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Assault Weapons Bans,

in the Violence Policy Center's own words (from 1988) (emphasis added):

[A]ssault weapons are quickly becoming the leading topic of America's gun control debate and will most likely remain the leading gun control issue for the near future. Such a shift will not only damage America's gun lobby, but strengthen the handgun restriction lobby for the following reasons:

* It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an "old" debate.

Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an "unsolvable" problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons — just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms — are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons....

So when gun rights supporters worry that "assault weapons" bans are (1) attempts to grease the slope to restrictions on handguns and other guns, and (2) attempts to capitalize on public confusion about what assault weapons really are, they are really only saying what the Violence Policy Center has itself already said.

Thanks to Dan Gifford for the pointer.

UPDATE: I originally said this was a 1998 study, because that's the copyright date, but it turns out the study itself came out in 1988. Thanks to commenters Bill Twist, Dan M., and Edward M. for the correction.

Monty:
Except that if the gun rights lobby can hold the line and stop a scary looking guns ban, then it is likely that the gun grabbers wont be able to push further. As long as the congress is petrafied of a repeat of the last AWB, then gun rights are in good shape federally.
4.21.2009 6:49pm
Tim H. (mail):
what you are really criticizing though is good politics...

the real issue is of course a substantive one...
4.21.2009 7:01pm
John Moore (www):
Yep. So far, we've got congress on the run on this one.

The liars in the media purposely confuse the public about the difference between military assault rifles (submachine guns) and so-called "assault weapons." They were able to fool the public once, but the Democrats paid big time for it, and will again if they try such foolishness.
4.21.2009 7:03pm
Houston Lawyer:
My gun rights are limited far more by federal law than by state law. One law that gets worse every year is the one prohibiting civilians from purchasing (even with the federal permit) a machine gun manufactured after 1986. Yes, I want a new model and will not pay a collector's premium on an old one.
4.21.2009 7:09pm
TomHynes (mail):
What is the over/under on how long that stays on the VPC web site?

My bet is 24 hours.
4.21.2009 7:12pm
James Gibson (mail):
The gun control movement told congress in 1993 that gun ownership was dropping, the guns were becoming more concentrated and that only 35% of households owned guns. Thus gun control could be done with few side-effects. They also said they (the gun controlists) represented the silent majority of Americans.

15 years later they still say that gun ownership is dropping but the new percentage is 34.5%. VPC is also on record saying that FFLs have been dropping due to the drop in ownership and now is at 50,000 nationwide. But in 2009 the ATF published the first official number for FFLs since 2001 and its seems someone found another 50,000.

VPCs studies have been poor on homework, don't normally stand-up over time, and basically are just for short term political gain. The one really good study was their blast at the Brady study on the virtues of the Assault Weapon ban. But that study was so anti-ban that VPC has since replaced it with a new study (not by Tom Dias) that says there were some good effects from the Assault weapon ban. Of course I have a PDF copy of the old report, so deleting it from the VPC web site doesn't make it go away.

In short the biggest problem VPC or Brady has is 20 years of studies, stories, and analysis that have fallen apart; all still available for reading by people on the net. Its hard to get political support for new gun laws when your carrying this much political baggage.
4.21.2009 7:13pm
zippypinhead:
The 1998 VPC playbook is still in active use. And one of the biggest offenders (or sycophants) on the "assault weapons" confusion front lately has been the Washington Post. In both op-eds and "news" stories since the new Administration took office, WaPo has been trying to leverage the Mexican drug cartel wars into arguments for both a new assault weapons ban, and for closing the so-called "gun show loophole." Unfortunately, that newspaper is (still) read by lots of people on Capital Hill.
4.21.2009 7:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
And the attempts to get assault weapons banned were so transparently not about a real public safety issue that they turned me from a gun owner who cared, but not very deeply, into someone that writes books and law review articles that ends up getting cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Real smart of the gun control nuts to irritate me, wasn't it?
Who wants to upset me next?
4.21.2009 7:22pm
pintler:

What is the over/under on how long that stays on the VPC web site?

My bet is 24 hours.


In that case try the internet archive.


My sense is that AR-15's, e.g., are much more common today than in the early 90s. That speaks both to the 'commonly used' prong in Heller, and means that a ban would affect a much higher percentage of owners than in the 90s.
4.21.2009 7:36pm
CDU (mail) (www):

My sense is that AR-15's, e.g., are much more common today than in the early 90s.

Definitely. And I think we have the AWB to thank for that. Trying to ban them brought a lot of interest to these rifles, and the expiration of the ban brought even more. The Brady campaign has succeeded in making the AR by far the most popular rifle in America.
4.21.2009 7:40pm
rosetta's stones:
It's kinda comical, watching you gun nuts in here frolicking, doing a Marc Gastineau sackdance in the gun grabbers' end zone!

I almost feel bad for those poor gun grabbers. What a stupid strategy. It was counterproductive, even. Seems like I see more concealed carry laws, and castle doctrines for whatever that's worth. And that's the outcome of the strategic push they made? And more AR's? Stupid strategy.

I thought they did eliminate a bunch of FFL's, which they'd count as a success?

You'd have to slip this in gently, but it'd be nice to make sales and shipments easier. Let me buy what I want, from whoever I want, and ship it how I want. What do I gotta do to make you mad enough to get that done, Cramer?
4.21.2009 7:58pm
John Moore (www):
When I go to the range (Scottsdale Gun CLub) near my office, the difference between an "assault rifle" and a so-called "assault weapon" is really obvious. In some lanes, there are people firing AR-15's, semi-auto AK-47's, and other of the evil "assault weapons." In others, there are folks firing full auto SMG's and real assault rifles: M-16's and selectable-fire AK-47's. The difference is between "bang... bang... bang..." and "brrrrrrrrrrp".

Some reporters should stop by and check it out. They might learn something. But I'd bet their reporting would still be wrong.

It is sad, as "Houston Lawyer" pointed out, that you can't but the full autos made since 1986. The prices have gone way up - even a junky old Uzi is $7500. That's too much of a premium for me to buy as a toy. OTOH, a criminal can get one for less on the black market - the laws don't stop them.

And then there's the Mexican drug gangs. There was a high profile case in the national news recently about a local gun dealer busted for straw man sales of AK-47's (semi-auto) for the Mexican drug gans. Funny thing... not reported breathlessly in the national news... the charges were dropped at first glance by the first judge involved.

The drug gangs have plenty of easier, cheaper sources of weaponry - and they buy and use stuff they couldn't get here at all - full auto M-16's, grenade launchers, etc.

But it was a nice try by the gun banners to come up with a different excuse for violating our rights.

Here in the Phoenix area, we care a whole lot about guns right now - there have been 700 kidnappings in the last 2 years by the Mexican gangs (drug gangs and Coyotes). There are regularly shoot-outs between them. If you have to drive to some parts of town, and you can't afford a Bradlee Fighting Vehicle, a firearm offers at least some hope.
4.21.2009 8:06pm
cognitis:
The creators of the first assault rifle, the Sturmgewehr, were even at inception cognizant of standard rifle bullets as inept for a personal automatic arm; since a rifle bullet's recoil both rendered an arm on full auto as too difficult to direct accurately and also required too heavy chambers and barrels; so the Sturmgewehr's creators created special bullet, 7.62 kurz. Since already citizens not serving in the local or federal authority don't lawfully use either automatic arms or arms bored greater than 12.7mm, restrict those citizens to bullets inept for automatic fire: 30-06, most Weatherby and magnum bullets. Don't ban carelessly defined "assault rifles" but instead restrict bullets.
4.21.2009 8:18pm
11B40 (mail):
Greetings:

Originally, assault weapons were developed to replace the semi-automatic rifles (one bullet firing per trigger pull) issued to infantrymen and other soldiers. The assault weapon added an automatic firing capability, where the weapon could fire multiple bullets from one trigger pull (and hold). The use of the "assault" word was in reference to infantry assaults which would greatly benefit from the automatic fire capability to suppress enemy return fire. While the use of this word made perfect sense in the military environment, in the civilian environment it was very similar to a word used to describe a criminal affront. While I can certainly agree that assault weapons look uglier or scarier than traditional hunting rifles, this is an argument about form rather than function especially in the case of the civilian (non-automatic firing) "assault weapons" which really are not assault weapons. No infantryman, in this day and age, wants a semi-automatic "assault weapon". I don't believe that this connotation -denotation problem has been effectively addressed by the people on the gun rights end of the political spectrum. It's obviously an unfortunate "unintended consequence."

Another definitional confusion results from the "machine gun" reference. The best description I know for a machine gun is a weapon that fires "belt-fed" ammunition on an automatic basis. "Belt-fed" refers to ammunition that comes in strips (similar to a belt) that allow for additional belts/strips to be clipped on to the original belt while the machine gun continues to fire. This is in opposition to assault weapons which are "magazine-fed" (a metal box of spring loaded bullets open on one short side) and must stop firing to be reloaded. This continuous firing capability is what makes machine guns so powerfully dangerous.
4.21.2009 8:22pm
Kirk:
Eugene,
what the Violence Policy Center has itself already said.
Yes, but why would anyone believe what they said?
4.21.2009 8:24pm
SayUncle (mail) (www):

What is the over/under on how long that stays on the VPC web site?

My bet is 24 hours.


It's been there for years and years.
4.21.2009 8:33pm
SFC B (mail) (www):
I'd like to offer a supplement to 11B4O's machine gun definition. In addition to being fully automatic, they also fire from an open bolt to aid in cooling. Belt fed vs. magazine fed isn't a very good indicator though as light machine guns, like the M249, can use belt fed as well as a M16 magazines or its own 200 round canister magazine.
4.21.2009 8:41pm
Guesty (mail):
The U.S. Code has special definitions for machine gun and, formerly, assault rife that differ from military terminology.

