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Author Topic: Gun Control
laocoon
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve in the F Clef:
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.

Honestly, no, I don't forsee the US government being overthrown and thrust into despotism all of a sudden. But remember that I am not advocating violence to resist a lawful order by a democratic government, but rather to ensure that the government remains lawful and democractic. No, it wouldn't happen overnight. But I would say that given some recent actions by the Justice Department, it's not completely impossible. If it did happen, it'd be a gradual (though almost certainly unguided) progression starting with the disarming of the populace.

The militia thing, BTW, clearly means the general people, not an organized group. Other writings by the creators of the Constitution demonstrate this.

Charley: having never left the US, I admit to an ignorance of foreign cultures, so I certainly understand that things are different in other places. There's no particular reason why our founding fathers would be wiser than yours, but I agree with ours that an armed populace ensures democracy, and is one of many checks that prevents a slow descent into despotism. As your country is one of our oldest and closest allies (though we had a somewhat rocky start ), I hope they are wrong.


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chinpira
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I've noticed something very interesting in this debate. It seems as if some of those in favor of gun restrictions or regulations aren't satisfied with the current background checks and whatnots. I get the impression that, while not outright advocating the banning of all legally owned handguns, there is still more apprehension over law abiding gun owners than those who ILLEGALLY own handguns. By that I mean the criminal elements that prey on hardworking, law abiding, and decent American citizens regardless of background or color.
What scares me most are not those who legally possess handguns. What scares me the most are criminals that ILEGALLY possess handguns and all kinds of destructive weapons and use that to kill good people. Just over the weekend, a husband witnessed his wife being gunned down brutally in their own driveway by some armed thugs who have no respect for human lives. I'm sure those that have experienced life in crime ravaged cities or communities know what I am talking about, these criminal elements have taken their neighborhoods hostage.

Now I am not advocating everyone to take up arms, and if you do not like guns, I respect your feelings on this matter. But sometimes in this debate over gun violence, it seems as if the criminal elements never get any mention. This always seems to be a fight between those who don't like guns and those wanting the right to own one. Thank you for your time.


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Carpenter
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quote:
it is just common
sense that the government is the enemy of freedom

It seems to me that if you fear your government, you should try to change it. Work for campaign finance reform and term limits, and other measures to give the people more power over the government, and make the government more responsive to the people. I'm not saying that the populace should disarm, but it seems like a more practical solution for everyone if we work to make the system better rather than fretting about how bad it has become and arming ourselves against our own fears.

Carpenter

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I know that life is unfair; but how come its never unfair in my favor?


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Steve in the F Clef
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Very good comments from both Laocoon and chinpira!

Laocoon, I think by most definitions Britain has been a democracy even longer than the USA, without benefit of a Second Amendment or an armed populace. So by its existence and continued democratic nature, it is a counterexample to the proposition that an armed populace is in some sense necessary to ensure against despotism. This does not PROVE the Founding Fathers wrong, but it should make you much less sure that they were right.

(Incidentally, if the potential despot is thought of as the colonial government that predated 1776, they almost certainly WERE right for those conditions.)

chinpira, I do not know enough about the existing background checks to say, but they might be quite enough to satisfy me, or any other gun control advocate whom I would consider reasonable. There is at least one reason to believe that they are not enough yet (or, more likely, are not being applied properly, as the NRA says). This evidence is the continued incidence of mass murders (not serial murders) in the USA. Mass murders seem to be a US-specific phenomenon, and the use of guns is a real contributor. Specifically, a mass murderer armed with a baseball bat and machetes simply can't kill the number of people that he can kill with an Uzi. Canada and Britain have far fewer mass murders, and also more restrictive gun laws. Again, this does not PROVE a correlation, but it is evidence that one may exist.

