Some facts about guns in the US

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by James R, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Bells Staff Member

    If only..

    If only it was just a toy..

    If only it was not in the trunk along with the toy..

    If only it was not so easily obtained..

    If only... If only... If only..

    Authorities say a 7-year-old girl was killed at a birthday party in South Carolina after a 5-year-old boy accidentally fired a gun that he thought was a toy.

    Lexington County Sheriff James Metts says the boy was trying to get a toy gun out of a trunk Saturday night at a home in Gaston when he picked up a real gun also in the trunk by mistake.

    Deputies say the bullet went through a car, and fragments hit Juliet Lynch in the chest. She died a short time later.

    Metts says the real gun belonged to the boyfriend of the boy's mother and she did not know it was in the trunk.
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    iceaura, you may want to refresh your memory on the etymology of "militia"
    It means a lot more than an armed mob and the Constitution uses the interpretation "the whole body of men declared by law"amenable to service" (volunteers), without enlistment, whether armed and drilled or not". Notice the term "by law"? Else it would be out-law, no?
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    As I pointed out and your quote repeats, a militia is composed of civilians "without enlistment", drawn from the whole body of men "declared by law amenable to military service" - most of the adult male population of most frontier towns in the early US (the law referred to was of course town or county law - not generally State, which would have involved a regular army etc). They were usually expected (and sometimes required, by local law) to supply suitable weapons and other gear, and drill or train as opportunity presented itself or need arose.

    The National Guard is not a militia. No standing army, guard, or police force of a State is a militia. In order to form a militia, citizens have to be in possession of the necessary firearms and other gear, so they have weapons to bring when they show up. That's part of what "well regulated" meant, when the Constitution was written - properly outfitted as well as trained, ready for battle.

    For "well regulated" read "well armed" - not, as the disarmed Scots of Braveheart times found themselves, practicing with sticks and rocks against the paramilitary thugs of local landlords; not, as the Russians of Kalashnikov's youth found themselves when the Germans rolled in, disarmed in the face of assault by a self-styled Master Race.

    It's supposed to, but of course such informal and amateur training etc produces forces of varying quality.

    We currently have the "Arrow Boys" militia, for example, fighting the "Army of the Lord" in central Africa - a typical situation in which a militia is formed, similar to the situation on the early US frontier with the constant threat of Red foray; notice the training's hit and miss, the weapons brought from home:

    Like the bullets hitting cars during deer season, etc, these deaths must be the tip of the iceberg of the actual incidents - it's so unlikely that gun fired like that would hit and kill anyone, that mishaps of that kind must be happening without casualty dozens of times for every one we hear about.

    Kalashnikov, btw, in his old age worried a great deal about his spiritual legacy, about whether God (he was Russian Orthodox Christian) would hold him accountable for the people killed by his "people's rifle", his unexpectedly successful and popular design for a weapon that would restore the ability of a militia to fight in modern times, to hold their own if well motivated against the forces of a State or powerful rich men.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member


    And your solution is more guns and less control? Last man standing scenario. That'll work...

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  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It's not my "solution" to whatever you are talking about as the problem, and I don't care whether in your expert opinion it will "work" for whatever you think it's supposed to be for. It's what's written into the Constitution of the Untied States. It's what "militia" means, and meant. It's what armed citizens have done and are doing, around the world and throughout history as well as in the US. It's what a government disarming its citizens has meant most often in the past, and still means today in most places in this world.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens recently spoke out on this issue. Abstracted from his op-ed in last Sunday's Washington Post:
    As I have often pointed out, there's no way a bunch of paranoid racists like George Zimmerman, running around with handguns, can be called a militia. These are the people we need protection against!
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    And his interpretation fully agrees with the most radical interpretation of the 2nd Amendment out there - that it Constitutionally forbids any government in the US (the original Federal intention extended by later Amendment and explicit Court decree to specifically apply to State governments) from infringing on the right of American citizens (at least all those who stand ready to participate in a militia, which requires that they bring weapons etc) to keep and bear military grade weaponry.

    That would specifically imply that they be allowed to keep and bear weapons designed overtly and explicitly to be suitable for arming militia - the design principle behind the AK47. Stevens argument there, taken at his word, would forbid the US government or any State under the US Constitution from curbing the general possession of fully automatic military grade firearms.

    Much as one would like to think otherwise, it's pretty obvious that most of the militia formed in the US over the past three hundred years have been composed of racists, paranoid and otherwise. And while it is perfectly true that running around by yourself with a handgun is not militia behavior or readiness (and the average handgun is probably not a militia grade weapon - the protection of handguns under the Constitution is vague), I predict that the people most strident about regulating guns in the US would not be happy with Stevens's interpretation there.

