In fact-checking a recent comment, I found a review of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story which contained this fascinating bit:

Early on, Moore admits that he, too, fell in love with post-war capitalism as a child, and that the system used to work pretty well for the average middle-class American — even if it was made possible by a lack of global competition made possible by the United States’ military dominance. The problem is that there is no middle class anymore –– there is only, as one subject of the film puts it, “the people who got nothing and the people who have it all”

Boy, that sounded familiar. Where had I heard that before?

Oh! Here:

At one time, there were wealthy people in this country who enjoyed comfortable lives, a middle class that never really had to worry about money, and poor people. Now we have wealthy people who have rigged the system and have seized more money (see:power) than this world has ever seen, no middle class, many who are one illness away from losing our homes, and an underclass that resembles Third World countries.

Now, I haven’t seen Moore’s latest “masterpiece,” but I’m willing to bet that Moore uses those exact words, verbatim in it: “NO MIDDLE CLASS.”

And my dauntless crusader for Truth, Justice, and the “GOOD Capitalist” way (that of redistribution of wealth) Markadelphia repeated it because it fits his worldview perfectly – even though I doubt seriously that he is neither of the “got nothings” or the “have it alls,” which pretty much disproves the assertion from the word “go.”

Projection, thy name is “Markadelphia.”

How’s that Gun Control Working Out for You?

Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world. We recognize that only the strictest control of firearms will protect the public.

— Home Office Minister Alun Michael, 11/3/97 press release.

That was right after passage of the handgun ban.


Armed officers placed on routine foot patrol for first time

And not just any guns, either!

Police officers armed with submachine guns are to be deployed on routine patrol of Britain’s streets for the first time. A hand-picked team from CO19, the Metropolitan Police’s elite firearms unit, will walk the beat in gun crime hotspots where armed gangs have turned entire estates into “no go” zones.

Local politicians and anti-gun campaigners have reacted with anger at the news that the officers will carry Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns – capable of firing up to 800 rounds-per-minute – and Glock semi-automatic pistols.

This, in a country where at least one media outlet called the full-auto Glock 18 pistol the Most Terrifying Gun in the World!

CO19 currently provides armed support in volatile situations like sieges and terrorist attacks, with its officers on constant call in vehicles around London.

But this is the first time that armed officers will be sent on permanent foot patrol anywhere in the country outside Northern Ireland.

“Historically, CO19 was only called out when someone rang up to report a gun crime,” said Inspector Derek Carroll, head of the new unit.

“But a lot of streets in London have young people in postcode gangs, aged 14 and upwards, and a lot of communities feel that they are controlling areas of estates.

“We are looking at gangs that have access to firearms and will be robust in dealing with them and disrupting and deterring them.”

Really! Gangs have access to firearms on an island nation with “the strictest control of firearms” that they were promised would “protect the public”?

Say it ain’t so!

The team of 18 constables, led by an inspector and two sergeants, will begin their patrols of Brixton, Haringey and Tottenham on Nov 9, following successful trial schemes.

The officers – some on motorbikes – will carrying out weapon “sweeps” of their neighbourhoods in an effort to deter gang members from carrying guns, and are also intended to be a reassuring presence for residents.

Residents that have been told, literally for decades, that guns are evil, and that fully-automatic weapons are only useful for mowing down large crowds indiscriminately.

You’d think someone would comment on the dichotomy there.

“My view is that just because you carry a gun, it should not affect the way you police,” Inspector Carroll added. “We chat to people and they love it.”

Unlike their counterparts in the United States, British police officers not routinely carry guns, although armed patrols are frequently deployed in the aftermath of shootings and to guard potential terrorist targets.

In October 2000 armed officers on the beat were temporarily introduced in Nottingham after a string of drug-related deaths.

Jennette Arnold, a Labour London Assembly member for northeast London constituency, said that the patrols threatened to tear up the contract between the community and the police.

Already torn, Ms. Arnold, already torn.

“No one asked us or the people I represent if this was acceptable and when they do I shall tell them it isn’t. It isn’t acceptable to throw away the principle of policing by consent,” she said.

Gill Marshall-Andrews, chairwoman of the Gun Control Network campaign group, described the routine arming of officers as a “very retrograde step” and warned that it could lead to higher levels of gun crime.

“This is likely to raise the stakes and encourage more criminals, especially young criminals, to arm themselves,” she said.

Soooo, you’re saying that having armed foot patrols in the area might “escalate the situation”? Who do you represent, Ms. Marshall-Andrews? The residents or the thugs?

“Gun crime in this country is very low by international standards and that’s largely because there aren’t many guns about. Arming police officers sends out all the wrong messages.”

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has long campaigned against attempts to arm a larger section of the force, but said it had no objection to the new scheme.

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the national federation, said that although majority of his members did not wish be to armed, forces must be free to respond to particular threats.

“The ethos will always be that the British police are unarmed, but we need officers to be able to use firearms when appropriate,” he said. “My feeling is that the current balance is just about right.”

The Home Office declined to comment, saying that the operational use of firearms was a matter for local forces.

Officers from CO19, formerly known as SO19, have been involved in a number of high-profile incidents in the capital, including the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell station in 2005.

No internal link to that one, but a second on Bing gets you this:

Police officers in Jean Charles de Menezes shooting escape punishment

No police officers involved in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes will be disciplined, despite an inquest finding that catastrophic failures led to his death in London.

Same paper. Imagine that. The public should feel very secure!

Gun-related crime is on the increase in London with 1,736 gun crimes reported in London between April and September this year – up 17 per cent on 2008.

The problem of turf violence between drugs gangs was highlighted earlier this month with a spate of shootings in north London linked to two Turkish gangs, the Tottenham Boys and the Bombacilar.

Yup, Gun crime in the UK is very low by international standards, but it keeps going UP. It keeps going up in the face of Alun Michael’s proclamation that “only the strictest control of firearms will protect the public.”

It’s a stone bitch when reality won’t conform to the theory, isn’t it? And it’s even worse when someone points it out.

(h/t: TFS Magnum)

I Guess I’m Not… HUMAN

Normally I don’t comment over at Markadelphia’s blog. He does enough of that here, but yesterday I couldn’t resist. Read his very short post, Yep.

I was the first to comment:

Great! Let him and his organization provide that coverage, and let’s see how long he and his organization stay in business.

Health care is not a RIGHT.

There were, of course, responses to that, but here’s the one I’m going to respond to with an Überpost:

blk said…

From the preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A basic education is a right in this country. It wasn’t always. Most people would agree that protection by the fire and the police departments is a right. It wasn’t always that way.

Why isn’t health care a right? What else would promote the general Welfare of our population than ensuring that everyone has a long and healthy life? What could be more Just than making sure that every child, worker and elderly person can see a doctor when they’re sick?

National health care would promote domestic Tranquility by giving everyone peace of mind, knowing that if their kid comes down with some awful disease they can get treatment. If you have cancer, the emergency room just ain’t gonna cut it.

To enjoy the Blessings of Liberty you have to be alive. Many people die in this country because they don’t have health care.

We are a rich country. As we’ve become wealthier and as technology and science have advanced the notion of what is a right has changed. Now that we can afford them, education, police and fire protection are rights. The way health care costs are exploding, we are going to go bankrupt. We have to change the way the system works to reign in costs. By covering everyone we can make it cheaper for each person. When everyone is covered and everyone is paying, we’ll finally have the leverage we need to prevent the explosive rise in costs.

That will mean squeezing out unnecessary middlemen who get between you and your doctor. The most expensive and least useful middlemen are insurance industry execs. By eliminating them we can squeeze literally billions of dollars from health care overhead (health care company execs pull in salaries, bonuses and options in the range of tens of millions, to hundreds of millions to a billion dollars).

Where to begin? Why, at the beginning!

A basic education is a right in this country. It wasn’t always.

No, indeed it was not. Back when I started this blog, one of the very first posts I published was an essay entitled What is a “Right”? That essay has, over the years, drawn a lot of commentary and inspired a six-part exchange with a professor of mathematics on just that very topic. (Check the left sidebar if you want to read the whole discussion. I recommend it.) The original essay was written to win me a year’s membership at, and that contest required that I limit myself to, I think, 800 words, but the core point of the essay was this:

A “right” is what the majority of a society believes it is.

That’s the pragmatist in me coming out. What people believe is a “right” they will agitate for and defend against encroachment. Conversely, if they don’t believe, they won’t defend. Is universal education really a “Right”? Philosophically, no, it’s not, but we’ve had it hammered into us for so long the majority believes it is. They believe that it is the job of the government to educate our children to the point that many parents no longer take any responsibility for that education on themselves, and don’t pay any attention to what their children learn (or don’t) while those children spend six to eight hours a day under the control (or not) of our public education system.

I’ll come back to that.

Most people would agree that protection by the fire and the police departments is a right. It wasn’t always that way.

Obviously I’m not “most people.” I know better. I’ve lived where residents had to pay a local private fire company to get them to come to their homes if there was a fire. If they chose not to pay, the firefighters could choose not to come. Or if they did, the homeowner would get a big damned bill for their appearance afterward that would represent a lot more than a few years of subscription to their services. If the homeowner chose not to pay that bill, they’d be taken to court.

Does that sound like a “right”?

I also understand that I have no “right” to police protection. That happens to be just one of many reasons I’m an activist for the right to arms. As I said, I’m a pragmatist. I try to deal with the way the world works rather than how people think it ought to be. And given your assertion that police protection is a “right,” you ought to read both pieces of that essay. You might be surprised.

Why isn’t health care a right? What else would promote the general Welfare of our population than ensuring that everyone has a long and healthy life? What could be more Just than making sure that every child, worker and elderly person can see a doctor when they’re sick?

Let’s take these one at a time, because they’re not a set. This is a textbook example of argumentum ad consequentiam – the proposition that belief in X will lead to good consequences, therefore X is good.

Why isn’t health care a right? For the same reason having a fire engine show up at your door in the event of a fire isn’t a right – it demands that someone else do something for you. One thing I try to do with this blog is make sure that if someone can say something better than I can, I let them. Let me quote Dr. Pat Santy, a psychologist and MD on the topic:

Let me be clear. I don’t believe that people have a “right” to health care; because, what advocating such a “right” basically means is that you believe you have a “right” to my mind; you have a “right” to my professional competence; i.e., you have a “right” to enslave me.

In that six-part series on ‘What is a “Right”?’, I concluded that there is only one fundamental right, and all others are corollaries of it, but one defining factor is that YOUR rights end when they require DEMANDING something of another. That’s the idealist in me.

And I’m able to tell the difference between idealism and pragmatism.

What else would promote the general Welfare of our population than ensuring that everyone has a long and healthy life? Excuse me? Everyone? What do you do with the chronically ill? The disabled? The terminally ill? Define “long” and “healthy.” Who gets to be the arbiter of what is and what isn’t a “long and healthy life”? You? Or some bureaucrat? You’re postulating a utopian outcome as achievable fact when it is obviously fantasy.

What you’re doing is appealing to emotion: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful” Why yes, it would. But back to reality. Life doesn’t work that way, Sparky. Some people get roses, some get fertilizer. Wishing it weren’t so won’t make it not so. If you are incapable of dealing with what is, you shouldn’t be advocating change.

What could be more Just than making sure that every child, worker and elderly person can see a doctor when they’re sick? And they can’t? This is Argumentum ad Misericordiam – the appeal to pity. Let me quote the author of the blog Bloodletting, an up-and-coming doctor now doing his residency training, from a post he wrote in 2004 back when Bush was pushing for expanded Medicare drug prescription entitlements. Fisking Nancy Pelosi’s response to a Bush speech:

Third, our “opportunity society” is built on the belief that affordable, available health care is not a luxury, but a basic foundation of a truly compassionate society. [OK, now we are going to get into the real nitty-gritty about the difference between “want” and “need.” Healthcare is denied to nobody. NOBODY. Nobody is denied a ferrari, either, but most people do not want to spend the money on one.]

This is from a man in the system, providing that care – what Markadelphia calls “a primary source.” And let’s stop playing semantic games. What you’re advocating is universal health care insurance – the method of paying for health care. If health care is a right, why should anyone have to pay? What we’re debating about here is the level of that care and its cost. I’ll come back to this, too.

Next up, National health care would promote domestic Tranquility by giving everyone peace of mind, knowing that if their kid comes down with some awful disease they can get treatment. If you have cancer, the emergency room just ain’t gonna cut it. I’m tempted, but let’s wait until I come back to the “level of care” question.

To enjoy the Blessings of Liberty you have to be alive. Many people die in this country because they don’t have health care. No, they may die because they don’t have sufficient or sometimes competent health care, but health care is available. If you’re deathly ill and call 911, an ambulance will come, an EMT will examine you, you will be transported to a hospital, and (assuming you live long enough) you will get looked at by a doctor, and probably admitted somewhere. Might be a crappy hospital, might not be enough to save you, but it’s a lot more than our Founders got when they wrote the Constitution you quoted.

Now to the meat of it.

We are a rich country. Well, I’d say we were a rich country, but not any more. You are aware of the thing called “the national debt”? As of Monday the Treasury reports that our national debt was $11,919,879,121,739.54. That’s $11.9 trillion dollars. That’s the total of what the government has spent in excess of its income and not paid off. Per the CIA World Factbook the 2008 US GDP – defined as “the sum value of all goods and services produced in the country valued at prices prevailing in the United States” – was $14.26 trillion. On Sept. 30, 2008 (end of the 2008 fiscal year) the national debt was $10,024,724,896,912.49. According to this site, the total federal income in 2008 through taxes, fees, etc. was $2.524 trillion, or a mere 17.7% of GDP, and each and every year our federal government spends several hundred billion dollars more than it takes in – thus making the national debt ever larger.

Are we a “wealthy nation” or are we a debtor nation, living on money we don’t have? Could you run your household that way? Can you spend, each and every year, more money than you earn, borrowing to make up the difference? EVERY year? Do you owe more than five times your annual income to creditors?

As we’ve become wealthier and as technology and science have advanced the notion of what is a right has changed. That’s the only thing you’ve said that I agree with without reservation. We certainly have “advanced the notion,” but that doesn’t change the reality. As we’ve changed the notion of what is a right, we’ve spent ourselves into the poor house. “Entitlement” spending – and “health care” is just an expansion of entitlement spending – makes up about 45% of the federal budget now. (PDF)

Now that we can afford them, education, police and fire protection are rights. Really? Police protection isn’t a right. The courts say so. Fire protection isn’t a right. Education isn’t a right either, but I will agree that the majority certainly believes that it is.

But can we still “afford” it? I invite you to read The George Orwell Daycare Center. Pack a lunch.

The way health care costs are exploding, we are going to go bankrupt. Regardless of what health care costs do, we are going bankrupt. All you have to do is look at the numbers to see that.

We have to change the way the system works to reign in costs. Who’s this “we”? You want the government to do it, no? An army of bureaucrats appointed by our elected officials. Lots of GSA employees with great benefit packages, administering health care claims or monitoring those evil health insurance companies to ensure no one (especially Uncle Sugar) gets ripped off?

By covering everyone we can make it cheaper for each person. Really? Show me the data. Then explain, using small words, why a healthy 25 year old should be made to pay for the dialysis of an 86 year old (s)he has never met and will never meet? Explain to me how making that healthy 25 year old pay will make it cheaper for him/her.

