Since when have personal guns been used to defend political liberty?

January 9, 2013

Piers Morgan is the most unlikely campaigning journalist. The smooth-faced Morgan, who arrived from Britain to replace Larry King as CNN’s chief celebrity interviewer, can, if pushed, engage with serious guests on serious topics. But, as someone who cut his teeth writing showbiz tittle-tattle for Rupert Murdoch, he seemed more at ease pitching softball questions to boldfaced names plugging their latest products.

What a difference a massacre of children makes. After a frivolous November guest list that, despite the presidential election, included Mike Tyson, Kitty Kelley, Oliver Stone and Tyler Perry, among other gossip column fodder, he turned to a subject that celebrity interviewers keep well away from because, even in the wake of another mass killing, it is so painfully pointless to raise: gun control. And in doing so, Morgan found his voice. Americans have become so weary at the grip the NRA and other gun industry lobbyists have on the gun debate that the simple horror and amazement Morgan expressed on hearing of the Sandy Hook bloodbath came as a refreshing surprise. What sort of country, he asked, cannot defend its schoolchildren from mad people with automatic weapons? What has to be done to bring the repeated slaughter of innocents to an end?

For his pains, Morgan attracted a full magazine of gun nuts, including one Alexander Emerick “Alex” Jones, a self-described libertarian, “paleoconservative” and “aggressive constitutionalist” who once ran as a Republican in Texas House District 48 (facing certain defeat, he withdrew before Election Day). He believes George W. Bush was behind the September 11 attacks and Bill Clinton plotted the Oklahoma City bombings. He was so incensed that Morgan dare use his First Amendment rights to ask an awkward question about guns that he is demanding the president deport the chat show host for sedition. To find a more invidious example of muddle-headed, brazen hypocrisy, you have to go back to 2009, when anti-government Tea Party activists held up placards screaming “Government Keep Your Hands Off My Medicare.” Being a good Fleet Street tabloid editor, Morgan promptly invited Jones to make his case on Piers Morgan Tonight.

The result was a priceless boost to the gun control lobby. Jones, who caused an altercation on his flight to New York by insisting he keep his shoes on going through security, arrived in a belligerent mood. A broadcaster in the hate-radio tradition of Father Charles Coughlin and Rush Limbaugh, Jones spouted a well-rehearsed recitation of petty grievances, conspiracy theories and wild claims. At one stage he even challenged Morgan to a fistfight. Morgan, being a true Brit, kept a stiff upper lip throughout. You don’t have to be a trained psychoanalyst to recognize that Jones is suffering from deep-seated paranoia and anger management issues. When rational people demand that gun purchasers be screened for mental illness, it is scary, aggressive oddballs like Jones they have in mind.

In the midst of his rant, Jones said, “The Second Amendment isn’t there for duck hunting. It’s there to protect us from tyrannical government and street thugs.” This is a recurring theme among those who believe the Founding Fathers intended to protect the owners of machine guns that would be more at home in Helmland  than in Hartland, Connecticut. Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, who believes the remedy for massacres such as Sandy Hook is an armed guard on every school gate, holds a similarly paranoid view of the government’s malign intentions. In 1995, on Meet the Press, shortly after anti-government militiamen bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168, including 19 children, LaPierre described FBI agents as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” who wanted to “attack law-abiding citizens.” That candid outburst caused George H.W. Bush to renounce his NRA membership, and LaPierre has since been careful not to let slip his private feelings about the threat government poses to individual liberties.

Jones and LaPierre are representative of a wider group of Second Amendment defenders who believe that government of any sort threatens their absolute freedom to act absolutely as they wish. Fear that federal agents would come calling inspired the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and his co-conspirators. He, in turn, admired the anti-government stance of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, in 1993, who armed themselves to the teeth to avoid being charged with sexually abusing children and other serious crimes. After fighting off federal agents for 50 days, 76 sect members and their children died in a fire rather than turn themselves in.

Jones’s point – echoed by endless similar extremists who earn their living by stoking the fears of the impressionable – is belied by history. In the 250 years of the American republic, the government has sometimes overstepped the line between liberty and authoritarianism. And such despotism has come from the most unlikely sources. Woodrow Wilson’s clampdown on those who opposed America’s intervention in World War One was a shameful display of big government overreach. So, too, was Franklin Roosevelt’s rounding up and imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many who are anxious about the diminution of civil liberties find the Patriot Act, hastily passed after the September 11 attacks, too oppressive. But in each case relief from tyranny has not come from those with arsenals in their homes against the day the black helicopters arrive but by the patient, laborious, often tedious acts of patriots working through the democratic system.

Some advocates of small government would be horrified at the suggestion that they are on the same continuum as the killers who declare their hatred of government the reason they go on a killing spree. Others, proponents of libertarian chic who express anti-government views to shock and scandalize their moderate neighbors, may be aware that they are playing with fire. It adds a dangerous edge to their humdrum personas. The American way is to choose not to be administered too closely by the state and to leave as many aspects of life as possible to private enterprise rather than big government. But a line has to be drawn and defended when the routine denigration of government begins to threaten lives.

We may have reached that Rubicon at Sandy Hook. The impetus in the wake of the Newtown massacre to reform our gun laws to continue to protect hunters, sportsmen and those who would protect their households from intruders while keeping rapid-fire weapons away from the delusional and the deranged is now a live issue. Pressure on the president and Vice President Joe Biden, who has been tasked to come up with a way forward, can be exerted by those, like Morgan, who find themselves at the eye of the storm. He may not welcome the notion, but Jones, in his strange way, is keeping the subject alive.

And there is a part to be played by those who control the media that gun owners watch. To quote LaPierre out of context, “Too many in the national media, their corporate owners and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.” After Sandy Hook, Murdoch declared that something must be done, and fast, to avoid a repetition. He ordered the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, stout proponents of small government, to make gun control a top issue. If he genuinely wants to ensure that this time there will be sensible reforms, he will direct his employees at Fox News to lead the campaign to change attitudes toward a more responsible approach to gun purchase and ownership. So far, that leadership has not been evident.

Corporations, advertisers, retailers and investment managers also have an important role. Money talks more eloquently than a thousand chat show hosts. The decision by Cerberus, spurred by revulsion and sympathy, to sell the company that made the assault rifle that killed the Sandy Hook children offered a novel way forward. Similar acts of ingenuity are needed to ensure that the slaughter of the 20 children and six adults who died in Newtown just before Christmas amounts to more than just a passing phase in the news cycle.

Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics is published by W.W. Norton. Read extracts here.

PHOTO: A row of shotguns are seen during the East Coast Fine Arms Show in Stamford, Connecticut, January 5, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri


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The ‘tyrannical government’ we keep hearing about…. has U.S. Air Force pilots and Tomahawk missiles at its disposal. Take your chances with your .44’s firing into the air if you like, but I know several military pilots and I would not go up against any of them, even with rockets.

The gun nutz are largely delusional when it comes to waging some hypothetical war with their pistols and their walmart varmint guns. What ever they think they mean about using these to protect themselves from a tyrannical government, they clearly have not thought it through to its logical conclusion. They have not been keeping up in the arms race.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

The real problem is lack of enforcement of existing law. We are too cheap and too unwilling to throw perpetrators of gun crimes in jail. Hundreds of gang members in Chicago are not prosecuted for God only knows what reason, when caught with illegal guns. So Chicago has 500 murders this year. As John Wayne said in True Grit, “Life is hard. Its really hard if you’re stupid.”

Posted by skyraider | Report as abusive

If you are going to argue against the 2nd Amendment, the least you could do is present a rational argument, instead of the typical anti-gun nut.

Posted by PseudoTurtle | Report as abusive

Dorr’s Rebellion. Under Rhode Island’s colonial charter, originally received in 1663, only landowners could vote. The Rhode Island General Assembly had consistently failed to liberalize the constitution by extending voting rights, enacting a bill of rights, or reapportioning the legislature. more at Wikipedia…

Posted by tibbits | Report as abusive

The Second Amendment was written to provide balance to the possibility of a tyrannical Government. I am not sure what the actual opinion being presented here is. Is it that we as a society do not need, the 2nd Amend, the Peoples personal right to have arms? That the 2nd is an out of date idea, that police forces will never be used to forcefully subjugate the People, and that the presence of an armed populace has not in of itself dissuaded the requirement of armed defense of personal liberties?

Well, then change it by Constitutional Amendment. The fanciful and creative “interpretation” of the US Constitution leaves us with no Constitution at all. Everyone who cares to study the origin of the Constitution knows how it was intended. It is fact that the 2nd Amendment is written to allow the People to own arms to resist any force coming against them, everyone knows what a Person is, and what a Personal Right and Liberty is, as written. We know it does not imply a Corporation or any Organization. Why even have the President, SCOTUS, or Congress affirm to uphold the Constitution when it means only what they choose to mandate it to mean? That is not a Constitutional Republic.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

One of the main reasons we argue over the meaning of the 2nd Amendment is that it is so poorly written. “well-regulated” and “shall not be infringed” appearing in the same sentence? Of course we argue over it. We always will. We can either clear it up with statute or keep arguing about it. No one can even agree on what ‘arms’ are. And case law just leads to more arguments.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

When the 2nd Amendment was signed into law there was nothing preventing a private citizen from acquiring any arms used by the military if they had the financial ability. This gun control issue has been decided generations ago. Government won and the people lost. Hanging on to personal protection or hunting arms today is akin to walking away from th poker game with your last dollar after losing 9,999. It’s all you have left.

In order to say you have this “right” or that “right”, you declare that it has been bestowed upon you, that you have been graced by some authoritative power with that “right”. And those who give something can take it away with a little thing called “might”. He who has the ‘might’ doesn’t need any ‘rights’. The “Bill of Rights” was argued against because of this very thing. If you ask for a right, then it was never yours. If, as Jefferson wrote, governments are established to secure the “rights” of the people, then by that reasoning the government has no “right” to make any law hindering a single person from anything whatsoever. Gun control was established in 1789 by the very people that intended to prevent it. That old statement “guard the public liberty with jealousy” was forgotten long ago. Constitutions are written for sheep as a false god.

Posted by LysanderTucker | Report as abusive

Screw the 2nd Amend….. Modern world here is not born to follow those old dogs who made such amendments which were in need to protect from Britishers!
World, Rules, Policies, Laws, Constitution has to change according to today and future!

Posted by America009 | Report as abusive

The subject of gun control and laws is a real HOT topic wuth anti gun passions running wild after the most recent tragedies. However, just as the first amendment and free speech does not allow someone to go into a movie theatre and yell, “fire” the second amendment should not be so sacred as to not allow for limits on our freedom. I consider myself an average, conservative American and feel maybe my views line up with others and should at least be considered… Since the second amendment is a Federal document why not make EVERY gun crime a Federal offense? period. Lawmakers can legislate some new gun laws that will seem draconian, like the drug war laws did at the time, then we could have a war on guns with zero tolerance for breaking any gun laws. For instance your underage kid takes your gun to school you, the registered owner, does automatic jail time. Some of you may be saying, “that’s crazy talk” however this would have a two fold effect first it would make people think twice before buying a gun if the consequences, if even accidently abused, were so great. Secondly, because people would be seriouly counting the cost of gun ownership it would begin to slow down the pace of new gun purchases. I would NEVER back rounding up assault rifles that have already made it into a legal gun owners hands, however I do believe that they serve no purpose except to kill people and should be banned from this day forward. Seems like most of the high profile mass murders have assault rifles with large capacity clips involved. Finally, why not consider the idea of making insurance on every gun purchased mandatory? We have laws demanding we carry insurance on our cars? In closing, whatever you are thinking about my “ideas” just keep in mind that they are just that, ideas, and are not ment to change the second amemdment, perhaps just make the cost of gun ownership high enough that people reconsider and REALLY think it through before making their purchase.

