Second Amendment Questions

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Choboman
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Second Amendment Questions

Postby Choboman » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:51 pm UTC

In the US the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms) is a controversial topic, especially among conservatives.
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.


A few thoughts:
    Most conservatives and firearm enthusiasts tend to ignore the first part of the amendment. But if the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted strictly then it seems logical to start with the assumption that it has no superfluous phrases and we can't ignore the parts that undermine our preferred interpretation. The only way that the first phrase makes sense to me in the context of the larger sentence is as a modifying clause. "[...]the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" and the reason why it shouldn't be infringed is that "A well regulated militia [is] neccessary to the security of a free State." The idea that the right to arm yourself might be limited to militia members has been invalidated repeatedly by the courts, so what is the intent of the "well regulated militia" phrase?

    I've heard arguments that the right to arms is rooted in a right of free people to commit insurrection and overthrown their government if it becomes despotic. This makes sense to me in the context of the origin of these rights (British government trying to shut down non-Loyalist militias shortly before the American Revolution.) Reviewing the Court decisions I didn't see any consensus on this idea but it at least sets up a scenario where the hypothetical militia refers to all free people who might choose to rise up against their oppressive state. That loose organization of unassociated rebels wouldn't fit the idea of "well regulated" cleanly, but it might be stretched to fit.

    Bearing arms is very open-ended. It technically isn't restricted to just firearms - but could encompase all types of weaponry. Things like LAW rockets and STINGER missles are reasonably affordable (LAWs have a per-unit manufacture cost of just over $1K, STINGERs are much more expensive at $40K.) - should I be allowed to stockpile them? What about hand grenades, fuel-air explosive bombs, weaponized anthrax? If not, then why not? If one of the purposes of the right to bear arms is to empower citizens to stand up to their despotic government, those men and women are going to need more than pistols and hunting rifles. What constitutional basis do we have for allowing one thing and not the other?

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:19 pm UTC

This has the potential to open up a can of worms.

For recent supreme court cases on the matter i will direct you to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_o ... _v._Heller
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald_v._Chicago

Right now the legal precedent is that individuals have the right to bear arms, not just a militia .
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Thesh » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

There's two interpretations:

1) "the people" in the second amendment refers only to the people in the militia
2) "the people" in the second amendment refers to all people

Given that "the people" is used throughout the constitution to mean all people, I would personally say number 2 is the most likely intent. Also, almost every land owner of the time owned firearms and it seems likely that the people who wrote the constitution would want to protect that right.

That said, when debating whether or not guns should be banned/further regulated/less regulated, it's pointless to bring the constitution into it. The question is whether or not you think guns should be banned/further regulated/less regulated, not whether or not the constitution says guns should be banned. Stating your beliefs and passing legislation are two different things, and the constitution can be changed.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby EdgarJPublius » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:03 pm UTC

My legal fu is weak, but my understanding is that the comma separates the sentence into two related but independent clauses;
"A well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state" and "The right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms is necessary to the maintenance of a well regulated militia"
Where 'the people' should be interpreted as it is used elsewhere in the constitution to mean 'everyone'.

One of the reasons militias/irregular volunteer units were so effective during the revolution is that many private citizens had their own firearms for hunting and were already experienced marksmen, so little expense, time or effort needed to be expended equipping them and training them in the use of their weapons.
If you restrict firearm ownership to members of a militia, then you lose that.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby pizzazz » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:23 pm UTC

Choboman wrote:In the US the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms) is a controversial topic, especially among conservatives.
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.


A few thoughts:
Most conservatives and firearm enthusiasts tend to ignore the first part of the amendment. But if the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted strictly then it seems logical to start with the assumption that it has no superfluous phrases and we can't ignore the parts that undermine our preferred interpretation. The only way that the first phrase makes sense to me in the context of the larger sentence is as a modifying clause. "[...]the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" and the reason why it shouldn't be infringed is that "A well regulated militia [is] neccessary to the security of a free State." The idea that the right to arm yourself might be limited to militia members has been invalidated repeatedly by the courts, so what is the intent of the "well regulated militia" phrase?

The second amendment gaurantees two separate but related rights. One is the right of states to have militias (state being as opposed to the federal militia, not that it has to be officially recognized by the state). The other is the right of individuals to own firearms.
I've heard arguments that the right to arms is rooted in a right of free people to commit insurrection and overthrown their government if it becomes despotic. This makes sense to me in the context of the origin of these rights (British government trying to shut down non-Loyalist militias shortly before the American Revolution.) Reviewing the Court decisions I didn't see any consensus on this idea but it at least sets up a scenario where the hypothetical militia refers to all free people who might choose to rise up against their oppressive state. That loose organization of unassociated rebels wouldn't fit the idea of "well regulated" cleanly, but it might be stretched to fit.