I don't want to give the impression that I am NOT worried about illegal guns. Those are indeed the most dangerous, and they are what the law should be most concerned about. However, many legal gun owners really do MAKE us worry about them (in addition to the worry about crooks) by virtue of their statements. It is very scary, for instance, to hear people saying that there should be no limits at all on the purchase or use of assault rifles, just because the "right" of the Second Amendment should theoretically not be "infringed". And yes, we HAVE heard that kind of statement. And when that kind of statement comes from the NRA, it blows away all the credibility which that organization should be able to earn.


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Gus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ewok:
Total [NFBSK]. Would either of you care to provide some support for this twaddle?

Statistics abound! It all depends on which you choose to believe. The Kellerman (*)study contends that for every case in which a fire-arm kept in the house was used in a self-defense homicide, there were 1.3 unintentional deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides, and 37 suicides - hence the infamous (and erroneous) conclusion people often come to: a gun is 43 times more likely to kill a friend or family member than it is to kill a criminal. It is now a dated study of course. Gun advocates will argue that there is no link between gun ownership and suicide (I'm not sure I agree). From my own personal experiences I can contend that a firearm is more likely to cause personal tragedy than it is to prevent crime, but my personal experiences are not necessarily those of the population. There are flaws in applying the Kellerman study to everyday life, of course. The study doesn't look at crime deterrance- only instances where the criminal was killed. As I said, statistics abound- both sides of the argument will look at the same numbers and use them to argue for or against guns.


* Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home, Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH and Donald T. Reay, MD, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 314, No. 24, June 12, 1986, pp. 1557-1560


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Mortimer Brewster
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quote:
Originally posted by gillez:
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.

I read an article on Salon.com a few months ago that noted that the non-gun murder rate was far higher in the U.S. than in all the other industrialized nations.

I don't think we can compare the U.S. and the U.K. in terms of gun-related crime, etc. and draw any conclusions about whether the gun laws of one country would work the same in the other country. There are many differences in culture in the U.S. vs. the U.K. that can account for the differences in violence and crime that has nothing to do with gun control laws.

There is also the matter that it may be easier to control the importation of illegal weapons in an area the size of the U.K. than it would be in a place like the U.S.


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Mortimer Brewster
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quote:
Originally posted by Gus:
Statistics abound! It all depends on which you choose to believe. The Kellerman (*)study contends that for every case in which a fire-arm kept in the house was used in a self-defense homicide, there were 1.3 unintentional deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides, and 37 suicides - hence the infamous (and erroneous) conclusion people often come to: a gun is 43 times more likely to kill a friend or family member than it is to kill a criminal. It is now a dated study of course. Gun advocates will argue that there is no link between gun ownership and suicide (I'm not sure I agree). From my own personal experiences I can contend that a firearm is more likely to cause personal tragedy than it is to prevent crime, but my personal experiences are not necessarily those of the population. There are flaws in applying the Kellerman study to everyday life, of course. The study doesn't look at crime deterrance- only instances where the criminal was killed. As I said, statistics abound- both sides of the argument will look at the same numbers and use them to argue for or against guns.

It does seem like you shouldn't have to produce the corpse of a criminal for it to count as a successful self-defense. That would seem to be a serious flaw in the study.

But I'm not advocating an anti-gun-control position.


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Ewok
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quote:
It is very scary, for instance, to hear people saying that there should be no limits at all on the purchase or use of assault rifles
Define "assault rifle."

The use of all firearms is limited; it's illegal to shoot people who aren't trying to harm you. The use of hammers is limited in the same way; it's illegal to hit anyone with a hammer unless they're trying to harm you.

Anyway, I'm trying to track down Robert Waters to ask him to discuss the OP here. [OK, I found his email. I's sure he'd like to discourage people from sending his articles around without attribution.]

Here's another recent article by Mr. Waters: Do Women Really Use Guns for Self-Defense?

------------------
"911 - Government-sponsored dial-a-prayer!"

[This message has been edited by Ewok (edited 10-04-2000).]


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Gus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ewok:
"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 may be OT, because I'm not challenging Ewok's citations- but my copy of the constitution lists Nathanial Gorham and Rufus King as the representatives of Massachusetts. Is mine in error, or am I missing something?


