I got this one twice today...from my born again relatives...I guess the born agains are fully armed. Can it be debunked?
> You're sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. > > Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. > > At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way. > > With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your > > shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door > > and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds a > > weapon--it looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if > > to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire. The blast knocks both thugs > > to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the > > front door and lurches outside. As you pick up the telephone to call > > police, you know you're in trouble. > > In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that > > are privately owned are so ingently regulated as to make them useless. > > Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second > > burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal > > Possession of a Firearm. > > When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities > > will probably plea the case down to manslaughter. What kind of sentence > > will I get?" you ask. "Only ten-to-twelve years," he replies, as if > > that's nothing. "Behave yourself, and you'll be out in seven." > > The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. > > Somehow, you're portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men > > you shot are represented as choir boys. Their friends and relatives > > can't find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the > > article, authorities acknowledge that both "victims" have been arrested > > numerous times. But the next day's headline says it all: "Lovable Rogue > > Son Didn't Deserve to Die." The thieves have been transformed from > > career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters. As the days wear on, > > the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the > > international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero. Your > > attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he'll probably win. > > The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several > > times in the past and that you've been critical of local police for > > their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last > > break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. > > The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait > > for the burglars. > > A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven't been reduced, > > as your lawyer had so confidently predicted. When you take the stand, > > your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors > > paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn't take long for > > the jury to convict you of all charges. The > > judge sentences you to life in prison. > > This case really happened. On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of > > Emneth, Norfolk, England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In > > April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term. How did it > > become a crime to defend one's own life in the once-great British > > Empire? It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly > > reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and > > established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a > > license. The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only > > handguns but all firearms except shotguns. Later laws passed in 1953 and > > 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and > > mandated the registration of all shotguns. Momentum for total handgun > > confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in > > 1987. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed man with a Kalashnikov rifle, > > walked down the streets shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke > > cleared, 17 people were dead. The British public, already de-sensitized > > by eighty years of "gun control", demanded even tougher restrictions. > > (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even > > though Ryan used a rifle.) Nine years later, at Dunblane, Scotland, > > Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a > > teacher at a public school. For many years, the media had portrayed all > > gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had > > a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. > > Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of > > objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane > > Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearms still > > owned by private citizens. During the years in which the British > > government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a > > citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as > > vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who > > were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a > > reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists > > were charged while the real criminals were released. > > Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as > > saying, "We cannot have people take the law into their own hands." All > > of Martin's neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several > > elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had > > no fear of the consequences. Martin himself, a collector of antiques, > > had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars. When the > > Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three > > months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British > > subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn't were visited by > > police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn't > > comply. Police later bragged that they'd taken nearly 200,000 handguns > > from private citizens. How did the authorities know who had handguns? > > The guns had been registered and licensed. Kinda like cars. Sound > > familiar? > > WAKE UP AMERICA, THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND > > AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION. > > "..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, > > tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.." Samuel > > Adams > > Please Forward to Everyone > >
Well, even if the story above is not true, I'm sure there have been many instances of a person shooting in self-defence and being prosecuted, and even sentenced to life in prison. Hell, there's a poor woman in Atlanta who's serving twenty years for drug possession with no physical evidence at all; just the testimony of the her ex-boyfriend who did have drugs and guns. (but thats another story.) What I find appauling about the missive above is the logical chain: man shoots and kills burglar -- man goes to jail -- therefore gun control laws are bad. For every burglar who's killed in self-defense there is at least one innocent trick or treater who was just looking for candy and got blown away by a paranoid gun owner. Carpenter
------------------ I know that life is unfair; but how come its never unfair in my favor?
OK, so I got bored & began searching. The Tony Martin story is true. If you scroll to the bottom of the Telegraph story, you'll get links to all the previous stories.
