Bret Stephens’ Capitulation To New York Times’ Anti-Second Amendment Culture

The New York Times, to nobody’s surprise, is all-in to assist its progressive compatriots in using  every tragedy involving guns to strip away the core individual right to bear arms.  The op-ed pages and website , have, once again, become an oppressive barrage of anti-gun fanaticism and disinformation. Take this morning, for example. There is Timothy Eagan’s claim that the Second Amendment is a “cancer in the Constitution.” “The Second Amendment,” he writes, in the process of declaring the individual right enshrined in the Amendment abd confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as null and void, “as applied in the last 30 years or so, has become so perverted, twisted and misused that you have to see it now as the second original sin in the founding of this country, after slavery.”

Other aspects of American ideals, traditions, values and cultures that Eagan’s allies on the Left also consider cancers would include, I imagine, the Electoral College, Due Process (see: the Obama Education Department’s now defunct “Dear Colleague” letter), Freedom of Speech (“Hate speech kills!”), Freedom of Religion,  Equal Protection,  the Commerce Clause and, of course, the requirement that impeachment has to be based on a substantive crime. We get it, Tim: the Constitution is an infuriating roadblock to turning the U.S. and its culture into a clone of Sweden.

Then there is David Brooks, once the token conservative among the Times otherwise leftist columnists until his brain was removed while he slept and thoroughly washed. In today’s exhibit of Brooksian pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook, he bemoans “the left’s massive failure to persuade.” (The failure to persuade in this case is based on an escalating failure to be honest, vilifying adversaries, and the fact that the left’s strategy is based on emotion a biased presumption that the right to bear arms is “a cancer on the Constitution.”) Brooks also begins with that assumption, but as usual buries his motives in false objectivity: he writes, for example,

“The research doesn’t overwhelmingly support either side. Gun control proposals don’t seriously impinge freedom; on the other hand, there’s not much evidence that they would prevent many attacks.”

Then he declares the controversy an “epiphenomenon”—I think I know what that means, but I don’t trust writers who use words like that—to end with,

“Today we need another grand synthesis that can move us beyond the current divide, a synthesis that is neither redneck nor hipster but draws from both worlds to create a new social vision. Progress on guns will be possible when the culture war subsides, but not before.”

Brooks began with the presumption that “progress on guns” means acceptance of the anti-gun position on guns. Of course he did.

The day before, the New York Times’s new token conservative columnist had thrilled the anti-gun Left with his latest column, ‘Repeal the Second Amendment.

He deserves credit in one respect: unlike his liberal colleagues who would kill the individual right to gun ownership by incremental cuts, at least Stephens is honest. His arguments, however, are lazy and shallow. Indeed, the entire piece reads like clickbait , or perhaps something written with an editor’s gun—well, crossbow—at his head.

He writes, “From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.”  This is a fake and misleading stat arrived at by including suicides among actual murders. Since 1990, the homicide rate has dropped like stone while gun ownership has risen. “More guns mean more murder” is not even a defensible opinion; it certainly isn’t fact. He should have checked with David Brooks on that.

The whole essay is like this, however, He begins by writing, “I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.” It’s not a “fetish,” and it’s not intrinsically conservative. Belief in the Second Amendment springs from a commitment to individual liberty and inherent suspicion and distrust of expanding governmental power that insists that only the State, and not the citizens it is supposed to serve, should possess deadly force.

In a terrific rebuttal in The Federalist, David Harsanyi writes, “As an American-Jew whose ancestors came here escaping both Nazism and communism, I totally ‘get’ the Second Amendment ‘fetishists.’And when I read columns like the one Stephens wrote today, I definitely get it.”  For Stephens’ argument reduces to “Resistance is futile”–Come on, he asks, how are a bunch of pathetic citizen gun owners going to resist the government? Better to just submit: I swear, we can trust these people! I work with them every day! They only want the best for everyone!” Stephens writes like he has Stockholm Syndrome.

Maybe he does. Despite the fact that Stephens “never” understood why the Second Amendment, Ed Driscoll tracked down this tweet by the columnist before he abducted from the Wall Street Journal and Winston Smithed by his Dark Masters at the Times:

Strange: he seemed to understand the importance of self-defense, self-reliance and the deterrence factor of firearms then. Maybe that’s why his arguments now are so poor. Writes Hrasanyi, reading my mind while I read the Times column,

Stephens might as well have written “Eww, guns take them away!” and left it that, but instead he offers debunked arguments and misleading statements that are likely borne out of the frustration of knowing his position is untenable.

Ah, but your bosses are pleased, Bret! Charles Blow is pleased. Tom Friedman is pleased. Paul Krugman is pleased. The Times’ gun-hating, NPR-worshiping subscribers are pleased. After all, what is integrity, accuracy and objectivity compared to the comforting favor of like-minded colleagues and readers?

Picking through the debris of Stephens’ wan arguments–Surely Stephens could not possibly believe that this junk bag would convince anyone with a knowledge of history, law, or more recently, the trending of progressives toward totalitarian methods and rationalizations, much less a Second Amendment supporter!—Harsanyi takes aim at Stephens’ employment of a classic oldie from the progressive playbook,  ‘The Constitution doesn’t matter because the country is so different now.’ He writes,

But my favorite part of Stephens’ column is when he asks: “I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War.”

Setting aside the population scale, Stephens might not know that one of the reasons the Federalists, including Madison, opposed the Second Amendment was that they believed concerns over protections from federal government were overblown because there were so many guns in private hands that it was unimaginable any tyrannical army could ever be more powerful than the general public. Others, like Noah Webster, reasoned that, “The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”

 But today, resistance is futile, don’t you see? Bret Stephens has seen the light.