Posted by intothearena | Report as abusive

@AlkalineState, there is no confusion except by those wanting to confuse the issue or remain ignorant to the absolute known intent of the Second Amendment. Read the Federalist Papers, and the Anti-Federalist Papers, and the Proposed Bill of Rights by the Virginia Convention(June 27, 1788) and the intent is crystal clear. Does the 17th proposed Amendment from the latter Convention shed any light? It reads: “17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty,and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

The Founders were completely aware of the difference between a miltia and a military, and between a State and the Union (United States), as well as the deadliness of arms that the People might require. If there are arms now deemed too dangerous for us to keep, then the Bill-of-Rights needs to be Amended and not ignored. If we pick willy-nilly which parts of the Constitution to ignore or re-interpret then there is nothing left binding us together.

@LTucker, the Bill of Rights was initially argued against by some for that reason but the solution was simple and agreed upon, it is explicitly stated by law in the Constitution as Amendment 9. The Bill of rights was not meant to be a list of every right guaranteed, just those most in danger of being encroached upon by the Federal government created by the Constitution. Constitutions are best written by self governing and united Peoples. The alternative is anarchy and/or feudalism.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

Yes, guns are frequently utilized on a personal basis to save lives, but we don’t often hear about that because it is generally not considered newsworthy. The fact that news contains a potential for turning a profit suggests a large amount of bias in reporting. Here is one story to support why personal protection as a woman and a mother are of the highest importance to me: an-hiding-kids-shoots-intruder/nTm7s/
There are an endless array of stories of this nature.

Posted by Didymos | Report as abusive

CF, I agree. The Secondment Amendment either needs clarification through constitutional amendment, or through federal statute. The government has long limited what types of arms citizens can have. I have nothing in writing stating that we can not own and operate RPG’s and anti-aircraft rockets as citizens. These are arms, after all. But try buying some legally. You’d end up on the list and probably have them taken away. It’s a gray world.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

I find it absurd that those Constitutionalists who take the position that the 2nd Amendment was ratified as a check on government tyranny would overlook Art. III, sect. 3, paragraph 1.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

The opposite of government is not freedom, it is anarchy.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Razor sharp reasoning and writing, without even darkening the door on the discussion of the interpretation of the 2nd amendment; which if read in the context of the rest of the Constitution, doesn’t widely bestow gun rights to every citizen. The 2nd amendment clearly begins with the statement “in order to form a well regulated militia” before giving “We The People” the right to arms. So if the gun nuts want to have weapons, open up the national guard and allow them to train extensively and regularly so they can operate as a well-regulated militia. There is a reason the army establishes strict codes of conduct, within a rigid chain of command, and continually trains our soldiers rigorously, before they hand out the keys to the fighter jets or the hand held rocket launchers; and the NRA members can learn first hand just how “free” large weapons make you, though most soldiers wouldn’t necessarily describe their daily activities that way in the Army.
I bet the sofa-sitters will give up their Glocks, before they will put down the chips and the remote and train, like a militia.

Posted by sylvan | Report as abusive

@Sylvan, the 2nd Amendment does not even contain the words that you apparently quote from delusion. The 2nd is a list of rights related to arms ownership and the Right of People of free states to form a militia. Two separate but related issues. A well regulated militia is one trained and operating under the US Constitution and State Constitutions of the People. A state militia is not a federal military or army, it is of a STATE.

The National Guard is part of the Federal US Army. There are many States even today having regulated State Militias, also called State Defense Forces. By definition a state militia is under the sole authority of a State.

@borisjimnbo, how is the mere existence of a state militia or a Person owning weapons of war defined as waging war on the Union? A militia or Person operating under the US and State Constitutions, are not in any way waging war against it. They are Rights functioning to dissuade even the attempt of forced tyranny using a government army.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

It’s interesting that you admit that Rupert Murdoch directs his “news” organizations on how to present the “news”.

Posted by possibilianP | Report as abusive

@ConstFundie wrote:

“Read the Federalist Papers, and the Anti-Federalist Papers, and the Proposed Bill of Rights by the Virginia Convention(June 27, 1788) and the intent is crystal clear. Does the 17th proposed Amendment from the latter Convention shed any light?”

To answer your question directly, yes, reading the proposed 17th amendment from the Virginia Convention sheds light on the intent of the members of the Virginia Convention who proposed the amendment but does not necessarily reflect the intent of the actual 2nd amendment. Had the framers agreed on the content of the 17th amendment proposed by the Virginia Convention they would have put it in the Bill of Rights, and if it had the full support of the Founders and of the states it would have been ratified, but it wasn’t. The same goes for the Federalist Papers and any other writing by any of the Founders. It should be rather clear to anyone with the slightest knowledge of history that the Founders were not of a single mind and that there were numerous disagreements among them, some extremely contentious. What matters is what made it into the Constitution and Bill of Rights and was ratified.

This provides a foundation to test other of your suggestions, beginning with:

“The 2nd is a list of rights related to arms ownership and the Right of People of free states to form a militia. Two separate but related issues. A well regulated militia is one trained and operating under the US Constitution and State Constitutions of the People. A state militia is not a federal military or army, it is of a STATE.”

But what does the actual Constitution have to say about militias? Well, the Constitution mentions the word “Militia” exactly four times. For clarity I will quote them directly from the U.S. Government Archives web site:

Article I, Section 8:

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;…

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

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”

and Article II, Section 2:

“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;”

If this does not make it absolutely clear that the Militia referred to by the Founders in the Constitution is an organization that is under the authority of the Congress and the President then I’m not sure what would. The specific rights reserved for the States are very clearly defined as “the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress” and even they are governed by the “discipline prescribed by Congress.” It is also interesting to note that the recognized purposes of the Militia include “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” but not to overthrow tyrannical governments.

In addition, your assertion that “The 2nd is a list of rights related to arms ownership and the Right of People of free states to form a militia. Two separate but related issues.” Goes against the opinion of any Constitutional scholar I am familiar with. As is quite clear from the above quotes from the Constitution itself, whenever the framers intended to denote “a list of rights” they separated items of the list with semicolons. The list of rights in the First, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are separated with semicolons, the list of the powers of Congress in Article I is separated with semicolons. The Second Amendment is clearly a single sentence, completely void of semicolons, comprised of two clauses, the first of which does not make sense in the context of the Bill of Rights (the Militia had already been established in the Constitution after all) without the second. In other words “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is predicated (just as it is grammatically in the amendment) by the necessity of “A well regulated Militia” “to the security of a free State.” While the Framers may have juggled many muddled ideas in the process of creating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights the end result is actually quite clear and extremely concise when read in it’s entirety and without bias.

And finally “how is the mere existence of a state militia or a Person owning weapons of war defined as waging war on the Union?” It is not, obviously. However, the suggestion that “The Second Amendment was written to provide balance to the possibility of a tyrannical Government.” also quite obviously implies that the people take up arms against the government, which is just as obviously, regardless of one’s personal determination of “tyrannical”, treason.

The sad part about all of this is that while the extremist fringes of this issue dominate the discussion, innocent people continue to die at rates unheard of in the rest of the developed world, all for want of some simple, reasonable regulations that would help prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining very dangerous weapons.

Posted by jtfane | Report as abusive

The issue here is not the weapon that was used by this clearly deranged individual, the issue is why the mentaly unstable person was on the streets in the first place.
In nearly every case like this it is someone who is mentaly ill who is responsible, someone who has clearly been ignored by the system and thier comunity, until you address this, the root of the problem, you will have terrible things like this happening.

Posted by tony7914 | Report as abusive

“The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.”

This is Article 2, Section 13 of the Colorado State Constitution. It, obviously, grants specific rights to the citizens to own firearms and for what purposes they may be used. And, there is no confusion that this is an individual right. It also does not distinguish among the various classes of firearms an individual may own.

Colorado also has two laws that offer additional rights to its citizens–a “right to carry” where QUALIFIED citizens may secure a concealed carry permit, to be issued at the discretion of the county Sheriff. We also have a “Make My Day” law, where citizens while in their homes, under certain conditions, may use lethal force to protect themselves and their families.

I might suggest that each person review their state constitution to see what rights they have regarding firearm ownership. In Colorado, and other western states, that right is well documented.


I will question the author’s position that “…since American citizens collectively have never pursued the violent overthrow of the government, that the means to do so shall be restricted going forward.” Using that same logic… because your home has never been robbed, there is no need to lock your doors. Or because your home has never caught fire, there is not any need for fire detectors. (N.B.: the the War Between the States, was an act of “secession”, and not specifically designed to overthrow the federal government in Washington at that time. The southern states engaged in war to ensure their right to sever their relationship with the North.) It defies simple logic.

There are two additional factors that should be considered: American citizens collectively are non-violent by nature. We have an inherent belief that government will act in the interests of its citizens, and we therefore afford government the opportunity and time to do so. Secondly, most Americans embrace the concept of individual liberty–and as long as the government does not institute laws that significantly inhibit the ability of citizens to make those decisions that are best for them as an individual, then we are not inclined to respond violently.

Conversely, that does not mean that the federal government has unlimited power to institute reforms or legislation indiscriminately, or that the citizens of this country have unlimited patience (in spite of what the politicians in Washington may think.) After all, every person reaches a breaking point.

As stated in the previous comments, the issue with gun violence is primarily and issue of enforcement. Restricting ownership of firearms for the 99% of the population who have no predisposition to violence or criminal behavior is an over-reaction.

As documented in Chicago and D.C., two cities with some of the most restrictive firearm possession laws in the country, when dealing with the criminal element without rigid and uncompromising enforcement are meaningless. And, more laws which primarily penalize lawful activities of the majority of citizens serve no purpose whatsoever. They also place law-abiding citizens at the greater mercy of the criminal element–who have already demonstrated that laws and regulations do not pertain to them.

In this case particularly, the “rule of unintended consequences” is very much in play.

It should also be noted, that collectively, our citizens are significantly more restrained in the use of violence to secure our perspective than the federal government–as evidenced by Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

I wonder if any of those who feel they need guns to protect themselves against a despotic government can point to ANY government that has been overthrown by its own citizens through the use of guns?

The American Revolution? That was throwing off the British government. India? Protests. South Africa? Protests. Tunisia? Protests. Egypt? Protests. Breakup of the Soviet Union? Protests.

The American civil war? The South lost.

Citizens of their own country do not overthrow their own government through the force of arms.

Now, some may jump to Syria but those are both outside groups and outside arms.

Apparently, some think the movie Red Dawn was a documentary.

Posted by pavoter1946 | Report as abusive

@ pavoter. In the 235 years of this country’s our federal government has demonstrated a high degree of restraint in expanding it’s reach. It is only in the last 70 years (starting with FDR) where the federal government has expanded its reach (with the compliance of the states) into areas of governing that are not under its purview as stated in the Constitution. (e.g. health care, welfare, local and intrastate transportation, bailouts of the auto industry, light bulbs, ad infinitum.

Again, the South did not pursue the overthrow the federal government in Washington. Their act was one of secession. Big difference! The Union, and the central government in D.C. would have survived without the southern states.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

Too my knowledge, first during the Revolutionary War, and again, unsuccessfully, during the Civil War. Really, at this point, we could just get rid of the Constitution. Lincoln pretty much killed it to preserve the Union, and most every administration since has worked to expand the power of the federal government, which is precisely what the Constitution was intended to limit. It’s mostly irrelevant at this point (flagrant misinterpretation by the SCOTUS of the Commerce Clause alone has invalidated most of it). May as well bring on the slow descent into tyranny so that our people will once again remember the value of liberty.

Posted by Jameson4Lunch | Report as abusive

@ConstFundie- “It is fact that the 2nd Amendment is written to allow the People to own arms to resist any force coming against them, everyone knows what a Person is, and what a Personal Right and Liberty is, as written. We know it does not imply a Corporation or any Organization”

The last line is dead wrong and it isn’t a recent development!

