The Second Amendment: Time For a Change If We Are To Change

whiskey-rebellionTwo black men shot dead by white police officers in recent days in Louisiana and Minnesota were carrying guns.  As best one can tell at this time they did not use them to threaten the police officer but the officer’s awareness of their presence heightened his fears and caused a tragic loss of life. The men were carrying the guns because they felt they needed them to protect themselves. That is what we have been told we should do by the National Rifle Association and its supporters – we must carry guns to protect ourselves from others with guns. In these two situations the gun caused the tragedy rather than preventing it.

Five white police officers carrying guns were shot dead by a black man carrying a gun which happened to be an assault rifle. Their guns did not protect them against this person intent on murdering them. One police officer I saw heroically tried to stop the shooting. He shot at the murderer but the shots had no effect. The murderer was wearing bullet proof material. Why is it that private citizens can buy and wear body armor?

Forty-nine people died at a gay night club. One man with a gun or guns including an assault rifle murdered them for reasons still not clear although he professed to be acting as a Muslim jihadist fighter. He like all the others who have killed or been killed was legally carrying the gun and prior to the murders was not an outlaw.

These guns abound in America because our Supreme Court has decided that a law passed prior to the time America had a standing army, prior to the time of the invention of the repeating rifle, the revolver, and over 100 years before the invention of the machine gun (Gatling gun),  over 150 years before the invention of the assault weapon, gives Americans the right to carry these things that could not be imagined at that time.

The Second Amendment is a simple statement. It reads: “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.”

Here is a brief history of the law. The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision found that the statement “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” was not limited by the introductory words “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” In other word the framers of our Bill of Rights were wasting their time in putting in that prefatory clause or preamble since it means nothing. That is pure sophistry.

If you want to read the reasoning it is here. But as I have often pointed out the court decisions can say anything the judge’s philosophy directs him or her to write. Man, and judges, are capable of reasoning to any possible conclusion. Even John Martorano who murdered over twenty people reasoned that he is good man.

Reading both the opinion of the court and the dissent both sides get it wrong. Too often the judges have their heads in the clouds and do not get down to the guts of the issue. They are unable to call a rose a rose. They will go on describing the shape of the object and tell how it differs from the begonia or gardenia or double impatiens and then go into a history of each item and on and on.

The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 at a time when the country did not have a standing army and was threatened by forces both within (Shays Rebellion 1786,  Whiskey Rebellion in 1791) and without (War of 1812). It was necessary that the country be able to call upon its men to pick up their weapons to defend it  Given that necessity, it was important that no law could infringe upon that right.

Aside from that these Founding Fathers were aware of the words in the Declaration of Independence that said we had certain unalienable rights—“life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – we instituted governments to protect them – “That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

In the early days of our government we knew not what was in store for us. Were the wrong person to come to power and seek to deprive the people of their inalienable rights by allowing the people to bear arms – which at the time as I mentioned included only single shot rifles – the people would have the ability to fight back.

Now, to suggest there is any way the people can fight back against the government forces that is armed with equipment not dreamed of at the end of the 18th Century – drones, airplanes, tanks, artillery, etc. – is to live in a fantasy land, as much of such a land as the idea that people should have unfettered rights to arm themselves with any type of weapon they see fit.

How absurd Americans are is shown by the result of Obama taking the presidency which was that gun sales surged.  People feared he was coming to take their guns away. The truth is if the government decided to take guns away there is no way of stopping it.

We no longer need militias with our standing armies; we no longer are capable of bringing about the overthrow of our government if it steals our rights; so it follows we no longer as a people have the unfettered right to own guns. Our government is fully capable of protecting us from foreign adversaries and home-grown rebellions.

I am familiar with “when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.”  That is absolutely true but we have seen “when guns are legal outlaws have guns and greater access to them.” One thing is certain we cannot continue down this road and fail to recognize that 21st Century America with a population of over 320 million has little resemblance to 1790 America with a population of a little less than four million people who walked into battle or transported themselves in horse-drawn wagons and whose communications traveled no faster than a horse could run.

The new presidency of Hillary Clinton, as obnoxious as that thought is, will bring to the Supreme Court a bevy of liberal judges. The one good thing, and probably only one good thing about that, is that it will change our rights under the Second Amendment. It can do it with a simple sentence: “The Second Amendment was written before America had a standing army and before weapons became more capable and deadly under circumstances when the nation was at risk; those conditions no longer existing then it is appropriate for the government to make laws governing the use of arms.”

