Friday, March 09, 2007

Johnny Get Your Gun

Looks like now you, too, can have a gun!

The US Court of Appeals has just overturned a February 2005 US District Court Ruling, thereby declaring the District ban on gun ownership to be unconstitutional. Haven’t seen details yet, but it was a 2-1 decision.

It’s probably too early to dash out to Virginia and buy a Glock—the decision will probably be appealed—but this seems like a big setback for gun control and a huge victory for NRA fans.

Coming from a place steeped in gun culture (Texas, God help me), I can’t help thinking this is a huge step backwards. Let’s face it, though, the whole idea of gun control seems so last century—does anyone even talk about it anymore? We see the news reports of gunshot deaths daily, but nobody bothers to make the connection between those statistics and the fact that this country is up to its eyeballs in guns. Even the Democrats run away from the issue these days.

Personally, I think anyone has the potential to be a killer—you just have to be angry enough—and the idea that you can divide the population into criminals (who shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns) and non-criminals (who should) is nonsense. If more people acquire guns, look for more domestic quarrels involving gunshots, more kids accidentally shooting each other with daddy’s pistol, and more weepy candlelight vigils on TV with grieving parents wondering how this could happen. Actually, the answer is pretty easy, but as long as there is no nationwide gun control and the NRA’s Rambo fantasy holds sway—that’s basically what we deserve.

Oh, and I imagine the cops won’t be too happy about this either.
Something to think about for the next anti-crime rally.


At 3/09/2007 1:04 PM, Blogger Ed said...

Show me one case where violence increased after gun control laws were struck down. Violence actually increased in DC after it imposed gun control.

“allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths. If those states which did not have Right to Carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly....[W]hen state concealed handgun laws went into effect in a county, murders fell by 8.5 percent, and rapes and aggravated assaults fell by 5 and 7 percent" Lott, “Crime, Deterrence, and Right To Carry Concealed Handguns,”1996.

At 3/09/2007 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Case in point: Every household in Iraq is allowed not just a puny handgun, but an AK-47 assault rifle. And how's that working out for them?

At 3/09/2007 5:17 PM, Anonymous laurence hawkins said...

I would like to get a group of people from this community and practice our skills so we can shoot at these gangbangers so they can see who means business. Anybody else game?

At 3/10/2007 11:11 AM, Anonymous Charles Walker said...

I suppose we can "thank" Bush's court appointments for this. I think it's disastrous if this ruling stands. While it is true that a few criminals may think twice (not very many I think) mostly what will happen is more people getting killed.

Gun control is not last century. It's the norm in most of the civilized world.

At 3/10/2007 6:22 PM, Blogger volvolution1 said...

In my opinion gangbangers exist in a world that they perceive to be lawless. So for the most part they are impervious to changes in the legal system underlying society. The only real impact it will have is one less charge received when picked up for a crime.

If there's anything I worry about, it's the possibility of gun shops coming into the District. Fast, unfettered access to 39mm rounds for AK-47s is a scary thing...

At 3/12/2007 7:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous - you seem to be inferring that the casualties in Iraq are not due to the war, but due to gun control laws . . .

Chuck - The lone dissenting opinion came courtesy of a Bush appointee.

At 3/12/2007 9:36 AM, Anonymous Barrett said...

I think the "gun control" issue is more multi-sided than some people on either the left or right acknowledge. First, the term "gun control" is one of those political phrases that cleverly describes something in terms of its *hoped-for* results, rather than its *actual* results, which proceed naturally from the incentives it creates. The actual results of "gun control" laws, in state after state and in country after country around the world, are not increased "gun control" but increased gun crime. (Not to mention the perverse outcomes of these laws. In an infamous case in England a few years ago, a man who shot an intruder in his home got more jail time than the intruder.) It's been no exception in the District, where "gun control" laws have co-existed with a rise in violent crime.

Will some accidents -- including fatal ones -- result from an increase in *legally owned and licensed* guns? Probably, just as car accidents do. But our job as citizens isn't to baby-sit each other. "Gun control" laws prevent a law-abiding citizen from having the option to own a *legal and licensed* gun, and thereby from voluntarily assuming the potential benefits and risks of ownership, just as car owners do. If the statistics on *legal and licensed* gun ownership and gun crime weren't enough reason to consider relaxing "gun control" laws, issues of personal freedom would be a strong argument in themselves.

The D.C Court of Appeals, of course, was concerned with the constitutionality of the District's ban on *legal and licensed* guns in the home. Its decision is in keeping with recent constitutional scholarship on the Second Amendment.

We don't have to like every decision a constitutional court reaches, of course, and open debate is a great thing. Informed debate is better still.

At 3/12/2007 1:01 PM, Anonymous Martin Moulton said...

