him for my sorry ass.

    I’m going to give up here. Guns used by mutants kill people. If there was an effective way to remove them from the population, then gun crime would go down.

    I don’t regularly carry a gun. It depends on where I’m going, who I’m meeting, and what the hell I’m generally doing.

    I always carry about 5 knives, the reason being is that a boot knife is far more effective at neutralizing a 300 pound man, if he is on top of me, than deploying a firearm. I would say that I’m about 300% more likely to stab somebody than shoot them.

    Before you run away with this, I really don’t plan on doing either in my lifetime, and that’s the way I like it.

    You seem to think that Joe, Jed, Gregory, and I all have some kind of predisposition to violence and that is why we do what we do and hold the opinions to back them up.

    Personally, I don’t give a crap what the crime statistics in Cananda are. I’m an American. They’ve got their own country to screw up any way they want.

    Additionally, you might have stats that say the more guns that are available, the more people die from them. No argument. I’ve got a .45 sitting next to me and if I decided to commit suicide tonight, I wouldn’t be hanging myself from a shower curtain rod. Come on man, half of this is plain common sense.

    Where I find your argument lacking is not in statistical data, but in any kind of common sense. You quote ancient Latin lawyer quips and British statistics, but you can’t come up with an argument.

    Couple with the fact, you seem to view posting with us as a trip to the zoo. It’s fun to see how the monkeys act when they think they’re alone. And these gun-nuts, while talking a good game, are crazier than shithouse rats. I’m assuming that’s what you think when you log off; and if I mischaracterized you, I’m sorry.

    We’re not Neanderthals, as much as Joe likes to tout his family tree. If you look at my latest post, I managed to fire 20 rounds in 2 hours. I’m not exactly the scary “bullet hose” type.

    Additionally, I seem to be more hard libertarian than some of the guys you’ve been chatting up. I think I should be able to buy a machine gun at the hardware store, but my fellow gun bloggers agree with the 1934-1938 laws.

    In conclusion, you seem to be passing judgement on a culture you know nothing about and are unwilling to learn about. We’re a petting zoo for you to screw around in on a Friday night. We’re the red-state nuts out west that you will never have to deal with.

    And the crux of your argument seems to be that, by being prepared to use deadly force, one is doomed to that Calvinistic doom.

    Think about it man? You probably don’t have these polite of discussions with your MoveOn friends.

    In any case, I’m glad it’s Friday and I hope you and yours have a great weekend.



  71. Dear Benjamin,

    Sorry to you and Gregory. From a distance, it is difficult to tell which mon.. man is which.

    You do put your finger on a sharp point. There are definitlely a number of significant culture differences that contribute to the differences in attitudes.

    Your descrip;tion of how we view you is somewhat exaggerated, and that is too bad.

    I think it is fair to say that there are many people — probably a heavy majority — that think it strange that anyone would carry a bunch of knives around with him for self defense, or that anyone would advocate the ready availability to just about anyone of semiautomatic weapons. Most of us would consider that not only strange but dangerous.

    You give me a bum rap when you say I am passing judgment on a culture I know nothing about. If your pleasure were to jump out of third story windows or to frolic with rattlers, I would think that strange, but I would say I hope you enjoy yourself and don’t get hurt — if I thought about it much at all. The trouble with firearms is that they don’t stay in one place, they are a national problem that comes into areas where most people think about firearms in a different way than you do.

    You guys seem to like to envision yourselves as culture victims whose local practices are being invaded by outsiders. In fact you or people like you have been campaigning for free access to guns throughout the US — not merely in your neighborhoods.

    I have not said that you and the others have a “predisposition to violence”. I look at what you guys say and it is clear that you have a predisposition to FEAR. You want guns because you are afraid. Maybe if I lived where you live with all those people running around with firearms – some of them wararms — I would be afraid too.

    I have been engaging in this discussion so that I can better understand where you guys are coming from and so that you can understand where I am coming from. Joe opened this page with some pretty judgemental things about me. Do I now have to apologize for getting into the spirit of the debate? Is this some kind of one way street?

    If you and your friends would stop whining and deal with facts, this discussion would become more meaningful.

    As an aside, what do you make of the fact that the states that have the most active pro-gun lobbies also have the highest divorce rates in the Country?

    Here is an editorial from today’s NY Times.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


    Congress Fetches for the Gun Lobby

    Americans stunned at recent sprees of gun mayhem in churches, schools and courthouses should know that Congress is gearing up for action on this issue. No, lawmakers are not rushing through legislation to cut down on the 29,000 gun deaths a year. Rather, the Senate is preparing to revive a craven proposal to shield irresponsible gun manufacturers and dealers from accountability.

    The proposal, which failed narrowly last year, is now estimated to have majority support from lawmakers who have been either cowed or bolstered by the gun lobby. It would have stopped such lawsuits as the one that led to a $2.5 million settlement for the families of victims in the Washington sniper shootings. That rifle was traced to a West Coast dealer who claimed that it was one of 238 weapons suddenly missing from inventory. The Senate proposal would shelter such transparently harmful dealers and manufacturers and snuff out more than a dozen other suits now in the courts.

    The bill, offered this year by Senator Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, goes further, undermining not just lawsuits but also administrative proceedings to revoke abusive dealers’ licenses. Under it, gun dealers couldn’t be disciplined for black-market deals involving illegal weapons unless it could be proved that they had engaged in them knowingly – as if general ineptitude or a lack of interest were acceptable. Last year, Congress joined President Bush in letting lapse the 1994 law restricting the availability of battlefield assault rifles. Congress also mandated the destruction of gun-sale records within 24 hours. Lawmakers were only making things easier for potential terrorists and other sociopaths.

  72. Henry,

    Sorry about the delayed response.

    I was almost going to fisk the NYT op-ed you cite when I first read it. But that is considered easy game.

    Gregory and I have never corresponded to date, but if you feel our opinions are about the same, then I understand the confusion.

    You bring up a very good point as far as culture and geography. You and I live in different areas with a wide gap in views on, not only guns, but any number of social issues. So, you are right to bring up that the cultural gap might never be bridged, due to the areas where we live.

    One thing I found bordering on libelous, is that we are all motivated by fear, or as you state it, “FEAR.” I think safety would be a better description. You seem to think that I carry anything in the hopes that I can use it. In reality, I hope I never have to use anything I carry. But, if it comes down to defending self, property, or family, I am willing to use force. What I consider fear is removing any ability to respond to criminal elements in society.

    Truthfully, I would be more afraid living where you do, than where I do now. Crime rates have improved, but do not match those of my home state or town.

    As to “whining,” I take minor offense to that. What is being argued is an enumerated right in the Constitution, not some legally invented one like the “right to privacy.”

    You make an interesting Federalist argument, in that, you seem to agree that states have the ability to make law if a federal vacuum occurs. I would say that local cultures and communities should be able to govern themselves if there is a lack of federal infringement (you might use a different term.)

    You also link divorce to gun-ownership. You can also link divorce to the amount of corrections officers in a state. That is clearly a specious point. How many ice cream trucks are there in Mississippi? How much divorce? Is there a link?

    As far as visiting animals in the zoo, I may have overstated it, but that is why you even considered attending Boomershoot. You want to see a regulated bunch of nuts in their native habitat. Understandable.

    I did my taxes on Saturday, and my asshole is still hurting. I’m gonna give it some down time.

    Hope your weekend was more enjoyable.

    Best regards,


  73. Benjamin,

    It is natural for people to fear that which they do not know. It is always interesting to observe people who come from places where there are no subways and who visit New York. Almost always, they stand at the center of the subway platform, as far away as possible from the where the trains will come whizzing by, where as most locals will stand near the edge, about where the they know the door will open.

    I did not say there IS a relation between high divorce and open gun laws. I was citing a point to show that the coexistence of two facts does not necessarily mean they are connected — as with lowering crime rates and easing of gun laws. I see you agree.

    On taxes, as you probably know, sales tax tends to hit the average working person, proportionally harder than it does people of wealth. I am not sure where you are from, but, it may be of interest for you to know that the ten states with the highest state and local sales tazes are, in descending order are:











    You have me wrong on why I was hoping to accept Joe’s invitation to come out to Boomershoot. For most of my life I have interacted with people from all over thc country and all over the world. It is a lot more difficult to be judgmental about people when you get to know them personally, and not merely on an issue basis. Part of my wish to attend was to put my own judgments to the test. You might call it self as monkey. In addition, if you go by fireworks and the like, I still get a big kick out of big booms and flashes, and the challenge of being able to hit a target is probably similar for most to the challenge of being able to win a jackpot. Anyway I wanted to better understand — with the realization that better understanding might change or reinforce my views.

    Going back over this ‘invited the enemy” page, I know that you do not find it pleasent tbe be described as living in fear, but I base that conclusion upon what you guys have said, not upon my prejudices. You have made very clear that you think you need weapons (guns and knives) to protect yourselves. The comments thus far have just about run away from even talking about firearms for hunting, sport and collecting.

    On the question of the threat posed by firearms as opposed to other things that can be used as wapons, I think it is obvious that the pecentage of guns that are used to wrongfully hurt or kill people is far far greater than the percentage of knives or clubs or bottles that are used to hurt or kill people. (i.e., every home and most other places have far more of those last three things than they do guns.

    It is also of note that just about every assassination attempt or occurrence in the US has been with a firearm. Almost all mistaken killings are with firearms (“I thought it was a deer or an intruder”). How often do you hear about mistaken stabbings?

    I hope that your have a full recovery from your tax trauma and that you will be sitting up again soon.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


  74. I wish I had the same level of perseverance the rest of you have for this, but sadly, it’s not to be. Nonetheless, I can’t resist a few parting shots.

    Henry, you stated that “if the Constitution were formally suspended or if the evils associated with dictatorship started happening here, I would not hesitate to sign up with the founding fathers.” But yet you deny the possibility of being prepared for such, when you state, “If I were in charge and people were gathering weapons for possible use against the Government, I would take those weapons away from them.” So, assuming the time comes, you would have us be severely disadvantaged — nearly unable to act, in fact, due to extreme disparity of force. You can argue that unarmed groups could acquire weapons via raiding armories, but that would entail a lot of risk, and not be guaranteed of success. The best arms are the ones we already have.

    Please note, however, that there is a difference being being prepared for something, and promoting it. You do carry health insurance, don’t you? Does this mean that you look forward to contracting pancreatitis or Hodgkins Lymphoma?

    This also relates to your allegations of having a mentality operating on fear. There is a difference between being afraid and being prepared. We all know that hazards exist. Specifically with respect to self-defense, we all know that regardless of laws, regulations, import restrictions, etc., there will still be a criminal element in society. That criminal element will acquire weapons regardless of gun control. I hope I’m never in the position of having to dispatch an attacker, but should the need arise, I want to be able to do it with as much certainty as possible, and as little risk to myself and other innocents. This isn’t fear, it’s practicality. Owning guns for self defense is no more indicative of fear than buying groceries is of fear that one might starve.

    An aside to Benjamin, I don’t know about your statement that “I think I should be able to buy a machine gun at the hardware store, but my fellow gun bloggers agree with the 1934-1938 laws.” I don’t. I can think of a couple other who don’t right off the top of my head. It’d be interesting to get a read on this.

    Henry, you seem to think that our government is in fine shape re. the Constitution. Well, that’s a point which is debatable, but far beyond the scope of this thread (nonetheless, I’ll toss out a few thoughts). Many good people disagree with you on this. I’ve read plenty of criticism of Wickard v. Filburn, for example. More recently, the 4th Amendment has taken a severe shredding at the hands of the Supreme Court. Not only that, but we have Justices who openly advocate the consideration of foreign precedents in deciding U.S. cases. No, we haven’t seen an edict suspending the Constitution. What we do have is far worse. It’s referred to as the “boiled frog” phenomenon. When the Constitution has been interpreted and re-interpreted to the extent that it has been, the effect of stare decisis and the weight of precedent winds up having the same effect. There’s no need for a formal suspension. It’s happening little by little, over time. And it’s all done according to proper procedures and rules and laws, so that people can still point to that tattered and torn document and say, “See, we still have a Constitution.” Such a clever deception.