When everyone is covered and everyone is paying, we’ll finally have the leverage we need to prevent the explosive rise in costs. Again, really? Everyone? So you’re going to make the poor pay too? I thought the deal was to cover everybody including those who can’t pay. Who picks up their tab? I’ve heard various numbers bandied about, but we’ll use 47 million, since that seems to be a popular number. You honestly are going to tell me that adding 47 million people to the health care system is going to make it work better? That it’s going to reduce costs? How long does it take for you to get an appointment with your regular doctor, and when you go, how long do you spend in that doctor’s actual presence? You’re playing in fantasy-land again. It sounds wonderful, but it doesn’t pass the smell test.

That will mean squeezing out unnecessary middlemen who get between you and your doctor. And here we go. Who decides who is “unnecessary”? And won’t this add to unemployment? Why do those “unnecessary middlemen” exist in the first place? How about this example: What if lawyers had to bill like doctors do? (Stolen without shame from Dr. Westby G. Fisher, MD.)

Beginning July 1, 2010, under the Legal Billing Obfuscation Act of 2009, lawyers will receive their payments for services rendered after approval by a central US government Payment Distribution Authority (USPDA). To receive payment from the Authority plaintiff and defendant complaints must be coded and filed electronically using the International Classification of Legal Complaints, 10th edition (ICLD-10), copyright © 2009, American Bar Association and Legal Proceeding Terminology (LPT) codes, copyright © 2009 American Bar Association. The full publication of each of these codes will be available in print March 1st 2010 and in electronic form on DVD in July 2011.

To familiarize lawyers with the new coding scheme requested by the USPDA, a small sample for the complaint of “Spilling” is shown below:

  • Spilling 200
    • Spilling, Water – 210
      • Spilling, Water, Hot – 211
        • with blisters 211.1
        • without blisters 211
      • Spilling, Water, Warm – 212
      • Spilling, Water, Cold – 213

      . . .

  • Spilling, Coffee – 240.1
    • Spilling, Coffee, Hot – 240.11
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Cream only – 240.12

        • with blisters – 240.121
        • without blisters 240.122
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Regular Milk only – 240.13
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With 2% milk only – 240.14
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Skim Milk – 240.15
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Soy milk only 240.16
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Sugar only – 240.17
      • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Artificial Sweetner (of any type, including, but not limited to Nutrasweet, Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low) – 240.18

    • Spilling, Coffee, Hot, With Cream and Sugar 240.16
    • . . .

Pairing of improper complaint codes with legal proceeding codes will result in non-payment. “Up-coding” of legal proceedings shall constitute grounds for prosecution with some additional fines imposed by the IRS, as determined by the Office of Health and Human Services. For instance, pairing a legal complaint of “Spilling, Coffee, Hot, with blisters” to and of those of Divorce, same gender, living apart, male (or female) (shown below) will result in non-payment.

  • Divorce: 100-199
    • Between husband and wife 100.1
    • Between same gender couple, living together, male, 100.011
    • Between same gender couple, living together, female, 100.012
    • Between same gender couple, living apart, male, 100.021
    • Between same gender couple, living apart, female, 100.022
    • . . .

Valid code pairings for spillage include Accident codes (0010-0059), Assault codes (4400-4499), or Battery codes (5500-5599) provided documentation supports the requests for payment.

You’re talking about adding another layer of government oversight to a system already buried under paperwork. You won’t be “squeezing out unnecessary middlemen,” you’ll be replacing them with government drones. Yet you think that will make the system more efficient?

What planet do you live on, because it isn’t mine.

And, finally: The most expensive and least useful middlemen are insurance industry execs. By eliminating them we can squeeze literally billions of dollars from health care overhead (health care company execs pull in salaries, bonuses and options in the range of tens of millions, to hundreds of millions to a billion dollars). Ah, yes: Argumentum ad Invidiam, the appeal to envy.

Total health care expenditures in fiscal year 2009 are estimated to reach $2.5 trillion, according to the National Coalition on Health Care. (Edit: Did, in fact, reach $2.6 trillion in 2009 according to this site.) According to Crooks and Liars, the compensation of the top 10 highest-paid insurance company CEOs totals out to $85,429,970. Assuming the top 100 insurance company executive’s compensation is ten times that amount, you’re still looking at less than a billion dollars total. Hell, lets assume that the top 1,000 is 100 times that amount, you’re looking at $8,542,997,000 You’re talking about cutting – at most0.3% of total expenditures, even if you don’t include what the government employees that replace them will cost.


Halving total health care expenditures would increase that savings to a whopping 0.6%! Be still my beating heart! But by G*d those greedy fucking fat-cat executives won’t have three vacation homes!

You believe that everyone should have a right to health care. How noble of you! Another example of self-congratulations as a basis for social policy. You asked, What could be more Just than making sure that every child, worker and elderly person can see a doctor when they’re sick? You’re concerned about Justice? OK, here are some questions for you: How much health care is “Just”? Who decides, and on what basis? Is it “Just” that someone who can afford to pay gets more care than someone who would be dependent on government provided insurance alone? Or do we “level the playing field” and require everyone to accept the same level of care? Would that be “Just”? Or should everyone get every single bit of care that modern medical science can provide? What would that do to the costs you’re so concerned about?

Here’s the deal, from my perspective. The government does only two things well: nothing, and overreact. (Thank Congressman Adam Putnam for that pithy observation.) You want the federal government, which took in only $2.54 trillion last year, to expand by another $2.5 trillion, and you expect me to believe that it will do better than what we have now. You honestly expect me to believe that the federal government, currently responsible for the administration of Public Education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will run America’s health insurance system better?

Go ahead, pull my other leg. And read today’s Quote of the Day.

Don’t deny that what you are advocating is the doubling of the amount of money flowing through Washington D.C. You hold up Education, Policing, and Fire Protection as equivalent “rights” yet all those are all paid for through taxation. You claim that the U.S. is a “rich nation,” yet you ignore the fact that at our current level of national debt, every man, woman, and child in the country is on the hook for over $39,000 to pay off that debt – far more, in fact, since we’re doing it on time and paying interest.

Do you have a spare $39k laying around? I don’t know about you, but my VISA card limit is pretty far below that, and I don’t think I could float a loan for it, either. And if 47 million people can’t pay for health insurance, how many can pay their portion of the national debt?

You’ve interpreted the Preamble of the Constitution to require the federal government to do a lot of different things. You’re hardly alone. FDR put forth the idea of an Economic Bill of Rights that I’m sure you’d love, but have you read the rest of the original document? It’s quite short. As P.J. O’Rourke put it,

The U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner’s manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world’s most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free.

That document spells out, with brevity and clarity, how the federal government is arranged, how it is to be staffed, and what the powers of each branch are and are not. As you’ve noted, the public’s perception of what are and aren’t “rights” has certainly changed over the years, and I put the blame – yes, blame – on our education system. The founding documents of our nation were based on the idea of limiting how much government could do, both for us and to us, yet we’ve been taught for decades that it’s the job of government to take care of us, that only government is big enough to do certain jobs, that we’re not qualified to do things for ourselves. In fact, we should be actively discouraged from doing so.

Alexis de Toqueville wrote long ago, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Congress discovered that little trick some time back, and the bill is now coming due.

And that’s brought us to where we are today, $14-plus trillion in the hole and digging ever faster. Yet you and millions like you want us to redouble our digging in the name of “Social Justice!”

No, health care is not a right. Fire protection is not a right. Police protection is not a right. And pretty damned soon if we don’t get our shit in one sock and our heads on straight with the nose in front, just living is going to become damned difficult because Reality won’t be ignored forever.

And I guess I’m just not human for realizing and articulating that fact.

(Ah, well, only 3,500 words or so in this one. I may be losing my touch.)

UPDATE: Marko writes on the specifics of why health care is not a right. It is, typical of Marko, crystal clear and precise.

Abandonment or Ass-Covering?

Abandonment or Ass-Covering?

Sailorcurt links to a fascinating op-ed at CBS that proclaims as its headline:

The Health Care Cost Saving Myth
Dan McLaughlin: There Will Be No Cost Savings. There’s No Sense In Pretending Otherwise.

Holy $hit! Honesty in the MSM! The piece continues with flawless logic:

One of the central selling points used by President Obama to push the Democrats’ health care plan is the notion that a comprehensive overhaul of the health care system will reduce costs. But costs to who, and how? Let’s step back a minute and try to figure out how Obama’s cost-cutting argument could possibly be so.

First, a quick reminder of two reasons why cost-cutting is such an important selling point.

Number one, the core of what the Democratic base, in particular, wants from health care “reform” is universal coverage. You often hear statistics thrown around about there being 30 or 35 or, last I heard, 47 million people without health insurance, and the implication that these people are receiving zero or negligible healthcare. Debunking those statistics and assumptions is itself a cottage industry, but let’s leave that aside for the moment, because the fact of the matter is that in a country of 300 million people, when you strip out the people who (1) already have health insurance and expect to continue having it, (2) don’t especially want to buy health insurance, (3) are only briefly without health insurance and not worried about it, or (4) don’t or can’t vote, what you end up with is a very small slice of the electorate that would benefit from getting health insurance they currently lack or fear lacking. Now, voters don’t only vote their own self-interests on any issue – but the fewer people who benefit directly from legislation, the harder it is to drum up public support for a bill that may threaten the self-interest of others. So, it becomes politically necessary, if the bill is to be as sweeping and ambitious as most of the versions circulated have been, to sell it to the public on the basis of some argument above and beyond insuring the uninsured. That’s doubly so because if your goal was solely to insure the uninsured, much of what is in the various bills would be unnecessary.

(My emphasis.)

So we’ve established that the purpose cannot be to “insure the uninsured.” Onward!

Second, specific to the issue of saving money for the federal government, the Obama Administration and the Democrats have already severely tried the electorate’s appetite for massive expansions of federal spending, especially deficit spending. The explosion of new spending, most notably the pork-laden “stimulus” bill, makes prior complaints about spending under Bush look like complaints about the deck chairs on the Titanic and flatly contradicts Obama’s read-my-lips pledge during two of last October’s debates that his proposals would result in a net reduction of federal spending. The voters have noticed that they’re not getting anything resembling what they were promised. Thus, Obama has repeatedly pledged, with the same assurance as his campaign pledge on spending, that the health care bill would be “deficit neutral.” The Congressional Budget Office, typically a liberal redoubt, has repeatedly thrown cold water on the claim that any of the proposals on the table would be deficit-neutral. Clearly, to get there, cost savings would need to be found somewhere to completely offset outlays.

How’s that gonna work?

Damned fine question! And remarkable admissions for an MSM outlet to publish! (I guess they figure no one really reads anymore.)

Let’s review the options. The Democrats’ main argument is that restructuring the entire health care sector will reduce the nation’s total (public and private) outlay for health care. When you boil it down, though, there are only three variables you can cut: reduce the amount of medical care provided; reduce what providers of medical care earn for their products and services; and reduce intermediary costs. All are problematic.

I. Less Medical Care

AKA: “Rationing.”

The most obvious way to cut spending on medical care is to buy less of it. That’s at the crux of the public’s worry about “death panels” cutting off care, about rationing; it’s why so many of the people showing up agitated at town halls are senior citizens worried about getting less medical care.

The “death panel” phrase was shorthand, of course, but it neatly captured the core of the problem: government already rations care, albeit not very efficienctly, in programs like Medicare and Medicaid (see, e.g., here – then again, the failure to do more rationing explains those programs’ exploding, budget-busting costs) and the end-of-life consulting procedures criticized by Palin and subsequently dropped by chastened Democrats are not the only way in which government incentives could or would be brought to bear on physicians to push patients from consuming health care to preparing for death or assisted suicide. More here, among many other places. But you don’t have to be looking at the end-stage to see that any plan premised upon cost-cutting by reducing the amount of care provided would, well, reduce the amount of care provided. And if the costs being cut are taxpayer costs, the power to do so would end up being vested in some sort of governmental entity, likely a panel of government-appointed “experts,” as Mickey Kaus notes was alluded to by President Obama himself back in April:

THE PRESIDENT: So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?

I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

LEONHARDT: So how do you – how do we deal with it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It’s not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance.

Mark Steyn had a fascinating example of such rationing in a National Review piece last week. In it he illustrated the difference between health “care” and medical treatment. And yesterday I pointed to a piece by Maj. Chuck Zeigenfuss illustrating that “death panels” are completely unnecessary, so long as you have the right forms handy.

One argument advanced by proponents of the various plans is that costs would be reduced by providing more care, because preventative care would prevent more expensive care from being needed. Even leaving aside the grim fact of human mortality (i.e., preventing heart disease at one age can just leave you to die slowly of cancer or suffer prolonged dementia later), Charles Krauthammer notes that studies in reputable medical journals have concluded that the need to offer preventative care to so many people to make sure you catch health problems early means that more widespread preventative care is more, not less expensive:

Think of it this way. Assume that a screening test for disease X costs $500 and finding it early averts $10,000 of costly treatment at a later stage. Are you saving money? Well, if one in 10 of those who are screened tests positive, society is saving $5,000. But if only one in 100 would get that disease, society is shelling out $40,000 more than it would without the preventive care.

Another illustration of the adage that “For every problem there is a solution which is simple, obvious, and wrong.”

And usually government-mandated.

That’s a hypothetical case. What’s the real-life actuality? In Obamaworld, as explained by the president in his Tuesday town hall, if we pour money into primary care for diabetics instead of giving surgeons “$30,000, $40,000, $50,000″ for a later amputation – a whopper that misrepresents the surgeon’s fee by a factor of at least 30 – “that will save us money.” Back on Earth, a rigorous study in the journal Circulation found that for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, “if all the recommended prevention activities were applied with 100 percent success,” the prevention would cost almost 10 times as much as the savings, increasing the country’s total medical bill by 162 percent. That’s because prevention applied to large populations is very expensive, as shown by another report Elmendorf cites, a definitive review in the New England Journal of Medicine of hundreds of studies that found that more than 80 percent of preventive measures added to medical costs.

Whatever else can be said for more preventative care, it is likely to offer no great cost savings.

Quite the opposite, in fact. (“Obamaworld”? “Back on Earth”? I like this guy!)

Why is it that this is so obvious to the people who actually look, but denied by those who so strongly urge rapid passage of “health care reform” legislation?

Don’t you wonder?

Moreover, reducing the total amount of care provided contradicts one of the central premises of the entire project, which is that it will result in providing more care to tens of millions of people not presently receiving it. As Bob Hahn notes, if this is the case, it won’t just drive up costs but will create shortages:

If we added 47 million more people to the health care system, there would be lines. We wouldn’t even know how to send 47 million more people to McDonald’s without causing lines.

Around the blogosphere, this kind of observation is usually noted with a resounding DUH!

I’m unfamiliar with the details, but apparently there is some provision in Obama’s plan that expands the number of doctors, nurses, hospital beds, etc., to instantly accommodate 47 million more people. It usually takes eight to ten years to school a new doctor, so whatever the Democrats are doing here is a major advance.

The Democrats can’t have it both ways. One way or another, they either need to sell the public on the idea of sharply curtailing the amount of medical care provided, or stop claiming cost savings that can only come from less care.

(*ahem*) DUH!