He loves Big Government. More than that, he trusts it.

 

61 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

61 responses to “Bret Stephens’ Capitulation To New York Times’ Anti-Second Amendment Culture

  1. ”a commitment to individual liberty and inherent suspicion and distrust of expanding governmental power”

    Textbook Classical Liberalism, ala Claude Frédéric Bastiat.

    “Each of us has a natural right, from God, to defend his person, his liberty, and his property.”

  2. charlesgreen

    Here’s my question on this whole debate:

    Given the FACT that per-capita death-by-gun rates are anywhere from 1,000% to 3,000% higher in the US than in any other civilized country:

    IS THIS A PROBLEM? OR NOT?

    I’m on the side that thinks this IS a problem. “My” side struggles to find answers that will sit well with the Second Amendment (or not, as we’re seeing in a few frustrated columnists) and those who advocate most strongly for it.

    But all I see from the “other” side is – you CAN’T do THAT, because it will violate the Second Amendment.

    Where is the limit? Is there a limit? Is 30,000 deaths per year too high? What is too high? Is 100,000 deaths per year by gun-homicide (and I’m not even counting suicide) too high – or not?

    Is there any price too high for pro-gun advocates? If so, what is it?

    And most importantly – rather than constantly critiquing every proposed solution – what is YOUR solution to what seems, at least to me, to be a rather large problem – the death each year of as many American citizens as die from traffic accidents.

    Where are the pro-active suggestions? Or is this just never going to be seen as a ‘real’ problem? It’s not hard to critique others’ specific solutions; it’s harder to propose them.

    • Charles – there is no limit, but I’ll tell you that I’m the “middle ground” person. The people to my left want to rid the country of guns. The people to my right say that guns are guaranteed as a natural right even without the constitution.

      With that said, my position is that permitting government action (laws, regulations) that clearly violate the constitution is a slippery slope that no one should tolerate. If you want guns banned, you should amend the constitution. If we, as a society, permit the constitution to be ignored on one issue, it’s only a matter of time until it’s ignored on other issues. Should we allow unilateral action against the Electoral College? What if we take aim at Supreme Court rulings that Freedom of Association is implicitly protected by the 1st Amendment?

      • Many people dispute that “gun deaths” is the appropriate measure. That measure includes suicides and accidents, so at the very least we should be looking at the gross numbers of those categories from all causes. Then there is the fact that it has been many years since the US has experienced a murderous cataclysm such as periodically overtakes Europe.

        If comparison of countries is clear cut to you, then you have to be open to the possibility that your analysis is too simplistic. The clearest way to show whether the US should follow Europe or vice versa is to depend on the wisdom of crowds. Is there a large, sustained net migration from the US to Europe? If so, then we should be concerned about how we do things. If not, then we can pretty much ignore them, because our system as a whole works as well or better than theirs.

      • charlesgreen

        Tim,
        Thank you for a very coherent and cogent response.
        Myself, I like to think there are some slopes less slippery than others. Shouting fire in a crowded theater re First Amendment, for example. By that view, the devil lies in the details, not in supporting one principle absolutely, without regard to it clashing with other principles. Which is, I think, as it should be in any society seeking to find its way among varied legitimate principles.

        • Sure, but the Supreme Court gave us the guidance for interpreting the Constitution. They’ve done it for the 2nd Amendment many times over. Reasonable Restrictions, yes. Individual Right, yes. Bump Stocks will be banned and upheld by SC as a result of Vegas, and that’s right in my opinion. We might even finally get to universal background checks…**maybe**. I wouldn’t expect the SC to strike those down. But beyond that…when talking about changing our culture to ditch guns, even mostly, in some fashion like Europe – it simply can’t get past the legal scrutiny. Which is why 2A advocates are so ferocious: they’re usually on the right side of the law and they know it.

    • “Given the FACT that per-capita death-by-gun rates are anywhere from 1,000% to 3,000% higher in the US than in any other civilized country”

      Ugh. Why do people insist on comparing two ratios by comparing ONLY the numerator with no hint at the denominator?

      Like when people say you are 4 times more likely to die of heart disease eating red meat than not, but it turns out people eating red meat die of heart disease 4 out of 100,000 times and people who do not eat red meat die of heart disease 1 out of 100,000 times. Yeah…4 times more likely. But still ONLY 4 out of 100,000 times. So, in other words, NOT LIKELY AT ALL. I’ll keep eating my red meat.

      Same goes with gun stats. Yes, European countries have few GUN deaths. So what? They’ve made trade-offs in their culture that quite frankly, I’m not impressed with. They suffer from a malaise that renders their population less than sheep…this also contributes to fewer gun deaths as much as not having access to guns. I’ll take the trade off in culture, just because the rest of the “civilized” world has fewer guns deaths per capita than we do, doesn’t mean we have an unbearable number of gun deaths per capita.

      • philk57

        Not to mention that the gun death number in the US includes both suicides and justifiable homicides (i.e., self defense). The proper comparison would not include these components of the total number of gun deaths.

        • charlesgreen

          “Not to mention that the gun death number in the US includes both suicides and justifiable homicides (i.e., self defense). The proper comparison would not include these components of the total number of gun deaths.”

          Phil, you’re wrong. The data that I cited EXCLUDED suicides. Including those would make the rates even higher. (I don’t know about justifiable homicides, but I’d be willing to bet they’re a far smaller proportion).