    Henry, if you can’t attend Boomershoot, there are plenty of other opportunities right over there in your neck of the woods for meeting firearms enthusiasts. All you have to do is look for them. Get in touch with state shooting sports associations in NY, PA, NJ, et. al. and find out where/when the matches are.

    I don’t particularly care about the statistics. I’ve seen them argued, disputed, interpreted, and rejected all across the board. It also isn’t about fear. It’s about rights. And that’s where I’ll continue to stand.

  75. Jed,

    I am beginning to reach the conclusion that we do not agree about a few things.

    One thing we may agree on –for some of the same but also some different reasons — is that respect for the Constitution is not what it should be by some in the Executive, the Congress and the Courts. In my view, where the Constitution guarantees a right in plain terms, all branches of government ought err on the side of respecting that right and should not be looking for a nitpicking basis upon which to deny application of the right. Moreover, blantant violation of Constitutional rights by members of government ought lead to loss of office.

    It should not matter which rights we are talking about. Do you agree with the foregoing?

    The reason you and I do not come out on the same side with regard to the Second Amendement is that the plain terms of the Amendment have a different meaning for me than for you.

    “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.”

    The amendment does not speak to your security or my security but “the security of a free state”. The reference to “the people” is in the same way that indictments read “The People of The State of …. against Jesse James.” If the amendment intended to vest a right in individuals, it would have followed the same pattern used in individual right amendments, either by prohibiting some kind of State action or by guaranteeing some individual entitlement. It would have said “the right of people to keep and bear arms. . . ”

    Assuming, for the purpose of argument, that it was intended to vest a personal, individual right, I do not think that those who adopted the amendment had any intention that individuals should have aright to own weapons of mass destruction (i.e., weapons substantially mroe powerful and automated than what existed at the time].

    If I am wrong on either the first or second of the foregoing, then it is certainly correct that the right to own such weapons cannot constitutionall by infringed. Even in that case, I do not think that registration of weapons is an infringement.

    I think the discussion concering “fear” is coming down to semantics. The only argument you guys have advanced for the ownership and carrying of heavy duty weapons is that you are afraid that some bad person is going to be able to overpower, severely hurt or kill you if you do not have such weapons. You can refer to it as a precaution. It is fear. Unfortunately it is a fear that results in a large number of unjustified or negligent deaths and maimings every year.

    Is there anyone who is following this discussion who cares to offer an opinion as to what Christ or any other historical central religious figure would have to say about the proliferation of guns and other weapons? Or is that off bounds on this blog?

    Best wishes, be not afraid, and persevere.


  76. Henry, a few (heck, a lot) comments:

    WRT the meaning of the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution, and your understanding of it doesn’t make sense to me. Are you saying that in a collection of rights passed after then constitution that guaranteed rights of the individual people to freely assemble, speak freely, be safe from unreasonable search and seizure, have due process of law, not having to fear double jeopardy, etc., etc., you are saying that they included a right that guarantees the right of the government to arm it’s own troops? Doesn’t seem quite right to me…. It’s also at odds with Prof. Roy Ropperude’s reading of it (http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/unabridged.2nd.html ). Additionally, you state “for the sake of argument” that individuals shouldn’t own “weapons of mass destruction.” But then you give a non-definition of what exactly that is. (Nukes? Sarin? Tanks? Morters? 20mm cannon? 50 cal rifles? 30 cal rifles? 22 cal rifles? Handguns? Home-brew explosives? SUVs? Bulldozers? Heroin? What, exactly? )I think it is quite reasonable that the founding fathers would want the average citizen to be able to own and use weaponry that is at least comparable to anything that an average combat soldier would carry. Can you point to anything quote-wise that indicates otherwise?

    WRT the costs of gun ownership: I know a tad about economics, and find it is frequently useful to look at a problem from that perspective. But, before we go down that road, we have to agree on a few very basic items, or else the sky on our mutual planets is not the same color, and it’s all just pissing in the wind, but less productive and fun. Can you agree that:

    a) we live in a world of limited resources – time, money, hours in a day, computing power, oil, etc;

    b) any resource expended on one thing isn’t being expended at the same time on anything else;

    c) in any cost : benefit discussion, it is reasonable to consider the first two items, as well as the obvious direct costs and direct benefits, because they are all tied up together.

    WRT the “fear factor.” My experience has been that most (thought not all) people who are anti-gun are fear-driven, and are more interested in assigning blame rather than assessing responsibility. They want guarantees and safety, not equality and opportunity. They ask “can my safety be guaranteed?” rather than “what are they risks?” They don’t want to know all the facts, they just want a data-point or two that sound reasonable, and then they go with what “feels” right. Most people who are pro gun understand that both actions and inaction have consequences, and those consequences need to be evaluated in light of personal values, legal status, and local mores. They want understanding as much as being right. That said, I’d also like to note that *most* people are not strongly anti-gun OR pro-gun: they are neutral, ambivalent, undecided, apathetic, or ignorant. They might own guns, or not, but they don’t have a strong opinion on it one way or the other until something happens to make it more personal (like a female friend of mine who was neutral, until she was assaulted in the hallway or her apartment; the assault ended when her neighbor racked the slide of a 12 gage about 10 feet away just as she was starting to black out. The intruder fled, and was not caught. No shots fired, no-one injured, police report did not include any mention of the shotgun because it was not legally owned (expired FOID); they just said he “came out the door and interrupted the assault.”)

    People who carry are no more afraid than people with fire insurance. Heck, my house has insurance, fire-resistant construction, a fire-suppression sprinkler system, fire alarms, a half-dozen extinguishers, is only about 150 yards from a hydrant, and less than 2 minutes from a fire station; does that make me paranoid? No, it makes me in full compliance with county code and fire department recommendations. I carry not out of fear, but out of a desire to live to support my family, and be able to protect them from predators (both two- and four-legged). If I’m afraid someplace is dangers, I *don’t go there*. If it looks like it’s turning dangerous, *I leave*. But I’m not afraid; I’m cautions. When I don’t have a gun, I still have situational awareness (which most folks are sadly lacking) and some limited martial arts skills.

    You say that people carry out of fear, and that “Unfortunately it is a fear that results in a large number of unjustified or negligent deaths and maimings every year.” Can you put a number and source on that claim? Besides, it’s not any “heavy duty weapons” I normally carry concealed for self-defense – it’s rarely more than a 10mm. The heavy stuff is for hunting, long-range target sports, and “just because.”

    WRT registration – are you aware of US v. Haynes? http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/cramer.haynes.html In light of this fact, can you connect the dots for me and explain how, exactly, registration makes me any safer? Also, what sort of penalties would you envision to any person abusing the registration system in any way, and who, exactly would you enforce those provisions?

    WRT regulation – What, exactly, is the goal? Reduce overall death caused by firearms? Reduce only murder using firearms? Reduce overall suicide rates or just the rate where the tool used is a gun? What are acceptable costs? If you were able to implement your “dream” regulation system, and as a direct result violent crime, property crime, murder, and the suicide rates were unaffected, but the number of “gun deaths” dropped by 50%, would that be acceptable? What if some of those things went *up*?

  77. Henry;

    One more note, philosophically related to all this (though not yet specifically addressed in this thread, yet). WRT “smart guns,” forgetting the details of the implementation technology for a moment, I think it can be safely stipulated that all technology is imperfect / fallible, and in light of that fact a person needs to consider what the failure mode of a technology should be.

    Specifically, in the event of a technology failure (perhaps caused by, say, a dead battery, or whatever), if the user verification system fails, should the firearm go BANG when you pull the trigger, or not? That it, should a user-ID failure cause the gun to become just a lump of metal shaped like a non-ergonomic hammer, or should it behave like a typical gun of today, and become a bullet-launcher when the trigger is pulled? Directly related to that, should the failure mode be different for “civilian” guns and “government” (police and military) guns? If failure modes should be different, what’s the logic?

    Back to grading papers……

  78. Rolf,

    As regards Haynes v. U.S., 88 S.Ct. 722, 19 L.Ed.2d 923 (1968), that is easy.

    A fellow was prosecuted for failing to register his firearm. He argued that since he was a convicted felon it was against the law for him to own a firearm and, therefore, for him to register would violated his right against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed his conviction for failing to register.

    The Court was correct. The problem with Haynes is that he was being prosecuted for the wrong crime. His crime was possessing the firearm (due to his felon status) and not the failure to register.

    Ok, so that covers the situation of felons who have firearms in violation of law. Are you suggesting that the only purpose of a regisration provision is to protect against convicted felons haveing firearms? If so, I disagree.

    We don’t have a requirement of automobile registration in order to prevent bad guys from having automobiles. We register automobiles so that there is a line of accountability. Registation puts the firearm and the person to whom it is registered in the line of acocuntability with regard to its misuse or wrongful disposition.

    At least one writer to this blog, other than me, has agreed that persons who use their guns wrongfully ought be prosecuted or otherwise penalized. Permanent egistration makes that much more likely than would be the case if there were no permanent registration.

    The criminal or negligent use of firearms deserves penalty. Do you agree? Law enforcement ought have available to them the ability to trace back the ownership of any weapon that is connected to a crime or negligent use. Do you agree?

    Is it your contention that people ought be able to go into a store and buy any kind of firepower they can lug out of there, with no greater difficulty than one has in buying a pair of shoes? What is your point?

    Is it your contention that people ought be able to haul around with them as much firepower or explosive power as their pickup or SUV or back pack can carry, with no greater justification than they need for carrying a sack of flour? What is your contention?

    As regards your sensitivity to “fear”, I don’t think that discussion is going anywhere. You have slipped in references to hunting and target shooting, but when I earlier made references to those understandable occupations/pastimes, a couple of the other gunnies on this list quickly called me to task and made clear that the issue is the right of people to protect themselves. You protect yourself out of fear that something bad will happen to you and yours. Accept it. Ownership of firearms is a reaction to fear. In my view, more people are hurt from the private ownership of firearms than are saved from hurt. Can I prove that. Of cours not. Can your prove the contrary. Of course not.

    If there were real gun control, we would be able to see how many fewer or more culpably violent deaths and injuries there are and compare it to years in which there has been no meaningful gun control. That situation has not been allowed to exist. Please do not argue from the lack of data since it cuts both ways. When that happens, we can only look to sound judgment. My sound judgment tells me that more than any other single thing, firearms are responsible for large categories of death and injury — if we exclude pure accidents.

    I cannot agree with you that the authors of the Bill of Rights evidenced an intent that whatever weapon is available to the military ought also be available to individuals.

    The Second Amendment states: “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.”

    What significance do you give to the words “well regulated”?

    What significance do you give to the inclusion of the jusitifying clause “security of a free state”?

    To me, the word “infringed” means changed from what it was. The way you are interpreting it, the sky is the limit. If you agree there is a limit, what is it?

    Your point concerning my interpretation of the second amendment is a valid argument — i.e., most of the discussion in the amendments relates to the rights of the person — however, in those same amendments there are interweaved references to the rights of the government. Moreover, the tenth amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Our systemn of law leaves intepretation of the Constitution open until authoritative interprtation is provided by a Court and ultimately by the Supreme Court of the United States. Until that day comes, parties coming from different perspectives can, in good faith, argue for an intepretation that is, in good faith, consistent with their perspectives.

    Getting back to what “would be acceptable” in terms of changed crime, death and injury rates. That is the kind of thing legislatures and regulatory bodies struggle with all of the time. Building codes or vehicle construction codes or fireproofing requirments on children’s clothes etc., are not based on precise computation of how many people will be saved. They are based on sound judgment as to whether dangerous conditions ought be permitted to exist if reasonable remedies are available.

    The kind of nitpicking that the pro-gun lobby engages in would be laughed out of existence if it were applied to most of our other safety efforts. And, make no mistake about it, persons who saw gain in minimizing safety have, throughout the years made many of the same arguments in other areas where safety codes are now taken for granted.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


  79. Rolf,

    As to your second note — (What should the default mode be if a gun is has authorized id protection and the id system fails?)

    I am not sure what the answer to that ought to be. I suppose the same can be said of other types of failures that can occur with guns or ammunition.

    My gut reaction. If the failure is due to a common failure to maintain, then it simply should not work. Aside from that there probably ought be two classes of defaults, depending upon the status of the person who is entitled to use the firearm. I have to say that I am not sufficiently familiar with the protection systems to know if this is a very remote situation or one that is likely to occur with some regularity. One can argue that the keys to a car may fail to work or may be forgotten or lost. The default there is that the car will not work. Pity that poor person who runs from a bad person but cannot get in or start the car. That probably happens more often than guns biometric guns no working in defensive situations.