* "a well REGULATED militia"

The use of those personal arms was meant to protect the community not the individual. When the second amendment was written it implied that the government was allowed not only to register gun owners but periodically check to make sure gun owners were following the law. In fact, the government was empowered to periodically demand that gun owners were making a full accounting of their weapons and ammunition and when necessary search the property of those suspected not to be following the regulations to protect the general public (not indivual persons or property) from attack.

ideally, this would give the government more authority and power to go after violent criminals suspected of weilding arms.

This level of government oversight which the founding fathers inteneded would be seen as an invasion of privacy by liberals and conservatives alike today. But without this regulation, the second amendment would never have been ratified.

First and foremost for daily practical purposes, those laws were a part of the Apartheid like US Government strategies to maintain slavery as an institution becuase slaves were explicity prohibited from bearing arms. It was also used to give white settlers and pioneers the right to kill Native American peoples whose territory they sought to appropriate.

White's, slave owners or not, were given a license to kill african americans and slaves who they "felt" "thought" or "dreamed" might rebel against the status quo fow whatever reason. Thus, it gave whites an ability to shoot an kill slaves who might exhibit the intelligence and prowess to even peacefully organize other slaves to defy the racist US government of the day or attempt to escape bondage.

I don't doubt that citizens today live in fear of intruders threatening their families' safety, but the racist founding fathers didn't intend to give individuals the right to kill (white) individuals. Nor do I defend the victims of a rotten racially unbalanced system who make the CHOICE of resorting to petty or violent crime.

But at the end of the day, the Court of Appeals has helped perpetuate a system that ultimately affects financially poor and (by systematic design) poorly educated americans and enrich the gun lobby which rules as the King (of lobbies) behind our sham democracy.

"For war [and the gun lobby] billions more, but no more for the poor [African Americans, poor whites, latinos, native peoples, asians, schools, urban assistance services, etc. etc.]."
— Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Corretta Scott King eulogy

*— A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America

At 3/12/2007 3:03 PM, Anonymous Martin Moulton said...

... and the militias were given respectability and legitimacy only due to the fact that the country did not have the money to fund municipal and regional government sponsored police forces or the diverse and array of offical national military forces which we have today.

At 3/12/2007 5:27 PM, Anonymous Charles Walker said...

I lived in Britain for many years where there are very strict controls on guns, and I've lived here. I can tell you that it is better to have the strict gun laws that they have over there.

I'm not saying that there is not a lot of crime there. All of the social dysfunctions we have here, they have there, and people are just as prone to violence. What they don't have are so many guns added to the volatile mixture. When somebody is looking for a trouble, they pick up a knife or a broken pint glass because a gun is much harder to come by. You can hurt somebody with other weapons, but it's much less efficient than guns. The result is a lot fewer deaths.

At 3/13/2007 7:27 AM, Anonymous Gee said...

Chuck - The lone dissenting opinion came courtesy of a Bush appointee.

Um, actually it was Poppy Bush, not the current president, who appointed the dissenter, Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, to the D.C. Circuit.

At 3/13/2007 8:45 AM, Blogger Ed said...

Martin, "...The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". Every right in the Bill of Rights is an individual right. Today, these rights apply to all people, black, white, other.
Britain has a much higher crime rate than the US.
Let's get beyond anecdote and look at the stats:

At 3/13/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Martin Moulton said...

Ed. ... I was simply providing context, the heart of the matter is, again, that the laws were created at a certain point in american history for a particular set of people and for some very specific (pathetic) reasons – NONE of which included giving an individual citizen license to arbitrarily kill another citizen. They were allowed to hunt animals (for food). But at the time of its creation much of the debate around the amendment specifically demeaned the use of individual firearms against other citizens, criminal or not — despite the fact that (and possibly because) the gun lobby had its hooks buried deeply in our political system even then.

"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."

The US government of the day wasn't concerned enough about individual public safety to finance a regulated police force. Luckily, now that the general public has successfully changed the priorities of our government (at the knees of a capitalistic sytem influenced too much by a lot of inhumane and greedy people), we now have police and an army who are REGULATED by the government to use arms to keep the peace and MAINTAIN THE SECURITY of our Nation.

Applied fully the second amendment would (I wish) empower the authorities today to go after suspected arms carrying violent criminals even superceding some privacy concerns. Unregulated use of fire arms by citizens can easily be seen as a potential threat to the internal security of the state and infringe upon the freedoms of its citizenry.

Imagine walking down the street in broad daylight with your kid in a stroller knowing that some teenager may have borrowed his family's gun, as easily as taking coins from his mother's purse, and has the ability to use that whenever he wants to. Are you really ready to pull out your pistol and get in a shootout with your child present?

Too many black kids (and "wiggers", latino and asian youth), already walk around with their pants hanging down round below their asses to pretend that they are carrying glocks. Do we realy want to give them easy access to living out their twisted fantasies?

