Idaho set to allow guns on state campuses

March 1, 2014 • 8:49 am

There are three issues that are hot-button topics on this site: topics that, when I give my opinion, I know I’ll encounter a lot of push-back. They are, of course, Israel, free will, and gun control.  And on the last one I’m pretty sure my position will never budge, for I see the ready availability of guns as something we simply don’t need in our society, and a major cause of mayhem.

Yes, I know the Second Amendment is used to justify unlimited gun possession (often including semiautomatic or automatic weapons), but that second amendment reads as follows (this is the version ratified by the states):

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

And I know the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted that as allowing private gun ownership, but why must I agree with everything they adjudicate? In this case, I agree with Garry Wills that the initial clause was meant to justify gun ownership for a militia, and not to allow everyone to own guns willy-nilly (see Wills’s cogent argument in his New York Review of Books piece, “To keep and bear arms“).

Today the Idaho state legislature is poised to receive a bill that will allow “concealed carry” (handguns or other weapons that are not visible) on state campuses. (The bill was passed by committee and sent to the House yesterday, which almost certainly means it will be approved by the entire legislature.)

ABC News reports on the bill:

Idaho lawmakers were expected to pass a bill Friday that would allow concealed carry permit holders to arm themselves on college and university grounds, despite opposition to the measure from multiple police chiefs and leaders of all eight of the state’s public colleges.

The legislation, which passed the Senate 25-10 earlier this month, allows retired law enforcement officers and those with Idaho’s new enhanced concealed carry permit to bring their firearms onto campus. Concealed weapons would still be barred from dormitories, stadiums and concert halls.

If it passes, Idaho would join six other states with provisions — either from lawmakers or dictated by court decisions — that allow concealed carry on campus: Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Utah is the only state with a specific law that forbids universities from banning concealed carry at any of its 10 public institutions.

I have to say that I see no justification for allowing guns on campus—or anywhere else in public in the hands of private citizens. The British model has always seemed optimal to me: some people can have guns, but that is subject to very strict licensing regulation.  And there is virtually no private possession of handguns.

In response to this ridiculous legislation, Idaho biology professor Greg Hampikian (who happens to also be the founder of the Idaho Innocence Project) wrote a sarcastic and biting editorial in the New York Times, “When may I shoot a student?“. A small excerpt:

Knee-jerk reactions from law enforcement officials and university presidents are best set aside. Ignore, for example, the lame argument that some drunken frat boys will fire their weapons in violation of best practices. This view is based on stereotypical depictions of drunken frat boys, a group whose dignity no one seems willing to defend.

The problem, of course, is not that drunken frat boys will be armed; it is that they are drunken frat boys. Arming them is clearly not the issue. They would cause damage with or without guns. I would point out that urinating against a building or firing a few rounds into a sorority house are both violations of the same honor code.

In terms of the campus murder rate — zero at present — I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Which is why encouraging guns on campus makes so much sense. Bad guys go where there are no guns, so by adding guns to campus more bad guys will spend their year abroad in London. Britain has incredibly restrictive laws — their cops don’t even have guns! — and gun deaths there are a tiny fraction of what they are in America. It’s a perfect place for bad guys.

Who’s behind this stupid law? Republicans, of course, and they’re legislating in the face of public sentiment. City Desk reports:

Following six hours of testimony from scores of Idaho citizens testifying nearly four-to-one in opposition, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted 11 to 3 in the late afternoon of Feb. 28 to approve the so-called “guns on campus” bill, sending it the full Idaho House—the final hurdle before the measure presumably heads to the governor’s office for his ultimate decision.

Friday’s committee vote was strictly along party lines, with the body’s 11 Republicans all voting in favor of Senate Bill 1254 and three Democrats voting no.

How much more evidence do we need to understand that Republicans are keeping this country dysfunctional?

h/t: Tom

185 thoughts on “Idaho set to allow guns on state campuses

      1. If God didn’t want you to carry guns, he wouldn’t have invented action movies that make carrying them look so cool and masculine.

        1. If God hadn’t thought that people would be gullible enough to believe what they see in action movies is true, he wouldn’t have invented the Bible.

  1. everybody with a gun and ALL NRA members should be required to attend militia practice for 2 consecutive weeks every summer in Louisiana and likewise every winter in Minnesota.
    Of course the right to bear arms was intended for service in a militia! It certainly can be read that way. I am NOT advocating it of course, but the psychotic gun selfishness in the USA will not change until enough relatives of celebrities and politicians have been harmed by guns. Though presidential assassinations don’t seem to bother the gun nuts….

  2. I think Canada has good firearm laws. Among liberals in Canada (which are probably like communists to Americans ;)), I am seen as an outlier because I don’t believe in the outright ban of all firearms and I have a Possession Only licence. I find a lot of Canadians are unaware how strict our rules are and think we have no firearm laws or that we have the same laws as the US.

    For a good run down of what firearms are restricted and what are not as well as (up the page) what this means as far as transporting and storing take a look here. Note that some hand guns are prohibited while all hand guns are restricted (meaning you have to transport it in a locked box, can only go from point a to point b with it locked in a box, etc.

    I wish the US would enact similar legislation. A lot of illegal firearms seep into Canada & those people using them don’t exactly follow any laws regarding firearms or anything else.

    1. Out of curiosity, what is a “Possession Only license”? It sounds like you can own a gun but not load it or shoot it or something.

      1. Pretty much. I was a grandfathering program that I believe has been abandoned. You can own the guns you have but you can’t buy new ones. More here.

        1. I don’t think our guns laws here in Canada are very strict at all. They are strict compared to the United States but are far less strict than most other western nations. I have both a PAL(possession and acquisition license) and an RPAL(handgun license). This means that I can buy as many long rifles and ammunition as I like and I can shoot them and carry them anywhere hunting is allowed, which is almost everywhere in Canada. I have a lot of guns and a lot of freedom as to where I can shoot them. In many ways, Canada is a gun owners paradise—As long as you don’t care about handguns and fully automatic rifles.
          Handguns are another story completely. They are in the restricted category which means that I have very little freedom when it comes to where I can carry them and shoot them. In fact, they can only be used at registered gun ranges here in Canada. I can, however, buy a handgun, with relative ease here once I’ve got my RPAL or restricted license. We also have severe restrictions on clip sizes unlike our American brethren. Personally, I think our hand gun laws here in Canada are far too restrictive. I would like to see our government remove handguns from the restricted category and treat them like long rifles.

          1. I think the laws are just strict enough – they don’t remove guns from everyone but they tightly control it and restrict the weapons you are allowed to have. There are some stupid choices like prohibiting the weapon used in the L’école Polytechnique shooting simply because it was a gun used to do a really bad thing.

            As for long rifles, there are restrictions on how you are licensed that I think are good enough. You take your test, you have your background check – if you have an ex spouse, the RCMP has to get written approval from that person. I think this part is weird but, whatever and you discharge that rifle where you are allowed to (i.e.: not in urban or suburban areas. I think this is completely fair to those who want to use rifles for targets or hunting.

            As for handguns, I think the laws here are reasonable as well. There is no outright ban, but the strict regulation prohibits carrying a weapon in public. You still get to use your gun at a range so you can fire your gun but you don’t get to carry it.

    1. However, Liberty does ban any display of romantic affection apart from handholding. So at Liberty you can carry a gun but not kiss your girlfriend. I think that nicely encapsulates what’s wrong with Liberty U.

  3. “How much more evidence do we need to understand that Republicans are keeping this country dysfunctional?” I think a better question to ask is this: How much more evidence do we need to conclude that the inmates have gotten the keys to the asylum?

    I read this story in today’s newspaper. It came as no surprise to me whatsoever. In my State of Ohio, and in many other States as well, it’s perfectly legal to carry a loaded weapon into any saloon. If that isn’t a perfect recipe for disaster I don’t know what is.