Like Alkaline State – I agree that both the federal and State governments have the trumping arsenals so any romanticism associated with gun ownership derives mostly from nostalgia. It makes gun owners feel less powerless in the face of vastly superior weapons and training. But the illusion of personal control is more a matter of legend, and marketing fraud.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

First, Personal firearms can be used to efectively defend one’s family from predator attack. If you think that the police will protect you, ask Dr. William Petit how that worked out for him. In rural Oklahoma this week or last week, a 12 year old girl heard someone breaking into her home after she got home from school. She called her mother (at work) who told her to get the Pistol out of the closet (the girl had bbeen taught to shoot), lock herself in the bathroom and call 911, and to shoot if he tried to break into the bathroom. She saw the doorknob start to turn and she fired the .40 Glock pistol through the door. She hit the guy in the chest and he fled the house. Sometime later, the police arrived, searched the area and found a guy with a bad bullet wound in the area. The police told her mother that this guy (a convict with previous sex crime convictions) had likely been watching the house and the girl to see when she got home from school and was alone. To the author of the above article, Google “wolf, sheep, sheepdog” and read the article by LT. Col. Dave Grossman. This girl and her mother are a real pair of sheepdogs. You, sir, are nothing but a sheep. Baa, Baa

Posted by Showdad | Report as abusive

I just don’t get why the argument keeps coming around to the slippery slope argument of either abolishing the 2nd Amendment, or arming every citizen of the US.

That said – I’m jumping in. The Constitution has been approached in basically two ways: Organically, as a “living document” and “word-for-word” literally. The problem with the organic approach is that it allows for the will of the majority (and that changes from generation to generation) to determine the meaning, scope and ultimately wording of the Constitution. Bad idea. Especially in today’s times.

Our citizens are as passionately polarized as we have been since the issue of slavery. The will of the majority is running at about 50/50 for “pro guns” and “abolish guns” each. Not only that – and this is even more important in my opinion – our government is in a power gridlock between our two political parties. Now is NOT the time to approach our Constitution from a socio-political viewpoint, even if I thought the document should be organic and ever-changeable, and I don’t. The Framers of the Constitution had a very good idea about the “will of the people”. They were right, we simply aren’t to be trusted with our baser instincts and they wrote the document to withstand our own foolishness, even if it’s “most of us”.

The 2nd Amendment has been vetted, and vetted, and re-vetted by SCOTUS in more than one case, and it continually stands.

Now, THAT said, regarding the 2nd Amendment, we have added gun control laws that have not infringed on anyone’s right to own firearms, and the gun sellers, the NRA and everyone else has survived with the right to go out and buy a weapon or hundreds of weapons. Another law outlawing, or at least severely restricting the sale of rapid fire weaponry isn’t going to a) bring those who sell guns down or b) prevent anyone from being able to hunt, target shoot, or defend themselves against a tyrannical US government.

Think about it. If you’re going to argue the slippery slope DOWN, you have to argue it UP too. For example, should it be legal for us to go out and construct dirty bombs? I don’t think so. Why? Because why do you need one? And who would use it? Some whack job paranoid schizophrenic who might see his/her way clear that he/she needed to detonate one in, say, Disney World.

There is no weaponry that nearly 100% of us can afford that will deter a tyrannical government today. Period. So that argument, while sexy and certainly one of the major food groups for testosterone-run-amok firearm enthusiasts, is moot.

Re-evaluating additional gun laws shouldn’t and won’t mean striking down the 2nd Amendment – or even changing a word of it. It will, and should, stand as is. “Machine guns” or their “clips” will be outlawed. Why can’t there be middle ground on these issues? Just another example of our inability to think clearly, just like the Framers of the Constitution feared.

Why can’t we get all worked up into a meringue about mental health treatment issues in the US? That topic is politely ignored on these boards but I promise, the next person who goes out and commits another heinous massacre, won’t be sane – no matter what our gun laws become or remain.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

If those of you who think the Second Amendment is outmoded want to get rid of it, provision is made in the Constitution to do just that. Pass another amendment to rescind the Second. Short of that, you are just batting your gums because we don’t care what you think.

Posted by Shamizar | Report as abusive

@jtfane, Yes, the Constitution gives the Power of the President and Congress (by declaring war) to call up the Militias of the States. And to provide for their training and supplying in these instances, including insurrection. I do not understand why this is proof against the true intent of 2nd Amendment to you. It makes perfect sense that the militias of the States can be called up and supplied by the Federal Government when the Nation is under threat. For example, if England invaded again.

Providing for the Right of the people to maintain arms so as to prevent the formation of a tyrannical Police state, and fight against it if formed, does not in any way validate insurrection or rebellion against the Peoples Government. There is no subtle difference, unless you think there is a subtle difference between our current government and 16th century monarchies, Nazi Germany, or modern dictatorships. A zombie will completely obviously be a zombie, even though some of us, like me, might moan like one from time to time from the crick in our back.

The 2nd Amendment does not contain the Right to insurrection against the Union, or the Right of one State militia to invade, or be used to threaten another Sate. Just as the First Amendment does not grant the Right to threaten, bribe, or libel someone, etc. But both are there to prevent Government, via concerted action, from abridging personal liberties, and for maintaining ultimate liberty and authority within the mass of the People.

The understanding that the 2nd is a list of rights including the Right of personal ownership of weapons is not mine. It is, even today, termed the “standard model”. Read the wiki: Second Amendment.

@paintcan, well if you AND Alkaline State feel strongly, then it is solved? There are fighters all across the world fighting, for decades, against modern armies, including the most sophisticated in the World, our own. Ever hear of Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan? The Right to keep and bear arms is not for insurrection it is there because a police-state requires a defenseless populace.

I am not against changing the Second Amendment. If We believe it is an archaic throwback, but the means to amend the Constitution is clear. An executive order is not an appropriate substitute, and an indication that the Second Amendment may not be so archaic after all.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

@ JL4. Trust me, the Aurora theater shooter was completely sane. He was sane enough to case the theater weeks in advance, to booby-trap his apartment, and to prop the door of the theater open earlier in the day to make his entry. It is also documented that he is of very high intelligence. The fact that his behavior was aberrant does not imply he is insane. That is a defense created by lawyers to absolve their clients of responsibility–as evidenced by the fact that you typically cannot get two “expert witnesses” (clinical psychologists) to agree on the defendant’s capacity in any trial of this type.

And, if someone had broken into his apartment and stolen his computers, or his locker at the medical center and stolen something of value to him, he would have contacted the police– because he understands the difference between right and wrong.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

@COindependent, you’re seriously going to try to convince me that the Aurora shooter was sane? I grant that he knew the difference between right and wrong, but I won’t grant you that his entire thought process, no matter how deliberate, was sane. Please don’t put words or opinions into my mouth, and please stay on topic.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

@COindependent, let me add that “on topic” includes treatment options for the profoundly mentally ill, as I mentioned in my closing paragraph above. Your rebuttal to me doesn’t come close to that.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

If we expect to stop all terrible things from happening we will always be failures. More laws means more lawyers and judges, and in my mind that is a declination of us that is worse than the thing that it’s supposed to prevent. I don’t know the answer, and I know none of you do either. You may be arrogant enough to think you do, but you don’t.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

@brotherkenny4, do you think the Framers had divine magic insight? You’re aware that they had months of argument before the Constitution was ratified, right?

I’ve enjoyed the discussion here. I think Wapshott wrote an excellent article and it generated mostly intelligent discussion – – it’s been anything but arrogant.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

@Coindependant, Organized and planned mayhem does not necessarily prove sanity, does it? If for example he believed he was a super villain he might have felt inclined to organize and plan, just as much as a super villain might and his mind allowed, including planning for the heroes to pursue him afterwards.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

You have to consider the historical context of the Second Amendment. The Founding Fathers were providing the citizens with the ability to defend againist government tyrants. The colonies had been unfairly treated by the British monarchy and from the Founding Fathers perspective the King was a despot. Therefore the right to bear arms for protection was seen as prudent for security of the free state. The Founding Fathers were suspicious of too powerful governments given their experiences. The amendment provides for the right of citizens to bear arms and does so quite clearly. However it does not define the purpose of tne arms other then security of the free state. So by extension if the state were not free due to internal or external influence, the people had the right to possess arms for their security. The genius of our constitution and bill of rights in that it was written is such a fashion to transend time.

Posted by Globalman | Report as abusive

The historical context of the second amendment also includes the fact firearms ownership was very common at the time. Most were used for sustanance and some for a measure of personal defense. Militias then and now provid(ed) their own weaponry from the stock of weapons already possessed privately in the community. No private ownership meant no militia. The authors of the amendment knew the possibility of any militia, well regulated or otherwise, is predicated on private ownership of arms.

Posted by Zeronine | Report as abusive

@ConstFundie – How do you define a police state? I never think anything is “solved’, actually.

You don’t seem to allow any room for lower level courts as a more practical, better and less bloody defense of liberty. There are a lot of “vampires” in this country (figuratively speaking) who really itch for blood bathing. Bloody mindedness may be one of the “freedoms” that many are actually defending but it knows enough never to speak its name too baldly. They are a very popular form of entertainment and are always “morality plays”.

The country isn’t composed of a lot of ignorant, hot-headed peasants who can be roused to violence on rumors. I don’t think the 2nd Amendment was a feel good nod to them as you keep insisting. And few but hunters ever really know how to kill for food anymore. If meat isn’t in plastic wrap I’m a little afraid to eat it, actually. It’s a hell of a lot more work to make dinner. That’s what has changed in the social sphere here. People keep calling well-tended consumers “liberals” I suspect?

Otherwise we would be seeing more fundamentalist Islamic type beheadings like joggers were goats. We don’t allow dueling anymore either and all civil complaints are expected to go through the courts. It won’t do anyone any good to try any other routes today unless they are prepared to trash their own and everyone else’s lives. We aren’t Scarlet O Hara who could resort to rents from agricultural land and resources to rebuild our lives. If the house goes today so goes the government and certainly the banks in some very vivid ways. That’s the real “tyranny” people are complaining about and don’t label it correctly.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

First, do we really have a “right” to keep and bear arms in America?

Undeniably yes. Although the 5-4 Supreme Court decision confirming an individual’s right to a firearm was a surprise to some, no other decision could be made consistent with the constitution. The matter had thoroughly and conclusively been researched by historians (note, NOT lawyers) in the 97th Congress1. As Senator Hatch, one of the sponsors of the effort explained:
“We did not speculate as to the intent of the framers of the second amendment; we examined James Madison’s drafts for it, his handwritten outlines of speeches upon the Bill of Rights, and discussions of the second amendment by early scholars who were personal friends of Madison, Jefferson, and Washington and wrote while these still lived. What the Subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear–and long-lost–proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.” – Orrin G. Hatch, Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution. 97th Congress1

So, the right of a citizen in this republic to keep and bear arms is one of those granted by our Creator and specifically protected from ’infringement’ by government.

Second, why did the founders protect that right? In the quote above Senator Hatch noted what was intended was arms to protect “himself, his family, and his freedoms”. The record is clear. Firearms were to be used both to deter criminal assault – and to serve as a disincentive to any government which may otherwise succeed in extra-constitutional oppression of the citizens. Jefferson on the former:
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” e strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”
And on the latter:
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”

Third, what kind of arms were in mind by the founders? The founders intended that arms suitable to deter actions by agents of an out of control government should be in the hands of citizens.
“… Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” –Tench Coxe, 20 Feb 1788

Repeating firearms were not beyond the imagination of either Jefferson, who kept a small armory of his own and was very inventive, nor of Franklin who even predicted the effectiveness of paratroopers2. In today terms, the ‘terrible implements of the soldier’ plainly include the AR-15 ‘assault rifle’, the high capacity 9mm M9 pistol, and the like. Beyond being among the most effective of the types resorted to by the Korean shop keepers abandoned by LAPD in the LA Riot3, and homeowners after Andrew and Katrina, they do figure in an aggressive government’s calculations. Janet Reno gave pause before taking Elian Gonzalez precisely because of the likelihood that many of the Cuban Americans were so armed. On a larger scale, ill-informed folks who think a modern army can easily bring armor and gun ship helicopters to threaten the family of any impudent American at will and easily subdue them fail to recognize the genus of our founders and nature of a civil war. Even if inclined to follow any extra-constitutional, thus illegal, orders the soldiers’ and pilots’ life span will be greatly shortened when they eventually try to return to their homes in a nation of appropriately armed and, because of their actions, mobilized and determined citizens.