          Here is the source for my source data, which come from the CDC and the Swiss Small Arms Survey:

          Check the graph, which highlights the extraordinary gap between us and all other rich countries (only Mexico and El Salvador have higher gun homicide rates – very small comfort).

          • What about justifiable homicides? How many U.S. gun deaths are ruled to be murder, and how many are ruled to be self-defense?

            • charles would prefer that only the bad guys (and I include government in that label, in such a situation) have the guns.

              I still respect him for his understandable opinion. He lives where the cops, summoned by neighbors, can be at his door only minutes after he has been murdered by an illegal gun in the hands of a criminal, as opposed to hours or days where I have lived (no one would know, not being close enough to hear a shot)

      • Wayne

        How to lie with statistics:

    • “Given the FACT that per-capita death-by-gun rates are anywhere from 1,000% to 3,000% higher in the US than in any other civilized country:

      IS THIS A PROBLEM? OR NOT?”

      Sure.

      “I’m on the side that thinks this IS a problem. “My” side struggles to find answers that will sit well with the Second Amendment (or not, as we’re seeing in a few frustrated columnists) and those who advocate most strongly for it.”

      A few hundred columnists? A few thousand? Was there a single local newspaper in America that didn’t clamor at this? More, have you been on the internet? Ten of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of uninformed, ignorant, mewling opinions circulated as fact. I have all kinds of sympathy for the idea that something might be done about American gun violence, but I refuse to have those conversations with people who are blatantly ignorant or dishonest. How the hell are you supposed to know what kind of gun control might be effective, if you barely know the grippey end from the shooty one?

      “Where is the limit? Is there a limit? Is 30,000 deaths per year too high? What is too high? Is 100,000 deaths per year by gun-homicide (and I’m not even counting suicide) too high – or not?”

      No, you aren’t counting suicide, you’re just making numbers up. Or you’re off by a zero. 30,000 gun deaths, of which 20,000 are suicides = 10,000 murders/accidents/police action. But is there a limit? No. Not the way you’re framing it. More poeple die in auto accidents every year, but keeping cars around is an easy call because of the utility they provide. You need to endeavour to shift your paradigm in order to see that gun advocates see a utility in guns, and you aren’t going to dissuage them with “two hundred thousandths of a percent of Americans are killed each year with guns” (That, by the way, is close to the real number (10,000/365,000,000).

      “And most importantly – rather than constantly critiquing every proposed solution – what is YOUR solution to what seems, at least to me, to be a rather large problem – the death each year of as many American citizens as die from traffic accidents.”

      There is no solution while dialogue is impossible. As long as control advocates maintain their ignorance and wield it as a weapon, even common sense ideas like a universal background check are out of reach. To an advocate, those 10,000 deaths a year are the price of freedom, and it is a bargain, even if it could be lower, and even if it tastes like ash.

    • Given the FACT that per-capita death-by-gun rates are anywhere from 1,000% to 3,000% higher in the US than in any other civilized country:

      IS THIS A PROBLEM? OR NOT?

      I’ll eschew nitpicking over statistics and stipulate arguendo your basic premise: more popel are shot here than in any other cilized country. I’ll also go further: this is the civilized country where citizens are most likely to break laws, and commit violent crimes.

      It’s a problem, but it’s also a feature, not a bug, of having the only country in the world based on a belief in individual liberty, and an ingrained suspicion of and often contempt for authority. Freedom to do great things also allows other to use freedom to do terrible things. That’s a trade-off the Founders deliberately made. In “1776”, Franklin says,

      “We’ve spawned a new race here, Mr. Dikinson. Rougher, simpler; more violent, more enterprising; less refined. We’re a new nationality. We require a new nation.”

      Those features Franklin describes have, if anything, grown more distinct, and contrast even more starkly with other cultures. The make the nation the dynamic, creative, productive, wealthy and roiling place it is. An unpleasant side effect is violence, crime, and gun deaths. The side effects do not outweigh, in any respect, the importance of the unique liberty that create them. Treat the side effects the best we can, recognizing that a nation can’t have individual liberty without a lot of people abusing liberty.

      Again my favorite Darrow quote applies: “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much.”

      • charlesgreen

        Jack,

        As you usually do, you rise to the occasion and provide a coherent, literate response. Not to put too fine a point on it, you’re arguing that the benefits outweigh the costs. And i think you cut to the point, your point being one of principle.

        You can’t argue with an argument from principle (other than to say I disagree): I accept that. And maybe this is an insoluble difference in points of view.

        But does that mean that debate is useless? That there are no nuances to be found? I hope not.

        I suspect we share common ground in decrying the demonization of each side by the other. Demonization, hyperbole, and extreme statements of principle have their place – they remind us of what’s at stake.

        But at the same time, there are times when principled protests get overblown, and lead only to more bad-tempered divisiveness. Surely that describes the current situation?

        Let me ask my basic question again: are there any constructive suggestions (hopefully a tad beyond outlawing bump stocks) that can be offered by the principled defenders of the Second Amendment to find common ground? Any? I for one am all ears.

        • philk57

          Since the bulk of illegal gun homicides and assaults are committed by young African American men in large cities, the greatest immediate effect could be had by a stop and frisk program in several of our larger cities that is focused on young African American men that belong to criminal gangs. We have decided that we are not going to do this (for reasons that I largely agree with).

          So the solution would depend on why the culture of young black gang members shoot each other at such a high rate. Once that is understood, then perhaps that culture could be changed in such a way as to reduce their tendency to shoot one another – along with all the bystanders that get shot up during these events.

