Is a firearms magazine writer/editor a journalist?

(ht: Walt Kelly): Is a barnacle a ship?

This is messed up in so many ways.  I understand resigning in protest against something your employer did, or asks you to do. I understand getting fired because you’re not with the program.  But Bequette and Metcalf did the right thing “…generate a healthy exchange of ideas…” that the gun community would–obviously, especially in light of these events–benefit from.  We need more people acting as though a job is not the worst thing one can lose!

But instead of forcing the magazine to either fire them or back them up after the yahoo faction erupted, or resigning on grounds that the magazine was wrongly caving in to fear (of that exchange) and ignorance, they quit as though they had done something wrong.  They could have lost their jobs and kept much more important things, but now they have nothing!

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

113 thoughts on “Is a firearms magazine writer/editor a journalist?”

  1. It reminds me of nothing so much as a Red Guards-esque forced public Self-Criticism session. They are now eating their own.

  2. Well, I wish the guy hadn’t apologized for doing something right. Still, I applaud what he did and hope he gets a better job. Many of us make mistakes under pressure. I don’t think it cancels out the original good deed in printing something that must have made some of the readers think. My guess is, this whole thing will lead to greater self-awareness among those readers and in the end they will be glad that it all happened. It’s holding up a mirror to them, certainly.

    Larry Summers apologized too, after that whole women in science thing. I don’t know if he was wrong the first time (I know a bit of stats, but I ain’t no Ph.D in it, so I really don’t know if there was sufficient grounds for what he said, even if I still wouldn’t believe it, even if there were … ; > ), or the second time, but I agree with you that ideally, one should not apologize for saying something that you think is true.

    1. Plus, apart from the empirical question, there’s the issue of, as a university president, maybe it shouldn’t have been said, just on that basis. So, to my mind, there are two distinct issues. I’m clear on the role-of-president part, but on the empirical issue, I have no idea. Not that I’d want to see a lot of grant money put into it, either, really. Just, I don’t know.

      1. There’s a more topical “university story” than the Summers gender thing – Brown University and the Ray Kelly speech on stop and frisk. Plus Summers *was* both a university president and wading into an area well outside his expertise. Kelly is at the heart of stop and frisk, and I can think of no public official better suited to presenting the other side’s case.

  3. “Mr. Bequette, also group editorial director at InterMedia Outdoors [the magazine’s parent company], said in the letter that he had already planned to hand the reins of the magazine to a new editor, Eric Poole, on Jan. 1 — but was making the change effective immediately because of recent events.”

    I presume that Bequette was handed a letter and told to sign it on pain of losing his “group editorial director” job.

  4. The Tea Party effect reaches deep into the countryside of the Right. Imagine Guns & Ammo on the side of the gun-grabbers? I can’t. You’re pretty fevered if you’re reading the tea leaves that way, whatever is in the editorial section.

    It does demonstrate just how much some people are upset at the prospect of thinking or encountering a different approach to a difficult problem. Gun owners are numerous, but if they all get the image of being anti-government extremists…well I repeat myself. Nah, it no that bad, but…Their public image isn’t good right now. Things like this don’t help. And it’s a self-inflicted wound here, which makes you at best seem like a fool.

    1. I think Gun & Ammo is the fool here. Either they foolishly decided to touch the third-rail of American wing-nuttery, that any regulation of firearms is tantamount to “infringement” of the right to bear arms, just from curiosity about what would happen. Or they foolishly thought their audience could handle it and have a substantive discussion about what the difference between regulation and infringement is.

      signed,
      long-time gun-owner, NRA-skeptic

      PS There are a bunch of laws on the books about firearms that are unreasonable and an infringement on the right to bear arms. ironically, most of those were passed in reaction to the images of Black Panthers exercising their rights. Somehow, that opportunity seemed too ripe to pass up among those disturbed by the idea of the 1965 Civil Rights Act…only to discover several decades on that those same bad laws were being expanded to include white folks on a regular basis. Liberals haven’t helped, as many of them are gun-grabbers by admission. Like abortion, it’s hard to have a reasonable discussion on this topic in public. America has plenty of guns. The gov’t has no hope of even starting anything like a major gun grab. Which hasn’t stopped California and some other states from trying to do so…I see both sides here and there’s some ugly to both. The government hasn’t helped much by unclear and questionably targeted enforcement. Everyone’s got blood on their hands…

      BTW, where’s my gun? Just keeeding. It’s good we can have a discussion on this here that is at least polite, if probably not entirely agreeable to all. That is so rare.

      1. Mike, having read the editorial that got him fired, I say he deserved it.

        The complaint that gun “nuts” won’t permit any regulation at all is a common one, among people who want to impose regulations just for the sake of imposing them. As Metcalf did. He provides no evidence that there’s a problem his regulations would be a solution to. He just thinks the regulations should be stricter, without justifying this view.

        Metcalf wasn’t proposing backstop regulations for shooting ranges, or technical specifications for firearms safety, or anything like that. He was just proposing to pile training requirements on people before they could exercise a civil liberty, without even demonstrating that states without such requirements were measurably more dangerous than states with them.

        He was reasoning like a gun controller, not a gun rights advocate. (Which is to say, not reasoning at all, really.) Perhaps he’ll find a new job with the Brady Bunch, they seem happy with his writings.

        1. I’m not sure what part of “any” regulation the NRA would find acceptable. I’ll agree, just adding new regs and prison terms isn’t worth the hassle. That’s politicians preening for the next election, not protecting anyone.

          I will have to disagree on the part about training being something that we can gloss over on the issue of guns being a right. And that’s probably part of the reason I don’t get the NRA’s take these days. It’s changed. All I have to compare to is when I took my 22 Markmanship classes in AZ in the early 60s. Whether it was the law, the NRA requirements, or just dad’s way of teaching responsibility at this remove, but in addition to the Hunter Safety course that was required to participate, you also had to take survival training and pass a simple test there, too.

          Now, this was all run by the NRA. And the one thing I’ve always been careful about is safety. Usually drives me nuts to go shooting with most people I know, as they’re all the “It’s an American right. It’s in my DNA.” Well, no, actually not…apparently. Problem is Darwin’s law doesn’t apply consistently to firearms. They are as likely to take out the non-stupid as the stupid, at least if you’re stupid enough to hang with Stupid…

          I suppose it’s also a matter of being from a military family and anticipating taking up the family trade, so paying attention to things like that meant it was one less thing to worry about getting killed from…a little. But that Vietnam thing kinda changed my outlook, growing up in the middle and going through the same changes the country was. After folks I knew got wasted kinda when it didn’t much matter any more except for Nixon’s pride, I lost the taste for battle despite being recruited by several well-known institutions associated with the military. Of course, at the end of Vietnam, they were getting desperate — and probably didn’t realize they didn’t want my peacenik, revolutionary attitude anyway, no matter how high my test scores or prior association with the military.

          So my taste for guns has been up and down over the years. And I take them pretty seriously. I worry far more about my fellow shooters than needing to deal with either black helicopters, Red Dawn (hey, I’d probably be on the other side there anyway), or criminal perps…it’s that guy that doesn’t know where to keep his finger trigger that worries me. Or how to use a gun safe. Or that doesn’t understand kids will find guns you leave unsecured. Or that you don’t celebrate any holiday by firing into the air. I could go on. But this is something you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. The NRA has always talking a good line on gun safety, but I suspect its commitment.

          Just so you know.
          Magazine limits of 30 or less are ridiculous
          Semi-auto isn’t full auto, no matter what the gun looks like
          An assault weapon is by definition capable of full-auto fire, anything else is just a rifle
          What a gun looks like has no bearing on the right to own it.
          Concealed carry is worrisome, but perhaps needed — if closely and fairly regulated
          The police need to be less trigger happy and I’m not sure all this “freedom” is helping anybody except those who are white and middle class or further up the socio-economic order.
          “Stand your ground” is definitely problematic, as too many idiots believe the rhetoric, instead of using their heads, they think they can use their trigger finger to relate to others

          Yeah, now I’m done offending everyone a little bit. ;):)

          1. “I’m not sure what part of “any” regulation the NRA would find acceptable”

            Then you’re not trying very hard. Let’s suppose somebody proposed a state level law mandating that all gun ranges have appropriate backstops. Where “appropriate” was actually defined in a sensible manner, not designed to make building a gun range impossible. Think the NRA would oppose that?