That is one reason but it's also a last resort. The primary and most common motivation is defense of one's life, property, and family, as well as hunting.

Bearing arms is very open-ended. It technically isn't restricted to just firearms - but could encompase all types of weaponry. Things like LAW rockets and STINGER missles are reasonably affordable (LAWs have a per-unit manufacture cost of just over $1K, STINGERs are much more expensive at $40K.) - should I be allowed to stockpile them? What about hand grenades, fuel-air explosive bombs, weaponized anthrax? If not, then why not? If one of the purposes of the right to bear arms is to empower citizens to stand up to their despotic government, those men and women are going to need more than pistols and hunting rifles. What constitutional basis do we have for allowing one thing and not the other?

Quoting the heller decision in regard to the 1939 US v. Miller case, "Miller stands only for the proposition that the Second Amendment right, whatever its nature, extends only to certain types of weapons."--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Miller (best thing I could find quickly regarding legality of restriction by type of weapon that quickly).
And it's true that the military has more weapons than citizens do, but there are about 2.2 million members of the us military (1.4 active, .8 reserve), though of course many of those are overseas, and there are something like 200 million privately owned firearms in the US (more than 1 per adult if I recall correctly).

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:33 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:There's two interpretations:

1) "the people" in the second amendment refers only to the people in the militia
2) "the people" in the second amendment refers to all people

Given that "the people" is used throughout the constitution to mean all people, I would personally say number 2 is the most likely intent. Also, almost every land owner of the time owned firearms and it seems likely that the people who wrote the constitution would want to protect that right.


Actually, the first one isn't a possible interpretation (assuming this type of grammatical construction didn't mean something different in the late 18th C.). The first part is an absolute, it's grammatically unrelated to the other half of the sentence, so nothing in the second half can have referents in the absolute. Nevertheless there is some connection which can only be understood by extragrammatical means, i.e. they aren't non-sequiturs.

So, Pizzazz is right when he says it guarantees two separate but related rights. That much can be interpreted from the words themselves. But the nature of absolutes being what it is, we can't make reasonable interpretations of what the intention or relation between those two guarantees was from the words alone.

In historical context, they probably were influenced by Machiavelli's writings on militia, because Machiavelli was pretty much the father of modern war. In his proposed system, citizens had weapons and uniforms that they kept at home, trained once a month, and could quickly deploy in case of attack. The lack of professional soldiers and standing armies on the US side was a pretty contentious issue at the time and at least a few major battles were won by the Americans because volunteers came out of the woodworks with their own rifles and the knowhow to use them. George Washington, and probably most Federalists, wanted a standing army that could fight offensive battles effectively and go on prolonged operations, while state politicians generally wanted to avoid the expense and thought the performance of impromptu militias during the war demonstrated that a Federal army was unnecessary. The second amendment probably sought to establish a guarantee for militias as a concession to anti-Federalists and at the same time the right for individuals to bear arms was seen as not only the most practical for militias, but also prevented the Federalists from undermining militias to strengthen the Federal army. Outside of the Constitution, Washington was able to retain a drastically reduced Federal army, mostly on the argument that officers needed special training and couldn't just be drawn from the general population.

I've read quite a bit of the history of military policy side of this, but I'm not at all familiar with the politicking behind specific parts of the Constitution. On the other hand, most arguments for/against gun control today have very little to do with the historical context of the Constitution and that is okay so long as advocates are also advocating changing the second amendment.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby firechicago » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:17 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:My legal fu is weak, but my understanding is that the comma separates the sentence into two related but independent clauses;
"A well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state" and "The right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms is necessary to the maintenance of a well regulated militia"
Where 'the people' should be interpreted as it is used elsewhere in the constitution to mean 'everyone'.


As a grammatical matter, the part of the sentence before the comma remains a dependent clause modifying the second part of the sentence. This is because the first part of the sentence lacks a verb. ("Being" is a participle, i.e. a verb pressed into doing the job of an adjective.) Grammatically, the first clause modifies and justifies the second clause.

As a legal question there is pretty broad agreement that the modification and justification of this clause means that the right to bear arms should not be interpreted in the same broad and absolute manner that the (unqualified) freedoms of speech and religion are interpreted. If the right to bear arms were interpreted as broadly as speech, the only reason that the government could keep you from keeping a nuclear weapon in your back yard would be if the plutonium was threatening to give your neighbor radiation poisoning.

So the right to bear arms is a qualified right, but the question is, how qualified?

Unsurprisingly, those who believe, as a policy stance, that gun possession should be more restricted, see the right as qualified almost out of existence, while those who believe that gun possession should be less restricted see it as only slightly qualified.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

Here is a rather detailed linguistic examination of the second amendment, it's use of the absolute and apparent use of the verb "to bear arms" in the 18th C. It is apparently the civilian version of an amicus brief he and two other linguists wrote for the Supreme court.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Thesh » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:20 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Here is a rather detailed linguistic examination of the second amendment, it's use of the absolute and apparent use of the verb "to bear arms" in the 18th C. It is apparently the civilian version of an amicus brief he and two other linguists wrote for the Supreme court.