Machine gun for legal purposes is any gun that is select fire, full-auto, burst fire, etc.

The post-1986 ban is pretty stupid; I'd rather have a much higher NFA transfer tax than the '86 ban.
4.21.2009 8:56pm
t-boy (mail):
Cognitis said:

Since already citizens not serving in the local or federal authority don't lawfully use either automatic arms or arms bored greater than 12.7mm


Both of those assumptions are incorrect. A tax stamp provides a legal avenue to obtain, possess and use these arms. In addition muzzle loaders greater than .50 cal are legal without a tax stamp. So banning bullets of this size would be problematic.

11B40
If your definition of machine guns is correct, how would you define submachine guns. Typically they are designated submachine guns by the size of the cartridge used.
4.21.2009 9:01pm
t-boy (mail):
Cognitis,

I have another point I would like to make. The 30.06 is used in the M1919 .30 caliber machine gun and uses the same bullets as the .308 Winchster cartridge, a very popular and capable machine gun caliber used in a wide variety of automatic weapons. There is really no popular small or medium caliber rifle round that could not be used in automatic weapons. Especially considering modern metullurgical and manufacturing techniques.
4.21.2009 9:09pm
t-boy (mail):
One more thing, G*d bless John Moses Browning.
4.21.2009 9:11pm
cboldt (mail):
-- One more thing, G*d bless John Moses Browning. --
.
Next thing ya know, ther'll be calls to ban certain weapons on grounds that permitting them is tantamount to an establishment of religion.
4.21.2009 9:29pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
One thing for sure, it seems to me--if the anti-gun nuts can't score something substantial for their side with Dems in total control of Congress and Obama in the White House, they're pretty well washed up. And moving seriously against 2A is one of the ways Obama can hand Congress back to the Repubs, like Clinton did in '94. It still boggles me how Bush could have screwed up so badly as to leave the Dems in total control--but many of the Congressional Dems are not anti-gun (and not among the most profligate tax-and-spenders, either). Imagine that.
4.21.2009 9:42pm
TomHynes (mail):
Perhaps vpc should update this sentence:


the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms
4.21.2009 9:59pm
t-boy (mail):
Slight addition

Perhaps vpc should update this sentence:


the majority of Americans including the Supreme Court of the United States mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms
4.21.2009 10:03pm
11-B/2O.B4:

11B40
If your definition of machine guns is correct, how would you define submachine guns. Typically they are designated submachine guns by the size of the cartridge used.


The only difference between an assault weapon and a submachine gun, technically, is that assault weapons use rifle-caliber bullets while submachine guns use pistol ammunition. Also, subguns are usually smaller/more compact, with a much shorter effective range.


Also, good to see some fellow grunts in here

/parade rest (4O outranks me)
4.21.2009 10:51pm
11B40 (mail):
Greetings: specifically "t-boy" at 9:11pm &"SFC B" at 8:41pm

In my estimation, the "sub" (Latin for "under"?) in submachine-gun refers to less than an actual machine-gun in that the "subs" are magazine-fed weapons as opposed to belt-fed.

As to the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, these showed up after my time, so I don't have any direct experience of them. But I will stand by the magazine-fed vs belt-fed distinction as the best point of discrimination. If the weapon has to stop firing to be reloaded, it's a automatic weapon or a submachine-gun, but not a machine-gun.
4.21.2009 10:53pm
ArthurKirkland:
A number of Americans, including most of those who contribute to gun-related discussions on this site, appear to be unable to distinguish a Constitution right to possess a gun (for example, a reasonable firearm kept for self-defense in the home) from an unfettered entitlement to possess, sell or purchase any gun, anywhere, without registration.

The freedom of speech seems at least as strong, from a Constitutional perspective, as the right to bear arms (no militia clause to navigate around in the First Amendment, for example). Yet few argue that a citizen is entitled to use profanity in a schoolhouse, or scream at will in a courtroom, or incite others to violence in a crowd, or use falsehoods to sell securities. Time, place and manner restrictions are commonly acknowledged with respect to freedoms secured by the Constitution. I see no authority for, or persuasive reason underlying, the proposition that the right to bear arms is exempt from reasonable restrictions.

Against that background, if a legislature decides to forbid automatic or semi-automatic guns, unregistered firearms, sales not documented by regulated dealers, or the like, I do not believe most Americans -- or the Constitution -- would view those measures as "gun grabbing."
4.21.2009 10:59pm
Xenocles (www):
"The freedom of speech seems at least as strong, from a Constitutional perspective, as the right to bear arms (no militia clause to navigate around in the First Amendment, for example)."

Really? There's a good case to be made for the opposite statement; the first only says "Congress shall make no law" while the second says that the right "shall not be infringed" (one presumes by any entity).
4.21.2009 11:02pm
John Moore (www):

Against that background, if a legislature decides to forbid automatic or semi-automatic guns, unregistered firearms, sales not documented by regulated dealers, or the like, I do not believe most Americans -- or the Constitution -- would view those measures as "gun grabbing."

You would be wrong about that, and I hope the Democrats try - it will get them out of control of congress quite quickly.

It is true that the 2A does not grant an unfettered right (is there any such thing)? Most would agree that the government should ban or regulate the private possession of nuclear weapons.

It's where you draw the line.

Take away the semi-autos and all hell will break loose, since they are by far the preferred civilian defense weapon - even in rifle or handgun form. Require registration and you would turn many Americans into instant felons - they feel that strongly.

And, of course, none of this would have much if any impact on gun violence.
4.21.2009 11:09pm
John Moore (www):
even should have been either
4.21.2009 11:09pm
PC:
The freedom of speech seems at least as strong, from a Constitutional perspective, as the right to bear arms (no militia clause to navigate around in the First Amendment, for example).

We also don't have to register our speech, in most cases, with the federal government. In the cases we do register our speech it seems to be when we want protection by the government, i.e. copyright.

Unlike Houston Lawyer, the state I live in -- and city, in particular -- limits my firearm purchases much more than the federal government does. And by "limit" I mean makes it virtually impossible to buy a firearm without a "reason" -- a shotgun for home defense doesn't count.

I haven't tested the waters post-Heller so maybe it will be different.

As a side note, the poli-sci side of me wants to point out that the Bill of Rights doesn't grant rights to the People, although it may not make much of a difference in the field of constitutional law.
4.21.2009 11:17pm
Kirk:
ArthurKirkland,

Instead of working so hard, against such serious odds, to try to disarm your fellow citizens, why don't you just emigrate to England? They've already got what you seem to want...
4.21.2009 11:22pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
ArthurKirkland,

It's an interesting question, where to draw the line on weapons guaranteed by 2A. I doubt a ban on semi-autos could pass muster, given that they've been around in private hands for a very long time and clearly have merit for self-defense, mutual aid, and resistance against tyranny. Registration historically has been a stepping-stone to confiscation, and since criminals are unlikely to register their weapons anyway, it's not clear that registration should be considered to have sufficient rational basis given the 2A implications. Many other "reasonable" regulations put forward by anti-gun pols and propagandists have been pretty obvious camel's noses or efforts to discourage gun ownership by hedging it about with a minefield of paperwork felonies. The right to keep and bear arms is not without limit any more than freedom of speech, as you note. I endorse the comparison. If 2A is accorded the same level of deference and support by politicians, judges, academics, and political opinion leaders as 1A typically has been, we should be in pretty good shape.
4.21.2009 11:25pm
PC:
Take away the semi-autos and all hell will break loose, since they are by far the preferred civilian defense weapon - even in rifle or handgun form.

I had an interesting conversation with the Mrs. the other night about semi-autos. The Mrs., being a born and bred east coast liberal, had never fired a firearm prior to meeting me. After going to the range the first time she liked it. .22, .40, 9mm, 12 ga., it was all good.

The other night she brought up the talk about banning/limiting the sales of semi-automatics (something she heard on the radio). I responded that other than the shotgun, every gun she's fired was semi-auto. To her that made any talk of banning semi-autos "stupid." Basic definitions of terminology are crucial here.

The assault weapons ban strikes me the same way. Actual assault weapons are already under strict controls. An AR-15 is not an assault weapon just because it looks like an M-16.
4.21.2009 11:34pm
cboldt (mail):
Transmogrified to fit the 1st amendment: Against that background, if a legislature decides to forbid automatic or semi-automatic printers, unregistered computers, correspondence not documented according to regulations, or the like, I do not believe most Americans -- or the Constitution -- would view those measures as "speech impairing."
4.21.2009 11:35pm
Melancton Smith:
ArthurKirkland said:

The freedom of speech seems at least as strong, from a Constitutional perspective, as the right to bear arms (no militia clause to navigate around in the First Amendment, for example). Yet few argue that a citizen is entitled to use profanity in a schoolhouse, or scream at will in a courtroom, or incite others to violence in a crowd, or use falsehoods to sell securities. Time, place and manner restrictions are commonly acknowledged with respect to freedoms secured by the Constitution. I see no authority for, or persuasive reason underlying, the proposition that the right to bear arms is exempt from reasonable restrictions.


Again we teach you. Those are restraints against action that causes harm. Merely keeping and bearing causes no harm. Your solutions are prior restraint...they assume a sane law-abiding person with a gun is a ticking time bomb.
4.21.2009 11:37pm
Volokh Groupie:
This silly bait and switch reminds me of the scientologists trying to use 'intelligent design' as a conduit.
4.21.2009 11:47pm
Kenno (mail):
What I find telling about the VPC quote isn't just that it illustrates their strategy. I also find it fascinating just how wrong they were in 1998, regarding their beliefs about gun control's bright future.