46 thoughts on “The Second Amendment: Time For a Change If We Are To Change

  1. Matt,

    You wrote: “The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision found that the statement “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” was not limited by the introductory words “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” In other word the framers of our Bill of Rights were wasting their time in putting in that prefatory clause or preamble since it means nothing. That is pure sophistry” (end quote)

    What you wrote is either incorrect or is itself sophistry depending on your knowledge of the subject. At best your claim is incorrect as the relation between the prefatory phrase and the main clause need not be limiting in order for the prefatory phrase to mean something. As the Heller court explained the prefatory clause provides a reason the non-infringement of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, but it does not limit or qualify the subject (the right…) of the main clause. Experts for both sides agree that the prefatory phrase is written as absolute construction. The Heller majority read the prefatory phrase in the way that absolute construction is normally read -as providing a rationale for the action that takes place in the main clause, so their argument can hardly be said to be sophistry.

    On the other hand, Stevens’ dissent insisted that the prefatory clause limits the subject of the main clause (by adding the requirement to the right “in service of the state militia”) -that was pure sophistry as the dissenters were well aware that claim is simply not true. Absolution construction modifies the meaning of the entire main clause -not the subject of the main clause.

    1. Mike:
      Consider your suggestion that the first part: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the secourty of a free State”, was said by the Heller Court that it “provides a reason the non-infringement of the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
      Why was that necessary? There was no reason given for the other amendments. There was no need for a rationale or else the writers of the Bill of Rights would have done it with the other amendments. You have to look at other parts of the document to understand the intent of the writers. If they felt no need to explain the reasoning behind the others then saying the first part of the Second Amendment is only explanatory and the second part “ the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringe” is all that was intended to be operative disregards every other amendment.
      It defies logic to say in all the other amendments they did not give a reason but they did in one. They did not have to give a reason so that they did it has to mean something other than as an explanatory clause.
      There is another part of the Second Amendment that should have given the Court difficulty but apparently did not. It is the definition of the word “Arms.” What were considered arms at the time of the adoption of that amendment and should not the word be limited to those arms that were in existence at that time.
      Today arms can be anything from a nuclear weapon down through cluster bombs, smart bombs, F – 35 stealth fighters, tanks, artillery, armed drones and the like. Do you suggest the writers of the Second Amendment would believe that the people should be able to keep and bear these arms?
      How is it a crime for some people to have machine guns if the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?

      1. Matt,
        It does not follow from a supposed lack of necessity (necessary to what you do not say) that the prefatory phrase must mean more than how it is actually written. It is written as absolute construction and as such provides a rationale for the action that occurs in the main clause. As the Heller court pointed out these prefatory clauses were known in the various state Bills of Rights so your argument fails both logically and by reference to contemporary usage.

        The prefatory phrase states political maxim of that time. It is included in 2A but the structure of that amendment does not lend itself to the prefatory phase being a qualifier on the subject of the main clause (the right…). Was it’s inclusion in 2A necessary? That is an odd question but apparently it’s inclusion was desired as the framers included it, but it is also clear that it was intended as a rationale for the non-infringement because that is how the framers worded the amendment.

        You must be aware that the first amendment is the only one that specifically states “Congress shall make no law…” and yet prior to Incorporation the courts treated all of the Bill of Rights as limiting only Congress. How can that be? There is a far stronger case relating to the uniqueness of 1A’s verbiage than the use of absolute construction in 2A.

        Boiled down the “uniqueness” argument is absurd. We are to believe that since 2A is the only amendment among the Fed BOR which uses an absolute phrase, that this single usage must then mean something different than what absolute construction normally conveys (rationale for the action which takes place in the main clause) was intended.

        The definition of the word “arms” as relates to 2A was spelled out in several early state court cases (Aymette vs TN and others) and this definition was adopted by SCOTUS in US v. MIller. It is still good law as related to “arms” kept for the common defense.

        Lastly you make a common mistake of not recognizing the distinction between defining the scope a right and infringement of that right. The scope of the freedom of speech never included shouting fire in a theater, therefore laws against such actions are not infringements on the freedom of speech. The scope of the freedom of the press never included counterfeiting, so that laws against counterfeiting are not violations of the freedom of the press. But a law requiring prior restraint would violate the freedom of the press.

  2. Good analysis. Agree completely. More regulation of ammo is needed.

    The thought that an armed populace could resist the police and/or military is pure fantasy. The police and military are trained to work as a units and would bring disciplined fires on any mob of armed individuals. It would be a slaughter.

    1. Khalid,

      You assume a conventional battle between the police/military and an armed populace. An armed insurgency is something different.

  3. “The truth is if the government decided to take guns away there is no way of stopping it.”

    That statement invokes both the dangers of a standing army and an unrealistic expectation.