That was written before the supreme court decision, this was the majority opinion of the supreme court in that case according to Wikipedia:

Before addressing the verbs “keep” and “bear,” we interpret their object: “Arms.” The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity. Thus, the most natural reading of “keep Arms” in the Second Amendment is to “have weapons.” At the time of the founding, as now, to “bear” meant to “carry.” In numerous instances, “bear arms” was unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia. Nine state constitutional provisions written in the 18th century or the first two decades of the 19th, which enshrined a right of citizens “bear arms in defense of themselves and the state” again, in the most analogous linguistic context—that “bear arms” was not limited to the carrying of arms in a militia. The phrase “bear Arms” also had at the time of the founding an idiomatic meaning that was significantly different from its natural meaning: “to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight” or “to wage war.” But it unequivocally bore that idiomatic meaning only when followed by the preposition “against,”. Every example given by petitioners’ amici for the idiomatic meaning of “bear arms” from the founding period either includes the preposition “against” or is not clearly idiomatic. In any event, the meaning of “bear arms” that petitioners and Justice Stevens propose is not even the (sometimes) idiomatic meaning. Rather, they manufacture a hybrid definition, whereby “bear arms” connotes the actual carrying of arms (and therefore is not really an idiom) but only in the service of an organized militia. No dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we have been apprised of no source that indicates that it carried that meaning at the time of the founding. Worse still, the phrase “keep and bear Arms” would be incoherent. The word “Arms” would have two different meanings at once: “weapons” (as the object of “keep”) and (as the object of “bear”) one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying “He filled and kicked the bucket” to mean “He filled the bucket and died."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Ame ... ar_arms.22
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby zmatt » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:34 pm UTC

I think that the legal, historical and grammatical precedent for the 2nd amendment to mean private citizens can have weapons is well established. I never considered otherwise until someone brought up that argument. And I was quite surprised. I thought if you wanted to ban guns on a federal level you would have to make an amendment. Something that wouldn't be easy considering the divisiveness of the issue. In many parts of the country the right to own guns is a big deal.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby mosc » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:24 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:I think that the legal, historical and grammatical precedent for the 2nd amendment to mean private citizens can have weapons is well established.

I would personally vote to repeal the second amendment as out-dated, but I agree with your interpretation. Saying "well, the second amendment only applies to militias" is just saying "I'm an idiot who doesn't like guns". I don't like guns either, but the amendment is fairly clear and the legal precedence is only limited in age to the point where English had evolved enough as to make the meaning not completely obvious. The founding fathers intended firearms to be a legal right. No matter how much you hate guns, that's just a fact.

That said, I DO hate guns and I find the arguments for this amendment in the modern era to be ludicrous. In 1776, it would literally take months to travel from one side of the country to the other. Not only have we reduced that to hours, but we have communication that is now on the order of seconds. The protection argument has all but completely disappeared IMHO. The remaining case of needing firearms to keep the government in line is equally invalidated in the modern era. You don't overthrow a government with Winchesters. Not only have modern military arms eclipsed the wildest doomsday machine fantasies of our founding fathers, but I would argue we don't need a war to change our government. The founding fathers succeeded beyond their expectations on that one.

But honestly, I'd just ban bullets. Keep the guns.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:46 pm UTC

I don't understand the connection between high-speed transport and super-high speed communications and guns. And I think the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have pretty clearly shown that poorly equipped rebels can do surprisingly well against an organized military. If anything, the big disconnect between the right to revolt explanation and today's situation is the ban on military grade weapons. Yeah, I can fight fairly effectively against the National Guard with a 4 bullet hunting rifle, but I could do it a lot better with a SAW and a howitzer.

Not that I think allowing the sale of howitzers to civilians is a good idea for anything other than enabling more effective revolutions.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Buddha » Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:14 am UTC

The supreme court stated that the militia clause was secondary to the keep and bear arms clause, as stated above. The people have the right to arms, and the state has a right to its own militia.

mosc wrote:
zmatt wrote:I think that the legal, historical and grammatical precedent for the 2nd amendment to mean private citizens can have weapons is well established.

I would personally vote to repeal the second amendment as out-dated, but I agree with your interpretation. Saying "well, the second amendment only applies to militias" is just saying "I'm an idiot who doesn't like guns". I don't like guns either, but the amendment is fairly clear and the legal precedence is only limited in age to the point where English had evolved enough as to make the meaning not completely obvious. The founding fathers intended firearms to be a legal right. No matter how much you hate guns, that's just a fact.