Keep in mind that Clinton, a far more centrist Democrat than Obama, was pushing for all the gun control he could get, and that even most right-leaning commentators believed that there was a gun ban somewhere in America's future. Yet here we are under a Marxist president, and he won't touch gun control because he knows it's political suicide.

The VPC failed miserably.
4.21.2009 11:51pm
cboldt (mail):
-- assume a sane law-abiding person with a gun --
.
That phrase is a source of extreme cognitive dissonance to many a well-intentioned gun-grabber. How can it be that a person be "sane" and "with a gun?" How can a person be "law-abiding" if that person possesses an assault weapon?
.
On account of citified people vastly outnumbering country folk, I figure gun rights will be an historical artifact in a few generations. As evidence, I point to how far they've eroded in the last 80 years, and the dismal state of personal independence and free-thinking exhibited by the up-coming generations. If PC talk can be enforced (see Thought police muscle up in Britain), it'll be trivial to get the people to surrender grandpa's guns.
4.21.2009 11:52pm
DG:
{Against that background, if a legislature decides to forbid automatic or semi-automatic guns, unregistered firearms, sales not documented by regulated dealers, or the like, I do not believe most Americans -- or the Constitution -- would view those measures as "gun grabbing}

The question is does Arthur not understand what a semi-auto is, or is he being serious? Since the vast majority of firearms in use today for hunting and home defense are semi-auto, it would cause a huge problem to ban them .

BTW, the best way to convert a gun control-leaning person to the other side is to take them shooting. Worked for my wife.
4.21.2009 11:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

On account of citified people vastly outnumbering country folk, I figure gun rights will be an historical artifact in a few generations.
Yup. Grew up in Los Angeles. Oddly enough, the vast majority of my fellow gun nuts also grew up in big cities. There's something about finding yourself among the few people you know who has not been the victim of a violent felony that makes you start to wonder if owning a gun would be a good idea.
4.21.2009 11:58pm
Kenno (mail):
You would be wrong about that, and I hope the Democrats try - it will get them out of control of congress quite quickly.

I disagree. When the Dems hand the Congress to the GOP by embracing extreme Leftist positions like gun control, it tells Republicans they don't have to work for the vote of the public. I would much rather have two pro-2A parties, even if both of them are insincere, than have one violently anti-2A party and one that is soft on its principles.

A case can be made that Gingrich failed as a Speaker because, after being elected solely due to the Clinton "assault weapons ban," he alienated his base by supporting more gun control.
4.21.2009 11:59pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

A number of Americans, including most of those who contribute to gun-related discussions on this site, appear to be unable to distinguish a Constitution right to possess a gun (for example, a reasonable firearm kept for self-defense in the home) from an unfettered entitlement to possess, sell or purchase any gun, anywhere, without registration.
I think where we get "confused" is that the Second Amendment says "keep and bear arms."

You want mandatory gun registration? Okay, what do we get in exchange? Remember that convicted felons have a constitutional right to not register guns. What are we getting in exchange for giving up our privacy rights?

You know, if places with restrictive gun control laws actually had something to show for it, Mr. Kirkland, your argument might be interesting. But California has completely prohibited ALL transfers of firearms except through a background check since 1991. And what do they have to show for it? San Francisco keeps trying to ban handguns. What? The criminals aren't obeying the background check requirement? I'm shocked, shocked to hear that.
4.22.2009 12:03am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Let me buy what I want, from whoever I want, and ship it how I want. What do I gotta do to make you mad enough to get that done, Cramer?
I'm irritated enough. I just don't have the time. I'm writing a paper with Joe Olson right now about antebellum popular understanding of the Second Amendment, and another paper with Dave Kopel about Pennsylvania's RKBA provision--and unfortunately, I have to go to bed now, so that I can get up and hack C# all day long for a living.

I have this fantasy of a world where gun rights scholars get to work full-time at it, and gun control advocates have day jobs to slow them down.
4.22.2009 12:06am
cboldt (mail):
-- There's something about finding yourself among the few people you know who has not been the victim of a violent felony that makes you start to wonder if owning a gun would be a good idea. --
.
And yet cities tend to be most restrictive about keeping and bearing.
.
Politicians follow the votes. It might take a generation or two to teach the young 'uns about the badness of guns, and the VPC piece noted the need for a crisis or two to gel public opinion. It'll come together (in favor of the gun grabbers) in time.
4.22.2009 12:06am
Matthew Carberry (mail):
Come together in FAVOR of the gun grabbers??

The biggest trend in gun legislation has been the loosening of gun ownership and public carry restrictions, both concealed and open.

Shall-issue concealed carry permitting has exploded since the mid-90's with most states consistently loosening their permit requirements after enacting it.

Alaska, for example, went from no lawful concealed carry in the early '90s to permitted carry to lawful concealed carry without any permit required in under 2 decades.

"Castle laws", laws against frivolous lawsuits against users of (lawful) lethal self-defense and against lawful firearms manufacturers keep getting passed, state AW bans don't.

Permits for possession and/or purchase are going away, not increasing.

The Courts are acknowledging that the concept of "collective rights" was nothing but a Johnny-come-lately conceit of those with an axe to grind against gun ownership and possession.

Gun ownership both in absolute and proportional terms appears to continue to increase while "gun crime" and accident rates continue to stay stable or drop, showing that reducing restrictions has no negative influence on crime rates.

If anything the trend is for more freedom as more and more Americans recognize that allowing greater exercise of gun rights has no documentable down side.
4.22.2009 12:33am
James Gibson (mail):
Cboldt, regarding your comment "On account of citified people vastly outnumbering country folk, I figure gun rights will be an historical artifact in a few generations.", you obviously live in New York or a complete concrete jungle. I live in Suburban Orange County in California. The other day while playing golf with friends at a course well surrounded by cities we spotted not one but two "large" Coyotes.

As long as we have nature we will have to deal with animals. Australia has tried birth control for Roos and other nice ways of dealing with Kangaroos, but recent reports is that they are about to have a kull right inside the capital city. Its either reduce the numbers or give the country back to the roos. In this country animal rights groups have tried the same tactics with the result being rising herds of deer damaging crops and endangering the environment by over grazing. Coyote packs have been seen as close to the coast here in the OC as Huntington Beach were one pack has killed all the cats and several small dogs in a mobile home park. People now have to watch their small children when they go out to play and some have begun carrying canes and other items in case they have to drive off an attacking animal. In a recent case a wildcat entered a bar in developed mid-west city and attack several patrons. The cat was later found to be rabid.

Regarding another point controlling by ammunition. Lets remember that 12.7mm means 50 cal for us Americans. All shotguns other then the 410 can fire a slug round which is larger then 12.7mm (a 20 gauge is 0.62 inches). As noted all replica civil war and revolutionary war muzzleloaders are 50 caliber or larger (thats why my flintlock is going to be .45 caliber). But finally there were two full automatic shoulder fired weapons of WW2 that did not fire short cartridges. The first was the M1918 BAR rifle firing the 30-06 round. The other is the FG42 automatic rifle firing the 8mm mauser round. Both are not comfortable firing in full auto, but they stopped what ever they hit. Also, the 308 winchester/7.62 NATO round is a well used hunting round while also the round used by the M-14 and the FAL. Buying into the gun control movements new policy of banning ammo and not guns will get you into just as much trouble real fast.
4.22.2009 12:37am
ArthurKirkland:
The tides of public opinion swirl . . . at times, pushes for (and enactment of) more gun control, at other times, pushes for less gun control. The two-term governor of Pennsylvania recently called for more gun control.

I have not seen a strong argument for the proposition that the Constitution forbids registration of guns, forbids restrictions on the types of guns lawfully possessed, forbids a requirement that all lawful gun transactions be conducted and documented by a licensed dealer. Plenty of loud and broad arguments that begin and end with "right to keep and bear arms," though. If citizens, through their elected representatives, choose to establish reasonable regulation of guns, a rabid minority shouldn't be -- and probably will not be -- able to frustrate the democratic process.

In a world in which President Obama seems likely to identify the handful of persons who will moderate the democratic tide of gun control for some time, I doubt those who refer to 'our Marxist president,' or claim a Constitutional right to possess an unregistered machine gun, or argue that no one can stop anonymous, high-volume trafficking in automatic weapons at gun shows, are likely to have an influential role in shaping gun policy in most or all of the United States.

Thank goodness.
4.22.2009 12:44am
cboldt (mail):
-- you obviously live in New York or a complete concrete jungle. --
.
No. Rural. My speculation as to the future is based on a study of the past and present. Gun regulation in the US is much tighter now than it was when I was a kid - I think ridiculously tight even though I'm presently personally quite free to keep and bear. The way SCOTUS misconstrued Miller as it decided the Heller case does not bode well. 9 of 9 got it wrong, and that look back to Miller is about 80 years. Legislation passes based roughly on majority, or whatever the elites figure they can get past a majority. The world trend is disarmament of subjects, and the US is not "carved in stone for perpetuity."
.
-- If anything the trend is for more freedom as more and more Americans recognize that allowing greater exercise of gun rights has no documentable down side. --
.
I hope you are right, and I am wrong.
4.22.2009 12:53am
11-B/2O.B4:
Kirkland, your arguments are straw man in the extreme. Have you ever been to a gun show, and seen the "high volume trafficking"? My guess is no. The requirements to get a license for automatic weapons are so stringent as to exclude those without a lot of time and disposable income.

And reasonable gun owners accept certain minor restrictions, like registration, as a whole. Given a proper, full reading of the Second Amendment, it is clear that the intent is military, and involves the type of small arms useful in a military conflict. Therefore, "assault weapons" (though the AWB doesn't ban a single actual assault weapon) clearly fall under it's auspices, in my humble lay opinion. The issue at hand is the anti-gun lobby chipping away at a basic freedom many of us hold dear. First it's handguns, then "assault weapons", then "armor piercing bullets" (another bogus, false issue). The issue for us is that we must draw the line and fight, or lose our freedom, not that we just can't sleep at night without our 240-B belt-fed machine gun.