    So, if the government decides to deprive the citizens of their rights, the citizens will not revolt? Look at Connecticut and New York for demonstrated non-compliance with some of their recent gun control legislation. Expect California to be no different with their recent legislation. Note that enforcement by government has been slight to non-existent, as the Law of Unintended Consequences may apply, especially for those who expect enforcement of this legislation will make things “safer” and “more peaceful”.

    As for reliance upon any government to “protect” you, know that there is no such requirement:

    You expect government to function like a well-regulated timepiece. That expectation may not be met.

    Do you identify with this passage?

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  4. When the commies first came to Ukraine in order to collective the farms, they made repeated – repeated – searches of the villages to confiscate every conceivable weapon from the villagers, depriving them of the ability to defend themselves.

    The commies have always depended on thugs for their purposes. Lenin used sralin, a bank robber and a murder, for finance and enforcement. And so forth, even today.

    Then came the killing of villagers, via famine, via murder by government.

    In the US, Killery has just once again demonstrated that she is above the law. And given the past 20 years, she will continue to increase her lawlessness if given the opportunity to infest the office of US President.

    What did Hildebeast say about Libya? “We came, we saw, he died”

    Hildebeast had a guy in California arrested for a video, on the pretext that he caused the Benghazi massacre, and not Hildebeast.

    Janet Reno had people killed in Texas – because they were on a compound.

    And Bernie the commie has just demonstrated that a US presidential candidate can not only push communism, but also have the Hildbeast buy into it.

    When Killery and all the other government control freaks give up their secret service protection or other protection, and their ability to use government to kill people, maybe people will be willing to give up their rights. Maybe

    1. Elmer:

      Agree totally about what you say about Ukraine. It seems that Hillary is not one of your favorites.

  5. Matt, who are “the certain people under certain circumstances” that you will allow to own a firearm? Are you saying that a person must have to prove a “specific need or purpose” to own a firearm. What happens if that “specific need or purpose” changes,
    do you suggest a yearly review of all LTC’s. How does a person predict a “specific need
    or purpose” or is one simply left unprotected until he or she is harmed or in danger? As to your comparison of firearms to heavily regulated vehicles, driving a car is not a Right
    under our Constitution. In closing, are you a firearm owner with an LTC?

    1. Bobby:

      Here is what I would like to see. I would give everyone over 16 the right to be licensed to have a firearm subject to certain exceptions like those with records or a history of mental illness. Those younger than 16 could have them while in the company of a responsible licensed adult over 21. Like automobile licenses, the licenses would issue upon application and may contain restrictions like no right to carry a hidden weapon but to own one at home.I would require every gun in the country to be registered like an automobile. Once registered they would get a title again like automobiles. If you are a hunter, sportsman, collector, seller you can continue to do whatever it is you have been doing. If you decide not to hunt any longer then you can still keep your guns.

      The license would be automatically renewed every seven to ten years after a check on the person’s background.True driving a car is not a right under our Constitution but my argument is that neither is carrying a gun. Even today, as you know, if I have a license to own a firearm the police can come and take it from me if a judge orders it under a 209A.

      I have a firearms ID card; I do not have a license to carry even though when I was in the service I have and expert rating on the .45; the last time I fired the M-1 I had all white discs but it didn’t count since it was only a 200 yard range. So I was a lowly marksman with the M-1 unlike most of the southern guys who grew up hunting who were all experts.

      I think there is a better way to do things given that no one under any circumstance will ever be able to take on the federal government and all its police allies with its modern weaponry. If we accept that we are not going to be fighting the federal government what problem is there with letting that government know what guns you own.

      1. Your voter ID card should be your license to keep and bear arms as well as serve on a jury. If not yet a citizen, then your naturalization papers should suffice.

        If as an adult, society cannot trust you to possess a firearm, then why should society allow you to be loose on the street? You might hurt someone!

        1. Ed:

          There are five and six-year-old kids society trusts to be loose on the streets.

          1. “Five and six-year-old kids” that are registered voters? You missed the point entirely.

            As a competent adult, you have many civil rights. As a child, an incompetent adult, or an inmate of a jail or prison, your rights are restricted. The scheme you propose assumes that adult registered voters are incompetent and must prove to the government their competence before they have full civil rights. The decisions of the government may be capricious and arbitrary, reflecting the political philosophy of the decision maker. I propose a scheme whereby it is assumed that you, as a registered voter, have full civil rights and it is incumbent on the government to prove otherwise following due process.

            As to those “five and six-year-old kids society trusts to be loose on the streets”, the parents or guardians are still responsible for those children. Those children are loose on the streets until they violate that trust.

