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The United Nations vs. the Second Amendment:

Over at Opinio Juris, Kenneth Anderson has an interesting post about last week's gun control conference at the United Nations, and a New York Times puff piece thereon, written by C.J. Chivers.

After noting U.S. concerns about the U.N. becoming a venue attacks on American gun ownership, the Times explains:

The United Nations and advocates of gun control have said that such fears are unfounded, and that there is no effort to impose standards on nations with traditions of civilian ownership, or to restrict hunting. The programs, they said, apply largely to areas suffering from insurgencies or war.

"States remain free to have their own national legislation," said Daniel Prins, chief of the Conventional Arms Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. "This document does not try to regulate gun ownership in the whole world. This is an instrument that allows states to focus on regions in conflict and the weapons that illicitly get there."

But Anderson was present at the beginning of the U.N.'s campaign against gun ownership:
I recall sitting in meetings of landmines advocates talking about where things should go next; I was director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division, with a mandate to address the transfer of weapons into conflicts where they would be used in the violation of the laws of war, and small arms were the main concern. I was astonished at how quickly the entire question morphed from concern about the flood of weapons into African civil wars into how to use international law to do an end run around supposedly permissive gun ownership regimes in the US.

I dropped any personal support for the movement when it became clear, a long time ago, that it is about controlling domestic weapons equally in the US (or, today, even more so) as in Somalia or Congo.
Despite protestations to the contrary, the U.N. remains quite interested in constricting lawful gun ownership. Consider, for example, the United Nations Disarmament Programme's publication, How to Guide: Small Arms and Light Weapons Legislation. The publication touts the importance of international "harmonisation" of gun laws. According to the United Nations:
Citizens should only be allowed to own guns if they are given a government permit, and the permit should only be issued if there is a "good reason" for posssession or or "genuine need." In particular, permits to own guns for self defense should not be issued unless the applicant proves taht he is in immediate danger.

The law require "safe storage", which means that firearms should be disassembled and the ammunition ammo stored separately.

There should be frequent renewal procedures to assure the owner's continued eligibility. A good example is provided by Australia, which for most gun owners (except farmers) requires membership in a sports club, and participation in a minimum number of shooting events annually.

A firearms license should be contingent on the consent of the person's spouse or former partner.

All firearms should be registered on a centralized computer system.

The home and vehicles of a gun owner should be subject to official inspection "at will."

In The Human Right of Self-Defense, 22 BYU Journal of Public Law 43 (2008), Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and I detail some of the U.N.'s activities against domestic gun ownership. These include:
Providing financial and planning support to the proponents of a gun confiscation referendum in Brazil.

Adopting a Special Rapporteur's report declaring that self-defense is not a right, but is a limited excuse for violating the rights of the criminal.

Declaring that insufficient domestic gun control is a violation of current human rights treaties. Under the U.N.'s standards, even the pre-Heller laws of the District of Columbia were so lax as to be international human rights violations, for allowed the possession and use of defensive rifles or shotguns, in business premises, against non-lethal felony attacks such as rape, mayhem, arson, and armed robbery.

Rebecca Peters' organization IANSA (International Action Network Against Small Arms) is the "the organization officially designated by the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) to coordinate civil society involvement to the UN small arms process." The official UN Report against self-defense was written by an IANSA member, University of Minnesota Law Professor Barabara Frey.

According to Peters--the head of the organization which the U.N. says represents "civil society" on gun issues, all handguns should be banned, as should all rifles capable of firing 100 meters, as should the defensive ownership of any gun.

It was certainly a relief to find out that the U.N. has no interest in restricting the gun rights of Americans.

Paul Milligan (mail):
Just another example of how scary the UN has become, and how much we need to drop it, and let them build their new HQ someplace more appropriate - like Zimbabwe. We can agree ot give them annual raises of $ 1,000,000,000,000 each. That's one billion dollars per hear, per head. Zimbabwe dollars.
7.21.2008 8:50pm
Lior:
To be clear: the learned members of the UN panel are targeting for disarmament those who live in areas with a weak government, the associated breakdown of law and order notwithstanding?
7.21.2008 8:53pm
Sarcastro (www):
The UN is an ineffectual debating society that prevents countries from acting unilaterally to solve problems in other sovereign nations. It is simultaneously an extremely dangerous transnational organization that seeks to bring about one world government.

We must be on our toes. At any moment, the UN could suddenly decide to challenge it's main contributor and host country! I hates guns THAT MUCH!

Our veto power would mean nothing against the onslaught of angry resolutions from the General Assembly!

Indeed, the UN, is likely just waiting till it's Muslim allies weaken us enough before it strikes at us and Israel with it's Soros-funded armies.
7.21.2008 9:08pm
Sarcastro (www):
*ahem*

IT hates guns THAT MUCH!

Though the other way reads pretty well. Sorta liberal pirate going there.
7.21.2008 9:11pm
Cornellian (mail):
The UN is an ineffectual debating society that prevents countries from acting unilaterally to solve problems in other sovereign nations.

Presumably it can't be both an ineffectual debating society and an organization capable of preventing countries from doing things.
7.21.2008 9:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I nominate Sarcastro as our next Ambassador to the UN. He should enjoy himself immensely in vibrant Harare.
7.21.2008 9:21pm
Sarcastro (www):
Yeah, the idea was that the debating allows countries to excuse themselves from acting. Not well put.

Ambassador to the UN? Well, I am super diplomatic, and I do like the tropics...
7.21.2008 9:25pm
pgepps (www):
heck, boot 'im up to Secretary General. with a name ending in "castro" he's a shoo-in
7.21.2008 9:26pm
Waldensian (mail):
Nobody has ever explained to me how, exactly, the numbnuts in the UN are going to get my 1942 Garand.

In all seriousness, can somebody sketch out the plausible story, step by step please, in which those coffee-clutching do-nothing bribe-taking bureaucrats are actually able to affect my ability to buy a glorious, pristine M24/47 Mauser for only $129.95 (which I just did by the way, receiving it in the U.S. mail no less).
7.21.2008 9:34pm
NahnCee:
Nobody has ever explained to me how, exactly, the numbnuts in the UN are going to get my 1942 Garand.