That said, I DO hate guns and I find the arguments for this amendment in the modern era to be ludicrous. In 1776, it would literally take months to travel from one side of the country to the other. Not only have we reduced that to hours, but we have communication that is now on the order of seconds. The protection argument has all but completely disappeared IMHO. The remaining case of needing firearms to keep the government in line is equally invalidated in the modern era. You don't overthrow a government with Winchesters. Not only have modern military arms eclipsed the wildest doomsday machine fantasies of our founding fathers, but I would argue we don't need a war to change our government. The founding fathers succeeded beyond their expectations on that one.

But honestly, I'd just ban bullets. Keep the guns.


So what you are saying is that there is no more violent crime anywhere? Or dictatorships, or martial law declarations or police states?
Unless otherwise explicitly stated, I not a recognized authority in any field, nor am I a credible source.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:52 am UTC

And as always, the only possible use for a firearm is as a weapon. No one could possibly use such a thing for recreation.

And clearly, if there's no use for a thing, it should be completely illegal.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Glass Fractal » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:57 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote: Yeah, I can fight fairly effectively against the National Guard with a 4 bullet hunting rifle


When, exactly, did you fight the National Guard armed only with a hunting rifle?

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:48 am UTC

I'm don't think that sentence means what you think that it means.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:06 am UTC

Glass Fractal wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote: Yeah, I can fight fairly effectively against the National Guard with a 4 bullet hunting rifle


When, exactly, did you fight the National Guard armed only with a hunting rifle?
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:30 pm UTC

mosc wrote:
zmatt wrote:I think that the legal, historical and grammatical precedent for the 2nd amendment to mean private citizens can have weapons is well established.

I would personally vote to repeal the second amendment as out-dated, but I agree with your interpretation. Saying "well, the second amendment only applies to militias" is just saying "I'm an idiot who doesn't like guns". I don't like guns either, but the amendment is fairly clear and the legal precedence is only limited in age to the point where English had evolved enough as to make the meaning not completely obvious. The founding fathers intended firearms to be a legal right. No matter how much you hate guns, that's just a fact.

That said, I DO hate guns and I find the arguments for this amendment in the modern era to be ludicrous. In 1776, it would literally take months to travel from one side of the country to the other. Not only have we reduced that to hours, but we have communication that is now on the order of seconds. The protection argument has all but completely disappeared IMHO. The remaining case of needing firearms to keep the government in line is equally invalidated in the modern era. You don't overthrow a government with Winchesters. Not only have modern military arms eclipsed the wildest doomsday machine fantasies of our founding fathers, but I would argue we don't need a war to change our government. The founding fathers succeeded beyond their expectations on that one.

But honestly, I'd just ban bullets. Keep the guns.


Non sequitur much? I don't see what high speed rail has to do with my right to defend myself (well established in common law, not just in the USA). I also have some problems with the concept of high speed rail in a large country with low population density, but that is for another thread.

A simple fact of life that I think many anti-gun people forget is that bad guys don't obey the law. If they did then they wouldn't be bad guys. If guns are illegal they will still have guns and they will still use them. They don't care. Their goal is to pull off whatever crime there happen to be involved in. Outlawing guns only takes them away from the good guys who do obey the law, you know the kind of people who don't go around shooting others and taking their stuff. The only effect that banning weapons does is raise the crime rates. it has been well documented in urban areas for quite some time.

There is also the point that just because you don't see the need for something or because you don't want something, it somehow should be extended to every rational and tax paying adult. That's a little arrogant isn't it? Some people really like sport, some people enjoy their cars, some like to paint, and some like to go out to the shooting range and fire off some rounds, or go hunting during hunting season. It's a harmless hobby. It's akin to me deciding that football is stupid and outmoded, the people who play it get injured all the time and are stupid, and it's just passing a ball around anyways. How stupid! We should outlaw that. I think such an idea would tick a lot of people off and put a lot of hard working Americans out of work. That same is true for guns.

Now, if someone has a past criminal record for violent crimes (not for 10,000 parking tickets or something) then I think he should loose certain rights such as voting and his 2nd amendment. They have proven themselves to be an irrational and dangerous individual and as such are now a 3rd class citizen. But please don't accuse a legitimate and law abiding citizen who just wants to defend themselves or has a different hobby than you of being backwards or less sophisticated.


SecondTalon wrote:
Glass Fractal wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote: Yeah, I can fight fairly effectively against the National Guard with a 4 bullet hunting rifle


When, exactly, did you fight the National Guard armed only with a hunting rifle?
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Thesh » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:45 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:They have proven themselves to be an irrational and dangerous individual and as such are now a 3rd class citizen. But please don't accuse a legitimate and law abiding citizen who just wants to defend themselves or has a different hobby than you of being backwards or less sophisticated.


Personally, I think that if you commit a felony, it should drop off your record after 7 years and all of your rights (including to ownership of firearms) should be restored as long you haven't committed another felony (once you get past 7 years, recidivism rates are fairly low). Felonies can screw you over for life, and people should be given a chance to reform.