            Suppose a state passed a law requiring schools to institute firearms safety classes as part of the curriculum, and said classes were run honestly to the usual standards, instead of being a pretext for anti-gun indoctrination. Think the NRA would oppose that?

            Just because most firearms regulations are written by people hostile to firearms ownership, and so tend to abusively aim at suppressing gun ownership, doesn’t mean there aren’t any reasonable regulations that the NRA would support. They’re merely not the sort that generally get written by the people who are obsessed with regulating guns.

            They’re not the sort Metcalf was urging, because he was, reflexively, sucking up to people who oppose guns.

            Frankly, his firing is not unreasonable. Suppose the editor of “Road and Car” posted an editorial urging that all motor vehicles be equipped with speed governors. Think he’d keep his job?

            Suppose the editor of Wired urged mandatory inclusion of an NSA back door in every computer at the hardware level? (Windows 8 and TPM.) Think he’d keep his job?

            Think the editor of Nation would keep his job after writing a editorial in favor of Voter ID, or the editor of Jet after writing an editorial opposing racial preferences?

            Certain publications have viewpoints, and you don’t work there if you oppose them.

            Guns and Ammo has a target audience, and an editor who makes a practice of pissing that audience off shouldn’t expect job security.

          2. Brett,
            I understand why Metcalf got fired. Because the NRA is actually fundamentally incapable of having the discussion you just suggested they’re perfectly capable of having.

            They’re so bought into their rhetoric, they can’t climb down from it long enough to see the horse they’re riding is coming up lame.

            And that’s exactly my problem with them. They can’t see the forest for the trees.

          3. If you read more widely here, you’ll see that Brett is in “favor” of a few limited gun regulations, mostly of the “when I aim to kill someone with my gun, I don’t want to hit the wrong person” variety.

            i.e. he always touts backstops at firing ranges (so you don’t kill someone beyond the firing range) and frangible ammo (so you don’t kill someone in the next apartment over when you’re trying to kill someone in your own apartment.)

            As for sensible regulations that might decrease the general level of gun violence, or the numbers of guns, forget it. He’ll always say there’s no proof, no matter what extensive proof you offer him. For instance, look up David Hemenway’s work at the Harvard School of Public Health.

        2. I read the article, and by my reading Metcalf is not proposing any specific regulation. He’s not saying what kind of regulation he would favor or disfavor. He’s writing about the Second Amendment, and whether any regulation of firearm use at all is an “infringement” of the Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.

          The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Note carefully: Those last four words say “shall not be infringed.” They do not say “shall not be regulated.” “Well regulated” is, in fact, the initial criterion of the amendment itself.

          A few paragraphs later he writes:

          I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibility. And I do believe their fellow citizens, by the specific language of the Second Amendment, have an equal right to enact regulatory laws requiring them to undergo adequate training and preparation for the responsibility of bearing arms.

          So far, what I’ve quoted doesn’t get to the issue of whether he favors such a training requirement, whether he thinks such requirements ought to be stricter, or any such thing. He’s not saying what kind of policy he would support. What he is saying is that in his view such requirements don’t violate the Second Amendment.

          Later on, he mentions a specific policy:

          This year, my Illinois homeland became the 50th state to enact a CCW statute. It’s a “shall issue” law, but it requires 16 hours of training to qualify for a license. Many say that’s excessive — an inherent infringement. I don’t. But I’d like it to be good training.

          I’m reading the article carefully, but here Metcalf falls short of endorsing the law itself. Rather, he’s claiming that it’s not an infringement of the 2d Amendment and therefore not unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution. He is not proposing new legislation; he is responding to legislation that has already been enacted. He says if there’s training, he’d like it to be good training. Also, he makes no mention of gun “nuts” in the article; that’s just your false attribution.

          It wouldn’t surprise me if he did favor some kind of training requirement, but he’s not explicitly doing so in the editorial under discussions.

          Here’s a link to the editorial.

          1. Wow. I messed that up. I sure wish we had a preview function. I have the block quotes fixed up so that everybody can see what is mine and what is Metcalf’s.

            I read the article, and by my reading Metcalf is not proposing any specific regulation. He’s not saying what kind of regulation he would favor or disfavor. He’s writing about the Second Amendment, and whether any regulation of firearm use at all is an “infringement” of the Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.

            The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Note carefully: Those last four words say “shall not be infringed.” They do not say “shall not be regulated.” “Well regulated” is, in fact, the initial criterion of the amendment itself.

            A few paragraphs later he writes:

            I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibility. And I do believe their fellow citizens, by the specific language of the Second Amendment, have an equal right to enact regulatory laws requiring them to undergo adequate training and preparation for the responsibility of bearing arms.

            So far, what I’ve quoted doesn’t get to the issue of whether he favors such a training requirement, whether he thinks such requirements ought to be stricter, or any such thing. He’s not saying what kind of policy he would support. What he is saying is that in his view such requirements don’t violate the Second Amendment.

            Later on, he mentions a specific policy:

            This year, my Illinois homeland became the 50th state to enact a CCW statute. It’s a “shall issue” law, but it requires 16 hours of training to qualify for a license. Many say that’s excessive — an inherent infringement. I don’t. But I’d like it to be good training.

            I’m reading the article carefully, but here Metcalf falls short of endorsing the law itself. Rather, he’s claiming that it’s not an infringement of the 2d Amendment and therefore not unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution. He is not proposing new legislation; he is responding to legislation that has already been enacted. He says if there’s training, he’d like it to be good training. Also, he makes no mention of gun “nuts” in the article; that’s just your false attribution.

            It wouldn’t surprise me if he did favor some kind of training requirement, but he’s not explicitly doing so in the editorial under discussions.

          2. Yeah, the formatting is broken, but rachelrachel has a point. All Metcalf wanted was to have the discussion. Just having the discussion was painted as high treason. Kind of hard to talk when people start lining up the firing squad at the conversation opener.

  5. These guys did something incompatible with what they were hired to do, so they should have been fired and they and are right to resign. Lots of publications are interested in “a healthy exchange of ideas,” and Guns and Ammo isn’t one of them. If the paid blogger for the Obama for America website wrote a post explaining the various ways that Mitt Romney’s positions would be better for America, firing would be appropriate.

    1. I had thought the avowed purpose of Guns And Ammo was to promote safe, enjoyable, gun ownership – maximal gun ownership, certainly, but nonetheless, not an explicit goal of creating a post-apocalyptic anarchist wasteland of guns blazing away at the slightest movement all the time. But, if you’re unwilling even to contemplate the possibility that some common-sense regulation of firearms is acceptable for consideration, it’s Mad Max all the way.

      1. How can you have a healthy exchange of ideas, if one side in the exchange suddenly starts promoting the other side’s ideas? Doesn’t an exchange of ideas imply at least two groups, who disagree?

        Including disagreeing about what constitutes “common-sense” regulation of firearms?

        Suppose the editor of a magazine devoted to abortion instruments started espousing the Right to Life movement’s notion of sensible regulation of abortion. Would they be expected to keep their job?

        Gun owners are entitled to expect their publications to promote THEIR side of this debate, not your side. You’ve got plenty of publications of your own, after all.

        1. How can you have a healthy exchange of ideas, if one side in the exchange suddenly starts promoting the other side’s ideas?

          A false dichotomy entirely in the spirit of your manichaean world view.

          There aren’t “two sides”. There are many possible viewpoints in this debate, ranging from “ban all weapons” to “no regulation of weapons” at the extremes, but with many many intermediate possibilities as well.

          Unless the intent of “Guns & Ammo” is to stake out a maximalist position and reject everyone who fails to adhere scrupulously to that position, there is indeed room for a healthy exchange of ideas within the magazine.

          Many people and institutions on the Right are starting to remind me of people I knew in the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist fringe group) back in the 1990s. For those kinds of people, there are indeed only “two sides” to any issue at all — their side, and the wrong side. If only the extremist Right were as pointless and powerless as the extremist Left….