          • charlesgreen

            “Once that is understood, then perhaps that culture could be changed in such a way as to reduce their tendency to shoot one another”

            Phil, a neat judo flip. Except that, I wonder how many defenders of the Second Amendment would ever vote for a program of “culture change.” I suspect there’s a strong correlation between pro-gun advocates and resistance to any form of government programs aimed at culture change.

            Anyway, following Jack’s line of argument, if some level of violence is baked into the cake of gun rights, then why should we disproportionately target those who are most exercising their rights to own guns?

            To be clear, I’m not arguing in favor of the above point: I just think the whole line of argument that goes back to mental health, or social health, is a non-starter in the real world, not to mention fraught with levels of hypocrisy.

            • philk57

              It wasn’t meant to be a Judo flip Charles. I actually think that many people that are 2nd Amendment supporters would be in favor of a cultural shift back to a time when the family was important, when having fathers in the home was seen as an important thing. Young men growing up without a father providing an influence on his life has had pretty dramatic negative effects on our culture – many of these negative effects can be seen in the crime rates in our urban areas.

              Then there is this: “vote for a program of “culture change” – this indicates that you think that a culture change should be something that we vote on and have the government implement. So yeah, most supporters of freedom, including the 2nd A, would be opposed to the government getting more actively involved in the culture than they already are.

            • Explain what you mean by “judo flip”. I think it’s unfair to say he’s done something fallacious or devious here. I think his blunt example is fair because merely cites an example of a way we could address the *underlying* problems of gun violence, know that this particular example will get a rise out of those who don’t like to discuss some of the truly uncomfortable topics because it may “trigger the more sensitive”.

              Your second paragraph sounds like a “judo flip” to me, if a “judo flip” is what it sounds like. Many defenders of the 2nd Amendment would probably prefer the culture cleave closer to traditional American values and traditional American culture, and would probably have “resistance to any form of government programs aimed at” changing THAT culture. I’m sure attitudes towards bolstering the traditional culture and breaking down community-destroying culture, like gang-land culture, wouldn’t be as repugnant to them as you think.

              So recognizing they’d resist certain culture change doesn’t mean they would necessarily oppose other culture change.

              And no, Jack has not said “some level of violence in baked in the cake of gun rights”. He has said that some level of violence is inherent in a culture like America’s…of rugged individualism, liberty, assertiveness, etc.

              “why should we disproportionately target those who are most exercising their rights to own guns?”

              This comment is ridiculous. And it takes the Leftist memetic approach to right to bear arms as being the same as shooting other people. It’s stupid and it shuts down good faith discussion. I feel stupid having to explain this, but here: No, the right to bear arms does NOT include the right to shoot people illegally or in pursuance of crime, such as the context of gang-land violence that Paul mentioned.

              So yes, one could “disproportionately” target those who are using their guns for criminal ends.

        • I think its a little like the various treaties between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel demands that they agree that Israel has a right to exist. That is a completely reasonable condition precedent. I think I’ll address this in a post! Thanks, Charles. Inspired!

    • Chris marschner

      Charles,

      Your focus is misplaced. If we drill down on these stats what % of homicides and other shootings (not suicides) are committed by illegally obtained firearms we might see different solutions.

      Would you advocate periodic police raids in homes situated in areas where daily gun violence is prevalent? If we are willing to eliminate the inaleable right to self defense can we also take the next step to invalidate the 4th amendment? If not, why not. Please explain to me why it is perfectly ok to take away the means of self protection from the many who choose to exercise their right responsibly but unwilling to permit searches of homes based on reasonable suspicion alone.

      • A day in the life: A sad satire

        Without the 1st amendment, the NRA wouldn’t be involved in our politics. We could brand them a terrorist organization and round up their members. We wouldn’t have to hear their talking points. Without the 2nd amendment, we could eliminate all guns from society. Without the 4th amendment, we could conduct searches for guns in every home and on every person. Without the 5th amendment, we could put people we don’t like on a list with no recourse to challenge that designation. The effects of that list will restrict their other rights. Without the 6th amendment, we wouldn’t have to let these NRA types have legal counsel or a fair trial when we finally lock them up. Without the 8th amendment, we could keep them imprisoned without bail and force cruel and unusual punishments upon them.

    • So when did civilization cease to exist in Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, and Russia?

  3. I was just discussing with a coworker that very “Resistance is futile” topic. I concluded by saying, “If we really are at a point where we are ready to declare that the Federal Government has the firepower readily available that it has rendered completely ineffectual an armed citizenry, then we only have two options. Either we hang our heads and surrender our rights, or we take arms against the Federal Government the way the Framers intended we would if the government ever spiraled out of control.” This is, of course, somewhat hyperbolic, because there are always the “do nothing” and “stay the course” options, but this has had me thinking.

    I hope some other commenters here (tex, you especially) would be willing to share their viewpoints of the military capabilities of our general populace. Does the Federal Government possess such overwhelming might and conviction that no insurgency in our nation could ever hope to succeed?

    A few years back, our Wyoming legislature put forward a number of bills (all of them subsequently defeated in committee) regarding making contingency plans should the Union fail, dissolve, break apart, or erupt in civil war (presumably because of the Affordable Care Act). This led to a question: could Wyoming successfully secede from the union, using its very high gun per capita effectively in fighting off Federal forces? After reading some military history and examining modern technology, I quickly became convinced that Wyoming’s small population and the government’s vast resources would very quickly crush any efforts on Wyoming’s part.