Of course, now we are getting way off topic.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:58 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
zmatt wrote:They have proven themselves to be an irrational and dangerous individual and as such are now a 3rd class citizen. But please don't accuse a legitimate and law abiding citizen who just wants to defend themselves or has a different hobby than you of being backwards or less sophisticated.


Personally, I think that if you commit a felony, it should drop off your record after 7 years and all of your rights (including to ownership of firearms) should be restored as long you haven't committed another felony (once you get past 7 years, recidivism rates are fairly low). Felonies can screw you over for life, and people should be given a chance to reform.

Of course, now we are getting way off topic.


Depends on the felony. Somethings are unfairly felonies simply because they are things that while not really dangerous society really doesn't like. I think most non-violent things could be. My biggest worry are people who have connections to organized crime or people who have committed violent crimes. For the first one, once in its hard to get out and for the second one you have shown a psychological disregard for the well being of others and I am one to think that that wont easily go away. Anyways I think there is room for improving the definition a bit because there are a lot of gray areas.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Thesh » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:08 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:My biggest worry are people who have connections to organized crime


If they have connections to organized crime, they have access to guns no matter what the law is.

zmatt wrote:or people who have committed violent crimes. For the first one, once in its hard to get out and for the second one you have shown a psychological disregard for the well being of others and I am one to think that that wont easily go away.


Violent offenders usually have the lowest recidivism rate. Also, the ones who do reoffend usually commit non-violent crimes.

If people can reform, we should let them. If you do something stupid when you are 20, serve your time, and prove you are able to clean up your act, then you should get a second chance. Having a felony on your record prevents many people from getting decent jobs, and keeps them in poverty or pushes them into it if they weren't before.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:21 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
If they have connections to organized crime, they have access to guns no matter what the law is.


Good point, which is why I own a gun. However i hope the ones connected to cartels get extra long stays in the fun house.

Thesh wrote:Violent offenders usually have the lowest recidivism rate. Also, the ones who do reoffend usually commit non-violent crimes.

If people can reform, we should let them. If you do something stupid when you are 20, serve your time, and prove you are able to clean up your act, then you should get a second chance. Having a felony on your record prevents many people from getting decent jobs, and keeps them in poverty or pushes them into it if they weren't before.


Seems you have done more research on this particular aspect than I. Thank you for removing my ignorance. However I think there is a difference between say a wife beater who has along history of abuse and some kid who got into a fight and was charged with assault. The kid will learn, the lowlife should burn. That rhyme wasn't intentional.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:10 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:My legal fu is weak, but my understanding is that the comma separates the sentence into two related but independent clauses;
"A well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state" and "The right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms is necessary to the maintenance of a well regulated militia"
pizzazz wrote:The second amendment gaurantees two separate but related rights. One is the right of states to have militias (state being as opposed to the federal militia, not that it has to be officially recognized by the state). The other is the right of individuals to own firearms.
Then why on Earth did they not put it in 2 amendments then? Was this a common thing for the amendments at this time?

Iulus Cofield wrote:I don't understand the connection between high-speed transport and super-high speed communications and guns...
When the amendment was written, it would take a long time for the military to call in reinforcements. It would take even longer for them to get there. If the whole town is armed in an insurrection, it would be long over before any help could arrive. If you have high speed planes, jets, and rail, this is no longer true. If the reason for not infringing the right to bear arms becomes not true, then we should throw out the whole thing.

Iulus Cofield wrote:...And I think the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have pretty clearly shown that poorly equipped rebels can do surprisingly well against an organized military. If anything, the big disconnect between the right to revolt explanation and today's situation is the ban on military grade weapons. Yeah, I can fight fairly effectively against the National Guard with a 4 bullet hunting rifle, but I could do it a lot better with a SAW and a howitzer.

Not that I think allowing the sale of howitzers to civilians is a good idea for anything other than enabling more effective revolutions.
The thing with Iraq and Afghanistan is you are trying to be the 'good guys', the liberators, fighting for freedom. You aren't going around slaughtering anyone who gets in your way/looks at your funny. BIG difference. If you were in a country where you would be using that first part of the amendment, those pretenses would be dropped. Think of what was going on in Libya, except with a competent military shooting at the civilians. A militia is doing nothing against that.

zmatt wrote:A simple fact of life that I think many anti-gun people forget is that bad guys don't obey the law. If they did then they wouldn't be bad guys. If guns are illegal they will still have guns and they will still use them. They don't care. Their goal is to pull off whatever crime there happen to be involved in. Outlawing guns only takes them away from the good guys who do obey the law, you know the kind of people who don't go around shooting others and taking their stuff. The only effect that banning weapons does is raise the crime rates. it has been well documented in urban areas for quite some time.