Silly boy. They're going to take our guns away from us in exactly the same way as they over (and tax) the internet: they'll whine us to death.
7.21.2008 10:12pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
How?
As a constrictor snake kills its prey. It doesn't do the vise thing. Instead, it holds on, waiting for the prey to move, to exhale, to give it half an inch. And you never get that half inch back.
Sort of like the "ratchet", which somebody said was a better term for the process than "slippery slope".
A restriction here, a survey there. A liberal congress deciding that a Garand, being scary, is an assault rifle. Zillion percent tax on ammo in the state in which the ammo is made.
7.21.2008 10:17pm
J. Nicholas Smith:
Why the hell are we paying for this shit? Whether or not this nonsense can reasonably have any effect on America, we should not be funding advocacy against the fundamental human right to self-defense, and possession of effective instruments to that end. Let the UN live on the 78% of its budget contributed by other countries until it ceases to be an active enemy of human rights.
7.21.2008 10:19pm
Daedalus (mail):
Now for the $64,000 question - How does BHO view the UN, and its gun control programs. History says that a questioner was answered with the fact that he was in favor of prohibiting the sale or ownership of handguns. He has attributed that to an aide, but what is the real BHO position on gun control. How much in love is he with the European Socialist model, and how well does he trust Americans with gun ownership and concealed carry permits?
7.21.2008 11:15pm
fdcol63 (mail):
It's simple, really:

Take away the people's ability and willingness to defend themselves from authoritarian governments, and they're much easier to control and oppress.

Thus, the constant inculcation that guns are inherently "evil", the notion that self-defensive measures are morally equivalent to aggression, and the continual attempts to prevent people from possessing firearms.

There's an agenda behind the UN and the support it gets from American and Western liberals ... and it's a very dark one for all of us who prefer freedom, democracy, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.
7.21.2008 11:41pm
LXJenkins:
I, for one, strongly believe that the UN should hold no view contrary to that of the United States. After all, where do they get off disagreeing with us?!?! It's almost as if they're operating according to a majority-rules system.
7.21.2008 11:45pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
LXJenkins, to quote Orin Kerr, Sarcasm is not an argument:
The problem with sarcasm is that it pokes fun at the other side without actually making an argument. If you happen to agree with the speaker's view already, this can be pretty entertaining: you don't need an argument, so you enjoy the affirmation of how smart you are and how dumb the other guy is. But what if you don't already agree? Well, in that case sarcasm doesn't tell you very much except about the nastiness of the speaker. The sarcastic comment rather suspiciously avoids addressing the merits, and is more likely to turn off the undecided than persuade them.
In short, your comment makes no sense. Do you think anybody else is unaware that the UN may operate according to a majority rules system? Do you think, perhaps, that many -- if not all -- Americans believe that when dealing with fundamental rights, "majority rules" is an inappropriate system?
7.22.2008 12:16am
Milhouse (www):
Serious answer: It is in fact both an ineffectual debating club and a dangerous transnational organisation. Countries like Baathist Iraq, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, etc., who need dealing with, ignore it when it suits them; for that matter, so do countries like France. But the USA not only voluntarily obeys such things, but in case the current administration happens to balk there's that pesky treaties clause in the constitution. The USA is, I think, the only country in the world where treaties are the law of the land, at least if they say they are, and are enforceable in the domestic courts.

As for the veto power, that assumes the administration wants to veto it. A Democratic administration would be very unlikely to veto any UN resolution that would infringe on gun rights.
7.22.2008 12:17am
Paul Milligan (mail):
"It's almost as if they're operating according to a majority-rules system.'

Yeh - where Zimbabwe plus Sudan ( for one of so many examples ) outnumber the USA two to one in voting power. Great system.
7.22.2008 12:36am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
We must be on our toes. At any moment, the UN could suddenly decide to challenge it's main contributor and host country! I hates guns THAT MUCH!

Our veto power would mean nothing against the onslaught of angry resolutions from the General Assembly!


It's challenged its main contributor on a good number of matters, both legitimate and less so.

As for our veto power, last I checked that only takes a single President's statement to overturn -- on a subject President's have been notoriously less than 50/50 on -- rather than bothering with anything more complicated or easily overturned.
7.22.2008 12:40am
Sebastian (mail) (www):
In all seriousness, can somebody sketch out the plausible story, step by step please, in which those coffee-clutching do-nothing bribe-taking bureaucrats are actually able to affect my ability to buy a glorious, pristine M24/47 Mauser for only $129.95 (which I just did by the way, receiving it in the U.S. mail no less).

Easy, they'll sign all the other governments into the world into a treaty which requires the destruction of all surplus arms and ammunition, rather than allowing them to be exported to countries such as the United States.
7.22.2008 12:42am
LXJenkins:
Paul Milligan said:

Yeh - where Zimbabwe plus Sudan ( for one of so many examples ) outnumber the USA two to one in voting power. Great system.


General Assembly resolutions are non-binding while the U.S. holds veto power on the Security Council (and is a permanent member). I think you're overreacting.
7.22.2008 12:50am
LXJenkins:
David M. Nieporent - or anyone else for that matter - could you please sketch out a scenario in which the United Nations could (over U.S. objections) curtail or end gun rights within the United States?
7.22.2008 1:02am
luagha:
Simple, LXJenkins.

The United Nations passes a general resolution that all handguns are illegal unless in the hands of a state-sanctioned governmental force.

The US Supreme Court decides that the 'general international standards' of the world require that we also declare that all handguns are illegal, and when the Heller case comes up, they decide 9-0 that all handguns are illegal and that, no matter how ludicrous it is, the Second Amendment only has to do with state militias or something because of 'internaltional law.'

Yes, it is ludicrous. But all it takes is influence on the Supreme Court... and the many upcoming challenges that will soon be getting to the Supreme Court on this.
7.22.2008 1:10am
cubanbob (mail):
It is time to quit the UN and kick it out of New York.
There is no point in wasting further money an effort on this low rent farce. Let them convene in Switzerland where the criminals can visit their money while performing their little farces.
7.22.2008 1:12am
Joe Bingham (mail):
David M. Nieporent - or anyone else for that matter - could you please sketch out a scenario in which the United Nations could (over U.S. objections) curtail or end gun rights within the United States?

Ummm... why?
7.22.2008 1:17am
EvilDave (mail):
We really do need an amendment that explicitly states that US law trumps "international law".
"International Law", BTW, is some chimera that has been passed by no legislature or king but is somehow binding (at least morally) on all of humanity.
Who died and left the UN king?