Furthermore, most of the anti-gun lobby and the people they manage to convince have a functional knowledge of firearms that could best be described as criminally uneducated. Seriously, "anonymous, high-volume trafficking in automatic weapons"? Statements like this show plainly that your knowledge base is slightly less than nothing. The fact that no anti-gun person I have ever met or debated has known the difference between a full- and a semi-automatic weapon scares me. I think a basic requirement for a valid opinion is a reasonably informed definition of terms, which you evidently do not possess. In this, you are most assuredly not alone. More's the pity.
4.22.2009 1:05am
Jim at FSU (mail):
Don't confuse political rhetoric for public opinion. Politicians go back and forth over gun control but the American public doesn't. And most of those politicians are part of the older crowd that grew up steeped in the "gun control is inevitable" culture. The newer ones don't touch it with a ten foot pole unless they are in one of the few extremely anti-gun jurisdictions that still exist in this country. Obama can't shape gun policy because he can't prevent Democrats from being unseated if they go against the gun owners.

Whenever gun control gets near the American electorate, the gun banners lose. Period. The only way anti-gunners make any headway is by switching sides on the gun issue and shifting the race to other issues.

If you ignore the fact that he was obviously lying, Obama made quite a show of support for the 2nd amendment during the election. For a dedicated anti-gun ideologue like him to say such things tells us that gun owners are a powerful political force in this country. The difficulty that ABC and Holder/Obama have had in reshaping opinion towards even relatively modest proposals tells us that any victory over the gun rights crowd will be an extremely expensive undertaking.
4.22.2009 1:06am
11-B/2O.B4:
Relatively modest proposals? Which would those be, exactly? Relative to what? Complete disarmament? Total Liberty?

Forgive me for being skeptical, but any time someone starts talking "relativism" and "modesty" I just have to ask, compared to what?

Amish women are modest compared to film stars, but not to wahhabi muslims.

Your terms mean nothing without a frame of reference.
4.22.2009 1:22am
wfw:
I don't think that there is a real person behind the ArthurKirkland name. I suspect the work of a random phrase generator. Consider how all lines of reasoning devolve into non sequiturs. Irrelevant nonsense phrases like "high-volume trafficking in automatic weapons at gun shows" have apparently been entered into a routine which simply strings them together in fanciful ways. There's no indication of human intelligence there.

Too bad, really - I'd like to see a gun show with some high-volume trafficking in automatic weapons. But I'm afraid it's pure fantasy.
4.22.2009 1:31am
wfw:

And reasonable gun owners accept certain minor restrictions, like registration, as a whole.

Reasonable gun owners do not accept registration as a minor restriction.

The obvious problem with registration is that it has little law-enforcement value. People assume that a huge registration database will make wonderful things possible, but when they consider specifics, they find that there aren't any.

But it has great value to those with fond hopes for eventual confiscation programs.
4.22.2009 1:41am
Cheap Energy (mail):
I'm not a gun owner currently. Used to have a .22 as a kid - quite some time ago.

It's pretty clear to an honest observer that the real end goal of anti-gun folks is to remove all guns from private hands (although of course criminals will still have them).

This has already happened in Great Britain(and only the criminals have guns). They are working on "dangerous" knives now.

All of the skirmishing - "assault weapons", handgun bans, ammunition marking, registration, DC rules that you have to keep your gun in non-operating order - are just incremental means to an end.

If the "anti-gun" folks were really serious about reducing gun-related violence, they would support mandatory life sentencing (or the death penalty) for violent felonies. The fact that one never hears them advocate this clarifies at least for me that this is not really their point of concern.

Its hard to conclude - based on the evidence - that the anti-gun lobby is motivated by anything other than a desire to render citizens defenseless and dependent.

This seems like a bad thing to me.

I was also in the didn't care much camp for years. I'm now seriously thinking about getting a CHL now just to exercise the right to do so.
4.22.2009 3:15am
Gene Hoffman (mail) (www):
If fundamental enumerated rights do anything, then they must shift the burden of proof of the value of a regulation to the government.

What benefit does registration of non automatic arms bring society no matter how small the cost? Do you support registering abortions as well? If not, why not?

-Gene
4.22.2009 3:21am
Fugle:

A Kirkland:
I have not seen a strong argument for the proposition that the Constitution forbids registration of guns, forbids restrictions on the types of guns lawfully possessed, forbids a requirement that all lawful gun transactions be conducted and documented by a licensed dealer.


Let's start with the proposition that the necessity for a "strong argument" lies with those seeking lo limit an enumerated right - and note that the Right to purchase a handgun is already significantly limited such that one must first disclose significant personal information to pass a "backgound" check and then wait 48 hours to pickup the gun. Now insert "computer," "car," "airplane ticket," or "Bible" in place of gun and see whether any reasonable arguments for restrictions may be put forth.

Second Amendment restrictions, ironically, only apply to those persons for whom restrictions are unnecessary -- and that is why the "gun nuts" get upset when talk of "reasonable" restrictions is brought up.

The ability to purchase a new handguns is limited to those persons who are not prohibited from keeping and bearing arms. The secondary market, where felons and criminals purchase their weapons is, and always will be, unregulated.
4.22.2009 5:30am
Fugle:

A Kirkland:
I have not seen a strong argument for the proposition that the Constitution forbids registration of guns, forbids restrictions on the types of guns lawfully possessed, forbids a requirement that all lawful gun transactions be conducted and documented by a licensed dealer.


Let's start with the proposition that the necessity for a "strong argument" lies with those seeking lo limit an enumerated right - and note that the Right to purchase a handgun is already significantly limited such that one must first disclose significant personal information to pass a "backgound" check and then wait 48 hours to pickup the gun. Now insert "computer," "car," "airplane ticket," or "Bible" in place of gun and see whether any reasonable arguments for restrictions may be put forth.

Second Amendment restrictions, ironically, only apply to those persons for whom restrictions are unnecessary -- and that is why the "gun nuts" get upset when talk of "reasonable" restrictions is brought up.

The ability to purchase a new handguns is limited to those persons who are not prohibited from keeping and bearing arms. The secondary market, where felons and criminals purchase their weapons is, and always will be, unregulated.
4.22.2009 5:30am
Dan M.:
I think there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of gun owners who have drawn the line in the sand. There is little that we can do but vote the sons of bitches out if they artificially increase the price of ammunition, but we will not pay a fee to a licensed dealer for a background check before transferring a firearm to someone we know, we will not register our weapons, and we will not submit to a licensing scheme to continue owning our weapons. And we'll keep our 'assault weapons.' If the statists want to set off a massive wave of civil and uncivil disobedience that could ultimately spark a second American revolution, they are welcome to try.
4.22.2009 5:40am
Bill Twist:
t-boy:

One more thing, G*d bless John Moses Browning.


Heh, I've been known to use oaths like "What in the name of John Moses Browning are you talking about?".

It's pretty amazing that here we are, 100+ years later, still using his designs. Oh, and while it's not really generally acknowledged, Gospodin Kalashnikov owes a very large debt to Mr. Browning (See: Remington Model 8 Police).
4.22.2009 7:35am
Bill Twist:
Quick thought: Isn't this Sugarmann quote from the late 1980's, not the late 1990's?

First, I recall seeing that quote *BEFORE* the AWB was passed, and it seems funny that the entire page, even though it's got a 1998 copyright at the bottom, doesn't even mention the AWB that was passed in 1994, and in fact the only date mentioned is 1988, and it's referenced in a way that makes it seem like "current events" instead of 10 year old news.
4.22.2009 7:39am
Dan M.:
Yeah, the "study" seems to be from 1988. 1998 is likely when it was put online.
4.22.2009 7:44am
Edward M. (mail):
That's correct. It is from the conclusions section of a "study" entitled: Assault Weapons and Accessories in America

This is dated 1988 and can be found at:

http://www.vpc.org/studies/awaconc.htm
4.22.2009 8:02am
Some Reasonable Guy (mail):
ArthurKirkland, fixed it for you:

I have not seen a strong argument for the proposition that the Constitution forbids registration of speech, forbids restrictions on the types of speech lawfully presented, forbids a requirement that all lawful speech be conducted and documented by a licensed speaker. Plenty of loud and broad arguments that begin and end with "right to free speech," though. If citizens, through their elected representatives, choose to establish reasonable regulation of speech, a rabid minority shouldn't be -- and probably will not be -- able to frustrate the democratic process.
4.22.2009 8:19am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I have not seen a strong argument for the proposition that the Constitution forbids registration of guns, forbids restrictions on the types of guns lawfully possessed, forbids a requirement that all lawful gun transactions be conducted and documented by a licensed dealer.
Can you make an argument for why any of these proposals would do any good? I mean, an argument based on those places that have already passed such laws, and gotten no net benefit from it?
4.22.2009 8:41am
rosignol (mail):
My sense is that AR-15's, e.g., are much more common today than in the early 90s.

Yes, and like so many other things, it's Bush's fault- the first one. The rise of the AR-15 began back in 1989...

Link to NYT Article

When the government restricted the importation of assault rifles (yes, I know), people who wanted one had to choose between a domestic model (almost always an AR-15 variant) or pay through the nose for one of the relatively few rifles that got in before the import ban went into effect. This resulted in the AR-15 becoming the 'typical' semiautomatic intermediate-caliber rifle in the US market, mainly because it was what you could get most easily.