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Anthony
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Rufus King represented Mass. in the Constitutional Convention (in 1787).

In 1789, he was a shoe in to be selected as a Mass. Senator, but he was convinced to move to New York and became a Senator there. I did a study of his importance to the Convention and the passage of the Constitution in NY and Mass while in college (entitled "Rufus King -- the Forgotten Founder"). Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten much about him in these 12 intervening years.

His house is the large building that you see just north of the train tracks when entering Jamaica LIRR Station in Queens.

Also, the Second Amendment (and all of the Bill of Rights) was not discussed at the Convention but in the first Congress.

[This message has been edited by Anthony (edited 10-04-2000).]


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Gus
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quote:
Originally posted by Mortimer Brewster:
It does seem like you shouldn't have to produce the corpse of a criminal for it to count as a successful self-defense. That would seem to be a serious flaw in the study.

I agree, and tried to make that clear. The study does not speak to crime deterrence, only deaths.

I have found pages upon pages showing high rates of unintentional victims of fire arms in the US (that rate, according the CDC is 9 times higher for children under age 15 in the US than in the other 25 industrialized countries in the study combined. This was the point of my statement that Ewok eloquently called "twaddle". Firearms are quite effective in hurting the wrong people. Whether or not they are effective in deterring crime is a different issue, and one I wasn't commenting on. Crime deterrence by firearms is nearly impossible to prove or disprove.


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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
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...

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...


Nations/peoples have different "nightmares." From all my reading, the British nightmare is the gradual erosion of rights toward tyranny, as seen in _1984_, _Brave New World_, _Lord of the Flies_, etc.

The American national nightmare is the sudden sneak attack. Being shot from ambush makes Americans furious. Pearl Harbor was an event that lives in infamy, and we remember the Maine (even though it wasn't the sneak attack we thought it was...) The American sense of smugness and pride is indomitable, but we know that we're always vulnerable to an attack from behind. (One of the reasons we hate terrorism so much...)

Today, many in America fear the sudden arrival from the skies of "black helicopters" and a massive raid which occurs so fast that there is no possible way for us to respond in an organized way. The compensating fantasy to this nightmare is the notion of a bunch of individual gun-owners meeting up and fighting a delaying action, as at Lexington and Concord.

(This is one of the reasons that the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City was so poor an idea: it stirred up the nation's anger against the bomber, not against the government!)

(By the way, the Japanese national nightmare seems to have to do with the environment running amok: earthquakes, floods, tsunami, typhoons, droughts, etc. Not unreasonable. But it expresses itself in such things as Godzilla movies...)

So, for what it's worth, now you have a hint toward understanding the American gun psyche. It isn't based on real need, but merely on the notion that something unexpected might happen very quickly, and a gun would add flexibility in response.

(Don't flame me! I'm not taking sides!)

Silas Sparkhammer

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"...With trembling heart and failing nerve, cried, 'I approve, without reserve!'"


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Ewok
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It seems that Mr. Waters has a weekly column.

------------------
"911 - Government-sponsored dial-a-prayer!"


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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Most of the points that I was trying to make about the email have been amply and intelligently made by Charley, Richard and others. The only thing I'd add is my agreement to a point made earlier by Hedge Girl, that having a gun around would not make me personally feel safer. I'd just feel like I'd introduced another weapon into any confrontational equation. And the thing about a gun, as I think Steve said, is that it's a lot easier to do damage with one, even if you don't mean to, than it is with a hammer, or a cricket bat, or whatever. Maybe I'm overly paranoid, but we have a sickle in the house that we use on the long grass in the garden. My fear is that someone might break in and find it, and use it against us. I'd be even more scared if I knew there was a gun about the place - it just seems to up the ante so much...

This is definitely a cultural thing as far as the USA and Britain are concerned (I don't know if people's attitudes to gun owning are different in Northern Ireland, having only been there once, so I won't use the "UK" bracket for this at the moment). My original objection to the email was the evangelical tone, and the description of Britain in terms I just didn't recognise in order to support a point being made presumably about the US (I don't know if the email's done the rounds in Brit-Land - has anyone seen it?).