II. Medical Care For Less Cost

The issue of shortages brings us to the problem with the second option: rather than reducing the amount of care provided, reduce the amount paid to the people who provide it: doctors, nurses, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Certainly on the Left there is a fair amount of sentiment for making it less profitable to provide care. But there is really no getting around the basics of supply and demand: if we make it less profitable to become a doctor, we will end up with fewer doctors. If we skimp on salaries for nurses, home health aides, and less-skilled care providers (e.g., people who work in nursing homes), we will exacerbate the existing shortage of nurses and other providers, which is likely to become more acute in years to come as the population ages. And if labor responds to financial incentives, capital is even more sensitive: slash the profit margins of drug companies and medical device manufacturers, and inevitably there will be less investor capital for those companies and less coming out of the pipeline in terms of drugs and devices that save or improve lives. The net effect will be the same as rationing care directly: cost savings will come only by reducing the quantity and quality of medical care.

But that’s back here on Earth. In Obamaworld . . .

III. Cutting Out The Middleman

With open advocacy of government rationing of care largely politically infeasible and reducing the profitability of health care providers economically impractical, the debate logically falls upon the middlemen, mainly insurance companies. Pretty much everybody hates insurance companies, whose business model by nature involves collecting more money than they lay out. And there’s empirical data to support the idea that we’re spending proportionally more of our health care dollars on insurance, rather than care, than we used to spend. To shift the discussion away from rationing care, Democrats are desperately trying to paint the insurers as somehow siphoning off more money to enrich themselves than they “should,” an effort that’s now leading to an especially vindictive crackdown by panicked Congressional liberals:

House Democrats are probing the nation’s 52 largest insurance companies for lavish spending, demanding reams of compensation data and schedules of retreats and conferences.

Setting a deadline of Sept. 14, the letters demand extensive documents for an examination of “executive compensation and other business practices in the health insurance industry.”

The main idea here, other than simply intimidating the insurers, is to try to sell the Democrats’ plan on the theory that the insurers are artificially inflating their overhead. The fact that they have to subpoena 52 companies suggests that this will not be as easy a case to make as in the case of a monopoly industry…and of course, a monopoly is the preferred solution of Democratic policymakers, elected officials and even Democratic base voters who essentially see the long-term goal as using a “public option” to plant the seeds for replacing this patchwork of private companies with a single-payer system of government monopoly insurance.

Which I covered here. They deny, deny, deny when in front of the general public, but when surrounded by the like-minded, they have no problem declaring the actual end-game being pursued. (Damned YouTube.)

But let’s unpack here a little further the elements of the expense of a middleman. First of all, there’s the question of why have insurance at all. Most of us pay for other life essentials – food, clothing, shelter, transportation – directly, rather than buying, say, grocery insurance to make sure that an insurance company or government agency will give us groceries every week on terms acceptable to the insurer plus a premium. Now, unless you are seriously wealthy, insurance against truly catastrophic health care costs makes economic sense, so that the pool of the insured absorbs the individual occurrences of massive spikes in one person’s health care costs. But pretty much all the proposals on the table go far beyond purely catastrophic coverage.

This is a point I think that gets overlooked far too much. I don’t have an insurance policy that pays for oil changes or new tires on my truck. I don’t have an insurance policy that pays for replacing my worn-out clothes and shoes. But I have an insurance policy that pays for annual checkups at my doctor and my dentist. Why?

The entire rationale of the Democrats’ proposal is to get more people to buy insurance or have it bought for them than is currently the case, thus increasing the proportion of our health care that is paid for through intermediaries rather than directly. That’s true of people who currently buy no insurance and get little or no care, or pay for it out of pocket; it’s true as well of people who currently get their care from emergency rooms. That’s exactly the opposite direction of where you want to be moving if cutting intermediary costs is your goal.

Especially if the intermediary is a government bureaucracy.

And in the existing health care market, Democrats (with the help of big-government Republicans) have been driving up costs for the past two decades by piling on mandates and “patients’ bill of rights” legislation that ever increases the number of procedures that the insurers have to be involved in. The Medicare prescription drug plan likewise expanded the scope of health care products and services paid for through a public intermediary rather than directly by consumers. And of course, subsidizing preventative care that may be presently paid for out of pocket does the same. So, not only are the Democrats proposing to have more people use health care intermediaries (public or private), but their proposals will inevitably continue the trend towards having more types of health care paid for through intermediaries.

But of course! If this legislation passes the competition to “give away” more and more medical “entitlements” will be dizzying! It will be, as the population ages, the easiest way to buy votes!

Well, say Democrats, we will use more intermediaries, but we’ll be much more efficient in doing so, because the public plans won’t have a profit motive and expensive executives. Which is true. But it’s also true that government programs, even ones that start out fairly simple, tend only to grow and expand over time and grow less efficient as their competition is eliminated and the political power of those who draw salaries and contracts from them grows. Will unionized government workforces necessarily be less expensive than non-unionized private insurer workforces? History doesn’t suggest so.

History rather insists on the exact opposite. As Daniel Hannan explained, the British National Health Service is currently the third largest employer in the world, after the Chinese Red Army and the Indian National Railway system. China and India each have populations that top 1 billion. The UK has a population on the order of 60 million.

And 1.4 million of them work for the NHS, with over half being administrators (paper-pushers, bean-counters, etc.) rather than doctors, nurses, or other care-givers.

Extrapolate that out to a population of 300 million, and you get about seven million American Health Service workers.

And there’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t become the case here.

As one National Review reader posed the question:

If we can cut a half-trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for health insurance reform but if, as looks to be the case, healthcare reform won’t pass, why not just cut a half-trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid anyway?

The fact that it hasn’t happened and won’t happen should remind us that replacing a competitive private marketplace with a colossal, Washington-run bureaucracy is a bad bet to produce savings. The conservative answer in this situation is not to throw out the entire existing system on the hope that things will work out better than they ever have before.

Or: Let’s NOT “Do it again, only HARDER!

The elephant in the waiting room is the other big cost driver of intermediaries besides the scope of coverage and the cost of having shareholders and executives: lawsuits. Precise figures are again a subject of intense dispute, but a goodly chunk of what drives the amount of `unnecessary’ care provided, the cost of providing services and the cost of intermediaries is the need to protect against and pay for the cost of medical malpractice and denial of coverage litigation. None of the Democratic proposals, however, seek to make any practical inroads against this source of costs. Replacing a private system with a public one could arguably do so if the trial bar is effectively precluded from bringing against the government many of the kinds of lawsuits now used against private insurers

You mean like in this case?

– but aren’t liberals in favor of keeping those kinds of suits viable? And how likely is it that in the long run they won’t provide other mechanisms to keep one of their vital constituencies in business?

“Vital constituencies” indeed. How many members of Congress are lawyers, again?

We have pretty much exhausted the options for cost-cutting: less care (at a steep political price, at the cost of giving frightening power to the government, and at odds with the goal of providing care where none is now given); less money to caregivers, which would amount to the same thing; less use of intermediaries (which is likewise contrary to the whole thrust of the project); or less cost in using intermediaries (which is impractical and unlikely to pan out).

There will be no cost savings. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise.

And since when has lawmaking had anything to do with making sense? It’s about buying VOTES. It’s about GETTING RE-ELECTED.


My question at the moment is: does this piece represent a shift away from the Obamafellatio we’ve come to know and loathe from the MSM, or is it just an aberrant “covering our asses” piece that the powers-that-be can point to in the future as evidence of their “fair and balanced” coverage of the health-care debate?

I know where I’d place my bet.

Refuting the Irrefutable

About a week ago, Robb over at Sharp as a Marble pointed to an op-ed by one Marc Rubin at the website that included this jaw-dropping quote:

In an earlier article about the 2nd amendment I proved beyond a shadow of any doubt that the 2nd amendment has nothing to do with an individual right to own a gun. And the facts are irrefutable.

Well, me being me, I saw that as a challenge and threw down the gauntlet.

And waited.

And waited.

And finally Sunday afternoon Marc Rubin responded via email:

Dear Kevin

Im(sic) sorry to have to tell you that you are simply wrong.The Constitution is not about what you or I or anyone believes. It is about what is says(sic) and what was intended by the people who wrote it especially when you know exactly what they intended. Nothing more.

The reality of this is that any state can pass any gun law they wish, banning, restricting, taxing, guns ammo, anything, and they do. That is irrefutable. Its(sic) there for all to see. The 2nd amendment does not prevent any state from passing any gun laws they wish. That is irrefutable because these laws are on the books. Plaxico Burress a former NY Giant wide receiver is going to jail because of a mandatory 3 year sentence for carrying a concealed weapon in New York City. The 2nd amendent(sic) is not saving him and his lawyers are not claiming his constitutional rights were violated. And the NRA isnt(sic) coming to his rescue either.

Yes my points are irrefutable because they are based on reality not belief or wish. The reality is the 2nd amendment has not stopped any local governemnt(sic), state, city, town or village from passing any gun law they wish. That doesnt(sic) sound like they think “shall not be infringed” applies to them. And thats(sic) because it doesnt(sic).

Marc Rubin

Apparently Mr. Rubin’s keyboard doesn’t have a functioning apostrophe. And his reality apparently shares very little in common with the one I live in.

Now, for those of you who have been long-standing readers of this blog much of what I will say here will be repetitious, but that’s necessary. For those of you who are new or relatively recent, I hope you will bear with my “Überpost” style – this stuff takes more than 1500 words to hammer home, but I provide links to the source materials to allow you to fact-check me and not just take my “authoritative word” on what I assert.

Let us begin:

Im sorry to have to tell you that you are simply wrong.

Right back atcha, Marc. In fact, to be as wrong as you are requires you to deliberately ignore or deny mountains of evidence. See below.

The Constitution is not about what you or I or anyone believes. It is about what is says and what was intended by the people who wrote it especially when you know exactly what they intended. Nothing more.

Close, but no cigar! Take, for example, your assertion: “Nothing more.” Not so. The Constitution has been amended seventeen times since the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Those changes have altered its meaning from what the Founders originally intended, but other than that, we’re in agreement – almost. Your assertion is a statement of what’s known as “Original Intent Theory” – but this theory of interpreting the Constitution has been found to be inherently difficult to apply and ultimately unusable.

Obviously, the Founders didn’t all hold one homogeneous intent that became each part of the Constitution, instead they wrote law, and in law it isn’t the intent that matters, what matters is what the words say and how they are understood at the time they were written. This is called “Original Understanding Theory.” There is a third, “Original Public Meaning.” All three theories carry the moniker of “Originalism,” but Original Understanding is the theory under which law is supposed to function, and it is the one most accepted by “Originalists” on the courts today. What was intended doesn’t matter. What it says is. See this article for a decent overview on the topic.

Of course, none of this affects judges who just make it up as they go along. More on this later, too. But the best example I can hold up for the difference between “original intent” and “original understanding” theory is the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” that wasn’t. We have been told ad nauseam that the intent of that law was to prohibit the manufacture and sale of “semi-automatic assault weapons,” itself a rather vague concept. The law did so by prohibiting certain features of these supposedly terrifying weapons: bayonet lugs, collapsible stocks, etc. So the manufacturers looked at what the law actually said and built firearms that met the restrictions. I happen to own one, an AR15 rifle that doesn’t have a collapsible stock or a bayonet lug. Works just like any other AR15 ever made, only better, since this one is equipped with a target-quality heavy barrel. I had it custom made right in the middle of the “ban.” I purchased a “stripped lower” – the “gun” part that carries the serial number, and shipped it to the manufacturer. About five weeks later my completed rifle was shipped directly to me at work. One hundred percent legal, no muss, no fuss.

So let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we’re both “originalists.” Where we differ is in how each of us interprets how the Second Amendment originally was understood. You claim that it “has nothing to do with an individual right to own a gun.” I disagree, and I believe I can prove it – irrefutably, and beyond the shadow of a doubt.

You continue:

The reality of this is that any state can pass any gun law they wish, banning, restricting, taxing, guns ammo, anything, and they do. That is irrefutable. Its there for all to see. The 2nd amendment does not prevent any state from passing any gun laws they wish. That is irrefutable because these laws are on the books.

Here we agree on one thing – states do pass laws restricting the right to arms. I even agree that some of those restrictions are Constitutionally acceptable, but the overwhelming majority of them are not. Yours is a trite argument, as states have passed a lot of laws that violated the Constitution and they remained on the books for decades before being struck down. Why should gun laws be exempt from this abuse? It’s irrefutable that the laws exist, but hardly irrefutable that they don’t violate the Constitution.

Plaxico Burress a former NY Giant wide receiver is going to jail because of a mandatory 3 year sentence for carrying a concealed weapon in New York City. The 2nd amendent is not saving him and his lawyers are not claiming his constitutional rights were violated. And the NRA isnt coming to his rescue either.

The question, again, isn’t whether the laws have been passed and are being applied, but whether or not those laws pass Constitutional muster. Just because the NRA isn’t fighting for Plaxico Burress’s right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit doesn’t mean that law is or isn’t Constitutional (and you might be surprised to learn that I believe the evidence shows that such laws can be Constitutional – based on Original Understanding theory). That doesn’t mean that Plaxico Burress didn’t have a right to own the gun he was carrying that day, and that is the topic of this discussion.

Now, let’s take on your “irrefutable” article, starting with this jewel:

(J)ust the other day the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case involving Alameda County in California that the 2nd amendment applies to individuals.They were wrong.

Good to know that you acknowledge that even high court judges can be wrong. They weren’t here, but I’d have to prove that. You, being an “authorized journalist” get to just assert it as irrefutable fact and go on. We’ll skip directly to your bold assertion:

“There is no Constitutional right to own a gun.And there never was.”

There’s a human right to own weapons suitable for defense of self and property, and the Second Amendment of the Constitution was written to protect that right against violation by government. I assert that, but I have a citation – U.S. v Cruikshank (1876). While the majority in this case erred in their decision, their understanding of the Bill of Rights was flawless:

The first amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from abridging “the right of the people to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This, like the other amendments proposed and adopted at the same time, was not intended to limit the powers of the State governments in respect to their own citizens, but to operate upon the National government alone. It is now too late to question the correctness of this construction. As was said by the late Chief Justice, in Twitchell v. The Commonwealth, “the scope and application of these amendments are no longer subjects of discussion here.” They left the authority of the States just where they found it, and added nothing to the already existing powers of the United States.

The particular amendment now under consideration assumes the existence of the right of the people to assemble for lawful purposes, and protects it against encroachment by Congress. The right was not created by the amendment; neither was its continuance guaranteed, except as against congressional interference. For their protection in its enjoyment, therefore, the people must look to the States. The power for that purpose was originally placed there, and it has never been surrendered to the United States.

The right of the people peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances, or for any thing else connected with the powers or the duties of the national government, is an attribute of national citizenship, and, as such, under the protection of, and guaranteed by, the United States. The very idea of a government, republican in form, implies a right on the part of its citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs and to petition for a redress of grievances. If it had been alleged in these counts that the object of the defendants was to prevent a meeting for such a purpose, the case would have been within the statute, and within the scope of the sovereignty of the United States. Such, however, is not the case. The offence, as stated in the indictment, will be made out, if it be shown that the object of the conspiracy was to prevent a meeting for any lawful purpose whatever.