  4. Perhaps the problem is not with “carry,” but with “concealed.” I can’t opt out of the lecture hall, for example, when a gun-toting student or professor is there to endanger me. I can’t see he or she is packing.

    So let me suggest the unconcealed carry permit, where you may bring a gun to class, but you must also be naked. This compromise will achieve transparency, and probably reduce the number of catastrophes.

  5. It is the centerpiece of Republican electoral strategy to keep this country dysfunctional. What would they do without guns, the war on Christmas, anti-gay bigotry, abortion, climate scientist conspiracies, and hatred of the n****r, Kenyan, socialist Nazi in the White House? The plutocrats (many, maybe most, of whom couldn’t care less this red meat garbage) couldn’t win elections for dogcatcher if people paid attention to the plunder they’re busily engaged in.

  6. I notice that most mass killings occur in gun free zones. When I first went to the University of Texas, in 1953, my roommate in the dorm had his 22 rifle in the closet. We did not know that guns were not allowed on campus. When he found out, he took his 22 home.

    1. Most of Canada is a gun free zone, why are there few mass killings?

      In Canada, there have been three school shootings with a death toll greater than 4 since 1902, the last was in 1992. In the US, there have been three since 2012. In Europe there have been 9 since 1913 (11 in the US since 2000).

      One would think the guns are the problem, not the gun free zones.

      1. Canada isn’t a gun free zone in the sense that firearms are still allowed, they are just strictly controlled. Also, police are armed and their ammunition (at least in Ontario) includes hollow tip points which I personally find bad because of the damage such ammunition does and that it is banned in military use so why is it not in civilian use?

        1. But we are a gun free zone in the sense that we don’t have CCW laws. I did phrase is badly, I should have said “Canadian schools are a gun free zone, are there few mass killings?”

          1. Or probably a better way to phrase it is Canadians are not permitted to carry hand guns, concealed or not. Handguns are classified as restricted firearms in Canada. This means you have to apply for a licence for a restricted weapon and you have to pass a course in addition to the regular safety course. To get an idea of why few law abiding people bother with hand guns, here is what Canadian laws require. I like these laws & I think they work well. I wish we had stiffer penalties for the baddies that carry illegal weapons though.

            By no means does your restricted firearms certificate allow you to carry a hand gun. Carrying a handgun in Canada without authorization is very very very illegal. You won’t be allowed to carry unless you have a job that requires it

            Further, and this is something Canadians often don’t get – all restricted firearms (like handguns) must be registered. I mention this because of the outcry over the long gun registry being cancelled because people thought that you could own any weapon and it wasn’t registered. I’m pretty sure all guns are registered with the RCMP anyway on purchase.

            Even if you have all your registration and paperwork in order, you can’t fire that handgun on your personal property, even if you live on a farm. You can only fire it at an RCMP approved firing range. To get it to the firing range, you need to have a Authorization To Transport. The ATT lets you move your restricted weapon directly from your home and to the range. No leaving it in your car while you do other things. Also, to transport it, it has to be unloaded, secured with a trigger lock, placed inside a locked container, and said container secured (like in a locked trunk)with ammo locked up as well.

            1. As I said above Diana, I absolutely hate our handgun laws here in Canada. The restrictions are complete nonsense. Once we have jumped through all the background checks and courses we should have the right to carry and fire handguns anywhere we can carry and fire long rifles.

              1. For what reason though? No one hunts with a handgun and you can target shoot at a range.

              2. The reason is simple: for predator protection. For example, I ran into a cougar a few weeks back. There are grizzly bears and wolves here as well. Usually in grizzly country I’ll carry a rifle or shotgun, but I’d also like to carry something more compact and lightweight from time to time.
                I don’t like being treated like a criminal even though I’ve never been anything but a responsible gun owner. Our handgun laws are ridiculous and unnecessary; an over reaction after the shootings at l’école polytechnique in 1989. The background checks and clip size limitations are good measures and I’m all for that, but the rest of the restrictions are completely unnecessary infringements on my freedoms.

              3. You make a compelling hand gun case. Good luck getting that changed though. I have a close family friend who lives in bear country. AFAIK he carries his rifle with him when he’s out just in case.

        2. I’m not sure, but I guess the reason hollow point bullets are used is because they tend to expend their energy in first thing (person, in this case) they hit. Other bullets (of the same caliber and load) may go through the intended target and maintain enough energy to damage something (or someone) else. That, of course, assumes that the shooter can hit what he/she thinks they are shooting at rather than an innocent bystander.

    2. “I notice that most mass killings occur in gun free zones.”

      But I bet they occur by unregulated guns, no?

      Anyway, what is that supposed to mean? Where is the statistics you refer to, and how does it correlate with human occupancy, the utilization by victims and by mass murderers et cetera? E.g. UK seems to be a gun free zone, but most of its mass killings happens in – well, duh – UK.

    3. “I notice that most mass killings occur in gun free zones.”

      Yeah, like schools. What we need is for jocks and dweebs and the various cliques to carry in our schools. That way, gun violence will never happen.

  7. There’s a strong tie to religious belief in the “right to bear arms” movement. Evangelical Christians interpret the constitution, or at least the parts they approve of, in the same way they interpret the Bible: absolute and unchanging. They are fighting a rearguard action against the rise of secular rationalism. The government has fallen into the hands of the liberal atheists and is thus the enemy. We must all arm ourselves against the encroachment of secular state.

    Harmful as the proliferation of guns is, the worst consequence of this libertarianism is that it plays into the hands of the “free enterprise” capitalists, who use the political power handed them by the Christian zealots to appropriate the wealth of society. Thus Christianity has become a creed of individualism, violence, and greed, a total contradiction of the gospel of sharing and love promoted by Jesus.

  8. This is when it is embarrassing to admit that I live in Boise. It’s a beautiful state, as all the pictures that Jerry posts on the site from Stephen Barnard show, but man is it conservative when it comes to politics and religion. Not all of us here are crazy though.

    I work at the U of I and you know, I don’t remember sitting at work yesterday terrified and wishing that I had a gun to protect myself. Guess I was just lucky to survive till the weekend.

    1. I’ve often wondered about businesses in these states – do they typically tell people they can’t bring their guns to work? I wouldn’t want to be in a heated discussion with someone who was packing heat.

      1. I worked for a company that had branches in Texas, and currently deal with a company in another CCW state. In both locations, it is company police that you cannot bring firearms into the office.

        I asked, “But, what if you get attacked between your car and the front door? How will you be protected?”

      2. Before I worked for the university I worked for HP in Boise. They didn’t allow firearms on their property. Can’t speak to the general case though.

    2. I live in Lewiston, ID. The company I work for strictly prohibits the possession of firearms while on company property either by an employee or a customer. Just a few months ago i had one of the biggest laughs of my life as a police officer escorted a customer, openly carrying a pistol, out of the building, screaming his 2nd Ad rights were being violated, and the officer explaining that the 2nd Ad ends at the company property line and the company was not a part of the Fed government. I know this customer and he is a capital (L) Libertarian which made it even more of a laugh

      The question is, whether the U of I and other colleges will comply, yes I know they are state institutions, but given the incidents of gun violence that have taken place in Moscow, ID, home of the U of I, I don’t think the community much less the U of I will allow firearms on campus.

  9. I do not oppose private gun possession per se, but guns should be kept out of hands of children and mentally unstable persons. For gun licensing the same principle as with acquiring a driver’s license: one should pass both a theoretical and a practical exam, which should be supplemented with mandatory refreshing courses each several years. Also the number of guns a person is allowed to posses should be limited.

    1. I’m not sure we have a reliable means of identifying mentally unstable persons. You often don’t know until they shoot someone for trivial cause.

      1. “I’m not sure we have a reliable means of identifying mentally unstable persons”

        Well, how about we start with membership in the GOP or Tea Party?