    What do you think?

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


  80. Henry;

    OK, then, pissing in the wind it is 🙂 Wouldn’t be the first time.

    WRT Haynes: you think it’s OK to have a law that a violent felon can’t break, but an otherwise law-abiding citizen can break, for a paperwork violation? A paperwork crime malum prohibitum that only applies to the sort of people who are not a problem, but not those who are? Weird. Should he have been charged with felon in possession, yes, but that’s not the point; the point is that it’s a law that I can break, but the spouse-beating ex-con down the street can’t, which I think is rather insane.

    WRT the purpose of registration, it can be used for accountability, but you can have that w/o any government list. Simply require that anyone that sells or transfers a firearm keep a record of it, along with a simple fingerprint of the person it was transferred to on the deed of sale. If a gun is found, its provenance can be traced, but there is no central list that can be abused, filled with errors, or corrupted. In no fashion can any sort of central registration be used to prevent a crime, but it can be abused and (has been) used for confiscation. We register automobiles primary for revenue purposes; anything else is just gravy, as far as politicians are concerned. Canada has now spent more than $C 2 billion on its registration system, and Canada is a lot smaller and the population generally more law abiding than the US. More than half its records, when audited, had one or more errors (more on that in a moment). I’ve bought and sold guns privately. I get a sales receipt, and give same to the other person. If it one is ever stolen or lost, I report it (including make, model, serial number). If a uniform shows up and asks if I have a particular gun, I consult my records and either hand over the gun or a copy of the sales receipt. No need for a government database. (BTW, what exactly is “permanent registration?”) BTW, I note you have not connected any dots for me WRT how it makes me safer. You have said it can trace a gun *already* found to be involved to be in a crime, but that means the gun has already been used – how am I safer? Can you make it clear to me, please?

    WRT wrongful use of a gun, yes, they should be prosecuted; but what constitutes wrongful use? Carrying concealed w/o a government permit? CC without training? Shooting someone who was threatening you with a knife? Obviously felony murder, death or sever bodily harm that results from gross negligence, should be punished, but should it be any harsher than if it was the result of misuse of a car or fire? Why not simply punish and fine based on damage caused and intent, rather than method used? Why single out guns? We have personal hygiene classes, why not require annual safety training every year in school, K-12, with age-appropriate safety and understanding being taught?

    WRT buying any sort of firepower: yes, though lugging out a Barrett M82A1 is a trifle more difficult that any pair of shoes I’ve ever bought, let me tell you. My point is that I can do more damage, more indiscriminately, from a longer distance with a typical tank of propane from my BBQ and $30 worth of stuff from the hardware store than I can with a .50 BMG. Tim McVey didn’t use a gun, the Happy Land night club arson (80-odd bodies) didn’t need a gun, a score of loons with box cutters didn’t need guns, etc., etc., etc. The Beltway sniper could have done what they did with a simple 100-year-old bolt action rifle. Many of the “mass shootings” that have made the news would have been worse if the shooter had chosen a more politically correct arm, such as a 12 gage pump shotgun (fatality rate greater than 80%) instead of an AK or 9mm semi-auto (fatality rate less than 10%). My contention is that limiting guns will not make people any smarter or more stupid, but people who grow up around them *tend* to do fewer stupid things with them that people who pick them up for the first time as adults (at least, that’s been my experience).

    WRT fear: you fear the mis-use of guns, and don’t trust the “average Joe on the street;” they must prove to some bureaucrat that they are worthy. I trust the average Joe (though Mr. Huffman is decidedly NOT an average Joe :-), but I fear not being able to protect myself, my family, or my friend from predatory attack, knowing full well that it is very unlikely to happen at any given time. Your solution is to limit my options, and make me submit to bureaucrats and gangs of thugs. My solution is to leave each other alone, and punish people for harm caused after the fact.

    WRT “real gun control,” England and Australia have it, and their crime rates have risen sharply across the board ever since they passed their idiotic laws. Look it up. In this country, to the best of my knowledge there has never been a spike in crime or accidental shootings after gun laws have been relaxed, but there are some interesting colorations between where laws are the strictest and where crime is the highest. There is a lot of data available – read Lott’s “more guns, less crime.” In Japan, there is very strict gun control, and their total homicide + suicide rate is significantly higher than in the US; people kill themselves w/o guns quite effectively. Try reading “The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies” by David B. Kopel. A little dated now, but still pretty good.

    WRT “My sound judgment tells me that more than any other single thing, firearms are responsible for large categories of death and injury,” I’m not sure if I should laugh, or just point out philosophical differences. I don’t give a damn about your judgment (sound or not is debatable), I care what you can demonstrate with facts, statistics, quotes, and evidence. I also don’t care if one criminal shoots in kills another criminal – in fact, I think it’s a good thing, and a sizeable number of murders each year are just such events. If a law abiding citizen uses lead to invade a goblin’s cranial vault mid-rape, it may be a “gun death,” but I view it as praise-worthy. But, the police don’t generally break down their stats quite that way.

    WRT the founding fathers intent: why can’t you agree with me? Not familiar with what they said? Try here for a few quotes: http://www.vtgunsmiths.com/arms/ffquote.html

    WRT your reading of the 2nd Amendment: are you disagreeing with the blurb from Prof Roy Copperude I linked to? If so, what exactly did he get wrong?

    WRT rights, the government has NONE: it has powers. People have rights. I was taught our Constitution was written so that it could be understood by the ordinary man; our judicial system and legislature have taken to twisting it into shapes the authors would never recognize. It needs not be constantly “reinterpreted,” that’s what amendments are for. If it no longer suites our needs, then we are to change what it says, not simply say that the same words mean something else. If that were they case, then what use is Article V, and why do we explicitly limit the FedGov via Amendment IX (where it explicitly refers only to *rights of the people*) and X?

    WRT economics: I note that you did not address my basic economics questions. All the money spent on gun registration and regulation is not being spent on other, provably useful crime reduction methods. That is a fact. If you can’t prove it *is* cost-effective, and it takes money away from other things that are cost-effective, and registration and regulation systems have a long history of being extended and abused in a wide variety of ways, I fail to see why we should do it, and a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t.

    WRT failure mode for smart-guns: There isn’t a “standard” failure mode for guns. If a safety device breaks, it could result in an accidental discharge while chambering a round, or something like that. If ammo fails, anything from nothing to KA-BOOM might happen when the trigger is pulled. If a spring fails, nothing might happen when you pull the trigger. My question boils down to this: reliability is absolutely job number one for any defensive arm, for police or personal protection, and pretty much everything else is secondary. If the failure mode of the smart-ID system is the gun works, then bad folks will find ways to make them fail and then use them. If the failure mode of the smart-ID system is the gun doesn’t work, then bad folks will learn how to make them fail (RF burst, cattle-prod, magnet, whatever), then take them from police, and hack them into working again. In military arms, the situation is even more sever, because the guys with rifles might be guarding something that is a *serious* weapon of mass destruction. In other words, there *is* no right answer. It’s a total waste of money trying to mandate it, but various states keep having to deal with bills that would require it.

    BTW – do you think that guns should be cheap to purchase and own, or expensive? (If the latter, does that mean you don’t think poor people should be able to defend themselves?)

    Too bad you are not coming to the BoomerShoot – it’s a lot of fun, and the people are great.

    Back to grading…… (wow, that was a long one, even for me)


  81. Rolf,

    The break from grading papers was a good idea. It is clear you were in need of relieving yourself.:-)

    I don’t have the time right now, but I will spend some time over the weekend mopping it all up.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


  82. The following story, in today’s news reports on at least one view expresed at National Radical Assocation Convention. This fellow, Ted Nogent, has every right to express such views, even if they might be more appropriate from within the confines of a mental ward.

    Best wishes,


    Ted Nugent to Fellow NRAers: Get Hardcore – AP – April `7, 1005


    HOUSTON (AP) – With an assault weapon in each hand, rocker and gun rights advocate Ted Nugent urged National Rifle Association members to be “hardcore, radical extremists demanding the right to self defense.”

    Speaking at the NRA’s annual convention Saturday, Nugent said each NRA member should try to enroll 10 new members over the next year and associate only with other members.

    “Let’s next year sit here and say, ‘Holy smokes, the NRA has 40 million members now,'” he said. “No one is allowed at our barbecues unless they are an NRA member. Do that in your life.”

    Nugent sang and played a guitar painted with red and white stripes for the crowd at Houston’s downtown convention center.

    He drew the most cheers when he told gun owners they should never give up their right to bear arms and should use their guns to protect themselves if needed.

    “Remember the Alamo! Shoot ’em!” he screamed to applause. “To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want ’em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot ’em.”

  83. Rolf and others,

    As boomershoot draws near and we contemplate the overall plus or minus that wide ownership of firearms proceeds unabated, arising from fear of attack by others, it is worth considering the statistical information contained in the February 28, 2005 Vital Statistics Report of the Centers For Disease Control relating to an analysis of deaths in the United States in the year 2003.

    A copy of the report can be found at


    It shows the following information for 2003:

    Suicide – by firearm 16,859

    Suicide – other means 13,782

    Homicide by assault – by firearm – 11,599

    Homicide by assault – other means 5,498

    Death by accidental discharge of firearms – 752

    All deaths from motor vehicle accidents 44,059

    Overall deaths by firearms – 29,730

    Drug induced deaths 25,162

    Alcohol induced deaths 19,999

    As a matter of note, it was reported today that death by firearms is more common, even in the obese United States, than death from obesity. I will get a cite on that for you if you like.

    To me, the figures mean:

    1. that gun possession in the United States is the leading cause of intended unnatural death – twice as many as all other causes of intended unnatural death COMBINED.

    2. Although far more people have motor vehicles, and motor vehicles put all of their occupants and people walking at risk (which means everyone), and are used in public to a huge extent more than firearms, firearms account for almost 2/3 as many deaths as firearms.

    3. Individually, drugs and alcohol, each of which is generally acknowledged as a major social problem, account for materially fewer deaths than firearms.

    Do we have any comments from you all concerning these figures? Do you accept them as being substantially accurate? If not, why?

    Do these figures demonstrate that firearms misuse is a major domestic social problem?

    I have not forgotten your questions Roth. I think that the quoted figures will be relevant to answering them.

    Best wishes,


  84. The stats are related to some of the questions, but irrelevant to others. I listed a dozen or so points, for which you have so far not had any substantial rebuttal for.

    A number of studies have shown that suicide rates are method-independent. Take away guns, and other methods are readily substituted, so gun control has negligible effects on that. w/o guns, drugs, alcohol, ropes and high places, knives, and carbon monoxide poisoning rates of suicide would rise.

    Rates of death via motor vehicles is irrelevant. Most of those are related to excessive speed, driving while impaired (drugs / alcohol / cell phones), and youth (inexperience and lack of self control) or age (failing senses and reduced reaction time). Raise the driving age to “has a HS diploma or age 19,” install a governor that doesn’t allow any car to exceed the posted speed limit, and install ignition interlocks so that impaired drivers can’t start their vehicles, and the death rate would drop by at least 50% Much of the crime associated with drugs is because of prohibition, which raises the money involved, and makes violence cost-effective for enough people that they are willing to pursue it..

    And what you CONTINUE to ignore is the COST of gun control. If you pass a law that only criminals can have or carry guns, then you will very likely cause a dramatic increase in the number of homicidal violence by folks using guns as a weapon – or are you contending that the violent crime rates have *dropped* significantly in England and Australia since the banned handguns and virtually all semi-auto arms? If so, show me the Home Office report giving such numbers. Here, I’ll even give you a start: http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page66.asp , http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page38.asp , http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page44.asp ,

    http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page21.asp ,

    http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page40.asp .

    http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/statistics33.htm ,

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=6025 (under 13k firearms offences in 1994, almost 17k in 2001). There are also a number of main-stream media news stories about the jump in crime in these areas. Bear in mind that these numbers are in spite of the fact that the spin on most government figures would put a dentist’s drill to shame. To the contrary, can you point to anyplace where there has been significant increase in crime *following* the relaxing of gun laws? What you also *continue* to ignore is the economic fact that money spent on gun control is money that is not spent on other crime control measures that are proven to be effective. Of, of course, can you ever get around to answering Joe’s ONE QUESTION?