If government cannot infringe on a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, what should be done to address crime with firearms and terrorism? First, let’s be frank about the problems. Although laughably designated ‘work place violence’ Major Hassan will not be the last domestic terrorist exploiting a “gun free zone” (but for a local, armed, civilian cop who happened to be proximate many more would have died – foolishly enough, the brass doesn’t’ trust soldiers with firearms off the range you see). Our ‘gun free’ schools are clearly being exploited by kooks already. What works in both cases is discreetly armed individuals able to deter mass murderers. To quote Massad Ayoob, an individual with solid knowledge in the field, “(a)fter the Ma’alot massacre in 1974, Israel instituted a policy in which volunteer school personnel, parents, and grandparents received special training from the civil guard, and were seeded throughout the schools armed with discreetly concealed 9mm semiautomatic pistols. Since that time, there has been no successful mass murder at an Israeli school, and every attempt at such has been quickly shortstopped by the good guys’ gunfire, with minimal casualties among the innocent. “4 To address mass shootings at schools that is the solution. One might point out as well, terrorists can easily bring their own guns, as well as RPGs, grenades, and the rest of the tools of their trade to even a gun free country.

As to criminality – must focus on the likely perpetrators. Mental illness seems a common element in many of the high profile shooters. Any solution proposed by me to address the wildly disproportionate incidence of murder by a specific portion of our population would be considered not “PC”, thus unspeakable, but gun control has been tried, and found, conclusively, not to be a solution:

“ This Article has reviewed a significant amount of evidence from a wide variety of international sources. Each individual portion of evidence is subject to cavil—at the very least the general objection that the persuasiveness of social scientific evidence cannot remotely approach the persuasiveness of conclusions in the physical sciences. Nevertheless, the burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra.
To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the
Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to determine whether Canada’s more restrictive policies had better contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was with the admonition:
If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did
not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” hand
guns, but there it is-a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.”5

This topic is a serious one and emotion must be put aside. Let’s not dishonor our founders with a foolish or craven surrender of our rights, or responsibilities to politicians offering what no human agency can deliver. As one of the very wise once said:
“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”6

2. “Where is the prince who can afford so to cover his country with troops for its defence, so that ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not, in many places, do an infinite deal of mischief before a force could be brought together to repel them?” -Benjamin Franklin in 1784
3. “There are going to be situations where people are going to go without assistance. That’s just the facts of life.” – LA Police Chief Darryl Gates
4. ob/2012/12/15/against-monsters/
5. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy [Vol. 30]
6. Jeff Cooper, Art of the Rifle

Posted by Soldiersdad | Report as abusive

NRA asserts that the number one cause of gun violence in America is…. not enough guns.


Surprise! Gun dealer lobby proposes to double the 300 million guns we already have. Good times.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

from The New Zealand Herald. “An argument that might provoke a fist fight in Auckland leads to a homicide in Oakland.” (Gun owners and guns are licensed and guns must be kept in a gun safe in NZ)

Posted by Sukarasa | Report as abusive

I would like to point out that the article has a falsehood. No automatic guns were used in the recent tragedy. Automatic guns are prohibited in most states, including that one.

Posted by stevedebi | Report as abusive

@paintcan, I define a police state by the standard definition. Wiki: “A police state is a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.” Examples are the old European monarchies, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, East Germany, N. Korea, Communist China, and every dictatorship i am aware.

The room allowed to all the courts is only that within the boundaries of the US Constitution. There is a mountain of difference between justifying modern law within the boundaries of the Constitution and re-interpreting the Constitution to justify modern law.

It is absolutely wrong to say that the wording, e.g., of the 2nd Amendment must now be re-interpreted because the Founders had no idea of the weapons that might be created. That leaves us with nothing but a sea of leadership opinions, and a law of whims flooding and ebbing with public reactionism and executive commandment. The solution is to Amend it. It has always been the only, just, and right solution. The notion that people, or Congress are too lazy, too stupid, or incompetent is only rationale to rule by personal opinion of leadership.

A ban on personal arms is unconstitutional and that includes automatic weapons (which are banned only by arduously restrictive regulation), semi-automatic weapons, and arguably even RPGs or bazookas – to bear meaning to carry. Please stay with me, as extreme as that sounds. But the answer is not to reinterpret the Constitution and defy the original meaning and intent, the answer was, and still is, to Amend the 2nd Amendment on the basis that modern personal weapons, at the very least explosive personal arms, are too dangerous to publicly keep and bear, or safety training needed, etc. The legislatures of the States must then compose through compromise an Amendment to address modern Personal arms ownership, training, and arming of State militias.

Blatantly defying the Constitution gives the absolute proof, and the validity waited-for, by the People that you feel are extremist. It invalidates the authority of the Government as given by the People, and provides motivation for extreme reactions and revolt. For example, the unconstitutional gun control in ’94 was in part motivation for the OKC bombing.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

@ConstFundie again: “The legislatures of the States must then compose through compromise an Amendment to address modern Personal arms ownership, training, and arming of State militias”.

No kidding? That’s not what the NRA says usually.

And why would that not still be a police state but with volunteers? It would be very easy to see that situation as North Korea like too? I don’t think your average gun owner is really willing to join the national guards of their local armories.

You have not made much of an argument for weapons of machine gun like delivery falling into private hands? You can’t use them to hunt or in sportsman like settings. They could really damage the sheetrock in home use. The wall section might fall out. And what bothers me the most about them in private hands is that they are available for use by the irresponsible. Are all Police departments expected to have arsenals capable for meeting the largest threats they might encounter? There is a taxpayer (especially in small towns)and municipal budget issue there. And if Police departments are constrained in the types of weapons they can own, why should individuals have rights to0 the really impressive stuff?

Good luck on the compromise! That’s a lost art of there ever was one.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

BTW: Even if one has high powered weapons – they can never be used in civilian life unless at a shotting range, I suppose, or way out in the sticks. You can never show anything but abject compliance if confronted by a Police officer in his official capacity. It’s an expensive and messy way to bag a deer isn’t it? It’s the risk of bone fragments in the meat a reason to try for a clean and humane kill?

So, what does anyone really think they can be used for?

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

@paintcan, i am not advocating a specific content of a new Amendment. That would be up to Legislators, however, i certainly expect that the currently declared Constitutional Right of the free states to have a militia would certainly come up and would have to be considered and debated in the drafting of an Amendment.

The use of firearms in civilian life was not the reason for the inclusion of the 2nd Amendment, and thus is extraneously relevant. Uncertain what you mean by the term high powered, but high velocity rounds are used in the hunting of deer, elk, moose, and caribou, etc., especially in Western states with expanses of public lands where animals are shot from long range. The largest caliber rounds (.300 to .458) are used to hunt the largest animals, e.g., moose, musk-ox, and large bear, in North America.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

@paintcan, I am not advocating that owning a machine gun or RPG is something that should be a declared unconditional personal right, i am stating that it currently is. I am advocating the necessity of, at least attempting to re-write the 2nd to address modern weapons, and by the means authorized by the People and contained in the Constitution.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

@paintcan, I believe the .223 centerfire is the same caliber as a 22 rimfire. It does do much more damage because it is higher velocity, and kinetic energy is proportional to the velocity squared. In hunting for food the meat is not ruined if the shot is correctly placed in the heart-lung area as most edible meat is in the quarters.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

We are not focused on the root cause – or the main root cause – of mass killings: mental illness. The killers are charged, prosecuted and then not put to death but stashed in a mental institution because they are deemed “mentally ill”.

Until there is more early diagnosis, treatment and help for families with members who are mentally unstable, there will be those who kill innocents.

Posted by AZreb | Report as abusive

Millions of Americans are addicted to firearms.
They buy high-power firearms they don’t really need for self protection (or hunting) just because buying and owning such arms makes them feel good (‘manly’).
Gun manufacturers and distributors have identified this market segment, and the NRA is all about protecting the interests of the gun industry who’s promoting and facilitating gun addiction.
Some high-power guns eventually fall in the hands of criminals and mentally sick people, and the result is a shooting epidemic.
Legislators and media need to identify the gun addiction problem and find ways to start solving it.

Remember – years ago, no one thought of smoking in terms of ‘tobacco addiction’, and smoking was promoted by everyone, including Hollywood.

Posted by reality-again | Report as abusive

Apparently a lot of my fellow citizens can’t read. There must be a lot as well that don’t have TV either. Hey Wapshott, do you consider yourself a journalist or just a commentator? Why don’t you run on over to Syria and take a poll? Those people didn’t start out with tanks and SAMs. Has anybody ever read anything about a bunch of people called the Viet Minh or their buddies the Viet Cong? PAVOTER1946: before 1776 the people of European descent in the thirteen COLONIES were actually British subjects. They threw off their own government. Pick up any 9th grade history book and read about it. The first war between Great Britan and the US would have been 1812. Have any of you ever tried to get the real story of the press carrying water for the Wilson administration and manipulating public opinion to get the US into WWI? People died over that! A lot of people. This administration’s hand-wringing over the school shooting is laughable. I guess it only matters when it’s a bunch of little white Americans. Anybody ever hear of the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scheme? Little brown-skinned kids caught in a drive by shooting don’t count I guess. The press didn’t have much to say about that before the election did they? Justice department officials knowingly put weapons into the hands of drug cartels while breaking American law to do so. All the big dogs get a free pass by presidential fiat and nothing much is said by the press. If there is one organization that should never ever be above the law it should be the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. Where are this generation’s Woodward and Bernstein? Instead of yelling “Coverup” and asking some hard questions when the president gets behind a mic the press does a story on Mitt Romney’s dog in a car carrier or some other trite BS. Where is the discussion of the Drone strikes targeting US citizens over seas. I guess I missed those questions from the press too.
I have, I think, a pretty good illustration of the problem of violence in this country. I live in an area with a lot of Amish families. I’ve been in their houses, ate dinner at their tables and done business with them all my life. I can’t think of a single household that doesn’t have firearms for hunting. There may be some but I’m not aware of them. You don’t hear about many Amish killers do you? Contrast this with the prison population. That is the most rigidly controlled and autocratic “society” any of us can easily imagine, way more so than North Korea even. Do any of you want to live in such a tightly controlled environment? There are rapes and murders there all the time. Guess what? NO GUNS.

Posted by pawn2nd | Report as abusive

Why not just require everyone to obtain a gun licence to purchase a gun or bullets or bullet making products.
A licence that requires a one day course that teaches you gun safety and a application so that the goverment can do a one time background check, you are then issued a licence that enables you to purchase what you want with no waiting period

Posted by aqua12 | Report as abusive

The state of Vermont has the lowest incidence of gun violence in the country and NO licensing requirement for purchase, possession, or carry, including concealed. This would indicate that the laxity or “toughness” of gun laws are not the determining factors in gun violence. I’d also point out that the Newtown parents have called for the same measure proposed by Bill Clinton post-Columbine and by the much maligned Wayne LaPierre post-Newtown, i.e., armed police in schools. Finally, the one thing all of the mass shootings in the past twenty years have in common is that they occurred in designated gun-free zones.