        1. Indeed, though we can’t identify all mentally unstable persons, it does not mean that we should allow arms to be held by those mentally unstable person we can identify.

  10. Do you think there has been a public outcry to demand that students be allowed to be armed on campus? That there is a problem on Idaho campuses whose solution cries out for more students to carry guns?


    Then why do you think the Republicans are doing this? Do you think politics might possibly play a role in this?

    “Guns, gays, and God”. That’s what gets Republicans elected. Which is a really good thing, don’t you think? Let’s help more of them get elected!

    Let’s talk more trash about banning guns! That’s the ticket, yeah, that’ll show ’em!

    Screw the Supreme Court and their multiple rulings. Screw the fact that statistically speaking, virtually zero of the guns – or gun owners – in America is ever involved in anything untoward. Screw the fact that there is no chance – not a freaking prayer – of overturning the Supreme Court rulings, or amending the Second Amendment, or enacting what would be close to being satisfying to gun control advocates that would pass constitutional muster.

    No, let’s help more bat-s**t crazy, right-wing, AGW-denying, union-busting, social program -killing Republicans get elected by the fruitless, quixotically-noble reinforcement of their campaign messages. What possible harm could that do?

    1. Do you think there has been a public outcry to demand that students be allowed to be armed on campus?

      As you note, what’s especially striking about this is how non-democratic and non-populist this process was — this is not being driven by the people these legislators supposedly represent.

    2. I just found out that the Attorney General of Idaho testified against this law. As you might imagine, holding that high office here means that he is very conservative.

    3. “Screw the fact that statistically speaking, virtually zero of the guns – or gun owners – in America is ever involved in anything untoward.”

      Statistically speaking there are some 30,000 firearm related deaths. Every single one involved a gun, and every single gun had a gun owner.

      I would suggest that both guns and gun owners are involved in ‘things untoward’.

      I would most certainly suggest that almost 1000 children in the USA are killed by firearms each year, all of which are ‘owned by gun owners’. Many guns are left lying around for children to get a hold of, which they then use to kill themselves or other children. Often regardless of the amount of firearm training they have had. Because they are children.

      Again, I would suggest that this many gun owners not treating a deadly weapon as if it was a deadly weapon is definitely ‘untoward’. I would also point out that for every child killed by a firearm, there are others wounded, facing life long physical damage.

      Firearm homicide rate in the USA is 6 times higher then Canada. The US firearm deaths are 33 times higher then the UK. The USA non firearm homicide rate is 1.4 times higher then Canada. I would suggest this is very much statistically significant.

      The US has more mass killings in six months then most other western countries have had in six years.

      No other country needs or uses armed guards, armed teachers or metal detectors for their elementary or high schools.

      At the end of the day, if you want to own firearms, that’s certainly your decision. But the overall high number of firearms in the US comes at a price. If nothing else, Americans should at least admit this. More guns equates to more gun deaths. Just as more cars means more motor vehicle deaths.

      I would also point out that the second amendment is not without limits. People reacting irrationally to rational discussion is no reason to stop rational discussion.

      1. Israel (where I live) has armed guards everywhere, and lots of people have/carry guns. But I don’t remember the kind of killings reported in the States. (Not including terrorist attacks, of course.)

        1. Number of guns per 100 population:

          Israel: 7.3
          USA: 101.0
          Japan: 0.6

          Firearm deaths per 100,000 population:
          Israel: 1.89
          USA: 10.30
          Japan: 0.30

          Anecdotal evidence is not considered to be reliable. Each of us can only see a very small part of the big picture. Even though Israel is not a very large country you cannot be aware of what is happening in every part of it, including every firearm related death and the level of firearm ownership. Your not aware of the firearm in the glove compartment of the vehicle you accidentally cut off. Or you may not know if your neighbor keeps a loaded pistol under her pillow. Or perhaps she doesn’t have any firearms at all.

          Most firearm deaths in the US get very little coverage. If the news covered every single firearm death they wouldn’t have time to cover anything else. There is on average 82 firearm deaths a day in the US.

          More guns equates to more gun deaths. Some countries will be higher, some lower, but arming citizens makes it easier to kill other citizens and that is exactly what happens.

          It’s what firearms are designed for. Killing.

  11. I seriously doubt that concealed carry will be a problem on Idaho campuses. The state has one of the lowest levels of gun control combined with one of the lowest murder rates in the nation, a pattern that is not uncommon in the rest of the country.

    In general, it seems to me that people who favor extreme levels of gun control also place an extreme value on security as opposed to individual liberty, combined with a belief that all the bad things that have happened in other countries can never happen here. I find the latter a highly dubious assumption.

    Consider, for example, the situation in Spain at the start of the civil war there in 1936. The fascists sent trucks full of armed men to the villages in the areas they controlled, and anyone suspected of liberal sympathies was shot. It would have been rather less easy if the victims had owned firearms. The only reasons the people were able to maintain control in Catalonia was their possession of weapons to begin with, and their quick seizure of any they could get their hand on following the coup. In 1948 the Jews in Israel had virtually nothing but firearms to defend themselves with initially. Without them they would have been crushed, and probably massacred. The partisans in Yugoslavia, who tied down many fascist units during the war, and eventually defeated them, had nothing but firearms to begin with, and only a very limited supply at that. The same goes for the partisans behind the Nazi lines in the Soviet Union. One could multiply such examples into the hundreds, just in the last couple of hundred years. If you seriously believe that “It can’t happen here,” gun control laws may seem more reasonable. Good luck with that. History would seem to indicate that even the most powerful empires have a limited lifespan. Beyond that, it’s hard to say what will happen in the aftermath of a nuclear war. It has been such a long time since Hiroshima that we’ve lulled ourselves into the belief that it will never happen. In fact, it’s not a question of if, but when. It may happen tomorrow, or it may happen in a thousand years, but it will happen.

    It’s interesting how the ideology of the left has changed over the years regarding gun control. Trotsky, who was, of course, the leader of the “Left Opposition” in the early Soviet Union, and who was also, in my opinion, the best and the brightest of the old Bolsheviks, was vehemently opposed to gun control, and saw its introduction as an early symptom of the victory of Stalinism. (See, for example, his “The Revolution Betrayed.”) I tend to agree with him on this one.

    1. The state has one of the lowest levels of gun control combined with one of the lowest murder rates in the nation, a pattern that is not uncommon in the rest of the country.

      The pattern that is common is that states with the lowest levels of population density have some of the lowest murder rates, but that shouldn’t be surprising, and is unrelated to level of gun restrictions.

    2. ” The state has one of the lowest levels of gun control combined with one of the lowest murder rates in the nation.”

      So if the rate of violence is so low and there isn’t really a threat, what problem exactly is this new law supposed to fix? Is this so BSU students can go duck hunting on the greenbelt between classes?

    3. Should civilians be able to possess weapons such as bazookas, shoulder-launched wire-guided weapons?

      1. No, but I did have a moment of imagining myself using a shoulder launched weapon just to shoot up in the air & not only did I look bad ass, but the whole thing looked kinda fun :).

        But no, my final answer is no.

  12. An anecdote that fascinates me:
    An American retired military man entered Canada with a loaded handgun in his vehicle and was apprehended at the border and faces fines (significant) and jail. Says he forgot it was in there.
    A Canadian woman was stopped at the border (entering the US) with a box of Kinder Eggs (chocolate eggs with a little toy inside) as they are prohibited in the US. Possible choking hazard, they say.
    Lets look at the deaths of children through addicental firearm discharge vs. deaths of kids through choking on a small toy.
    Anecdotally, we hear of more of the former than the latter.

      1. LOL! He actually wanted to pop a cap in some guys’ asses because they “aggressively” asked if he had been to the Calgary Stampede? Wow, this retired cop must have a lot of anxiety issues!

    1. Because children die from choking on small toys, we needn’t concern ourselves with children dying from accidental discharge of firearms.