The second and tenth counts are equally defective. The right there specified is that of “bearing arms for a lawful purpose.” This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes . . . .

You see, the majority in Cruikshank well understood what the Bill of Rights protected, but they decided those right couldn’t be protected for recently emancipated slaves or previously free blacks. That didn’t comport with their understanding of “Original Intent” – even though it was the only meaning that could be taken from the words. This is the case that allowed the states to enact whatever gun control laws they wanted, even though the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 specifically with the intent of protecting the rights of all citizens. This is called, variously, “making it up,” “judicial activism,” or (my personal favorite) “Constitutionalizing ones personal preferences.” So, in 1876 the Supreme Court named what the Second Amendment protected – “bearing arms for a lawful purpose” – then declared that the states could violate that right without censure (*nudge-nudge, wink-wink*, as long as they did it to the wrong kind of people).

This echoed the ante-bellum Scott v. Sanford decision where the majority opinion declared that blacks, free or slave, couldn’t be citizens because if they were they would share the same rights as whites, and kindly listed those rights that they must be denied:

It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

“Keep and carry arms wherever they went.” Citizenship would convey upon blacks the right to travel, to associate with anyone they wanted, the right to free speech, the right to assemble, and the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went – just like white men. Oh, and if you’ll note – there’s no mention of militia membership in either of those two decisions, both well less than a hundred years after the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

Then we fought a war, in no small part to determine just who was and who wasn’t a citizen, and afterward we passed the Thirteenth Amendment to settle that question, and the Fourteenth Amendment to reinforce the idea that their rights were protected too.

But nine men sitting on the Supreme Court decided that those words couldn’t mean what they said.

Just like you do.

How does it feel to be exposed as a bigot, Marc?

Next, your restatement of your “Original Intent” argument:

People ignorant of the Constitution which unfortunately includes the President, along with many members of Congress and the press, seem to refuse to read the 2nd amendment as it was written. And to acknowledge that the Constitution and the people who wrote it and founded this country were the greatest collection of geniuses in the principles of self government this country ever had at one time in one place. When you acknowledge that, then you take the words they wrote and argued over, debated and ratified in the Constitution seriously. And you don’t try to pretend they mean something they were never intended to mean to suit your purposes. They knew what they were doing. They knew what they were saying. And they knew what every word of that amendment meant ( as well as everything else in the Constitution). And every word in the 2nd amendment means the same thing today that it meant in 1789 and in all the years in between.

I’ve emphasized the crucial parts of your argument. They’re what this whole debate hinges upon. Thanks for making that clear – it makes my job much easier, since I just proved that the justices on the Dred Scott court, and the justices on the Cruikshank court knew precisely what rights the Bill of Rights protected and that they were deliberately denying to blacks.

Now, on to your “evidence”:

The fact that the 2nd amendment has nothing to do with an individual’s right to own a gun is not a secret. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger, Chief Justice during Nixon’s term wrote that “the idea that the 2nd amendment has anything whatsoever to do with an individual’s right to own a gun is the biggest Constitutional hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”.

I note you didn’t give a link to the source of that quote, and I have to wonder about that omission. I’ve never seen that particular version before, but I have seen similar assertions made by Burger. One I’m familiar with was a bit stronger than “hoax”:

[The Second Amendment] has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
— Former Chief Justice Warren Burger, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, December 16, 1991

I can assume that Burger didn’t make the statement you quote in a court decision or even a dissent. During his time on the Court, Burger never heard a case on the Second Amendment, nor, according to Dave Kopel, “did Mr. Burger write anything about the Second Amendment in scholarly legal or historical journal(s).” Kopel adds as an aside, “The scholarly consensus is virtually unanimous that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right.” (More on that later, too.)

Burger apparently did a lot of gun control campaigning after his retirement in 1986, since he also gave an interview for the January 14, 1990 issue of the Parade Magazine Sunday insert. What did Chief Justice Burger have to say in that Parade interview? The web site “Gun Cite” has archived the entire piece. You were apparently unaware or at least neglected to mention that the Chief Justice also said this:

The Constitution of the United States, in its Second Amendment, guarantees a “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” However, the meaning of this clause cannot be understood except by looking to the purpose, the setting and the objectives of the draftsmen.

People of that day were apprehensive about the new “monster” national government presented to them, and this helps explain the language and purpose of the Second Amendment. A few lines after the First Amendment’s guarantees — against “establishment of religion,” “free exercise” of religion, free speech and free press — came a guarantee that grew out of the deep-seated fear of a “national” or “standing” army.

We see that the need for a state militia was the predicate of the “right” guaranteed; in short, it was declared “necessary” in order to have a state military force to protect the security of the state. That Second Amendment clause must be read as though the word “because” was the opening word of the guarantee.

Some have exploited these ancient concerns, blurring sporting guns – rifles, shotguns and even machine pistols – with all firearms, including what are now called “Saturday night specials.” There is, of course, a great difference between sporting guns and handguns.

The victory at Yorktown – and the ratification of the Bill of Rights a decade later – did not change people’s attitudes about a national army. They had lived for years under the notion that each state would maintain its own military establishment, and the seaboard states had their own navies as well. These people, and their fathers and grandfathers before them, remembered how monarchs had used standing armies to oppress their ancestors in Europe. Americans wanted no part of this. A state militia, like a rifle and powder horn, was as much a part of life as the automobile is today; pistols were largely for officers, aristocrats — and dueling.

Against this background, it was not surprising that the provision concerning firearms emerged in very simple terms with the significant predicate — basing the right on the necessity for a “well regulated militia,” a state army.

In the two centuries since then — with two world wars and some lesser ones — it has become clear, sadly, that we have no choice but to maintain a standing national army while still maintaining a “militia” by way of the National Guard, which can be swiftly integrated into the national defense forces.

Americans also have a right to defend their homes, and we need not challenge that. Nor does anyone seriously question that the Constitution protects the right of hunters to own and keep sporting guns for hunting game any more than anyone would challenge the right to own and keep fishing rods and other equipment for fishing — or to own automobiles. To “keep and bear arms” for hunting today is essentially a recreational activity and not an imperative of survival, as it was 200 years ago; “Saturday night specials” and machine guns are not recreational weapons and surely are as much in need of regulation as motor vehicles.

Americans should ask themselves a few questions. The Constitution does not mention automobiles or motorboats, but the right to keep and own an automobile is beyond question; equally beyond question is the power of the state to regulate the purchase or the transfer of such a vehicle and the right to license the vehicle and the driver with reasonable standards. In some places, even a bicycle must be registered, as must some household dogs.

Now, as I read those assertions, the ORIGINAL UNDERSTANDING of the Second Amendment was to protect an individual right to “a rifle and a powder horn” to protect against the threat of standing armies used to oppress them. As he says, “That Second Amendment clause must be read as though the word “because” was the opening word of the guarantee.”

But the word “because” isn’t there. And you yourself assert “They knew what they were doing. They knew what they were saying. And they knew what every word of that amendment meant.” But apparently Warren Burger knows better, and because you agree with him, well, he must be right!

Burger’s argument was against the right to possess handguns specifically. Burger further asserts that the nature of the right has changed over time, evolving to protect its original intent – the “right to defend (our) homes,” AND “the right of hunters to own and keep sporting guns for hunting game.” Wait, what? The Second Amendment says nothing about “sporting guns” or “hunting game.” Where did the Chief Justice come up with that idea? I thought Warren Burger had a reputation as a “strict constructionist”!

I thought we agreed that “every word in the 2nd amendment means the same thing today that it meant in 1789 and in all the years in between“? Doesn’t that make Warren Burger wrong? He disagrees with both the 1856 Dred Scott court and the 1876 Cruikshank court. You see, Chief Justice Burger just expressed the “living document” argument, but you and I are originalists!

Aren’t we?

After all, you wrote:

There is a philosophical approach in applying the constitution that ironically enough is the conservative approach and it’s called “original intent”. Where the original intent of the framers is known and is clear, where their words and what they meant and intended are clear, there can be no other interpretation of a particular clause, provision, article or amendment other than what the framers meant and intended. Nowhere is that clearer than in the second amendment.

Argument refuted. And will be again.

Now we’re going to analyse the twenty-seven words in the Second Amendment, looking for that missing “because.” You argue:

And while there are many, many ways to prove the 2nd amendment has nothing to do with an individual’s right to own a gun (all of which I will provide), all it really takes to understand the amendment is what you were taught by Mrs. Applecheeks, your 4th grade English teacher when you learned how to conjugate a sentence with a subject and a predicate. The subject of that sentence, and therefore the amendment, is ” a well regulated militia” not “the right to bear arms”. The subject is the militia and the modifier is “necessary to the security of a free state” which is the purpose of the amendment.

Sorry, no.

This thought experiment has been carried out by a much more august authority on the English language than you, sir, or Mrs. Applecheeks. Also in 1991, perhaps inspired by Warren Burger’s missing “because,” J. Neil Schulman asked Roy Copperud, a retired professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and the author of American Usage and Style: The Consensus to analyse the amendment. Here is Professor Copperud’s expert conclusion:

After several more letters and phone calls, in which we discussed terms for his doing such an analysis, but in which we never discussed either of our opinions regarding the Second Amendment, gun control, or any other political subject, Professor Copperud sent me the follow analysis (into which I have inserted my questions for the sake of clarity):

[Copperud:] “The words ‘A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,’ contrary to the interpretation cited in your letter of July 26, 1991, constitutes a present participle, rather than a clause. It is used as an adjective, modifying ‘militia,’ which is followed by the main clause of the sentence (subject ‘the right’, verb ‘shall’). The to keep and bear arms is asserted as an essential for maintaining a militia.

“In reply to your numbered questions: [Schulman:] “(1) Can the sentence be interpreted to grant the right to keep and bear arms solely to ‘a well-regulated militia’?”

[Copperud:] “(1) The sentence does not restrict the right to keep and bear arms, nor does it state or imply possession of the right elsewhere or by others than the people; it simply makes a positive statement with respect to a right of the people.”

[Schulman:] “(2) Is ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms’ granted by the words of the Second Amendment, or does the Second Amendment assume a preexisting right of the people to keep and bear arms, and merely state that such right ‘shall not be infringed’?”

[Copperud:] “(2) The right is not granted by the amendment; its existence is assumed. The thrust of the sentence is that the right shall be preserved inviolate for the sake of ensuring a militia.”

[Schulman:] “(3) Is the right of the people to keep and bear arms conditioned upon whether or not a well regulated militia, is, in fact necessary to the security of a free State, and if that condition is not existing, is the statement ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’ null and void?”

[Copperud:] “(3) No such condition is expressed or implied. The right to keep and bear arms is not said by the amendment to depend on the existence of a militia. No condition is stated or implied as to the relation of the right to keep and bear arms and to the necessity of a well-regulated militia as a requisite to the security of a free state. The right to keep and bear arms is deemed unconditional by the entire sentence.”

[Schulman:] “(4) Does the clause ‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,’ grant a right to the government to place conditions on the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms,’ or is such right deemed unconditional by the meaning of the entire sentence?”

[Copperud:] “(4) The right is assumed to exist and to be unconditional, as previously stated. It is invoked here specifically for the sake of the militia.”

[Schulman:] “(5) Which of the following does the phrase ‘well-regulated militia’ mean: ‘well-equipped’, ‘well-organized,’ ‘well-drilled,’ ‘well-educated,’ or ‘subject to regulations of a superior authority’?”

[Copperud:] “(5) The phrase means ‘subject to regulations of a superior authority;’ this accords with the desire of the writers for civilian control over the military.”

[Schulman:] “(6) (If at all possible, I would ask you to take account the changed meanings of words, or usage, since that sentence was written 200 years ago, but not take into account historical interpretations of the intents of the authors, unless those issues can be clearly separated.”

[Copperud:] “To the best of my knowledge, there has been no change in the meaning of words or in usage that would affect the meaning of the amendment. If it were written today, it might be put: “Since a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.’

[Schulman:] “As a ‘scientific control’ on this analysis, I would also appreciate it if you could compare your analysis of the text of the Second Amendment to the following sentence,

“A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.’

“My questions for the usage analysis of this sentence would be,

“(1) Is the grammatical structure and usage of this sentence and the way the words modify each other, identical to the Second Amendment’s sentence?; and

“(2) Could this sentence be interpreted to restrict ‘the right of the people to keep and read Books’ _only_ to ‘a well-educated electorate’ — for example, registered voters with a high-school diploma?”

[Copperud:] “(1) Your ‘scientific control’ sentence precisely parallels the amendment in grammatical structure.

“(2) There is nothing in your sentence that either indicates or implies the possibility of a restricted interpretation.”

You are invited to read the entire piece, but that’s the gist of it – “The sentence does not restrict the right to keep and bear arms, nor does it state or imply possession of the right elsewhere or by others than the people; it simply makes a positive statement with respect to a right of the people.” (Confirmed by Dred Scott) Further, “The right is not granted by the amendment; its existence is assumed. (Confirmed by Cruikshank.) The thrust of the sentence is that the right shall be preserved inviolate for the sake of ensuring a militia.” And, finally, “To the best of my knowledge, there has been no change in the meaning of words or in usage that would affect the meaning of the amendment.”

Argument refuted. You might want to console Mrs. Applecheeks.


The 2nd amendment is about giving the states an absolute right to have their own armed militias which today has been transformed into the National Guard.

Wrong again. The National Guard, sir, is under FEDERAL authority. As you have noted, many such units are now stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they aren’t equipped, supplied by or under the orders of their State governments. Also, the militia has been legally defined for quite a while now by Title 10, Subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 13, §311 of the U.S. Code:

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

One could argue under age and sex-discrimination laws that the limits on membership in the unorganized militia are illegal, but that’s the law. Every “able-bodied” man between 17 and 45 is a member of the “unorganized militia.” No membership in a National Guard outfit is required, unless you’re female. Several of the states have similar laws. I was a member up until two years ago, and consider myself one still.

Argument refuted.

This is off-topic but:

It also guarantees that the states have the right to have the same weapons as a federal army, a right in existence today and has always been, since the National Guard of every state does have most of the same weapons that the Federal army has. National Guard units have tanks, they have fighter jets. They have bombers.And it’s why National Guard units have been fighting in Iraq since 2002. The 2nd amendment guarantees the right of the states to have them. It is also what allowed the states of the Confederacy to have the weapons to fight a Civil War.

So by your “originalist” interpretation of the Second Amendment, Arizona can have its very own nuclear, biological and chemical weapons under the control of Gov. Brewer? Cool! Can we nuke California?

Argument refuted.

If you think the amendment gives an individual the right to have those weapons try putting a tank in your backyard.

I’d like to introduce you to where you can purchase a M3A1 Stuart light tank, an M75 Armored personnel Carrier, an M8 APC, a Fox recon tank, and many other vehicles of the type. There’s also the International Repo-Depo, Inc. which has Soviet BMP-1 armored personnel carriers for sale to the public. There are people who collect these things and enjoy driving them around. Of course there’s restrictions on the guns these things originally carried, but if you want functional artillery, it’s still available. For example, muzzle-loading black-powder cannon are essentially unrestricted. Breech-loading stuff is restricted, but still available if you have the money and patience to jump through the hoops. But is your right to these weapons “infringed”? Well, we have to go back to that “Original Understanding” argument, don’t we?