Then the '94 AWB increased demand, again, by restricting supply- guys who didn't necessarily want one 'right now' bought them because they figured that they would eventually become unavailable (or ridiculously expensive, which is what happened with the imports). Another boom in sales. Then the AWB sunset, which a lot of people did not expect to happen... and a bunch of people bought AR-15s with the formerly-restricted features, because they expected Congress to pass another, even more restrictive ban before long (with some cause, as W. Bush promised to sign it if Congress passed one). Another sales boom. Then W's successor turns out to be a Democrat from one of the most notoriously anti-gun jurisdictions in the country...

At this point, the factories that make Evil Black Rifles are running pretty much 24-7, and they're still months behind orders. I'm just waiting to see if any of the gun manufacturers have the chutzpah to present President Obama with a 'Salesman of the Year' award...
4.22.2009 8:50am
ArthurKirkland:
I never indicated that I believe that anonymous, high-volume trafficking in automatic weapons occurs at gun shows. I asserted that some people claim to interpret the Constitution in a manner that places such activity beyond the power of government to stop or control.

Some people also believe the Constitution forbids registration of guns, or a requirement that all transactions involving guns be documented and conducted by a licensed dealer.

I believe the Constitution -- not necessarily the Second Amendment, which does not appear to most people, and nearly all reasonable people, to say what the most ardent gun advocates hope and believe it says -- entitles a citizen to possess a reasonable firearm in the home for self-defense. I do not believe that those who favor gun control -- either the gun control that currently exists, or more gun control -- are hell-bent on confiscating all guns. That is a line of argument more suited to lathering up a crowd -- as the head of the NRA did this week when declaring that 'confiscation follows registration like thunder follows lightning' -- than to any sensible discussion.

If most people in a jurisdiction favor gun control, the relevant legislature will be likely to enact gun control. Much of this debate involves public policy, not Constitutional interpretation. If those who favor less gun control let extremists -- such as the fellow who dreams of a world in which anonymous trafficking in automatic weapons is commonplace -- be their spokesmen, that probably will benefit those who favor current or more gun controls.

Can anyone point to authority (beyond a personal reading of the Second Amendment) for the position that a gun registration law would unconstitutional, or for the claim that requiring gun transactions to be conducted by licensed dealers would be unconstitutional, or for the position that there is a Constitutional distinction between a fully automatic machine gun and a lesser-but-still-potent weapon (such as an AK-47)? If so, it would be easier to understand some of the vehement positions expressed by gun advocates. If not, I will assume that the American way -- representative government -- is likely to apply to gun control debates notwithstanding the voices and desires of extremists.
4.22.2009 9:11am
cboldt (mail):
-- Can anyone point to authority (beyond a personal reading of the Second Amendment) ... for the position that there is a Constitutional distinction between a fully automatic machine gun and a lesser-but-still-potent weapon (such as an AK-47)? --
.
I'd point to US v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) for the proposition that they are indistinguishable in light of the 2nd amendment, and that bans on neither is constitutionally permissible.
4.22.2009 9:28am
11-B/2O.B4:
Ahh, yes, those pesky extremists, always disagreeing with your soothing platitudes.

And as far as "personal reading", there isn't one. There's just a reading from the standpoint of being able to speak english, and one from the standpoint of "I don't care what it says, guns are bad mmkay?"


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.


So, despite all your talk of "home defense", or the more common reference to "sporting utility", the purpose of the amendment is to secure the "State" or the freedom thereof. Unless we stand imminent invasion from a marauding horde of partridge and groundhogs, sporting arms are not necessarily included, except where they overlap with militarily useful small arms. This is not a "personal reading", its the only "reasonable" way to read this, provided you aren't non-english speaking, incredibly biased or just mentally deficient.
4.22.2009 9:36am
Bill, ex-USN (mail):
Sorry, the 'magazine/belt rule' isn't useful. Besides the contemporary Minimi/SAW, many light machine guns have been magazine-fed, including the Bren, the Lewis, the Hotchkiss, the Japanese Type 95, and (optionally) the MG 34 and 42. Throw in the BAR if you like.

(BTW, John Moses Browning was not God- he was simply sent by God).
4.22.2009 9:39am
Bill, ex-USN (mail):

I do not believe that those who favor gun control -- either the gun control that currently exists, or more gun control -- are hell-bent on confiscating all guns


Really? Ask the Australians. Ask the British. Mass confiscations of handguns- but (of course) no decrease in crime at all. Seems that a certain segment of society didn't turn their guns in; wonder who?
4.22.2009 9:48am
Fugle:


AK says:
I believe the Constitution -- not necessarily the Second Amendment, which does not appear to most people, and nearly all reasonable people, to say what the most ardent gun advocates hope and believe it says -- entitles a citizen to possess a reasonable firearm in the home for self-defense. I do not believe that those who favor gun control -- either the gun control that currently exists, or more gun control -- are hell-bent on confiscating all guns. That is a line of argument more suited to lathering up a crowd -- as the head of the NRA did this week when declaring that 'confiscation follows registration like thunder follows lightning' -- than to any sensible discussion


Again, it is those seeking to control/regulate guns who necessarily must provide sufficient reasons and arguments as to why ANY limitation is permissible. The reasons for limiting access and regulating some arms (RPG's, .50 cal fully automatic guns, grenades) is a much shorter hill to climb than limiting access/regulating semi-automatic guns (those that are unable to discharge more than one projectile per trigger pull).

To parse out the above I think you are saying that you feel that ownership of guns for self-defense purposes is acceptable -- this is good, and where there is a confluence of thought for "most reasonable people" and ardent gun supporters. I think you should set forth what it is that "most reasonable people" (your group) feels the second amendment says, then set out what the "ardent gun supporters" (probably including me and some other fringe thinkers) think.

I warms the cockles of my heart to know that "most reasonable people" [are] not are hell-bent on confiscating all guns. Swell, what guns do you want to confiscate and where do you draw the line? Why draw any? If we confiscate some guns -- let's say….semi-automatics (including handguns - as really, they are only less accurate at long range than rifles and at short range and are likely more dangerous than rifles) Why not revolvers? They are dangerous too especially at short range. Do individuals really need shotguns or bolt action rifles? We could have a central exchange where hunters can go and use the hunting rifles and shotguns owned by "the people"



If most people in a jurisdiction favor gun control, the relevant legislature will be likely to enact gun control. Much of this debate involves public policy, not Constitutional interpretation. If those who favor less gun control let extremists -- such as the fellow who dreams of a world in which anonymous trafficking in automatic weapons is commonplace -- be their spokesmen, that probably will benefit those who favor current or more gun controls


Insert "Same Sex Marriage" (an unenumerated right - if it exists at all) for guns - along with minor semantic changes. Where are you now?

Make your argument AK. The time for empty rhetoric is at an end, you have the burden of proof and production.
4.22.2009 10:09am
DennisN (mail):
Just so we're all talking the same language, something that is dramatically lacking in the Gun Control argument, I propose a few informal definitions. They are susceptible to considerable nit picking, but will get us all on the same paper.

Semi Automatic: Fires a single round each time the trigger is pulled

Fully Automatic: Fires continually as long as the trigger is held down and there is ammunition.

Automatic: Ambiguous. A military "automatic rifle" (e.g. the Browning Automatic Rifle - BAR) is fully automatic. A civilian "automatic shotgun" or "automatic pistol" is semiautomatic. There is even a civilian BAR that in no way resembles the military BAR.

Assault Rifle: A military rifle capable of fully automatic fire and firing a reduced power rifle cartridge. (e.g. StG-44, AK47, M16)

Battle Rifle: A military rifle capable of fully automatic fire and firing a full power rifle cartridge. (e.g. M14, FAL, G3)

Automatic Rifle: A heavy rifle, usually firing a full power cartridge, capable of fully automatic fire and fed from a magazine. ARs are generally employed as squad support weapons, and usually fire from a bipod. (e.g. Browning Automatic Rifle or BAR, BREN)

Machinegun: Ambiguous;
As defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934: any weapon capable of full automatic fire. As used my most militaries and popularly conceived: A crew served, fully automatic weapon, usually feeding cartridges from a belt, often firing from a tripod.

Submachine Gun or Machine Pistol: (interchangeable) A weapon capable of fully automatic fire, firing a pistol cartridge. (e.g. Thompson Submachinegun AKA Tommy Gun, MP40, Uzi). There are actually a few fully automatic pistols, but they are mostly curiosities.

Full Power Rifle Cartridge: A rifle cartridge comparable to those used by most militaries in WW-I and WW-II. (e.g. .30-06 AKA .30 US, 7.92x57mm Mauser, 7.62x51mm NATO AKA .308 Winchester, .303 British)

Reduced Power Rifle Cartridge: A rifle cartridge having a shorter case and lower powder charge than a Full Power Cartridge. (e.g. 7.92mm Kurtz, 5.56x45mm AKA .223, 7.62x39mm)


Reduced Power Rifle Cartridges are the key to the "Assault Rifle." Military experience showed that firefights typically occur at ranges less than 200 metres, and the power of Full Power Cartridges was not needed at those ranges. RPCs allow the weapon to be shorter and lighter, and to fire more accurately in fully automatic mode. Full Power Cartridges are relatively ineffective when fired full auto in battle rifles, as they make the rifle uncontrollable and inaccurate. Note that the utility of Full Power Cartridges is controversial; there being a movement in the US to return to the 7.62x51 mm NATO cartridge and the M14 Rifle.

Reduced Power Cartridges are similar in power and ballistics to many classic civilian hunting cartridges, like the .30-30, and .32 Special, and .222 Remington.