The scenario for UN trumping gun rights is easy (pre-Heller), less so since then but still imaginable.
1) US (like Canada and some may other countries) passes a vague and sweeping "Human Rights" law (we all love human rights, right?).
2a) The Court takes this vague feel-good law and uses it as a blank check to legislate any and everything they want (once again, see Canada).
2b) The UN drills into the Left's head that gun rights are a violation of "Human Rights" (tm) and that no right to self-defense exists. (See main post).
3) The Court combines 2a &2b to outlaw the self-defense defense to battery/homicide and OKs gun control legislation (see the UK).
Or Option #2) replace the step (1) with some international treaty that limits sales, self-defense, or allows adjudication in an international court (see libel tourism)

Now post-Heller this is more difficult. Especially since all 9 Justices said the 2nd Amendment was an individual right. You have two options.
Option #1, not good) The 2nd Amendment isn't incorporated down to individual states. Outlaw gun ownership there.
Option #2, better) Go to a reasonable restriction test and all restrictions are reasonable. This is similar to the UK in which all Protestants have the right to own a gun, barring "reasonable regulation" (or something similar, I am not going to Google the term). How is the right to bear arms working for Protestants in England now a days? I got a knife handy.
7.22.2008 1:20am
LXJenkins:
luagha &EvilDave - So the moral of the story is that the United Nations cannot unilaterally limit gun rights in the U.S. In order for the UN to have any substantive impact, an improbable chain of events would have to occur - not least of which is getting all veto holders to agree on such a controversial issue. Then there's the whole Constitutional issue.

I fail to see how this is even a mild concern - let alone worrisome enough so as to lead some posters to scream bloody murder for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations.
7.22.2008 1:44am
J. Nicholas Smith:
The whole point of fundamental human rights is that they are fundamental, not matters for a "majority-rules system" to decide if it likes or not.

The right to own firearms is part of the right to self-defense (one right even Hobbes acknowledged could not be surrendered to Leviathan) in the same way that the right to free speech includes the right to own devices for the purpose of communication. The UN Disarmament Programme's position on firearms is just as morally repugnant as a UN programme advocating the limitation of Internet connections to those who can show "good reason" or "genuine need", and subjecting the residences of persons allowed to use the Internet to official inspection "at-will".

It doesn't matter that such rules could not be adopted in the US; the possibility that such advocacy might contribute to such restrictions anywhere in the world is sufficient to make undermining such advocacy the right thing to do. Withholding funding, in whole or part, is a perfectly peaceful means of expressing our displeasure and undermining the UN's ability to campaign against a fundamental human right, whether the right of free speech or the right to self-defense.

And I am not demanding that the UN act against the flawed beliefs of any of its member states as a condition of funding. I'm not demanding the UN to actively support human rights, but merely that it cease efforts, however ineffectual, to undermine them.

Nor am I advocating that the US withdraw from the UN. We've refused to pay our (full) assessments before, while retaining our membership. We should do so again, and every time in the future when the UN issues so much as a pamphlet against liberty.
7.22.2008 2:51am
Smokey:
The UN's founding, orchestrated by Alger Hiss - a dedicated communist willingly controlled by his Soviet handlers - is dedicated to the destruction of American freedom. Anyone who can't see that is ignorant of history and a fool. As the Soviets say, a useful fool.
7.22.2008 7:51am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

So the moral of the story is that the United Nations cannot unilaterally limit gun rights in the U.S.



So there is no way the U.N. can work to end gun rights in the U.S. without directly forbidding it? Are you serious?
7.22.2008 8:25am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ryan.

Of course he's serious. He's seriously hoping we'll buy it, miss the obvious point.
7.22.2008 8:30am
martinned (mail) (www):
@J. Nicholas Smith: Does that go for the right not to be killed by your own government as well? (Speaking of things on which the US disagree with the majority of the nations of the world.) Because I seem to remember some complaints about Justice Kennedy's Kennedy ruling being, essentially, undemocratic.

O, now that I'm typing: while sarcasm is often not an argument, it can be. LXJenkins' 10.45 comment reflected the argument that it hardly makes sense to be upset every time the General Assembly disagrees with the US. That's going to happen in a majority vote system, get used to it. (I actually tend to think that Sarcastro's comments are quite funny as well, but maybe that's because I usually agree with him.)
7.22.2008 9:03am
Virginian:

Our veto power would mean nothing against the onslaught of angry resolutions from the General Assembly!


Our veto power would certainly mean nothing if the next president supports the UN's anti-gun positions. cough*Obama*cough
7.22.2008 10:27am
Sarcastro (www):
The important thing to remember is that even though the UN is ineffectual, and hasn't made any moves to curtail US gun ownership yet, we should be pretty angry at it because it might try to do so one day.

[Sarcasm doesn't lend itself to making a new argument, but it does point out flaws in other people's arguments pretty well, I find]
7.22.2008 10:30am
JeanE (mail):
I'm not particularly concerned about the UN unilaterally overriding the US Constitution in the immediate future, but an international consensus that gun control is a public good will not advance liberty elsewhere in the world, and in the long run the best way to defend the US is to advance liberty.

"Whenever a free man is in chains we are threatened also. Whoever is fighting for liberty is defending America." —William Allen White
7.22.2008 10:32am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Our veto power would mean nothing if the SCOTUS made up another general consensus scam.

Additionally, although the GA has no veto power, the usual liberal suspects insist it has moral authority and any time we don't do what the GA says, there's something wrong with us. That has an influence on the malleable. Who vote.
7.22.2008 10:47am
Mark Rockwell (mail):

The UN's founding, orchestrated by Alger Hiss - a dedicated communist willingly controlled by his Soviet handlers - is dedicated to the destruction of American freedom. Anyone who can't see that is ignorant of history and a fool. As the Soviets say, a useful fool.


Where does this sort of thing come from? Even if Hiss was a spy, the idea that he setup the UN in order to undermine the US so that it could be taken over by the Soviets... the SOVIETS?! Can we drop that tired line, please?

Look; I don't like most of the countries in the world either. Zimbabwe? Yeah, not a fan. But I would really rather have them at the table, talking--endlessly if need be--than splintered off on their own, lobbing hand grenades into our self-adulatory parade.

We can spend all day--indeed years--debating the merits of various UN proposals. Most proposals never become operational because people do just that. But the idea that a super-national negotiation table is somehow an ultra-secret global scheme to take away your grandpa's old Mauser, well, that's just too much to swallow.

I thought the whole Cobra Command fantasy died out upon entering adulthood.
7.22.2008 11:19am
cjwynes (mail):

A firearms license should be contingent on the consent of the person's spouse or former partner.


LOL, the UN wants your ex-wife to be able to control whether or not you can legally possess a firearm.


Declaring that insufficient domestic gun control is a violation of current human rights treaties.


The UN's concept of "rights" is just completely incompatible with the concept of rights enshrined in our Constitution. Our concept of rights is rational and grounded in natural law. The UN concept of rights is basically arbitrary, grounded in nothing other than the present trends of thought among socialists. It makes no distinction between positive and negative rights, nor between government actors and private actors, it just aims to secure everybody a "right" (which will be forced on you whether you want it or not) to live in a socialist regime.