Embra "annie get your pun"



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Hershey
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Thanks for your clarification Silas, it explains a lot. Actually a hell of a lot. My first reaction to your post was that this US fear could never happen, then i remembered the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. I guess the whole gun control issue is tied up with difference of cultures.

It's so rewarding in a sensitive debate like this to have that clarity, to see for the first time the others point of view. I don't to get gushy but this is what the internet's for.

I'm not saying my mind's been changed, i still oppose guns, but i understand that this goes very deep into our different psyches.

And hey Mack da Knife, we've got Starbucks and McDonalds you know, we're almost civilised

Robin

Robin

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You learn something new everyday. But you probably forget twice as much.


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Tony
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It's not so much that we fear an invasion by another country, so much as we fear an invasion by our own country. Not me, personally, but a lot of people do fear the U.S. government has been secretly planning to overthrow the citizens and force them to work for nearly nothing, and force their lives into utter hell. What I think on the subject would take far too long to put here.

However, being the patriot that I am, I like to think that America is, as our national anthem says, land of the free. You can't be free when the government controls any aspect of your life. Now, being free, to me, doesn't mean complete anarchy, it includes freedom from fear that other people are going to infringe on your freedom. Murder infringes on your freedom, thus it should be banned by law. Owing a gun doesn't equal murder, and, thusly, doesn't infringe on other people's freedom so it should NOT be banned by law. Nor should law infringe on your freedom to own a gun. At least that's the basic point. I also think that by committing a crime, some freedoms (such as owning a gun) should be revoked as punishment.

Now, the reality here in America is that regulating arms does squat when it comes to gangs. When I was in college, I was living in Chicago, about two blocks north of Stateway Gardens and the Robert Taylor Homes, two of the nastiest places in the world (I can't find the article, but I have read in one of the Chicago newspapers that these two places combine to have the highest crime rate per capita in the world). When most people would count sheep to go to sleep, I would count gunshots. These were not legally bought guns. Luckily I was able to move away from there. Some people aren't so fortunate. Regulating firearms in the U.S. to the point where it is extremely hard to get them, would take guns out of the law abiding citizens hands, but not the criminals. In fact, it is illegal to have a handgun in Chicago. That's done a lot of good, huh?

Maybe the UK doesn't have gangs like these. Then you're very lucky. And personally, I don't think one handgun would do much against 7 gangbangers with guns, so I don't have one. But as an American citizen without a criminal record, I should be able to get one. Otherwise, am I truely free?

Tony "I always control my gun" DiTola


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laocoon
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve in the F Clef:
Laocoon, I think by most definitions Britain has been a democracy even longer than the USA, without benefit of a Second Amendment or an armed populace.

Redirecting the topic once more...

Are you sure about this? I admit again to a general ignorance of the governments and histories of other countries, but it's my understanding that Britain was a monarchy during our revolution. We were the first democracy, followed closely by France.

In my opinion, that House of Lords, where IIRC the members are chosen by birth not elected, disqualifies the government from being a democracy. Not that we are either, strictly speaking, but that's not even close.

But that was changed recently, wasn't it? Isn't it elected now, or at least nominated from the other house?


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Gus
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quote:
Originally posted by Tony:
Now, the reality here in America is that regulating arms does squat when it comes to gangs.

This is one of the problems with half-ass gun control measures. Gun control laws are a compromise between people who oppose guns and people who support them, and, just like the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military, sometimes these half-ass measures don't work. The Brady Bill, for example: there is no conclusive evidence that it is effective. All illegal guns start life as legal guns. If a nation really wants to curb gun violence, they have to make guns illegal, not regulated. I can't see that happening in the US- too many people here support gun ownership, and this is, afterall, a democracy.