    TO specifically address your question: Yes, they are substantially accurate, and they do reflect some social problems, but w/o context any number is virtually meaningless (FWIW, right now I’m teaching math, so I’d like to think I have a pretty good grasp of how numbers work). Do people die from the criminal use, and negligent misuse of firearms? Yup. No-one here ever said they didn’t. But that’s not the question; the question is “how do we minimize the overall cost and/or maximize the utility of guns in a (nominally) free society?” And nothing I’ve see you propose has logically and completely addressed all parts of that question. I can point to numerous frivolous lawsuits and say “see? Obviously wee need fewer lawyer, and tighter regulations on what they can do, because they are nothing more than shake-down artists who use lawsuits instead of muscle to extort money from productive people and companies.” You’d (perhaps reasonably) reply “yes, but look at all the good they have done,” and point to wrongs righted (or at least compensated for) via the courts and hard-working, ethical lawyers. The question then would be is “do lawyers do society more good than harm?” It’s the same for guns. You MUST address the likely costs of you actions, as well as theoretical benefits. If you don’t think that is true, then you might be a very good lawyer, but you are a very poor citizen.

    Now that I have responded to your specific questions, please do the same for my previous post (other than your “snappy” Ted Nugent article post). And no, those figures come no-where near answering most of my posting…..

    Another two cents worth from the cluttered desk of RolfN (NOT “Roth”)

  85. Though you will likely dismiss it as just a semantic nit-pick, but you say that “gun possession in the United States is the leading cause of intended unnatural death,” and that is quite false – *possession* does not cause a problem. Rather, criminal use and negligent or careless misuse of these powerful tools are a problem. I posses a number of guns, none of which have ever caused any problems, injury, or death to anything but legal game animals, targets (some paper, some explosive), and my pocketbook. If possession were a problem, than why do 80,000,000 people with guns only get involved in less than 30,000 firearms fatalities per year? (that works out to about 0.0375% for the math challenged, or about 1 in 2666 guns). if you discount suicides as means-independent, it comes out to about 1 in 6,400 guns, or 0.016%. If you use the estimated number of guns in the US (>200,000,000)instead of gun owners, then those numbers drop by about 2.5 times (about 1:6,665 and 1:16,000, respectively). Seems reasonably safe to me (compare these to http://www.funny2.com/odds.htm just for fun), even though these are averages, and can’t be directly applied to an individual.


  86. Rolf,

    You dismiss the high rate at which owners of guns use them for suicide. The figure is significant both because it shows the higher tendency of firearms owners to self-destruct and because the suicide success rate with firearms is very high as compared to other means. Self (and other person) destruction by firearms owners is a serious national problem.

    The reason I have listed the death rate from automobiles is because it places in some proportion the death rate from firearms. I explained that in my prior note.

    I am getting very tired of hearing about the COST of gun control. It is a decoy argument. The cost of gun control is a very small fraction of the cost of financial and emotional damage done by the misuse of firearms. Until we have true gun registation and suitable controls, across the country, any ROI argument you make is sheer speculation.

    Your effort to argue about crime rates and gun control are also decoy arguments. The homicide rates in every other country in the world, aside from where there is a war and rebellion in progress, are only a small fraction of what it is in the United States. Asking about whether a rate in the UK went from 4 to 3 or 4 to 5, does not in any way impact circumstances in the US if the number in the US is 74.

    I lived in the UK for a number of years. Homicides there were mainly caused by outright crazies or by IRA terrorism.

    Thank you for conceding that the CDC figures are substantially correct.

    Your effort to distinguish gun ownership from gun misuse, fails to see the forest for the trees. Almost all regulation is for the purpose of keeping the minority of reckless or criminal types in line. In addition, regulation provides guidance to good people so as to avoid socially undesirable consequences.

    If we used your method of determining what should and should not be regulated, we probably would not have any regulations on anything.

    Your is a simplistic view that typically discounts a lot that has made their lives safe and enjoyable.

    I will get to your other questions in time. As my typos probably suggest, I do not have a great deal of time to devote to these exchanges.

    Best wishes,


  87. Henry,

    Sorry, had to take a few days off from the discussion for travel and other business…but, once more into the breach…

    —————— You ———–

    1. A. I don’t believe that the 2nd Amendment was intended to give everyone a right to have a gun.

    B. If that was the intention, it certainly was not the intention to give everyone a right to have a type of gunpower that is involved in semi-automatics, armor piercing, long range or cannon class firearms.

    —————— Reply ———–

    Hmmm, then why was the 2A written to indicate *personal* ownership? The authors of the Constitution were not stupid and they wrote it VERY clearly. ANYTHING they referred to as a “right” was conferred to individuals…if it was conferred to the government it was NEVER called a “right”; it was referred to as a “power.” The RKBA in the 2A was referred to explicitly as a “right” and, therefore, MUST refer to individual ownership. As far their “intent”, it was also blindingly clear…that the populace be as well armed as the government. No matter how many times you repeat yourself you still haven’t given a solitary clear reason why a LAW ABIDING citizen should have their Constitutional rights restricted. I have no issue with the removal of rights from those who fail to adhere to the law but removal of rights simply to gain a false sense of security is absurd.

    —————— You ———–

    C. If you go back over my earlier exchanges with Joe (I hope you are well and rested Joe), you will see that the discussion was launched on the issue of whether guns in the general population, unregulated, are or would be an overall positive or negative, without reference to the Constitutional debate.

    —————— Reply ———–

    In light of the Constitutional right to bear arms, your argument is irrelevant in my opinion. Do you really think guns weren’t misused in Colonial times and do you really believe the framers of the Constitution didn’t know that and foresee possible future problems? Frankly, they had to choose what they felt was the best course and their obvious choice was individual firearms possession.

    —————— You ———–

    2. I take it from your dancing around that you are not prepared to provide me with anything that demonstrates the causal relation between lack of regulation and decrease in crime.

    —————— Reply ———–

    Mmmm, well, whenever I do you simply state that you can’t believe it and wish to review the data…so what’s the point? You cite data from a report and then disagree with other data from the same report claiming you are “not prepared to accept” what it says. I believe you. I believe you are not prepared to accept anything that disagrees with your beliefs…and discussing anything with someone having that attitude is nigh on pointless, would you not agree?

    —————— You ———–

    3. You are, once again, creating dummy targets to shoot at. I very specifically said, in my last message to you:

    “Your final point about there being “greater drops in violent crime in states with more relaxed gun laws.”, assumes a correlation that I am not prepared to accept, without further taking the opportunity to review the data. Guns don’t cause crime. They facilitate it.”

    In those two lines, I make clear that I want to look at the data and then provide you with the results of my analysis. I also make clear that I have no argument with the fact that it is the use of guns that kills. [The whole thing about guns don’t kill, people kill, is nonsensical and adds nothing to the discussion].

    —————— Reply ———–

    As opposed to the “dummy target” that is your whole premise for this discussion? Have you reviewed the data? If not…comment when you have reviewed it or accept it as stated in a report you’re more than happy to accept at face value where and when it suits your needs.

    —————— You ———–

    My proof on the basic issue of the need for gun regulation and tracking is only the many thousands of people who are killed and injured by guns every year. It is the great disparity between homicide rates in the United States as compared to the rest of the world where wars are not in progress. It is the generally bad things that follow in a society where a culture of fear is promoted. [have fun with that one.] It is the shocking unreality of an environment in which people advocate the idea that, just about any gunpower is alright to be put in the hands of just about anyone and to be carried just about anywhere, unless it is proved that something bad is going to happen.

    —————— Reply ———–

    Then, on the basis of your “proof” of the “basic issue”, when you are done banning automobiles which kill and injure far more individuals in a year than firearms you can get back to this issue. Yes, the premise is bullshit but so is the premise of yours upon which I based it. Yes, homicide rates in the US are higher than the rest of the world…but it is a false dilemma to promote that banning/regulating firearms is the only effective method to change that statistic. Frankly, legalization of recreational drugs (and taxing the hell out of them) will eliminated FAR more homicide and crime than banning firearms as most current crime is based around the lucrative drug trade. Drastically eliminate the drug trade through legalization and regulation similar to alcohol, end the impotent “War on Drugs” and you will see the most marked decrease in violent crime you’ve ever seen (look at crime stats, especially firearms crime, around the Prohibition era for your proof of concept.) What I see is that you want to attack a symbol of the problem instead of going for actual causes…and you seem to not care whose rights you trash in the process.

    As for your “culture of fear”/”culture of war” statements…I think you’re on the wrong side of that issue. The “culture of fear” is most assuredly on the side of the gun banner who promotes fear of weapons as the reason for bans. In my opinion, owning a firearm and being competent in it’s use is much the opposite of fear…it is security. Not security from fear, which I know will be you automatic gain-say on what I just typed, but security in knowing that I have an effective recourse to any criminal elements who might target me. That isn’t fear Henry, that’s REAL security – not the illusion of security provided by gun bans. Fear is being hunkered down in hiding while trying to contact the police as assailants who don’t care about laws target myself or persons around me. As far as the “culture of war” goes, you’re there again. Claiming that guns have no other use but killing and have no place in a peaceful society…YOU state that guns = war…not I. Guns are anti-war. To own a gun and know what it can do is to abhor ever having to use it in such a manner…and the fact that far less than 1% of all gun owners ever use their weapons to commit crimes or injure others is a testament to that claim. How many bullets are fired in a year and how many actually are fired in furtherance of criminal activity? I bet the disparity there is shocking…I can personally account for no less than 10 to 15,000 rounds last year (who counts, I’m only going by my purchases and a guess at the ammo I fired that I didn’t purchase) of which NONE were involved in any form of violence or injury. Those bullets came from high-powered hunting rifles, handguns of all descriptions, machineguns, submachine guns, the dreaded .50 caliber sniper rifle, the feared FN Five seveN and who knows what other dastardly items. All legally owned. All fired on safe ranges with adequate supervision and accompaniment. No casualties or injuries other than a cut I received on my thumb from an errant shell casing…something I would equate with the knuckle I cut grating cheese in the kitchen last week (we should ban MicroPlane graters for being too sharp!)

    —————— You ———–

    Be not afraid Gregory. Be brave. Disarm. Show everyone that you do not need a big steel boomer to prove yourself.

    —————— Reply ———–

    Ooooh, an ad hominem attack…always the sign of a strong argument. I guess Henry that I’d need to “be brave” if I were afraid of something…but I’m not. I guess I’d need to “prove [myself]” if I felt the need…but I don’t. I truly enjoy shooting. I truly enjoy the hours spent at home cleaning guns, building (or re-building) weapons and studying firearms mechanisms and history. I truly have never met people any more sane or trustworthy than those whom I’ve met through shooting events…and I’d venture even farther and say the sanest are those in the Class III (full-auto) groups that I’ve had the extreme pleasure of spending time with (remember Henry, only ONE crime with a LEGAL machinegun since 1934 – and that by a police officer.) The only person with an irrational fear here is you Henry…the irrational fear that MY firearms are of any threat to you or anyone else other than those who would take up arms against me in the commission of a crime.

    That firearms take many lives in a year in the commission of crimes is surely a tragedy…but eliminating them in no way eliminates the real problem. Criminal intent is the problem and unless you are eliminating or reducing that, you have created a strawman argument. The other problem is that you are creating a false dilemma logical fallacy by positing that firearms and crime share a causal relation…that reduction of firearms will create a reduction in crime is not borne out in the statistics of any country that has enacted firearms bans. Keep trying Henry…you haven’t cited any convincing evidence and you argument is always “I need to examine the data” but you never seem to get around to it.

    Face it…you feel guns should be banned because your superior intellect has led you to that conclusion and anyone who disagrees is wrong simply for disagreeing with you. Yeah, my own little ad hominem attack…but it felt good.

  88. Gregory,

    Good for you. Some people find it helps to do the primal scream thing every once in a while.

    In this thread of discussion, when I raised the recreational use of firearms, I was put down because I well should know, the real issue about firearms is protection. When I indicate that the obsession with protection is a sign of inordinate fear, I am told that it feels so good to go out and fire at targets or that hunting is part of many local cultures.