Citation needed.

zmatt wrote:There is also the point that just because you don't see the need for something or because you don't want something, it somehow should be extended to every rational and tax paying adult. That's a little arrogant isn't it? Some people really like sport, some people enjoy their cars, some like to paint, and some like to go out to the shooting range and fire off some rounds, or go hunting during hunting season. It's a harmless hobby. It's akin to me deciding that football is stupid and outmoded, the people who play it get injured all the time and are stupid, and it's just passing a ball around anyways. How stupid! We should outlaw that. I think such an idea would tick a lot of people off and put a lot of hard working Americans out of work. That same is true for guns.

There were 325 football related fatalities over the past 26 years. there have been about 750 000* gun related deaths in that period. Harmless hobby my ass. Guns make things dead. That is all they do. Try comparing them to things that have a similarly large range of uses if you want to be taken seriously. Comparing guns to football and painting, I mean, What. The. Fuck.



*1999 rate times 26 years. Not very accurate. I have no idea if 1999 was a particularly violent year or not. But when we are talking about >2000 times difference I don' think being 100% accurate matter all that much
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:31 pm UTC

Of course I can compare it to football. You see the problem here is that Football is only a sport, Guns can be used in hunting, target practice, self defense and yes crime. Now we already know more people die from accidents related to target shooting than football, that's a no brainer a gun is considerably more dangerous. But you are missing my point, I never said guns were as safe as football. I was making a comparison in which somebody observes a hobby such as football or target shooting that they do not enjoy, and they noticed that people can get hurt and they incorrectly conclude that it should be banned. Athletes and gun owners alike take on the responsibility of knowing that there is risk in what they are doing and they are prepared to accept those. You don't see someone suing Smith and Wesson because he left the safety off his gun and shot his own foot do you?

My Google fu isn't that strong right now as I am on my lunch break but this NYC article is a decent start and it's pretty objective.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/weeki ... iptak.html

it does point out that correlation does not imply causation which is certainly true and that just looking at DC isn't good enough. I have seen statistics regarding NYC and its war on crime, but i will have to go searching for them.


And this is still not completely relevant to my argument regarding one man's right to decide he wants a gun. Being a rational adult who is not a criminal you should be allowed to own a weapon, for whatever reason you want short of using it for crimes. In a free society shouldn't be on the gun owner to rationalize to anyone why he has a gun.
Last edited by zmatt on Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:37 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Glass Fractal » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:35 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I'm don't think that sentence means what you think that it means.


So you mean that you think you'd be able to do it based on having no experience at it at all? Cool.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:00 pm UTC

I've read about a dozen books on guerrilla movements, guerrilla tactics, and counterinsurgency theory. No, I am by no means an expert, but I read the opinions of experts. I am not making up some testosterone laden claim about how I could take on the army (I've shot a gun twice in my life, derp). I think it's also silly to ask me to go fight the National Guard for the purpose of determining whether it is possible to do so effectively with a hunting rifle, when there are many books written by experts on guerrilla warfare. What I'm saying is, I didn't have a cool story, so there's no need to call me bro.

nitePhyyre wrote:Then why on Earth did they not put it in 2 amendments then? Was this a common thing for the amendments at this time?

Iulus Cofield wrote:I don't understand the connection between high-speed transport and super-high speed communications and guns...
When the amendment was written, it would take a long time for the military to call in reinforcements. It would take even longer for them to get there. If the whole town is armed in an insurrection, it would be long over before any help could arrive. If you have high speed planes, jets, and rail, this is no longer true. If the reason for not infringing the right to bear arms becomes not true, then we should throw out the whole thing.

Iulus Cofield wrote:...And I think the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have pretty clearly shown that poorly equipped rebels can do surprisingly well against an organized military. If anything, the big disconnect between the right to revolt explanation and today's situation is the ban on military grade weapons. Yeah, I can fight fairly effectively against the National Guard with a 4 bullet hunting rifle, but I could do it a lot better with a SAW and a howitzer.

Not that I think allowing the sale of howitzers to civilians is a good idea for anything other than enabling more effective revolutions.
The thing with Iraq and Afghanistan is you are trying to be the 'good guys', the liberators, fighting for freedom. You aren't going around slaughtering anyone who gets in your way/looks at your funny. BIG difference. If you were in a country where you would be using that first part of the amendment, those pretenses would be dropped. Think of what was going on in Libya, except with a competent military shooting at the civilians. A militia is doing nothing against that.


The First Amendment guarantees six rights, the Fifth five, and the Sixth seven, for example.

I get what you're getting at with high speed transport now. But high speed transit hasn't made the National Guard irrelevant. The thing is, high speed transport isn't instant, so in the case of say a surprise attack on Portland, OR (where there are no nearby military bases) by Invasion Force X, it's still really handy to have National Guard units that can deploy in an hour, because the regular army would take still take three hours to get there. Aircraft are faster, yes, but they are not capable of doing everything and it's really important to have people on the ground.