          1. Ok, here’s my side’s position: This is not a data free argument, where you’re free to theorize that existing requirements for concealed carry permits are grossly inadequate, and need to be supplemented by extensive training requirements. Most states have by now implemented some form of concealed carry reform, “shall issue” concealed carry, where you get the permit if you satisfy objective criteria. Those criteria range from, “Anybody legally permitted to own a gun” in some states, to something resembling what Mr. Metcalf advocated in others.

            And there is no evidence the former are in any way more dangerous than the latter. The situation is such that, were what Mr. Metcalf advocated in any way justified, there would be evidence it was justified. But there is none, the dog has not barked in a couple decades of nights.

            Advocates of restricting concealed carry permit issuance are stuck doing things like listing crimes by permit holders out of context, to conceal the fact that the permit holders are less of a danger to the public than the average person, less of a danger to the public than police are. That’s how lacking evidence for their views is.

            So, given the lack of evidence that Mr. Metcalf’s position is justified, under circumstances where that evidence should be easily produced, we have to ask: Why would Mr. Metcalf advocate such policies?

            Why indeed? Well, there’s evidence, and there are the more deeply buried premises and philosophies which shouldn’t overcome it, but all too often do. Given that Mr. Metcalf has adopted a position which he could not have been driven to by evidence, what is there to conclude, but that he was driven to it by those deeply buried motivations?

            In sort, it is reasonable to conclude that, and the bottom, at a level beyond the reach of rationality, Mr. Metcalf is of YOUR faction, not ours. So, why should he be in a position of trust on our side?

          2. Brett Bellmore writes: In sort, it is reasonable to conclude that, and the bottom, at a level beyond the reach of rationality, Mr. Metcalf is of YOUR faction, not ours. So, why should he be in a position of trust on our side?

            You completely missed the point of my comment.

            There are not “two sides” or “two factions” unless you lump together everyone who expresses an opinion that diverges even slightly from your own as “the other side”.

            Of course, there’s nothing particularly novel about that. You’re basically following in the footsteps of many a fanatic cult.

            But at least you’re right that your argument is fundamentally “beyond the reach of rationality”. In fact, that’s the problem.

          3. J, there are people pulling the rope in one direction, and people pulling it in the other direction, and that’s as good a criteria for declaring there to be two sides as any.

            As for the reasonable regulators, we know what they view as “reasonable”: The District of Columbia. The most extreme outlier jurisdiction for gun regulation in the entire country, where you might be able to have a box of parts locked up in a safe, unless you were politically connected, and that’s about it.

            If you think that’s reasonable, you’re well into raving lunatic territory relative to most people.

          4. J, there are people pulling the rope in one direction, and people pulling it in the other direction, and that’s as good a criteria for declaring there to be two sides as any.

            “No enemies to the Right”, eh, Bellmore? The basic problem here is that *you are an extremist* so to you everyone else appears to be on the “other” side. But the fact that you’re incapable of perceiving the diversity of viewpoints within the vast realm of Non-Brett-Bellmore Thought doesn’t mean that this diversity of viewpoints does not exist.

          5. this reminds me of all those conservatives and republicans who would make some mild statement regarding the inadvisability of letting rush limbaugh be the public face of their party who were almost immediately forced to back down and swear obeisance to the will of the limbaugh.

            it also reminds me that it’s awfully hard to collect data if the government agency that specializes in studying all manner of things that cause injury and death in americans is forbidden from studying injuries and deaths from firearms by statute. so really from the position of gun rights advocates it is deliberately a data-free argument. although the plural of anecdote is not data, where data is absent anecdote rules.

          6. Brett, it is truly fascinating to observe your approach to guns and compare it to your approach to voting, where you see no need whatsoever to demonstrate that there is even a problem to be solved before advocating restrictions on people’s ability to exercise the most fundamental right there is in a representative democracy.

          7. @j. michael neal–

            his approach to both gun rights and voting rights is actually consistent and logical within the bellmorian universe of discourse. consider the following:
            proof of identity is fallible–even a birth certificate cannot be trusted because one would have to have been in the room during the delivery to know beyond all doubt the citizenship and identity of the child http://www.samefacts.com/2011/04/watching-conservatives/where-is-the-obamas-marriage-certificate/comment-page-1/#comment-66409 . other government files cannot be less fallible than birth records. since the right to keep and bear arms are listed directly in the bill of rights such a right would be unreasonably limited by requirements that involved recourse to inherently fallible records. since all regulation of the right to keep and bear arms would require subjecting the right to such unreasonable limitations all regulation of the right to keep and bear arms is unreasonable on its face. while bars to voting on the basis of race or sex are positively forbidden, the right to vote is otherwise not an absolute right and can therefore be made subject to any number of regulations, even those making use of fallible records. within his universe of discourse, mr. bellmore is both logical and consistent.

          8. I think I’ve stated before that my support for Voter ID is in the nature of a “what’s sauce for the goose” payback to the left and their support for gun control. You’ve demonstrated how you think explicitly guaranteed civil liberties should be treated, so eat it yourself.

            When I don’t have to pass a damned FBI background check to exercise my 2nd amendment rights, I’ll agree, gladly, that you don’t have to show photo ID to vote. That’s my price. IMO, you don’t have standing to complain about relatively trivial restrictions on one right, while you’re trying to extinguish another.

          9. @j. michael neal–

            mr. bellmore has stepped up to not only agree with my analysis of his cognitive style but to burnish his reputation as a logician in the process.

        2. Brett, thanks for the scan!

          I gotta say though, if progun people can’t even handle *that,* they are really much nuttier than I even thought before.

          Btw. There is *no* fundamental right to carry a concealed *handgun.* (And I wouldn’t even care if J. Scalia had said there were. But afaik, he didn’t say it. So, it don’t exist. I assume we don’t want to reopen the question of J. Scalia’s 2nd A shenanigans in general. We’ve been over that.)

          I should at least get the chance to run away. Make them carry concealed rifles if they’re so darned scared to leave the house. Seriously.

          1. Actually, that might have been true before Heller but once Scalia found that the Second Amendment created a personal right to “keep and bear arms,” I can see nothing in the language of that amendment to support a requirement that any person be required to obtain permission from the government to bear arms wherever and in whatever manner he wants.

            Indeed, if you look at the sources Scalia cites they are mainly describing the purpose of the Second Amendment is to create essentially a personal right to engage in violent, armed rebellion against local, state and federal governments so obviously even the slightest governmental burden on an individual’s right to own and use his weaponry would defeat the whole purpose of the amendment (as envisioned by Scalia).

  6. We need more people acting as though a job is not the worst thing one can lose!

    Best line I have read in a long time — well struck.

  7. Once again, the ultra-right-wing reveals that it’s not a political movement, it’s an identity movement. If you mention the 2nd Amendment in a sentence that doesn’t end with “my cold dead hands”, well, it’s like you’re a North Korean mourner who wept inadequately at Kim Jong-Il’s funeral. The loyalists notice that you’re insufficiently committed to the in-group identity; insufficient commitment means you’re untrustworthy; untrustworthy means you’re out. (And the loyalists’ act of kicking you out is itself a display of superior in-group committment.)

    Here’s a question: who’s the farthest-right gun-rights fanatic that has *criticized* someone for being too far right? For example, is there a Ken Cuccinelli tweet somewhere where he says, for example, “I’m #pro-gun but unlike @tednugent I think we can disarm actual prison inmates”? “The USMC won the battle of Guadalcanal and was fully armed while doing so. It did not lose, certainly not while disarmed by the Brady Law. @sarahpalin is #crazy.”

  8. I don’t get it. Why would I read a magazine at all if I already know everything? I have never heard this novel theory of magazine editing, that there must be no disagreement whatsoever. Fascinating.

    1. Gun magazines are probably best understood as pornography. Why do people like to look at pornography even though they already know what naked women look like? Same deal, basically. To a nutter, guns are awesome, and reading about guns and looking at pictures of guns strokes the pleasure centers of the brain.