Posts: 4255 | From: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Feb 2000
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The Red and the Green Stamps
quote:Originally posted by Carpenter: For every burglar who's killed in self-defense there is at least one innocent trick or treater who was just looking for candy and got blown away by a paranoid gun owner. Carpenter
The ratio is actually much worse. Any debate on gun control is bound to create as much flame war as our SUV vs Car debate, so I should probably refrain. One linguistic point on this email: the email states "For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as ... criminals." Isn't that exactly what they are, if owning guns is illegal? In my own personal experience, I know no one who has successfully used a gun to defend himself. Although one of my friends back in high school shot himself accidentally with his father's pistol- he was alone with his baby sister, and apparently heard a noise in the house and got the gun out to "protect" them.
[This message has been edited by Gus (edited 10-03-2000).]
Gun control laws are fine, but what we really need to do is to get them out of the hands of criminals, especially the gang members and other people who prey on innocent victims of society. I remember watching a documentary on youth gangs, and one of the reporters asked this kid (who couldn't have been older than 9 or 10 years old) about the availability of guns. The kid confidently stated that he could get a gun anytime he wanted to.
quote:Originally posted by PTVroman: It happened in the UK. Different laws. Applying American standards is flat out wrong.
This is an excellent point. Furthermore, just showing that the cases cited are true does not validate this message. It's possible to list any number of verifiable facts and then draw a completely erroneous conclusion from them, trout in the milk notwithstanding.
quote:Originally posted by Gus: I know no one who has successfully used a gun to defend himself.
I'm one of those people.
In about 1983, I faced down an intruder in my home using an unloaded .22 caliber plinking gun. He was a huge rank-looking individual, and I was a pathetic kid with a carbine. The intruder tried my patience no little bit, but eventually backed down and left.
If I'd have been less of a dumbass and actually grabbed a loaded clip before charging into the hall, I'd have probably poked no few holes in him.
Years ago I knew a man who woke up one night, heard someone moving outside his bedroom, grabbed his handgun from beside his bed, and shot his wife, who was returning to the bedroom after having let the family dog out.
Following surgery and an extended hospital stay, she survived, but the marriage didn't.
Well heres a little story about guns and home defense, About 2 years ago a friend of mine had a intruder break in to his house, deciding to take matters into his own hands he grabbed his .38 and when the intruder entered his room he told him stop and pointed his gun. The intruder looked at him and started forward. My friend unloaded about 8 bulletsinto the guys chest. Problem was after a couple days abusing meth coke and booze the shots did NOTHING. The guy finally colapsed crying telling my friend to "stop shooting me please"
Guns dont gaurantee home saftey securing your home does.
AS a aftermath the intruder survived and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
quote:Originally posted by martiansatemybrain: [B] Well heres a little story about guns and home defense, About 2 years ago a friend of mine had a intruder break in to his house, deciding to take matters into his own hands he grabbed his .38 and when the intruder entered his room he told him stop and pointed his gun. The intruder looked at him and started forward. My friend unloaded about 8 bulletsinto the guys chest. Problem was after a couple days abusing meth coke and booze the shots did NOTHING. The guy finally colapsed crying telling my friend to "stop shooting me please"
Guns dont gaurantee home saftey securing your home does. B]
But one cannot secure his home to the point where there really is no way for an intruder to get in. All my doors and windows are locked, but if someone really wanted to come into my house, they could. Breaking a window would easily do the trick. I don't have the money to build a fortress of solitude that is impervious to assault from outsiders. Of course, I also don't own any guns, either, and have no desire to do so. And if someone really wanted to kill me, they could certainly do the deed before I'd even have a chance to make a play for a firearm.
This sort of thing makes me so cross. PTVroman is right in the points made, and answers them better than I could, so I won't rehash. The idea behind this makes me furious though. I have been brought up in the UK where our attitude to firearms is dramatically different to those in the US. I have to confess, I find the whole attitude towards guns expressed by many US citizens incomprehensible. I'd include in that some posters on this board, and others.