    On our current topic, the question is a little different. Instead of just looking at Wyoming, if we instead looked at a coalition of states and/or grassroots movements, could such an uprising stand a chance in facing down the Federal Government, defeating it, and replacing it with a new (hopefully better, less corrupt) government?

    If the answer is no, then I think the next question is: does the threat of an armed resistance to government overreach, even if it could not possibly successful, present a sufficient deterrent to government overreach? Or, to put it another way, would the cost of fighting such a war, even if the outcome were never in doubt, too high for our government to stomach, and that in turn means the heart of the Second Amendment has not been rendered obsolete?

    Finally, if the answer again is no, what else exists to give the Second Amendment teeth?

    Note: I am not advocating civil war, insurrection, or secession. Nor am I advocating amending the Second Amendment out of existence. This is just armchair speculation.

    • “I hope some other commenters here (tex, you especially) would be willing to share their viewpoints of the military capabilities of our general populace. Does the Federal Government possess such overwhelming might and conviction that no insurgency in our nation could ever hope to succeed?”

      History is replete with examples of nations that are technologically advanced compared to the insurgencies they fight being ground to a halt by the insurgencies.

      It’s never pretty for the insurgencies, but then again no one ever said it was. War is won by those who believe in victory the longest and by those who degrade their opponents belief in that victory. If it came to a revolution INSIDE the nation in question, I think we suffer from a notion that we’d watch an armed rabble with pitchforks lining up against a lock step Army that never questions the central government. I think this is fallacious.

      If our nation ever got to a point where the liberties were so threatened that the people needed to rise up, you can BET ON IT, that MANY state governments and local governments would back the “rebels”. You can even BET ON IT that large swathes of the military would sympathize with the “rebels”. I don’t think an ethically justifiable rebellion in our nation would suffer from a lack of technology.

      But it certainly would not be easy. But it would be doable. And if the rebels cause is just (read as generally popular and ethically right), technology will NOT surpass the ability to hide, wait, strike, hide, until enough of the technology is counteracted or appropriated to make the rebels on equal enough footing with the central authorities.

      I’ll say it again, I think we suffer from a delusion that should a justifiable rebellion occur, it would be a rabble with no support other than themselves versus the entire military.

      I think the nascent totalitarians know this, which is why they’d never push quickly enough to make a substantive majority of people agree with the would-be rebels. No, the nascent totalitarians know that they can creep in slowly…isolate small unpopular pockets of dissidents, quietly eliminate them ideologically and politically, then isolate another pocket. Until the day comes that tyranny is realized, there’s no one left with the Chutzpah to stop it.

      • Awesome reply, Tex, thank you! I was thinking on the same lines that we wouldn’t have an unquestioning military that would back the Federal Government.

        One of my biggest questions, though, is how much cyber-warfare would influence the outcome. Whoever hacks into whose databases first, whoever launches the first success denial-of-service attack, whoever writes the best virus to compromise enemy systems… I could think that a governing body today could be very effectively hamstrung by shutting down e-mail servers and corrupting databases. But is the Big Brother capability of the government that makes me question how effectively an insurgency could go to ground and conduct guerilla tactics.

      • Pennagain

        Add a little snappy dialog, Tex, and you’ve got one hot movie script there. The real fight on your hands would be to keep it out of the hands of those who would insist on an “alternative” ending.

    • Sam Halverson

      It has seemed to work well for the Taliban in Afghanistan. 13+ years of police action and total control of the population by the greatest military the world has ever seen and they are actually gaining ground still. They continue to manage to inflict casualties and maintain a workable logistics operations against what they believe to be an unjust foreign occupation. Assymetrical warfare is excellent for sustaining a low kinetic drawn out fight and as long as a significant proportion of the population supports it, the cause can never be truly defeated. Americans have more guns and more ammo with a much larger population.

      It’s amazing what kind of zeal you can motivate when people believe their home, family and way of life is on the line.

      Of course there’s not much an armed civilian population can do against aircraft, tanks or artillery. The question is though who would the Federal government use to man those systems? Soldiers are people, American people and they are not mindless drones. Most would probably refuse to fight, from the PVTs to the Garrison commamders, or would out right defect.

      Say that some kind of crackdown could feasibly happen and the government found loyal Stormtroopers to do their evil bidding, could the U.S. population fight off the armed forces? IEDs are easy to make with unregulated components and given enough HME can tear an Abrams in half. Rifles and ammunition are plenty and easy to reload, young men are always anxious to find causes to fight. Aircraft can be sabotaged and ambushes are simple enough. Yeah they probably could.

      Who knows how it would turn out, but I assume the Mexican cartels would suddenly find the arms trade extremely lucrative.

    • Gun owners would not be standing in a pitched battle. They would be using small unit tactics, hit and run against strategic targets.

      If you live in the country you suppress, you will quickly find YOUR family in harm’s way. Quite the ‘demotivator.’ Think about this:

      Military action is… unspecific. The term is ‘collateral damage.’ Thus, innocent Americans, including women and children, would die due to government action. Once that is out, Americans will realize that THEY themselves could be killed by an uncaring government. How long until the units who participated in any such action had such visited on their own families, support staff, suppliers, and so on?

      Say the military prioritizes protecting their food supply. It takes many farms to produce enough to feed an army. Guarding farms means exposing troops to snipers, many of whom routinely kill deer at 300 plus yards. Once you are spread out to protect your food, how do you go after gun owners?