      It’s funny. Waaaaay back when I was a kid I was a sort of half-assed gun enthusiast, and I remember that Dick Metcalf was a big deal in the gun world even then. Dude must be old as the hills now. I imagine this is a culture clash, between the old-school “responsible hunter/sportsman” types and the younger gun enthusiasts who only buy “Tactical” breakfast cereal.

      1. “I imagine this is a culture clash, between the old-school “responsible hunter/sportsman” types and the younger gun enthusiasts who only buy “Tactical” breakfast cereal.”

        Yeah, pretty much, invidious characterizations aside. Metcalf comes from a generation of gun owners who were suffering from Stockholm syndrome, and who were desperate to seem reasonable to people whose ultimate aim was that there not BE gun owners. They internalized the values of the gun control movement, and sought only to slow it’s supposedly inevitable victory. It was only when people like Metcalf were pushed aside by a new generation of gun owners who didn’t think trying to actually WIN the culture war unreasonable, that we finally turned the tide, and beat back the gun controllers.

        He’s a Fudd, IOW, and good riddance.

        1. “Metcalf comes from a generation of gun owners who were suffering from Stockholm syndrome”
          Nice way to deny the voice of anybody who disagrees with you. Don’t bother to reply, crickets.wav.

          1. i just read the scan of the article that mr. bellmore provided the link to and i must say that’s pretty weak tea. forgive me if i’m oversimplifying but it seems like the guy was covered in calumny and forced to apologize, retract, and resign because he agreed that the illinois legislature could require applicants for a conealed carry permit to have 16 hours of training. even texas requires 10 to 15 hours of training. from the heat that had been generated i thought he must have said something remarkably divergent from the conservative mainstream. if this represents thinking wildly at variance with the “guns & ammo” readership i don’t know whether to laugh out loud or be horrified. i guess i’ll settle on being amazed.

          2. As I wrote elsewhere in this thread, the requirements for concealed carry vary from, at one end, carbon based lifeform, to, at the other, major donor to the local Democratic party. And there is a complete lack of evidence that the places at the ‘lax’ end of this are worse off than the places at the stringent end. Metcalf didn’t state that Illinois could so regulate the practice. He urged that it be so regulated.

            As a general rule, “Agrees with the Illinois legislature about guns” is going to effect your reputation among gun owners, justly, in much the same way as “Agrees with the N.C. legislature about voting rights” is going to effect your reputation among voting rights activists.

          3. i’ve reread the scan for a fifth time and i’d really like you to quote the passage in that editorial where you find evidence that he urged that it be so regulated. i’m not seeing it but apparently i don’t have your knack for finding subtext so please point it out.

          4. This year, my Illinois homeland became the 5 0th state to enact a CCW statute. It’s a “shall issue” law, but it requires 16 hours of training to qualify for a license. Many say that’s excessive… an inherent infringement. I don’t. But I’d like it to be good training.

            A lot of people, myself included, read that as an endorsement of 16 hours of training as reasonable, not just a constitutionally permitted excess. I’d say that was Metcalf’s view of things, too, if he hadn’t partly repudiated the view. Now, while I agree with his finding someplace else to work, I do think they shouldn’t have fired him without letting him FIRST explain himself, instead of afterwards.

            But the essay was still lousy with the sort of ‘tells’ that let you know he’s not in tune with the readership of Guns and Ammo, such as bragging about the part he played in passing a law most will recall mainly for the ban on civilian ownership of new machine guns it instituted, which concession we may never be rid of, and which really wasn’t worth the passage of the bill.

            And he has certainly stuck to his guns, so to speak, on the subject of whether gun regulation has to be reasonable to be constitutional. He’s not treating this right like the 1st, explicitly. That, too, pisses off gun owners, setting out the 2nd amendment to be a second class right, where restrictions don’t have to be reasonable to be constitutional.

            Should he be a pariah? No, not really. Should he be the editor of a gun magazine? Again, no, not really.

          5. if that passage in quotes represents “urging” then you set the bar for “urging” so low as to be almost meaningless. once again you have told all of us much more about yourself than you may have wanted to.

          6. As you have revealed your ignorance of the issues here.

            Look, why did Illinois, a notoriously gun hostile state, adopt a concealed carry statute? Cease being the only state in the country with no concealed carry at all? They did so because of Moore v. Madigan, where a federal court found that Illinois’ lack of concealed carry permitting violated the 2nd amendment.

            Why would this be, when it is clear that the 2nd amendment does NOT make concealed carry a right? (You read me right.) Because Illinois bans open carry, and the 2nd amendment guarantees a right to keep and bear, own and carry, arms. So, constitutionally, Illinois had the choice of either permitting concealed carry, or open carry. Their choice, but they had to allow one of them. The chose to keep open carry illegal, and allow concealed carry.

            This makes concealed carry, in Illinois, the only legal avenue to exercise a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. So, how much can Illinois burden this exercise of a constitutional right?

            According to Metcalf, as much as they feel like. Even though they’re burdening the only sort of carry they allow, and carrying a gun is a constitutional right.

            You really expect that to fly with people who think the 2nd amendment ought to be treated as a full constitutional right?

          7. mr. bellmore, whatever i might expect of people who think the 2nd amendment is a full constitutional right does not apply, and indeed cannot apply to people who believe that the 2nd amendment has a privileged place which sets it far above all other constitutional rights as you seem to do. as i’ve said before, i’m a gun owner myself, i’ve grown up with the responsible use of firearms as part of my family heritage. i think responsibility has gotten lost along the way over the last 20-30 years and gun culture has become more of a curse than a blessing. when individual responsibility gets lost frequently government takes a hand. i believe in intelligent regulation that encourages responsible gun ownership and imposes penalties for irresponsibilitiy.

            living in a state where the gun culture is at least as enthusiastic and manichean as it is anywhere else i find it hard to get worked up about the state of illinois requiring 16 hours of training, especially since my state has mandatory training for concealed carry that typically runs 12 hours but can be as long as 15 hours. to this texan an extra 1-4 hours seems pretty insignificant. as for what metcalf wrote; to my ears, unattuned to the pitch of the whistle you and your spiritual kin in the comments at “guns and ammo” are hearing, it sounds like advice to accept the inconvenience and a plea to the trainers to make the training worthwhile. if that type of statement is too radical for the folks at “guns and ammo” to handle then it really just proves the points of my previous paragraph.

            finally, i point again to the passage you quoted– “Many say that’s excessive… an inherent infringement. I don’t. But I’d like it to be good training.” and then to the definition of the word “urging” from thefreedictionary– “To force or drive forward or onward; impel. 2. To entreat earnestly and often repeatedly; exhort.” and from dictionary.com–“1. to push or force along; impel with force or vigor. 2. to drive with incitement to speed or effort.” and i ask you if the word “urging” is the best word you can find to describe the statement?

  9. Gun magazines are probably best understood as pornography. Why do people like to look at pornography even though they already know what naked women look like? Same deal, basically. To a nutter, guns are awesome, and reading about guns and looking at pictures of guns strokes the pleasure centers of the brain.

    Exactly. And you combine the porn with the power to “blow shit up” at a distance and you’ve got something that tickles the low-brow libertarian will-to-power like Oreos steeped in heroin tickles rats.

  10. Let us give thanks for the Brett Bellmores of the world. Without them, the distinction between sane people and gun fetishists would be less obvious.

    Brett tells us that his “support for Voter ID is in the nature of a ‘what’s sauce for the goose’ payback to the left and their support for gun control.” Leave aside his obvious acknowledgement that “voter ID” is a straight right-wing attempt to “pay back” the “left”; everyone with two neurons to rub together already knows that. Let us imagine, instead, the sort of vigorous, virile democracy that Brett seems to want: a democracy in which the people that right-wingers would like to inconvenience at the voting booth show up at the polls armed.

    Watch out, Brett: the elderly black lady you try to prevent from voting may be packing heat, if you keep it up.

    –TP

    1. Again, a reminder: I have pass a background check each time I buy a gun, which is an explicitly guaranteed civil liberty. You whine about showing ID before you cast a particular person’s vote, which does logically require determining who you are.

      Beam, mote.