I'm not saying we should drop out of the UN, it's nice to have a forum to resolve minor disputes and keep everybody talking to each other. But we should probably stop sending them money. I don't want to subsidize socialist advocacy with my tax dollars any more than I have to, and I've already got some fraction of it going to the Peace Studies department at the state university.
7.22.2008 11:28am
Srsly:
"Declaring that insufficient domestic gun control is a violation of current human rights treaties. Under the U.N.'s standards, even the pre-Heller laws of the District of Columbia were so lax as to be international human rights violations, for allowed the possession and use of defensive rifles or shotguns, in business premises, against non-lethal felony attacks such as rape, mayhem, arson, and armed robbery."

Uh...am I reading this correctly? The U.N. thinks letting people use lethal force to stop a rape is a human right violation? Of whom? The criminal who decided to rape somebody? It reminds me of hte Joe Horn case - people were railing against his actions and saying he violated criminals' rights.

W.T.F. What is all this concern with the rights of criminals in defensive situations? Why should you punish somebody who was stopping a lawless criminal from harming them or taking property?
7.22.2008 11:37am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Srsly: We care about the rights of criminals, too, because they are human beings like everybody else. That means, among other things, that the law should never condone the killing of another except to save a life.
7.22.2008 11:45am
Falafalafocus (mail):
Forgive my ignorance, but i'm confused at this argument:


The important thing to remember is that even though the UN is ineffectual, and hasn't made any moves to curtail US gun ownership yet, we should be pretty angry at it because it might try to do so one day.


Should people instead smile and bend over because, after all, the UN is ineffective (at this time)? So in your bizarro world, I can only mock and denigrate the UN for making speechs and "laws" aimed towards the destruction of what people view to be a fundamental right (regardless of whether you agree with them) when the UN is powerful enough to shut me up? You are better at sarcasm than people give you credit for!
7.22.2008 11:45am
PersonFromPorlock:
Mark Rockwell:

Look; I don't like most of the countries in the world either. Zimbabwe? Yeah, not a fan. But I would really rather have them at the table, talking--endlessly if need be--than splintered off on their own, lobbing hand grenades into our self-adulatory parade.

But while they're talking to us, their people are dying. And a few hand grenades lobbed in our direction would surely result in the lobbers' quick demise, to the people's benefit.

The fact is that endless talk just produces endless excuses for endless inaction. If we truly believe in liberty as a natural right of all people, we ought to do better than that.
7.22.2008 11:49am
Sarcastro (www):
Awesome point, Falafalafocus! But I take things one step further. Rather than just living in fear of things that might one day happen, I act as if they have already occurred.

Whenever someone disagrees with me, my policy is to give them a quick punch in the face rather than waiting for them to decide to escalate the situation and then learn kung-fu.
7.22.2008 11:56am
Srsly:
martinned :

1) The Constiutution is only concerned with criminal's rights when the government acts. That seems the sensible place to draw the line in most instances. It is one thing to say the government cannot summarily execute somebody. It is quite another to say we as a society deem it wrong (either morally or economically) to punish somebody for killing somebody to prevent imminent bodily harm or serious property theft. That's different than "condoning" in my view. It's just a defense to being punished.

2) You think deadly self-defense is only justified when death is threatened? Really? Not even kidnapping, rape, serious maiming?

3) If we're totally serious about this anyway, the death of the types of people who steal huge amounts of property, or who rape or commit armed robbery, is a good thing for society. Not denying that from a personal standpoint I wouldn't want to engage in that, but making criminal activity really really risky seems like a good idea.
7.22.2008 12:05pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
So close, sarcastro, but you are (unintentionally, I'm sure) missing the whole point of Mr. Kopel's post, i.e., that that U.N. is lying about its attempts to subvert U.S. citizen's rights to gun ownership.

Taking your example, we aren't punching some poor innocent guy for making innocuous statements. Instead, the U.N. is making menacing acts. Thus, we aren't punching the U.N. because they may be a threat someday, but because we believe they are engaged in (albeit slow) punch in our direction. You obviously don't think we are reasonable. Gold star fo you, if you do. Fortunately, you aren't the only one in the jury box.
7.22.2008 12:18pm
CDR D (mail):
WRT the treaty clause, I don't believe a treaty can trump the US Constitution.

There are several cases going back to the early 19th Century which suggest it is the other way around.

A couple of "snippets", FWIW:

In Geoffroy v. Riggs (133 U.S. 258, 1890) the Court stated:

"It would not be contended that it (the treaty power) extends so far as to authorize what the Constitution forbids, or a change in the character of the Government or in that of one of the States, or a cession of any portion of the territory of the latter, without its consent."

In Reid v. Covert (354 U.S. 1, 1957) the Court stated:

"[No] agreement with a foreign nation can confer power on the Congress, or on any other branch of Government, which is free from the restraints of the Constitution.

"[There] is nothing in [the supremacy clause] which intimates that treaties and laws enacted pursuant to them do not have to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. Nor is there anything in the debates which accompanied the drafting and ratification of the Constitution which even suggests such a result.

"It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created the Constitution, as well as those who were responsible for the Bill of Rights -- let alone alien to our entire constitutional history and tradition -- to construe Article VI as permitting the United States to exercise power under an international agreement without observing constitutional prohibitions. In effect, such construction would permit amendment of that document in a manner not sanctioned by Article V. The prohibitions of the Constitution were designed to apply to all branches of the National Government and they cannot be nullified by the Executive or by the Executive and the Senate combined…."
7.22.2008 12:21pm
Virginian:

I don't believe a treaty can trump the US Constitution.


Since the US Constitution apparently means whatever five justices on the Supreme Court says it means, I don't take much comfort in this fact.
7.22.2008 12:29pm
Sarcastro (www):
Srsly:

1. Allowing someone to shoot some guy jimmying the lock on their car is totally not condoning vigilante justice! I can see only good consequences from such a policy!

2. See, those three crimes all carry a reasonable apprehension of death. That hardly counts!

3. If people aren't serving society then to hell with them! The needs of the collective outweigh the needs of a few troublemakers. Intrinsic vale to human life? Not if you run afoul of the law!
7.22.2008 12:29pm
Sarcastro (www):
Falafalafocus: I know I consider the UN's statements to be acts! Every word is an incitement, after all.

I also love the image of beating up some guy who is slowly trying to punch you! So majestic and American!
7.22.2008 12:32pm
karrde (mail) (www):
My trouble with the UN policy on small arms is similar to my trouble with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

An agency/convention of the UN will produce a Resolution which will have much binding power in any nation which takes rule of law seriously, while doing little about the internal affairs of any nation that doesn't mind saying one thing and doing another. Said Resolution will result in significant upheaval inside the social/legal structures of the Unites States of America, and unknown (possibly nonexistant) changes in the legal/social structures of countries from Albania to Zimbabwe.