However, (and it's a big however) the fact that I don't agree at all, and I don't even understand the reasoning, doesn't mean for a second that I would dare to cobble together anything like this piece of crap. On the contrary, one of the major things I have learned whilst lurking and posting here this year, is how different attitudes on this subject can be. My respect for that fact has grown the more opinions I have read here. I just would not have the gall to come up with anything so biased and distorted about the US to justify a point in the UK.
The fact remains, I'll never share this attitude towards guns, and I don't fully understand it - but that's fine, because everything about our history and our culture points towards these different attitudes. I can accept that, obviously people who come up with this sort of rubbish choose to ignore it.
Two apologies - DanofFlorida, please don't think this is in any way aimed at you, I realise you are just bringing this to our attention, and didn't have anything to do with writing it. The second - I'm sorry if I am slightly less than coherent, I'm apoplectic with rage about this, and venting! (It didn't help that about four lines into the piece I realised it was about Tony Martin, and what it would be trying to point out).
Exactly what Charley said. The tone of the email has a lot in common with comments I do hear/see made by SOME USAns about gun control in the UK (and in Australia for that matter - check out the OP for the "Outrageous Laws" thread). It's like having someone shout in your ear "YOU'RE BEING OPPRE-E-ESSED. DO SOMETHING!!!" Note however that the email admits that it was us idiot Brits who voted ourselves out of gun ownership after Hungerford (after 80 years of "desensitisation", admittedly. Yeah, I'm so desensitised to gun control that it doesn't shock me anymore when I walk down the street and don't see a single gun. Bah). Speaking as someone who lives with a field at my back gate, surely I should live in terror of 16 year olds menacing my property, and curse the Government for not allowing me to possess an unlimited amount of firearms to protect myself. I don't. And I think the majority of opposition to the increasing strictness to firearms legislation in theis country comes from people who use guns for sport rather than self-defence. There simply isn't a culture of gun ownership for that purpose in this country.
Speaking as another Brit, I think there is a reasonable arguement for saying that by shooting the intruder, Fred Barras in the back as he was running away, he was protecting himself. How many times have we heard similar stories of interupted intruders returning to the scene to exact revenge. Even the jury in the Martin case later claimed to being intimidated by the burglars relatives. It does offend me that we have this occur in our society. That a victim can be driven to kill to protect himself. It also offends me that the law still takes the view that there is no such thing as pre-meditated self defense. A battered wife (or even rape victim) may not stab her husband (or attacker) unless he was at that moment attacking. Anything else is considered illegal and not in self-defense. I think we need a change in the law here in the UK, that allows for defendants such as Tony Martin, who i beleive is currently in the appeals process. Certainly some newspapers are taking up this cause.
As for gun control, i was sickened by the NRA's response to Columbine - i beleive some idiot even suggested that this would have been prevented if a teacher was armed!Cultural differences i guess, though i'm not saying this was the view of all americans.
quote:Originally posted by Robin: As for gun control, i was sickened by the NRA's response to Columbine - i beleive some idiot even suggested that this would have been prevented if a teacher was armed!Cultural differences i guess, though i'm not saying this was the view of all americans.
I'm going to have to agree with you there. The "solutions" those people were calling for would have just resulted in more people dead. How much worse would it have been if kids had gotten caught in cross-fire when the teachers started shooting back?
I must be careful not to flame here, but I didn't start the thread after all.
One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said one of my favorite quotes: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." In my studies of history, it has come to my attention that once a people give up freedom, it never returns.
Our Second Amendment allows for all citizens to be armed. This is not just to allow protection and hunting, but for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannous government. So, to be honest, I worry about our friends in other countries that deny that basic freedom. Even if it buys a little security (though numbers here show it doesn't in this country) I wonder if it's worth sacrificing the right to bear arms (which you will never get back without revolution) to save a few lives.
Personally, I would be afraid to live in a country with an unarmed populace. I'm no Libertarian, but it is just common sense that the government is the enemy of freedom. This is not always a bad thing, I don't think people should have the freedom to do all of the actions we define as criminal, and the government must deny those freedoms. But an organization with such power, and the world's largest military behind it, must be held firmly in check, and the people ready to defend themselves should it turn sour.