Now we get to the “deliberate mendacity” segment of your “irrefutable” article:

For those who don’t know there are two types of rights enumerated in the Constitution, states rights and individual rights. As any Constitutional scholar will tell you, when the Framers were referring to a state’s right they used the term “the people:”. When they were referring to an individual right, they used the word “person”.

“Any Constitutional scholar” eh? Care to cite one or six? Frankly, I’m awed by the chutzpah it took to commit that paragraph to the historical record. Let’s look at the First Amendment, shall we?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

So, according to your anonymous Constitutional scholar(s), “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” is a “State’s Right”? Funny, the Supreme Court has never interpreted that clause that way. The Court in Dred Scott certainly didn’t, nor did the Court in Cruikshank.

How about Amendment IV:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects” is a “States Right”?

You’re either badly educated, badly deluded, or mentally incompetent in order to believe what you wrote above. Otherwise what you are doing is deliberately lying. I’ve already stated which of those I believe.

I will name Constitutional scholars. Here’s one you might have heard of: Laurence H. Tribe, professor of Law at Harvard University and author of the law textbook American Constitutional Law that most ConLaw classes in this country use. On the Second Amendment, Professor Tribe writes in the 1988 Second Edition of his textbook:

Perhaps the most accurate conclusion one can reach with any confidence is that the core meaning of the Second Amendment is a populist / republican / federalism one: Its central object is to arm ‘We the People’ so that ordinary citizens can participate in the collective defense of their community and their state. But it does so not through directly protecting a right on the part of states or other collectivities, assertable by them against the federal government, to arm the populace as they see fit. Rather the amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification consistent with the authority of the states to organize their own militias. That assurance in turn is provided through recognizing a right (admittedly of uncertain scope) on the part of individuals to possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes — not a right to hunt for game, quite clearly, and certainly not a right to employ firearms to commit aggressive acts against other persons — a right that directly limits action by Congress or by the Executive Branch and may well, in addition, be among the privileges or immunities of United States citizens protected by §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment against state or local government action.

(My emphasis.) That book is not available on-line, I’m afraid. You’ll either have to take my word for it, or go look it up in a local law library, though UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh quotes it here. I see no mention of “states rights” in that conclusion, do you? But Professor Tribe is quite explicit that the Second Amendment protects a right of individuals to possess firearms.

Or how about Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University:

In one corner, gun controllers embrace a narrow, statist reading, insisting that the amendment merely confers a right on state governments to establish professional state militias like the National Guard or local SWAT teams. No ordinary citizen is covered by the amendment in this view. In the other corner, gun owners and their supporters read the amendment in a broad libertarian way, arguing that it protects a right of every individual to have guns for self-protection, for hunting, and even for sport. Virtually nothing having to do with personal weaponry is outside the amendment on this view. Both readings are wrong.

The statist reading sidesteps the obvious fact that the amendment’s actual command language — “shall not be infringed” — appears in its second clause, which speaks of “the people” and not “the states.” A quick look at the Tenth Amendment, which draws a sharp distinction between “the states” and “the people,” makes clear that these two phrases are not identical and that the Founders knew how to say “states” when they meant states. What is more, the eighteenth-century “militia” referred to by the first clause was not remotely like today’s National Guard. It encompassed virtually all voters — somewhat like today’s Swiss militia — rather than a small group of paid, semiprofessional volunteers.

By now it is evident that we need to understand how all the words of the amendment fit together, and how they, in turn, mesh with other words in the Constitution. The amendment’s syntax seems odd only because modern readers persistently misread the words “militia” and “people,” imposing twentieth-century assumptions on an eighteenth-century text. The key subject-nouns were simply different ways of saying the same thing. At the Founding, the militia was the people and the people were the militia. Indeed, the earlier draft of the amendment linked the two clauses with linchpin language speaking of “a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people.” The stylistically clumsy linchpin was later pulled out, but the final version makes the same point in fewer words. A modern translation of the amendment might thus be: “An armed and militarily trained citizenry being conducive to freedom, the right of the electorate to organize itself militarily shall not be infringed.”

Do you see any reference there to “State’s Rights”? Yet your assertion that “The people” means “the States” is crucial to your “irrefutable” argument, and Professor Reed has exposed you as not only a bigot, but a Statist.

Or how about Sanford Levinson, Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, Robert Cottrol, . . .

Argument refuted.

Now we get to the meat of your mendacity:

Unfortunately for President Obama, Lou Dobbs, Joe Lieberman and others in congress and the media who badly and ignorantly misuse the phrase, “to keep and bear arms” doesn’t mean the right of an individual to own a gun.At least not in terms of the Framers intended with the 2nd amendment. It doesn’t mean the right to go hunting or take target practice or to shoot an intruder. It has nothing to do with an individual’s right of self-defense (though it doesn’t speak against it either). And it didn’t mean the right to strut down the middle of Dodge City wearing six guns. If it did Wyatt Earp wouldn’t have been able to arrest anyone who did and confiscate their guns because Earp banned them from Dodge City and no one ever accused Wyatt Earp of violating the Constitution.

Wanna bet?

First the term “arms” meant something very specific to the Framers who wrote the 2nd amendment in 1789 and it meant the same thing to them as it means now and that it has meant all through history.

The word “arms” in the 2nd amendment means one thing and only one thing. And it doesn’t mean the right to have a gun you have in your house. It means weapons of war. Military weapons of war.

What do you know, we agree again!

The “right to keep and bear arms” means that the Constitution is guaranteeing the states not only the right to have their own militias or military, but the right to “keep” their own weapons of war. “Arms” didn’t just mean guns. It meant cannon. It meant swords and bayonets, cannon balls, powder, even war ships. “Arms” meant anything that could be used as a weapon of war. And it guaranteed the right of the individual states to have any weapons they wished, including the same military weapons as the Federal army. That guarantee is made clear in the last clause. As everyone knows there is a big difference between someone who owns a gun store and someone who is an “arms” dealer.And arms dealer is in the business of selling military weapons.

In case you were not aware, private individuals owned swords and bayonets, cannon, cannon balls, powder and even warships – you have heard of “privateers,” have you not? Privately owned cannon-armed ships, manned by sailors possessing flintlock weapons, swords, hatchets, and bayonets, outnumbered government-owned ships by over 26-to-1 during the Revolutionary War, though being armed merchantmen, they were heavily outgunned by actual warships. Still, quantity has a quality all its own, as they say. We were still using privateers into the Civil War.

Argument refuted. Next!

But the meaning of the word “arms” isn’t the only thing in the 2nd amendment that people get wrong. They also don’t know the meaning of the term ” to bear arms” which also had a very specific meaning to the Framers in 1789.

“To bear arms” didn’t mean to show them off. It didn’t mean to go hunting or to use them to defend against a burglar despite what Lou Dobbs,President Obama and some Constitutionally challenged Congressmen think. “To bear arms” meant only one thing to the Framers It meant to go to war.

Wrong again! You’re batting 1,000! Though Professor Amar does agree with you, many many more do not. Here’s where the problem of “original intent” versus “original understanding” becomes significant. How can you assert that the intent of every one of the Founders, or even a majority, was that “to bear arms” meant specifically and exclusively “to go to war”? I want to see your evidence. I assert you cannot provide it.

But I can refute your argument. Remember, in science any hypothesis can be disproven by a single piece of contradictory evidence. Professor Volokh provides two examples of contemporary understanding of the phrase “bear arms” with non-military meaning:

Two More Early References to the Right To Bear Arms, in 1816 arguments to a jury. The first is by defense lawyer Joseph Reed Ingersoll, who would eventually become a prominent Congressman:

I think it is apparent … [t]hat after the attack, and threats, and the avowal of an intention of the part of captain Carson to take away his life, he had a right to bear arms on the plainest principles of self-defence….

Having the right of access to the house, he was justifiable in protecting himself by the only means which reduce the powerful to a level with the weak. The constitutions, both of the Federal government and of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, secure to every citizen, the right to bear arms, and the only question that remains, is whether the exercise of the right be compatible with disretion.

The second is by another defense lawyer, William Rawle, a prominent early American lawyer who would nine years later write a treatise that likewise supported the individual rights view of the right to bear arms and of the Second Amendment:

There is only one circumstance remaining worthy of notice; that of arming himself. The constitution of this state has expressly secured the right to carry arms. In Art. IX, Sect. XXI, “the right of the citizens to bear arms, in defence of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned.”

The right, in defence of the state is, where foreign invasion occasions it to be in danger; that of defence of themselves continues through their lives, and, therefore, there is not any thing in opposition to Richard Smith’s bearing arms, not against the officers of the law, but against the lawless attack of an individual he had to fear. If, in a conversation with another, attacked by him, he had caught up and fired that pistol, in fear of his person suffering great bodily harm, the law would have considered it as excusable homicide. Does his carrying that pistol, after Carson’s previous attempt on him, for self defence, make him culpable? No — the constitution allows it, especially when the assistance of the magistrates could not be obtained; it follows, that the use of this pistol was not unlawful when accompanied with these circumstances. Suppose he had been taken up for carrying a pistol in his bosom, and upon complaint being made to some of the learned magistrates, he had defended himself, by saying, he carried it in fear of his life; or were to say even, I do not carry it — it is in my chamber — the judge would answer, pursue, uniformly, the same conduct; you are perfectly justifiable, and have a right to be armed in your own defence.

(My emphasis.) In 1816 – just twenty-five years after ratification of the Bill of Rights, and “to bear arms” was understood to mean “carry firearms” for the purpose of self defense. And, Chief Justice Burger notwithstanding, with a pistol.

There are many, many more examples, but this piece is already very, very long. I’ll just say,

Argument refuted. Next!

The Founding Fathers in the 2nd amendment guaranteed the right of the individual states not only the means but the right to go to war and defend themselves both against the possibility of a future President deciding to become a tyrant and using military force to give himself dictatorial powers, or to defend themselves against a foreign enemy that might invade the shores of New York, Massachusetts, or New Jersey. It guaranteed that the states had both the means (” the right to keep…”) and to use them, (to “bear arms”,)to defend themselves without having to depend on a Federal Army to do it for them or against a Federal army itself if that became “necessary to the security of a free state”.

If the Founding Fathers had intended the 2nd amendment to be about the right of an individual to own a gun they would have said so.And they didn’t.

Only in your fever-dreams. I’ve already demolished your arguments to this point, so I’ll simply quote from one of my favorite dissents to address your ludicrous assertion that the 2nd Amendment “guaranteed the right of the individual states not only the means but the right to go to war and defend themselves both against the possibility of a future President deciding to become a tyrant and using military force to give himself dictatorial powers, or to defend themselves against a foreign enemy that might invade the shores of New York, Massachusetts, or New Jersey.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is one of those that declared the Second Amendment didn’t protect an individual right. California took that declaration to heart. In 2003 the Ninth Circuit repeated that mistake, and denied the re-hearing of the California case Silveira v. Lockyer. Judge Andrew Kleinfeld dissented from that opinion most eloquently, addressing your arguments. His dissent was joined by four others on that court. Here’s the pertinent part:

The panel opinion holds that the Second Amendment “imposes no limitation on California’s [or any other state’s] ability to enact legislation regulating or prohibiting the possession or use of firearms” and “does not confer an individual right to own or possess arms.” The panel opinion erases the Second Amendment from our Constitution as effectively as it can, by holding that no individual even has standing to challenge any law restricting firearm possession or use. This means that an individual cannot even get a case into court to raise the question. The panel’s theory is that “the Second Amendment affords only a collective right,” an odd deviation from the individualist philosophy of our Founders. The panel strikes a novel blow in favor of states’ rights, opining that “the amendment was not adopted to afford rights to individuals with respect to private gun ownership or possession,” but was instead “adopted to ensure that effective state militias would be maintained, thus preserving the people’s right to bear arms.” It is not clear from the opinion whom the states would sue or what such a suit would claim were they to try to enforce this right. The panel’s protection of what it calls the “people’s right to bear arms” protects that “right” in the same fictional sense as the “people’s” rights are protected in a “people’s democratic republic.”

Our circuit law regarding the Second Amendment squarely conflicts with that of the Fifth Circuit. It is inconsistent with decisions of the Supreme Court that have construed the Second Amendment and phrases within it. Our circuit has effectively repealed the Second Amendment without the democratic protection of the amendment process, which Article V requires.

The panel opinion swims against a rising tide of legal scholarship to the contrary, relying heavily on a single law review article that claims “keep and bear” means the same thing as “bear,” which itself means only to carry arms as part of a military unit.

About twenty percent of the American population, those who live in the Ninth Circuit, have lost one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. And, the methodology used to take away the right threatens the rest of the Constitution. The most extraordinary step taken by the panel opinion is to read the frequently used Constitutional phrase, “the people,” as conferring rights only upon collectives, not individuals. There is no logical boundary to this misreading, so it threatens all the rights the Constitution guarantees to “the people,” including those having nothing to do with guns. I cannot imagine the judges on the panel similarly repealing the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the right of “the people” to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, or the right of “the people” to freedom of assembly, but times and personnel change, so that this right and all the other rights of “the people” are jeopardized by planting this weed in our Constitutional garden.

You, Mr. Rubin, are fertilizing that weed with the manure you published in your “irrefutable” column.

One more bit from that dissent:

The panel’s holding that the right of “the people” with respect to weapons “was not adopted in order to afford rights to individuals” but only so that “they would have the right to bear arms in the service of the state” is logically absurd. This becomes clear if one interprets the phrase “the people” consistently, as sound construction always requires, and applies the same construction to other amendments. The First Amendment preserves “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” The panel’s construction implies that no individual can sue in court for an abridgment of his or her right to assemble, because the right is reserved to the people acting collectively. The Fourth Amendment preserves “the right of the people” to security from unreasonable searches and seizures. The panel’s construction implies that no individual has a right enforceable in court to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, only “the people” as a collective. Because “the people” act collectively through their governments, the panel’s logic suggests that the right to free assembly and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures are protected only when people are acting, in the panel’s phrase, “in the service of the state.” That is not our country.

It might be your country, Mr. Rubin, but it’s not mine.

Argument refuted. Next!

The final clause could be the most important because it impacts every gun law on the books. The clause says the right granted in the 2nd amendment “shall not be infringed”.

“..shall not be infringed” means just that. It doesn’t mean ” shall not be infringed except sometimes..”: or “shall not be infringed unless we want it to be”, or “shall not be infringed unless we decide there is a good reason to infringe upon it”. It means the right granted in the 2nd amendment cannot be diminished, restricted, reduced, or encroached upon in even the smallest way.

We all know what “fringe” means and where the fringe is — on the outer edges of something. And the amendment makes clear you cant encroach upon the right granted in the 2nd amendment even there, on the fringe.

Really? The First Amendment begins with the strict admonition “Congress shall make no law . . .”, yet Congress has made many, many laws concerning speech, assembly, worship, etc. The question comes in whether or not those laws establish religion or abridge the other rights protected by the First Amendment. And it is the same for the Second. Are the laws that have been passed “infringements”? Now, I’m with you to a point – “infringement” is a very, very strict yardstick to measure against, but you must remember that the (very bad) Cruikshank decision is the one that allowed the Several States to “infringe” to their heart’s content, safe from Federal overview. The FEDERAL government, you will note, has passed very few gun control laws, most of them justified in terms of the commerce clause.