      1. While the number of cases of voter fraud is roughly equal to the number of mass murders by crazy guys (it’s always guys) with guns there is a certain qualitative difference. And of course a gun buyer can stop into a sporting goods store or Wallmart pretty much twelve hours a day three hundred days a year so the ten minute wait for ID check is not too bad. Voting has a more limited time frame and is usually done on a lunch break.
        But mostly your idea of parity sounds like a child complaining, “If I can’t have all the candy I want then I’m gonna piss in the corn flakes! SO THERE!” Now Brett, can we just discuss this idea of unlimited consumption of candy and how it could be bad for you? 😉

      2. Well, sure. But I can’t point my vote at you and compel you to give me your wallet. I cannot walk into a theater or a school and conduct mass slaughter with my ballots (Dem. plural). You may assert this is a difference without a distinction, and you are indeed entitled to do so, this being a free country and all and our regulated within reasonable bounds right of free speech.

        Best of all, I did enjoy the assertion that bad faith arguments are a good thing for political horse trading. Priceless.

        1. ” I cannot walk into a theater or a school and conduct mass slaughter with my ballots ”

          Sure you can. Isn’t that what the voters did someplace in Europe back in the late 30’s? You conduct mass slaughter with ballots, by using them to elect somebody who will conduct mass slaughter.

          1. Sure you can.

            Nope. No way. The most I could do is give somebody a paper cut.

            Isn’t that what the voters did someplace in Europe back in the late 30′s?

            Again, no. That is not how Weimar ended.

  11. Surely, he couldn’t have forgotten:

    “In March 2000 Smith & Wesson was the only major gun manufacturer to sign an agreement with the Clinton Administration. The company agreed to numerous safety and design standards.[primarily, safety trigger locks] Gun clubs and gun rights groups responded to this agreement by initiating large-scale boycotts of Smith & Wesson by refusing to buy their new products and flooding the firearms market with used S&W guns. After a 40% sales slide, the sales impact from the boycotts led Smith & Wesson to suspend manufacturing at two plants.”

    And, later forced to sell company at fraction of prior value.

  12. Brett,

    Here is a question for you. You say that cancelled carry of a firearm isn’t a constitutional right. Can you identify the source of the government’s right to regulate concealed carry?

    1. Mitch,

      Why it’s right there in the Amendment: “Well regulated.” I interpret this as the government has the right and the duty to check out your bowels any time to insure they are regular.

      1. I interpret this as the government has the right and the duty to check out your bowels any time to insure they are regular.

        Yes some of us are constitutional originalists that way…
        (Especially when we want to be and when it serves us.)

        And so this:

        “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.”

        Is referring to muskets and whatever else they had back then. Not to today’s high-powered weaponry.
        And certainly not anything like what that 23-year old anti-government white male loon (purchased with the fiat currency he hated) used at LAX recently.

        I have no problem with Brett and his tribal libertarians tamping down Iron balls into their single shot muskets while wearing tricorner hats…
        The muscle work might even do them some good…
        Teach them some discipline…
        And responsibility…

        The constitution permits that.
        And nothing more.

      2. Yes, that how I too read the phrase “well regulated militia” which leads me to the conclusion that there is no personal right to own a gun and that, in fact, the states have plenary power over firearms, including the right to ban private possession. But, unlike Brett, I think that Heller was wrongly decided.

        So we are left with two questions in a post-Heller world:

        If the right to “keep and bear arms” phrase is to be read independently from the militia clause and creates a personal right, then what is the textual basis for requiring persons to get permission from the state for “concealed carry”? Indeed, one might ask from where do the federal or state governments derive their power to require a license for a fully automatic weapon? Or to deny criminals or the mentally ill the right to possess firearms?

        Secondly, if you look at some of the critical citations in Heller, it would appear that the main reason why the 2nd amendment is said to have created a personal right (as opposed to a collective right to a “well regulated militia) is the supposed “right of rebellion” against government. If that’s the case, wouldn’t any burden on possession of the most powerful military weaponry be antithetical to the purposes of the 2nd amendment?

        To anticipate, if one needs to read the two phrases together in order to prohibit felons having machine guns or to justify concealed carry regulations, then the question become why can’t California or New York forbid people to have firearms at home or on their persons and require all firearms to be under their control in an armory?

        1. “and that, in fact, the states have plenary power over firearms, including the right to ban private possession.”

          That’s how you read, “right of the people”? As a plenary power of government? Going full Humpty, I guess.

          Here’s how I read the militia clause: The purpose of the amendment is to safeguard the existence of the militia. But, who is it safeguarding the militia against? Why, it is safeguarding the existence of the militia against the government. After all, just because a well regulated, (By which in the parlance of that time read well trained and equipped.) militia is necessary to the security of a free state, doesn’t mean the people running the state mean for it to be free.

          The analogy I make is this: Suppose you thought that a fire department was necessary to secure against fire, but were concerned that the government might end up run by arsonists? How would you assure the continued existence of a fire department? By granting plenary power over hoses and ladder trucks to the government? Or by guaranteeing the right of people, individual people, to own them, so that even a government of arsonists could not prevent people from forming a volunteer fire department?

          The 2nd amendment is perfectly consistent with the government making the militia “regular”, training and equipping it. What it is not consistent with is the opposite: The government preventing people from training and equipping.

          It would, of course, be fatuous to include in a constitution a right to revolt, because what government that needed to be revolted against would respect it? It’s not fatuous, however, to include in a constitution the right to the means to revolt, because then the people would have them at the moment they were needed, because the very effort to take them away would signal the time had arrived.

          So, no, you don’t read the two clauses separately. But read together, the last thing they imply is a power of government to disarm people.

          1. If the purpose of the 2nd amendment is to safeguard the militia from the government, then exactly who is it that regulates and direct the militia? And to what end? I ask this because if it is the states themselves that regulate and command the militia then, presumably, the militia would be called the National Guard or the State Militia and would be far more likely to support the government of the day than rebel against it.

            A closely related point would be that if the militia referred to in the 2nd amendment was, essentially, the National Guard then presumably the 2nd amendment would allow the state to establish qualifications for membership in the militia (age, training and loyalty to the government, for example) and to very closely regulate the arms available to militia members in much the same way as, for example, the US Army has standardized requirements for what kinds of weapons are available, to whom the weapons should be and where they are to be kept. I believe it would logically follow that the state government could forbid militia members from personal ownership of weapons and require that all weapons be stored in a state owned armory.

            On the other hand, you seem to be saying that militias the 2nd amendment envisions would not be creatures of the state governments but would instead be, essentially, self-regulating “citizen militias” who would have the guaranteed means to overthrow whatever governments they (the militias) didn’t particularly like and for whatever reasons they considered valid. Who, exactly, is going to decide when it is time to revolt?

            Your thesis about the right to have the means to revolt seems a bit circular, too. You seem to be saying that the reason why people need guns is to prevent the government from taking away their guns because, evidently, freedom means owning a gun.

          2. “and would be far more likely to support the government of the day than rebel against it.”

            You may be of that opinion, but it was not the opinion of the people who gave us the 2nd amendment. It was not their opinion, because they were in favor of a general, not select, militia. A select militia, such as we have today, is just a standing army being *called* a militia. A real militia is the whole of the people, armed. This is why the Second Militia act of 1792 made every able-bodied man between 18 and 45 a militia member, not just people thought to be politically reliable.

            The idea being that, if the militia is the whole people, it can’t be made to attack the people, because it will refuse to attack itself.

          3. if the militia is the whole people, it can’t be made to attack the people, because it will refuse to attack itself.

            Sounds wonderful in theory, but it could be problematic if that “whole people” is actually a highly factionalized population many of whom hate each other’s guts and don’t have great impulse control. Oh well…

            Or do you have some sort of weapons technology that only works against governments?

          4. Brett: Right. And that militia of the whole people has to be regulated! If you view yourself as a militiaman, great – give us details! What organization are you a part of? If you aren’t actually part of an organization, then why aren’t you campaigning for actual universal armed service? Why such an interest in the “individual right” to keep and bear arms without a corresponding interest in the communal context? You go through the motions of talking about a militia of “the whole people” without ever seriously discussing what it means to be part of “the whole people” in a republic – the collectivist moral underpinning which the whole Constitutional edifice rests upon.