And, yes, I would want to be (and am) armed to protect my family. It's like a lot of things, though, an ounce of parental action and responsibility is worth a ton of government. When I was young, my father showed me a gun, explained its purpose, and impressed upon me how very important it was that I not touch it. I was no angel, but that was one rule I never broke.
Ok, enough soapbox.
laocoon "and the only thing I've ever shot is paper"
I kind of see what you mean Robin, but I still think that "self-defence" as a defence in law, needs to mean that you were in immediate danger. Being able to say "yes, I know they were running away but I thought they might come back, so I shot them just in case" opens up a very wide defence to murder indeed. As to the other point, several high profile cases of women who did kill their partners after a long period of abuse, for example, Emma Humphreys, have been defended successfully on appeal using the defence of provocation. For the time being this may be used as a defence in cases like this, and I think that some of these charges were also reduced to manslaughter. See http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/mlaw2a.html though, for a possible threat to this defence.
quote:Originally posted by laocoon: Our Second Amendment allows for all citizens to be armed. This is not just to allow protection and hunting, but for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannous government. So, to be honest, I worry about our friends in other countries that deny that basic freedom. Even if it buys a little security (though numbers here show it doesn't in this country) I wonder if it's worth sacrificing the right to bear arms (which you will never get back without revolution) to save a few lives.
Well, not quite. The 2nd Amendment allows those who are willing to constitute a "well-regulated militia" to keep and bear arms. You can argue about what that term means, but it seems clear to me that someone walking into a Wal-mart and walking out with a cheap handgun which he keeps under his pillow does NOT fit that definition.
The 2nd amendment absolutely does NOT state that gun ownership must be free from any regulation - in fact, it says exactly the opposite. And that is why I have a problem with the NRA, which has consistently opposed any form of regulation. Requiring individuals who own firearms to register those weapons certainly fits any reasonable definition of "well-regulated". As would expecting gun owners to show proficiency in the use of that weapon, along with a thorough understanding of gun safety. (In fact, IMHO, if you really wanted to remain true to both the spirit and the wording of Constitution, you would require that any gun owner actually BE a member of a citizen's militia). Yet the NRA, the "defender of the 2nd Amendment", has fought tooth-and-nail against any and all of these recommendations. I just don't get it.
Anyway, what REALLY strikes me as sadly funny is the fact that the Tony Martin case has ALMOST NOTHING AT ALL to do with gun laws. Although he did plead guilty to illegal possesion of a firearm, for which he received a 12-month sentence, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prision for his actions in killing the intruder, NOT for the fact that he used an "illegal" shotgun specifically.
So, if England had chosen America's approach to gun-control, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference to Tony Martin -he'd still be in exactly the same boat he's in now. I wonder if Mr. Waters, the author of this piece of scare-mail, understands this? I prefer to think the author was simply ignorant, as opposed to disingenuous. Although if you read some of his other articles, I think that's open for debate.
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV
quote:Originally posted by laocoon: I wonder if it's worth sacrificing the right to bear arms (which you will never get back without revolution) to save a few lives.
Personally, I would be afraid to live in a country with an unarmed populace.
I think this kind of sums up what it is about the US attitude to guns that's so incomprehensible over here in the UK...
I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I have almost no idea why anybody should think this. I suppose I can see, academically, that there's some sort of "right" that's supposedly being "given up" (although that kind of assumes that there's a huge protest movement demanding guns, which there just isn't here), but the "feeling safer" bit makes no sense at all to me.
Safer from whom? Are you talking about outside invaders (Commies or Space Aliens or whoever)? We have an army for that. Safer from your own government (as I gather the argument goes)? I can't see the UK turning into a dictatorship overnight... Safer from the people around you? That assumes that there are hundreds of gun-toting criminals out there just waiting to pounce on law-abiding unarmed citizens. Again, there just aren't over here - even muggers and robbers and criminals seldom have guns, at least not to the point where people think that being robbed at gunpoint is a threat (as opposed to being robbed at knifepoint or with some other weapon). Maybe that's because they don't expect armed resistance and so they don't need them...?