Fully Automatic Weapons, and others, are strictly controlled under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Fully automatic weapons are classified by NFA as "machineguns." They require a Federal $200 transfer tax to buy, sell, or manufacture, and their transfer is further regulated by requiring an intensive background check. Moreover, the manufacture or import of machineguns for civilian use has been prohibited under subsequent legislation.
4.22.2009 10:34am
Cheap Energy (mail):
AK,

You mentioned social policy vs. constituional law. I'd also be interested in your view - legal issues completetly aside for the moment - of the pragmatic merits of "reasonable" gun registration.

What good public purpose would registration serve? Based on the available record, and reasonable extrapolation from that, how effective would registration be in achieving that purpose ?

Again pragmatically, what assurance could you suggest that if registration was enacted, it would not eventually lead to confiscation?

Given that the Feds and the courts claim that a stand-alone pond on your farm is a "navigable waterway" and subject to Federal control - just to cite one example of the Fantasy Land that the regulators and the courts live in - why should anyone expect "camel nose under the tent" regulation of weapons to remain "reasonable" over a generation?
4.22.2009 10:47am
Armed Canadian (www):
ArthurKirkland,

I believe the Constitution -- not necessarily the Second Amendment, which does not appear to most people, and nearly all reasonable people, to say what the most ardent gun advocates hope and believe it says -- entitles a citizen to possess a reasonable firearm in the home for self-defense. I do not believe that those who favor gun control -- either the gun control that currently exists, or more gun control -- are hell-bent on confiscating all guns. That is a line of argument more suited to lathering up a crowd -- as the head of the NRA did this week when declaring that 'confiscation follows registration like thunder follows lightning' -- than to any sensible discussion.

Ok, so let me ask you this...

If you honestly believe that gun control supporters are not "hell-bent", as you put it, on confiscating firearms, why have registration?

What purpose does registration serve if there is no intention to confiscate at some future point? What is the point in knowing where all the guns are (theoretically) if you aren't going to do anything with the information?

Given that, what positive purpose for society does gun registration serve?

It cannot solve crimes. Canada has demonstrated that, among other nations, with its handgun registry and failed, soon-to-be-dismantled long gun registry.

Many states have mandatory registration or "recordation of sales" (same thing) of certain classes of firearms. How many crimes have been solved?

Similar schemes that amount to registration such as ballistic fingerprinting, which requires registration to create relationships between guns and their bullets, have been abysmal failures. Take note of Maryland's two million dollar per year system that has been in place for a decade and has not solved one single crime in its history.

Do note, as other posters have pointed out, that criminals have specific 5th Amendment protections against registering their illegally possessed firearms as that constitutes self-incrimination. Do you not find that ironic? That mandatory registration actually strengthens a criminal's Constitutional rights but weakens those of the citizen who fails to comply with the law?

Shall I continue?

The onus is on you to demonstrate why a specific gun control scheme warrants additional intrusion into the lives of private citizens who have done no wrong. You may think the NRA is nuts on the point of registration but history shows that like water flowing downhill, registration ultimately leads to confiscation. Gun rights supporters do not argue this point in a vacuum. We have the weight of history and numerous examples to point to show that it is to be so.

So why on Earth should we trust your opinion on this matter that it can't happen here? It HAS happened here. As a result, the average American gun owner simply does not trust any elected official to keep their word, let alone trust those that will follow them, to not take registration to its logical conclusion. We simply prefer to not give them the chance.

Hence the line in the sand on the issue.
4.22.2009 10:59am
Jeff the Baptist (mail) (www):
The entire thesis of the VPC's analysis was incorrect. While it may have emboldened handgun restriction activists, it did nothing for their cause.

The major market effect on handguns was to promote the use of higher caliber pistols (.40 &.45) with magazine capacities under 10 rounds. In many places this took the form of smaller semi-automatics more suited for concealed carry. We saw the rise of Kahr arms and the development of an entire line of small pistols from Taurus. Which worked well because from 1995-1997 numerous states passed shall-issue concealed carry permit reforms.

In general the AWB did not cause handgun owners to retreat. In general it pushed more people to handguns as they were a less adversely effected market.
4.22.2009 11:26am
wrangler5 (mail):
I'm trying to persuade our legislature to ban "race cars." You know, those vehicles whose only purpose is to break the law? The kind of car nobody needs anyway.

And what is a race car, you ask? Why, any vehicle that has two or more of the following features: racing stripes (semiautomatic); dual exhausts (bayonet lug); hood scoop (pistol grip); wing on roof or trunk (folding stock); low aspect ratio tires (flash hider); etc.

Shouldn't be any Constitutional problem, as I don't see any individual right to possess a vehicle enumerated in the Constitution.

Silly? Of course. But no more silly than the original "assault weapon ban."

BTW, didn't California at one time require that "assault weapons" (mostly AR-15s) be registered, and then a few years later ban them, using the registration lists as enforcement tools for cops to go around and be sure nobody still had one after the ban?
4.22.2009 11:28am
CDR D (mail):
e.g. .30-06 AKA .30 US

Nice summary, Dennis, but a minor nit-pick here.

Isn't the ".30 US" the same as the .30-40 Krag rather than the .30-06? I think the old terminology for the latter was .30 GOVT '06.
4.22.2009 11:41am
DennisN (mail):
@CD R

I'll accept your nit.

I believe the actual US terminology for the .30 cartridge is Cartridge Caliber .30 with a type designator such as

Cartridge Caliber .30, Ball, M2

Ball ammunition (also referred to as "hard ball") is the standard military round. It is a pointed round with generally lead core and a soft alloy jacket, often a brassy compound or soft steel. It is a non-expanding type of ammunition as required by the Hague Convention.

Expanding ammunition is considered inhumane under the HC. Most common hunting ammunition is hollow point or soft point, and expands on impact creating a larger wound channel. Ball ammunition is considered inhumane by hunters.

The terms "round' and "ball" go back to when we fired spherical balls of lead.
4.22.2009 12:46pm
h0mi:

I see no authority for, or persuasive reason underlying, the proposition that the right to bear arms is exempt from reasonable restrictions.



There's that phrase again. "Reasonable restrictions".
4.22.2009 1:31pm
zippypinhead:
Anti-gun advocates tend to mix up concepts pretty badly - whether deliberately or out of ignorance. But when you aggregate all their "sensible regulation" proposals, if everything that's been proposed was adopted they would collectively ban all rifles, except possibly .22LR bolt-action open-sight, fixed-magazine kids' guns. One "sensible regulation" thread wants to ban "cop-killer bullets," which are generally defined as anything that can penetrate soft Kevlar body armor. This would in essence catch every intermediate- and full-power rifle round, and by necessary implication also eliminate rifle hunting for anything much larger than a woodchuck. Another thread (including the D.C. local government during recent Hill testimony about the House amendment to their voting rights bill) wants to regulate "sniper rifles," a category into which they appear to lump all scoped rifles with a modicum of accuracy beyond 150 yards or so. Their evil "sniper rifles" category would include basically all bolt-action hunting rifles such as the Remington 700 (especially since the mil-spec M24 and M40 sniper rifles are built on the Rem 700 platform).

Most proponents of a renewed "assault weapons" ban lump semiautomatic rifles firing anything from pistol cartridges to full-power rounds into the mix. HR1022, Representative McCarthy's attempt to resurrect the AWB, is generally viewed by most as the starting point for contemporary AWB discussions. In addition to a long list of banned rifle models (plus any other rifle that has "a frame or receiver that is... based substantially on the frame or receiver of" a banned model), and a generic description of cosmetic or other features that would cause an unlisted rifle to be banned, the catchall definition of "semiautomatic assault weapon" includes any
"semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm..."

This sweeps in all sorts of rifles that aren't otherwise subject to the HR1022 ban, including off the top of my head: (a) the 7.62x51 M1A (based on the M-14), (b) the popular .223 Ruger Ranch Rifle (based on the M-14 and also banned by the "frame or receiver" proviso, since it's a follow-on to a listed model), (c) the original semiautomatic "battle rifle," the WWII .30-06 M1 Garand, and even (d) fixed-magazine versions of the 7.62x39 SKS, which otherwise appear to be specifically exempted.
4.22.2009 1:41pm
ctd (mail):
Why do we keep playing the game on their terms &timetables? Why keep playing defense?

In _Heller_, SCOTUS indicated that the 2nd is meaningless if it does not cover M16s. So...why don't we pursue a clean case against 922(o)? It could be pursued exactly like _Heller_: the only thing standing between Congressionally-declared militia members and the M16s they should personally own for home defense (and yes, I would; admittedly popular home-defense AR15s are just one selector position away from being M16s) is prohibited registration despite a registration mechanism (NFA) being in place. One signature on a Form 4 is all I need to own the quintissential standard military issue armament, which many already personally own legally (albeit at great collector-value cost). _Heller_ maps perfectly onto a take-down of 922(o).

Rather than dickering around with admittedly disingenuous word-games with VPC et al, why not circumvent AWB II by demanding MGs be legal? If Brady &friends want to confuse AWs with MGs in the public eye, why not latch onto MGs and run with it?

"It will never work" isn't a viable answer. We're watching a whole lot of "it will never work" working for our opposition. Maybe it's time we took a shot at getting what we want. The NRA didn't think _Heller_ would work, but it did.
4.22.2009 1:42pm
Cheap Energy (mail):
Re: h0mi above:

Yep. Actually it would seem that one could make a pretty good case that the 2nd's "shall not be infringed" actually means "shall not be infringed" - i.e. restrictions, reasonable or not, are expressly forbidden.

To play devil's advocate, I don't really see any particuarly good logic that the individual right to keep and bear arms should not include fully automatic weapons, or (to take an example from the recent news) 90 mm cannons on commercial ships for protection against pirates, or for that matter just fun.

We already have lots of laws that prohibit, say, armed robbery or murder. Focus on the unlawful act and actors, not the equipment.