            1. Ed:

              You seem to read the Second Amendment without the first part. I suggest there is no right to have arms because the first part limits when they can be possessed. It follows that the Government can decide who can bear arms. I am not taking away anyone’s rights but allowing the Government to confer the right or license on others to carry arms.

              I have no problem with your scheme and agree that the licensing to carry a firearm should be as freely gained as that of a person seeking a driver’s license. I further agree that strict conditions must be shown to deprive a person of that right. I would want one other thing and that is that all guns be registered.

              As to those “five and six-year-olds” as you know if any parent were to loose them upon the streets at this time they would probably be judged an unfit parent and the kids taken away from them and put in a foster home where guns would be more readily available.

              1. You wrote “I suggest there is no right to have arms because the first part limits when they can be possessed.”
                You are way off on that one. Perhaps an examination of the various state constitutions that have similar wording may help:

                I also refer you back to the information on the Slave Codes, where state governments in the United States first claimed to have the power to set limits on possession of arms. Reading Judge Taney’s 1857 decision in Scott. V. Sanford, I see the following two passages:
                “It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.”
                “For example, no one, we presume, will contend that Congress can make any law in a Territory respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people of the Territory peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.
                Nor can Congress deny to the people the right to keep and bear arms, nor the right to trial by jury, nor compel anyone to be a witness against himself in a criminal proceeding.”

                You wrote “It follows that the Government can decide who can bear arms.” That is contradictory and silly, as that is infringement. See Judge Taney’s opinion above.

                “I would want one other thing and that is that all guns be registered.” Interesting, as a century ago firearms did not necessarily have a serial number. The requirement to record the serial number in a FFL brokered transfer was enacted in the Gun Control Act of 1968. Many states other than Massachusetts do not require that the government be involved in firearms transfers between non-FFL dealers. The state of Florida specifically prohibits maintenance of a database of firearms owned in Florida. As something that does not involve interstate commerce, Congress would lack grounds for requiring registration for all firearms transfers. Mandating that gun owners in the states of New York and Connecticut register their rifles of a certain type has already met with massive non-compliance, creating millions of potential felons. Residents of New York City have received letters instructing them to turn in some of their firearms. Please do not encourage others to spend our money frivolously for little, dubious or no benefit.


              2. Ed:

                That’s not the same Judge Taney who wrote that black people in slavery are not humans but are chattels or goods in the Dred Scott decision, is it? You are using him for an authority!

                AS for interstate commerce I doubt there are many guns that do not travel in interstate commerce.

              3. That is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, who held that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. Taney was nominated by President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat. During Jackson’s term, Taney also served as U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of War but was rejected by the Senate when appointed as Secretary of the Treasury. The Senate also rejected Taney the first time he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Note that Senate rejection of a Presidential nominee is not a new concept.

                I do not concur with the totality of Taney’s decision along with the majority of SCOTUS judges that people are property, but pointed out what was the 1857 understanding by the SCOTUS of the individual rights of a citizen that Scott sought and the 1857 understanding by the SCOTUS of the power that Congress does not have.

                You argue that the rights of citizens evolve and diminish with changing circumstances in the United States. I respectfully disagree.


  6. Matt,

    I would take issue with your post on a few points:

    1. I think it’s a bit of a cheap shot to claim the Supreme Court did away with the prefatory clause as a trivial addition. There is a long history the underlies the creation of the second amendment. It is a history I have not reviewed in a while, but I do recall it draws heavily on the history of armed citizens in England, and that there is much debate that revolves around the meaning of the word ‘militia’. In short, it was a traditional understanding at the time of the amendment’s creation that militia refers to the citizen body as a whole. This was in part because there was no such thing as a defense department as we know it today, and that English governments relied on an armed citizenry from which to draw when forming a militia. Some of my understanding is drawn from this helpful paper published in the Valparaiso Law Review:

    Here’s a helpful quote:

    “Eighteenth-century commentators frequently discussed the evils of standing armies. Blackstone observed that professional soldiers endangered liberty.8 In free states, the defense of the realm was considered best left to citizens who took up arms only when necessary and who returned to their communities and occupations when the danger passed. Standing armies were viewed as
    instruments of fear intended to preserve the prince.”

    2. That leads me to the second point about ‘taking away people’s guns.’ It seems to me that there is an assumption that it would be easy for the government to take away people’s guns if it really wanted to, and that if people resisted, the greatest military force the world has ever known would have no problem crushing an insurgency. Yet, the Pentagon cannot crush insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc, as it could not in Vietnam. Different countries, you say? True. But does that make a difference? I argue it would not. Insurgencies thrive on a couple of things: guerrilla warfare, sleeper cells, mountainous terrain, organization, an armed force, etc. All of which can easily exist.