The US attitude just seems to me to lead to a personal arms race. I'd be far more scared if I knew the people around me were likely to have guns than I am of any academic future threat of revolution.
Again, I'm not trying to say that your attitude is wrong, just that, like the original post, you're not taking into account that things in the UK are fundamentally different in this respect.
Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000
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The Red and the Green Stamps
quote:Originally posted by laocoon: So, to be honest, I worry about our friends in other countries that deny that basic freedom. Even if it buys a little security (though numbers here show it doesn't in this country) I wonder if it's worth sacrificing the right to bear arms (which you will never get back without revolution) to save a few lives.
Personally, I would be afraid to live in a country with an unarmed populace.
I'm not picking on you laocoon, but you made some good direct points, which, like Richard said, illustrate precisely our opposition on this matter. I'm not trying to be clever-clever here, but this is perfect! .....
So, to be honest, I worry about our friends in other countries that consider owning a private weapon a basic freedom. Even if it buys a little security I wonder if it's worth holding onto the right to bear arms at the cost of lives.
Personally, I would be afraid to live in a country with an armed populace.
I think that illustrates perfectly the difference culturally between what I have experienced, and what you have experienced. I'm not being a smartarse here (well no more than usual) - you've expressed the exact opposite of what I feel.
And as other people have said - I don't feel like I am denied a right of any kind in this matter. I've never seen it that way - to me it's not a bad thing that it's difficult for me to own a gun, it's more of a bad thing that it's easy for you to own one.
I really hope you take this in the spirit it's intended - as I said originally, it's fine that we disagree, so long as rubbish like that quoted in the OP is not used to justify an inaccurate position. As I said, I have learnt a lot about this issue since first arriving here - enough to grow out of my knee jerk reaction "nobody with sense opposes gun control" anyway. I'll never "learn" enough to agree with you though.
quote:Originally posted by Richard W: I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I have almost no idea why anybody should think this.
I'm a European who has lived in the US for most of my life now, and I don't understand why either. With Boku's post above I now know 2 people who have attempted to use a gun in self-defense. One (my friend) failed miserably, shooting himself instead. The other freely admits to being willing to kill another human being over some possessions.
The 2nd Amendment, for all those not familiar with the exact wording is:
quote: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.
I tend to agree with MarkS's interpretation, but this amendment is vague and can easily be interpreted many ways. I parse this sentance as: A well regulated militia shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. A well regulated militia is necessary for the right of the people to keep and bear arms. So people who want to own guns must join a well-regulated militia.
Carrying a concealed handgun became legal here in Texas a few years ago. One result of this is that just about every public place you go (including my workplace) has a big sign on the door saying "NO GUNS." You also can't legally carry a concealed firearm into any place where alcohol is served -- not that they search you at the door or anything.
About a year and a half ago, a couple was leaving Sixth Street (where all the nightclubs are) at about two AM on a weeknight. As they approached the girlfriend's car which was parked at curbside on the street, they saw that it was being broken into by a lone man. The boyfriend pulled out his gun and told the man to stand still. The man, who was not armed, turned around and began walking slowly away. The boyfriend followed him for two blocks, then shot him fatally in the back. There was quite a lot of local debate at the time about whether the boyfriend should be prosecuted at all. He was, but the trial ended recently and he was found not guilty by reason of self-defense.
Finally - found a couple of links from a local TV station:
For the record, I'm not for the total abolishment of the right to carry; but I don't understand why gun-control laws are railed against so hotly. I've never heard anyone protest the amount of government regulation required to own and operate a car, for instance. I'm sure that, statistically, cars kill a lot more people; but then there are an awful lot of people driving cars on a daily basis. Also I think it's pretty nfbsk'd up to use deadly force to defend property.