One note about the bill of rights, though: the bill of rights limits the powers of the federal government. Though some Supreme Court decisions have extended some of these limitations to states(e.g. no school prayer), no such extension has been provided for the 2nd Amendment. (Some constitutional scholars even interpret the 2nd amendment to mean that the States have a right to form militias, not as an extension of individuals' right to arms) Therefore a state can pass any gun control laws it wants, without these laws being unconstitutional. (Incidentally- this is also why companies can restrict speech of employees: the federal gov't can't infringe this right... the constitution says nothing about corporations limiting speech of employees)

And I have to admit to being embarrased by my history mistake before in asking about Rep Gerry. Of course it was the first session of Congress that drafted the bill of rights (that's why they're amendments!) not the writers of the Constitution.


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Gus
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quote:
Originally posted by laocoon:
We were the first democracy, followed closely by France.

I can't speak of British democracy, but Iceland's democratic parliament, the Althingi had been around over a thousand years. I believe the US has the oldest constitutional democracy. (Iceland didn't draft its constitution until 1874)


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Racheal
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quote:
Originally posted by Gus:
I can't speak of British democracy, but Iceland's democratic parliament, the Althingi had been around over a thousand years. I believe the US has the oldest constitutional democracy. (Iceland didn't draft its constitution until 1874)

Nice distinction, Gus.


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JK Will
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England being the mother of all parliaments is a complete myth. Personally I wonder how any kind of monarchy can describe itself as democratic (except for some Scots and Polish kings who were elected on a small suffrage).

Less than fifty miles to the West of England there is an even older "democracy"- the Isle of Man. Between Iceland and Scotland there are also the Faroe islands which compete with IOM and Iceland for oldest democracy. All of them were terminated for a short time. The oldest democracy in Europe was of course Athens. The oldest surviving democracy maybe San Marino (who the Scottish soccer team will drub soon of course )


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Amy Jo
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quote:
Originally posted by Gus:
One note about the bill of rights, though: the bill of rights limits the powers of the federal government. Though some Supreme Court decisions have extended some of these limitations to states(e.g. no school prayer), no such extension has been provided for the 2nd Amendment. (Some constitutional scholars even interpret the 2nd amendment to mean that the States have a right to form militias, not as an extension of individuals' right to arms) Therefore a state can pass any gun control laws it wants, without these laws being unconstitutional. (Incidentally- this is also why companies can restrict speech of employees: the federal gov't can't infringe this right... the constitution says nothing about corporations limiting speech of employees)

I'm no political science expert, but from what I recall from my American Govt class in college, the Bill of Rights was nationalized at one point. Which means, the Bill of Rights was extended from the federal government to the states. I'll see if I can find a source.


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Cynestria
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Amy Jo:
I'm no political science expert, but from what I recall from my American Govt class in college, the Bill of Rights was nationalized at one point. Which means, the Bill of Rights was extended from the federal government to the states. I'll see if I can find a source.

I believe it was the 14th amendment, but I don't know if that's right.


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Racheal
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Something that I consider to be forgotten in this discussion of militias and what the word militia meant is the why a militia was so important to the representatives at the constitional convention.
Mitlitas were a colonies first line of defense. When colonial governors decided to reign in colonists one of the first things regulated was the militias. Remember, one of the issues that the colonies were in an uproar about was the forced housing of King Georges troops in towns.
Citizens homes were occupied by officers with or without the homeowners permission. Please remember I am doing a quick example. I can get more detailed.
The whole point of the Constitution convention was to deal with issues that would allow states -former colonies-retain some of their hard fought indepence while becoming part of a new whole nation. A nation united from thirteen independent colonies. There are many debates possible from a federalist point of view as to what powers states have retained vs allowed the federal government to take over but one should remember that the milita argument was based on experience with a royalist government. A major point of the constitutional convention was to CREATE a form of government that was not the enemy of the people. Miltias of necessity were made up of neighbors. One could arguably compare a milita to the national guard or an areas police department. Militias were organized, some more disciplined than others. Weekly drills were held. When trouble came, whether fire or attack or riots the milita was to answer the call. Many local organizations fill these needs now. Firefighters, police, voluteer ems, etc.
There was great concern among the framers at the convention that another monarchy not be put in place. A better argument about personal freedoms probably could arise over states rights. But I seem to remember a thread that covered that rather thoroughly.