    One, it would be organized and impassioned. The NRA is probably the most organized and effective civil liberties organization in the U.S. 5 million members. An annual budget of $300 million. Effective influence in more than a majority of state legislatures. Why? Because guns are part of the culture of America. Some of this is the result of a gun industry that arose in the nineteenth century and ‘manufactured’ demand for guns. But even if that’s true, it is also true that a century and a half later, Americans are deeply attached to their guns, and that cultural aspect is not going away. Here’s a helpful article that makes some of these points in a cool, reasons fashion:

    Two, the United States does not lack mountainous terrain. The Rockies, the Appalachians, etc.

    Three, sleeper cells would be easy in a population of 300 million people spread across thousands of miles, in isolated rural hamlets and in great metropolitan areas (where safe houses can easily blend into neighborhoods).

    Four, an armed force. There are 112 guns for every 100 people (I read that somewhere recently). People know their guns. Attacks like what we saw in Dallas could occur with much greater frequency.

    This argument could be developed more. But in closing, I would only say: I love to go to the range to shoot. It is a sport. Also, while I agree that guns are not necessarily a guarantee of self-defense, and that there is much randomness in actual gun violence that make things go awry very quickly, I nevertheless am in the process of getting a concealed carry permit and look forward to having one. I consider it a right guaranteed by the second amendment, and I am glad to have that right.

    And as a footnote, it is worth pointing out that gun violence has actually been on the decline over the last two decades, though you wouldn’t know it given the media attention given to these tragic cases of gun violence. If anything, we need to focus on gun safety, training, etc. Here’s an article I wrote about the critical importance of gun safety:


    1. Jon, glad you posted. As a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, in recent years I find myself bothered by what I consider an overwhelming ignorance (in most of Mass., at least) of guns and of what it it means to be a responsible gun owner. While I have never owned a gun, I have read a lot about them, the Second Amendment, and about self-defense. The legislature in Massachusetts, along with most citizens, police and others, appears not to have much use for guns, 2A or self-defense. While we have here what is nearly the opposite of a “gun culture,” we do ourselves no favors by wallowing in ignorance and intolerance for anything related to lawful gun ownership, perhaps especially for hunting and self-defense.

    2. Jon:

      It might be a cheap shot in your mind but if you read my post tomorrow you’ll see I’m right on the money.

      You miss my point in my post; the history of the Second Amendment is not relevant to the present day. The history would deal mainly with muskets and swords. It would predate all the advances in weaponry we have seen. Your tlking before standing armies. You want to apply 18th Century thinking on arms to today. That’s like comparing apples with astronauts.

      2. I’m talking about controlling gun ownership – licensing and registration. The government should issue licenses to own guns and also know who owns what guns. What is bad about that? The objection to that is if the government know who has guns they can take them away. That is when you get to the issue of taking guns away. I’m sure 98% of the people would have no trouble with being licensed and having guns registered. I suggest talking about insurgencies is not relevant. America is a stranger in those lands. As for an insurgency in America that is just not in the cards; Americans are not about to take up arms against their country.

      The NRA has nothing to do with civil liberties. It is a gun group. Our liberties do not come from owning guns.Your don’t for a minute think that, do you? Ed who has written here has shown how the NRA was quite comfortable with reasonable restrictions up until the late 1950s.

      As for Americans being attached to their guns they can contine that attachment as much as they want only the government should know who is licensed to have them and to whom they are registered to. Who is going to take up arms because of that. You are not serious suggesting that some type of rebel group would have a chance against the modern American police and armed forces. What you describe is NRA fantasy.

      You like to shoot guns that is fine. Go out and shoot them at a gun range. You think you are going to be safe with a conceal arms permit. Did you ever shoot anyone? Do you know what it is like to do that? You think you will be safer with it if no one knows you have it — are you going to pull it out and shoot someone who threatens you? Two guys were killed who had guns on them last week; at least one was licensed to carry but because the police officer feared the gun he shot the man.

      I just read if guns were more regulated 1/3 of the suicides would not occur.Gun violence is down but so is violent crime. Is there a connection? The idea there is a Constitutional right to a firearm will be soon corrected by a different Supreme Court. When that Court says you have no Constitutional right to carry a firearm what will you then do? Are you going to join the others in the Rockies?

      1. Matt,

        The third amendment against quartering of troops is, one might argue, not relevant in today’s world. Does that invalidate the third amendment? It seems to me a weak argument to base the validity of a right guaranteed in the bill of rights on its historical relevancy.