Argument refuted. Next!

The 2nd amendment is only about a state’s right to have its own army and for that army to have any weapons it chooses, and that the Federal government cannot interfere with that right in any way. And that has been the case since 1789.It has never applied to an individual.And was never intended to.

Again, so the state National Guard units can have chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the Federal government has no say? Really? You believe that?

No, the Second Amendment was about the right of individual citizens to possess individual weapons of military usefulness – essentially infantry weapons; rifles, shotguns, knives, bayonets, swords and pistols in order to have an armed populace that could form a militia if called upon. Remember, it was the standing army that was feared, and it didn’t matter whether than army was Federal in nature, or was a creature of the state government – standing armies oppressed the people. Militias were “the people,” and the best protectors of their own rights.

Argument refuted. Next!

If the 2nd amendment had anything to do with an individual’s right to own a gun,the clause. “shall not be infringed” would make every single gun law on the books, and any restriction of any kind unconstitutional. The NRA knows this and knows both the “infringement” clause and the entire amendment has nothing to do with an individual’s right to own a gun. Otherwise they would have challenged gun laws a long time ago on the grounds they violated the “infringement” clause of the 2nd amendment.

New York city’s concealed weapon law is a perfect example. You cannot carry a concealed gun in New York city unless you are issued a permit by the police department. Just the requiring of a permit would certainly be an “infringement” of a 2nd amendment right “to keep and bear arms” according to the Constitution if it related to individuals. But even more than that, 90% of the people who apply for the permit get rejected. You don’t get the permit unless the police department decides you can have one. And they decide most can’t.

Bzzzt! Cruikshank! Remember, Cruikshank said the Second Amendment was only a restriction on Congress, and thus we have a patchwork of laws that vary from state to state, state to city, and city to county all across the nation. New York is free to infringe on the right to arms because Supreme Court precedent says it can.

Of course, Supreme Court precedent also said “separate but equal” was OK, too, until it didn’t anymore. Brown v. Board of Education really pissed off the bigots. So did D.C. v. Heller. Did Heller make you angry, Mr. Rubin?

That doesn’t sound like a Constitutional right “to keep and bear arms” that hasn’t been infringed upon to me.

Me either. The difference is, I see it for what it is – another in a long line of violations of the right to arms dating back to the Civil War. You think it’s the way things ought to be.


And if you are thinking “what about the DC gun ban and the Supreme Court decision”, even before it had been decided, constitutional experts and lawyers knew it had nothing to do with the 2nd amendment because DC is a special case and whatever the Supreme Court decision was going to be, it wouldnbt impact the 2nd amendment debate. DC is not a state. DC is essentially funded by Congress. They don’t even have a say in the election of the President. They stand outside anything that refers to states rights in the Constitution because it is not a state and the 2nd amendment is a states right issue, not an individual rights issue. The DC ban against hand guns ( which Obama was for before he was against) didn’t decide any 2nd amendment issues.

More deliberate mendacity on your part, Mr. Rubin. Alan Gura, the lead counsel in Parker v. D.C. which became D.C. v. Heller chose the District of Columbia very carefully, specifically because DC is not a state and is “essentially funded by Congress.” Because of these facts Cruikshank doesn’t apply to DC. The Second Amendment does. And if you read the decision, it was argued and decided on the merits of whether or not the Second Amendment protects an individual right.

And the majority repudiates your “irrefutable” argument. In fact, even the four Justices in the minority concur that the right protected is an individual one, they just give that protection no meaning.


As far as the recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Alameda County in California, that ruling should come as no surprise. And it is not definitive. The 9th Circuit is the most liberal court in the country and only the most liberal interpretation of the 2nd amendment, one that completely disregards the original intent of the Framers and what the words actually mean, could choose to give the term ” to keep and bear arms” such a broad meaning and one completely unintended by the Framers. In fact the only way to apply the words in the 2nd amendment to an individual is to completely disregard what the words were intended to accomplish, which is what conservatives usually complain is legislating from the bench.

If I thought you had chutzpah before, I was not prepared for this.

The Ninth Circuit is, by far, the most liberal (and overturned) Appeals Court in the country, but its Second Amendment decisions go back to the 1996 Hickman v. Block decision that judge Kleinfeld protested against in his Silveira dissent. Hickman was followed by the original Nordyke v. King (2000) and Silveira v. Lockyer (2002) which both lost based on the precedent of Hickman. But after Heller, plaintiffs appealed Nordyke v. King, on the new understanding of the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right, and (while the Court upheld its previous decision) it went further to express its belief that the Fourteenth Amendment DOES incorporate the Second Amendment to the states. If the Supreme Court hears Nordyke (doubtful) they will have to take this question up. Regardless, there is a suit now against the city of Chicago over its handgun ban that is also based on Fourteenth Amendment incorporation, and it has a much better chance of going before the Supreme Court.

New York can come later.

OK, there’s my 10,000 words, not that I expect you will actually read them. But if you do, I await your response with bated breath.

UPDATE – 7/22/09: I don’t think I’ll be hearing from Mr. Rubin any time soon.

He does live in his own little world!

Glenn Greenwald, Ted Rall, and now Bill Maher?

As I’ve reported earlier, the bloom is off the Obama rose for Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald. This was followed by a strident denunciation by political “cartoonist” Ted Rall. But now even Bill Maher has nearly had enough, in an LA Dog Trainer op-ed, no less:

Enough with the Obamathon

The president is on TV more than the ShamWow guy, but I want to see a little more action.

President Obama should just join the cast of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” It’s not that farfetched; he’s been on everything else.

I’m still a fan, but there’s a fine line between being transparent and being overexposed. Every time you turn on the TV, there’s Obama. He’s getting a puppy! He’s eating a cheeseburger with Joe Biden! He’s taking the wife to Broadway and Paris — this is the best season of “The Bachelor” yet!

I get it: You love being on TV. I love my bong,

I’m shocked – shocked by this admission!

but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while.

I’m shocked – shocked by this admission!

The other day, I caught myself saying to a friend, “Don’t tell me if he’s fixed the economy yet, I’m Tivo-ing it.”

Remember during the campaign when John McCain attacked Obama for acting like a celebrity and we all laughed at the grumpy old shellshocked fool? Well, it turns out he was right.

I’m shocked – shocked by this admission!

Sorry, senator. I’m sending a nice gift basket of high-fiber muffins your way.

It’s getting to where you can’t turn on your TV without seeing Obama. Who does he think he is, Dick Cheney? Come on, sir, you don’t have to be on television every minute of every day. You’re the president, not a rerun of “Law and Order.” Save some charisma for a rainy day. Taking strangers from a TV show on a tour of your house? We have that show; it’s called “Cribs.”

Cue accusations of “RACIST! Oh, wait. Silly me. Maher’s a Democrat.

And letting reporters ask you questions like “You like to be the one who picks out the shaving cream, don’t you?” Or as it’s called today, “journalism.” I was willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt until I saw him take Brian Williams into his bedroom, and at the end of the bed there was a teleprompter and it said, “Who’s your daddy?”

Now Maher’s doing teleprompter jokes?

I mean, selling the personal part to stay popular, I’m all for it, but you got us already. We like you, we really like you! You’re skinny and in a hurry and in love with a nice lady. But so’s Lindsay Lohan. And like Lohan, we see your name in the paper a lot, but we’re kind of wondering when you’re actually going to do something.

Mouth hangs agape.

He has done a lot of stuff. He’s validated all most all of the actions taken by his predecessor (that’s what had Rall all fired up), he’s dissed his gay constituency (that’s got Democratic Underground all fired up), he’s essentially taken control of major banks and two of the Big 3 auto makers. How can you say he hasn’t done anything? Oh, right. You’re Bill Maher.

I know that’s harsh. But when I read about how you sat on the sidelines while bailed-out banks used the money we gave them to hire lobbyists who got Congress to stop homeowners from getting renegotiated loans, or how Congress is already giving up on healthcare reform, or how scientists say it’s essential to reduce CO2 by 40% in 10 years, but your own bill calls for 4%, I say, enough with the character development, let’s get on with the plot.

See? Obama just didn’t do what Bill wants done.

And let’s stop worrying so much about doing anything that might tarnish the brand. See, this is why I don’t want my president to be a TV star: Because TV stars are too worried about being popular — and too concerned with getting renewed.

First rule of modern politics: Keep getting re-elected. And Barack is still campaigning.

Seems only natural. He’s never actually had to do anything before. Campaigning seems to be all he actually does well, so he’s sticking with what he knows.

You can relax about that, Mr. President, knowing that there’s a large, rich organization doing everything it possibly can to ensure that you’ll get reelected: It’s called the Republican Party.

Now there’s Truth with a capital “T”.

Speaking of which, if you can’t beat Republicans now, when they’re so down they take orders from Rush Limbaugh, then when? The way to get renewed for your reality show that you love so much is to act boldly now.

Because the advice of a comedian is precisely what you need!

Obama needs to start putting it on the line in fights against the banks, the energy companies and the healthcare industry. I never thought I’d say this, but he needs to be more like George W. Bush. Bush was all about, “You’re with us or against us.”

Yeah, those banks, energy companies and the healthcare industry are just like the guys who want to destroy Western Civilization.

But wait: I thought Rall’s argument was that Obama was acting too much like George W. Bush. Now I’m confused.

Obama’s more like, “You’re either with us, or you obviously need to see another picture of this adorable puppy!”

Bush had horrible ideas, like torture and deregulation and preemptive war and tax cuts for the rich, but he pushed them through, in their full measure, never mind Congress or the Constitution or the Geneva Convention or the Magna Carta or the Code of Hammurabi.

The point is, he didn’t care if it made him unpopular with every human on the planet not named Cletus or Fred Barnes. Which it did.

Nothing like the strength of one’s convictions. And you’ll note that Congress went along. Not that Obama (nor the Left for that matter) seems to have any actual convictions beyond “We know what’s best for everyone else.” (That would be the Imperial “We.”)

And we need to marry the good ideas Obama really believes in with that Bush attitude and Bush certitude. I’d love for Obama to come out one day and say, “Jesus told me to fix healthcare.” Or, “History will decide whether stopping the polar ice caps from melting and drowning us all was a good thing.”

I reiterate: What is it that Obama “really believes in”? No one’s been able willing to find out. Even immediately after the election the media noted that nobody knew the guy. He was “a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Bill Maher: Exhibit A.

In conclusion, Bush was a jerk, but he never cared about being seen having a burger with Dick Cheney. He picked up the phone in the White House and said, “I’m the president, bring me a burger.” And they’d say, “Sir, this is NORAD. Would you please stop ordering burgers with the red phone?”

Ah, yes, the “Bush is a moron” meme. Stay classy, Bill!

I’m glad that Obama is president, but the “Audacity of Hope” part is over. Right now, I’m hoping for a little more audacity.

Stand by for further disappointment and disillusionment! I’m sure President Obama has someone writing another strongly worded memo to Kim Jong Il right this minute!

This would be fun if it wasn’t so damned serious. And the fact that the alternative was McCain is even more depressing.

Ah, Yes, the “Guns as Disease Vector” Meme!

Ambulance Driver sent me an interesting excerpt from the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Handguns, Health, and the Second Amendment, written by Leonard H. Glantz, J.D., and George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H. (“J.D.” is Juris Doctor – i.e.: graduated from law school, and “M.P.H.” is “Master of Public Health”) Their respective schools might want to check who they give degrees out to.

I was asked to fisk the piece. Who am I to turn down a request like that?

Let us begin.

The first couple of paragraphs contain nothing too objectionable:

The right to possess firearms by private citizens has been a major political issue in the United States since the founding of the country. James Madison, for example, argued that there need be no concern about forming a federal government because state militias would protect the people from any threat that a federal government would usurp their individual rights. In his words, “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments [the states], to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” Later, after the Constitution had been adopted, Madison suggested in 1789 that specific rights of citizens be spelled out in a Bill of Rights.

Madison suggested it? Where did these guys learn history? A Cracker Jacks box?

Ratified on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights included the Second Amendment to the Constitution that reads in its entirety, “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.”

After 218 years, we are still arguing about what these 27 words mean.

Only because some of you won’t listen.

They were obviously important enough to their authors to be ranked second in the Bill of Rights and to be included in the same collection of constitutional amendments that protect individual rights to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to fair trials. From the time of its founding, America has been a nation of gun owners. Gun-control advocates focus on the serious negative effects of gun availability on health and safety, while gun-ownership advocates emphasize the lawful use of guns and their place in our history and culture.

And law.

The gun-control debate is often emotional and even reaches into presidential campaigns. Fear of strict gun-control laws are often used to rally conservative voters, and during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama felt a need to assure gun owners that they had nothing to fear from him.

Not that he was believed, as the run on firearms, ammunition, and reloading components well attests.

Guns represent a major public health challenge. Because of their prominent role in deaths from suicide and homicide, as well as the nonfatal wounds that they inflict, the editors of the Journal have noted, “By any standard, [firearm death and injury] constitutes a serious public health issue that demands a response not only from law enforcement and the courts, but also from the medical community.” Nonetheless, most gunrights and gun-control advocates seem to agree that the Second Amendment affords some sort of right to bear arms.

Not to mention the Supreme Court of the United States.

The central controversy is whether the right is a collective or civic right directly related to the needs of a “well regulated Militia” or an individual right that protects gun ownership that is not associated with militias.

See above.

If it was meant to be an individual right, the Second Amendment could have been written to say, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

Uh, it does say that.

Or, if it was meant solely to ensure the existence of a functioning militia, it could have been written to say, “Members of state militias have the right to keep and bear arms.”

And it doesn’t say that.

But it was not written in either of these ways, and so there is a serious dispute about the relevance of the first clause that refers to militias (the so-called prefatory clause) to the second clause (the so-called operative clause), which says that the “people” have a “right” to “keep and bear arms.” The crafting of this amendment is especially mysterious since other Constitutional articles and amendments in general do not give reasons in prefatory clauses for delineating the rights found within it. For example, the First Amendment does not say, “In order to ensure unfettered political arguments, Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.”

This is one of the oldest arguments going, and one that has been addressed ad nauseam in the literature (see Eugene Volokh’s The Commonplace Second Amendment for just one example), but the audience here isn’t gun-rights or gun-control advocates per se, it’s medical professionals, who they only need to baffle with bullshit – which comes in the next paragraphs.

Before last year’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Supreme Court had decided only one case on the scope of the Second Amendment, and its analysis was far from thorough. In 1939, in United States v. Miller, the question was whether certain provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 violated the Second Amendment. Among other things, this federal law prohibited the interstate transportation of sawed-off shotguns, and the defendants were found guilty of this crime.

(My emphasis.) No, they were not. Their indictment was quashed by the federal district court. Judge Heartsill Ragon declared that the 1934 National Firearms Act violated the Second Amendment and dismissed the charges against Jack Miller and Frank Layton. The appeal was filed by the State.

At trial, their argument that this provision violated their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was rejected.

It was not. It was accepted.

The Supreme Court, agreeing with the trial court, found that “in the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of any ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of [a] well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.”

The “absence of any evidence” was due to the fact that Miller & Layton’s lawyer didn’t file a brief nor did he show up at the Supreme Court hearing to provide any testimony. No one appeared to defend Miller & Layton, but for some strange reason our opposition always seems to omit this little tidbit of fact.