I submit to you that the best weapon in the Us is the ballot box. And, I might add, one that is NOT used often enough by Us citizens of any political party,whether third party, natural law, republican democrat or independent. AND that is a damned shame.
The lack of voting by us citizens is the biggest threat to our personal freedoms ever. Think of it, if the people voted more, we could validate aguments to end the electoral vote. We could call for a new constitutional convention.

I vote. It shocked me to realize that Eleanor Roosevelt was in her thirties iirc before she gained the right to vote. Doesnt matter if my candidate looses. I vote.
I would love to see the day that the pundits were confounded by the voter turnout. Our board of elections is quite blase about the whole thing. They expect and plan for a low voter turnout.
That to me, is a right that many Americans have willfully surrended.

Gee. off the soapbox now!

Racheal vote your conscience and shock the hell out of people...


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Anthony
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quote:
Originally posted by Amy Jo:
I'm no political science expert, but from what I recall from my American Govt class in college, the Bill of Rights was nationalized at one point. Which means, the Bill of Rights was extended from the federal government to the states. I'll see if I can find a source.

The doctrine you are refering to is called the "incorporation" doctrine. The basis is that the 14th Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states.

The problem with this doctrine is that the intent of the 14th Amendment (and 13th and 15th) was to enfranchise and make citizens of the black slaves. As a secondary proposition, the 14th Amendment also was seen as a way of allowing the federal government to step in and protect certain rights of citizens (the Republicans feared that the southern states would reinstitute slavery under a different name. In the end that is what happened (under Jim Crow and the sharecropping system)).

The people who drafted and passed the 14th Amendment would have been shocked had someone told them the amendment they were drafting superseded state constitutions.

The incorporation doctrine is less controversial today, as the State supreme courts have been deciding cases on "state grounds" in order to avoid review by the Supreme Court. The Berger and Renquist courts generally refuse review of state court decisions unless they clearly violate the federal constitution.


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Gus
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quote:
Originally posted by Cynestria:
I believe it was the 14th amendment, but I don't know if that's right.

The amendment states:

quote:
No State shall make or enforce any
law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The 13 amendment abolished slavery. the 14th guarantees the rights of all people born or naturalized to this country- that former slaves and the children of slaves enjoy the same privelages and immunities as everyone else.


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Macheath
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Robin:

And hey Mack da Knife, we've got Starbucks and McDonalds you know, we're almost civilised

Robin

Robin


So is that an invitation, Robin? You had me on the Starbucks, but you lost points on the McDonalds. However, if you can get one DECENT Mexican restaurant over there, I'm sold. The one my wife and I went to was bland. I'm a bit spoiled since Georgia has a rapidly growing population of Latinos, so the quality of many of our Mexican restaurants is quite good. One thing good Mexican food is NOT is bland. Fix that and I'll be right over.

Racheal, I applaud your post. I wonder how many folks who talk about gun ownership being an integral part of guaranteeing our freedom from a tyrannical government don't get out and vote. I'm not suggesting any U.S. citizen on here with that opinion doesn't vote, mind you, just that lots of the gun folks I know don't vote at all.

Mack da "vote early, and often. . . no, wait, just early" Knife


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BoKu
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Gus:
All illegal guns start life as legal guns.

All?

Just FYI, one 1977 BATF study (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Analysis of Operation CUE (Concentrated Urban Enforcement), interim report 133-34 (February 15, 1977).) found that one-fifth of the guns seized by the police in Washington, D.C., were homemade.

Bob "ex-pedience"


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Amy Jo
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Yay, Racheal! :clap, clap, applause, applause, whistle, stomp:

Last Presidential election, my favorite candidate didn't win, but at least I voted (and two years ago, my favorite candidate for governor did win)! I'm just glad to have that privilege, and like Racheal said, it's a major freedom that we have that we are so willing to surrender. I don't understand that. I used to tell my friends, "If you don't vote, that's your business, but I don't want to hear you bitching about the guy who got elected." It's not as if it were out of their power to do something about it.