        As for insurgencies, it might seem far-fetched to envision such a world, but all I am suggesting is that it is plausible given what we know about how insurgencies work. More likely is that people would simply not obey strictures against owning a gun. My guess is that you’d probably just see a lot of illegal gun ownership if the Supreme Court ever decided to invalidate personal gun ownership.

        The NRA is a civil liberties organization in the sense that it is devoted to preserving the second amendment right to own guns. It is certainly not the ACLU.

        I am aware that the evidence is ambiguous at best as to whether guns are an effective form of self-defense. One can guess many reasons for that. There is the inherent randomness of being under fire. There is the variation in how gun owners are trained. There are the particular circumstances of any instance of gun violence – time, place, position, etc. But if someone is running at me with a machete, I’d like to have a .38 revolver to stop him. That’s why I practice at the range.

      2. “I just read if guns were more regulated 1/3 of the suicides would not occur.”

        If guns were more regulated (less available) then suicide by firearm would be less, but not suicide overall. Places like Japan were firearms are relatively unavailable demonstrate a much higher suicide rate, but by other methods than firearms.

        ” “But when we compared people in gun-owning households to people not in gun-owning households, there was no difference in terms of rates of mental illness or in terms of the proportion saying that they had seriously considered suicide,” Barber says. “Actually, among gun owners, a smaller proportion say that they had attempted suicide. So it’s not that gun owners are more suicidal. It’s that they’re more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun.””

        “Changing the means by which people try to kill themselves doesn’t necessarily ease the suicidal impulse or even the rate of attempts. But it does save lives by reducing the deadliness of those attempts.”

        Well, if we cannot fix the “suicide problem” with more gun control, then surely we can fix the “homicide problem” with more gun control, right? Actually, no.

  7. Matt, the Minnesota police officer was Hispanic! Plus, NYT reports recent Harvard article that police are slightly more likely to shoot white suspects than black suspects.
    2. You admit your view is the minority view on the 2nd Amendment.
    3. It’s true, machine guns and revolvers were not invented when the 2nd amendment was adopted, but when the First Amendment’s right to free speech was first adopted radio and television weren’t invented.
    3. By statute, we already prohibit the sale of fully automatic weapons.
    4. your logic would give the Supreme Court the power to take away handguns and shotguns and any other weapon not available in the 18th Century. The People would be left with muskets and sabers.
    5. The 2nd Amendment recognizes the People’s right to protect themselves not just against criminals but against a too powerful, threatening State. The State should fear the people.
    6. The People should remain well armed, in case they want to overthrow the State.
    7. It’s National Security, too. What Nation will invade a well armed American people.
    8. Good policing in New York City reduced the annual murder rate from 2,500 to 300. This year, 2016, less than 300 murders are expected.
    9. America is not Europe nor Asia.
    10. A well armed people keep the Government in check.

    1. Bill:

      1. With respect to police more likely to shoot white suspects that has to be weighed in consideration of the percentage of people in the population. Blacks are 12% and whites are 74% (estimates) so there are many more whites available to stop.
      2. My view is that of a minority of judges (soon to change) but you cannot believe for one second that the founding fathers would have had no trouble with anyone over 18 owning an assault rifle. The judges get too tied down in playing legal games and fail to look at the big picture – 1776 has no relation to 2016.
      3. I’m not sure that statute applies nationwide; an assault rifle is pretty close to a fully automatic rifle as you can come.
      4. Yes, my view would let all guns be taken away but then certain ones would be available for hunting and protection to certain people under certain circumstances. We regulate cars; why not regulate guns. We would not be left with muskets and sabers, although that is not a bad idea, but the full range of weapons would still be available but controlled by safety needs and licensed people for specific purposes.
      5. The state will never fear the people in modern times. Realistically the state with its power is much different than back in the 18th Century. As long as the state has a standing army it not fear anyone. No one group of people would ever be able to take on the state anymore. Those days are over and have been for a long time.
      6. Be realistic, that just is not in the cards about overthrowing the state. Theory or 18th Century conditions permit it but no longer. Remember the War between the States?
      7. We will not be invaded not because our people are armed but because of our standing army. If you did away with our armed forces we would be sitting ducks – for the invasions airforce, drones, artillery, etc. Didn’t we just see a well armed force of ISIS in Ramalla lose because of our superior air power and artillery? Do we let the people set up their own air forces, tank units and artillery divisions?
      8. Good policing did not help the rest of the nation. How many less murders would there have been with better gun control?
      9. We could learn a lot from other countries. It is clear we are different especially our train service and inner city transportation. The streets there are cleaner. The people have as much freedom as we do. America has more people in prison and more gun deaths. There are lots of differences.
      10. You are forgetting history. A well read people keep the Government in check. Tell me one time in our nation’s history where a well armed group of people effected changes in our government.