Miss "so much for avoiding the controversial topics" Agnes
Can anyone find any figures of death by gunshot (as opposed to other types of death) in the UK and the US? I haven't got any figures handy, but I am sure the UK figure is FAR smaller than the US figure.
Personally I can't see how anyone can feel safer knowing that anyone around them might be carrying a gun, and most wouldn't be afraid to use it if they felt threatened.
Someone else pointed out that in the UK we don't feel like our rights are being taken away. I completely agree with this. Most people in the UK don't even think of gun ownership as an issue, and certainly don't want the current laws relaxed. Or maybe I just live in a very sheltered world.
OK, I dragged out the OED and looked at the citations for well-regulated:
quote:1709: "If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations."
1714: "The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world."
1812: "The equation of time ... is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial."
1848: "A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor."
1862: "It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding."
1894: "The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city."
I also checked the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition. It lists, but doesn't define, the term well-regulated. It defines regulate thusly:
quote:regulate 1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.: to regulate household expenses. 2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.: to regulate the temperature. 3. to adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation: to regulate a watch. 4. to put in good order: to regulate the digestion. -- Syn 1. rule, govern, manage, order, adjust, arrange, dispose, conduct. 2. set 4. systematize.
Well-regulated does not now mean, nor has it ever meant, legislated out of existence. It simply means in good order, systematic, non-chaotic, etc.
As far as the rest of the 2nd amendment, here's an info dump that someone else compiled: --- Militia - We know from Title 10 U.S. Code, S311: Militia: composition and classes
(a) The milita of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of militia are - (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
We have statesmen of the period commenting on the term and its intent:
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people...To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." -- George Mason, 1788.
The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistable. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." -- Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788
"What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. ...Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins." -- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress August 17, 1789.
This next passage even addresses the 'security of a free state' or the freedom and liberty of a truely free country:
"No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the State. Such are a well regulated Militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen, and husbandman; who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen." -- James Madison, United States Congress, Bill of Rights Ratification, 1779
Rep. Gerry spoke of the purpose of the militia was to oppose 'the bane of liberty' and Madison spoke of the 'well regulated militia' as those 'who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.' 'Well regulated' may not have the same meaning today as it did over 200 years ago. Well regulated when referring to a shotgun meant that both barrels would hit to the same point of aim at a given distance. A well regulated rifle was an accurate rifle. We could say that the arms that were well regulated performed well, they were good at there 'intended' purpose. The militia can be thought of in the same way. So well regulated does not mean heaped with regulations, but rather good at, as Madison suggests 'well intended', their 'intended' purpose (the intent being to protect freedom and liberty), or even meaning proficient.
The meaning of 'the people' was recently addressed by the Supreme Court. The term 'the people' is used in Amendments 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10 and 'person' (singular of people) is used in Amendment 5. In a 1990 Supreme Court ruling on the meaning of the term 'the people' as it relates to the Fourth Amendment, Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the intent of the Constitution was to enumerate the rights of individuals. The individual citizens were 'the people' and that it did not just apply to the Fourth Amendment, but to each amendment where the term is used, including our beloved second.
Therefore: A proficient group of individual free men owning firearms, since they are necessary to guarantee the freedoms and liberty of our country, the rights of those individuals to own and carry firearms shall not be infringed.
In U.S. vs. Miller (1939) the Supreme Court ruled that a short barrelled shotgun is not protected from regulation by the Second Amendment because it was not particularly suitable for use in militia, so the types of arms were determined to be of a type particularly suitable for use in a milita.
As far as the founders intent:
"Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property...Horrid mischief would ensue were the law abiding deprived the use of them." -- Thomas Paine, 1775.
"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." -- James Madison
And as a result of these thoughts he wrote:
"The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." -- James Madison, The Federalist #46
quote:Originally posted by laocoon: This is not just to allow protection and hunting, but for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannous government.