    Please stop creating straw men against whom to do battle. I have never said that I am for banning all guns or most guns. I have made clear that:

    1. My prime objective is permanent firearms registration so that the owner is held accountable for the misuse of a weapon or for any illicit transfer of the weapon.

    2. I think that certain classes of weapons ought not be in private hands. I really don’t care if only a small percentage of crimes or accidents have been tracked to use of military class weapons by private persons. Your claim that private persons should be entitled to any weapon the military has, is not acceptable to me. I think it is socially irrational, and not based on any precedent or any reasonable reading of the Second Amendment.

    3. I think certain classes of people, by virtue of their age or mental health background or prior antisocial conduct, should not be permitted to have dangerous weapons and ought be restricted in a variety of other ways — all of course based on a fair hearing and not simply by some kind of bureaucratic whim.

    4, I think that anyone who is amassing weapons for use in rebellion in case the government gets out of hand, should be barred from owning weapons. Please note that a recent FBI report has made clear that one of the most significant dangers we have in the US is from homegrown terrorists who have nothing to do with the Middle East.

    I am not selectively taking statistics. There is not one reputable report that I am aware of that states the uncontrolled proliferation of firearms enhances general safety or is not responsible for an large number of deaths and injuries. As you well know, the available data shows a lot of people are killed and injured by firearms and there are statistical gaps — primarily engineered by the pro gun lobby – that may well make out an even more damning case against the lack of adequate regulation.

    You suggest that if the deaths due to firearms means they should be controlled then that goes all the more for deaths due to automobiles.

    The argument has some logic to it, but it is not persuasive. In the first place, automobiles ARE regulated. There is always a record of the responsible motor vehicle owner, there are some conditions on who they can be sold to, there is a requirement for continuing auto registration, insurance and driver licensing, and there are relatively clear and strict rules concerning what you can do with a vehicle, who can driver certain classes of vehicles, where they can be driven and how they must be regularly inspected. I could go on, but you have the point.

    Would you be in favor of removing all of those auto restrictions? If they were removed wouldn’t we have a lot more irresponsible driving and theft?

    Yes, Gregory I think you are wrong. And when I see the ranting of you and some others concerning the simple question of affixing responsibility for such a dangerous device, I then have no doubt that my judgment is sound.

    Some of you, including Joe, think that the best defense against air terrorism is to let everyone carry loaded guns onto the plane and use them as they think best if a terrorist tries to take over. Are you kidding me? Perhaps he made that proposal to Homeland Security today!

    Some of you seem to think you should be able to walk through the streets looking like Rambo. Are you serious? Leave your guns, knives and dynamite sticks home. The Founding Fathers were brilliant persons – not nuts.

    Some people — disproportionately gunnies – think that the Government is the enemy. Not wrong. Not mistaken. THE ENEMY!. I find that absolutely contrary to the American culture in which I was raised. In my world, no one starts arming against the government unless the Government crosses a certain totalitarian line. We are far from that line – thank goodness.

    You and some others appear to live in fantasy world that brings with it a lot of loss and suffering for the people at large.

    Reconsider and be not afraid.

    Best wishes,


  89. Your logic is rather interesting. You say that “The figure is significant both because it shows the higher tendency of firearms owners to self-destruct and because the suicide success rate with firearms is very high as compared to other means Self (and other person) destruction by firearms owners is a serious national problem.”. How to lie with numbers 101: show a statistic and a possible correlation, and claim causation. A number of studies show suicide rate is means independent, which means that if someone wants to kill themselves, the *will*, using the “best” available means. Guns don’t change the rate, they just change the means because they are viewed as effective. Look at Japan’s suicide rate, for example, which is historically higher than ours. Suicide rates are culture-dependant, not means dependant. Besides (as a personal opinion), if someone wants to off himself so save their family medical costs, pain of a terminal illness, or has serious mental mis-wirings, I’d rather they have a quick and effective (if somewhat messy) method available, rather than waste time and money with multiple ODs, wrists (improperly) slashed, broken spines from people who jump from high but not high enough) places. That is why those numbers, though perhaps accurate, are irrelevant.

    Are you claiming that there is no cost to gun control, only benefits? If not, what do you see the costs as being, in terms of civil liberties lost, money, etc., etc., etc…. If you don’t want me to ask about the cost, tell me what you think they are and why they are worth it. If you claim the costs of guns is higher than the cost of gun control, then give me a few numbers (with sources) to consider. I have my own numbers, but I want to see what numbers you think are real. As for ROI speculation, that is a pot-kettle-black statement until you give some idea of cost of gun control as fervently as you give a cost for the current situation; then we have something to compare.

    Look at historical crime rates in any country, and correlate them with the passage of any significant legal or economic changes over time. That will give you some idea of “cause and effect.” I hope I don’t have to explain to you’re the difference between causation and correlation. Want to guess when America’s homicide rate rose dramatically? When national gun laws and prohibition laws were passed. Look at most other countries, and a similar pattern will emerge. America has always had a somewhat higher violence rate, but then we have a rather more recent frontier history than most places, and a relatively high immigration rate contributes to that significantly; crime and violence rates tend to fall when immigration slows, and picks up when it rises. I know the UK has a lower rate than ours; what I was pointing out, as you so obviously missed, is that when they banned handguns their crime rates *went UP.* THAT is one cost of gun control.

    Guns in the hands of trained, law abiding citizen keeps crazies in line, and occasionally removes them from the gene-pool much more effectively than any regulation. All regulation does is insure that the ratio of armed citizens to thugs tips further in the thugs’ favor. Good people don’t need much “guidance,” that’s what makes them good. Bad people don’t pay any attention to regulation, that’s what makes them bad. Net effect of most regulation of this sort is to waste tax-payer money. Apparently you think that prior restraint is OK, at least WRT guns. Is there anything that you don’t think that it’s OK with?

    And yes, you’d be right; I think we all be a LOT better off with a LOT less regulation. Not “no regulation,” but a lot less. Let the fools weed themselves out of the gene pool, let insurance companies and lawyers (on a loser pays system) “regulate” a lot of other things (for example, building codes – if you can buy insurance for it, it’s likely safe; they have a vested interest in sound construction, unlike a government flunky who’s just “enforcing the code, whether it makes sense to them or not”). Yes, I’m a libertarian.

    You still haven’t answered at least a half dozen points I raised earlier (what’s permanent registration? Hew exactly, via cause and likely effect, will registration prevent crime? What about John Lott’s “more guns, less crime?” What about Copperude? What about rights vs. powers? I don’t care if you don’t want to here about the costs of regulation, you have not given any indication you are aware of them or what they are, which means you only have at best a half-baked idea of the probable consequences of your actions, so what do you think they are? Haynes? Joe’s one question Etc.) I look forward to your replies. If you can, please try to be clear and specific about causes and likely effects, both good and bad. Simply saying “we register everything, and take them away from unqualified people” is laughably vague, obviously. Saying “we will likely spend $30b over ten years to have an 80% compliance rate (lots of people will “lose” guns, have them “stolen,” or “sold to a guy, I forget who he was,” or just ignored the requirement), a 50%+ error rate (due to both accidental and deliberate data-entry errors), clogged courts from all the retirees with guns and time who decide to practice civil disobedience, scores of dead officers KIA during confiscation raids (from people who are into less civil disobedience), a slightly lower suicide-by gun rate, higher crime rates because there are fewer armed victims, but we will be able to traces (50%) of guns we find to the last legal owner, thereby increasing conviction rates by 10% “etc, is a more realistic assessment.

  90. Rolf,

    I cannot give you a course in logic, the scientfic method or judgement.

    The fact that gun owners commit suicide at a higher rate than others is a fact. Why that is, is beyond the scope of this discussion and would probably raise additional points of conflict.

    The fact that people who use guns are more consisstently successful is obviously a reflection of the particular finality of a gun shot to the head.

    I find your casual references to the gene pool to be inconsistent with my values. It reflects an attitude that raises the risk associated with the proliferation of firearms.

    As regard whether people ought have the right to determine for themselves when they should die, I also think that is beyond the scope of this discussion. I happen to agree that people ought be able to make more judgments for themselves in that area than the laws presently allow.

    There is a body of study relating to suicide that makes it clear that the area is far more complex than the simplistic manner in which you deal with it.

    While the suicide figures are relevant, for the reasons noted, the figures concerning gun related homicides are more central to this discussion. You can speculate until the cows come home as to how many such homicides were “justified” or how many other homicides may have been avoided because of gun ownership, but when looked at in the context of overall national violent mortality (or violent injury) figures, they tell a story that is good enough for me to see the need for firearms accountability through registation.

    I find your discussion of cost of a registation plan to be without merit. For the same reason that we register autos and drivers, there ought be registration of firearms and firearms owners. Proportionally, the cost would be a lot less. Moreover, in view of the various ID programs already in effect — independent of firemars licensing — an aspect of a check associated with registration will go down materially in cost.

    I have noted the other side of the cost issue. There is a great deal of cost in the loss of lives and injury caused by guns. I know the chant about guns don’t kill people. The simple answer is that people with guns kill people at a higher rate than people without guns.

    I am sorry that I have neither the time nor the expertise to get any more specific with you than I and the unchallenged figures have been in this series of exchanges.

    If some germ came along and was killing and injuring people at the consistent rate that firearms kill and injury people, we would have a national mobilization to do something about it. In my view, the fact that we have not done so is a national disgrace.

    I do not think you have provided any reason, other than cost, for your opposition to permanent gun registration (similar to auto registration). Your talk about loss, theft, excuses, etc, applies to just about everything humans do. If we used your rationale, we might as well not have contracts since people will say they lost them or did not read them etc.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


    Best wishes,


  91. Rolf,

    I cannot give you a course in logic, the scientific method or judgment.

    The fact that gun owners commit suicide at a higher rate than others is a fact. Why that is, is beyond the scope of this discussion and would probably raise additional points of conflict.

    The fact that people who use guns are more consistently successful is obviously a reflection of the particular finality of a gun shot to the head.

    I find your casual references to the gene pool to be inconsistent with my values. It reflects an attitude that raises the risk associated with the proliferation of firearms.

    As regard whether people ought have the right to determine for themselves when they should die, I also think that is beyond the scope of this discussion. I happen to agree that people ought be able to make more judgments for themselves in that area than the laws presently allow.

    There is a body of study relating to suicide that makes it clear that the area is far more complex than the simplistic manner in which you deal with it.

    While the suicide figures are relevant, for the reasons noted, the figures concerning gun related homicides are more central to this discussion. You can speculate until the cows come home as to how many such homicides were “justified” or how many other homicides may have been avoided because of gun ownership, but when looked at in the context of overall national violent mortality (or violent injury) figures, they tell a story that is good enough for me to see the need for firearms accountability through registration.

    I find your discussion of cost of a registration plan to be without merit. For the same reason that we register autos and drivers, there ought be registration of firearms and firearms owners. Proportionally, the cost would be a lot less. Moreover, in view of the various ID programs already in effect — independent of firearms licensing — an aspect of a check associated with registration will go down materially in cost.

    I have noted the other side of the cost issue. There is a great deal of cost in the loss of lives and injury caused by guns. I know the chant about guns don’t kill people. The simple answer is that people with guns kill people at a higher rate than people without guns.

    I am sorry that I have neither the time nor the expertise to get any more specific with you than I and the unchallenged figures have been in this series of exchanges.

    If some germ came along and was killing and injuring people at the consistent rate that firearms kill and injury people, we would have a national mobilization to do something about it. In my view, the fact that we have not done so is a national disgrace.

    I do not think you have provided any reason, other than cost, for your opposition to permanent gun registration (similar to auto registration). Your talk about loss, theft, excuses, etc, applies to just about everything humans do. If we used your rationale, we might as well not have contracts since people will say they lost them or did not read them etc.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


  92. Yes Henry, a course in logic would be order…I’m not so convinced that Rolf is the one who needs it. Positing that because firearms are used in more suicides than any other method meaning that firearms owners commit suicide more often than any other group is a logical fallacy commonly referred to as “confusing cause and effect).” How do you then reconcile that the country with the highest rate of private firearms ownership in the world rates 10th in suicide rates among the top GNP nations with 11.8 per 200,000 as compared to leader (and fairly gun free) Finland’s 26.4 per 200,000 (while also trailing Denmark, Austria, France, Switzerland, Japan, Sweden , Germany and Norway which all have fairly draconian gun laws and low rates of firearms suicide.)