I like voting. I'd do it more often, if I could. Whining that either candidate is not worthy isn't a valid reason not to vote. I agree with Racheal that American politics and government could be drastically changed if everyone got involved.

Amy "how apathetic are we?" Jo


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Gus
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by BoKu:
All?

Just FYI, one 1977 BATF study (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Analysis of Operation CUE (Concentrated Urban Enforcement), interim report 133-34 (February 15, 1977).) found that one-fifth of the guns seized by the police in Washington, D.C., were homemade.

Bob "ex-pedience"



Are homemade guns illegal? But your point is well taken. I wonder what the statistics are now though- a report of 1977 is pretty dated.


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Amy Jo
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I remember that one reason the Bill of Rights was ratified by the states was because of the first amendment. It states,
quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

What was happening was that some STATES were establishing religions and prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I might have some of the names mixed up, but from what I remember, the State of Connecticut had established a specific church (Congregationalists?) as the state church. However, some Baptists (?) were being persecuted for being part of a different church. That's how Rhode Island was formed--the Baptists seceded from Connecticut to form their own state of religious freedom. There were also some religious restrictions going on (not sure which states), that banned contraception on a religious basis. Some woman was prosecuted for doing that, and out of that came some sort of legistlation.

I know I'm being vague, but does any of that sound familiar to you? I should dig out the history book we used, maybe it has some of that info in there.

I found a good, intellectual discussion on the 14th Amendment here. (I didn't not draw from this for my previous statement.)

OK, I found, sort of, what I was looking for. This is really a discussion of James Madison, but this is the idea I was going for:

quote:
No State Shall Violate The second proposal of particular interest-and arguably the most important to Madison-held that "No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases." All the other amendments that Madison enumerated elsewhere in his speech imposed limitations on the power of the national government alone. This amendment, by contrast, proposed adding to the prohibitions on state legislative authority already found in Article VI of the Constitution these further restraints in the three critical areas of religion, speech, and criminal law. Here, in effect, Madison belatedly hoped to salvage something of his original intention of creating a national government capable of protecting individual rights within (and against) the individual states, in a manner consistent with his belief that the greatest threats to liberty would continue to arise there, and not at the national level of government.

On this proposal Madison again met defeat. Not until the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 would the Constitution contain provisions that would establish a firm foundation upon which the federal government could finally act as the James Madison of 1787-89 had hoped it would. But after a variety of procedural delays, Congress finally endorsed Madison's remaining provisions for the protection of individual liberty. All of the first ten amendments that we collectively describe as the Bill of Rights appeared, in seminal form, in Madison's speech of June 8. Among the rights he then insisted upon recognizing, Madison included: free exercise of religion; freedom of speech, of the press, and the right of assembly; the right to bear arms; and the protection of fundamental civil liberties against the legal and coercive power of the state through such devices as restrictions on "unreasonable searches and seizures," bail, "the right to a speedy and public trial" with "the assistance of counsel," and the right to "just compensation" for property.


Source: http://www.apsanet.org/CENnet/thisconstitution/rakove.cfm

The source also mentions the Oswald v Connecticut case I mentioned above:

quote:
Long ignored and disparaged because it did not identify the additional rights it implied should be protected, it was resurrected in the critical 1965 case of Oswald v Connecticut. In his concurring opinion, Justice Arthur Goldberg invoked the Ninth Amendment to support the claim that state prohibition on contraception even for married couples violated a fundamental right of privacy that did not need to be specifically identified to be deserving of constitutional protection. If interpreted in Madisonian terms, this "forgotten" provision is immediately and enormously relevant to the current controversy over the extent to which judges can recognize claims of rights not enumerated in the text of the Constitution itself.

The entire article itself is very interesting and informative. However, after all that, I'm not sure if I had a point in the first place.