And it smacks of intellectual elites within the U.S. and Europe telling the United States that we are a bunch of backwards rednecks who need to be saved from ourselves, while at the same time doing little about real troubles in places like Zimbabwe, Sudan, etc.

Come to think of it, that almost describes the UN conferences on Racism, as well as the UN Human Rights Commission...
7.22.2008 12:39pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Srsly: Your point number 3 was exactly why I included a link to Kant. He's the one that discussed what is often described as "the intrinsic value [of] human life"; You can't take someone's life or death as just another factor in your utility maximisation calculation. (Disclosure: I'm an economist myself.)

Re your point 2: I would have to think about that, I'm not sure. But what is definitely not OK, is using deadly force to stop someone running off with your TV, or using deadly force when you have the option of safe, I repeat: safe, retreat.

Re 1: Mine was first and foremost a moral point, but legally of course the government acts when it enacts (!) a law. And even though such a concern should not rise to the level of an actionable right, lawmakers should consider the effect of their laws on all Americans, not just the law-abiding ones. Self-defence trumps the interest of the attacker, but that does not mean that the legislature is acting morally correctly when it removes reasonable limits on self-defence. To see how this applies to the present problem, give me a moment to compare the US to my country, the Netherlands:

- In the US, there are roughly as many fire arms as there are people, and that is ignoring the weapons owned by the military. Over here, gun ownership stands as sth. like 2 %.
- In the US, the number of homicides stands at sth. like 17.000 per year, or 7 times higher than the 200 per year we have here, when correcting for population size.
- In the US, trying to "take the guns" hurts the law-abiding citizens first, without a snowball's chance in hell of making it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on guns. From a practical point of view, that means that going after the guns in any widespread fashion is a bad idea, quite apart from the constitutional and political-philosophical considerations.
- Q: Does this mean that Dutch lawmakers should allow Dutch citizens easier access to fire arms, as part of their inherent right of self-defence? My answer would be that, firstly, that would probably make things worse, and secondly, an increase in cases of deadly self-defence could very well outweigh any further reduction in the homicide rate.
7.22.2008 12:59pm
Kirk:
J. Nicholas,
Nor am I advocating that the US withdraw from the UN.
Shoot, you had me up until that statement. Yes, we should withdraw from (and expel from our shores) the Useless Debating Society. The diplomatic (and other) "opportunity costs" of continuing to fund it and participate in it are enormous. As I've said before (perhaps on these pages even, so apologies for being boring): let's give Ad Hoc Coalitions of the Willing(tm) a 5-decade run and see how they compare.

martinned,
the law should never condone the killing of another except to save a life.
Well, that's fine as an overall principle, provided it doesn't in practice descend into second-guessing, at leisure and in a comfortable safe environment, every single action of the law-abiding victim who was forced into making a split-second decision in a highly dangerous environment by the criminal decedent. Polities that do that hardly qualify as "civilized" in my book, as they undermine the very foundation of their existence--the willing buy-in of the average citizen.
7.22.2008 1:03pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):
PersonFromPorlock:

The fact is that endless talk just produces endless excuses for endless inaction. If we truly believe in liberty as a natural right of all people, we ought to do better than that.


There is no doubt that the UN system is a magnificent bureaucracy that runs on stagnation, over analysis, and conferences on conferences. There is plenty of work to be done, and most anyone you meet at the UN will (at least privately) admit it. But that doesn't mean that the UN is the reason we haven't fixed Zimbabwe. I find it incredibly unlikely that, if there were no UN, the situation in Zimbabwe would be any different--except that maybe it would be someone's colony (which, sadly, would probably be better for a lot of the citizens). What the UN does is, it keeps the issue on the table; it stays on the agenda, and even if nothing ever gets done, at least there are talking points and potential. Sometimes things actually get fixed.

Karrde:

It is axiomatic that the rule of law will be most respected in those countries that respect the rule of law. I fail to see the problem with fixing our own faults, even while other countries still have theirs. Maybe we'll get lucky with some "trickle down" moralism.
7.22.2008 1:06pm
LXJenkins:
karrde:

And it smacks of intellectual elites within the U.S. and Europe telling the United States that we are a bunch of backwards rednecks who need to be saved from ourselves, while at the same time doing little about real troubles in places like Zimbabwe, Sudan, etc.

The irony in the post is incredible. Let me get this straight - it's elitist for the rest of the world to have an opinion contrary to a section of the American population - yet it is somehow not elitist for those Americans to discount the views of the rest of the world (all the while doing nothing about real troubles in places like Zimbabwe, etc.)?
7.22.2008 1:07pm
Kirk:
martinned,
Does this mean that Dutch lawmakers should allow Dutch citizens easier access to fire arms, as part of their inherent right of self-defence? My answer would be that, firstly, that would probably make things worse
That says some pretty uncomplimentary things about your fellow-countrymen, it seems to me. I doubt that's what you really mean, though, so perhaps you could unpack a little more of how you think things would go in that situation.
7.22.2008 1:09pm
Srsly:
Martinned:

I don't take great issue with most of your policy ideas. But your use of Kant is absurd. Kant was a great metaphysicist and philosopher, but a terrible ethicist. His principle axiom for deducing the Categorical Imperative (of which the humanity formula is one instantiation) is laughably misconceived- that the only thing good in and of itself is a good will. The very exmples he uses to reject other "fundamental goods" (e.g. - he rejects intelligence b/c intelligence can be used for harm) can be used to reject "good will" as an intrinsic good - a really good-willed baffoon is just as damaging. Kant was just a utilitarian in disguise, in my view.

We as citizens should move beyond using ethical "theories" in place of substantive policy discussions. If society would be better off by having an open-season policy on people committing crimes against innocent citizens, then great as far as I'm concerned. I personally do not think property is worth killing over, but if somebody else wants to make that decision let them.
7.22.2008 1:13pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):
Kirk:


let's give Ad Hoc Coalitions of the Willing(tm) a 5-decade run and see how they compare.


How about a five millennium run?

Well, what'd you think?

I believe you will find that the entire purpose of the UN is produce an endless debating society, where decisions are made through the most boring and long-winded processes known to man. Because we've tried ad hoc coalitions of the willing, and they aren't always what you're imagining.

Why is it that the same folk who endorse a domestic separation of powers, with the pointless squabbles and bureaucratic entanglements that it produces, are so frequently opposed to anything like it on an international scale? Isn't sand-in-the-gears the entire point?
7.22.2008 1:14pm
Sarcastro (www):
Ad Hoc Coalitions of the Willing(tm) Rock! I LOVED World War I!
7.22.2008 1:32pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Kirk: How do you figure? You don't think the murder rate would go up if gun laws here would be relaxed? I would imagine it would certainly increase the success rate of attempted murders, if nothing else.