            Ever wonder about the Founders’ incessant preaching against factionalism? Did it ever strike you as naive? Maybe it was, but that doesn’t make it any less vital to their vision of the republic. Our “more perfect Union” is a Union of “We, the People”, not merely of We, the States – in other words, the right to keep and bear arms, like every other Constitutional right, is inextricably bound to a collective vision of the common good, and if no such collective vision exists the Constitution and all its guarantees of rights are broken. No amount of Constitutional exegesis can settle this tedious argument if there is not even the willingness to grant the existence of a common good – and that it might conceivably include doing something about the highest homicide rate in the developed world.

            And don’t just drag out all the same old stats again; if, as you insist, guns aren’t the cause of our high homicide rate, then something else must be – and so you’ll have to consider all the many other ways in which we differ from other developed countries. Clearly they are doing something right; what, exactly? Tell us, Brett! (Sadly, I suspect that I know what your answer will be.)

        2. mr. bellmore, you know as well as i do the antipathy of many of the founders and much of the public to keeping a standing army. it was because of this that the 2nd amendment was passed so that state militias could be on hand immediately to repel invasions. fighting a domestic usurper may have been a corollary rationale but it was as a first line of defense that militias were esteemed. the original phrasings of the amendment exempted pacifists from militias although that phrasing was dropped along the way to passage. i agree with you to the extent of saying that the two passages together do not imply the power of the federal government to disarm the people but neither do those two clauses, taken together, forbid regulation of firearms and firearm ownership.

    2. First, there ain’t no “government’s right to regulate”, there are different levels of government, and they have authority over different subjects. So, leaving out the District of Columbia, and some places that were purchased by the federal government with state permission, (Where the federal government rules as though it were a state.) the federal government is just fresh out of authority in this area.

      But, the power of a state to regulate concealed carry derives from the general police power, which is one of those powers not delegated to the federal government, and thus reserved to the states.

      1. So are you saying that the states and their political subdivision have plenary power to regulate or even ban personal possession of firearms under their general police powers? And Heller is therefore only binding on the District of Columbia and federal enclaves? Can Chicago ban private ownership of firearms?

        1. How exactly did you get that from what I said? Is the power to prohibit arson the power to ban fire?

          States have the power to regulate concealed carry, because the right is to carry, not to do so concealed. At the time the amendment was written, gentlemen carried their guns openly, concealed carry was a practice of criminals.

          1. Is the power to prohibit arson the power to ban fire? If necessary and proper, why not?

            And besides, if you think the feds are “fresh out of authority” to regulate concealed carry you’re just plain wrong. Or did the clauses of Article I, Section 8 pertaining to the militia disappear while I wasn’t looking?

          2. I get it from your invocation of the state’s general police powers which are indeed plenary. That’s why no sane constitutional scholars dispute that the state can make you buy car insurance or health insurance or even force you to eat broccoli. That’s the meaning of the general police power and, unless overridden by something like the US Constitution, those powers unquestionably would allow a state to forbid private ownership of firearms and even to order their confiscation.

            If the 2nd amendment limits the state’s general police powers then you’re back to square one and still need to explain how in a post-Heller world either state or federal government can ban the possession of firearms by anybody, at any time and in any place. Meaning, convicts get to have guns in prison. Everybody gets to pack Uzis and driving fully operational tanks. No limits are specified in the text of the amendment and so none are possible.

          3. ” unless overridden by something like the US Constitution, those powers unquestionably would allow a state to forbid private ownership of firearms and even to order their confiscation.”

            Or the relevant state constitution, most of which also protect a private right to keep and bear arms.

            Anyway, I don’t see the point of arguing with what only a madman would not recognize as a strawman position.

  13. 1. @Dn, yes as a matter of fact the “well regulated militia” clause was disappeared by Scalia in Heller when he found that the second clause was to be read and understood independently from the first so as to create a personal right to “keep and bear arms”. The problem (and it is a problem unique to Scaliaism—which I define as a tendency to confuse one’s own political agenda with the text of the Constitution) is that having done this, Heller has also obviously stripped textual support for any kind of limitation and so Scalia seems to be forced to rely upon little more than the “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Second Amendment rather than the text itself.

    This is because the text of the clause which is being interpreted as creating the personal right to “keep and bear arms” offers absolute nothing by way of regulation or limitation. If you read the keep and bear clause on its own, there is nothing that says people should have to get permits to buy or carry guns or that they shouldn’t be able to keep and bear whatever arms please them including jet fighters, artillery tubes and Sherman tanks.

    2. @ Brett, the general police power of the state would technically encompass the right to ban fire. Indeed, every state closely regulates the use of fire. California, for example, intensely regulates that use of fire, including strict requirements for the safe use of fire when on camping trips and even at home. So your example is a very poor one.

    3. I know really clear how you derive a limitation on a plenary power by virtue of it having been once customary for gentlemen to carry their guns openly. If the general police power allows states to regulate something without interference, then it surely allows them to ban the carrying or even possession of guns completely. But if we’re to look towards historical custom, I do not believe that gentlemen ever carried guns openly and they certainly did not do so in town and cities outside of the wild-west and perhaps not even there since gun-carrying within town limits was frequently forbidden; as exemplified by that notorious gun-grabber Wyatt Earp.

    4. If, however, we accept Brett’s “historical” limitation that the states have no power to regulate open carry and therefore presumably no power to regulate anything beyond prohibiting people from concealing weapons upon their persons, then the question remains as to whether the state or federal governments have the power to forbid convicts and lunatics from having guns or to forbid the possession of automatic weapons, fighter jets and machine guns.

    Brett, I ask you yet again to tell us whether any government has the power to regulate these things in the aftermath of Heller and to identify the source of that power. I again ask whether you agree that Heller has invalidated all such limitations?

        1. Speaking for myself only, I would like the ability to edit comments—especially those written on my iPad, which isn’t a very good writing tool.

    1. Mitch, right of course – Scalia’s claim that regulations such as concealed carry are still allowed under Heller, while “correct” in some nominal sense, is unsupportable by his own atrocious “reasoning”. However, Scalia still made that assertion, however stupid his arguments may be, and so even by the ridiculous standards of Heller, Brett’s own assertion re: federal power over CC still ought to be regarded as obviously wrong.

  14. No.
    And the gun community is happy with that.

    And yes, I see better journalism from my favorite fan run sports blogs.

  15. Brett’s “government run by arsonists” would presumably go around burning down a random school or theater every couple of months. That’s how you’d know they were arsonists. Brett’s fire-hose-and-ladder-truck owners might then be tolerable, despite the steady rate at which some of them go around drowning people with their fire hoses and running over them with their ladder trucks.

    A government that sends its agents into schools, churches, movies, and shopping malls every so often to shoot random people would be about as oppressive — though less murderous — than the NRA already is.

    –TP

    1. You mean a government something like this? Maybe the firebombing of Move? Vicki Weaver being shot by a government sniper while brandishing a baby?

      The strongest argument against the 2nd amendment being an effective defense against tyranny is the US government as it exists today. But that, of course, doesn’t repeal the 2nd amendment.

      1. If you do favor any citizen with (financial) means having a private arsenal of tanks, artilery, fighter jets and nuclear bombs say so in plain language for the record, s’il vous plait.

      2. Brett, your link is very interesting. The Cato map of the US thickly sown with pointy balloons in various colors looks scary to the illiterate eye. People who can read, OTOH, will note the title of the map: Botched Paramilitary Police Raids. People who can both read and think will poke around a bit, using the helpful drop-down filters. They will note, for instance, that the default display includes all categories of “Botched Paramilitary Police Raids” since 1984. They will note that “Botched Paramilitary Police Raids” are classified in 6 categories, only 3 of which explicitly involve death — and one of those is “Death or injury of a police officer”, which from your point of view seems equivalent to counting dead mass-shooters as “victims of gun violence”. Literate, thoughtful people — who are put off by “botched” anything, as a rule — might conclude that the police, like the populace, are too well-armed for their own good. And of course, people who are not as gullible as NRA members or Teabaggers might wonder why a logician of your caliber tries to pawn off this stuff as evidence that we need more Columbines, Binghamptons, Auroras, Sandy Hooks, Tucsons, to name but a few.