  13. Yes: “the right of the people” is meant to dovetail back to the reference to the militia. After all, if the Founders intended to make a reference to ALL people, then why even mention and single out a militia in the first place? That seems like a no-brainer to me. But trying convincing Wayne LaPierre on that idea.

    If I could rule the world, only three classes of people would have access to handguns: the military, the police, and security guards. Everyone else can have their sporting rifles.

  14. A few points:

    I wonder why people (including Jerry’s post) pass so quickly by the secone and third words of the second amendment: “well regulated.”

    The “training” that holders are required to have is one day of classes and foring 80 live rounds. Every 5 years.

    The Idaho Senate testimony allowed the NRA rep 40 minutes, everyone else was limited to 3. The student representatives and Nampa law enforcement officials were not allowed to testify due to “lack of time”. They were in opposition.

    This biol will cost the state about $3 million to upgrade security forces and facilities on Idaho campuses. It outs funding for our nuclear research programs in jeprody, since firearms are current not allowed at those sites.

    Here are some of the groups who oppose this bill: the State Board of Educatin,and the presidents, student bodies, and faculty of every Idaho university and college.

    As a Professor in am evolutiary studies group at U Idaho, I am genuinely concerned for my students’ and my safety. This is not good for education and research, let alone the student demographic.


      1. One more point: the private schools in Idaho oppose this law because they don’t think the state government should be able to tell private businesses what to do on their own land.

        Forget gun control. How about a little representative democracy here!

        1. “they don’t think the state government should be able to tell private businesses what to do on their own land. ”

          Um, there are about a billion state laws that control what private businesses can do on their own land.

        2. “How about a little representative democracy here”

          They are, they represent the “christians” of South Idaho, oh and the ranchers.

          Like i tell my wife, “I won’t spit south of Lewiston during a drought”

  15. Right after the second Bush election — for which I went to Miami as a volunteer in the election protection alliance — I returned to NYC in a fury and re-wrote our founding documents, as the Second American Revolution.
    As with most work initiated in a rage, I had a wonderful time doing it. Except for the Second Amendment. I was still so mad (especially after digesting Akhil Reed Amar’s profound dissertation on the Bill of Rights, one amendment at a time) my amendment of the Second Amendment took on a sarcasm not really characteristic of the whole book.
    My 2d accepted the current reading of the amendment but supplemented it with the One Gun-One Child Act. (No, it does not involve killing a family member).
    The One Gun-One Child Act can be found in its (very brief) entirety on my web site,

  16. “I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do.”

    Best line.

  17. But how will you get rid of all those hundreds of millions of guns out there? People won’t just hand them in as they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on each weapon so they’ll have to be compensated. And this will cost the government hundreds of billions.

    1. Exactly – it will never happen. So all the hankering about getting rid of guns in the US is pointless, IMHO.

      And reading other comments above which state things like, “there’s lots of guns in country X, but not the mass shootings…” makes it more clear that guns are not the root cause of mass shootings and that mass shootings are more of a symptom of a larger problem.

      1. Indeed. I am reminded of the rush to buy more firearms every time a democrat gets elected.
        “Democrat X is going to come take our guns – we’d better go buy more guns!”

        Guns in the hands of such people, IMO, is the problem.

    2. how will you get rid of all those hundreds of millions of guns out there? People won’t just hand them in as they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on each weapon so they’ll have to be compensated. And this will cost the government hundreds of billions.

      Gosh, I don’t know…

      1. Gee wiz, 1,000 crappy guns (must have been old relics lying around the house, which were less than the value of a digital camera) were turned in by people who had no interest in them, in a city of 900,000 people.

        What were you suggesting, that we just offer digital cameras to everyone in the US and they’ll all just hand over their guns? Gosh, good idea(lism).

        1. That’s a 1000 guns that are not available to be stolen in robberies or otherwise out in the public. You asked how we might go about getting rid of guns. Gun amnesties and trade-in programs have a rather long history of success. While I agree they aren’t the only solution, they certainly can be part of one.

          I’ll also note that it is not uncommon for the state to ban other products that it considers unsafe, without any form of compensation. If you own any lead paint, for example, you are prohibited from using it, and the government doesn’t compensate you for that prohibition.

          1. And it is certainly more useful then people throwing up their hands and doing nothing.

            The basic argument is, it’s hard, so why do anything at all, even something to stop it from getting worse!

            I think that’s the most absurd argument ever. Many things humans have accomplished have been hard. Worthwhile goals often are hard. That doesn’t make them any less worthwhile.

            So yes I agree with you, gun buy backs and amnesty are a good idea and a good start.

            Two thumbs up and a big smiley face. 🙂

      2. Looking into these exchange programs even more, it’s clearly a joke. Over the course of a year, a 1,000 piece of junk guns were turned in by grandmothers and other people who ended up with them. Having not value or utility, the guns were turned over, because heck, may as well have a camera than on old rusting piece of junk lying around the house… Will the removal of these particular guns from the likely particular people help anything? Silliness.

    3. An obviously insurmountable problem. Further reason to increase the number of weapons available and all the more evidence that we should all have them handy at all times. You never know when you’ll need to kill someone these days.

      1. Indeed, you never do know when you’ll need to defend yourself. Good idea to be prepared.

        Now if I were to live in a country, like the U.K. where the population density is over 650 per sq mi, I might be more inclined to rely on law enforcement (maybe?) to help me out.

        But given I live in a rural area in the US (US pop density of less than 100 per sq mi) I’ll continue to arm myself.

        Oh yeah, I’m not a republican or a christian, lest anyone gets too excited by my choice to be a responsible gun owner.

          1. I’m not following your logic… who said gun ownership responsibility is achieved simply by asserting its existence?

            1. You assert that you are such an owner but provide no reason for anyone to recognize you as such, nor even a definition of what a “responsible” gun owner is.

              I think you would have a very difficult time finding anyone who would self-identify as an irresponsible gun owner. In 2013, thirty people a day were killed with guns. Every shooter would call himself a responsible gun owner.

              1. You could have asked what my qualifications were, but instead you make an unfounded assumption…

                Indeed, defining a responsible gun owner is open for discussion, though I think it would be a safe starting point to consider that committing violent crime with a gun to immediately revoke any status of being a ‘responsible’ gun owner – regardless of how said criminal might fancy oneself. I think that much we could agree on.

              2. A man walks into a room and declares himself to be a “responsible” gun owner. What am I supposed to make of that? I live in a town where 106 people were fatally shot last year. Those are the dead ones. The number of non-fatal injury victims is no doubt much higher.

                Now, I don’t know how many of those victims were shot by a second-offense shooter. I’m willing to wager that the great majority of them fell victim to shooters who meet your definition of responsibility: someone who owns a gun and hasn’t yet shot anyone. This is not a definition of responsibility that I find impressive and so at this point, I don’t find very much that we’re agreeing on.

                I’m truly sorry that you live in such a lawless rural area that you find gun ownership a necessity. If I were you I’d move to somewhere safer. Had you made a case for hunting, I’d be willing to think we’ve got some common ground but the self-defense argument leaves me cold. Far more people are killed and wounded by gunfire in homicides of passion and by gun accidents than are “protected”.

  18. Interpretation of the 2nd amendment
    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,the right of the people to keep and bear arms
    shall not be infringed” US Constitution, 2nd Amendment

    ANALOGY: A well educated electorate being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed

    1. Does this say that only voters have the right to read books?

    2. Does this say “well educated” only by STATE GOVERNMENT colleges

    3. Does this say that only voters who are professors or graduates of state run colleges
    have the right to read books?

    1. Dude, like that was written hundreds of years ago. The founding fathers could have never anticipated advances in reading and writing, like tablets and the internet. Therefore, not only do you 3 principles apply, but they only apply to books, like the ones made of paper and stuff. The internet and computers are out of the question!

