My libertarian commenter, Hip703, raises important points and I wish to give him some space in a post not a mere comment, and I have a response below. Hip's rejoinder in response to a post
on guns, which comments I found very worthy, were more particularly in response to two statements I made in one of the comments to the post. I have reprinted the comment and cut-and-pasted Hip's rejoinders.
I will then comment in response below.
(MF Blog proprietor: "I'm also a little tired of comparisons to Switzerland and Israel when we are learning more about their gun laws, and how they derive from the militia or a draft, and how one has to explain in writing and in discussions with police why one needs to have a gun.")
Tired why? Too inconvenient? In those cultures, people are trained how to use firearms. Maybe if coastal elites would undergo similar training, their attitude toward firearms would change.
You are one of these people saying we need to "have a discussion" about gun control. Well, I am having a discussion. Again, the fact is that in Israel, there has not been mass killings in a school since 1974, when Israel started arming it's teachers. Are you saying that teachers in this country are not as capable of defending their schools as Israeli teachers?
Also, I take exception comment about "why one needs to have a gun." The Bill of Rights is not a Bill of Needs. Nor are our rights bestowed upon us by the government. Firearms ownership is a basic civil right.
What exactly is your proposal here? To disarm the citizenry? To repeal the Second Amendment? Restricting gun ownership to one-round Derringers?
(MF Blog proprietor: "You have to take your argument to a new factual analytic level. It's not enough to attack liberals as effete snobs anymore.")
Um, sorry, but I (Hip) carefully avoided use of the term "liberal." (Ironic how that term has been bastardized over the years (Hip's comment, not mine)). This is a very important point, and all liberals should listen up.
There are plenty of so-called "conservatives" who are hell-bent on gun control. David Brooks comes immediately to mind. The late Robert Bork did not believe the Second Amendment protected and individual right. And President Nixon favored gun control, chiefly for racist reasons.
The KKK wanted to disarm blacks during Reconstruction. The original draft of the Anti-Klan Act of 1871 -- pushed by President Grant -- made it a federal felony to "deprive any citizen of the United States of any arms or weapons he may have in his house or possession for the defense of his person, family, or property." The final version did not contain the provision because it was deemed superfluous; the shared view back then was that the right to keep and bear arms was fundamental.
Civil rights crusader and Klan-fighter Robert F. WIlliams, a black man, obtained a charter from the NRA in 1957 and founded the Black Armed Guard in Monroe, North Carolina. In one account from his book "Negroes With Guns," the Klan sieged the home of a black physician and his wife. Williams and the Black Armed Guard thwarted the attack.
For those readers interested in these topics, I would refer them to the following books:
In addition, many "liberal" blue states have sound firearms laws. Vermont, perhaps the most leftist state in the country, has virtually no gun regulations. Oregon and Washington are two other "liberal" states that are protective of the rights of gun owners.
My comments were directed at the coastal elites, the brie-and-Chablis crowd, many of whom are "conservative" and/or Republican. I mentioned David Brooks. Megan McArdle herself seems like an unprincipled utilitarian who would have no problem disarming the citizenry if she could. DItto Charles Krauthammer, who in the 1990s favored a complete ban on all firearms.
Even Jonah Goldberg of National Review has stated he would have "no problem" banning "high capacity" (read: standard capacity) magazines. I doubt Goldberg, an East Coast urban conservative, does not spend a lot of time at the rifle range, or reloading ammunition on a work bench in his garage.
END OF HIP COMMENT.
And now my rejoinder:
Hip, your argument boils down to: Train everyone with guns. If elite folks knew how to handle guns, they'd be on your side.
I used to find this more plausible, but I no longer do. Your reference to Israel is unpersuasive because Israel has a draft where everyone learns to use a gun. You have not stated whether you favor a draft, or even a militia as set up in Switzerland--and Switzerland's laws about militias are far more than "get out your guns, folks". They are about drills and maneuvers and other things that interfere with "freedom."
I am interested in your take on Garry Wills' essay on the history of the Second Amendment, as he made a strong case about the limits of any individual right to bear a weapon. Volokh's only criticism of the essay, as he personally told me, is that Wills does not draw a specific line as to where the individual right ends. I responded the line is the legislature's to draw, not a court's unless it was completely confiscatory of all guns. And yes, I am questioning the scope of Heller
Because of Heller
, and because we are re-evaluating here, I believe Congress should authorize a commission to take testimony from folks such as yourself, as well as doctors who work in emergency rooms and others from other walks of life, including scholars, about guns and gun use. The Commission should also analyze the history of the Second Amendment, and go through the pros and cons (and limits) of each reform proposed, and see if we can eventually enact public policies that would overall limit the extent of gun related or caused violence in our land. A car has many positive uses and we take steps to regulate it, and car fatalities are clearly down. Guns that have limited use other than killing people seems to point in a direction different than we've been for the past decade at least.
For substance, I am now interested in our nation considering
a severe limitation on the possession of guns that can shoot a dozen people at a clip whether you want to call it automatic or semiautomatic. I also like the idea of a police authority deciding who can have such guns as they do in Switzerland and Israel through a permitting system. If I may anticipate your response, allow me to say the following:
In a world where the military can kill us in our homes with the push of a button, your having a gun of this nature is just so much noise to the government. Thus, the anti-tyranny argument is, how shall I say it any other way, looking rather quaint. Further, your having a gun of this nature is not for hunting deer so hunting and food sustenance is not a compelling reason for the shoot-a-dozen-at-a-clip gun either. Simply stated, a gun of that nature is primarily used to shoot humans. And that is the problem at hand.
I am also familiar with the history of blacks who fought for their right to arm themselves against white racists in the late 1860s and into the 1870s--and I know I would have supported their legislative right to bear arms then especially as I would likely have been a Radical Republican a la Thaddeus Stevens, so unfairly caricatured in Speilberg's latest film.
Of course, how did that turn out for those armed blacks overall when white mobs set in on them and the white racists controlled the law in order to overwhelm those blacks? The irony is that had the black leaders of the time known of Gandhian principles, they might well have captured the attention of the nation in 1870s.
Again, I am supportive of a Commission on this subject as I think we need to learn anew on this topic.
Finally, I am intrigued by Hip's point that Oregon and Vermont have little murder by guns, and loose gun regulations compared to other States. That is why gun control advocates I've read strike me as overstating their case, too, and why I was more on Hip's side until I have decided to rethink things anew. A lot of our balloons need to be popped here as we work through the analysis.