      Or should they protect the roads, so trucks are not hijacked delivering those supplies. How far away from the road would you have to protect? Mile after mile, every few hundred yards would require monitoring lest an IED sprout up. Civilian travel would have to stop, too, since you could not know who would be safe to use your protected route. Ambushes wold be easy: disable a truck (shoot out enough tires) or military vehicle, and wait for the response team. Disable 15 trucks over 20 days, and only ambush one time. Military has to respond to all threats the same, drawing down their resources and exhausting their troops.

      Politicians are protected by bodyguards, who are really mercenaries without personal loyalty. Those must be exposed to do their jobs. As such, they would get picked off, at long range, until none would serve their employers. Who would then protect the Establishment Elite?

      Equal tech is not needed to defeat a modern army when the armed and experienced shooter population is so great.

      • Andrew Wakeling

        Surely a more likely nightmare starts with some real partisan division with hotheads on both sides. Like what may develop over calls for Catalan secession from Spain. The marchers in Madrid today in favour of maintaining full Spanish sovereignty looked just as passionate as the crowds we’ve seen in Barcelona calling for Catalonian independence. Shots get fired, police and the army try to restore order. Armed mobs clash. Opportunists take advantage to loot and cause mayhem. Maybe some police and army units go rogue. Casualties rise and positions become more entrenched.

        Even in the US, most people live in towns and cities (rather than on farms) and are highly dependent on sophisticated infrastructure. Significant civil unrest with armed mobs and breakdowns in law and order may make city life nigh on unliveable. The more guns there are in such a population, the harder it may be to resolve underlying issues peacefully.

        • The more guns there are in such a population, the harder it may be to resolve underlying issues peacefully.

          “The more guns there are in such a population, the easier it may be to resolve underlying issues peacefully”

          Fixed it for you.

          Knowing the other side has the ability to protect themselves, and that your own skin may be on the line, works wonders on one’s civility. An armed society is a polite one, just like the old West. Do a little research on how little crime there actually was, versus what Hollywood has represented.

          Your scenario is possible, granted (so is a Zombie Apocalypse, but how likely is each?) However, that is not how civil wars have started in the past. I believe it takes a steady build up for a real conflict such as I have described, one not dependent on angry mobs clashing.

        • If only one side is armed, the armed side has little deterrent from taking violent action to get what it wants.

  4. A Leap at the Wheel

    “The research doesn’t overwhelmingly support either side. Gun control proposals don’t seriously impinge freedom”

    Anyone who wants a slightly more historically-informed perspective should read Charles E. Cobb’s “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.”

  5. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    “NPR-worshiping subscribers are pleased”

    Lots of conservatives listen to NPR. Some of us can keep from making disgusting, infantile metaphors about exploding brain parts (You haven’t used that in a few weeks and it’s SO APROPOS RIGHT NOW!!!) when we hear opposing viewpoints.

  6. Steve-O-in-NJ

    (forgive the repost, but this was done on the last post in response to this article)

    It IS not just political but practical Mission Impossible. Either 2/3 of BOTH houses of Congress or 2/3 of state legislatures would have to propose such an amendment, and that’s just not going to happen unless there is a Democratic tsunami a lot bigger than 2008, which is arguably the high-water mark of the Democratic Party since the New Deal. Then three-quarters of the states (38) must ratify it The next step would be outlawing private possession of firearms with new legislation, which would have to pass Congress and be signed into law by the president. Again, unlikely absent almost a complete collapse of the Republican Party everywhere. All of this is the easy part. The final step would be to actually implement this legislation, and have Federal law enforcement go through every building (including checking for hidden compartments) and square mile of this nation (including using metal detectors to scan underground) to seize 350 million firearms. That’s just not realistic.
    The author of this piece harrumphs at the idea it’s not possible, pointing out that 13 years ago most of us scoffed at the idea of same-sex marriage. The comparison is apples and oranges, most notably because this nation has one attitude toward extending new rights, it has quite another toward stripping rights away, particularly rights that have been part of the Constitution from almost the time of its ratification and are considered the building blocks of this nation and among the fundamental reasons we separated from the UK.
    The right of individuals to keep and bear arms is actually almost a century older than the Constitution and goes back to the English Bill of Rights, although those rights extended only to Protestants. The principle that there is a right of individuals to rebel against a tyrannical government extends back to the Magna Carta, although that right then extended only to nobles. The belief that the government should have a monopoly on the use of force and the ordinary citizen should have no access to weapons of any kind is actually a relatively new concept, which started with the authoritarian governments of Europe around the time of WW1.
    Sometimes it was a misguided attempt at public safety, like the Belgian government collecting all civilian-owned firearms on the eve of the German invasion, because they did not want a repeat of the Francs-tireurs of the Franco-Prussian War, where French partisans armed with civilian-owned firearms gave the Prussians a VERY hard time, but provoked harsh retaliation (they needn’t have bothered, since the Germans went ahead with premeditated brutal measures from the get-go in Liege, Andenne, and Leuven, but I digress). Other times it was in fact setting up a despised population to be later massacred (the Ottoman confiscation of Armenian-owned weapons and later raising of labor battalions, the rest is history). After WWII, as Europe struggled to rise from the ashes, many new constitutions were written, and, in the hopes of building a more peaceful future, the right to bear arms was not part of most of them (I know it’s specifically not in the Constitution of Italy). That said, it was a continent where, in addition to the main event of WWII, Spain was still a wreck from an ugly civil war (which involved a fair amount of partisan fighting, actually the term guerilla warfare comes from Spain) and Greece was still involved in a messy civil war between nationalists and communists (which the communists only lost because the Soviets decided to concentrate their efforts on pulling Bulgaria behind the Iron Curtain). Europe had had enough, and its people were willing to give up a lot for a promise of safety and prosperity. Just as a postscript, Japan ended the right to bear arms for all except the military class long before, and its people, long brought up on the concept of staying in your place and obeying authority, have little problem with the idea.
    America’s history, as Jack pointed out, is a very different one. We took up arms to throw off a tyrannical government, took up arms to keep this nation together, subdued the frontier with guns, took up arms to defend freedom around the globe, and don’t trust the government or authority enough to give it a monopoly on the use of force. The most important of these is that we specifically rose against the UK because it tried to disarm us, looking to make us defenseless and forever second-class, looking for all our cues from London and well aware that any rights we might have were revocable benefits. They didn’t get it, frankly, asking why we were being such ingrates when they had chased the French and Indians from our doors a generation before, as though that meant we had to forever surrender our free will to London. We’d grown up as a nation, and we had our own ideas about how we wanted to run things, including choosing our own leaders from among our own, setting our own rules that fit our own situation (and maybe not the situation in London), setting our own borders and boundaries, and not being stripped of our rights because someone in London was unhappy with the way people an ocean away were doing things.
    This last mention actually dovetails quite nicely with what Michael mentioned above and brings me back to my original point. Another big part of why the United States became the United States is that the UK was capricious about stripping rights from the colonies, notably forbidding the NY Assembly to meet for not voting for a spending bill London favored and closing the Port of Boston and stripping individual rights in MA in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party. The colonists knew full well if they accepted this stripping of rights it would only be the beginning. They weren’t going to wait until all the colonies lost their assemblies and God knows what else, they still had arms (though not yet artillery, if Henry Knox’s mission to Crown Point had gone differently a lot of other things might have also, but I digress), and you know the rest.
    The idea that a primary right that make US citizens who and what they are can or should be taken away because a few have abused it, or because someone deems that right too dangerous for individuals to be trusted with is a bad idea all the way around. It sets a terrible precedent that rights are only rights until someone decides they should no longer be. It treats adult citizens like children whose parents take away a toy because one of them can’t play nicely with it or pupils who all get detention because one or two of them act up. Most importantly, it not only draws a map to tyranny, but, if acted on, blazes out a trail to it. Go down that trail too many times, and it becomes an open road, and then a swift highway that no one thinks twice about taking. Do we really want to go there?