        Numerate people with time on their hands can go through your map, click on each of the “Death of an innocent” and “Death of a nonviolent offender” balloons, and tally up the body count. Then, compare it to the body count of what we might call “Botched Uses of the 2nd Amendment” over the same period. This, which includes another interactive map, might prove useful to the exercise.

        Naturally, numbers are beside the point to a principled libertarian like yourself. That your fellow gun nuts kill more Americans every day than the “government run by arsonists” you live in fear of kills in a decade is only evidence that you’re NOT paranoid. Someone IS out to get you. That the “someone” who eventually gets you is WAY more likely to be an NRA member than a “jack-booted thug” gives you no pause. But it does make those of us who enjoy your displays of erudition, here and elsewhere, worry.

        –TP

        1. This is a genius comment. But Brett will never answer it, because he won’t be able to twist the data to “prove” you’re not right.

          1. Really? Exactly how OFTEN does the government have to sending men out to mow down random people, for it to be considered to be doing it?

      3. Of course, not long ago Brett posted this piece of idiocy here:

        the big scandal about the OK bombing was the extent to which they discovered it had been facilitated by government agents playing provocateur.

        So even in a case where anti-government militia members and gun enthusiasts slaughter 168 people and maim nearly 700 more, Brett thinks that “the biggest scandal” is that [imaginary, non-existent] government agents provoked it.

        Then there are the paranoid folks who were so incapable of coping with the cognitive dissonance caused by a “good person” (i.e. white male gun enthusiast) murdering kindergarteners en masse, that they insist it must have been a “false flag operation” by the evil US government trying to discredit gun owners.

        Guns per se are fine, but the radical gun culture is poisonous.

  16. Brett,

    It’s difficult to grasp all of your shifting rationales and definitions to support something you seem to believe in passionately but are incapable of even describing adequately and consistently. Ultimately, however, the problem is that your desire for maximum guns seems based not on reason but on gun fetishism and anger that power in this country is slipping away from you and your ilk.

    A couple of specific points:

    First, the problem here is your inability to identify principled limitations that can be traced directly to the text of the Constitution. The text of the 2nd amendment says nothing about forbidding prisoners, lunatics and little children from owning guns. It places no limitations about the types or numbers of weapons that can be borne. Those restrictions have been derived by interpretation and not by textual analysis, a process that I accept but which you regularly condemn.

    You have been asked time and time again to say whether you think the right to keep and bear arms extends to military weaponry such as machine guns, tanks, explosives and atomic bombs. Instead of directly answering the question you have changed the subject to fire departments, police misconduct and liberty. Can you answer directly whether the government (state or federal) can forbid prisoners from having all manner of weapons, can forbid the private possession of weapons of war such as nukes and CBW? If they can, where in the text of the Constitution do you find that authority?

    Now, the one place you can’t find the power to regulate is in the “well regulated” clause which you describe rather bizarrely not as the power of government to exert control over the “militias” but rather as a duty to keep them well supplied with the latest in weaponry. If the meaning of “well regulated” is, as you claim, well armed then there is no limit on who can possess guns or weapons of mass destruction.

    This is particularly important since you describe the militias not as a military arm of the state or ever as organized irregulars but as an amorphous mass of the people. So, basically, warlordism. In any case, you seem to say that every man is a militia of one who can’t be deprived of anything necessary in his individual judgement to fight against the government.

    Second, your effort to distinguish between the state’s powerlessness to prevent possession or open carry of a gun and valid concealed carry restriction demonstrates the weakness of your positions. To arrive at an authority to regulate concealed weapons, you say that this is based on the fact that gentlemen historically carried weapons openly while ruffians hid theirs. Setting aside, just for a moment, the accuracy of that claim, it’s clear that you have arrived at your conclusion through interpretative reasoning.

    But by reasoning in that way, you are doing something yourself (interpreting the Constitution in line with changing circumstances) that you decry when done by others. If you can interpret the Constitution by reference to historical circumstances, why can’t others interpret it in light of changing circumstances? And if that’s true, why can’t Washing D.C or Chicago interpret the “well regulated” clause to ban private ownership of firearms?

    Also, your historical reasoning is bizarre and totally unsupported. As far as I’m aware, outside of the “Wild West” civilians in cities did not openly carry weapons probably from the time this country was founded until today when it has become fashionable for gun nuts to openly wear arms. On the other hand, since pirates bore their weapons only whilst Victorian gentlemen who carried a weapon did so ever so discretely, perhaps you have it backwards. Maybe government can regulate open carry since that’s what pirates and gun fighters did but is forbidden from regulating concealed weapons since that’s how gentlemen carried them.

    1. Fourteenth amendment: “Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.”

      All prisoners and lunatics are entitled to is due process.

      “Now, the one place you can’t find the power to regulate is in the “well regulated” clause which you describe rather bizarrely not as the power of government to exert control over the “militias” but rather as a duty to keep them well supplied with the latest in weaponry.”

      As bizarre as interpreting a “right of the people” as a plenary power to abolish that right? Of course, the federal government can regulate the militia. Doing so simply can’t involve infringing the right in question. So, as with the second Militia Act of 1792, the federal government can mandate that you own specific arms and ammo, can mandate that you train in their use. What it can’t do is mandate that you NOT own specific arms or ammo, that you NOT train in their use. Disarming people doesn’t further the purpose of a well regulated militia. Arming them does.

      It’s like thinking that, if the government can run schools, it can ban books. Does the power to inform people imply the power to insist they be ignorant? No more than the power to arm and train the militia implies the power to insist the people be disarmed.

      All you’re doing is betraying a view of government utterly alien to the basis of the Constitution, that the government has powers, but can use them to any end it wishes.

      1. 1. I don’t see how the 14th amendment applies at all. The 2nd amendment has no language that would permit prisoners and lunatics to be deprived of their constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” under any circumstances and no matter what procedural safeguards are afforded. There isn’t a single word in the amendment that singles out any category of people to have their absolute and unqualified right to bear arms abridged for any reason whatsoever.

        So while I don’t think your resort to the 14th amendment solves your problem with the prisoners and lunatics by simply providing them with “due process”, it does raise an interesting question. All anybody’s entitled to is due process of law. Does that mean that a state or the federal government could deprive anybody or everybody or the right to keep and bear arms simply by affording them some form of process?

        2. Before addressing your arguments about the power to regulate the militia, I would just like to point out that what you are doing is most charitably described as interpreting the Constitution so that it doesn’t become a suicide pact. There’s no historical basis or even a compelling, internally consistent logic here; certainly nothing remotely resembling Constitutional analysis—you’re just improvising.

        But your ad-libbing reinforces my earlier point about interpretation. If you can interpret the 2nd amendment in whatever way pleases you without grounding your argument in the text of the document, why do you object when other people do the same and seek, for example, to remove firearms from what is now basically an urban society?

        3. If it’s the case that the government can’t prohibit people from owning whatever weapons they think might be helpful in overthrowing that government, am I correct in assuming that, Scalia’s idiotic dicta aside, you are agreeing that in the aftermath Heller there is now an absolute right for private ownership of machine guns, CBW and nukes, tanks and fully armed fighter jets and cruise missiles? Isn’t that the inescapable conclusion of what you’ve just said?

        4. In fact, governments can ban books and frequently do. I wish they wouldn’t and under my interpretation of the Constitution they couldn’t, but that’s something for another day. The point is that states have a general police power that extends to pretty much everything and anything. We have chosen in liberal democracies to place limits on the police power but, as a general rule, while the federal government has only those powers given to it in the Constitution, the states have unlimited police powers to do whatever they want unless there is a check on those powers such as in a constitution. In the absence of a personal constitutional right to keep and bear arms as created by Heller, there is no doubt whatsoever that any state wishing to do so could ban or even confiscate all privately owned firearms.

      2. 1. You dodged the question about tanks and nukes again. Give us a straight answer.

        2. Flippant citations of “due process” don’t constitute an argument. What is “due process”, and what about “due process” magically allows you to override the Second Amendment in the case of prisoners and lunatics but not anyone else? (Hint: check the Preamble.)