      When more guns are available more outlaws will have guns. Time to look at the issue squarely in the face of today’s circumstances and consider what existed at the time of the Second Amendment and what exactly the reason was that it contained the language “being necessary to the security of a free State”

      1. Tell me one time in our nation’s history where a well armed group of people effected changes in our government.

        One example – it’s a convoluted story, but there is the Whisky Rebellion

        Another example – “redneck” coal miners, who wore red bandanas so they wouldn’t shoot each other. The name came from the red bandanas. It was the Battle of Blair Mountain, in 1921, and the government was trying to prevent the coal miners from unionizing.

        10,000 armed coal miners. The US Army was sent out by presidential order to squish them.

        There are other examples

        1. Elmer:

          They did very little to bring about any changes in the government. The poor miners were crushed as were all the other mine uprisings in the West. The federal troops and state militias made sure nothing changed.

          1. The march to unionization was a long one – this was a step along the way toward changing government.

      2. Matt, the Harvard Study took into account the differences in populations and still found, per capital, whites were more likely to be shot than blacks. That’s why the study was newsworthy. It diverged from national statistics. The Harvard Study was of 10 major Metropolitan Areas. Federal studies, it’s true, shows 27% of those killed by police are blacks, but whereas blacks are only 13% of the population, they commit 50% of murders, 50% of armed robberies and represent 50% of those arrested for carrying weapons.
        2. The sale of fully automatic rifles and machine guns is proscribed nationwide.
        3. A well armed group of people overthrew the British and formed America. In the War of 1812, again, Jackson recruited civilians to repel the British. Well armed citizens helped win the West.
        4. Internationally, Bolshevik local militias overthrew the Tsar in Russia, Irish rebels won their freedom from Great Britain. Mao’s millitia’s conquered China, South African militias fought for their independence. Ho’s local militias kicked the U.S. out of Vietnam. Local militias created ISIS. Locals usurped power in Egypt and Libya.
        5. In our Declaration of Independence, we recognize the inherent right of citizens to take up arms and sever relations with existing oppressive governments.
        6. Europe is security-dependent on the U.S. and was especially so during WWI and WWII. Few European countries have a Constitution and Bill of Rights like America’s. Many European countries have adopted restrictive so-called “hate-speech” legislation and the trend is worsening. The KKK and Black Panthers can spread hateful messages in America, but the State sanctions and politically approves speech in Europe.
        7. If we weaken any of our Bill of Rights, we risk weakening all of them.
        8. On a conciliatory note, we are all in favor of reasonable regulations which do not impede basic rights.

        1. Bill:

          You may want to read this on cops killing more whites than blacks. It notes that wo times as many blacks are killed than are whites.

          2. You corrected that to note there are conditions on buying fully automatic; but a semi-automatic is just as deadly as a fully automatic.

          3. I’m not talking about the history when it was necessary for a well armed militia and the guns were capable of single shots; I’m talking about the present.

          4. The Russian Revolution was accomplished with little gunfire and that was from single shot guns; the Irish rebels didn’t beat the British and they were fighting a foreign force, Mao had an army during a world war, the South Africans were coerced by the boycott of their country into negotiations not by people with arms; the Vietcong had an army behind them, Jackson was back before standing armies, As for the others I’m not talking about oppressive states I’m talking about the US.

          5. I wrote about the 18th Century Declaration – that was another time that has no relevance to the present.

          6. I don’t see the relevance to the gun issue.

          7. We have weakened he 2nd Amendment through a faulty interpretation. How is it weakening somehing by giving it its proper interpretation? When we changed the 4th Amendment from a trespass meaning to the right of privacy meaning did that weaken it or strenghten it.

          8. I wish that were true but the NRA is not.

    2. No. An extra level of paperwork and a Federal transfer tax are required to own a fully automatic firearm, plus they are more expensive because the supply has been restricted. Add in the limited places to fire them and the expense of the ammunition consumed in high quantities and you are talking about some serious money. Here are the details from a Class III vendor in Ohio:

      In Massachusetts:

      Having said all that, the actual differences between a semi-automatic AR-15 pattern rifle and a selective fire (capable of single shot semi-automatic fire and multiple shot fully automatic fire depending on selector switch setting) M-16/M-4 are minimal and it would cost less than $20 more to manufacture the selective fire weapon.

    1. Henry:

      As someone suggested or I thought the police in Chicago should announce a Blue Out for a couple of days and let the ACLU and BLM people take over the protection of the people. The Chicago mayor and his department made an agreement with ACLU that every stop by a police officer they will review. As a result the stops stopped. The city is reaching the state of anarchy.