In fact, one could argue that any act that limits the individuals ability to defend themselves is an inherently immoral act.
4.22.2009 1:54pm
PubliusFL:
ctd: In _Heller_, SCOTUS indicated that the 2nd is meaningless if it does not cover M16s.

Funny, I read Heller as saying almost the opposite. The opinion said that a lot of regulations are permissible, including restrictions on dangerous and unusual weapons. It then went on to consider a potential objection flowing from that ("It may be objected that if weapons that are most usefulin military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause") and basically dismissed it.
4.22.2009 2:02pm
DennisN (mail):
@ Cheap Energy


To play devil's advocate, I don't really see any particuarly good logic that the individual right to keep and bear arms should not include fully automatic weapons, or (to take an example from the recent news) 90 mm cannons on commercial ships for protection against pirates, or for that matter just fun.


I have heard argument that makes a distinction between arms, AKA "small arms," and armaments. The former would include individual weapons; rifles, pistols, shotguns, submachineguns, and "assault rifles." These are all weapons intended to be carried and used by an individual.

Armaments would include all support weapons and crew served weapons, this would include machineguns, squad automatic rifles, bazookas, RPGs, flame throwers, tanks, artillery, warships, armed aircraft, and missiles.

This puts SMGs and assault rifles squarely in the militia weapons category. We can argue about whether BARs and BREN guns are individual weapons or squad automatic weapons.

I think a persuasive argument can be made that the arms owned by the militiaman and necessary for membership therein, consist of small arms, although Colonial history allowed private ownership of artillery (all the way up to the GCA of 1968).
4.22.2009 2:24pm
Brett:
I do not believe that those who favor gun control -- either the gun control that currently exists, or more gun control -- are hell-bent on confiscating all guns.


Then you are an unreasoning fool who has not been paying attention to the public policy debate surrounding firearms over the last thirty years, and accordingly does not deserve to be taken seriously.
4.22.2009 2:34pm
DennisN (mail):
@Brett

The history of legislation introduced by the Left does not support your allegation; rather it shouts the opposite.
4.22.2009 2:48pm
ctd (mail):
PublisFL,

That's the quote I'm thinking of and justify my suggestion by. SCOTUS recognized that a viable objection in banning those items most useful in military service (M16s a stated example) is that doing so would sever the 2nd Amendment in half and make the prefatory clause meaningless/moot. Considering the long-standing premise that no part of written law should be considered moot because the authors presumably put it there for a reason, we must then work the concept backwards: precisely because there IS the prefatory clause, those items most useful in military service cannot be banned. Such reading is powerfully reinforced by the long-ignored "shall not be infringed" restriction on government.

Couple that reasoning with the allowance that NFA law stands ready to register MGs should 922(o) fall, that M16s are "common" per pervasive military distribution and civilian ownership (AR15s indistinguishable save for $1 in otherwise prohibited parts), that at minimum Congress has declared a vast swath of the population members of the US militia, that the Militia Act of 1792 shows intent of the Founding Fathers that such militia members be self-armed as soldiers, and that lawfully grandfathered M16s (and other MGs) are historically demonstrably no threat to the community, we perfectly match the successful argument in _Heller_ and act on a suggestion by SCOTUS therein.

Insofar as SCOTUS dismissed the argument, the argument was not relevant to the precise case at hand. Contrary to the view that the argument should be ignored because it was ignored, the argument was NOT ignored insofar as SCOTUS went out of its way to acknowledge the existence and presumed validity of the argument (again, recall that nothing written should be dismissed outright because the author presumably had a purpose in including the verbiage).

Like Mr. Heller, all I seek is relief from the prohibition of 922(o) so that I may, in accordance with existing law (NFA), register a new M16 via Form 4 and keep it at home for defense. There is no difference, save perhaps that a personal M16 is more what the Founding Fathers had in mind than a .380 revolver.
4.22.2009 3:29pm
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):



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.



So, despite all your talk of "home defense", or the more common reference to "sporting utility", the purpose of the amendment is to secure the "State" or the freedom thereof. Unless we stand imminent invasion from a marauding horde of partridge and groundhogs, sporting arms are not necessarily included, except where they overlap with militarily useful small arms. This is not a "personal reading", its the only "reasonable" way to read this, provided you aren't non-english speaking, incredibly biased or just mentally deficient.



Not really. The opposite of a free State is a tyrannical State. A government with unlimited freedom of action would almost certainly be tyrannical. It is quite unreasonable to read any of the Bill of Rights as props for unlimited freedom of government.
4.22.2009 3:42pm
Carl in Chicago (mail):
ArthurKirkland wrote:


I have not seen a strong argument for the proposition that the Constitution forbids registration of guns, forbids restrictions on the types of guns lawfully possessed, forbids a requirement that all lawful gun transactions be conducted and documented by a licensed dealer.


In my own perusal of comments here, I have seen many strong arguments. But perhaps we see what we want to see.

But in a very fundamental way ... and Arthur, this is fundamental to this issue ... it's not up to "gun owners" or "second amendment supporters" to argue what the constitution does not forbid in the way of infringements on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Quite the contrary, the burden of proof is upon those who attempt to obfuscate those rights, it's to them to demonstrate that their various and seemingly incessant proposed infringements are specifically tailored to accomplish a specific and favorable purpose. That is because the operative clause of the second amendment states that the right is a given, and then commands that the right shall not be infringed.

Straw men indeed.
4.22.2009 4:10pm
ctd (mail):
Pracitcally speaking, the difference between "sporting" arms and "military" arms we're discussing is vanishingly small in Constitutional terms. Each category may feature variations optimizing the basic tool for a particular use, but in the hands of a capable hunter or soldier the same ends will be achieved regardless of the intended audience. Quibbles over whether a particular feature is "Constitutionally protected" only serve to justify encroachment on liberty.

It is the application that should be at issue, not the tool. If all you have is a hammer, and a screw must be inserted immediately, you'll make do; you don't abandon the task just because says not to based on some irrational fear of hammers.
4.22.2009 4:18pm
PubliusFL:
ctd,

I guess I don't see any "presumed validity" of the argument in the majority opinion. I agree with you on the proper outcome of a challenge to 922(o), but don't think the Heller majority has the inclination and/or backbone to strike down any restrictions on machine guns. But I hope I'm wrong and you're right.
4.22.2009 4:28pm
ctd (mail):
If they didn't think there was validity to the argument they wouldn't have mentioned it. (Don't confuse "presumed validity" with "absolute truth". The argument is at least worth a vigorous discussion in court.)

That the _Heller_ majority doesn't have the inclination/spine to rule the same on MGs is a different conclusion than whether, legally, a _Miller_-type approach to 922(o) is legally rock-solid. I'm afraid you are right on that one, and think we got the result we did in _Heller_ precisely because a majority didn't want to go any farther than that - and MGs would, in their minds, go a LOT farther.
4.22.2009 4:33pm
Kirk:
DennisN,

A very good summary.

If I may inject two tiny quibbles, many Assault Rifles fire in burst mode (e.g. 3 shots) rather than full auto, and a Battle Rifle is anything firing a full power rifle cartridge (e.g. SMLE, M1 Garand).
4.22.2009 4:39pm
DennisN (mail):
@ ctd:


Couple that reasoning with the allowance that NFA law stands ready to register MGs should 922(o) fall, that M16s are "common" per pervasive military distribution and civilian ownership (AR15s indistinguishable save for $1 in otherwise prohibited parts), that at minimum Congress has declared a vast swath of the population members of the US militia, that the Militia Act of 1792 shows intent of the Founding Fathers that such militia members be self-armed as soldiers, and that lawfully grandfathered M16s (and other MGs) are historically demonstrably no threat to the community, we perfectly match the successful argument in _Heller_ and act on a suggestion by SCOTUS therein.


The commonness of M16s and their like in the regular military, is also an argument to distinguish between individual arms and the heavier and more destructive crew served weapons, which are issued much more selectively. It is an argument against the, "Well then anyone should be able to own thermonuclear weapons" position.
4.22.2009 4:44pm
DennisN (mail):
@Kirk:

Agreed on both points. Burst Mode, however, is still a variant of full automatic fire.

I guess we need to call M14s (with the optional selector switch), FALs, and their like "Fully Automatic Capable Battle Rifles."
4.22.2009 4:47pm
ctd (mail):
"Colonial history allowed private ownership"

"Allowed", as applied to citizens. Does that not fly in the face of the overriding axiom of Colonial history - liberty and freedom, as contrasted with permission?
4.22.2009 4:47pm
ctd (mail):
The 2ndA does not make any differentiation between arms requiring differing numbers of people required to operate them. To the contrary, the whole of the "collectivist" argument rests on the use of plural-individual terms "militia", "state", and "people", terms which the individualist view does not wholly neutralize into individuals.

Crew-served arms, of their very nature of cost, size and weight, are naturally marginalized in a discussion focusing on individual ownership and use. This does NOT translate to allowance of governmental prohibition thereof. They are issued selectively because they are expensive, uncommon (as contrasted with, say, M16s), and require more personnel coordination &management to apply effectively. The 2ndA says "shall not be infringed" regarding "arms" without expressed limitation (be it by cost, weight, team size, commonness, or destructive power). Mundane practicality of cost &coordination is the only reason crew-served arms were left to gov't-managed militias; everyone was expected to show up with individual arms because that was the only thing everyone CAN be expected to show up with.

The only viable argument in the tired "what about nukes" red herring is whether they can be responsibly stored and used without undue harm to those not actually among the intended targets. You can fire an M16 with reasonable assurance only the intended target will be hit; by its very nature, a nuke will most likely (but not certainly!) cause grave harm far beyond what is necessary.
4.22.2009 5:02pm
DennisN (mail):
@ ctd:



"Colonial history allowed private ownership"



"Allowed", as applied to citizens. Does that not fly in the face of the overriding axiom of Colonial history - liberty and freedom, as contrasted with permission?