  7. Has anyone else noticed the trend among progressives lately to pathologize everything? “epiphenomenon” is a medical term used to describe symptoms that someone exhibits, but has no relation to what the doctor might be treating (one could have both a runny nose and a broken leg, for instance, the runny nose isn’t caused by the broken leg.). And it’s just the latest stop on the route I’ve noticed.

    I think it’s a subconscious effort to preserve bias. It’s a hard lesson to realize that people actually think differently. That if given all the same information, two people might come to wildly different conclusions. I think that progressives, generally, assume that if everyone was given the same information, that they would come to the same outcome, and any deviance from that outcome (which coincidentally is the one they hold) is indicative not only of ignorance or dishonesty, but of mental illness. They think something is actually wrong with you.

    • Humble,

      I don’t see this as a problem on the left. I know plenty of people on the right who think the progressives must be mentally ill to support all the positions that they do. I know Protestants who think Catholics must be mentally ill to believe what they do, and I know Catholics who think likewise of Protestants. Start filling the blank with Climate Alarmists/Climate Skeptics, Red Sox/Yankee fans, Sneetches with stars/Sneetches with none upon thars… It is a hard lesson, to realize that people think differently and come to different conclusions regarding the same information.

      I argue with my wife from time to time about the importance of trying to see the problem from the perspective of the opposite side. It isn’t easy. I have problems getting into the heads of people who are the far opposite spectrum on issues I feel strongly about. My wife really struggles with that. It seems so obvious to her, and thus anyone who disagrees with her must be deliberately obtuse. But I think the most productive discussions come from the willingness to try to see the problem from the opposite perspective.

      Take Charles, above. He thinks that the problem of gun violence is a major issue. Opposing him are people who don’t see it as a major issue, even when we have tragedies like what occurred in Las Vegas. But why don’t some of us think it a problem? There’s a certain statistical reality, like you cited above, and there’s also a “that’s the way it is” mentality. Railing against gun violence seems to some to be railing against the fact that water is wet.

      From Charles perspective, it must seem insane to state that 11,000 homicides and 20,000 suicides by gun is anywhere close to acceptable. How can anyone one the right claim to be pro-life, if those 30,000 deaths are considered acceptable? It smacks of a contradiction of values (or blatant hypocrisy). Furthermore, it seems obvious that we can do something effective to substantially reduce the number of those deaths. That’s why, I believe, he’s adamant about solution proposals, and why he can’t accept that those who disagree with him don’t seem to want to bother making proposals.

      • I think it’s a matter of extremes…. For example, Milo “Feminism is Cancer” Yiannopolous obviously pathologizes feminism, and while I agree with him that feminism very rarely gets it right, I’ll stop long in front of calling them a cancer. I think that the kind of people who regularly use this kind of language, and especially those that use it unironically, have basically advertised to everyone that at least for that moment they’re the kind of unreasonable extremist that logic doesn’t really touch.

        The thing is… Since Trump’s inauguration, I find the practice much more prevalent on the left. That might just be the bubble I inhabit, but it’s my observation.

      • Ryan,

        Small point of order: most classic conservative might think progressives are mentally ill for supporting certain political positions, but they do not propose sanctioning them for it. The opposite is not true.