    2. Your analog is not helpful. And your reading of the 2nd Amendment (and unfortunately that of the recent Supreme Court) simply ignores the “well regulated militia” wording. It is as if they don’t exist at all or that the words are identical to “all people”. Frankly, IMO, that’s insane.

      1. What’s also insane is this pretentious principle of “originality” – that the laws must somehow be maintained in a manner which the original authors intended. And yet, historical letters show that many of the lawmakers agreed that no law was fixed for eternity and that future generations must decide for themselves what is best for their situation.

        1. Indeed. To quote Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison on 6 Sept. 1789:

          “I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, “that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living”: that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. … On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. “

          1. They’re also the ones who put down Shayes’ Rebellion. Of course the idea of the tyranny of the dead over the living was a big thing then. Thomas Paine, arguably the most influential of the bunch, had that as one of his biggest sticks. The part you’re missing is that they would say “If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t just ignore it or pretend it means something else. We put the rules for amendments in there for a reason.”

            The first guy in this reply-chain is right. You guys really ought to read the decisions you’re criticizing, as they lay it out really well. “Well regulated” in the time meant “well-maintained” or “in proper working order”. “The militia” is identifiable with the general population. The unofficial-official guide to the Constitution, The Federalist Papers, makes this all abundantly clear as well. Come on, read your Federalist!

            You can argue in good faith that the second amendment is not a good idea.

            You cannot argue in good faith that the second amendment was not clearly intended to cover the basic standard military rifle. Yes, rather extreme, I know. Again, please note that I’m not arguing it’s a good idea. As to what the law means and protects, that is the only honest position though.

            You cannot argue in good faith that the meanings and effects of laws should change over time so radically that they mean the exact opposite of what they originally meant. What… do you think that changing public sensibilities means that the first amendment should have its meaning changed to protect only Christians as many today argue? This is the argument you’re advocating. I defend against the perversion of reading of the second amendment because the rule of law is vital to defend my other rights too. Again, please see the difference between (1) my stubborn defense of the second amendment as written and (2) a hypothetical present defense against its repeal, which I do not give.

              1. Thanks for that gbj. Seems obvious now that you point it out. Southerners were obsessed with threats of slave rebellions. I’m sure the right to bear arms did not extend to slaves. Wonder how they got around keeping arms from free blacks.

              2. It’s only badly worded in your head, and in the heads of others who want to deny obvious legislative history, legislative intent, background, the well-understood meaning, how the right was already well-established and enshrined and long protected well before this amendment, and so on. For example, it dates back further to English liberty and Catholic vs Protestant spats where the king tried to disarm one side in favor of his.

                The analogy above by Brian Jeffs really is perfect. I’m going to start using it myself.

              3. Are you going to use that to say that freedom of speech isn’t a protected right because blacks didn’t have it at the time it was written? Your slavery analogy is fundamentally dishonest.

              4. The measure of “badly worded” if the meaning isn’t clear to everyone. It may be (I don’t know) that everyone in 1889 understood this perfectly clearly. But we don’t live in 1889. If your need to study the spats between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th Century before it is clear, then it is badly worded for current purposes.

                I am highly skeptical about your assertion that “a well regulated militia” meant, to the framers, the same thing as “all citizens”. If they meant the latter, they very likely would have said it that way. They were pretty good about stuff like that. The document begins… “We the people of the United States…” not “We the well regulated militia of the United States…”

              5. No. Using slavery in this way is dishonest. I clearly explained how it’s dishonest. I stand by that. Coyne can step in and ban me if he wants.

            1. EnlightenmentLiberal: If anything is dishonest it is your analogy of freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. There is no reason to believe that freedom of speech was included in the constitution as a means to protect the ability of slaveholders to hold on to the property. gjames has pointed out that there is good reason to believe that the second amendment (right to bear arms) was included for just this purpose. If this is true, then the rejection of slavery has some bearing on the legitimacy of the second amendment, yes? It may be wrong in a legal sense to suggest that the invalidation of slavery also invalidates all laws enacted in support of slavery, but it is hardly dishonest.

      2. Another thing to remember about the “well regulated militia” line is that when it was written, the US lacked a standing army. If another country attacked, it was expected that a volunteer army would be raised from the private citizens, like what happened during the Revolution. And those private citizens would be expected to bring their own guns with them, since at the time the US didn’t have the ability to suddenly ramp up massive war production to come up with the number of guns needed to outfit an army on demand.

    3. As regards the “well-regulated” part of the 2nd Amendment, who do you see doing the “regulating”?

        1. Well, since it says “well regulated militia,” who do you say is the “militia,” whether in the 1790’s or in 2014?

            1. Well of course I agree with you that the modern day descendant of the “militia” referenced in the Second Amendment is and ought to be the National Guard (and Reserves). But, there are those who claim that the “militia” is composed of anyone in the general citizenry who takes a notion to own a gun. There are groups of gun enthusiasts out there across the fruited plain who call themselves “militias,” and whose purpose in banding together is to oppose, at such time as in their view it may be necessary, government at various levels, and its enforcement agencies, including the military, which includes the National Guard and Reserves. And these “militias” don’t agree that government, through any agency, should “well regulate” them.

          1. Today, the term militia is used to describe a number of groups within the United States. Primarily, these are:

            The organized militia defined by the Militia Act of 1903, which repealed section two hundred thirty-two and sections 1625 – 1660 of title sixteen of the Revised Statutes, consists of State militia forces, notably the National Guard and the Naval Militia.[2]

            The National Guard however, is not to be confused with the National Guard of the United States, which is a federally recognized reserve military force, although the two are linked.

            The reserve militia[3] are part of the unorganized militia defined by the Militia Act of 1903 as consisting of every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who is not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia.

            Former members of the armed forces are also considered part of the “unorganized militia” per Sec 313 Title 32 of the US Code.[2]


    4. Michigan’s Constitution is even clearer.

      § 6 Bearing of arms.

      Sec. 6.

      Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.

        1. If you want to play the legalese battle, I can do that too. Last I checked, “banning personal ownership of guns” is not part of the enumerated powers of the federal government, which means it cannot trump state law. Then again, the drug war cannot be justified on any of the enumerated powers either, or about 90% (asspull number) of the programs of the federal government anyway. /nit

  19. A careful reading of the Second Amendment confirms that in the Heller decision the US Supreme Court was correct in its interpretation of the amendment’s syntax as written.

    The language of the amendment refers to a pre-existing right, a right that the amendment pledges to protect. That is, it does not establish the right; the right exists. The reference to “a well-regulated militia” merely points to the framers’ view of what was then the key reason to preserve the right. The right to keep and bear arms, however, was not contingent on the need to maintain a militia. The reference to militias is simply a *justification,* not a condition.

    In other words, the people’s right to bear arms is expressly acknowledged in the latter portion of the amendment itself, and the amendment explicitly recognizes that existing right. That is what we have to contend with today–it’s a curse inadvertently imposed on us by the framers. They could never have anticipated the weapons technology we’re dealing with today, of course–but we’re stuck with the framers’ language.

    1. > ” course–but we’re stuck with the framers’ language”

      Why is the US constitution treated like a religious tract that cannot be altered or re-interpreted?

      It seems to be based on dogma and some strange idea that the ‘framers’ had knowledge and wisdom that people currently do not possess.

      I have the same issue with my country’s constitution but it is generally not held up in such a semi-religious light as I see the US constitution being treated.

    1. How many more do you think will have been killed if they were using firearms?

      There is a reason why the military prefer firearms to swords and knives nowadays. Sure people can kill with the latter but it takes more effort, skill or luck than using a firearm.

  20. There are a couple of things that make me dread moving back to my home country. Putting more guns on the streets is one of them. One of the things I have never worried about living in the UK is getting shot. This is an idiotic move and someone is going to get shot.

    Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2014 15:49:58 +0000 To:

  21. While I appreciate their desire to make it legal for murderers to hide their firearms, I somehow doubt that killers care about that point. Well, one the rare occasion that the killers are captured alive, that’s one less charge against them.

    1. The problem is most people don’t go out with intent to murder. They get into a stupid argument, tempers flare and if one of them happens to have a firearm, they use it, turning a stupid argument into a murder.

      That’s why the firearm homicide rate is 1/6 in Canada and 1/33 in the UK compared with the USA.

      Strangely enough, some countries have come to realize that having the citizens walking around packing loaded firearms tends to lead to citizens shooting those firearms, often in anger when it’s inappropriate to do so.

      Of course several states decided the best way to fix that was with stand your ground laws which has only exacerbated the problem.

  22. There are three groups that conceivably could be armed in a given area: (a) willful criminals, (b) law enforcement, and (c) law-abiding licensed concealed carry holders. I don’t see how trying to restrict it to A and B is productive, especially since any licensed holder can turn rogue if they are bent on causing some campus violence.

    1. Exactly. I don’t see how any intelligent person could reasonably dispute this.

      There are two counter arguments I’m familiar with and neither hold water.

      1. ‘A person legally concealing a weapon might become angry and, with an easily accessible weapon, might choose to commit a violent crime.’ Sure, anything’s possible and I suspect it has happened. But problems with individuals abusing their concealed carry right are rare while conversely, instances of citizens preventing or stopping a violent criminal is observed and documented regularly. (Where’s the media’s reporting on this, by the way?)

      2. ‘Individual’s with concealed carry, or simply having a gun in one’s possession, creates more risk than it mitigates.’ I’m not going to reply to this one; I’ll leave it to you to imagine any number of scenarios where you and possibly others are facing the oppression of an armed criminal and you can decide if you wished you didn’t have a gun to defend yourself and others. Here I’ll get you started: There is a person shooting people at a mall…a hospital…a school…the grocery store…the rural residence you live at…

      But no matter, most will likely shrug and tire of disputing this and will continue to insist that we curtail the freedom of non-criminal citizens to protect themselves completely in the face of the fact that CRIMINALS, BY THEIR DEFINITION, DON’T OBEY LAWS.

      1. Number 1 happened very recently – a retired police officer (Curtis Reeves) carried his gun into a Florida movie theatre, argued with a guy who was playing with his phone and then shot the guy dead.

        Reeves wasn’t a criminal when he entered that theatre (the opposite, in fact), but he sure as hell was when he left. Would you have been able to pick him as a criminal before he began acting like one? Could you have outdrawn a man who’d spent most of his life carrying a gun?

        Anyone can simply become a criminal, just like Reeves did, with little reason or provocation, almost instantaneously. Should everyone take a gun to the movies just in case that nice old man in the row behind you takes exception to someone’s iPhone, snaps and opens fire?

        I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest that had this retired cop with (presumably) decades of firearm experience not been armed, his response to the guy with the phone would have been markedly different. He might’ve asked nicely, he might have put up his dukes, he might have ignored him (because it was the previews!), he might have moved somewhere else. But he didn’t – he chose to pull a gun on an unarmed man and execute him. And now a guy is dead and a retiree is looking at life in prison because he felt the need to protect himself at the movies. It’s beyond ludicrous that people see incidents like these as excuses to demand more guns and less regulation, when restrictions on carrying in public would’ve prevented this retired cop from taking a pistol to a theatre.

        Unless he decided to carry anyway, in violation of the law, because this old cop was actually a criminal all along.

        1. Single case testimonial. Like i said, I’m sure those situations can arise, but they rarely do. Far more numerous are instances where law abiding carrying citizens protect themselves or others from violent attacks.

          I deeply admire the logical fortitude, passion, and insights of commenters here at this very fine website. It is really quite impressive. Though, equally impressive is the blind spot which appears the moment the topic of firearms comes up.

          Certainly firearms should be regulated, as many fine individuals have posted. But on the whole there is a lot of nonsense in this particular topic’s comments section. The same kind of nonsense and argumentative tactics which the average reader would rebuke in just about any other topic germane to this website (religion, woo, etc.).

          1. George Zimmerman, also in Florida, killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin – after he stalked him and while he was on the phone to the police, who were telling him explicitly not to follow the boy. Zimmerman’s not in jail because he was being a law-abiding citizen when he shot Trayvon (thanks to the “stand your ground” legislation). So was Trayvon, in actual fact, but he’s dead. Completely legally.

            Obviously the law in this case was an ass, but if “stand your ground” existed parallel with stronger firearms restrictions, Zimmerman mightn’t have been carrying and might have let that kid go home – or he would at least be in jail for firearms offences, if not outright first-degree homicide.

            Now, I’d be interested to see these incidents where law-abiding citizens have got the drop on badguys and prevented crimes, then see how they stack up against the number of victims the unfortunately very frequent spree-killings in the US have produced.

            I’ll echo my point below very simply: firearms should be more difficult to own and firearm permits more difficult to obtain than are cars and drivers’ licenses.

            That said, I’m well aware it’s not just a question of legislation and regulation, because there will be always be outliers and people who treat the law as optional. Gun culture itself has some very toxic elements and the massively well-funded lobbyists, most notably the NRA, are more about resisting anything that could impact gun manufacturers’ profits than about individual freedom. A cultural shift is required; I think responsible gun owners can contribute to it by themselves demanding tighter regulations, if for no other reason than to prevent nutcases from making them look bad. The NRA isn’t their friend in this, it’s their enemy. It might once have stood for freedom but as I said it’s been co-opted by gun factory money – and now that is all it cares about. It might wave the flag, but it no longer salutes it.

          2. Far more numerous are instances where law abiding carrying citizens protect themselves or others from violent attacks.

            Sure, if you believe NRA propaganda. What’s actually far more numerous are accidental shootings of children, often by other children. In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times more than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan. Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people as cancer, five times as many as heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

            1. Sure, if you believe the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence propaganda, which provided the information in the USA Today article you took that from…

              1. You mean if you believe the New England Journal of Medicine? According to the New York Times, which you no doubt believe is another unreliable source, accidental shootings of children actually occur twice as often as statistics show, because of how these deaths are reported and classified. Of course they only reviewed hundreds of child firearm deaths, so what could that prove. Of course, when the NRA opposed “safe storage” laws, they cited the lower, (false), figures. Oh, and if you carelessly store guns so that children can access them and accidently shoot other children, in fewer than 20 states can you be held criminally liable.

                By the way, what do you feel is an acceptable number of accidental child firearm deaths, in order to protect peoples right to own guns? Or is that just irrelevant?

          3. “Far more numerous are instances where law abiding carrying citizens protect themselves or others from violent attacks”

            Citation needed. Because what I find suggests you are wrong.

            “States in the highest quartile for gun ownership had firearm-related homicide rates 114% higher than states in the lowest quartile of gun ownership. Non-gun-related homicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.”

            1. The evidence was a “study” done by a person named John Lott.

              Mr. John Lott posed as Mary Rosh ( online and praised his own academic writing, and also called himself “the best professor I ever had”. He reviewed his own book on Amazon under the pseudonym “Mary Rosh”. Some might be of the opinion that this is dishonest behavior and negates any credibility he has.


              His study came into disrepute when he was unable to produce any of his surveys. He claimed they were left behind in a move, and claimed a hard drive crash on which the data had been kept. Nor could he recall any names of students that worked on it.
              Some suggested he simply made up his results out of whole cloth.




              This site accuses Lott of using “sock puppets” to change his wikipedia page. According to Wikipedia, a sock puppet is an online identity used for deception.

              As to the actual assertion that brandishing a weapon reduces crime, a study revealed that in many instances the persons who brandished a weapon did so when it was inappropriate and more often then not the person who claimed brandishing a firearm staved on crime committed a crime. Far more people were threatened by a person with a firearm then firearm owners used them ‘defensively’.