        3. Arming people doesn’t further the cause of a well-regulated militia if there aren’t any, you know, regulations. Again: if you fancy yourself a militiaman, where is your organization? Nobody is making any effort to abolish organized militias. Come on, give us a serious discussion of collective action. What are you actually proposing? Should service in an organized militia be an essential requirement of citizenship? How, exactly, would you envision such a militia functioning? Who would it specifically encompass? Unpack this for us.

        1. 1. Tired of strawmen, perhaps it’s hayfever.

          2. What about due process magically allows you to lock people up in boxes if they’re prisoners or lunatics, but not anyone else? Here’s a hint: It isn’t the preamble of the 1st amendment that allows a counterfeiter to be ordered as a condition of parole to not have a printing press.

          3. I’ve explained how arming people furthers the cause of a well regulated militia, but disarming people doesn’t. Just like providing people with hoses and ladder trucks furthers the cause of a well trained fire department, but prohibiting people from having them doesn’t. It’s not my fault you can conceive of anything being “regulated” except by oppressive “regulations”.

          1. while you sound like mr. bellmore i don’t know for sure. working under the assumption that you are i feel compelled to point out that the question of the latest military hardware is not a strawman question but goes to the heart of finding out what you believe. i understand your reluctance to give a clear answer to the question because your choices seem to be either saying that the federal government can prohibit the free ownership of those firearms in which case we will be haggling over the extent to which the government can prohibit the free ownership of other types of arms as well or saying that there is a right to freely possess the latest in military arms in which case you risk either sounding completely mad or trying to argue in favor of something you have previously argued against. i don’t envy you position but just because the question pins you to the ground doesn’t mean it is a strawman question.

          2. 1. Tired of hand-waving assertions with no textual rationale. We know how you feel about small arms; but I don’t recal you clearly expressing or defending any position on larger arms, which are no less “arms” for all that. If you don’t believe people can own a tank, tell us why, and try to do so in some way that refers to the Constitutional text.

            2. You totally missed my point. I refer to the Preamble that begins “We, the People” and mentions “justice” and “domestic tranquility”.

            3.You’ve asserted, not explained, and you ignored most of what I wrote. Your fire-truck analogy is weak; a bunch of trucks and hoses don’t constitute a functioning fire department. You need organized and trained firefighters. Where is the organization? To return to the matter at hand, Article I, Section 8 plainly indicates that the role of Congress is to not merely arm, but organize and discipline the militia. So what discipline are you proposing? Be specific, don’t hand-wave.

          3. 1. The question of whether the right to “keep and bear arms” mentioned in the 2nd amendment is a personal one or a collective right of the polity that would be operated by the government is hardly a straw man. It is the essence of our entire discussion. If it is a right of the polity then individuals have no right to personal ownership of firearms and the states would therefore be free to impose restrictions on firearms according to the popular will.

            On the other hand, if the 2nd amendment creates a personal right to possess firearms then the dimensions of that right must be understood by reference to the text of the amendment. The text of the 2nd amendment has no escape clauses that would permit prisoners, lunatics and convicted felons to be stripped of the right to keep and bear arms. The text of the 2nd amendment has no language which limits the sort of weapons that individuals may keep and bear. That’s why the question of whether your understanding of the 2nd amendment would deprive individuals of their right to own nuclear weapons is relevant and why for continued silence is so damming.

            Now, my tribe avoids the idiotic (but textually inescapable) conclusion that there are no constitutionally permissible limitations through the process of interpretation in which the meaning is determined by a variety of sources and methods such as the historical record and the current realities. But once you accept such a process as legitimate then, as Navarro says, we are simply haggling over which prohibitions can command popular support.

            The 14th amendment would seem to present similar challenges. In the first place, if the text is absolutely controlling the no abridgment would seem possible under any circumstance. It can’t be abridged no matter the necessity, the reasonableness of the abridgment or the process afforded for contesting the abridgment. Again, where is the textual support in the 2nd amendment that would allow prisoners and lunatics to have their rights taken away from them by the government?

            Similarly, if the 14th amendment somehow does overrule the clear language of the 2nd amendment then it is very clear that all forms of gun control up to and including the confiscation of all privately held firearms is constitutionally permissible. Under your analysis, what would prevent California from grabbing all the guns affording guns owners a limited opportunity to testify at a public hearing? That’s works for the gun grabbers but why would it work for you?

            2. Your specific point about restrictions on firearm possession as a condition of imprisonment or parole is unquestionably wrong under the Heller analysis. Again, the clear language of the 2nd amendment says that the personal right to “keep and bear arms” may not be abridged. Period. Doesn’t say “except for people in jail” of anything like that. Consequently, any attempt to ban prisoners from having guns or to impose restrictions on firearms under any circumstances would be facially invalid under Heller.

            So, can the government prohibit private ownership of machine guns and nuclear weapons? Yes or no! (N.B., if your answer is that a ban on private ownership is permissible, please identify where it says that in the Constitution).

  17. i have recently finished reading the book “all on fire: william lloyd garrison and the abolition of slavery” and the actions and beliefs of most of the slave owners over the period of time covered by the book reminds me in some significant ways of the actions and beliefs of the gun enthusiasts of mr. bellmore’s stripe. at all points they reminded politicians of their right to maintain their property which rights they insisted were provided for by both the constitution and tradition, they angrily denounced any limitations on their property rights, they repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the union if their rights were maintained, they pushed for extensions and expansions of their rights at all times, and in the end they attempted to flee the union because they perceived in the election of abraham lincoln an existential threat to their “way of life.” i would say that if anyone wants a practical guide to the psychology of the bellmore-type gun owner one would have only to look at the psychology of the slave states prior to the civil war.

    1. should be “. . .if their rights were NOT maintained, . . .”

      again, i beg the people running this site, give us a preview function.

  18. Be a shame to leave this thread at just 99 comments. We don’t get many centuries – perhaps just as well, given the mean quality of comments at higher-traffic sites.

      1. Of course they do. Although I have no faith that ‘we’ are going to move Brett’s thinking much on this issue (or the contrary), nor that any of you will successfully get him to state at what caliber / firing mechanism we move from the “arms”* referenced in the 2nd Amendment to a different category of weaponry, the comment count surely wouldn’t have been as high without his participation.

        *leaving aside nuclear bombs, an example that is a complete non-sequitur

        1. The nukes questions isn’t a non sequitur since it follows logically and indubitably from the twin premises that (1) the 2nd amendment created a personal right to “keep and bear arms” and (2) that we should apply “originalism” and look only at the text of the amendment itself (and not use outside information or changing circumstances to aid in interpreting the meaning of the Constitution).

          If you do this, you will see that logically there must be a personal right to possess a nuclear bomb because there is nothing in the language of the 2nd amendment that in any way delimits the arms that an individual may bear. It’s a silly result and one which perfectly highlights the many defects of Justice Scalia’s philosophy but it is by no means a non sequitur.

          1. If “bear” means capable of being physically carried by a single individual, a “suitcase” nuke, yes. A field artillery piece, not so much.

  19. Mitch –

    What I was trying to say is that for the context of this discussion I think including nuclear warheads in the definition of arms is hyperbole that doesn’t serve the argument. To wit: yes, “arms” in the most global meaning is the set that includes all armaments, but many dictionaries include “especially firearms” as a comma’d clause. It was in this sense that I was speaking; I just did’t think the nukes example passes what I would call the “common sense” test. Especially when there are many automatic firearms & explosively-powered projectile weapons that unarguably fall under restricted sense of the term “arms” and (to me) should obviously have restrictions on common ownership. The GE M134 Minigun, for example.

    1. This strikes me as possibly a case of language lagging behind reality. Often by “arms” we mean firearms, yes (and more generally, individually-wielded weapons such as swords) – but is this not merely a consequence of the fact that the term predates the modern proliferation of ways to maim and kill each other? Historically, the chief source of military strength was sheer mass of individuals wielding firearms. Technology has in many respects changed that. To me it makes little sense to disregard the bulk of modern military technology when interpreting the constitutional meaning of “arms” in an undeniably military context.

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