Putting Gun Control In Perspective: The Second Amendment’s Purpose, And How To Protect It

A guest post by texagg04

 

[The following is a rare guest post. The author is a previous winner of an Ethics Alarms commenter of the year award, which comes with the privilege of a guest post, though no winners have ever cashed their prize in. I decided this effort warranted special status beyond a Comment of the Day, in part because of its length, in part because of its immediacy, and in part because I think it should be read. Only Paul Peterson, the child performer advocate and a personal hero and friend, has been a guest commenter in the past.]

This topic fatigues me every time it arises. Watching the videos of the concert-goers simultaneously brought out two emotions, one of compassion and sympathy for the victims of the crime, and one of sheer “pre-exhaustion” knowing I’d be called upon to rehash all the same, solid arguments to counteract the emotion-driven “do-something-ism.” I’ve resisted wading into the debates because it is all so tiresome, though I have chimed in on occasion. But that doesn’t mean my mind hasn’t been wrestling with this crime, the 2nd Amendment, and the deeper philosophy behind it.

There are a handful of questions this debate inevitably boil down to. I will dispense with any notions that the 2nd Amendment exists for hunting or for fun, though those topics will arise shortly. No, we’ll start off on the honest premise that the 2nd Amendment exists as a democratization of force, where the Constitution, in a sideways manner, supplements the three branched checks-and-balances division of power, with a three tiered “balance of force”, where the National level retained control over the standing army, the States retained control over the Militias (when called out), and the People, armed, represented the lowest rung. And I am of the firm belief that the 2nd Amendment is STILL ultimately essential to liberty.

But that is really the first set of questions that the debate boils down to:

  • Can good modern governments still go bad or can we trust modern republics to not go bad?
  • How does one fix a bad government or a government on the way to becoming bad?
  • Can the citizenry oppose and correct those governments without force or threat of force?

I think that a perusal of the modern history of Western Civilization would tend to show us that yes, governments can most certainly go bad. The blood-letting of Europe from 1917-1945 and the follow-on competition that ended in the early 90s is proof that democracies and republics can flip rapidly into tyrannies. I think a simple survey of contemporary nations will show us that a large number of people are subjugated beneath the yokes of dictatorships. But what of the “good” nations that have disarmed their citizens? They don’t seem to be tyrannical, they seem quite free without a mass of armed citizens forever poised to check them.

I can easily concede that they are relying on the benevolence of their current leadership. It is working fine. For them. Right now.

Still, the essential check on malevolent people with force is the actions benevolent people with force. European nations currently have generally benevolent people with authority over them. We already know, however,  that this condition can change and can change rapidly. The peoples of other nations that descended into t oppression, as their culture and governments changed, thought they also lived in modern enlightened times, where tyrannies couldn’t happen to them. I’m moving to this segue because I think checks on these malign forces aren’t merely internal, but external as well. When the European central powers slipped into malevolent rulership, it was EXTERNAL forces of good that came and broke the dictatorships apart and restored the bad actors to republicanism.

I think a certain amount of “momentum” is maintaining that check on the rise of tyrannies in these disarmed nations with “benevolent” governments. That is, I think there’s still an aura of protection provided by the United States that deters any truly awful government from rising in Europe. Then again, that depends upon the presence of a benevolent people willing to use force to check the rise of a bad government. What then if the United States or other good actors stopped being good? I would submit that, disarmed, the people of Europe would have not one bit of ability to stop the rise of tyranny in their own nations.

So why does the United States seem to keep a government that is mostly good? (and it does, you naysayers) The answer is that it has a perpetual check against its getting out of hand: the armed populace. Does this political check absolutely require violent force or the threat of violent force? What about merely electing good actors to replace bad? What about protesting tyrants when they arise? What about petitioning the government for redress of grievances? What about speaking out freely against the dictators when they rise?

Those are all good measures to take when a citizenry must ensure it is in the right before a society slides past a point from which it cannot return from. All of them, however,  rely upon a generally benevolent government that will pause and consider the grievances listed by its people. History shows that a rising dictatorship  will not care, requiring the people to be more forceful in their demands than mere words can accomplish

Yes: governments, regardless of the advancement of the culture they preside over can still go bad. Yes, there are steps before a government goes bad to rectify the government without violence. No, if the government goes too far, the citizenry cannot fix the problem without violence or threat of violence. And if that the fix cannot come from benevolent outsiders, such as France aiding the colonists in 1776 or the United States and other Allies in World War II, then the citizenry is on its own.  Sans firearms, the citizenry will have little recourse, for tyrants don’t care about protests.

This leads to other questions. Are some cultures content with domineering governments that we would consider overbearing at the cost of our security against tyranny? If so, would it be a solution to our “gun problems” to become more like those cultures? Are some cultures more vibrant and energetic and assertive, in such away that all the positives that derive from that vibrancy and assertiveness are inherently accompanied by a set of negatives such as violence and discontent? If it is necessary to solve the violence and discontent by also throwing out the vibrancy and assertiveness worth the trade off?