              In other words, firearm owners got angry and simple verbal exchanges and brandished their weapon. They often felt they were preventing criminal behavior against themselves but in fact a review by judges of the event in the persons own writing most often was labeled probably illegal or likely illegal by the judges.


              1. Thank you, Michael. The last sentence in the final link sums it up:

                Our results indicate that gun use against adults to threaten and intimidate is far more common than self defense gun use by them, and that most self reported self defense gun uses are probably illegal, and may be against the interests of society.

                I’d change only one bit. “May be” in the last phrase should be “is”, IMO.

  23. Even under the current, individual right interpretation of the 2nd amendment, guns on campus could be regulated or banned. Speech, the press, etc… all have limits on them. Many of those limits come into play in educational institutions for the young. Putting a similar limitation on the 2nd seems to me perfectly legal.

    Of course that doesn’t mean such a limitation is a requirement. As far as I can tell, neither the militia interpretation or the individual interpretation would force Indiana legislators to ban guns on campus. IOW, their action is legal completely independently of how one interprets the 2nd.

      1. Nor can you purchase, own or possess a shotgun with a short barrel or a barrel larger then a certain size. Shotguns over a certain size are considered a weapon of mass destruction.

        You may not purchase rifled firearms larger then a certain caliber.

        These restrictions are ignored by the NRA and many of it’s supporters in their assertions that the second amendment has no restrictions.

  24. Not from the US, so perhaps this is obvious, but why is “concealed gun” specified? I assume that concealed is worse than unconcealed, but perhaps I’m too European to understand.

    1. In most states, only special categories of people are allowed to conceal carry: plain- clothes peace officers, judges, etc.
      I think the idea is that one should have the opportunity to take whatever defensive measures one thinks appropriate when a gun is in one’s vicinity.

  25. I read today that the guy who shot the retired U.S. Air Force officer – afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease – who tried to enter his house – will not be prosecuted, even though the guy (after he called and was waiting for the police) of his own volition went outside his house and followed the Parkinson’s-afflicted person behind the house (as opposed to staying inside and looking out the window to keep track of the Parkinson’s-afflicted).

  26. gbjames,

    “Far more people are killed and wounded by gunfire in homicides of passion and by gun accidents than are “protected”.”

    That’s incredibly vague. And sources?

    And yes, I too am a hunter and the heritage of hunting and the outdoors is a major facet of my life. Though, arguments from ‘tradition’ rarely make any hay when arguing with, presumably, people who have little to no personal experience with firearms and who simply wants guns to just somehow vanish.

    At any rate, why are you suggesting that I move when you live in a town where 106 people were fatally shot last year? And again you make the presumption that I live in an area of high crime (I don’t). I live in a rural area, where the assistance of law enforcement would never help me if I found myself in a situation requiring the use of a gun. Do you only wear your seat belt when driving on the interstate? And living in the town you describe, it would seem prudent to have a seat belt on all the time!!

    1. I live in a rural area, and I know what you mean.

      So far I rely on my dogs, who are actually teddy-bears (not to mention 11 & 14 years old) but might actually growl if I were threatened…but I’ve been glad to know I had armed neighbors, once in a while.

    2. I’m suggesting that you move because you claimed gun ownership for protection. So you obviously live in fear and I feel sorry for you.

      Or is it for hunting? Now you’ve inserted that as your reason for packing heat. As I said before, I don’t have a particular problem with hunting and think rifles should be available for those who hunt.

      Or is it “tradition”? As you indicate, that is a rather poor argument for anything hazardous, be it gun ownership or female genital mutilation. Not an argument that carries any weight.

      The statistics for death by gunfire in the US are easily available. I challenge you to provide statistics for lives saved by having had a six-shooter handy in a moment of crisis. You probably can’t produce such numberers. I suggest that is because these are rare events.

      Finally, if I were to own a gun (I do, actually, but it is a model 1839 Garibaldi rifle that is completely unusable as a weapon unless I were to swing it at someone) I would be substantially increasing the possibility that I or someone I love would be injured or killed by accident. No thanks.

    3. I’m suggesting that you move because you claimed gun ownership for protection. So you obviously live in fear and I feel sorry for you.

      Or is it for hunting? Now you’ve inserted that as your reason for packing heat. As I said before, I don’t have a particular problem with hunting and think rifles should be available for those who hunt.

      Or is it “tradition”? As you indicate, that is a rather poor argument for anything hazardous, be it gun ownership or female genital mutilation. Not an argument that carries any weight.

      The statistics for death by gunfire in the US are easily available. I challenge you to provide statistics for lives saved by having had a six-shooter handy in a moment of crisis. You probably can’t produce such numberers. I suggest that is because these are rare events.

      Finally, if I were to own a gun (I do, actually, but it is a model 1839 Garibaldi rifle that is completely unusable as a weapon unless I were to swing it at someone) I would be substantially increasing the possibility that I or someone I love would be injured or killed by accident. No thanks.

  27. It’s a trivial fact that guns don’t kill people – people kill people. Guns just make it very easy, especially in a heated moment.

    And that’s why arguments for “gun control” are actually about “people control” – that is, controlling the ability of people to possess guns. It’s an acknowledgement that the old chestnut is completely correct – people DO kill people, so it should be made difficult for people to get their hands on anything that makes killing quick and easy.

    We control the ability of people to possess other technology that makes killing people easier, even if by accident, and people generally don’t complain.

    Motor vehicles, for example, aren’t designed to kill, yet they frequently and easily do – legislators long ago realised that and imposed strict regulations on who can operate which kinds of vehicle and under what conditions. Not only that but prospective drivers/riders/sailors/pilots are required to be tested for competency at mechanical operation and observance of regulation before being allowed their vehicle license. Various countries place restrictions on learner drivers as well, e.g. limiting how fast they can go, number of passengers and what kind of vehicle they can drive.

    Simply, all I’d ask in terms of firearms laws is that they make firearms more difficult to purchase and publicly possess than cars and that they impose far greater restrictions on type and usage and who may attain permits for use than is imposed on motor vehicle drivers. Which they don’t, in a great many US states.

      1. Thanks. I’ll probably cop it from an enthusiast or two, but I think it makes sense if access to guns is regulated more tightly than access to cars.

        In Australia we have a three-tiered learner/provisional drivers license system. Learners, among other things, need to log at least 75 hours with at least 15 at night, all with a fully licensed supervisor (can be a parent, etc). Max allowed speed 100kph, no alcohol, “L” plates must be displayed, phones turned off. Some restrictions relax once you graduate to the first of two provisional licenses, but the responsibilities increase – you can drive alone but high-powered vehicle restrictions and passenger limits come into effect.

        Having some kind of learner/provisional permit system for firearms would appear to make sense. No shooting alone for beginners, tight restrictions on what kind of firearms you can use, where you can use them and how they should be stored, logbooks to be kept at licensed shooting ranges. Of course it would vary from state to state, but at the extreme end of the spectrum, the concealment of a firearm on your person in a public place would need to be not only strongly justified but well-earned. Even then, as seen in the Curtis Reeves case, someone like a retired cop – who you think would’ve earned the privilege of a concealed-carry – there’s no telling what someone will do in a stressful situation.

        I’m not a rabid anti-gun fanatic; I grew up in the country where most kids’ dads had a .22 or a 12-gauge for targets, vermin, rabbits, deer etc. My grandfather was a WWII veteran and had a decent collection (now with my uncle, a Viet Nam veteran) and I was a military cadet in my teens so guns aren’t some strange bizarre world to me and gun owners aren’t all paranoid survivalists. But what I learned in my childhood about guns, vehicles and even things like chainsaws, is that even when being used properly & safely they’re dangerous, deadly tools (hell, death is the designed purpose & function of a firearm). They shouldn’t be handed to just anybody and anyone who wants to use them needs to learn the skills and earn the privilege to do so.