Another important thing about the National Guard is they answer to the Governors and not the President. The President can't order the Oregon National Guard to start slaughtering civilian rioters. If we are actually serious about the right to rebel explanation, then the National Guard is pretty much the poster child for who would fight a conventional civil war in the US.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Thesh » Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:My legal fu is weak, but my understanding is that the comma separates the sentence into two related but independent clauses;
"A well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state" and "The right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms is necessary to the maintenance of a well regulated militia"
pizzazz wrote:The second amendment gaurantees two separate but related rights. One is the right of states to have militias (state being as opposed to the federal militia, not that it has to be officially recognized by the state). The other is the right of individuals to own firearms.
Then why on Earth did they not put it in 2 amendments then? Was this a common thing for the amendments at this time?


First amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Fifth amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Sixth amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.


Maybe they grouped things together so the bill of rights could have exactly ten amendments?

Anyway, we are starting to get off topic here. We already have a 12 page thread in this forum on whether or not firearms should be legal:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=64631


EDIT: I was so ninja'd...
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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby pizzazz » Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote: When the amendment was written, it would take a long time for the military to call in reinforcements. It would take even longer for them to get there. If the whole town is armed in an insurrection, it would be long over before any help could arrive. If you have high speed planes, jets, and rail, this is no longer true. If the reason for not infringing the right to bear arms becomes not true, then we should throw out the whole thing.

Even in the early days of the US, the Army was able to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, because just taking over one town doesn't end a rebellion.
zmatt wrote:A simple fact of life that I think many anti-gun people forget is that bad guys don't obey the law. If they did then they wouldn't be bad guys. If guns are illegal they will still have guns and they will still use them. They don't care. Their goal is to pull off whatever crime there happen to be involved in. Outlawing guns only takes them away from the good guys who do obey the law, you know the kind of people who don't go around shooting others and taking their stuff. The only effect that banning weapons does is raise the crime rates. it has been well documented in urban areas for quite some time.

Citation needed.

To start with, according to http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#crime, guns are used in far fewer crimes than they prevent or stop.
zmatt wrote:There is also the point that just because you don't see the need for something or because you don't want something, it somehow should be extended to every rational and tax paying adult. That's a little arrogant isn't it? Some people really like sport, some people enjoy their cars, some like to paint, and some like to go out to the shooting range and fire off some rounds, or go hunting during hunting season. It's a harmless hobby. It's akin to me deciding that football is stupid and outmoded, the people who play it get injured all the time and are stupid, and it's just passing a ball around anyways. How stupid! We should outlaw that. I think such an idea would tick a lot of people off and put a lot of hard working Americans out of work. That same is true for guns.

There were 325 football related fatalities over the past 26 years. there have been about 750 000* gun related deaths in that period. Harmless hobby my ass. Guns make things dead. That is all they do. Try comparing them to things that have a similarly large range of uses if you want to be taken seriously. Comparing guns to football and painting, I mean, What. The. Fuck.

You're including crime in that number. Football is not a very good murder weapon, but it's also not very good at stopping crime either (see above about guns preventing crime). http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#accidents says that guns represent about 600 fatal accidents per year. Now, I have no idea how much football people play v. how often they use guns, but according to http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#ownership, there are about as many privately owned guns in the US as there are people. Many people own multiple guns, but large percentages of people still have access to firearms, and there are many people who have a gun with them wherever they go.

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:00 pm UTC

The US currently has a murder rate of ~5 per 100,000, about half of them criminals. You know, I think we should break down murder statistics into "criminal" and "noncriminal", just for comparison purposes. A murder rate of 20 per 100,000 wouldn't be a huge problem if those 20 were all drug dealers fighting over territory. Country with a criminal murder rate of 7 and noncriminal of 1 is better in my mind than Country B with criminal murder rate of 2 and noncriminal of 2, despite A having twice as much murder as B.

Of course, then the issue is police trying to keep statistics down or better by declaring many murdered people to be drug-dealers...

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Re: Second Amendment Questions

Postby Azrael » Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:14 pm UTC

OP's question regarding the language of the 2nd amendment seems settled and now everyone wants to talk about gun control. There's an app thread for that.

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The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:38 pm UTC

I surprisingly did not find this within the first few pages of serious business, so I thought I'd post this.

Why do we still have the second amendment? I understand why it was initially created: the British army during the revolutionary war was fought with civilians with guns. Nowadays, the arguments I hear supporting the second amendent are that guns are necessary for self-defense and to deter crime, or that they're protection against a totalitarian government.

Neither of these arguments holds up. If guns deterred crime, then why do we have the highest gun-crime rate of any Western Nation? And the notions that american citizens armed with guns could take out the military is laughable: they have F-22s and B-2s and missile-launching submarines. The military could kill us all without getting in range of any civilian gun.