The Supreme Court reversed the District court and remanded for FINDING – that is, they kicked the case back downstairs for the lower court to do the work – which it then failed to do, since Miller was dead by that time and Layton plead guilty.

The relatively brief opinion does not address the strange implications of this reasoning. It seems to indicate that whatever weapons a militia could use would be permissible for individual citizens to own and transport. The Court also did not say that a person must be in the militia in order to have a right to bear arms or that there is no individual right to bear arms. The problem as the Court apparently saw it was not that Miller was bearing arms, but that he was bearing the wrong kind of arms.

Which, as I’ve mentioned before, raises a particularly interesting question: The 1934 National Firearms Act put precisely the same restrictions on Miller’s short-barreled shotgun as on a 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle – a weapon that most definitely did have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of [a] well regulated militia.” The BAR was part of the standard Table of Organization and Equipment for U.S. Army Infantry units at the time, and – until 1934 – could be purchased by mail-order by anyone with enough money to pay for one, and it could be transported anywhere in the U.S. without the tax stamp that Miller’s sawed-off lacked.

What if Miller had owned a BAR? Would the Supreme Court have still claimed an “absence of any evidence” in that case?


In Miller, the Court did consider what a “militia” is and why the individual right to possess firearms might be related to what militias do. At the time the Second Amendment was ratified, a militia was not a body of men who were employed to protect the state. Nor was it, as Madison had noted, an army that only could be raised by the federal government. Rather, militias were composed of “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” They were made up of civilians who on occasion might act as soldiers. Many state governments required every able-bodied man between 16 and 45 years of age to be “enrolled” in a state militia, and each of these men was required to provide himself with “a good musket or flint lock” and adequate ammunition. Individual citizens were not only entitled to but were required to possess firearms so they might fulfill their militia activities.

This history persuaded the Court that only ownership of weapons that could be used in the context of militia activities was protected by the Second Amendment. But the Court did not take into account that militias might use cannons, for example, which would then appear to guarantee the right of individual citizens to own cannons. It is inconceivable that this is what the Court had in mind.

Really? Why? The language is pretty clear. Cannon were privately owned by a number of citizens during the revolutionary war period and after. Cannon-armed privateers issued Letters of Marque and Reprisal were, for some time, the primary naval arm of the United States.

The murky Supreme Court opinion in Miller did not decide, one way or the other, whether individual citizens have a right to keep and bear arms — it simply did not directly address this issue. However, its outcome made clear that the government could constitutionally regulate possession and transportation of particular types of firearms.

Yes, weapons not suitable for military use – sporting arms, as it were. The ones we so often are told that we needn’t fear being banned. So my AR-15’s are safe, it’s my .22 caliber Ruger handguns that are at risk?

The Heller case was initiated by proponents of gun ownership to test the constitutionality of one of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. Unlike the gun-running criminal defendants in the Miller case,

Wrong again – Miller and Layton were known moonshiners, not gun-runners.

Heller was a District of Columbia (D.C.) special police officer authorized to carry a handgun while on duty at the Federal Judicial Center. He applied for a registration certificate for a handgun to keep in his home, and his application was declined. Under the D.C. gun-control law, no individual citizen had been permitted to register a handgun since 1976, and it was forbidden to have any “functional firearm within the home.” The law provided that any firearm in the home, whether a pre-1976 handgun or a rifle, had to be unloaded or have a trigger lock that would render it inoperable.

As Heller himself said, “As a security officer I carry a gun to protect government officers, but my life isn’t worth protecting at home in their eyes.”

Heller claimed that the Second Amendment protected his right to keep a loaded and functional handgun in his home that he could use for self-defense and that the D.C. law violated this right. His argument was all the more compelling because he met all the requirements for carrying a gun in public to protect others. He simply was not permitted to keep the same type of weapon in his home to protect himself and his family. The federal district court upheld the D.C. ban on the basis of the Miller case and interpretations of most U.S Courts of Appeal that held that the right to bear arms is a collective right and not an individual right. The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia reversed the decision of the district court and ruled that the District violated Heller’s individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in his home.

Best birthday present ever.

In a lengthy opinion, the majority of the Court of Appeals reviewed Second Amendment case law, legal scholarship, and history. On the basis of its historical review, the Court of Appeals concluded that rather than creating the right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment simply protected a right that predated the Constitution from the new central government.

Like this was a surprise or something.

Like Miller, the opinion recounted the history of civilian militias and the need for individual civilians to be armed in order to meet their militia obligations. The Court of Appeals noted that if guns can be restricted at all, such restrictions must be related to furthering the militia purpose of the Second Amendment. For example, a state could require a firearms proficiency test as a condition of gun ownership because it would help to ensure readiness for militia service, but the virtual ban on handgun ownership in the District cannot be related to any militia purpose. The Court of Appeals concluded that any law that forbids the availability of a handgun that can be used for self-defense in the home violates the Second Amendment. It is this decision that the Supreme Court reviewed.

The Supreme Court’s five-member majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed with the interpretation of the Second Amendment by the Court of Appeals. In a long and detailed opinion, the Court interpreted every phrase of the amendment. It analyzed the meaning of the terms “militia,” “well-regulated,” “people” “keep,” “bear,” and “arms” in the context of the 18th century. It examined 18th-century English usage to determine the relationship between the prefatory and operative clauses. A group of linguists and historians submitted an amicus brief to help the Court decipher the particular use of words, phrases, clauses, and even commas in the 18th century; this brief was referred to at several points in the majority opinion.

The Court ultimately held that a primary purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure the right of people in the United States to keep firearms in their homes for self-defense. Notably, nothing in the text of the Second Amendment makes any reference to self-defense. If reference to a well-organized militia has any meaning, it would only be in regard to communal defense. Instead, the majority noted that gun possession was widely accepted for personal defense in 18th century America; this is true, but it is a non sequitur. It provides no insight into the meaning of a constitutional amendment that says nothing about a right to weapons for self-defense in a home.

Aw, Geez. Not this again? Does the phrase “For defense of themselves and the State” ring any bells? Have they never read St. George Tucker? “The right of self-defense is the first law of nature . . .” Of course they know this stuff, but they’re spinning a web of bullshit to indoctrinate a bunch of health care workers here.

A key contemporary fact that would seem important in interpreting the Second Amendment is that the states no longer have “well-regulated” militias.

Wait for it . . .

“Able-bodied men” are no longer required to keep guns, bayonets, and ammunition in their homes so they can be called to service at a moment’s notice to protect their communities.

Wait . . .

Militias have been replaced by the National Guard, which provides arms to its enlistees.

THERE it is! “The National Guard is now the militia!” meme.

No it’s not. And while, granted, there are no laws on the books requiring everyone to keep a militarily useful firearm and ammunition for same in the home, the militia is legally quite well defined by U.S. Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Chapter 13, section 311:

Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are –

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

Since the National Guard is armed and equipped by the Federal government, it doesn’t really qualify as State militia, but everybody else represents the unorganized militia as recognized by FEDERAL LAW. You, me, your spouse – everybody of legal age.

Are you prepared if called upon?

As important is the fact that the arms used today by the National Guard — machine guns, high explosives, and so forth — are explicitly outlawed for personal use.

No. They. Are. NOT.

Machine guns are still quite legal in many jurisdictions. The 1934 National Firearms Act merely taxed them. The 1986 Hughes amendment to the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act made it illegal to register new machine guns for private use, but there are a LOT of them already in private hands. And the possession and use of explosives is also regulated, but not outlawed or I couldn’t have had the wonderful time I had at Joe Huffman’s last Boomershoot. Besides, if you believe the Violence Policy Center, semi-auto versions of full-auto military weapons are somehow more lethal than their full-auto cousins.

Do you smell the B.S. these guys are pushing?

It would be extraordinary for any court to rule today, as it appeared to do in Miller, that individual citizens have the right the keep and bear “arms” that are used by the National Guard.

Really? Again, WHY? Because you say so? You thought Miller & Layton lost in District Court.

The essential question is this: Since militias no longer exist,

An assertion I have already disproved,

is the Second Amendment now entirely devoid of meaning and effect? Has social change entirely nullified the force of a constitutional amendment for the first time in our history?

Which, since I’ve disproved assertion A) it pretty much makes question B) moot. But look at it from this perspective:

Is the First Amendment protection of free speech limited to hand-printed handbills and shouting from a soapbox in the public square? Or did we expand the right with changing technology? Is someone going to tell the Algiers Point Militia that they weren’t really a militia, and should have given up their guns (and their property) instead of defending themselves because there’s no right to self-defense in the Constitution? I don’t think so.

The majority concluded its opinion by noting:

Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

And the New England Journal of Medicine isn’t here to praise the Second Amendment, but to bury it.

The Court did not explain why it could not pronounce the Second Amendment extinct. No Court has ever ruled any amendment extinct, but no other constitutional provision has been so profoundly affected by social change that has led to the disappearance of an institution the amendment called “necessary.”

Actually, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did try to rule the Second Amendment extinct. It failed. As to the much ballyhooed “disappearance of an institution,” tell that to the Koreans who, during the 1992 LA riots, protected their lives and property – with arms – when the LAPD wouldn’t. Tell that to the survivors of Hurricane Andrew who apparently coined the phrase “You Loot, We Shoot” when neither the local police nor the National Guard could provide protection against looters. Tell it, as I said above, to the Algiers Point Militia. Tell it to the thousands of people each year who defend themselves with a firearm. Perhaps the “well-regulated” portion has passed, but the militia is still alive and well.

Still, the poo keeps getting flung:

In this instance, the Court’s “strict constructionist” justices are not so strict in their construction. Their ultimate conclusion that the Second Amendment provides individual citizens with the constitutional right to keep and bear a loaded, unlocked handgun for the purpose of self-defense is not supported by any of the amendment’s 27 words.

Totally disregarding the pages of examination that reviewed the understanding of the Second Amendment at the time of its passage, since, you know, that doesn’t meet with the needs of the NEJM readers.

Even if there were such a right to self-defense in the Constitution, one might conclude that a rifle or shotgun would be sufficient for this purpose. But the majority opinion noted that “handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.” The majority opinion even stated that a handgun is better suited for self-defense than a rifle or shotgun because it is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency, it cannot be easily wrestled away or redirected by an attacker, it is less difficult to use by persons without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun, and it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while using the telephone with the other. Although the majority refused to hold the entire Second Amendment “extinct,” it did just that to the prefatory clause that refers to a “well regulated Militia.” The case was decided as if that clause no longer exists.

Awww. We have a pair of Sad Pandas here, don’t we?

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a lengthy and scholarly dissenting opinion that is starkly critical of the majority opinion.

It’s also wrong in a couple of places because he and his clerks were badly mislead by some amicus briefs about on the same level as this NEJM piece.

It appears that the dissenters concluded that there is no individual right to bear arms, but the fuzziness of some of their language makes this difficult to say with any certainty. In concluding his opinion, Justice Stevens wrote, “Until today, it has been understood that legislatures may regulate the civilian use and misuse of firearms so long as they do not interfere with the preservation of a well-regulated militia.” But the case was not about the restrictions on the state’s authority to limit the use or misuse of firearms — it was about ownership of a gun in one’s home. Furthermore, although Justice Stevens emphasized the relationship of gun ownership to a well-regulated militia, he did not say what this means today when there are no such militias. Do he and the other dissenting justices believe the Second Amendment is extinct?

In his concluding paragraph, Justice Stevens said:

The Court would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons, and to authorize this Court to use the common-law process of case-by-case judicial lawmaking to define the contours of acceptable gun control policy.

Yes? And . . . ?

This argument is not particularly persuasive.

Nice of you to admit.

In addition to again conflating the regulation of gun ownership with the regulation of use, the fact that the majority opinion will lead the Court to “case-by-case judicial lawmaking” is simply a description of what it does in every area of constitutional adjudication. Like the majority, the dissenters made a clause in the Second Amendment extinct — in this case, the operative clause.

Which is what your side of the argument has been angling for for decades – and lost.

The “real” meaning of the Second Amendment will never be known.


I’m sorry, but I am flat-out DISGUSTED with people who can sit and pontificate such obvious cowpatties. The Founders had just fought a rebellion against the most powerful military force the world had yet seen, and WON, and they had started that war with privately owned firearms and started it over that government’s decision to disarm the populace. The “real” meaning of the Second Amendment was perfectly well known: The government will not disarm its own citizens wholesale – ever. Read a history book or ten.

What is known is that in Heller, the only right the Court affirmed is the right of qualified individual citizens to have a loaded handgun or rifle that is readily accessible in the home for self-defense.

Advocates of gun ownership often argue that their constituency has “rights.”

What’s with the “scare quotes”?

Similarly, gun-control advocates often express the concern that the recognition of an individual gun owner’s right will make deadly weapons become easily available.

Well outright banning them certainly doesn’t seem to affect availability.

But for both gun-control and gun-ownership advocates alike, the most important legal and practical issue now is (and probably always has been) the extent to which government can regulate gun ownership. Whatever the Heller right might be, the right to keep and bear arms is far from absolute, and states have substantial leeway in limiting the right of their citizens to own firearms.

The justices in the majority clearly acknowledged that states continue to have the authority to limit gun ownership by licensing gun ownership and by regulating which persons may receive such licenses. The Court majority opinion explicitly said, for example, that “nothing in our opinion should cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or mentally ill persons, or on laws that forbid the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings or laws limiting the conditions and qualifications of commercial sale of firearms.” In addition, the majority indicated that prohibitions against carrying a concealed weapon are also permissible under the Second Amendment. The Court of Appeals opinion took a similar approach toward regulations that “promote the government’s interest in public safety,” including firearm registration and user-proficiency testing. Like post–Roe v. Wade opinions reviewing state abortion laws passed to test the limits of the constitutional right to privacy as it relates to the termination of pregnancy, future litigation in this area will involve determining the constitutionality of new gun-control regulations. Heller, however, indicates that most of the current regulations on gun ownership would probably be found to be constitutional.

With the exception of complete bans such as in Chicago, and laws prohibiting concealed-carry in Illinois and Wisconsin, and . . .

It is going to be interesting the next few years, assuming the economy doesn’t completely crater in the mean time.

Our review of federal court cases since Heller did not uncover a single case that overturned a gun-control provision.

You haven’t waited long enough, methinks.

One case upheld a provision that prohibited people under restraining orders for domestic abuse from having a gun, one upheld a provision that ex-felons may not own a gun, one upheld a federal law making possession of machine guns illegal, one upheld a law that made it illegal to have a firearm in a glove compartment of a locked car in a parking lot of a post office, and one found that the right to have a firearm in one’s home did not extend to one’s car.

That’s OK, we’ll keep picking away. Count on it.

The District of Columbia has revised its gun control laws to eliminate its total ban on handguns in a home. It has, however, adopted new requirements for gun registration. These requirements exclude from gun ownership anyone convicted of a crime of violence or any weapons offense, anyone under indictment for one of these crimes, anyone convicted of a narcotics offense in the past 5 years, anyone acquitted of a criminal charge by reason of insanity, and anyone committed to a mental hospital in the past 5 years. Only one gun per month may be registered under the law. The District also amended its laws on safe storage of firearms; these laws require that guns must be securely locked or placed in a secure location if the owner “reasonably knows or should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of a parent or guardian.” A person who violates this provision is subject to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail, and if the violation leads to a minor causing death or injury to himself, herself, or others, the penalty is increased to $5,000 and 5 years in prison.