        1. Just curious… anyone have data regarding no. of annual traffic deaths and no. of annual firearm deaths?
          (too Merlot’d up to google right now!)

          1. 2010 numbers, internet sources, USA:

            motor vehicle deaths: 32,885

            total gun deaths: 31,672

            gun homicides: 11,078
            (total homicides: 16,259)

            gun suicides: 19,320

              1. In the context of attempting to assign culpability and identify willfully violent intent, I’m wondering if the motor vehicle deaths figure should be multiplied by some factor < 1. After all, not everyone gets in the vehicle with the intent of killing another or himself. (Although by many drivers' shabby and reckless driving habits one might be given pause to wonder.)

                That may technically also be true of firearm homicides, but the factor is surely much closer to 1.

        2. You and I are probably aligned in our views. I’m not rabidly anti-gun but I think there need to be restrictions and prohibitions in place. I too grew up around rifles and understood how to be safe around them. My parents were so against ever confusing guns with play that I wasn’t allowed to have any toy guns and my dad always taught me to handle a gun as if it is loaded even when it is not.

  28. The U.S. National Rifle Association should be renamed the National Gun Association or the National Weapon Association so as to more accurately reflect its perspective.

    1. The NRA used to be dedicated to the safe use of (mostly) long guns for the traditional uses: hunting and vermin killing, with protection of the homestead a very minor emphasis. Only in the last couple of decades was it taken over by monsters intent on destabilising American society via appeals to xenophobia.

  29. When I was in the Army National Guard, at summer camp, I always volunteered to go shoot the 50 caliber machine gun, and fire the 3.5 rocket launcher. I liked doing that, but I never had any interest in owning either weapon as a civilian.

  30. Guns at schools? Maybe some people think the traumatic experience of killing their classmates will help them learn better while at university. At the very least it may help remove some competition. Or maybe if they can take out their professor for that last bad grade that will recover their lost gratification.

    Satire aside, my father grew up many decades ago taking a gun to school when he was twelve years old, placed it on the wall with the other kids, and took it home with him to shoot varmits on the way home. No one every shot anyone and no one felt any fear from anyone else, gun or no gun. America is largely a culture of fear today. It is easy to avoid guns if you want, it is sad that we have to.

    1. I was considering the reverse… and that it could be a silver lining for professors. If it could be reasonably argued that students begging for higher grades who look at professors funny could be capped by said professors with impunity (after all, there have been many instances of unbalanced students doing bad things to professors who won’t play ball)… then we have a win-win. The average graduating GPA goes up, as I don’t think one can reasonably expect educators to include dead people in the statistics, the pool of unqualified college graduates goes down, making each degree worth that much more, and requests for unearned grade changes would be likely to drop drastically to begin with. On balance, improvements in the system all-around. Would probably create jobs, too.

      1. I think it would depend.

        New jobs would probably only be assistants. Depending on how many students get capped by professors and how much paperwork they would be required to fill out after capping a student.

        Of course the students would likely get wise and start packing themselves. No doubt the students would start capping professors using the Bush doctrine as justification.

        All assistants would quickly be targeted for capping. This would force the professor to do his own paperwork, thus creating a heavy detriment to capping students.

        Soon teachers, professors, assistants and students would demand bullet proof glass barriers, bullet proof desks, bullet proof notebook covers, lap top bags and the like.

        There is only one way for this to go. The university can’t have regular students capped, it makes it difficult to get new students. And the costs for all the bullet proof equipment is so exorbitant, so…

        It would all be foisted on undergraduate students to be the cappers and cappees. But since either they wouldn’t be able to do anything else while cowering in a closet or hunting for other undergraduate students, the entire university system would fall apart.

        So it would leave us back at the beginning.
        Which is allowing firearms to be packed on a university campus, which seems to be a dumb idea, all kidding aside.

        I wonder, is it just firearms, or will students be allowed to carry large knives and swords too? Perhaps mini crossbows? No. That would be silly!

        1. Hmmm. Seemed like a good idea. With all that demand for kevlar and ammo… and now blade weapons, it seemed like it would be a bonanza.. And then you have the tons of dough to be made by funeral directors, embalmers, assassins, bodyguards, facilities people fixing all the shot up glass, plaster, stonework and lab equipment. I should’ve figured it wouldn’t be sustainable. There should be a name for this… the bullet-riddled window fallacy or something…

      2. Most professors I am aware of who are done in by students are usually axed, bludgeoned, knifed, or strangled. No guns needed and the students are usually profoundly mentally disturbed and one might wonder if maybe some of the professors would learn to anticipate some of these actions.

        1. The ones I know are pretty cautious about the students who they perceive to be pushy injustice-collecting, externalizing, entitled types. But then, most the profs I know are in psych — well-versed in sussing out motivations, detecting mental illnesses…

        2. Wow, you guys went to tough universities. Where I went, the worst that happened were tears on the part of the student. 😛

  31. Just to clarify, because the American insanity of guns needs no further comment.

    The British model […] And there is virtually no private possession of handguns.

    Not since some gun nut shot up a dozen or two children in a school in Dunblane. About 25 years ago (it’s that long ago, I can’t really remember). Until then, it was relatively easy to legally own a hand gun, and there were perhaps a few hundred in private ownership across the country. OK, you had to keep it in a locked cabinet of specified construction, bolted through a brick (or other masonry wall of [substantial] thickness. It had to be broken when transported, and IIRC, stored and transported separately from ammunition.
    One of my university friends was considering getting one – as a senior in the uni’s target shooting club with several cups, he’d not have had difficulty getting the license he needed to go to a dealer. But after Dunblane, he decided it wasn’t worth the hassle, and in any case pistol shooting was expected to disappear as a sport (it did).

    1. Its rare.
      For the territorial police forces (roughly per county) they will have some armed response vehicles but only a couple on duty at a time.
      London has some additional plus the diplomatic protection are generally armed (the red cars).
      Airports also will have armed officers.
      The PSNI are an exception in that they are armed. Plus MoD and Civil Nuclear constabulary officers are all firearms trained and will often carry.
      All in though I believe it is still less than 10% of the cops are armed and, outside of London and airports unless you know what you are looking for you will rarely see them Although as budgets have been stretched this has changed slightly with armed officers also do more routine duties, particularly traffic.

  32. We had some shooting in the Texas Capitol several years back. So metal detectors were installed. You do not have to go throught the metal detectors if you have a concealed carry permit. There was considerable scurrying around by legislators, lobbists, etc. to get concealed carry permits.

    As I understand it, in Texas, openly carrying a long gun down the street is legal, so long as you do it in a non threatening manner. I suspect, but do not know for sure, that carrying a long gun in a legal manner would also allow you to bypass the metal detectors.

    1. AFAIK, that’s true for many states, even California in the recent past. I don’t remember if they changed it recently that after some people got upset when some guy was (legally) open carrying an AR15 and an AK47 for a while.

  33. I shoot handguns for sport in New Zealand. We have a lot of rifle and shotgun owners here, but handguns are restricted. To get a pistol you need to be a member of a gun club for 6 months, have a full background check, interviews with partners, and a police inspected safe. In reality it takes a year. I have to shoot 12 times a year to keep my licence and I can only transport my gun in a locked case without ammo. There are no restrictions on the number of guns or the ammount of ammo I can have. The Police here are generally unarmed, but have access to firearms in their vehicles. I like the fact that firearms here are highly restriced. There are too many idiots around to be trusted with scissors let alone guns.

  34. Wendy Davis, the likely Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas, has voted against guns on campus, but is for permitting open carry. Most Texas politicians favor open carry, so far as I can tell.

    Back when I was in school, a lot of the students had guns in their cars, but no one got shot.

  35. As if the Democrats are any less dysfunctional. Both major parties practice demagoguery to get elected (‘they’ll take away your guns!’; ‘they’ll take away your abortions!’) then once in Washington, collude to sell the nation to the highest bidder.

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