Posted by astra400 | Report as abusive

@ConstFundie, First I’d like to thank you for contributing to a reasonable, adult discussion. These things so often resort to adolescent name calling matches that they are rarely worth participating in. To address your questions. You asked: “Yes, the Constitution gives the Power of the President and Congress (by declaring war) to call up the Militias of the States. And to provide for their training and supplying in these instances, including insurrection. I do not understand why this is proof against the true intent of 2nd Amendment to you.” The items you mentioned are not proof against your interpretation of the true intent of the 2nd amendment. I tend to try limit my interpretation of the Constitution to the actual text of the document wherever possible. The 2nd Amendment states that “A well regulated militia [is] necessary to the security of a free State” Why? The Constitution states three specific reasons “for calling forth the Militia”: “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” They do not mention the overthrowing of tyrannical governments anywhere in the document. I do not mean to imply that the three stated purposes for the Militia are the only three allowed, but do you not think it the least bit odd that they would mention three and leave out the one that you claim to be the “true intent” of the 2nd amendment? Does it really seem reasonable to you that they just happened to mention the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most important purposes of the Militia and left out the most important? Not only this, but one of the mentioned purposes, to “suppress insurrections”, is quite clearly the essential opposite of overthrowing a tyrannical government. Let’s face it, there are many Americans today who feel that the current government is tyrannical (I’d hasten to add that not one of them has likely ever experienced an actual tyrannical government), if these people were to decide to take up arms against the government would that qualify as overthrowing a tyrannical government or an insurrection? Certainly the latter, I’d say.

Your statement that “The understanding that the 2nd is a list of rights including the Right of personal ownership of weapons is not mine. It is, even today, termed the “standard model”. Read the wiki: Second Amendment.” is simply a rather extreme misunderstanding of the standard model and actually contradicts your own source. The “standard model” addresses (as per your own reference, Wikipedia) the “debate over whether the Second Amendment protected an individual right or a collective right.” and has nothing whatsoever to do with interpreting the amendment as “a list of rights” an assertion directly contradicted by your own source with the statement “By this time, the proposed right to keep and bear arms was in a separate amendment, instead of being in a single amendment together with other proposed rights such as the due process right. As a Representative explained, this change allowed each amendment to “be passed upon distinctly by the States.”” And while the individual rights interpretation of the standard model was upheld most recently in District of Columbia v. Heller it is only fair to note that the interpretation was strongly countered by the four dissenting judges and the issue is far from settled. The main point is though, that regardless of whether the 2nd amendment was meant to protect an individual right or a collective one The Court has been very clear in accepting limitations to the right to keep and bear arms, in the words of Justice Scalia “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” and from the syllabus for DC v. Heller “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.”

I believe you unintentionally hit on the crux of the issue in your third paragraph. You said “Just as the First Amendment does not grant the Right to threaten, bribe, or libel someone” which could quite easily be completed by adding that the 2nd Amendment does not guarantee unrestricted access to all arms by all people. The 2nd Amendment simply does not need to be modified in any way in order to enact legislation that would make it significantly more difficult for dangerous people to acquire dangerous weapons and would not infringe upon the rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

I do agree with your assessment that the Aurora theater shooter was certainly insane. The act itself was a textbook case of sociopathic behavior. As you stated, being able to plan and organize, nor even the ability to judge right from wrong are proof of sanity. The inability to judge right from wrong is simply a legal requirement to be determined unfit to stand trial and has nothing to do with the psychological definition of insanity. Two different things.

And as an aside, you might be interested to know (but probably not) that the philosophical definition of a zombie (as opposed to the pop culture definition) describes a being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being with the single exception of not possessing consciousness. Just another of many absurdly silly things philosophers discuss when nobody’s listening (which is usually). And I’ve taken to making zombie like noises before I stand up these days, in anticipation of the pain, I think it helps.

Posted by jtfane | Report as abusive

@ConstFundie again- You lump all kinds of past and present government models and call them “police states”. I do read history as an amateur and know enough of some of the Emnglish writers like Burke and Carlisle. and the French like Voltair, Rousseau and DeTocqueville to know they would never have agreed with your assertion that “monarchy” is a police state or tyrannical form of government by definition.

And the maintenance of private arsenals of significant scale is the hallmark of feudalism.

BTW – In Syria, weapons of significant military scale are being imported from neighboring states to aid insurrection. It seems to me, any government is obligated to fight that importation and widespread use. It would be naive to suggest otherwise. After all, the insurgencies can only claim they are interested in the welfare of the people and the “people” really only have the insurgents or rebels word for that. They are not necessaraly forces that will honor that word.

And In Iraq and Afghanistan – the weapons that were most damaging to the invading forces and still cause a problem to the new governments are IEDs and suicide bombers. Relatively crude devices and more or less standard lethal weapons (including power drills) were causing a lot of civilian injuries and deaths.

@jtfane – how does one make “zombie like noises”? Otherwise I think your rebuttal is the best ever. But you sound like you actually read the SC decisions re: the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

“The inability to judge right from wrong is simply a legal requirement to be determined unfit to stand trial and has nothing to do with the psychological definition of insanity. Two different things.”

If that is so, than how do you decide whether or not actions or behavior’s are sane or insane? Personal taste? Don’t read too much history, especially concerning cultural practices, or you may never, ever, come up with a workable definition of sanity for any aspect of life. You seem a tad provincial there, actually. Governments don’t agree on what is considered sane actually. Obviously – countries that have banned private weapons may very well consider this country “insane” for not doing so.

“Sanity” per se, may actually be little more than commonly accepted social practices and there never was or is anything particularly sane about the self styled “sane”. Ever see the movie “one Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest”. That’s an easy example.

Unless you are talking about some truly difficult mental conditions that one would call “clinical” and that are based on actual brain malfunction or brain damage and can make any attempts to live a “normal” life nearly impossible, a lot of what people commonly call insane, may not be insane. Those people may only be living in the wrong “neighborhood” or culture.

Becoming “insane” by being unsatisfactorily understood and or accepted by one’s peers or oneself is the sort of situation that used to put people into “Bedlams” in the past. Stress can erode one’s sense of composure or balance too. Sanity can be fragile, actually, and isn’t something one can ever truly claim one has locked up for all time. And the constitution, or any kind of government that manages to survive for a time without self immolating or eating it own citizens alive, is an attempt at forging a working definition of “sanity”. But, I guess that’s what your saying?

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

@paintcan, I hesitate to stray even further off topic by responding to your questions but I’ll go ahead anyway this time. The zombie comments were merely an attempt (albeit, a rather lame one) at a little levity to lighten up such a serious conversation. Thank you for your compliment. And, yes I actually do read the decisions of the SC for cases that interest me, but I must also admit that the quotes I presented are rather commonly available and, in this case were from the Wikipedia source cited by @ConstFundie.

My comments regarding sanity were primarily in response to @COindependent’s remark that “the Aurora theater shooter was completely sane.” and in support of @ConstFundie and @JL4’s rebuttals to that comment. I believe that you and I are in agreement on this issue and that your comments have further exemplified my point that there is no one definition of sanity. My main point was that the legal definition of insanity for the purpose of determining if someone is fit to stand trial is a minor subset of the clinical definition of insanity. Being deemed sane for the purpose of standing trial does not necessarily mean that one would meet all the requirements to be clinically sane. James Holmes is a classic example. He may well understand the difference between right and wrong, the primary requirement for being deemed fit to stand trial, but dressing up like a comic book character and murdering a dozen people is quite obviously extreme sociopathic behavior. To call someone who exhibits this type of behavior “completely sane” is simply incorrect.

I obviously did not intend to appear “provincial” but rather to limit the discussion, and definition, to the topic at hand which would be a definition of sanity based on modern, western culture. Using an ancient Mayan “definition” of sanity would be more than a bit absurd in this case, no? While I’m so far off topic already I’ll note that I’m currently reading Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror”, a history of 14th century Europe, and it does indeed offer a very clear picture of the changing norms of society through different times and cultures, however, it is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

Posted by jtfane | Report as abusive

And now back on topic to try and tie all this up.

The Constitution quite clearly grants final judicial power to the Supreme Court, not to the People (read Article III) and states that “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States.” While the Constitution also grants the People the individual right to vocally disagree with the decisions of the SC (through the 1st amendment) it does not grant these disagreements any official legal status. The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, period, any other assertion is simply unconstitutional. The SC has made it eminently clear that, in it’s own words “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited” and in the words of Justice Scalia regarding the decision for DC v. Heller “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” People like James Holmes, Jared Loughner and Seung-Hui Cho are (or were) obviously mentally ill. All of these people exhibited behavior, prior to their crimes, that could easily, Constitutionally, have been used as evidence to deny them the right to legally purchase guns if proper laws had been in effect and were being fully enforced. Laws do not, cannot and are not intended to eliminate 100% of crimes. All rational people understand that laws are intended as deterrents of crime and not absolute preventives of crime. There are numerous laws against murder and yet murder still occurs but no rational person would suggest this as a reason to eliminate laws against murder. Why then would anyone oppose laws that would make it far more difficult for dangerously mentally ill people or convicted violent felons to obtain guns?

Posted by jtfane | Report as abusive

@jtfane, thank you for your good and fair discussion and points. I intend to address all issues related granting time, and this article’s area. Have you linked over to to DC v. Heller from the Second Amendment wiki page? I believe that some of the issues you bring up concerning the known intentions for the inclusion of the 2nd Right, are historically and textually addressed by the SCOTUS, under judgement sections, esp, (b), (c), (d), and (f).

The standard model interpretation in the wiki is described as the model recognizing the “personal right of individuals to keep and bear arms”, and that “The opening phrase was meant as a non-exclusive example — one of many reasons for the amendment.” I concede that the wiki does not textually state that the standard model declares both a collective AND individual right. However, if the collective forming of a militia is THE specified and legitimate example of a reason for the Individual Right, and a militia is declared within necessary to the security of a free state, and the states are so reserved the power to maintain their own militias (Article 1, Section 8), then is the collective right not also being, at least, reaffirmed?

I think an “animated corpse resurrected by mystical means” and without consciousness would be obviously distinguishable from human, despite lack of oozing rot and missing limbs. Granted, i mystically animated hyperbole into toothless zombanalogy.

I see a new post! And i have not caught up. If you believe that the SCOTUS has final say in the interpretation of the Constitution then you have countered most all of your own arguments, again read DC v Heller, esp, (b), (c), (d), and (f). I grant the exception, my contention, that all personal weapons of war are Constitutionally protected.

Posted by ConstFundie | Report as abusive

@pavoter1946 “I wonder if any of those who feel they need guns to protect themselves against a despotic government can point to ANY government that has been overthrown by its own citizens through the use of guns? The American Revolution? That was throwing off the British government.” That precisely the point: the colonists were British citizens throwing off their own government!

Posted by johnnyjr | Report as abusive

I won’t be wordy about this as either jtfane or ConstFundie. Even the Constitution has to defend it’s sanity creds from time to time. It once thought slavery was legal and people could be factored as fractions of people or not be considered franchised at all. It has attitudes about the value of women or minorities that some would consider outrageous in not outright insane today. It had a “bipolar” moment during prohibition and changed it’s mind when it entered WWII.

The Constitution is a working document and not a sacred text. Parts can be added or subtracted and have been. The SC has been used as a way of making changes without having to rewrite the document from scratch, but who knows, someday, there may be a popular call to craft a modern 21st century constitution and, indeed, start from scratch with every intention of preserving what is most valuable it and perhaps even up-dating the language. Think what the future SC would have with live Video recordings and charts and graphic aids (if that would really be much of a help) and in contemporary language?

BTW – I suppose many of us now think the 2nd Amendment (and after all it is only an amendment itself) is obsolete or beside the point. I think it is about as irrelevant as prohibition. I’m not really buying the common argument that it’s supporters are throwing around. Since I’m not a gun owner or hunter and don’t ever use one, I could care less for the so called right to bare arms except to get a tan. Professional citizens are given that duty and job in this society and that seems fine and even the proper way to organize and protect a modern society. It is obvious that the limitless marketing of lethal weapons to a less than perfectly controlled market place isn’t exactly a shining beacon of sanity either.