@Srsly: By and large, I'm all for utilitarianism, especially when it comes to government policy decisions. But don't you think there should be some deontological "red lines"? Things we simply do not do, no matter how much it improves the total welfare? One of the problems with most forms of utilitarianism is that tends to suggest that it is OK to sacrifice the few to help the many, eg. in extremis to kill a few murderers so as to deter murders in society at large. This kind of "taking one for the team" recommendation would certainly not be in line with most people's sense of right and wrong, which leads me to suggest that utilitarianism needs some exogenous red lines. (You don't have to get them from Kant, if you don't want to.)
7.22.2008 1:41pm
David M (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/22/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
7.22.2008 2:13pm
luagha:
martinned, the data from Florida indicates that that is not the case. When gun laws there were relaxed, the murder rate went down and the success rate from attempted murders also went down.
7.22.2008 2:35pm
Srsly:
Martinned:

No, I don't think we need some deontological red line. Just because my "intuition" tells me it's a good idea does not make it so. Actually breaking down the semantics of such a proposal tells me why: the corollary to putting a red deontological line is "There exists some possible world where you are compelled to do action X rather than Y and action Y is the optimal action for reducing overall suffering." That to me is ludicrous.

But I don't think a priori arguments are possible here - you either "believe" in deontological red lines or you don't. But I do think many people's beliefs are based on unquestioned intuitions.

Even if I did believe in such bright lines, I don't think that "the government choosing not to punish citizens who defend their property of over $x thousand dollar ammount" would be where I'd draw that line. Maybe at "not torturing" or something, but not there.
7.22.2008 3:16pm
theobromophile (www):
Under the U.N.'s standards, even the pre-Heller laws of the District of Columbia were so lax as to be international human rights violations, for allowed the possession and use of defensive rifles or shotguns, in business premises, against non-lethal felony attacks such as rape, mayhem, arson, and armed robbery.

Little late to this party....

Last I checked, 13% of rape victims attempted suicide; some rape victims will contract incurable or deadly STDs; arson carries with it the very real possibility of inadvertent death (whether the fire spreads, or kills someone not known to be on the premises, or endangers firefighters as they try to control it); and, when a victim is in the home, there is a reasonable likelihood that armed robbers will harm the victim. (EV had a thread about this a few months ago, IIRC. Off the top of my head, 30% of people who are at home during an armed robbery are harmed? Sound right?) The United States also recognises "attempt to do serious bodily injury" murder, in which someone who merely (ha) attempts to inflict severe harm on a person accidentally kills the victim.

If we were psychic, we could determine when arson, mayhem, armed robbery, or rape would turn deadly. (We could also determine if the guy breaking into our homes was, in fact, armed, or is a more benign type of robber, there only to steal but not to harm any victims.) As we cannot perfectly predict the intentions of our aggressors, however, it is senseless to demand that we presume their good intentions and good outcomes of their actions (as with arson or mayhem).

On a related note, the United Nations seems to be woefully ignorant of history. Dictators - and all those who would oppress people - start by disarming them.
7.22.2008 3:20pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):
Srsly, Martinned:

If I can throw in my 2 cents: it seems to me that red lines are useful and perhaps necessary, but they ought to be established in the same way as all other policy, not by deference to some a priori sentiment. So we may have a rule that says "never torture: EVER!" but only because we determined that the benefits of having a solid, unambiguous anti-torture regime outweigh the benefits of sometimes getting good, "actionable" information. In our modern, totem-free world, I really don't see any alternative.

You can have your cake and eat it too! (Huh?)
7.22.2008 3:23pm
Kristopher (mail) (www):

EvilDave:
We really do need an amendment that explicitly states that US law trumps "international law".


Look at the article of the US Constitution that enables the amendment process. Amendments take precedence over articles of the constitution. The BoR thus trumps the article concerning treaty law.
7.22.2008 3:36pm
Srsly:
Mark:

Absolutely; no problem with that from a theoretical standpoint.
7.22.2008 3:54pm
Fluffers:
martinned: "what is definitely not OK, is ... using deadly force when you have the option of safe, I repeat: safe, retreat."

I want to make sure I understand you (and Kant) correctly.

I come home one evening and find a burglar in my living room. He sees me in the entry and waves a tire iron at me. I should (1) turn and run out my own front door and not (2) blow his head off.

Is that correct?
7.22.2008 3:55pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> an increase in cases of deadly self-defence could very well outweigh any further reduction in the homicide rate.

You write that like it would be a bad result.

I don't know about Dutch murderers, but US murderers are generally folk who have a long history of violence.

If you want society to protect them, it should figure out how to do so without allowing them to prey on others. If it fails to do that ....
7.22.2008 4:11pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Mark Rockwell:

What the UN does is, it keeps the issue on the table; it stays on the agenda, and even if nothing ever gets done, at least there are talking points and potential. Sometimes things actually get fixed.

A pretense of concern has nothing to do with being concerned; au contraire.
7.22.2008 4:13pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Fluffers: If there's no one else in the house? Absolutely! Leave and call the police.

@Mark Rockwell: That makes sense, some higher-level rule utilitarianism. I could go with that.

@Srsly: I'm not sure I understand your objection. As always, the kicker in this kind of approach is in the notion of "overall suffering". How does that translate into an actual prescription for Jack Bauer? And yes, we can talk about the specific red lines. The ban on torture seems controversial enough these days.

@Andy Freeman: I'll leave your comment for Sarcastro to respond to, if he wishes.
7.22.2008 5:48pm
Sarcastro (www):
I'd respond, but Andy has a heckuva point.

Deadly self defense, unlike the State's inefficient "Death Penalty" doesn't suffer from unnecessary delays caused by defense attorneys and laws. And I'm pretty sure I read somewhere only "bad folk" get killed in self defense.

In fact, why not just get rid of the state's criminal process altogether, and just arm everyone? It would certainly keep "bad folk" from preying on others...
7.22.2008 7:13pm
Kirk:
martinned,

Not being Dutch myself, having no close contacts nor any recent living experience in the country, I have absolutely no opinion on whether the murder rate would affected by liberalized gun control laws.

Rather, it's your certainty that it would go up that interests me. The thought of all those murderous citizens of the Netherlands, stymied only by the lack of a handy firearm...


Mark R.,

So you actually think the absence of major worldwide warfare since 1945 is the result of the UN rather than, oh, say, NATO?
7.22.2008 7:30pm
Doc W (mail):
It's tempting to suggest, as someone did much earlier, that life must never be taken except to save life. As I recall, the British weren't killing people with the Stamp Tax, but the colonists embarked or a war of independence that took may lives before it was over. That's how the US came to be. Any regrets?