Of all the arguments that gun supporters use, this is the one that confounds me the most. "Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot all took guns away from the citizens before they took over," or something like that. Do Americans really suspect that Janet Reno is going to be the next Hitler? Or that Rudy Giuliani is going to be the next Moussolini?
I've used this example before on here, but I'll do it again because it is relevant. My own opinion is similar to my pals across the pond in Britain (I'm a United Statistic of America). I think of guns as horrible things, just potential destruction in one compact package. No matter what people argue, I see them as being potentially much more harmful than helpful. I've never fired one, and doubt I ever will. I try not to impose my opinions on others and once in a while I actually succeed, but I'm not shy about voicing my opinion.
Anyway, the example. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in England. Mostly in London. You Brits might wonder why, but in Georgia we just don't have the opportunity to wake up, walk across the street, and enter a castle. Anyhoo. . . one morning we were getting ready to tour when we flipped through one of the three channels we had on the television. There was a news report about a new ban on guns over a certain caliber (I can't remember the details). The thing that struck me about this report was the discussion of those who opposed the ban. They were represented by a small, polite, slightly shabbily dressed group who stated with firm, unwavering tones that in protest of this new ban they would wait until the very last day to turn in their firearms that exceeded the limit.
My wife and I were amazed. We both are Americans, growing up in a culture where there are some very vocal and radical folks who take gun ownership to fanatical limits. In the United States if such a ban were announced I'd be afraid to leave my house. Hell, I'd be afraid to be IN my house, or in the country! It was inconceivable to us that the form of protest would be to wait until the last minute and then comply with the law. I actually consider that to be among the highlights of the visit, because it really was a cultural eye-opener. I couldn't help but feel I was in a more civilized environment.
But then we had some English food and the opinion swerved back over to America. . .
2. gun violence and people's opinions, pay attention to the last two sentences of the very last paragraph. I think that pretty much explains the real true problem with the fear of gun violence: http://www.stats.org/newsletters/0006/fear.htm
quote:Originally posted by Macheath: No matter what people argue, I see them as being potentially much more harmful than helpful. I've never fired one, and doubt I ever will. I try not to impose my opinions on others and once in a while I actually succeed, but I'm not shy about voicing my opinion.
Here in Canada a lot of people feel the same way about the whole "how dare THEY take away our right to bear arms" thing in the US, and I'm one of those people. I can't imagine feeling safer because I had a gun in the house -- in fact, I think the whole idea would freak me out so much that I wouldn't be able to sleep. Knowing there were armed vigilantes roaming around the neighbourhood looking out for bad guys wouldn't make me feel better, either.
If having a gun in your desk drawer does make you feel safer, though, I wouldn't try to tell you you shouldn't have it there ... although I might encourage you to register it ...
Ewok, I agree that "regulated" doesn't mean "banned out of existence" (although that is one regulatory option, and I consider it the appropriate option for such things as Uzis and armor-piercing bullets). But regardless of whether we agree on a particular point such as that or not, there is a basis for discussion about what to do, or not do, given that we both agree that the word "regulated" applies. (It takes work to hash out what it MEANS, of course.)
Laocoon, your post is where the real, fundamental problem comes in. The argument which you express is the fundamental error of a large part of the "gun culture". It is foolish on its face in a country such as the USA, where the power of the people to control the government through the ballot box and the rule of law is unshakeably entrenched in the Constitution and the culture. (Can you imagine any US president reacting to an election loss the way that Milosevic is doing? If you cannot -- and I can't -- then there is no question of "tyranny" in the US. Nor can I agree that it is fear of an armed populace that prevents a Milosevic reaction in the US. Such a reaction is equally impossible in Canada and the UK, where our populace is by and large NOT armed.)
More fundamentally, in a place such as the USA, the proposition that people should be armed in order to resist a "tyrannical" government is anti-democratic. In many OTHER countries, where no democracy exists in the first place, it makes sense to be armed, because the so-called "government" is not an expression of the public will, but of the guy with the biggest army. In other words, if the foundation of politics is already nothing but force, you need as much force as you can get yourself.