    I don't think they want to motivate an increase in the lethality of the average US home firearm to modern militia grade (see the examples in Syria, Afghanistan, various regions of South and Central America, all over Africa, etc), to obtain Constitutional protection. I'm sure a better compromise than that is possible, if the authoritarians who want to disarm their fellow citizens by force can be persuaded to back off a bit.
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And who is trying to disarm anyone? We are talking about controlling who is qualified to own and use such arms. Is that not the meaning of the term "a well regulated militia" by any definition)?

    You wrote;
    If you want to stay with the strict meaning of the words of the Constitution then be true to yourself. So, lets read "well regulated" as "well regulated", not "well armed".

    And in the days of the Revolution the term "well armed" meant a couple of single shot black powder rifles and pistols. And you insist we use a strict interpretation (as you see it) as if nothing has changed in the sophistication of "weapons"?

    But the entire argument is futile and moot. The citizenry elects the government and gives the government the power to govern which includes the power to regulate. What is it you wish to change?

    And what were the paramilitary thugs of local landlords called? They were militia, no matter how you twist it. Are terrorrists "militia" or "thugs"? Should Society make sure it can recognize between the two and is "well regulated" by "law"?
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Please. Half the posters here, and a large fraction of the "gun control" advocates in the public sphere.

    I was merely anticipating a problem, and providing a translation for the typical American education.

    Read it as it was written, then: - the meaning of the term "regulated", as used in the Constitution, encompasses "equipped" - part of a well regulated militia, and the specific aspect of "regulation" dealt with explicitly in the 2nd Amendment, was that it be properly armed for its function as a military force. A militia armed with pitchforks and scythes, say, or with one firearm for every two or three members, would not have been considered well regulated - in Western military forces at the time each fighting member was expected to carry a firearm as their primary small arms.

    It's not just in that context: If you read, say, a manual for the duties of a midshipman in the British Navy of the time, you will find that part of those duties was seeing to the "regulation" of certain aspects of the ship - including the quantities, sizes, conditions, and manner of stowage of the ropes. A well-regulated ship featured the right kinds and conditions and quantities of rope, and one without enough of the required kinds of rope in good shape was not a well-regulated ship. The midshipman was expected to be able to evaluate this, and know what to do about deficiencies, as part of seeing to it that his ship was well regulated.

    This is not arcane, subtle, "interpretation", or anything else dubious. The 2nd Amendment is perfectly straightforward, and written in plain English.

    No pistols for regular soldiers, and probably fowling pieces or muskets rather than rifles. But some of the American militia had much better - the American "Kentucky" rifle was the finest strike force military grade weapon on the planet, one of the early steps in what has become a 250 year tradition of innovation in military weapons by the United States (another one, around that time, was a unique hull bracing system that allowed an American frigate to match cannon with a European man-o-war while keeping frigate speed and maneuverability). And the Constitution, according to Fraggle's quote from Judge Stevens, guarantees private citizens the right to keep and bear the finest and most lethal military grade small arms ever seen on the planet.

    No, that was Fraggle's Supreme Court judge saying that. I merely pointed to the implications. My own interpretation would be more in line with standard Court scholarship and the ordinary meanings of the language used in light of the circumstances and the contemporary documents, as applied to current and different circumstances - what one calls "reason" - rather than the kind of Ivory Tower idiocy that declares a corporation's money human speech. It seems pretty clear, to me anyway (and no one has posted anything against it here), that the amendment was written to prevent the US government from taking the existing mililtias' (and by "militia" we mean the adult male population of every frontier town) weapons away from them. It was common, at the time, for States to disarm their peasantry - with consequences, for the peasants, traditionally misfortunate. The Scotch-Irish peasantry currently manning the frontiers (against Red nations with military armed and backed by corporate European entities) had both suffered and delivered quite a bit of that kind of misfortune over the previous couple of centuries and immediately prior generations; having escaped it and armed themselves they didn't want it to happen to them ever again.

    Mercenaries are not militia. Police are not militia. Bodyguards are not militia. The Mafia is not a militia. Militia bring their own gear, and choose their own command, and fight military battles at their own discretion.
    Both, each, or neither - what's your point?
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Indeed. Guns have no place in a peaceful society except in the hands of people like the police, who have been selected for their equanimity, trained to distinguish a real threat from a false one, and as a result most of them never draw their guns in their entire career, except on the firing range.

    Many of the gun nuts insist that they need their weapons to take on the government when it becomes too onerous, but apparently these people haven't really seen the shit the government's got. Their drones can spot your heat signature through your roof in the dark and shoot you in your sleep.

    As for war, it's all fought in cyberspace now. If the government really wanted to take us down, all they have to do is crash the internet. By the end of the week there'd be no food and no fuel. It's not clear that we actually need soldiers except for wars of opportunity, which we ain't got no business pursuing anyway. And for protecting our unofficial 51st state: Israel. I don't remember voting on that, do you?