    Your accusation that gun ownership leads to higher suicide rates is simply another assumption you are willing make despite a considered lack of causal proof…anything to prove a point, eh?

    Get around to examining the data that you aren’t prepared to accept yet? You know, the data on the issue you keep pounding me for proof on but you won’t accept the data from a report you’ll freely quote to support your own positions? Didn’t think so.

  93. Gregory,

    You misunderstand my points concerning suicide and gun ownership.

    1. If a person attempts suicide with a gun he is more likely to succeed. Do you disagree?

    2. I am not saying that people commit suicide because they own guns. I am saying that gunowner commit suicide more often than other people. Think about it. Most people do not own guns. Most suicides are committed by people who own guns. You can look up the numbers. It is enough of a disparity on its face for me to say that gun owners commit suicide far out of proportion to their numbers. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps the same thing that drives them to guns drives them to suicide. Perhaps the gun culture has a depressing effect. Perhaps they subconsciously dwell on the large number of innocents who are killed and injured by firearms. I can go on at length, but there are no tenable hypothesis I can think of that is unrelated does bring guns into the equation. Can you think of any?

    Your efforts at cross-cultural comparisons of suicidal ideation are entirely off the wall. The simple fact is that gun owners in the US departs substantially from the US norm with regard to suicide. There are circumstances that cause entire countries to depart from the US norm and those circumstances are well documented and have previously been discussed by me.

    Gun owners also tend to kill other people to a far greater extent than people who have other weapons at hand.

    Is all of this an indictment of all gun owners. Absolutely not. It does mean that regulation and registration are clearly warranted.

    As a footnote, I have yet to hear from any of you guys who every said he shot his or her gun in anger or used his or her gun to actually repel an attacker.

    As a further footnote, I have yet to hear whether it is alright to ask if there is any indication that Christ or some other major religious figure would have been in favor of gun proliferation.

    Please do me a favor and give me a bullet point list, so to speak, of things you think I have not yet attempted to answer. Anyone else who thinks I have not attempted to answer something can do likewise.

    Let’s try to get this cleared up before BS 2005. Joe will then be able to take a poll at BS 2005, as to which of you best upheld the case against accountability and for continuing our shoot-em-up reputation.

    Best wishes and be not afraid,


  94. Well, Henry, I have to admit that was good for a laugh. While I’m teaching high school math right now, my primary teaching endorsement is in science, where among other things *I teach* the scientific method. A previous career required a degree in computer science, which needs a significant amount of logic, both social and mathematical. As for judgment, that is as much a matter of experience and values as anything, and from what you have said so far I doubt you have a whole lot you could teach me (though I admit, almost anything is theoretically possible).

    Guns are used to commit suicide. Yup, sure enough. Like those two folks who (individually, and a few months apart) went to a local shooting range a few years back, rented a gun, went into the booth, and took their own lives. They were not gun owners – they had to rent them – but they used guns because they knew they would be effective (since then the range has changed its rental policy – no rentals to people who are alone, unless they already brought their own gun to use as well). People use guns to commit suicide because they are determined to succeed, not just trying to “cry out for help.” But you are making a logical error when you splice together stats the way you do.

    Your logic is, if I understand you correctly, “80,000,000 gun owners, 16,859 suicides by firearm, therefore rate = 0.021%, vs. 200,000,000 non-gun-owners with only 13,782 suicides by other means so rate = 0.007%, therefore guns must cause suicide.” The major flaw is that it requires you to define “someone who uses a gun to commit suicide” as a “gun owner,” when a more reasonable way of viewing it is “people who are determined to commit suicide tend to seek effective methods, and guns are viewed as effective, selective (won’t hurt anyone else), and somewhat available (see example above).” Not everyone thinks can get a prescription from a doctor that they could fatally OD on. Determined people don’t want a method that could leave them crippled or be interrupted. They usually don’t want to hurt other people in the process. Guns are seen to fit that bill; they are a culturally “typical” way of offing ones self. Other cultures have other “typical” methods, though rates vary.

    Points you have not addressed:

    * Why it is reasonable to have a law that an otherwise law-abiding citizen can break, but a convicted felon cannot?

    * Why are studies that show suicide rates to be means independent irrelevant?

    * If guns cause suicide, why is Japan’s suicide rate (~26 per 100,000) so much higher than ours (about 12 per 100,000), when guns are nearly non-existent there?

    * What do you think the costs of gun control are? You keep saying that the benefits of gun control far outweigh the cost, so would you please make an itemized list of what you think the top five or so costs of your perfect program of gun control would be that would be so easily outweighed?

    * Can you show anywhere where passing gun control *has lead* to a significant decrease in violent crime and homicide rates?

    * Please comment on the quotes from the founding fathers from the previous link I provided. Feel free to note there are some religious quotes from the Bible at the bottom of the page WRT weaponry.

    * Given that registration lists have often been used for confiscation, what sort of safeguards from abuse of registration lists and the bureaucratic approval process would you propose?

    * Why should wrongful of negligent use of a gun be prosecuted more harshly that harm caused by other means?

    * Are you willing to concede that guns can, in some cases, be successfully used for self defense? Further, and you willing to concede that the assailants need not be shot and killed for it to be considered “successful self-defense” (such as my previous example of a lady who used to live in Massachusetts and was saved by a neighbor with a pump shotgun, no shots fired)?

    * What specific sorts of guns do you think are Ok for civilian ownership? Give an example model of each generic type you approve of, and why you think it’s OK.

    *In your perfect regulation scenario, what would be considered OK reasons to own a gun of any particular sort? Hunting? Target shooting? Boomer shooting? Self Defense? Shooting sports like trap and skeet? Shooting sports like IPSC or IDPA?

    * Why don’t you trust the average person to make decisions in their own best interest?

    * What part of Prof Copperude’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment do you disagree with, and why?

    * Why doesn’t the 2nd guarantee an individual right when the rest of the BoR is dedicated to limiting the FedGov’s power, and why should we “reinterpret” it when we have Article V (the amendment process, in case you forgot) if we decide it is obsolete. (FWIW, if you do think it’s an individual right but it’s obsolete, and should be repealed, I can respect that as intellectually consistent. I’d fight your attempt to do so, but it’s a position I can respect).

    * Spell out for me, in logical this-action-will-cause-that steps, how exactly registration will prevent crime and make me safer.

    * Do you think guns should be inexpensive, or expensive to purchase and own, and why?

    * What’s you take on John Lott’s “More guns, less crime”? (summaries available online)

    * Why should your values carry any more weight than mine, when your values limit my rights, but mine do not limit yours?

    * If you allow for guns to be registered, if the FedGov does become totalitarian, how would you resist their power when they are taken away?

    * Hypothetically, if you were out with a small group of family and friends, and were accosted by a couple of thugs with kitchen knives and clubs demanding you hand over wallets and the cute young lady who was with your group, what would be your plan of defense?

    * Your rules and regs about comparing cars, registration, ownership, and licenses to guns has a MAJOR flaw. Those rules only applies on public roads. On private property, you don’t need a license to drive. Anyone of any age can own any sort of car or truck. It does not have to be registered or insured as long as it stays on private property. You can own a car that can grossly exceed the legal speed limit anywhere in the US, but you are only busted if you are caught speeding *on a public road.* Care to comment?

    * “Gunnies” do not generally look like Rambo. In fact, there were at least half a dozen guns being packed (concealed) at my wedding that never showed up in any of the photos (candid or posed). Gunnies (generally) try to discreet; even though I was standing in the receiving line packing a Glock 10mm with my bride getting hugs from friends and family for an hour or so, I don’t think it was ever noticed (at least, no-one ever commented on it). Where do you get the idea that most gun owners would like to strap on lots of visible knives and guns like a b-grade action movie?

    As for “firing a shot in anger,” no, not personally I’m happy to say. Considering my temperament when carrying is pretty cool, that’s not too surprising. “Fended off an attacker;” if you mean having the 10mm at the ready when the brown bear was deciding to charge or not, well, that’s another story. No charge, no shots. But, again, studies indicate than in most cases there are no shots fire, and in less than 5% of cases is anyone actually shot in a case of self-defense (Lott).


  95. Rolf,

    Wow, a lot of questions! I will see what I can do with them over the weekend.

    Best wishes,


  96. Two typos and a dropped word or two in one sentencs… Sigh. The bullet point that reads “Why should wrongful of negligent use of a gun be prosecuted more harshly that harm caused by other means?” should be “Why should criminal/wrongful or negligent use of a gun be prosecuted more harshly than simiar harm caused by other means? ”

  97. I will address the concealed option here.

    Why would someone wear a visible knife or gun and upset the thin-skinned amongst our society?

    Easy answer: You can be arrested for it. I consulted the NRA site as far as gun laws in Utah and Idaho. While I generally shit on my state (NM) gummint, it is definitely more liberal than the previous states mentioned. I can carry a concealed, loaded weapon in my vehicle, legally. In Idaho and Utah, the firearm has to be unloaded and rendered inoperable (which doesn’t do me a hell of a lot of good.)

    Consequently, I’m forced to open carry, and freak out all of you Eastern Tourist who are headed for Disneyland.

    As to Rolf’s point about rights, it is a bit hard to get around. You want to limit my options whereas we would choose to leave you alone.

    Between guns and ID cards or chips or whatever the hell you were talking about, I’d much prefer a system that left me alone as opposed to one that registered me or implements I own.

    I will tell you, Henry, I straight out do not like government at this point. That is not to say I’m some kind of revolutionary or anything; only that when the gummint can decide who lives or dies, or who can own or not own guns, or taxes me because I drink, smoke, or eat burgers, we’ve gone well beyond their scope of power.

    I hate to be true to the Constitution, but I never read in there that you, the government, my boss, or anyone else can limit me as far as my rights. They can fire me if it pisses them off (which I think they should be able to do, but that’s another aspect of modern culture that is inscrutable to me.)

    So I can applaud Che Guevera non-stop and carry a gun and still be a respectable citizen. That’s the beauty of this country and founders.

    Don’t get me wrong, It’s quickly slipping down the drain, because people like…well some people don’t take their rights very seriously, and that adds to the erosion.

    It’s Friday night. Be not afraid.


  98. Rolf,

    Your list of questions is almost 10,000 characters long. It will take a great deal of pererverence on my part to get myself to deal with it, but, never fear, I will do what I must.

    In the meanwhile, there was is an article in the NY Times that is just about as long as your quesitons, and you may wish to use the time to read it. I have appended it hereto.

    Best wishes and be not afraid.


    April 24, 2005

    Gun Sellers Say An Assault Ban Has No Effect



    Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons’ sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments.

    The uneventful expiration of the assault weapons ban did not surprise gun owners, nor did it surprise some advocates of gun control. Rather, it underscored what many of them had said all along: that the ban was porous – so porous that assault weapons remained widely available throughout their prohibition.

    “The whole time that the American public thought there was an assault weapons ban, there never really was one,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group.

    What’s more, law enforcement officials say that military-style weapons, which were never used in many gun crimes but did enjoy some vogue in the years before the ban took effect, seem to have gone out of style in criminal circles.

    “Back in the early 90’s, criminals wanted those Rambo-type weapons they could brandish,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Today they are much happier with a 9-millimeter handgun they can stick in their belt.”

    When the ban took effect in 1994, it exempted more than 1.5 million assault weapons already in private hands. Over the next 10 years, at least 1.17 million more assault weapons were produced – legitimately – by manufacturers that availed themselves of loopholes in the law, according to an analysis of firearms production data by the Violence Policy Center.

    Throughout the decade-long ban, for instance, the gun manufacturer DPMS/Panther Arms of Minnesota continued selling assault rifles to civilians by the tens of thousands. In compliance with the ban, the firearms manufacturer “sporterized” the military-style weapons, sawing off bayonet lugs, securing stocks so they were not collapsible and adding muzzle brakes. But the changes did not alter the guns’ essence; they were still semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips.

    After the ban expired in September, DPMS reintroduced its full-featured weapons to the civilian market and enjoyed a slight spike in sales. That increase was short-lived, however, and predictably so, said Randy E. Luth, the company’s owner.