[This message has been edited by Amy Jo (edited 10-05-2000).]


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Steve in the F Clef
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Laocoon and JK Will, don't confuse a republic with a democracy. To say that England is not a democracy because it has a monarch -- the kindest word that can possibly be applied to this statement is that it is "uninformed". The English monarch, who is also indirectly the Canadian monarch and the Australian monarch, has no power to take any governmental action. It is only the elected government which is capable of DOING anything that affects the actions, freedoms, property etc. of citizens.

At the time of the American revolution, I don't know how much of the monarch's power had gone to Parliament. Clearly England was not as much of a democracy then as it is now; Parliament now has all the power. But I'm sure it was more of a democracy than in the time of Henry VII. So whether you say England is an "older" democracy than the US depends on when you think England's Parliament had enough power to deserve that description. I don't know enough English history to have an opinion on that.

Republics are one form of democracy. Monarchies where parliament, not the monarch, has political power (e.g., England, Canada, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc.) are another. Then, of course, there are those "monarchies" in the British Commonwealth where power is held not by the British monarch, but by some tin pot dictator in the country itself...

Steve


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Gus
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Amy Jo:
That's how Rhode Island was formed--the Baptists seceded from Connecticut to form their own state of religious freedom.

Here's the history of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, straight from the horse's mouth. The first white settlement was founded by Roger WIlliams in 1636, who was fleeing persecution in Mass. Here's a quote from the site: "It was the last of the 13 original colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution, demanding that the Bill of Rights, which guarantees individual liberties, be added."


Interesting article.


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bhd8ball
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Carpenter:
It seems to me that if you fear your government, you should try to change it. Work for campaign finance reform and term limits, and other measures to give the people more power over the government, and make the government more responsive to the people. I'm not saying that the populace should disarm, but it seems like a more practical solution for everyone if we work to make the system better rather than fretting about how bad it has become and arming ourselves against our own fears.

Carpenter


The reason the FOUNDING FATHERS wrote what they wrote was because at some point the government (as had theirs) becomes a bad government (ie, will not follow the dictates of the people) and needs to be removed.

This SOUNDS the most reasonable interpretation of the article since these people were NOT in favor of a standing army (how do we get around that one? did we change that amendment?) because the government in power may use that same army against it's own people.

I do not own weapons of any sort. I know exactly how to use them, and have. I see no reason for them and would be afraid that someone in my household may get ahold of one (no matter how well hidden) and wound or kill another family member, on purpose or by accident.

So the debate is not an issue with me.

But what I don't understand is why the subject has NOT been taken to the supremes to settle, once and for all.

The way the document reads, it says one of two things:
(1) Guns are okay for all
(2) Guns are okay for the states.
If (1) then even REGISTERING weapons would be wrong as the very reason for having the weapons (protection from the govt) would be where the registration would take place.

If (2) then the gov is perfectly right in registering or banning weapons of any sort.

So those who want them, sue.
So those who don't want them, sue.

No I'm not a lawyer, just tired of a debate that has a solution.



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Ewok
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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On the topic of what the 2nd amendment means, maybe this will help:

The Virginia Declaration of Rights strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson in writing the first part of the Declaration of Independence. The Virginia Declaration of Rights states, in part:

quote:
That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

The Supreme Court, in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886) stated:

quote:
It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the States, and in view of this prerogative of the general government...the States cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question [the Second Amendment] out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government.

In 1990, the Supreme Court addressed the definition of "people" in the Bill of Rights in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez. They did not find that the word people means states, militia or army, but rather indicated that it "refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community."

Original draft of the 2nd amendment, written by James Madison in 1789:

quote:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.

Which was changed in committee to:

quote:
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.

The final version is:

quote:
A well-regulated milita being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
At some point some extraneous commas were introduced, but that doesn't change the meaning.

Also, I'd like to recommend this site:


------------------
"911 - Government-sponsored dial-a-prayer!"

[This message has been edited by Ewok (edited 10-05-2000).]


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