    So the "well-regulated militia" may be an anachronism. Just make sure we've got the best hackers.
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    When you have established your fanciful Eden of guaranteed peacefulness in society, you will find no one objecting to your banishment of weapons from your cloud.

    You've seen that strawman line of argument debunked four or five times now, in two or three different ways - denial?

    Here's yet another debunking tack, to go with "it's not the tank divisions, it's the death squads" and "the police and Guard are more threat than the army" and "the army would probably be on our side": Many more of the gun nuts have spent years in that military, and know exactly what kind of shit the government's got. They have used that shit, to take lives and enforce the US government's will on resistant people. After seeing that, and doing that, they insist on keeping firearms around in their personal lives, because they see an important role for them in maintaining one's personal liberties. Has it occurred to you that these people are far better informed about the threats they face from their government, and what would help forestall those threats, than you are?

    But "taking us/itself down" is not the threat involved.
    Exactly the situation facing the writers of the Constitution, and a major circumstance behind their (much argued) support of militias as all that was really needed (besides the expense, a standing Army risked tyranny, a factor they had personal as well as immediate historical experience with).

    Of course, militias can be formed only among a citizenry that is keeping and bearing arms. You get the benefits of having forestalled many authoritarian temptations that historically have - inevitably - overwhelmed any government permitted a monopoly of weapons among a disarmed population, but in trade you have to live among people with weapons, your neighbors have lethal firearms ready to hand. Which do you find more frightening?

    I don't think the Mexican drug lords, Syrian jihadists, or Crimean Russians got that memo.
  15. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    It seems that most "gun control nuts" want to focus on the "well regulated" phrase in the second amendment.

    May I address your attention to the ninth amendment to the constitution:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    I'm not American or a Citizen of the USA to be more precise, so please excuse me if this question seems dumb.
    Why can't the constitution of the USA be changed?
    In the main, the citizens of Australia are disarmed, [except for illegal weapons coming into the country and used by criminal elements, and the shootings in our country of late, have been between different elements of the criminal society, knocking each other off...:shrug:] and we seem to get by OK.

    I don't need to get too involved in this gun debate [it cost me two weeks holiday for calling a spade a shovel

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    ] but it just needs a Politician/President with balls to take the bit between the teeth.
    The Port Authur massacre in Australia in 1996 by a nutbag, saw our PM at that time, a conservative named John Howard, [opposite to my own political alliances] in conjunction with all states and territories of Australia ban and heavily restrict the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading and pump-action shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use. The government initiated a "buy-back" scheme with the owners paid according to a table of valuations. Some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million.
  17. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    This is a stale thread, like trying to jerk off when you're drunk.

    There are 300 million guns in America and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

    If anything was going to be done it would have been done after one of the recent mass shootings, but it wasn't, so nothing is going to be done.

    Americans are quite OK with 30,000 gun deaths a year, roughly 12,000 homicides and 18,000 suicides, so that's the way it will stay.

    The more guns there are, the more people think they should have guns to protect themselves, so it's a vicious cycle.

    It's democracy in action because the people have effectively decided that's the way they want to go.

    It"s like religion: it's so deeply felt that no amount of reason or logic will have any effect. Neither side will change its views if this thread persists for several millenia, which it probably will.

    Give it up, guys. Go and get drunk or get laid, or go and watch the ballgame. It will be a whole lot more fun.
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Guns are no problem at all in a peaceful society. In a society full of strife, though, they can be a problem.

    Police are certainly not "selected for their equanimity." They are selected from people who are comfortable with conflict and who are willing to do a really pretty miserable job (and of course get paid for it.)

    And a dozen local routers would quickly take over first local, then long distance, Internet traffic. One of the cool things about the Internet is that it's very resistant to damage; take out a backbone and the system can, with very little fanfare, route around that backbone.
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Actually that sentence makes no sense whatever; enumerating certain special rights still allows other (inherent) rights?
    I should hope so.

    But you forgot to add, "except in time of war". But seriously, you speak of other rights. Rights such as?

    And of course each word or phrase in the Constitution must be given equal weight. We worry so much about government being the enemy and must be guarded against Seems that most "gun nuts" want to focus on the "right to own and bear arms" part, ignoring the part that enumerates the "responsibility of the government" for the safety and well-being of it's citzenry.

    We are talking a "well regulated armed citizenry" here. Of course the NRA should like to be that organizing and regulating body.