Tell me, has D.C. changed its law that defines a semi-automatic handgun to be a “machine-gun”, thus limiting its law-abiding residents to revolvers?

There is nothing in Heller that would indicate that any of the District’s new restrictions would be invalid under the Second Amendment. In fact, consistent with Heller, the regulation of guns could go substantially further. For example, state law could require that guns kept in a private home be unloaded and locked away any time the registered owner is not at home. Since the person registered to own the gun is not at home, that person cannot use the gun for self-defense in the home, the right protected under Heller. We also believe that permitting an individual citizen to register up to one gun every month is far more lenient than what Heller requires. A total limit on the number of guns each person could register would seem to be constitutionally permissible, given the fact that only one gun is necessary for self-defense in the home. Further, requiring proficiency tests, safety-instruction courses, regular reregistration, and a waiting period between the time of the purchase of a gun and the time when possession is obtained would increase safety without abridging the right to have a gun in the home for self-defense, the right Heller created.

But really, we gun owners don’t have a thing to fear. These are all reasonable restrictions, just like Fenty & Co. insisted the complete ban was!

Don’t drop your guard. Not ever.

Heller does not eliminate the political fights over gun control in the legislatures. After the murder of 32 faculty members and students by a student-gunman at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, many people believed it would be a moment to push for stricter gun-control laws. However, the reaction was often the opposite. In February, for example, the Virginia legislature declined to pass a law proposed by the governor that would have required private sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks. It also voted to repeal a law that prohibited anyone from carrying a concealed weapon into a club or restaurant where alcohol is served.

Surprised you, didn’t it? “The people have spoken, the bastards.”

Among the estimated 200 to 250 million legal firearms in the United States today, one third are handguns. These guns were all acquired before Heller. There are also an untold number of illegal guns. Gun violence is a real problem in the United States, a much greater problem than elsewhere in the world.

Again, I call bullshit. Yes, we have a high homicide rate involving firearms for an industrialized nation, but we rank 24th in the world for homicide, far behind Mexico, Columbia, South Africa, and Venezuela – countries not known for their lax gun-control laws. And our homicide epidemic is heavily concentrated in a tiny, easily identifiable demographic: young, black, urban males. In 2006 (latest data available from the CDC) there were 18,573 deaths recorded as violent homicides. Of those victims, 7,611 or 41% were black males. Of those, 5,589 were under the age of 35. Black men under 35 are just 3.7% of the population of the country, but they provided 30% of the victims of violent homicide in 2006.

You want to do something about the number of deaths in this country? Stop trying to blame the guns, and start addressing the cultural problems that lead young black men to kill and get killed at a rate eight times greater than the rest of the population.

But that’s too hard. It’s not PC to point out that reducing the homicide rate among young black men would drop America’s overall rate to that of, say, Finland.

No, “gun control” is what you do instead of something.

Gun-control advocates need to have a full appreciation of what the Court did and did not do in Heller. The Court did strike down one of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. States continue to have very broad authority to regulate gun ownership.

But we’re working on that. “Incorporation.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

Perhaps Heller can serve not as an occasion for celebration by the pro-gun lobby, but as an impetus to reexamine current state and local laws to determine whether they are as strict as the Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment would allow.

Just remember: You can no longer rely on the courts to legislate from the bench. You’re back to trying to accomplish what you desire through legislative means, and the People have, by all indications, had enough.

And note, not one place in this entire article did the authors even question whether or not “gun control” actually provided any benefits. It’s simply a “given” that “gun control” is a good thing, even though it was quite blindingly apparent that D.C.’s complete ban that Heller overturned didn’t make the city safer. D.C. was (and remains) one of the most violent cities in the country.

Lie, twist, obfuscate, manipulate. It’s the standard operational procedure for the Other Side.

Simply put, gun control cannot survive without an accompanying sea of disinformation. – Anonymous

And the New England Journal of Medicine just unzipped and made another contribution to that sea.

Update: Rogue Medic has a slightly different take on the piece.

I Haven’t Done This in a While

I Haven’t Done This in a While

One Ruben Navarrette, Jr. has a piece in last Sunday’s Fresno Bee that is quite fiskworthy. It’s been a while since I fisked a piece in its entirety. Let us proceed:

Gun-running between U.S., Mexico must stop

It’s time for the American people to stop living in a state of denial and get serious about stopping gun shipments into Mexico.

It’s past time for the American government to stop living in a state of denial and get serious about BORDER SECURITY – in BOTH directions.

Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, has noted that as many as 2,000 weapons enter Mexico from the U.S. every day — most of them through Texas and Arizona, and many of them are purchased legally at gun shows and gun stores.

And that number is what fraction, pray tell, of the number of illegal aliens “undocumented workers” who come across the border each day in the other direction?

Many of the transactions come in “straw purchases,” where drug traffickers use Americans — including friends and relatives — to buy guns.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that 90% of the firearms confiscated in drug crimes in Mexico come from the United States, and some of the shipments can be enormous.

Which again illustrates graphically that the BATFE is a whirling vortex of suck at DOING THEIR JOB, doesn’t it? Instead of investigating “straw purchases” etc., they seem to spend an extraordinary amount of time screwing with manufacturers after changing the rules on them without warning, or pursuing typographical errors instead of, you know, known criminals because, I suspect, legitimate businessmen (unlike drug dealers) don’t shoot at you when you screw with them.

Both Americans and Mexicans tend to think of the border as the end of the Earth. It isn’t. It’s a turnstile.

Not even. Turnstiles at least provide an opportunity to slow the flow.

When someone goes north looking for work, Mexicans naively assume they have seen the last of him. And when guns go south looking for trouble, Americans assume the same about the havoc they create.

Ah! And here we have it! Witness, ladies and gentlemen, the fundamental flaw of The Other Side, the inability (some would argue conscious refusal) to Identify the Problem. Read that phrase again: “. . . when guns go south looking for trouble . . .” Mr. Navarrette has, as his side so often does, personified inanimate objects. The guns aren’t taken across the border, no! They “go south looking for trouble“! No human intervention necessary! The problem isn’t the people who wish to use them criminally, the problem is the guns – and therefore the only possible solution involves eliminating the guns – Q.E.D. And not just the guns “going south looking for trouble!”

Wrong on both counts. Immigrants are going back to Mexico because of a bad U.S. economy. Meanwhile, the gun violence that Americans subsidize south of the border is boiling over onto U.S. soil.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano didn’t get the memo. She recently told a Senate committee that Mexico’s drug violence had not spread to the U.S.

And she’s in charge of the federal Dept. of Homeland Security! I feel safer already.

But only a few days earlier, Texas’ Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw told the Texas Legislature that violence from the drug cartels had — “no question about it” — spilled into Texas.

Then there is Napolitano’s own state of Arizona, where its largest city — Phoenix — is now considered the nation’s kidnap capital because of spillover violence from Mexico.

Which I posted on a few days ago.

According to the Justice Department, Mexican drug traffickers have a presence in at least 230 U.S. cities. No wonder the Obama administration is getting serious about helping Mexican President Felipe Calderon fight the drug cartels.

Gee, why doesn’t Calderon just fight the drugs that are coming North, looking for trouble? Isn’t that the winning strategy?

Napolitano has promised to increase the Homeland Security Department’s cooperation with Mexico to help curb the southward export of assault weapons. And, on that topic, Attorney General Eric Holder caused a stir when he turned the drug war into a debate on gun control.

“As President Obama indicated during the campaign,” Holder said, “there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons [which expired in 2004]. I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.”

Except: A) Holder lied. To begin with, the “ban” wasn’t really a ban, and it certainly didn’t cover the weapons that Holder apparently believes it did. Don’t you think that the Attorney General ought to understand what the law does and doesn’t say? Either he does, and he lied, or he doesn’t and he’s incompetent. Either way, as Glenn Reynolds says, “We’re in the best of hands.” And: B) The “debate” got no traction at all, since Speaker Pelosi effectively told Holder “No f$&^ing way.”

That was all it took. Those who love their guns more than their neighbor to the south were eager to believe CNN’s Lou Dobbs when he declared: “Attorney General Eric Holder is willing to sacrifice our gun ownership rights under the Constitution for the benefit of a foreign government, in this case Mexico.”

And here’s the second fundamental flaw of The Other Side – the belief that if you don’t agree with them you must be EEEEEVIL! Note the comparison: If we don’t believe in “gun control” then we “love our guns” more than we “love our neighbor to the south.”

Odd dichotomy, that. I think I’ll go hug my AR15. How about this: We love our rights more than we love enacting policies based on opposing philosophies that are useless at best, counterproductive at worst?

Because we know the problem isn’t the guns, Mr. Navarrette.

Suddenly, the anti-Mexico crowd had a new warning for America. And like the rest of their gibberish, this bit of nonsense fit on a bumper sticker: “Obama will take away your guns — to please Mexico.

Gibberish? Like “guns going south looking for trouble”? That kind of gibberish? And defending my rights is now “anti-Mexico”. Check.

So now laudable efforts by U.S. law enforcement agencies to crack down not on gun ownership but on gun smuggling — through initiatives such as “Operation Gunrunner,” which the ATF launched a little more than a year ago — are an infringement on Americans’ right to bear arms under the Second Amendment?

Somehow, I doubt that James Madison, the father of the Constitution, would cosign that assertion.

I bet Thomas Jefferson would.

Here’s another weakness of The Other Side – an apparently complete unfamiliarity with Economics 101, or as Father Guido Sarducci’s puts it in his 5-Minute University routine, “Supply and Demand.”

And I’ll bet Mr. Navarrette has a degree from a prestigious journalism school, too.

Choking off one source just means opening up a different one. This is something the British (who live on an ISLAND by the way) have some experience with. And the Brits have every gun control law on the books there that cause Josh Sugarmann to have wet-dreams, with the exception of a complete ban.

It hasn’t stopped people there from being machinegunned.

Supply and Demand, Mr. Navarrette.

This is a serious issue worthy of serious discussion, without hyperbole or distortions.

So far, Reuben, you aren’t doing too well on either point.

Congress certainly thinks so, which is why it approved $10 million for Operation Gunrunner in the economic stimulus bill.

That would be the bill that was so crucial that no one had time to read it? So critical that if it wasn’t passed with extraordinary speed, our economic “crisis” would become an economic “catastrophe”? The one that includes $50 million for National Endowment for the Arts grants?

That economic stimulus bill? The one The One took three days to get around to signing?

Sarukhan, in a recent interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, cited one bust last year in the city of Reynosa, across the border from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

“In a single seizure,” the ambassador said, “we detained half a million rounds of ammo, 270 semi-automatic assault weapons, fragmentation grenades and … sniper rifles. And they were all coming from the U.S. side of the border.”

Right! I can go into any gun shop and buy a case of frag grenades? I’m having problems finding bulk-pack .22 Long Rifle ammo! How’s that BATFE thing working out? After all, that stuff got across the border, didn’t it?

And “detained”? According to Webster’s, “to detain” is defined as “to hold or keep, as if in custody.” All well and good, but what happened to all that ordnance? Is it all still in the Mexican government’s hands? Or has it been trickling back out to the Cartels? Inquiring minds want to know!

No point in denying it. Much of the death and destruction south of the border is stamped: “Made in the U.S.A.” Americans helped make this mess. It’s only right that we do whatever we can to help clean it up — not just for Mexico’s own good, but for ours.

Well, I’ll deny it. That death and destruction is stamped “Hecho en Mexico” because the fingers on the triggers are not attached to Americans. Someone please explain to me why “whatever we can” always seems to mean “infringe the rights of U.S. Citizens,” especially when that infringement never seems to affect the actual problem, which is bad people with lots of money willing to kill other people to keep making that money.

Assume we could shut off the flow of arms from the U.S. into Mexico (laughable, since we can’t shut off the flow of drugs, much less people in the opposite direction, but just as a mental experiment), the Cartels are going to stop killing? Or will the continuing murders be OK then because the “death and destruction south of the border” will no longer be stamped “Made in the U.S.A.”?

Oh, sorry, I forgot: The weapons and ammunition that will be smuggled up from Central America or directly from China and Europe by the containerload will still be our fault because we’ll be paying for it with our appetite for the drugs they sell, and because many of the weapons will be, as that earlier post pointed out “left over from the wars that the United States helped fight in Central America.”

Sorry, Mr. Navarrette. I’m as concerned as the next guy about our neighbor to the south, (perhaps more, since I’m about an hour from the border) but I understand that restricting my rights won’t help them. Your jeremiad is just another example of the cognitive dissonance exhibited by those with the gun-control mindset:

When someone tries to use a strategy which is dictated by their ideology, and that strategy doesn’t seem to work, then they are caught in something of a cognitive bind. If they acknowledge the failure of the strategy, then they would be forced to question their ideology. If questioning the ideology is unthinkable, then the only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn’t executed sufficiently well. They respond by turning up the power, rather than by considering alternatives. (This is sometimes referred to as “escalation of failure”.)

You’ll pardon me if I advocate for skipping the escalation of failure this time. I, for one, have had enough of “Do it again, only HARDER!

(And yes, I’ll be emailing a link to this piece to Mr. Navarrette, Jr.)

UPDATE – 3/21: Six days, and not a peep out of Mr. Navarrette, Jr. Color me surprised.

Give ‘Em Hell!

Give ‘Em Hell!

Ride Fast and Shoot Straight does a damned fine job fisking the clueless Bill Schneider’s latest column in New West, What I’ve Learned from Gun Nuts. He’s obviously learned the wrong damned lesson, and Ride Fast schools him.

An excerpt:

I’ve learned that most gun owners aren’t hunters and some have nothing but scorn for hunters because we’re soft and care about other amendments. So, they mock us, calling us Elmer Fudds. But the hunter’s revenge is the Pitman-Robinson Act, which mandates excise taxes historically paid mostly by hunters, but now mostly paid by gun owners who never hunt or even loathe hunters as turncoats. Back at you, buddy.

Some, a small minority, may have jokingly called you Fudds, or maybe mocked you. Your guy, Zumbo, called me a terrorist. Who’s the nasty bastard now? Bill, the point is we should be on the same side. Hunters fully supporting mere gun owners, shooters supporting hunters, sheep dogs supporting collectors. It’s really is all about the guns.

As someone once said to me: You beat that man like a rented mule! Bravo!

Couldn’t Say it Better Myself

Couldn’t Say it Better Myself

And when I can’t, I let the other guy/gal say it. Curtis Lowe fisks a bit of Obama’s acceptance speech, and does it WELL in All This and a Toaster Too. A taste:

OK: This one paragraph I will fisk:

For over two decades, (McCain’s) subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy, give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. (No, it isn’t given to them and they aren’t “lucky.” The vast majority of “the ones with the most” earned it through ingenuity, risk-taking, hard work and sacrifice – and they are the business owners, large and small, that employ the bulk of Americans – asshole).

In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society (Exactly! As in private property ownership – the cornerstone of all rights-based and law-based societies and the antithesis of what you believe in and propose)


Especially the last line. Yeah, I’m glad McCain chose Palin, too, but Curtis is pretty much right.