    “I never thought the sunset of the ban would be that big a deal,” Mr. Luth said.

    No gun production data are yet available for the seven months since the ban expired. And some gun-control advocates say they don’t trust the self-reporting of gun industry representatives, who may want to play down the volume of their sales to ward off a revival of the ban.

    Indeed, a replica of the ban is again before the Senate.

    “In my view, the assault weapons legislation was working,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, a chief sponsor of the new bill. “It was drying up supply and driving up prices. The number of those guns used in crimes dropped because they were less available.”

    Assault weapons account for a small fraction of gun crimes: about 2 percent, according to most studies, and no more than 8 percent. But they have been used in many high-profile shooting sprees. The snipers in the 2002 Washington-area shootings, for instance, used semiautomatic assault rifles that were copycat versions of banned carbines.

    Gun crime has plummeted since the early 1990’s. But a study for the National Institute of Justice said that it could not “clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”

    Research for the study in several cities did show a significant decline in the criminal use of assault weapons during the ban. According to the study, however, that decline was offset by the “steady or rising use” of other guns equipped with high-capacity magazines – ammunition-feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds.

    While the 1994 ban prohibited the manufacture and sale of such magazines, it did not outlaw an estimated 25 million of them already in circulation, nor did it stop the importation of millions more into the country.

    Senator Feinstein said she wished she could outlaw the “flood of big clips” from abroad, calling that the “one big loophole” in the ban. But that would require amending the bill, and Republicans like Senator John W. Warner of Virginia and Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio are willing to back it only without amendments, she said.

    Some gun-control advocates say it is pointless to reintroduce the 1994 ban without amending it to include large magazines and a wider range of guns. They see more promise in enacting or strengthening state or local bans. Seven states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and New York – already have bans, most based on the federal one. The model ban, gun-control advocates say, is a comprehensive one in California (referred to as “Commiefornia” on some gun enthusiast Web sites).

    The Fraternal Order of Police has not made a new federal ban a legislative priority, either. Mr. Pasco, the organization’s director, said he could not recall a single “inquiry from the field about the reauthorization of the ban – and we have 330,000 members who are very vocal.”

    “In 1994, I was the principal administration lobbyist on this ban,” said Mr. Pasco, who then worked for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “But here we are 10 years later, and these weapons do not appear to pose any more significant threat to law enforcement officers than other weapons of similar caliber and capability.”

    The ban made it illegal to possess or sell a semiautomatic weapon manufactured after September 1994 if the weapon accepted a detachable magazine and contained at least two features from a list that included protruding pistol grips and threaded muzzles. The ban outlawed 19 weapons by name, among them some foreign semiautomatics already banned under the 1989 firearms importation law, which still stands.

    But gun manufacturers increased production of assault weapons while the ban was being debated. Then, by making minor changes in design, they were able to produce, as they called them, “post-ban” assault weapons that were the functional equivalent of the originals.

    Colt came out with a “sporterized” version of its popular AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, leaving off some military features that were “meaningless as far as its lethality,” said Carlton S. Chen, vice president and general counsel for Colt.

    “People might think it looks less evil,” Mr. Chen said, “but it’s the same weapon. It was a hoax, a Congressional hoax, to ban all these different features.”

    Mr. Pasco of the police organization disagreed. “We knew exactly what we were doing by trying to ban guns with certain features,” he said. “While it didn’t affect their function or capability, those features, at that point in time, seemed to make those weapons more attractive to those who wanted to commit crimes.”

    Gun-control advocates say military-style semiautomatics do not belong in civilian hands. “They are weapons of war,” Senator Feinstein said, “and you don’t need these assault weapons to hunt.”

    Gun makers, however, say the weapons do have sporting uses, in hunting and in target shooting. “People buy these rifles because they’re fun to shoot and they perform well,” Mr. Luth of DPMS said. “They also like them because you can jazz them up like you can your car. You can custom-paint them, put on a multitude of handguards or buttstocks.”

    Some collectors simply admire certain guns. Charles Cuzalina, a gun dealer in Oklahoma who specializes in banned weapons, is taken with the Colt AR-15.

    “I just like the look of the weapon,” Mr. Cuzalina said. “When I bought my first, I went out on the farm shooting at a pie plate, and I realized how accurate it makes you. You think you’re the world’s best shot.”

    Mark Westrom, owner of ArmaLite Inc., a gun maker in Illinois, said prey hunters and target shooters did not miss bayonet lugs and other features that disappeared with the post-ban rifles. Collectors looking for an exact civilian replica of a military rifle, however, consider the removal of a bayonet lug “a matter of design defacement,” Mr. Westrom said.

    Several manufacturers are offering factory conversions or selling kits so gun owners can retrofit their post-ban weapons. They are also increasing their production of pre-ban weapons and decreasing production of post-ban weapons.

    Many gun store owners say that sales of assault weapons spiked briefly in September and October. Gun dealers sought to capitalize on the ban’s sunset and, during the presidential campaign, to raise the specter of a tougher ban if John Kerry won.

    “We view this time as a ‘pause’ and urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to exercise your Second Amendment rights,” Tapco, a shooting and military gear company, said on its Web site last fall. “Anti-gun politicians learned much over the past 10 years. They will surely not leave as many loopholes in future legislation.”

    After President Bush was re-elected and the novelty of the ban’s expiration waned, sales leveled off at many gun shops. But Mike Mathews, the owner of Gunworld in Del City, Okla., said sales had been holding steady at a higher level.

    Norm Giguere of Norm’s Gun & Ammo in Biddeford, Me., on the other hand, said that he had not sold any military-style semiautomatic rifles since right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and that the gun business in general was “going down the tubes.”

    Mr. Luth of DPMS, however, said that his sales had been increasing for years, to the law enforcement community, the civilian market and an unexpected new clientele. “We’ve picked up new customers with the troops returning from Iraq,” he said, “who had never shot an AR-15 before and now want one.”

    The war in Iraq has had another unintended consequence for the marketplace. Colt, one of the biggest manufacturers, has decided against putting its AR-15 back on the civilian market because the company is backlogged with military orders.

    Unlike assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, which are used with many guns, have been selling briskly since the ban ended because prices have dropped considerably.

    “The only thing Clinton ever did for us was drive up the price of magazines,” said a weapons specialist named Stuart at TargetMaster, a shooting range and gun shop in Garland, Tex. (He declined to give his last name.) “A 17-round Glock magazine crept up to $150 during the ban. It’s $75 now.”

    Since September, the Web site of Taurus International Manufacturing Inc., a major maker of small arms, has celebrated the demise of the prohibition on magazines, flashing in red letters, “10 years of 10 rounds are over!”

  99. Rolf,

    There are several themes that run through your questions (which actually appear to be a mixture of inquiry and rhetorical flourish), The themes tend to overlap and sometimes get confused, so part of my job will be to sort all of that out. I will be doing so, in a series of answers and anlayses, over the next several days, since, where appropriate, I will attempt to provide some detail, and that will require more of a chapter approach.

    1. If you read the article, “Gun Sellers Say An Assault Ban Has No Effect” that I posted just prior to this, you will see it lays out competing views as to whether we have had any meaningful gun control, even as to assualt weapons. I am of the view that we have not. Most that has passed for gun control has been a meaningless facade.

    2. The Second Amendment is clearly open to different intepretations. It is understandable tht some gun enthusiasts would like to see it interpreted as some kind of absolute and continuing license for the totally unregulated ownership, transfer and carrying of any device capable of expelling a projectile or exploding. That is a pretty extreme point of view, but extremism of perspective is a fact of life.

    An analagous extreme position, on the other side, would be the view that firearms can ONLY be possessed for use in a Militia and are otherwise not permitted.

    Between those two points, there are many possible gradations and honest differences of opinion as to what the Second Amendment permits or requires. All of these Second Amdemdment discussions are legal discussions. They do not go to the question of whether unregulated gun poession is a good or bad thing, only as to whether it is a legally required thing. Joe Huffman grasped that point early in this “invited the enemey” discussion.

    So, then, let’s deal with what the Second Amendment means or requires. My position is that it does not mean what it says it means. I think the Supreme Court will agree with me. At the very least, I think that the issue of whether guns and gun owners must be registered and gun owners must be held accountable for the misuse of their guns, are within the power of Federal and State legislatures, regardless of what else the Second Amendment may mean.

    With regard to the meaning of the Second Amendment, I subscribe to the view setout in “THE MILITIA AND THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, OR, HOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT FELL SILENT, by H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. 338 pp. Cloth ISBN: 0-8223-3017-2.”

    That book was reviewed by Reviewed by Daniel E. Smith, Department of History, Humanities, Philosophy and Political Science. Northwest Missouri State University.

    Since Smith lays out the issues and contentions very well, and since the Constitutional claim is so often used in an effort to cut off substantive discussion, it is worthwhile posting here Smith’s review. I agree with the analysis contained of the book and with his description of that analysis. Some day the Supreme Court of the United States will get around to providing an authoritative interpretation and we can move on from there.

    I will cover other areas of your questioning, in part, against this background, in future posts.

    The review is appended hereto:

    Best wishes, and be not afraid,


    THE MILITIA AND THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, OR, HOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT FELL SILENT, by H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. 338 pp. Cloth $19.95. ISBN: 0-8223-3017-2.

    Reviewed by Daniel E. Smith, Department of History, Humanities, Philosophy and Political Science. Northwest Missouri State University. Email: desmith@mail.nwmissouri.edu .

    The 2nd Amendment is a strange provision, particularly to constitutional scholars. On the one hand it is the source of remarkably bitter controversy, arguably surpassed only by abortion among popular debates over constitutional rights, and has spawned a closet industry of scholarly works in recent years. On the other hand, it has been so rarely addressed by the judiciary that no one can presume to know the current status of the Amendment in American jurisprudence. Moreover, the 2nd Amendment is somewhat of an anomaly in the Bill of Rights. Its language and structure do not closely track any of the other amendments, the closest parallel being the two clauses of the 4th Amendment. The “right of the people to keep and bear arms” resonates as a classic protection of the individual against a potentially oppressive government, to many the epitome of a uniquely American individualism. Yet this right of the people is appended to the so-called “militia clause” which suggests, if not mandates, that the right to keep and bear arms is limited to the context of a citizen militia. The debate over the proper meaning of these two clauses, and which is paramount, has raged for decades, recent highlights being NRA President Charlton Heston’s “cold dead hands” speech; the 5th Circuit’s decision in U S. v. EMERSON, in which, arguably for the first time, the federal judiciary has embraced the NRA’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as a personal right of the people; and Attorney General John Ashcroft’s recent reversal of the government’s longstanding support for primacy of the militia clause (in connection with the EMERSON decision).

    With THE MILITIA AND THE RIGHT TO ARMS, OR, HOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT FELL SILENT, H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel enter the fray with perhaps the definitive description of the militia in American history, culture and political theory. While the book breaks little new ground, one might say it strip-mines the ground only lightly traversed by other scholars and legal historians. This book is top-notch constitutional history and masterful in its melding of history and legal argument. The authors go well beyond discussion of the founding documents into the republican roots of the citizen militia and the meaning of the right to “keep and bear arms” in seventeenth century England. They meticulously avoid superimposing contemporary understandings of these terms in their analysis. In short, they have produced not only a fine work on the 2nd Amendment, but a model for those who would use historical research to inform contemporary legal/constitutional debate.

    The authors’ thesis is simple and predictable. First, although the 2nd Amendment did create a personal right to “keep and bear arms,” it did so only insofar as private arms were needed to maintain a citizen militia. The basis for the right is the collective, republican concept of the citizen militia, and the primary objective of enshrining the militia in the Bill of Rights was to guard against the dangers of a standing professional army. Moreover, the phrase “keep and bear arms” had distinctly military connotations leading up to and including the founding era, and there is remarkably little evidence of an individualist right to possess guns, even in the anti-federalist literature. However, the authors do not entirely eschew the individualist interpretation of the Amendment; the “right of the people” was, they believe, intended to vest the ownership and possession of arms in the potential militia members—(white male) citizens.