You are correct. I should have said that the law was silent about private ownership of artillery and similar weapons.


The only viable argument in the tired "what about nukes" red herring is whether they can be responsibly stored and used without undue harm to those not actually among the intended targets. You can fire an M16 with reasonable assurance only the intended target will be hit; by its very nature, a nuke will most likely (but not certainly!) cause grave harm far beyond what is necessary.


You are speaking to Overriding State Interest, here. It could be argued that the State has an overriding public safety interest in regulating weapons of significantly greater destructiveness than those commonly available to the individual infantryman. This is particularly the case since the difference in lethality is greater than anything the FF could have imagined. I'm not arguing for regulation, though, merely pointing out that if a line were to be drawn that's a logical place for one. If the expanded 2nd A right is confirmed, I'd bet dinner a line would be drawn, even though I'm not aware of any statistics demonstrating criminal use of artillery.

WMDs are, as you pointed out, a red herring.
4.22.2009 5:35pm
PubliusFL:
ctd: The 2ndA says "shall not be infringed" regarding "arms" without expressed limitation (be it by cost, weight, team size, commonness, or destructive power).

Actually, in support of DennisN's point, there is some support in period usage for a distinction between "arms" and "artillery." "Arms" referred to small man-portable weapons while "artillery" referred to larger crew-served weapons. See, for example, this paragraph from the proposals sent back and forth between Generals Gates and Burgoyne regarding the British surrender at Saratoga in 1777:

The troops to march out of their camp with the honours of war, and the artillery of the intrenchments to the verge of the river where the old ford stood, where their arms and artillery must be left

At sea, there was a similar distinction between "arms" and "guns" -- again, "arms" being small weapons like muskets, pistols, pikes, and swords, while "guns" were the big things mounted on carriages that constituted a ship's main armament. The British Piracy Act of 1721 provided that "any commander, master, or other officer, or any seaman or mariner of any merchant ship or vessel, which carries guns and arms" had a duty to resist if attacked by pirates.
4.22.2009 6:04pm
Bill Twist:
DennisN:

The terms "round' and "ball" go back to when we fired spherical balls of lead.


What do you mean by "back...when"?

230 Grain .535" lead ball in a pillow ticking patch soaked in a 50/50 mix of beeswax and tallow sitting on top of a 90 grain charge of 2F black powder.

I Powder and my brother Ball
Hero like do conquer all.

/Lions and Tigers and Bears, so what?
4.22.2009 7:20pm
RKV (mail):
"overriding state interest" is found nowhere in the constitution. That said, Article 1 Section 8 DOES specify the missions of the militia. Namely...

"To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions"

So how does this move the debate forward? Simple. Look how SCOTUS dealt with the shotgun in question in Miller...

"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a "shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length" at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. "

Are nukes suitable for any of the the three constitutionally defined missions of the militia? No. How's about gas? Well, some kinds, like tear gas are used by the police to enforce the law, so that is protected for citizens to own. Ditto machine guns since they are man portable (can be borne) and would be used by the military to resist an invasion. A simple proxy the court could use, is that if our paid employees can use an arm (like saps, billyclubs, mace, shotguns, pistols, including concealed ones, and machine guns) are protected by the 2nd.
4.22.2009 10:53pm
11-B/2O.B4:

Not really. The opposite of a free State is a tyrannical State. A government with unlimited freedom of action would almost certainly be tyrannical. It is quite unreasonable to read any of the Bill of Rights as props for unlimited freedom of government.


Either I was unclear, or my earlier statement was read in the most uncharitable light. I draw a difference between the government, the state (which is the nation collective), and the people, which are the individuals which make up both of the previous groups. Perhaps this is where the confusion arose. I was not suggesting that the purpose was unlimited freedom of government, far from it. The purpose of the second amendment is twofold, to support the government or the state against outside or internal threats, and also to limit that very government from becoming tyrannical. That is what I meant by the "freedom thereof". First, the freedom must be secured, only then can the free state can be secured.
4.23.2009 12:08am
LarryA (mail) (www):
Yet few argue that a citizen is entitled to use profanity in a schoolhouse, or scream at will in a courtroom, or incite others to violence in a crowd, or use falsehoods to sell securities. Time, place and manner restrictions are commonly acknowledged with respect to freedoms secured by the Constitution.
Once again, apples and oranges. The First Amendment restrictions you cite are all against using your voice, video camera, loudspeaker, etc. illegally. We already have laws against using firearms illegally.

Any proposal banning legal possession of "assault video cameras" or even licensing them would immediately run aground on the First Amendment.
I have this fantasy of a world where gun rights scholars get to work full-time at it, and gun control advocates have day jobs to slow them down.
I don't think time is the problem. The time difference between gun rights and gun control is that it takes longer to look up facts than it does to make up "facts."
On account of citified people vastly outnumbering country folk, I figure gun rights will be an historical artifact in a few generations.
Really? The National Sporting Goods Association reports that :
New statistics show that hunting gear and firearm sales topped $3.7 billion in 2006, up 4.1 percent from the previous year. Only exercise equipment performed better, with sales of $5.22 billion, according to NSGA's most recent "Sporting Goods Market" report. Golf equipment, which claimed the No. 2 spot the previous year, fell into the third spot with $3.66 billion in sales.

Note that these are 2006 figures, long before President Obama caused a surge in gun and ammo sales.
If not, I will assume that the American way -- representative government -- is likely to apply to gun control debates notwithstanding the voices and desires of extremists.
Finally, something from AK I agree with. After forty years of unremitting effort by the gun control lobby only a handful of legislatures have enacted any of the laws he proposes. The people in the great majority of the fifty states keep disagreeing with the gun control extremists by electing pro-gun legislatures.
4.23.2009 12:53am
wfw:

If not, I will assume that the American way -- representative government -- is likely to apply to gun control debates notwithstanding the voices and desires of extremists.


The "American way" is to take the written instructions for the country - that is, the Constitution - seriously, and to apply them honestly, despite personal prejudices and bigotries.

Anyone who does not take those instructions seriously is, in all company I happen to know, considered an extremist.
4.23.2009 3:51am
wfw:
AK -
I never indicated that I believe that anonymous, high-volume trafficking in automatic weapons occurs at gun shows.
You introduced it as a straw man in lieu of a rational argument - a rational argument which, as is increasingly clear, you are unable to make.
4.23.2009 4:11am
ctd (mail):
An awful lot of the above discussion seems focused on creating &abusing distinctions where there are none, finding a surface scratch and picking at it until it becomes a valley.

The fixation on identifying categories and arguing about any conceivable justification for banning them deliberately or unwittingly serves to support categorical bans in plain contradiction with an enumerated right. The right in question was suitably summarized in just 27 words, using terms of total coverage ("the people", "arms", "shall not be infringed"); that no distinctions are made shows intent that, indeed, the authors meant no distinction.
4.23.2009 10:06am
ctd (mail):
"I see no authority for, or persuasive reason underlying, the proposition that the right to bear arms is exempt from reasonable restrictions. "

Whither "shall not be infringed?"

The analogy you cite focuses on USE, not ownership or ability. Profanity may be prohibited in schools, but mouths are not taped shut at the door nor unlicensed tongues removed. Assault and murder are prohibited, but one's "right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
4.23.2009 10:11am
PubliusFL:
ctd: The right in question was suitably summarized in just 27 words, using terms of total coverage ("the people", "arms", "shall not be infringed")

You are assuming that which is to be proven: whether "arms" IS a "term of total coverage." I provided evidence above that in the 18th century sometimes it was not.
4.23.2009 10:17am
ctd (mail):
That evidence presumes a degree of precision and completeness in language not inherent in such casual contemporary writings. You're addressing field reports, not binding legal verbiage.

Either way, the 2ndA remains sufficiently complete. The preamble expresses the intent that the people, from which a militia is drawn, be equipped to the point of being able to provide for the security of a free state - regardless of the state's ability to provide suitable heavy weapons on short notice. It refers to "a well-regulated militia being NECESSARY", a term which which so used in no way presupposes existence and immediate availability of a standing army suitably equipped. Sure, there is a natural presumption that the state will provide resources beyond your minimized definition of "arms", but in no way can that be construed as a Constitutionally-allowed limiting factor in a colonial nation featuring vast frontier development. Such a state would not necessarily own the heavy resources needed to secure such vast swaths of land, and unquestionably would welcome anyone showing up to battle with crew-served equipment and a crew to serve that equipment.

Do not confuse the expectation that all be armed to a minimal degree with the blessing that some might bring along personally-owned cannons &battleships and a team to operate them.

Finally: in your quest to minimize the definition of "arms", to what end do you seek to deny law-abiding citizens the right to what falls outside your definition? If neighbors want to pitch in to mutually buy &operate a SAW, M2, or APC, why would you insist such equipment falls outside the term "arms" and deny them the ability to use such equipment pursuant to the security of their free state? if they think it useful to that end, who are you to insist it is not?
4.23.2009 11:20am
PubliusFL:
ctd: You're addressing field reports, not binding legal verbiage.

So a STATUTE is closer to a "field report" than "binding legal verbiage"? Besides, similar period examples can be found in international treaties, history books, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and other academic works. Not exactly "casual contemporary writings."

I don't seek to deny anyone anything. I'm not committed to any particular interpretation of "arms," though I'm pretty confident it was intended to protect more than is politically achievable in today's society (at LEAST a standard-issue infantry rifle should be covered). I'm just seeking the best understanding of how the term was actually used back then. Please be careful about assuming motives.
4.24.2009 10:17am

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