At 3/13/2007 1:11 PM, Blogger Ed said...

Self-defense is pathetic? Isn't it possible that youth might not be out robbing if they thought that their victims might be armed? Tell me why Arlington VA is safer than DC.

I stand by the facts:

At 3/13/2007 2:12 PM, Blogger DaddyFiveOh said...

Ed, I looked through the sources for the "Just Facts" website you provided and found it suspiciously laden with citations from the Washington Times and NRA, which makes me think it isn't quite as unbiased as you suggest. It's notoriously easy to cherry-pick "facts" and statistics to bolster any argument and make misleading correlations between two variables when other unstated variables are the real issue.

Violent crime in a given jurisdiction can easily vary by 10% or more from year to year for reasons having nothing to do with gun laws or their absence. The rise in murders in DC from 1976 to 1992 cited in your source also coincided with the cocaine/crack epidemic and accompanying drug gang wars, which is mostly what we're still seeing here. If you're looking for something to blame, my first nomination would be the "War on Drugs". (Something for another post.)

As a former Arlingtonian for 30 years, I feel pretty confident in saying that the difference in gun violence there and in DC is not because Arlingtonians go around packing heat. Arlington votes every bit as liberal as DC, and those attitudes carry over to gun issues. Arlington is mostly affluent, well educated, and without large concentrations of low-income, underemployed people. It would be much more instructive to compare it to DC west of the park, and I think you'd find the rate of gun violence pretty similar.

At 3/13/2007 10:52 PM, Anonymous martin Moulton said...

Ed. How many time must I say that the crafters of the amendment did not authorize the use of fire arms for the purpose of individual self defence but only when regulated and used for the protection of the general public. Please find the statement that says they authorized the use of firearms for individual protection from random acts of criminal behavior. Please. Get back to me when you do -- before my hair turns grey and falls out please. Your fixation on minutia makes debate too easy.

At 3/14/2007 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could debate the framers' intent all day -- that's why we have courts. From the majority opinion in last week's decision:

"To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia."

At 3/14/2007 11:43 AM, Anonymous martin said...

Ed, if the purpose of bearing arms is to intimidate others from using their weapons, where does the escalation of this personal arms race end? You have a knife, I get a pistol; you get an automatic weapon, I get some new fangled heat sensitive weapon with sights that work at night. Who wins? The weapons manufacuturers promoting this discussion via their pawns in the court system.

When will the courts address the the failure of our legislative system to promote the ability for all citizens to have equal opportunities by providing them with adequate police forces for citizens to live free from fear of gunslingers and adequate schools that promote more intelligent options in life than the masturbatory act of playing shoot em up and destroying things.

At 3/14/2007 5:47 PM, Blogger redward666 said...

Martin, may I point out that DC has more police per capita than any other city in the US, 3800 for a population of 550,000. That is not even including Capitol police, park police, etc. DC also spends the most money per pupil. Sorry I do not have the exact figure but it is something like $17,000 per student.

At 3/14/2007 8:19 PM, Anonymous martin said...

redward666 — are you trying to tell me something I don't know? Having an effective police force and useful schools is less about numbers and dollars than it is about intelligent leaders at the top who focus their energies on serving the people rather than the lobbyists.

Speaking of intelligent leaders, when is Jack Evans going to call Leroy and ask when we're going to have another ANC meeting, if ever?

At 3/15/2007 8:09 AM, Anonymous zach said...

Anon- "You could debate the framers' intent all day -- that's why we have courts."

Of course, the courts have spent the last seven decades saying that that the Framers established a collective -- not individual -- right to own guns. The major problem with this ruling is that its underlying assumptions are such a radical departure from accepted legal thinking.

The Brady Campaign blog (disclosure: I work there) is trying to address that historical departure, but I think the comments section there is going to rapidly devolve into a gun-guy furball.

Anyway, the point of any gun law is to create a legal system for punishing criminals who use guns, and for preventing violently deranged people from getting guns in the first place. It's got nothing to do with hating self-defense or militia service.

Rulings like this one blur the line by implying that gun laws are an all-or-nothing proposition.

At 3/15/2007 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, 12/06: "I absolutely don't want to do anything to make it harder for the legitimate hunters or gun collectors _or anybody who even wants it for personal protection_."

Judging from that last phrase, it seems as though the Brady Campaign should be pleased with this decision.

And note that the Brady Campaign's
"scorecard" for states' efforts at gun control (available at the same link) actually has a largely negative correlation with the states' crime levels. In other words, a lower grade from the BC means, if anything, that a state has a _lower_ rate of violent crime.

(Note, too, where the District stands in their ranking -- and the rather twisted way in which they got it there.)

Are the Brady Campaign's own data "suspiciously laden" with NRA moles, too? Or are the facts about the real effects of gun control laws simply unavoidable?


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