MY God – I’ve questioned the core tenets of the religion of my youth, Roman Catholicism. A little thing like a Constitution is a simple matter actually and not quite so simple, actually.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Political liberty? Let’s see – the battle for independence that brought us the United States comes to mind.

Posted by AZreb | Report as abusive

So the Constitution is obsolete? What do we replace it with? If there is no such thing as “Natural Rights” then there are no rights. The basic social contract that has worked pretty well for 200 years in this country isn’t valid either? I’s say most Americans believe the government exists to serve the People and governs with the “consent of the people”. I don’t know… the Nanny State mentality seems to be growing. I guess we don’t need a First Amendment any longer either since MSNBC and Current TV will always ferret out any facts we need to be made aware of. Leave it to the professionals! The common man doesn’t need that right! If you want to be a journalist you can apply for a license and take a one day course and if the state deigns to give you the right (at a price you can afford) then you can discuss politics and how good a job the current administration is doing or ask about the Contras or Bengazi. If the rights listed in the BILL OF RIGHTS are not “Natural Right” then each and every one could be constrained in any way. At that point I think it comes down to “Might makes Right” doesn’t it?

Posted by pawn2nd | Report as abusive

In Tennessee in 1946 the political apparatus took possession of the ballot boxes so they could stay in power by their counting of ballots. The people armed their selves went to the jail house where the ballots boxes were taken. they used dynamite to blow the door open and took those inside aside while they secured the ballot boxes for a true count.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. Wapshott, The title of your article is “Since When Have Personal Guns Been Used To Defend Political Liberty” As a British Journalist writing for a British News Outlet, I,m taken aback that you don,t know you,re own history. June 1940, seaside town on the French coast called Dunkirk. The remnants of the British and Allied Armies are rescued from the German Juggernaut that swept through France, by a flotilla from Britain comprised of anything that could float. To facilitate this amazing rescue the soldiers had to abandon most of their equipment including Small Arms. Meanwhile back home the British Home Guard, because of restrictive Gun Controls in Britain at the time had very little in the way of defensive weaponry. An urgent appeal was issued by the American Committee for Defense of British Homes. The appeal even showed up in The American Rifleman, the magazine of the now Dreaded NRA. Thousands of American Sportsmen and Private Gun Owners responded by sending their personal Firearms to your country, so your people had a chance to defend themselves. Thousands of M1 Garands and Thomson machine guns were sent under Lend Lease later on. But it,s the privately owned firearms that got there first. And after the war very few private firearms were returned, most of them were destroyed. And if you would like to see one of these firearms,(that your fellow Britons were glad to get at that time in your Nations history) you will find it at The National Firearms Museum. It,s a 30-06 Model 1903 Target Rifle that belonged to Major John W. Hession, a Pre Emminent High Power Rifle, target shooter of his day.

Posted by beenbetter | Report as abusive

This isn’t the wild west. The second amendment doesn’t guarantee a free for all with no limits. If it did, you could walk around with a bomb in your pocket. A civilized country needs some limits, as well as severe penalties for criminals.

Posted by cetj98168 | Report as abusive

All of this discussion is moot. The Constitution says what it does. The second amendment does not require explanation or justification. Its written and passed.

Posted by Globalman | Report as abusive

@Globalamn- “Moot” does not mean a subject is closed to discussion but the opposite: that a subject or question is open to discussion. It is a popular error in word usage. Democracies don’t allow much of anything to become closed to discussion. But they will put limits on irreversible actions that make discussion impossible.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Well, I guess we can all go bacl to the old standby ……… “A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.”

Posted by Willie12345 | Report as abusive

If you are going to use quotation marks around a supposed quote from the Constitution, please ensure that you are quoting it correctly. The need for a militia was given as the raison d’etre for the Second Amendment not a sine qua non.

Posted by Shamizar | Report as abusive

Do you folks that question the need for private citizens to own firearms, see the destructive power lingering around the field in Georgia this past week? Have you not seen or heard of the loss of some of your past rights and liberties recently?

Know how many departments were involved? Why would you guess that there were so many “good guys” milling around for this one guy? Practice, for sure, but it doesn’t bother you that this happens at any event, anywhere in the US?

I’m just asking.

Posted by skeeteril | Report as abusive

Nicholas Wapshott, former bureau chief for a British newspaper, titled this article as a question – “Since when have personal guns been used to defend political liberty?”

For starters, there’s the Revolutionary War. Then there’s the War of 1812. In both cases, our adversary was Britain. Perhaps Wapshott overlooked those historical footnotes because it was his country that forced us to defend our political liberty. Oh, well.

Having the 2nd Amendment around is like having a fire department around. You never know when you’re going to need a fire department. But, it’s nice to have one around in case you do. And no one I know of would use the excuse, “Well, we haven’t had any fires for a while,” to shut down their fire department.

Here’s another comparison to consider. Salmonella poisoning can kill. Let’s say a bunch of people started dying due to salmonella poisoning. And let’s say the health department discovered the source – vegetables from the XYZ Farm in your neighborhood. Would the health department ban farming altogether or would it just ban vegetable sales from the XYZ Farm?

Now – take a look at all the massacre-style gun incidents in our recent past. You’ll notice that the overwhelming number of shooters in these incidents are mentally impaired people. So, should we ban guns altogether or just the possession of guns by mentally impaired people?

Posted by Chronicle236 | Report as abusive

Since when have personal guns been used to defend political liberty?

1776 maybe? But that’s close enough for my taste.

We wouldn’t have this ‘personal liberty’ if not for people owning guns. And if they get taken – we’ll wind up REALLY needing them again.

When government fears the people – that’s called liberty. When people fear the government – that’s called tyranny.

Posted by Overcast451 | Report as abusive


**Now – take a look at all the massacre-style gun incidents in our recent past. You’ll notice that the overwhelming number of shooters in these incidents are mentally impaired people. So, should we ban guns altogether or just the possession of guns by mentally impaired people?**

And if I may add… Also there is something else ‘common’ in these shootings: They are almost ALWAYS in ‘gun free’ zones – Churches, Schools, Businesses.

How often are there shootings like this at Police Stations, Gun Shows, Target Ranges and such?

Isn’t that… kind of a clue?

Posted by Overcast451 | Report as abusive

How often are there shootings at police stations, gun shows ,target ranges and such. Somebody haven’t read the news for a couple of weeks have they. Just days ago there was shootings at gun shows , target ranges and a court house . JUst today they had the burial of the one that was murdered at atarget range__start reading the news and see what is goingon with so many guns.

Posted by PPhermit | Report as abusive

What are we talking about when we talk about freedom? There is no way to define something so personal and evanescent. What freedoms are available in the U.S.?

Freedom from slavery? Check, we have that (now).
Freedom of speech? Absolutely. Rant and rave about anything.
Freedom to work or loaf? Check, but there are consequences.
Freedom to own a car and move around the country at will? Check.
Freedom to harm others and commit crimes? No. And why not? Just because.

Posted by Ralphooo | Report as abusive

perhaps the author should ask, “what gun control laws have actually stopped a gun crime being committed”? As a licensed gun owner I hope I never have to even take the gun out, But if I am ever faced with a large criminal who intends to hurt me I hope I have my gun with me.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

Americans have become so weary at the grip the NRA and other gun industry lobbyists have on the gun debate
Well… Nooo. But your whiny little voices are well into the zone so find another approach, or let us be.

Posted by joelwisch2 | Report as abusive

The grip of the NRA? Outside of being elected, politicians only have one worry – being re-elected. And to be elected and re-elected, politicians tend to follow the lead of the squeakiest wheels among their constituency. Why? Because for every squeaky wheel, they know there are other wheels that feel the same way but just don’t squeak (or squeak as loudly). But squeaky or not, they vote.

Consider this variation of the chicken/egg question. Which came first, the gun owner or the NRA? We know the answer to that question – the gun owner. Now, there are a LOT of NRA members. But they do not constitute the bulk of gun owners. NRA members tend to be the squeaky wheels. And for each member, politicians know there are other gun owners who choose not to squeak so loudly – but feel largely the same way NRA members feel about gun rights issues. But squeaky or not, they vote.

Though they may not admit it, I think anti-gun activists underestimate the grassroots support for gun rights. And this is wide support – Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters. And politicians who run counter to their wishes are one ballot-box away from being (ahem) enlightened.

P.S. I’m 62 and, during all my adult years, have never owned a firearm of any kind. And yet, I’ve always believed that any law-abiding citizen should have the right to own a firearm equal in force to what might be used by a potential criminal adversary (ie., an assault weapon or pistol with a magazine holding multiple rounds). This year, after Obama’s first “lecture” about gun control, I decided to become squeaky myself. I joined the NRA for the first time in my life. And in about 8 or 9 days, I’ll travel to a nearby gun store to buy a Ruger 9mm handgun with a 15-round clip. I’ll also be taking training through the store to make sure I can use and maintain the weapon safely and responsibly. Afterward, I’ll get a concealed-carry permit.

Posted by Chronicle236 | Report as abusive

Why does everyone go back to the 1770s? Just look at LA in 1993.

A riot breaks out. The mayor and the police chief are having a spat, so the police are removed from a critical point during the beginning of the riot. The riot gets out of control.

Stores are being burned down. The store owners (whose life savings or their family’s life savings are in the store) can’t get any police. The rioters continued looting and burning until the store owners got on the roofs with semi automatic rifles – the rioters moved down to the next stores.

In court, the police departments basically stated that they cannot prevent all crimes, they cannot be held responsible.

So the question is – who is responsible for my safety? If the police are responsible, then they should have stated it in court. If they are not responsible, then let me have a fair chance against
rioters, or drug dealers, or others that would do me harm.

As one person has said, ‘When seconds count, the police are only minutes away’.

In court, attornies for the police departments tell the judges that they are not responsible for ever

Posted by AppletreeD | Report as abusive

Guns are rarely used to thwart government overreach and defend political liberty, to directly answer the question.

But that does not change the basic equation.

The fact remains that our government routinely overreaches, and then it challenges the public to “do something about it”, all in the full knowledge that the politicians in power will not hesitate to stomp on (or at least ignore) anyone challenging their authority.

A case in point is the recent “deeming” by Obama of Congress to be “in recess” so that he could sneak in recess appointments of political appointees to positions of power where he wanted them. This happened when Congress was in fact still in session and Mr. Obama has been challenged and defeated in the courts, yet Obama’s appointees are still in their jobs making rules that affect all of us, and Obama simply thumbs his nose at all concerned and defies anyone to prove him wrong.

The U.S. political system has devolved into cronyism of the worst kind, with the person in the White House violating the rules then telling all others that they must still abide by the system. The U.S. is a “has been” nation because the people have been bought off with their own tax dollars and are now too comfortable in their bribery to actually seek freedom.

Posted by ACRScout | Report as abusive

In 1776 personal guns defended liberty. This clause was put in the Constitution to defend us from government. Common knowledge at the time. Only attorneys mush the words to make things seem otherwise. Only attorneys and judges are responsible for the current state of our nation.
Any eight grade English teacher is capable of making a sentence diagram to reveal what the sentence says. It is the perception problem of attorneys and judges and liars that have a difficulty understanding our language.
The Constitution is a CONTRACT between the citizens of the United States of America and government. This Contract has been broken by the government and is now void. It is time to exercise the right to keep and bear arms. Citizens! Whassup? Is it time for THEM to pay the piper? No attorneys need respond.

Posted by OdinsAcolyte | Report as abusive

Why does the 2nd Amendment contain the words “A well regulated Militia…?” Who “regulates” a “Militia”? Or, put differently, what would limit a Militia’s behavior should it consider infringing on our rights?

Before the U.S. Constitution was written, no person would have considered it as abridging their standard practice of bearing arms at the time. The “New World” was won with the rifle, pistol, and other forms of weaponry. To think that the framers would have ever considered that our politicians would try to abridge our right to what was originally an unthinkable concept is laughable.