  8. Well, in my previous musings I considered a ban on bump stocks and other rate of fire boosting modifications as a rational consideration. Now Nancy Pelosi is doing her best to make me back track on that consideration and stick with the notion that, no, let the bump stocks proliferate.

    • ”Now Nancy Pelosi is doing her best to make me back track on that consideration”

      SanFranNan may no longer be a problem soon, MSNBC appears ready to erect the gallows.

      Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt: “What you’re seeing is a long-simmering and very ugly divide and argument inside the Democratic Conference going out into the open,”

      HoR Linda Sanchez (D-CA) appears ready to trip the trap door:

      Sanchez: “I do think we have this real breadth and depth of talent within our caucus and I do think it’s time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders, and I want to be a part of that transition, I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch. And I think it’s time.”

      Devouring their own?

  9. Mrs. Q

    “If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.” -Joseph Stalin

    “Given the FACT that per-capita death-by-gun rates are anywhere from 1,000% to 3,000% higher in the US than in any other civilized country:

    IS THIS A PROBLEM? OR NOT?”

    “…what is YOUR solution to what seems, at least to me, to be a rather large problem…”

    Anti-2nd amendment enthusiasts & those in favor of the 2nd amendment have two different ideas about what ‘the problem’ is. Having once been very anti-gun to becoming in favor of the 2nd amendment (but not gun owner myself) was a journey that redefined what the primary ‘problem’ is.

    Like many leftists I could unquestioningly retort gun “facts”. Certainly I still have concerns around gun violence & generally pro 2nd amendment folks think gun violence isn’t a good thing either. So first off if we’re going to have a reasonable debate, we need to remember both sides care about people & life. It’s how life is preserved & who it needs to be preserved from – that makes the difference and defines ‘the problem’.

    What began to change my mind was the view from those who were disarmed and suffered greatly for it. As mentioned in the post, Jews (and Germans) were disarmed before things got deadly crazy. In communist regimes the people, except for military, were disarmed. In this country blacks & Native americans were disarmed and more easily murdered (When Bloomberg suggested in 2015 that black men should be disarmed, we should see that as a bad sign). Let’s not forget Wounded Knee was bigger mass murder than Las Vegas…

    Now lets consider how many lives have been lost because citizens were forced to register their arms, were easier to find because of it, and eventually died because they couldn’t protect themselves & their families from tyrants. How many couldn’t have a gun in the 1st place and got killed? Would anyone like to crunch those numbers?

    As a woman here’s another view: Rape in Europe is skyrocketing and making women vulnerable due to political correctness & a lack of self protection that would truly stop a predator. In December 2015 the NY Times noted the clear statistical connection between rapes and migrants. Kristin Rhode from the Oslo PD testified that Norway was unwilling to admit “this was a big problem.” Should women, gays, and others vulnerable to potential harmful ideologies wait for a reluctant government more concerned with the appearance of multiculturalism, to protect them? Is this what is meant by “civilized” counties? No. Their socialism is not protecting them.

    The problem for me today is much bigger than the unfortunate crazy who is irresponsible and shoots into a crowd. The problem is the ever growing reach of Marxist utopianism that we see from NFL players genuflecting to social justice™ to Maxine Waters telling white law makers to “step aside” to schools not including the aspects of history and world events I just mentioned. The problem is an increasingly weak minded population only concerned with emotional low hanging fruit arguments that squelch intellectual debate. The problem is that if we continue to embrace more limits on gun rights here, we will in fact be walking into a strange death that has only been highlighted by Europe’s constant problems with terrorism, rape, assault, etc.

    The problem is an ever encroaching tyranny by globalist Marxism that is tearing apart our country like it is other countries and further eroding trust in our government. The problem is those unfamiliar with history are too brainwashed by the smiley faced “we are One” ideology to understand how such an ethos can lead to deadly destruction.

    Living in the wild west includes the sometimes ugly consequences of freedom. I’d rather live free and able to protect myself from militants, blood thirsty communists, and rapists, than be taken over for an ideology that smiles at me while taking everything I hold dear and trashing it. Autonomy matters and it is worth defending against all who wish to take it away. If we’re going to talk compromise, tell me why we should ignore history and what’s happening in Europe first. Then tell me why we should trust a government implicitly. And finally tell me how *this time* it’s going to be different. Then I’ll talk compromise.

  10. Chris marschner

    As I understand the Bill of rights they simply codify what where considered the inalieable rights of man, that no man can deny. Madison simply did not feel that clarifying these inalienable rights was necessary because he felt they were self evident. Apparently, that which is self evident is often invisible to those who choose not to see how man can and will impose itself on others when they see personal advantage.

  11. What other amendments should we compromise?

    How about the 4th? After all, if the police had greater power to conduct searches and seizures, without needing probable cause, they can catch criminals more easily.

    Or maybe the 5th? That beyond a reasonable doubt standard makes it easier for criminals to get away with their crimes.It would be easier yo convict criminals if only a preponderance of the evidence standard was used. And I am sure that it would be much harder for criminals to get away with their crimes if they had no privilege against self-incrimination.

    Or what about the 14th? Maybe we should selectively restrict the liberties of certain parts of the population that the state judges are more crime-prone than the rest of the population. I am sure there is some conspicuous trait law enforcement can use as a proxy for propensity for crime. Maybe it even rhymes with wack.

    The thing is, a state that can ignore the 2nd would have little to no reservation about ignoring the 4th, 5th, or 14th.

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