I think some distinctions are needed here--first of all, between killing as retribution for theft versus killing in the process of defending property. And second, between the rights of the accused, or even rights of convicted criminals, which count primarily against government officials, versus some putative right of a criminal that empowers him against the victim in the very act of committing the crime.

If someone enters my house while I'm home and sets about robbing my property, he sets up a confrontation in which I have every right to stop the robbery, and I don't have to take chances that the intruder might have a concealed weapon or be able to kill me barehanded. The judgment of what force I need to apply at that point is mine. It is absurd to suppose that the robber in the process of robbery in my home has some right to expect me to retreat or stand idly by or endanger myself by applying possibly inadequate force.
7.22.2008 7:54pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Theo. What makes you think the UN is ignorant of history?Maybe their idea of a good outcome is different from yours.
7.22.2008 8:08pm
foutsc (mail) (www):
The UN, international house of scandal, corruption and third-world rapists, looking down their noses at us?
How droll...
7.22.2008 8:25pm
chris m (mail) (www):
so now that our Supreme Court has ruled that self defense with a handgun is a basic human right can we start filing human rights violations against the UN and the countries that have confiscated guns?
7.22.2008 8:35pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
What I think is puzzling is the simultaneous leftist arguments that (a) the UN and international treaties represent binding law or at least extremely persuasive custom that should inform US law/policy/constitutional interpretation, and (b) conservatives are being paranoid/crazy/ridiculous to take the UN and international treaties seriously.
7.22.2008 8:54pm
Doc W (mail):
The UN is a global quasi-government, or government-in-waiting. I think there is something dangerous about that. The United States is militarily and economically dominant now, but history suggests that dominance is ephemeral. The time my come when we are vulnerable to economic blackmail, if nothing else. The possibility also exists of a president, abetted by Congress and the Supremes, abrogating 2A (or who knows what else that we take for granted) under cover of "international law" as represented by the UN. I don't think the UN serves any useful purpose that couldn't be otherwise served through diplomacy and special-purpose international organizations. It's long since time to get out of it and get it out of New York.
7.22.2008 9:17pm
EvilDave (mail):

What I think is puzzling is the simultaneous leftist arguments that (a) the UN and international treaties represent binding law or at least extremely persuasive custom that should inform US law/policy/constitutional interpretation, and (b) conservatives are being paranoid/crazy/ridiculous to take the UN and international treaties seriously.


Really to be a good Leftist you have to be good at cognitive dissidence.
I fall back to Evan Sayet's premise that "to eliminate discrimination, the modern Liberal has opted to become utterly indiscriminate". That they view rational thought as an evil. That setting two things beside each other and selecting one it discrimination, and discrimination is wrong.
7.22.2008 9:32pm
AKD:
Sarcastro,

I'd respond, but Andy has a heckuva point.

Deadly self defense, unlike the State's inefficient "Death Penalty" doesn't suffer from unnecessary delays caused by defense attorneys and laws. And I'm pretty sure I read somewhere only "bad folk" get killed in self defense.

In fact, why not just get rid of the state's criminal process altogether, and just arm everyone? It would certainly keep "bad folk" from preying on others...


A devastatingly witty response, if self-defense is a form of punishment. Unfortunately, it is not.

Locke on death as a punishment for murder and on resistance with deadly force:

And thus it is that every man in the state of Nature has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury (which no reparation can compensate) by the example of the punishment that attends it from everybody, and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal who, having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tiger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security. And upon this is grounded that great law of nature, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." And Cain was so fully convinced that every one had a right to destroy such a criminal, that, after the murder of his brother, he cries out, "Every one that findeth me shall slay me," so plain was it writ in the hearts of all mankind.

Reference: John Locke, An Essay Concerning the true original, extent, and end of Civil Government, 1690, para. 11

And hence it is that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life. For I have reason to conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it; for nobody can desire to have me in his absolute power unless it be to compel me by force to that which is against the right of my freedom -- i.e. make me a slave. To be free from such force is the only security of my preservation, and reason bids me look on him as an enemy to my preservation who would take away that freedom which is the fence to it; so that he who makes an attempt to enslave me thereby puts himself into a state of war with me. He that in the state of Nature would take away the freedom that belongs to any one in that state must necessarily be supposed to have a design to take away everything else, that freedom being the foundation of all the rest; as he that in the state of society would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society or commonwealth must be supposed to design to take away from them everything else, and so be looked on as in a state of war.

Reference: John Locke, Ibid, para. 17

This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than by the use of force, so to get him in his power as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose that he who would take away my liberty would not, when he had me in his power, take away everything else. And, therefore, it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me -- i.e., kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.

Reference: John Locke, Ibid, para. 18
7.22.2008 10:38pm
warsong (mail) (www):
There seems to be some dissonance of thinking, here. The UN is dedicated to World Governance. Such is made plain in that voluminous section, linked to on their Main Page. Most of it appears to be benign, until you figure out the bureaucrat-speak buried in virtually every sentence.

They definitely describe all forms of "Self-Defense" as an assault on the Human Rights of innocent criminals. Innocent Criminal is then specifically defined to pertain to anyone holding an office of Authority, even if that office is "Minister of Rape" (as in the Cabinet of Sudam Hussein), an assault on whom is defined as a "Heinous Crime."

Personally, I see nothing wrong with Criminals killing Criminals, you certainly can't define that as "Murder." But, most people, especially leftists, see no distinction between the words, "Kill" or "Murder," even though they are polar opposites.

"Murder" is the act of taking the life of something or someone that does not deserve to die, and, whose death is a disservice to Family, Community, State or Nation.

To "Kill" is the act of ending the life of something or someone that 'needs' (or, must) be stripped of life for the good of self or others, for the good of Community, State or Nation (necessarily) serving the good of all.

In the history of the world, not a single Law has prevented a determined Criminal from committing a Crime with whatever weapon available, in that age, or, at that time.

Any Law passed "...with a view to control Crime," or, "...to prevent Crime" is based on a False Premise, a non-sequiter resulting in Tyranny, and, should be declared "unconstitutional," even if (and when) it is an article of, or amendment to, a Constitution.
7.23.2008 6:06am
Waldensian (mail):

What I think is puzzling is the simultaneous leftist arguments that (a) the UN and international treaties represent binding law or at least extremely persuasive custom that should inform US law/policy/constitutional interpretation, and (b) conservatives are being paranoid/crazy/ridiculous to take the UN and international treaties seriously.

I guess I am no leftist, as I don't believe (a), but completely believe (b), at least with respect to the idea that the UN somehow has the power to affect my RKBA in the U.S.