Those who loath guns need to realize that the number of crimes that don’t get committed because criminals fear armed encounters never see the front page of any liberal outlet…er, newspaper. Thankfully, these events are not newsworthy as they were non-events. Had these well meaning folks lived in areas where guns are illegal, like Mexico for example, it would quickly see their value in maintaining a free society. Thus, by employing any sense of logic, a corrected perception from their naive view of self-protection would occur, and they, too, might join us who see gun ownership as a necessary way of life.

Posted by Atty4U | Report as abusive

Guns have never defended political liberty, the lack of gun laws has defended liberty.

As Senator Cruz so aptly pointed out to Sen. Feinstein, if we are going to ban certain types of guns, when do we start restricting specified books, or targeting certain speech? and where does it stop?

Many on the left have asked “why does anyone need a military rifle or bazooka?” But I ask, what is the harm in someone owning one? If I have an M1 Tank parked on my front lawn, who have I harmed? Owning an inanimate object is harmless. I am living evidence of this, I have owned a military rifle for over 20 years and killed NO ONE. The rifle is not the problem, its abuse is the problem. It appears that to the liberal mind preemptive enforcement should be the rule of law, so we’ll lock you up tomorrow because you might commit a crime.

Perhaps we should take a similar tact toward other things. Money has historically been used to finance crime, so maybe we need to outlaw money, people have been murdered over possession of property so perhaps we need to make ownership of property illegal, and everything will belong to everyone. I’ll be over to take and use your car to run around town, tomorrow.

Posted by ACRScout | Report as abusive

What a biased piece of trash article.

“Machine gun”? Really?

You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Posted by MarvLS | Report as abusive

If you can stand by your comment that, “personal guns do not defend political liberties,” then logically you are obligated to agree that government owned guns have never suppressed political liberties. A statement easily usurped by the history of U.S. military involvement in the founding of America itself by displacing hundreds of thousands of Native and Mexicans Americans, as well as countries like Haiti, Vietnam, N. & S. Korea, The Philippines, Eritrea, Somalia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and on and on. An armed citizenry balances the threat of power between individual rights and federal totalitarianism. After the individual freedoms of speech and religion (thought and belief), the necessary right to “bear arms” guards against oppression by preserving autonomy. It ensures the capacity of any and every individual to choose between a totalitarian conformity in spite of moral agreement, and the right to individually defend the humanity of “I.”
So forfeit your individual autonomy, your humanity, if you like, but as for me, “beyond a certain point of development, on this same basis, it is more important for a people to have guns in hand than to eat more than the year before.” (Adolfo Gilly, 1965)

Posted by geraldh78 | Report as abusive

The Japanese did’t invade the west coast right after the Pearl Harbor attack for fear they would not be able too conquer it, too many privately owned guns.

Posted by Jim66 | Report as abusive

Wow, just…wow. To even ask the question “Since when have personal guns been used to defend political liberty?” is ludicrous. The United States exists precisely because private individuals took up their personal firearms against their political overlords. The USA is now THE superpower of the world (for how much longer is anyone’s guess). Need we say more?

Posted by kp3ft | Report as abusive

The ignorance of the citizens and the media about the Militia is mind boggling. Most of the male commentators here do not know that they have been, now are, or will become members of their state and Federal Militias! The Organized Militia is the National Guard. The Unorganized Militia are most of the rest of us, with some exceptions, in Alaska ages 17-45. It also includes state defense forces (they are not National Guard). In Alaska, as in many states, women are in the Militia. Unless the state provides weapons, members are responsible for acquiring, at their own expense, keeping and bearing, suitable weapons. Most should have infantry weapons, preferably the same, or similar, using the same caliber cartridges, as the active military. As applied to the Militia, the pending proposals to ban assault weapons is unconstitutional. So is a ban on high capacity magazines.

I suggest state laws should specify these rights and duties. I also suggest that former members of the Militia, the active military and the National Guard be authorized to keep and bear infantry and similar weapons. The background check system should be beefed up and states be required or encouraged to improve the mental health system and facilities, and report the dangerous patients to the check system. Also beef up the reporting system of felons, violent misdemeaners, and domestic violence perpetrators. Many, many who should be on the list are not. The gun show loophole is a minor problem, since criminals will not buy weapons at gun shows, and buy only in private sales or gain by stealing.

Also, the “Project Exile” program, putting criminals who use firearms away for an additional 5 years because of the federal crime, should be a nationwide joint federal-sate program. It is demonstrably effective, as in Richmond.If more safety is needed for cosmetics, provide for training, as is common for those applying for concealed carry licenses, as a condition for purchasing infantry weapons, rifles, automatic pistols (such as Colt .45’s) and revolvers.
For many years, even in New York, many high schools had rifle teams, and students carried rifles openly on subways.

Posted by BarryWJackson | Report as abusive

I am rather taken aback about President George H. W. Bush denouncing his membership in the NRA. I can not ignor that the NRA types spend so much time attacking the elected black President of The United States of America. After all it was President reagan that fostered the Brady Gun Bill. An attack on the second admendment. And it was President G. W. Bush that arthored the Patriot Act. An attack on the privacy of all American citizens. I have thouroughly enjoyed reading all the educated comments here. I am one that also dont hunt nor store massive ammounts of military assault weapons. An honorable veteral of 3 wars and comfortably retired. A lifetime democrat. My comment is the NRA is sick in its demand that loosenuts should be able to purchase guns at gun shows with no background checks. I have no idea what country they came from, but the NRA needs to be also exposed and remedy for them should be forthcomming. Not one American votes for NRA. Its a special interest group. Ans a lobbiest in my government. I dare say they should not be afforded 1 more minute than I am afforded in the offices of my government.

Posted by usa1electrician | Report as abusive

Piers Morgan is right; the gun nuts and the vile NRA are wrong.

Posted by Mike113 | Report as abusive

Guns help to insure liberty by there existence. If you don’t thing the Government is afraid of an armed populace you are wrong. If you don’t understand that a government that is afraid of it’s people is the kindest and least abusive government than please study history.

Posted by stephenhurty | Report as abusive

The fact that you’re crapping your pants is WHY the 2nd exists.To keep bolshi fellators like you,in check.Got it?

Posted by Htos1 | Report as abusive

More guns=more gun related deaths and injuries. It ain’t rocket science .

Posted by Cycledoc2 | Report as abusive

I guess position determines perspective on this issue. I personally have no desire to own or play with an assault rife. Non whatsoever. To me they are not even fun. they are loud, obtrusive and more than a little unnerving to hear going off. But i also don’t worry about myself being off the wall crazy and doing something reactionary and destructive to good people. Sure, I have my self protection hand gun. Sure I purchased it legally and went through the training to handle it. Sure i also applied for a license to carry/conceal and went through that background check too. I certainly don’t feel infringed upon at all. Thank you for checking me out and trusting my ability to handly myself and my personal protection piece.
To any of you freaks and nut cases out there hell bent on fighting stronger background checks and cross system flaggings for mental cases, shame on you. Why would you ever want there to be an easy way to get a gun into the wrong person’s hands? Why would you not want everyone who purchases a gun from a retail sale site to have that simple check done on them?

Posted by QuidProQuo | Report as abusive

“Automatic Weapons”?

The ignorance of journalists when it comes to firearms never ceases to amaze.

Along with the numerous factual errors in the article, the personal attacks on various pro-Constitution personalities was unnecessary, but what’s a good hit piece without taking some cheap shots at those that disagree with your brand of advocacy “journalism” without them?

Along with using the term “gun-nuts”

Obviously, the author knows little to nothing about firearms. Trying to use reason, logic or facts with these types is useless.

I hope you never find yourself in a position where you need to defend yourself and your loved one’s against a home-invasion robbery or similar – because if you do, you will be wishing for the lightest, most accurate firearm possible with as many bullets as needed to put an end to any bad intentions.

Every self-defense situation is different. There is no “one size fits all” gun or magazine capacity for every scenario, but it’s better to have more bullets than less bullets, and to have the best firearm that you can budget, including practicing with on a regular basis and that is lightweight and modular.

The gun-grabbers are basically saying “We don’t want to take your guns” but they just want to dictate what type of guns and their bullet capacity.

It’s like saying that you’re not for Prohibition of alcohol, but people should only be allowed to drink Beer, and no more than six of them on any given 24-hour period.

This incremental banning of guns and the subsequent violation of our civil rights has gone too far – you gun grabbers are not going to take any more of our rights and any politician that attempts to do so will be mercilessly booted out of office.

Got it?

But keep wasting time with your biased, advocacy journalism in an attempt to turn public opinion. Keep dancing in the blood and on the graves of crime victims.
It only shows your true, despicable colors.

Posted by Observent1 | Report as abusive

The Battel of Athens, GA, where armed WWII veterans and citizens ousted a corrupt sheriff who seized ballot boxes on the nigth of an election, is one example: thens_(1946)

Mr. Wapshott went far out of his way to smear and demonize those who oppose gun control in the article as crazed, paranoid lunatics so I think I can guess where his loyalities lie.

Posted by Ezkaton | Report as abusive

I wonder which part of “well regulated” in the Second Amendment the crazies don’t understand.

BTW: When Barack Hussein comes for their stockpiled gold, bottled water and canned food, it won’t be with “horses and bayonets” but drones and tanks, against which their guns are ineffective.

Posted by Jozi | Report as abusive

Instead of casting a broad net over all law abiding citizens, why not ascertain what it was that makes these young shooters get into a rage, go berserk and start killing people?

A damn good start would be for Connecticut to release the toxicology results of Adam Lanza to determine if he was on those mind altering drugs like “Abilify” etc that have a long list of deadly side effects.

It is an outrage that they are making new laws that affect citizens and are not telling us the whole story.

Posted by theagitator | Report as abusive

How many armed guards per day does Mr. Morgan have keeping the unwashed American masses away from his office and apartment? I suggest he very publicly remove them. Hypocrite.

Posted by u238e | Report as abusive

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT: Several of the framers of Constitution and supporters of what became the 2nd Amendment — Jefferson, Adams, Webster, Mason, and others made it clear that they were talking about an armed citizenry when they talked of militias. Mason said it was the “whole people”. Adams said “those who trade liberty for security have neither.” Jefferson said that those who destroy their guns will become slaves of those who do not. Another founding father, Washington said “Firearms stand next to the Constitution itself” and that they were the “teeth” in guaranteeing Americans’ liberty and independence. Madison warned that Americans being armed “forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition” — both criminals and invaders. The 2nd Amendment was part of the Bill of Rights that were the first 10 Amendments enacted as a group “that would spell out the immunities of INDIVIDUAL citizens.”
SOCIETAL ISSUES: In our spread-out society, Women and the elderly can safely live alone and walk down the street because the mugger/burglar/rapist can never be sure they own a handgun — even when they don’t. Hand guns are frequently used for self defense — usually just showing the gun deters the crime. A Justice Dept. study (“Guns in America”) found that Americans use firearms in self defense an average 1.5 million times a year.
Violent crime has dropped 25% since gun ownership was made legal in Washington DC — similar to the experiences of most states that have passed “right to carry” laws. Australia has suffered a 51% increase in robberies and significant increases in other violent crimes, including an 16% rise in manslaughters and 24% rise in assaults since it passed its gun ban. Handgun crime INCREASED 40% in the first two years after England established its gun ban in 1997. The bad guys will always have firearms (even if made in back–yard machine shops) — the rest that follow the law become sitting ducks.
There will be the outrage from time to time when a crackpot gets a gun. Take their guns away, and they will just use automobiles, fertilizer bombs, pipe bombs, fire bombs, a can of gasoline, poison gas, and even kill multiple victims with just a knife — as they already have.
However, the majority of gun deaths each year are from suicide — and those people would simply use another method. Automobiles kill far more people each year. Meanwhile dictatorships in the modern era have been far worse mass murderers — Nazi Germany, the pogroms and gulags of Soviet Russia, Baath Socialist Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the Killing Fields of Communist Cambodia, the Cultural Revolution in Communist China, and the list goes on. In many instances, one of the first steps of the dictatorships was to seize all firearms from the citizens. It can’t happen here? It can if they disarm the citizens.