      As I prosecutor I recognized the job of the street police officer differed substantially from mine. I sat in an office away from the turmoil of the streets; the police officer faces it every day; I could shut my door; the police officer cannot (except as we see in Chicago). In other words you cannot judge the actions of the police officers from the safety of an office as the ACLU wants to do.

      I have the feeling if you took everyone in the ACLU that is making decisions on the police officers behavior not one has ever been in a situation like that of the officer. You really have to walk in another’s shoes to understand what it is like – soon the people in Chicago will be begging for things to change.

      1. the police in Chicago should announce a Blue Out for a couple of days

        That was actually the plot of one of the Robocop movies.

  8. I agree, Matt. Shootings have dropped dramatically during the first six months of the year in New York City. Arrests for gun-related crimes are up 20 percent during the same period of time. Tough enforcement makes a difference even though there’s nothing to stop the flow of guns from other states. Gang activity tells the tale in Chicago.

    1. Dan:

      No nonsense enforcement helps; a Supreme Court with an agenda does not. It is amazing that we continue on this spiral of gun violence and pretend there is nothing we can do about it. We may never stop the flow of guns but we should be erecting dams to try it rather than making it easier to do so. As long as the Supreme Court fails to recognize 2016 is not the same as 1776 with respect to weaponry we’ll continue to have young guys like Seth Richard gunned down coming from visiting his girlfriend. What horror! I feel so bad for his parents the parents of other young people who are woken up by a call to learn that their child has been gunned down by lunatics who have access to guns. It is time to reinterpret the Second Amendment and restore sanity to our country.

  9. Good luck with that.

    115 Shot This Week In Chicago As ‘Gun-Free-Zone’-City Continues Death Spiral

    5% white; 17.6% Hispanic/Other; 77.4% Black. 78.5% ‘no arrests made’

    All of which is quite a feat for a city which ranks as one of the most regulated cities in the nation for gun control.

    Concealed carry is almost nonexistent. To purchase a gun or ammunition requires a Firearm Owners Identification card in the entire state of Illinois, and additionally, a Chicago Firearm Permit – which is required to possess a firearm in Chicago.

    Not only are the people heavily regulated in Chicago, but guns are also heavily regulated. Any long gun with a grip protruding from the stock or a firearm with a telescoping stock is prohibited and classified as an “assault weapon.”

    Magazines are limited to a 12-round capacity.

    Even a spring-powered pellet gun with a muzzle velocity of 700 feet-per-second is classified as a “firearm,” although it does not use gun powder, the component that puts the “fire” in “firearm.”

    A stun-gun — a non-lethal device with no projectile — is considered a deadly weapon and cannot be carried for self-defense.

    Chicago, for all intents and purposes, is a “gun-free zone.”

  10. Glad you broached this topic, Matt.

    Do you think that changes to the Second Amendment need to go beyond the banning of and confiscation of high-capacity weapons and related ammunition? If so, what else do the changes need to address?

    1. GOK:

      The Second Amendment just has to be interpreted in the way in which I suggest. The amendment’s language “being necessary to the security of a free State” explains it. The idea that the Second Amendment gave the American people the right to arm themselves as we now have it ignores that clause which explains why the Second Amendment was written. It recognized in order for the country to defend itself it may need to call out its militia, which is to call its men to arms, so the right of those men to carry the arms should not be interfered with. It does not have to be changed but to be interpreted in the manner in which it say it was intended. Now with a standing army and armaments the founding fathers could never have dreamed of the citizenry need not carry arms.
      I suggest it is laughable and inconceivable to imagine the founding fathers would believe it was all right for any person of age to own an AK47 or other assault weapon.
      Ed has written to me on this issue and sets out some good articles that give the history of the interpretation of the Amendment.
      If we properly decide that the Second Amendment truly applies to securing the freedom of the state and there is no unfettered right to bear arms then legislation can be passed that can do anything with respect to guns or other weapons just like it is done with automobiles. We have speed limits and safety requirements that come with automobiles; so we could have weapon capacity limits and safety requirements that come with guns. We want our hunters to be able to use guns but we can define who is a hunter, must he have a hunting license, if he does, what type of weapon can he own. We can put a limit on the number and types of weapons people own, we can mandate how they be secured in their location, etc.
      These and many others can be worked on to cut down on the availability of these weapons to people who really should not have them.
      The more guns are limited and controlled the less access the so-called outlaws will have to them.
      I just read about some 28 year old guy from Nebraska being murdered in Washington DC walking home from his girlfriends house at four in the morning. He was shot four times. That is the present state of our country.
      It must change. The change will make it safer for the police officers as well as the citizens.

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