All the scenarios I've seen so far require political majorities in the U.S., presumably sufficient to render the various veto powers irrelevant, to somehow give effect to evil UN doings -- but of course, if those veto-defying political majorities existed, they could drive anti RKBA policies irrespective of the UN.


I'm not particularly concerned about the UN unilaterally overriding the US Constitution in the immediate future, but an international consensus that gun control is a public good will not advance liberty elsewhere in the world, and in the long run the best way to defend the US is to advance liberty.

I certainly agree with that. I just don't see any reason for paranoia to be part of the process.

Just because there is (justifiable) overlap between RKBA supporters and UN despisers doesn't mean the two issues are linked in any material way.
7.23.2008 9:28am
Mark Rockwell (mail):
warsong

In the history of the world, not a single Law has prevented a determined Criminal from committing a Crime with whatever weapon available, in that age, or, at that time.

Any Law passed "...with a view to control Crime," or, "...to prevent Crime" is based on a False Premise, a non-sequiter resulting in Tyranny, and, should be declared "unconstitutional," even if (and when) it is an article of, or amendment to, a Constitution.


This is among the most absurd things I have ever read. Because crime still continues, does not mean that laws have not stopped a criminal from commiting a crime. They simply have not stoppped the criminal who succeeded. If a law were to make some weapon more difficult to obtain, then it would necessarily deter a criminal from commiting a crime that required the weapon. It's pretty clear that laws have thusfar prevented determined folks from using nuclear devices for terrorist crime....
7.23.2008 1:37pm
Loki (mail):
Mark Rockwell: "Where does this sort of thing come from? Even if Hiss was a spy,. . ."

There's really no "if" about it. The book Venona, by J. Hanes and H. Klehr (1999, Yale University Press, New Haven and London) thoroughly documents the fact. (Hiss' code name used by his controllers, if you're curious, was "Ales.")

Venona recounts that Hiss was a State department official who obligingly sent copies of just about everything that came across his desk to the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence). And he was by no means the only individual in the American government who did so. Hanes and Klehr cover the entire story.

Back in 1950, Senator Joe McCarthy was evidently tipped off by someone to the ongoing espionage, and made quite an issue about it. But he could produce no solid evidence. Given his less-than-reputable techniques of argument, a majority of the country would not take him seriously. (Nor, I regret to say, did I, at the time. Many years later I had occasion to speak to a person who confirmed certain of the Venona revelations of which that person was personally aware. It was sobering.)
7.23.2008 5:13pm
Smokey:
Mark Rockwell:
Even if Hiss was a spy, the idea that he setup the UN in order to undermine the US so that it could be taken over by the Soviets... the SOVIETS?! Can we drop that tired line, please
You must be young and naive. Google the Venona files, internal Soviet documents disclosed right after the fall of the Berlin Wall, proving beyond doubt that Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent.

Do you actually believe that by changing the KGB's initials to the FSB, they stopped working to undermine the West? Do you actually believe that they gave up the idea of World Communism? Do you think they don't hate us for depriving them of their Eastern European empire, and reducing the Soviet empire from a population of 330 million, to today's 140 million?

The Soviet fall was not like the end of the Third Reich or Imperial Japan, which ended in unconditional surrender. No one cut the head off of the Soviet snake. For them it was only a case of "two steps forward, one step back."

A KGB officer who defected to the West was hired by one of the top two U.S. defense contractors, where I worked in the early '90's, to explain to employees how Soviet intelligence operations worked. I attended one of his lectures [which were primarily about how defense company secrets were gathered by Soviet agents; the #1 method was to use janitors to go through the engineers' trash at night]. This former KGB officer was deemed credible by a Fortune 100 company; maybe it would be worthwhile to listen to a short interview with him here: [click]

The people who attended his lecture in the early 1990's were optimistic that we had won the Cold War, and that democracy would spread across the earth and good will would prevail. Listen to this KGB agent in the link above, then decide if we were a bit too optimistic and naive.

And:
A firearms license should be contingent on the consent of the person's spouse or former partner.
Do you like that UN definition of "former partner"? Think that might include any former boyfriend, girlfriend, or college roommate?
7.23.2008 6:20pm
Steve in CT (mail):

In all seriousness, can somebody sketch out the plausible story, step by step please, in which those coffee-clutching do-nothing bribe-taking bureaucrats are actually able to affect my ability to buy a glorious, pristine M24/47 Mauser for only $129.95.


As Sebastian already indicated, the UN is paying countries to destroy their surplus ammunition &arms rather than sell them to collectors in the USA. We used to receive supplies of surplus ammo from South Africa, but now they are getting paid more to destroy it. Australian FAL L1A1 parts were being imported into the US, but now they're destroying them at the behest of the UN.

Perhaps in the future, there will be treaties other countries will recognize that will not allow them to export firearms for civilian use, only military &law enforcement. No, they can't stop our domestic production, but they will make it a more expensive hobby.
7.24.2008 5:32am
warsong (mail) (www):
Mark Rockwell,

The subject is: Handheld Weapons suitable for self defense, not Nuclear Weapons or ICBM's. If these are included, it becomes an issue of availability and cost. However, you can't deny that both would be usefull to a Militia fighting a war with a Super-power, but, a little over the top for the local Burglar.

It's not really kosher to use 'over-the-top' comparisons when discussing Murderers or Burglars, with limited resources.

You also ignore the descriptive phrase, "determined Criminal," which takes it out of the league of someone thinking about stealing a Hot Dog because he's hungry, and, having second thoughts. The description would apply to those who've chosen or drifted into a life of Crime, and, really enjoy committing crimes, or, a first time criminal doing it for a thrill to impress his "gangsta" buddies, thereby accruing status in a gang.

No law has or ever will prevent determined criminals from breaking Laws. To them, in their culture, it's a badge of courage, an act of defiance, in extreme cases a symptom of the "I Syndrome" (the only known commonality between Assassins and Mass or Serial Killers - I, me, my, mine...I am God, the Target exists only as a target, or, for my pleasure. "The God Syndrome," is another name).
7.24.2008 10:54am
Diplomatic Gunboat:
Please note that in 2005 under Rumsfeld the DoD materially weakened the "inherent right and obligation of self-defense" provision of the U.S. standing rules of engagement (discussed here, scroll down to Dec 4 and 5, 2005). Under the new wording, the individual right to self-defense can be overruled by a commander. Similar to Beruit in 1983 where U.S. troops were ordered not to have ammunition in their rifles. The DoD of course denied that the new wording was a change but rather was a 'clarification.' This travesty still has not been fixed, but needs to be. Inherent is inherent, just as inalienable is inalienable though kings and pretenders may try.
7.24.2008 1:47pm