Posted by quixter | Report as abusive

What many of my fellow gun owners miss is that we have a recivism problem that has made our neighborhoods prisons. Our criminal justice system is overcrowded and mostly inert. I advocate arms ownership and have guns myself, however I disagree with those who think it’s the key to defending liberty. It is an important element but not the most important. You also need laws that do not change with the arbitrary whim of an elected body. Those laws must guarantee the oppression and eradication of those who do not value the liberty of their neighbors. Habitual thieves, rapists i.e. true criminals (see God’s commandments in the Bible)should not not stay in prison that their victims are paying for. Nor should they roam free so they can pick up a weapon and start murdering people. They should be put to death. A society with no criminal justice system or one that rewards criminals like ours with only resemble hell on earth.

Posted by Swingdaddy | Report as abusive

First, Mr. Wapshott hasn’t been following the financial news very well. The announcement by Cerberus that they were going to divest themselves of Freedom Group turns out to have been more of a ploy by Stephen Feinberg to take the company over himself.

Second, the Second Amendment does not grant a right, it confirms a pre-existing right from a British law enacted in 1688 which guaranteed the right of the citizen to possess arms for their protection and to be used in service to the Crown.

You can’t have a militia without armed citizens which is why the “militia” clause is dependent on the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Third, the current hysteria is over a tiny number of incidents. I am not trying to downplay the tragic loss of life, but I would note that millions of Americans, including many with far more firepower than Adam Lanza had, have not engaged in these incidents. The use of military-style firearms in these incidents seems to be caused by a “copycat” factor, as such weapons were rarely used before 2012. Sadly, we not only have psychotic killers, we have unoriginal psychotic killers.

FYI: The weapon used most frequently in spree killings, school shootings, etc., is a firearm chambered for .22 long rifle.

Fourth, and most important, the legislation that has been introduced would have had no impact on the killings. Not one victim would still be alive had all these laws been in effect. Adam Lanza stole the weapons he used; he had already committed four felonies by the time he arrived at Sandy Hook. James Holmes, Nadal Hasan and Jared Loughner would still have been able to purchase their firearms because they had not met the standard for being declared a prohibited person on mental illness grounds. William Spengler, Eric Harris and Dylan Kleborg had others buy their guns for them, a violation of existing federal law, and Harris and Kleborg bought an automatic pistol in an illegal deal just as many criminals do.

What needs to be understood by everyone is, that in spite of the inflammatory reporting, the Bureau of Justice Statistics says gun crime has been declining in the U.S. for years. Last year, the rate of homicides by firearm was the lowest it has been since John F. Kennedy was President. This in spite of the fact gun sales are through the roof and ammunition factories are running around the clock and still can’t keep up with the demand.

Posted by TexasBill | Report as abusive

Mere propaganda

Posted by alen7 | Report as abusive

“Since when have personal guns been used to defend political liberty?”

Perfect headline. It exposes the sheer idiocy of the gun lobby. Do gun nuts go out and project their freedom or our freedom…no, they go hunting.

Did they put on the uniform of our country after 911 or did the go hunting?

Did they put on the uniform of country when we waged war in Iraq or did they go hunting?

Where’s this protecting freedom in their game playing?

If you like to hunt, go for it, but don’t be obnoxious enough to think you’re protecting my freedom.

Posted by zzpat | Report as abusive

Wappshott = ignorant government propaganda tool.

Posted by libertygal | Report as abusive

To parade Jones or his ilk as representative of gun owners is simply sophistry. It is intended to misrepresent as is the wont of the CNN, which is entertainment, not journalism.

Guns can be used for good or bad. In some cases they save lives in other cases they take them. The majority of our gun deaths are suicides, Many others are the acts of criminals and crazies that virtually no legislation can prevent.

This whole recent dialogue about guns is knee jerk stupidity. None of the proposals I see will take guns from those who do the most damage to others. The truth is that most gun owners are responsible an don’t injure their fellow law abiding citizens. So ignore the extremists on both sides and take a look at the data on gun violence and how you can actually do something that has a chance of reducing it. Forget preventing the over 60% that are suicides, they’ll find another way. Forget restricting carry permits to honest people since it’s had no effect on gun violence where it’s been loosened.

Let’s have someone on Piers Morgan who advocates that we take all guns away from everyone (which still would not keep them form people who don’t obey laws) and see how silly that looks. I guess you’d have to substitute someone with some capacity for logic for Piers.

Posted by BlancaP | Report as abusive

Hmmm….. I seem to recall my paternal grandfather and both of my paternal great-grandfathers being involved in a shooting war against the KKK. One of my paternal great-grandfathers had the temerity to denounce the Klan from his pulpit at a time when every other Protestant minister in such deep southern states as NJ, Indiana, and Oregon was rushing to join what was in those days described as “America’s largest civic organization for men.”

The Klan, America’s first national organization to promote “gun control” was highly annoyed when they discovered that some people refuse to go peacefully to their lynching or flogging. Being shot at by intended victims was definitely not part of the Klan agenda when they rode out to terrorize Blacks, Catholics, Jews, union members, people who looked at them the wrong way, and anyone else they disliked.

The phrase “Saturday Night Special” was originally “Nwordtown Saturday Night Special.”

So, yeah, I guess the Second Amendment had a great deal to do with my great-grandfather still being a live to exercise his First Amendment Rights.

And before you indulge in ignorant sophistry and suggest that the police could have helped, you should probably be aware that the Klan controlled the governments in many states, was composed of the affluent and politicians – not the “ignorant rednecks” – and that in many areas the police chief or sheriff was also a high ranking officer in the Klan, joined in this status by local, state, and federal politicians. Nor were they limited to the southern US as they were in control of the three rather northern states I mentioned above.

Harry Truman and the late Senator Byrd both were Klan politicians and Klan community leaders. A rather significant proportion of both their careers is rather shocking to the modern eye.

Posted by TheYakimaKid | Report as abusive

if you had an undefeatable laser weapon, you’d probably FEEL safer, but stats show that gun is more risk of accident than benefit of having a successful showdown with a bad guy.

Posted by captainhurt | Report as abusive

The reason the middle class needs guns is protect themselves once the Republicans take over and the rich are given free reign to take everything in sight.

Posted by scrumble | Report as abusive

@yakimakid -and we should all remember that Lincoln was a republican and that the KKK was an organization founded by the democrat party, as were all those governors standing on the courthouse steps vowing to never let integration happen in there state. Bravo for pointing out tat the KKK was not just a southern thang, and remember that integration occurred in the North many years after it had occurred in the south!

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

This article is pathetic beyond belief for its “bleeding heart” tone and false arguments.

The fact is that ANYONE who believes in the platitudes of the government, or that of the wealthy class which it represents, is a fool.

Even the founders of this country knew that a strong central government would represent a very real threat to everyone else in this country, which is why the US Constitution was written with a “STATES RIGHTS” viewpoint.

Their fears became reality only 86 years later when the northern states illegally invaded the southern states in a military coup that placed the present illegal government in power.

Now this same illegal federal government wants the rest of us to disarm so it can complete the job.

NONE of the federal laws passed since the Civil War are legal, and we have an army of occupation.

We would be insane to give up one of the few remaining rights of the original US Constitution given to us by our founding fathers simply because the federal government is slowly losing control over this nation.

The 2nd amendment is designed as a curb on excessive federal power, pure and simple.

When the illegal federal government presently in power resigns and turns its power back to the states where it rightfully belongs, this problem will cease to exist, pure and simple.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

I see a lot of lying, paranoid gun owners, who interpret any law to suit themselves.
There isn’t a viable intelligence in any of them!

Posted by glowbug | Report as abusive

I agree with swingdaddy as I also own weapons. The few “nut jobs” who committed these mass murders do not speak for the majority of owners. Lanza, Klebolt & Holmes are NOT normal owners. Any psychotic can kill. Speck butchered 9 nurses with a knife. McVeigh killed 167 & wounded 600 with a load of fertilizer. It’s the person, no the weapon that kills. Beware NYC, Piers Morgan is Very full of fertilizer & could explode. Why don’t they send him to ISIS and bring back Larry King. win-win

Posted by Doc62 | Report as abusive

Ohhh another British interests in American laws and our ways of life. Follow your countrymen mate, don’t worry about us…We are doing pretty good over here.

Posted by Macklemac | Report as abusive

Fails to mention these things about the Waco massacre: (1) the charges Koresh was wanted on related to possession of simple guns, which law forming the basis for same violates the 2A; (2) the bogus sex assault charges were trumped up lies – complete unsubtantiated nonsense – simply a demonizing attack; (3) Koresh went to town all the time, and interacted with law enforcement numerous times on those trips; they could have arrested him any time but the fedgov chose to instead go through this high profile attack on all the people there, instead of just arrested their target Koresh, and (4) most importantly, this author fails to mention that the fire which killed most of the Davidians was intentionally set by govn’t agents, and that the video footage shows agents firing into the only escape door, preventing escape – the feds wanted to, and did, murder those people, essentially for “being weird” and “having a .50 cal rifle”.

Posted by UnlicnsedDremel | Report as abusive

The first gun control laws in the US were passed by knuckle-dragging, racist politicians to prevent black citizens from acquiring guns to protect their lives and what little property they had from corrupt lawmen and lynch mobs. America’s first “armies” were militias equipped, not by the government, but with private guns. The answer to the headline’s question is “always.” We can and should debate this issue. But the first step is going to be to discover some intellectual honesty and stop pretending sensationalists like Piers Morgan and his doofus guests are in any way representative of average gun owners.

Posted by jaxkincaid | Report as abusive

“What sort of country, he asked, cannot defend its schoolchildren from mad people with automatic weapons?”

THE SORT of country filled with libtards who whine, cry, wail, spew, but REFUSE to put their money where their MOUTHS ARE.

NRA is powerful because their members pay dues and donate to the cause.

“Gun control lobby” is a bunch of whining cry babies who won’t spend a dime to buy congress off like the NRA has.

BLOOMBERG is an outright LIAR, he pledged $25 million to “fight the NRA” and hasn’t given a penny or started anything. He knows his Zionism speak out one side of his mouth completely contradicts his anti gun speech from the other side of his mouth (other fork of his tongue).

Posted by Factoidz | Report as abusive

I know a bunch of people in Ferguson that wish they had a gun

Posted by tracing | Report as abusive

AK47s and others of that type can hardly be used for “home protection,” as is so commonly offered as an excuse for ownership. Any weapon that can wipe out dozens of people with a few bursts of gunfire isn’t a defensive weapon and doesn’t belong in a civilian setting. Any screwball nowadays can get his hands on such weapons and another bloodbath is waiting to happen.

Posted by act1 | Report as abusive

I’m amazed that Mr. Wapshott doesn’t understand the deterrent value of weapons ready but not used. This is such a basic principle that I must assume that Mr. Wapshott is either blatantly ignorant of history *or* he is being deliberately deceptive in his reasoning.

Posted by OldGeekVet | Report as abusive

“Since when have personal guns been used to defend political liberty?”

Only since the dawn of man! Only a fool ultimately leaves his most precious liberty solely in the hands of a government – ANY government. THAT is why the Second Amendment exists. The Founding Fathers were not talking about “home defense” nor “hunting”, nor a government-run standing professional military service. They were talking about CITIZENS which, for you who ignore history WERE the “Militia”. Interesting how even the liberal media nowadays call armed citizen groups “Militia” (oh, crackpots too, of course). But, we don’t want to confuse liberals with the facts – their minds are already made up!

Posted by beofaction | Report as abusive

To answer the question in the title of the article:since before 1776.

Posted by davidhi | Report as abusive