So is there some argument in favour of the second amendment that I'm missing, or is it just not necessary these days?

Holy crap, search function fail. A lot happens here that isn't "within the first few pages."

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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby Czhorat » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:47 pm UTC

Two reasons:

1) The constitutional amendment process is a very heavy lift. It's almost impossible to get that much political consensus on issues which aren't controversial.

2) Owners and manufacturers of firearms are a very strong political lobby here in the US. If even modest gun control measures face strong political opposition (ie, prohibition on fully automatic weapons or on high-capacity ammunition clips), what do you think the reaction would be to trying to eliminate the perceived Constitutional right to a gun?

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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:54 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:Two reasons:

1) The constitutional amendment process is a very heavy lift. It's almost impossible to get that much political consensus on issues which aren't controversial.

2) Owners and manufacturers of firearms are a very strong political lobby here in the US. If even modest gun control measures face strong political opposition (ie, prohibition on fully automatic weapons or on high-capacity ammunition clips), what do you think the reaction would be to trying to eliminate the perceived Constitutional right to a gun?


I know why we still have the second amendment. My question is whether or not we should have it.

Aeariele wrote:Potentially relevant (but locked):

Thanks, that actually answered a question or two I've had about the relevance of the "militia" clause.
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby Aaeriele » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:56 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:And the notions that american citizens armed with guns could take out the military is laughable: they have F-22s and B-2s and missile-launching submarines. The military could kill us all without getting in range of any civilian gun.

One does not have to "take out" the military to necessarily be a force for change (see: just about any violent civilian insurrection against a military dictatorship, anywhere).
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:57 pm UTC

Aaeriele wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:And the notions that american citizens armed with guns could take out the military is laughable: they have F-22s and B-2s and missile-launching submarines. The military could kill us all without getting in range of any civilian gun.

One does not have to "take out" the military to necessarily be a force for change (see: just about any violent civilian insurrection against a military dictatorship, anywhere).

Agreed, but seeing as one doesn't need to take out the military then guns aren't even necessary. So the argument still fails.
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby Aaeriele » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:00 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Agreed, but seeing as one doesn't need to take out the military then guns aren't even necessary. So the argument still fails.


Er, no? Just because one doesn't need to win in a straight-up fight against the military doesn't mean that the ability to harm the military might not be useful. Guerilla warfare is very much a thing, and it's a lot easier thing to do if you have small arms as opposed to shovels and pitchforks.
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:02 pm UTC

You act as though in the face of oppression, the military is going to be using nuclear powered submarines and F-22's, and that any sort of arsenal is superfluous. Evidently you haven't paid attention to how easy it's been in the Middle East for America.

But there's more to the issue than just 'can civilians fight off an oppressive government'. Don't try and make the issue into a simple 'yes or no' question.
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

Aaeriele wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Agreed, but seeing as one doesn't need to take out the military then guns aren't even necessary. So the argument still fails.


Er, no? Just because one doesn't need to win in a straight-up fight against the military doesn't mean that the ability to harm the military might not be useful. Guerilla warfare is very much a thing, and it's a lot easier thing to do if you have small arms as opposed to shovels and pitchforks.


I think guerilla warfare only works if the enemy isn't willing to burn the whole place to the ground. And given that, in this scenario, the military has decided to attack civilians, I don't think that it would be too concerned with carpet bombing large areas to get at a few people. I think the only reason guerilla warfare has worked in Gaza or Iraq is that we've been unwilling to just nuke the entire place. (And so as not to make this a discussion about Israel: in this paragraph, I am making no judgment as to whether or not Israel's actions in Gaza were sufficiently restrained. I am simply pointing out that they could have killed everybody in gaza via a few bombing runs if they wanted to.)

Izawwlgood wrote:You act as though in the face of oppression, the military is going to be using nuclear powered submarines and F-22's, and that any sort of arsenal is superfluous. Evidently you haven't paid attention to how easy it's been in the Middle East for America.


See: this post.
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby Eseell » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:05 pm UTC

You honestly think that the US military would be willing to raze entire cities on our own soil in a civil war? Something we aren't even willing to do in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you think that everyone in the military would even follow orders such as that, if they were given?
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Re: The Second Amendment (US Constitution)

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:we've been unwilling to just nuke the entire place.

Er, yes. And? Do you think that an oppressive government = willingness to nuke the entirety of the opposition? You do understand that there are gradations between Kefka and his Tower of Light and Ghandi yes?
sourmìlk wrote:See: this post.

See: my point. America uses jets, crazy body armor and military grade rifles, drones, trazillion dollar rockets, etc, and a bunch of dudes in the hills with Kalishnikovs have resulted in the deaths of a depressing number of Americans.

Your point seems to be "the Military has better hardware, ergo, any civilian hardware is ineffective and thus no one but law enforcement and the military should have the guns", and that's a pretty stupid argument.
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