    And we have already seen the result with the Zimmerman case. A single vigilante is a one man's militia.
    If, here in the US we are unable to fashion a peaceful, orderly society, I guess only Switzerland is left as a civilized country.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  20. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Now, your asking me to enumerate the unenumerated
    (EEEEEEKKKK Oh Nooo---gee whiz do I gotta?)
    ok: eg:
    sex----the 14th extended these federal protections of rights retained by the people to restrictions on the actions of states---one of which outlawed any sex that was not between a man and a woman missionary style, man on top-----this was overturned when the challenge made it to federal appeals ---as was the DC ban on hand guns.

    basically, the ninth says
    As long as they do not violate the rights of others (as defined by the common law of property, contract and tort), persons can be presumed to be "immune" from interference by government.

    We rely on the judiciary to uphold our rights from an overzealous congress or president------sometimes the judiciary fails us as in the Alien and Sedition Acts-----but re-challenging unlawful acts (with a different makeup of the supreme court) has proven to be able to repeal the more heinous nature of tyranny by "our" government.

    The Ninth Amendment is a constitutional safety net intended to make clear that individuals have other fundamental rights, in addition to those listed in the First through Eighth Amendments. Some of the framers had raised concerns that because it was impossible to list every fundamental right, it would be dangerous to list just some of them (for example, the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, and so forth), for fear of suggesting that the list was complete.
    This group of framers opposed a bill of rights entirely and favored a more general declaration of fundamental rights. But others, including many state representatives, had refused to ratify the Constitution without a more specific list of protections, so the First Congress added the Ninth Amendment as a compromise.
    Because the rights protected by the Ninth Amendment are not specified, they are referred to as “unenumerated.” The Supreme Court has found that unenumerated rights include such important rights as the right to travel, the right to vote, the right to keep personal matters private and to make important decisions about one’s health care or body.

    The Court is sharply divided over whether the Constitution provides broad protection for human rights and just what those rights are. On one side have been those Justices who believe that the Constitution does give such broad protection--not just to those freedoms explicitly listed in the Bill of Rights but to other fundamental aspects of liberty. In honoring not merely the Framers' text but the intent behind it, these Justices have supported, for example, the right to abortion, the right of gays to have sexual relationships, and the right to die. More generally, these Justices have proclaimed: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

    Different judges, different supreme courts will rule differently........
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It can be, and has been - there are a couple of different ways to do it, and it would take maybe two years for a successful effort of the slowest kind. There are a couple of items ahead of the gun stuff, though -

    and not only because the rigid obsession with the 2nd Amendment is not the main problem in the quest to better govern private weapons possession and use (there is no Constitutional problem with background checks at point of sale, for example, or any other of several current political dogfights with gun management - look at Hawaii's laws)

    but because gun hassles are far from the most critical Constitutional problem we have. The US is dealing with a Constitutional crisis, actually, brought on by corrupt, cynical, and incompetent appointments to the Supreme Court throughout the Reagan Era (1980 through 20010). We apparently have to amend our Constitution simply to prevent it from being read by the likes of Scalia as granting inviolable Constitutional rights to Chinese bank accounts incorporated as investment firms in Delaware.

    So far. I don't know what the median expected time interval is, historically, between the disarming of a peasantry and the unfortunate consequences that seem to follow, but you do have that ocean all around, a huge landscape complicating the ambitions of tyranny, and a relatively homogenous and culturally unified population of sensible, educated people - a lot in your favor. Good luck.
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    That same government that installed the means (the judiciary) to repeal it's own failures?

    And how does regulating the power of weapons for private or military use affect "other rights"? How about Iran insisting it has the right to own nuclear weapons.?

    But we are talking about the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Nowhere does it say that regulating arms is an infringement of other rights.

  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Keeping Us Safe

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    An odd fact about guns: I discovered this spent slug in my garden today. Quite clearly, it struck at low velocity, given the relatively little deformation and the fact that we are presently unable to tell where the thing hit the building—we'll get a better look when it doesn't involve staring up into the rain.

    Meanwhile, we think the round was fired around April 7, which I would only remember because I happened to file a meteorite report in a random thread I keep for those occasions. It was, actually, during the writing of that post that we heard an odd noise, and each asked what the other had done to make it. And then I commented that it was far too long to be the sound of the likely rock I saw exploding in the sky. It was also not the right resonance for an event reverberating over the Earth like that. And, of course, there were no subsequent reports of an ungodly bang scaring the bejesus out of local residents. So there's a likely event time.

    Given that there were no reports of major crime going on that night—and we would hear the reds and blues rolling out on a call, as they hit the main road right below us—it's hard to see how this is an accidental round from noble self-defense. The nearest known gun range is (A) indoor, and (B) too far away for a stray nine to reach the house.

    So what I would like to know, and never really will, is which local responsible gun owner somehow managed to accidentally plink my house?

    Because I really do want to thank the responsible gun owners in and around Mill Creek, Washington for such a special reminder of how they're keeping us all safe.

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