But where democracy does exist, it exists ONLY because the rule of law (particularly the laws defining the operation of the democratic governmental institutions) overrides mere force. For example, if a general who commands an armed strike force is found guilty of some offence by a proper judicial process, he is punished (in the USA and other countries which enjoy the rule of law) regardless of the fact that he controls a hell of a lot more firepower than the judge. The rule of law is a prerequisite for a true democracy, and the only alternative to the rule of law is the rule of force. The other word for the rule of force is "tyranny".
Where the rule of law exists, defining the governmental structures and limiting the government's powers (as in the USA), the proposition that an individual should be able to use force to reject the actions of that government is simply a proposition that individuals should be able to use force to place themselves above the rule of law. This proposition does not defend against tyranny; it allows it. (Note that when the Constitution was first written, the colonies had just come out of a governmental system which was NOT democratic, because their people did not have electoral control over the colonial authorities.)
Calling it a "right" intensifies the problem (in the context of a democratic country), because then it applies to anyone independent of his REASONS (or lack of reasons) for using it. For instance, if you yourself claimed the right to resist (entirely on your own recognizance) a foolish governmental decision with force of arms, then you could not deny the same right to someone who (for instance) dumped raw sewage and industrial waste into a river that goes through his property (killing or injuring people downstream), and then used force of arms to resist a regulatory instruction to stop.
I realize, of course, that the difference between these cases is extreme, and that neither Laocoon nor anyone else is justifying the actions of the imaginary polluter above. The point, however, is that defining armed resistance to the actions of a democratic government as an unqualified "right" provides no basis whatsoever for distinguishing this imaginary person's action from an action that we might see as acceptable.
The only reasonable basis on which that distinction can be made is the rule of law, founded on such other rights as life, liberty, and security. And if the rule of law is to make such distinctions, it must remain paramount over any "right" of an individual to oppose the law with force solely on his own initiative.
Let me make it clear that I have no problem with debating how much gun ownership and under what restrictions may have benefits for public safety, or with arguments that certain forms of gun control cost too much for the benefits they bring, or don't have the benefits they are supposed to have. There can be cases where a lower level of gun control, all things considered, will be a net benefit. But I won't accept, nor stay silent in the face of, a proposition which ultimately claims that a democratic government can and should be overruled by individual whim.
Ewok, Todd once thanked you for showing that gun owners are not all uneducated hillbillies, or whatever his phrase was. I hope that you can also see from our postings that gun control advocates are not by definition leftist tyrants. We have strong reasons for our position, and we are not all mushy emotionalists, nor builders of the New World Order.
Re one of your posts: quoting the Constitution in relation to a position does not constitute an argument in favour of that position. It is only a demonstration that the position is consistent with the Constitution, and that is not what is at issue.
In any case, you will encounter an inevitable contradiction as soon as you claim that there is more than one right which "shall not be infringed". Given any two rights, it is always going to be possible to find a situation where honouring the one infringes the other. Your right to security, for instance, is infringed if you have a paranoid neighbour and the law refuses to "infringe" on his right to bear arms. This, I would argue, is why the NRA supports enforcement of existing gun laws, despite the fact that they technically "infringe" on somebody's Second Amendment rights.
As for the trick-or-treaters, the question can be turned around. We know that the number of trick-or-treaters killed accidentally after being mistaken for burglars is not zero. So it also makes sense to ask the pro-gun people how many dead trick-or-treaters are considered acceptable. One in five? One in ten? One in 100?
In the real world, regulatory decisions must take into account actual costs, such as innocent deaths. "Rights" cannot be divorced from these considerations. And gun rights, like any other rights, deserve to be broader or narrower depending on such factors. For example, it could easily be true that the ratio of dead trick-or-treaters to dead burglars is significantly lower for NRA members who have completed NRA training than for other people. If so, there is a very good case for applying restrictions on the gun rights of non-members that don't apply to the trained members.