    Second, because the citizen militia withered away as an institution long ago and has no contemporary successor, the conditions for the right to keep and bear arms, even as an individualist right, no longer exists. The local militia was already giving way to the vastly superior – in terms of training, preparedness and fighting ability – professional army at the time of the Revolution. State militia were replaced by volunteer state guard and, eventually, National Guard units, that were gradually co-opted by the national military. Today, the National Guard is equipped by the government and in virtually all respects serves as an adjunct to the professional army. Nor are there any other plausible substitutes for the extinct citizen militia that would serve to animate the 2nd Amendment. Police forces are, for the most part, full-time, government-equipped professional organizations. Private citizen militias, according to the authors, are a threat to the founding era collectivist notion of the militia rather than a legacy of that tradition. Therefore, as a matter of constitutional law, the 2nd Amendment is irrelevant today. To the individualists, who read the Amendment as a personal right to possess firearms, rather than merely a collective right to organize into militias, the authors’ message is not quite the typical “you are wrong,” but rather “you were right, sort of, a long time ago, but today you’re wrong.”

    The intellectual champions of the individualist camp do not fare well against this exhaustive historical analysis. Joyce Lee Malcolm’s argument that the 1689 English Declaration of Rights, from which our Bill of Rights borrowed extensively, was more concerned with a personal right to possess weapons than protecting the militia, is criticized for its piecemeal approach to the text and history of the Declaration. Specifically, Malcolm relies on a handful of passages deleted from the final version of the Declaration, while ignoring the plain meaning of the language ultimately adopted and the social/political context of the drafting. She also ignores the fact that the framers did not use the language of the English Declaration in drafting the 2nd Amendment. Attorney General Ashcroft’s justification for the Justice Department’s recent defection to the individualist camp is more vehemently attacked. His interpretation of “keep and bear” as being outside the military context; his claim that the framers “all but unanimous[ly]” viewed the right as a personal right; his assertion that the Supreme Court “routinely” embraced the individualist approach; and his representation that the four scholars he cites constitute a “preponderance of legal scholarship” are decried as historically inaccurate, analytically flawed and quite obviously politically motivated. Even the venerable Sanford Levinson’s oft-cited work on the Amendment, premised on the need for potential armed insurrection against a tyrannical government, is exposed as “sketchy” and plainly politically motivated. It is “regrettable,” the authors conclude, “that his unpersuasive thesis has lent respectability to the outlaw libertarians who claim to be the legitimate guardians of American freedom” (p.178).

    I am curious why the authors are so adamant in their expressions of neutrality regarding the politics of gun control. I do not doubt the sincerity of statements, such as “For our part, we take no position on the question of whether guns in private hands are good or bad for society as a whole” (p.1). But given the centrality of the 2nd Amendment to the gun-control debate, taking a clearly defined position on constitutional interpretation is inevitably an exercise in political judgment. Applying this mode of interpretation painstakingly to the heart of the individualist reading of the 2nd Amendment, and concluding that said reading must be rejected outright, is to undercut the heart of a legal and political argument. Few would assert, for example, that those arguing for reversal of ROE v. WADE on constitutional grounds have no political agenda other than a belief that the issue is one for the states to decide. Moreover, the authors’ asserted ambivalence to the political debate over gun control suffers from the occasional lapse, particularly when modern-day “libertarian militias” are mentioned:

    And if today’s National Guard fails to fit the concept of a militia, the notion is little short of ludicrous that the constitutional term applies to the scattered, small, unregulated bands of fatigue-clad, gun-loving, self-appointed libertarians taking secret target practice in the woods while underwriting one another’s bigotry (p. 157-8).

    The evidence in support of the authors’ reading of the 2nd Amendment is overwhelming, and their rhetoric rarely clouds their legal and historical arguments so as to undermine their credibility. I simply suggest that it is unnecessary to assert political neutrality in what is quite clearly a work of advocacy, particularly given their periodic colorful statements such as the quoted passages.

    Otherwise, my quibbles with the authors are few in number and minor in scope. First, although several prominent proponents of the individualist approach are identified, and their positions considered and persuasively rejected throughout the text, it would have been helpful to introduce in greater detail the individualist position and its major proponents in Chapter 1. Second, although the writing is overall quite clear and persuasive, the authors’ elaborate word choice and sentence structure occasionally become a distraction. (Perhaps this is due to my own experience with legal and academic writing—I was once presented a copy of Professor Wydick’s PLAIN ENGLISH FOR LAWYERS as a gift). I am sure, for example, that Professor Ackerman would be flattered by the authors’ reference to “Ackermanian notions” of constitutional transformation, but I found such phrasing a bit overdone, not to mention the potential for hurt feelings (the authors refer to Madisonian, Lockean and Ackermanian concepts, but not to the “Levinsonian” reading of the 2nd Amendment).

    Third, I appreciate the authors’ loyalty to their preferred interpretive model, which they describe as “close” to Justice Scalia’s originalism, “inferred from text according to a hypothetical contemporary understanding . . . insofar as critical assumed underlying social and technological factors remain fundamentally unchanged” (p.36). This model works particularly well with the 2nd Amendment which, after all, contains an express social/historical condition for the right to keep and bear arms. It does, however, seem a bit unnecessary to at once oversimplify and belittle alternative modes of interpretation – “we depart from those who would revise an ancient, authoritative text on no better pretext than the promotion of present-day social preference” (p.147). I will leave the debate over constitutional interpretation for another time and place, except to note that (1) the authors admit that the text frequently lends itself to the very fluidity of meaning they criticize; and (2) caricatures of “non-interpretivists” as unprincipled judicial activists imposing their own values on ancient text are no less misguided than caricatures of “interpretivists” imposing their contemporary values on the ancient text in order to assert the legitimacy of those values (Justice Brennan rightfully deemed this practice “arrogance cloaked in humility”).

    In sum, THE MILITIA AND THE RIGHT TO ARMS is an excellent work of constitutional history. It is meticulously researched, clearly and persuasively argued, and highly relevant to the contemporary debate over the 2nd Amendment and gun control. Anyone serious about the history and/or contemporary value of the 2nd Amendment needs to read this book. I do not know if Uviller’s and Merkel’s interpretation of the Amendment will ultimately prevail before the judiciary, but in light of their evidence advocates of an individual right to bear arms, independent of the militia clause, will need to do a much better job.


    Brennan, William J., Jr. 1990. “The Constitution of the United States: Contemporary Ratification,” in Jack N. Rakove (ed.), INTERPRETING THE CONSTITUTION: THE DEBATE OVER ORIGINAL INTENT. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

    Levinson, Sanford. 1991. “The Embarrassing Second Amendment,” 99 YALE LAW JOURNAL 637.

    Malcolm, Joyce Lee. 1983. “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms: The Common


    Wydick, Richard C. 1978. “Plain English For Lawyers,” 66 CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW 727.

  100. Of course, you could have posted just the link to the review, and save bandwidth…. Oh, well.

    The review sounds very much like all the glowing praise for Michael A. Bellesiles “Arming America” when it came out, before investigations into his “scholarship” got him to leave his tenured professorship at Emory University to pursue “other opportunities” (that is, quit or be fired). However, I suspect that the reviewers line that says “And if today’s National Guard fails to fit the concept of a militia, the notion is little short of ludicrous that the constitutional term applies to the scattered, small, unregulated bands of fatigue-clad, gun-loving, self-appointed libertarians taking secret target practice in the woods while underwriting one another’s bigotry” does not exactly indicate that he has no personal opinion on the matter. I’ve not read the book you cite, but I’d like to point out:

    US Code, Title 10. § 311. Militia: composition and classes

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

    (b) The classes of the militia are—

    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    What exactly the national guard, police forces, etc, constitute are beside the point. According to current US law I *am* part of the militia.

    I don’t have time at this moment (grades are due tomorrow) to look up the guys’ credentials and political donation history (anyone here familiar with those databases?), but I suspect that both the authors and the reviewers have pretty strong liberal/Democratic backgrounds (though I could be wrong – wouldn’t be the first time). That doesn’t invalidate their thesis on its own, but it does make it a bit suspect. I’d be much more interested in a review that actually tracks down some of the footnotes, quotes, and references to check things out and see if they are being presented fairly. In Bellesiles case, the initial reviews were all raving, and he won the prestigious Bancroft prize in history from Columbia University before his research was shown to be of bad undergraduate quality, rather than worthy of a tenured professor. (If you are not familiar with the case, you might find it fascinating to look up). I do find it remarkable, thought, that the book came out in 2002, and I’ve not heard of it until now (of course I have been a tad busy in the last few years – grad school and a toddler tend to do that to you 🙂 ….

    You are right; there are several intertwining threads involved in the subject of gun control, the three main one being legal issues, philosophical issues, and pragmatic issues. The 2nd Amendment portion of the discussion is a legal issue (as well as the “if it’s no longer needed, just repeal it via the amendment process and make it official). However, I would contend that for a case to be made for enactment of significant gun control laws at LEAST two of these three issues must be persuasively argued, and much preferably all three. To date, I have not seen compelling arguments on any one of the three fronts. The philosophical issues are the “what *should* be legal,” and “what I think is good or bad” vs. “what you think is good or bad.” For example, I think that when someone (law abiding citizen or not) shoots or deters a criminal with a gun it is a net gain to society; you apparently don’t. The pragmatic argument is regardless of what’s legal or not, what I think is good or bad, there are the likely consequences of any action (or inaction), and trying to maximize the net good (or at least minimize the net harm) to society.

    As a parallel case, take the war on drugs. Legally, it’s on shaky ground (as I recall, prohibition required a constitutional amendment). Personally I don’t use mind-altering drugs, and I despise those that do drugs; but philosophically I think that folks have the right to abuse their bodies if they want to, as long as they are held accountable for their action and costs incurred while under the influence (much like alcohol). Pragmatically, I don’t think the moral or legal questions have much weight in light of the horrific cost of the war on drugs in terms of lost civil rights, lost respect for law enforcement by large segments of the community, the huge expense of prosecution and incarceration, the crime that drug profits drive, etc., etc. As a practical matter, the war on drugs is a colossally bad idea, irrespective of it legal merits or moral righteousness.

    The gun control arguments generally fall into one of those three categories, and until someone can convince me on all three accounts that it is (a) legal, (2) philosophically reasonable, and (3) the benefits really do outweigh the costs, I’ll remain rather strongly skeptical.

    RolfN, often busy, rarely afraid, occasionally pack’n, and never in condition white.

  101. Rolf,

    I do not know anything about the author of the review. I very well know that Richard Uviller, one of the authors of the book, had a sterling reputation. He went from the US DOJ to become Chief of Appeals in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for 14 years, and then became a professor of law at Columbia Law School. He was a heavyweight in every professional sense of that word. You can read more about him in his recent obitiuary – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/22/obituaries/22uviller.html

    I don’t know Merkel, but his credentials are Columbia and Oxford and the fact that he worked with Uviller.

    Your reference to 10 USC 311, raises a couple of interesting questions:

    A. Was the Amendment talking about a Federal militia (as you are) or was it talking about a State militia? (“. . . the security of a free state. . .”).

    B. If you are correct, does that mean that men who are 45 years of age or older and women who are not members of the National Guard have no right (as you use that word) to bear arms?

    Best wishes,


  102. Well, let me see. This is Joe Huffman’s blog. He invited me into this dialog. It appears that he has now posted a quote of the day, that presumably reflects his own mentality, as well as that of the poor soul who must resort to that kind of low level nonsense.

    I guess I will leave you people to play with your own kind. That is not to say that I tar all of the correspondents with same brush, but if you cannot police your own ranks to provide basic civility, then the discussion is not worth it to me.

    Best wishes, be not afraid and try not to hurt yourselves or anyone else.


  103. The answer to both parts of your question are contained in the Copperude article, I believe. Does the book you cited have any reference to 10 USC 311? If so, what does it have to say? If it doesn’t, I’d have a hard time it is as well researched as the review claimes. Thirdly, I have a very hard time philosophically and pragmatically saying that arms are limited to ONLY those members of the militia (both organized and un-), but I think it’s hard to deny that at the *very least* those folks rights have been explicitly recognized in the letter of the law.

    Prior to “Arming America,” Bellesiles had solid credentials from a well-known university. I’ll await a good fact-check or a personal perusal before I pass judgement on the book.

    RolfN, who only hurts people/things/self when it is desperatly needed.

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