I don’t want to dive into this too deeply here. It just seems obvious that our culture promotes assertiveness and vibrancy, which generally inculcates an attitude in its people that the government needs to primarily keep out of our business. That attitude, taken to the extreme, is ultimately manifested in a people that must be armed to check the government, as per the opening paragraphs of this essay. Is the violence we see more often in this nation than in others a negative by-product of assertiveness, ambition or individualism? Now, before our resident Europhiles complain, yes, many Europeans are similar, but in general, (and I’ve been to Europe), I’m not impressed. Make no mistake, they enjoy their culture, I’m not expecting them to change it, I just don’t think it’s a culture we want to adopt here, and it’s certainly not one that is any position to oppose a government that decided to overstep its bounds.

That being said, the violence in our nation, though on average now decreasing, still produces extremely violent acts.

(To be clear, I’m speaking of American culture as those values it has traditionally held to, not the “objective” culture that vast swathes of progressives would love us to morph into, a culture which is essentially European in flavor).

Where these two lines of questions collide—that is, the necessity of the 2nd Amendment, and the mass killings that occur at disturbing frequency—it probably is worth revisiting the concept of “Arms” and the right to bear them. I am certain that the ability of the citizenry to check the government is worth the gun violence in America. But can any real steps be taken to alleviate the scope of the violence when it occurs? Because make no mistake, that’s really all we’re discussing when we discuss disarmament: “Fewer people are killed by a mass murderer with a knife than with a machine gun”. Got it. The dude’s still a mass murderer, and you are only trying to keep the kill count down.

There is something to that logic. Yet even though preservation of life is BUT ONE value among many that our Republic perpetually balances, it really doesn’t possess trump-card power over other values. So, if we are to seek “minimization” of casualties as a goal, it can ONLY be found within a solution that preserves the 2nd Amendment’s goals.

Before proceeding, I’m going to take a moment to rehash an essay that I wrote a while back, which discusses the 2nd Amendment (bolded line was not bolded in original):

““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.”

We know the final clause “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is, on its face, fairly plain-spoken. That these words are hotly debated is baffling, they seem clear and obvious to me. Certainly, an amount of ambiguity exists about “What did the Founders mean by ‘Arms’”? Other arguments can be made about the meaning of “people”…did the founders mean to speak to a collection of individuals with individual rights or to directly to collection itself. But those ambiguities aside, the clause is concise and clear — the people have a right to bear arms; by extension of the philosophy enshrouded in the Declaration of Independence, it would be a natural right.

A review of contemporary documents would show that the term “keep and bear arms” does apply to individuals separately, that bear arms means to carry and use (for a variety of purposes). If this meaning does apply to individuals, then we have the meaning of the term “people”. As for the Founder’s meaning of “Arms”, that debate can rage on. A reading of the Federalist papers and scant few other documents and understanding them would indicate that the Founders intent in the balance of force is that the common man certainly at a minimum has the right to bear an equal firearm to the standard infantryman. It would seem the heavier weapons were relegated to the control of the separate states and to the national army (although the vagueness of Arms at the time does allow a wider definition – but even I don’t think their vision meant for the private citizen to own a tank or a nuke).

The prior phrase “….A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..” is where I think the Founders are truly eloquent and packed a ton of meaning into 13 words.

Some would tell us that the strong full time army is enough to secure our country from invaders, therefore a ‘militia’ is no longer necessary, therefore the people no longer need the right to bear arms. But the Founders didn’t say “a military necessary to repel invaders”, they said “security of a free State.”They knew all too well that an unchecked central army can easily secure a State… but they wanted a free State. They knew from firsthand experience that centralized force is the primary tool of tyranny, and that only a heavily armed populace was a check against that.

Alexander Hamilton states in Federalist #29: “but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.”

Some would tell us the militias existed because the nation couldn’t fund a large full time military. The Founders didn’t say “…Militia, being necessary to alleviate the financial burden of a large Army, and at which point it becomes financially viable, we will say ‘the Army, being necessary for the security of a free State.”

In the same Federalist Paper, Hamilton does assert that the militia does alleviate the financial and social burden of a large standing army, while immediately following with assertions that even should a large standing army exist, the militia would continue as a check against it.

Some would tell us the Militia was meant to be just a supplement. And, yes, all though that is one role of the Militia, that is not what the clause “being necessary” implies. They knew that a free State CANNOT exist WITHOUT a Militia at all! The phrase doesn’t say “A well regulated Militia, sometimes helps for the security of a free State…”. The Founders distinctly say the Militia is NECESSARY to the security of a free State. Because free States are not just attacked from without, but also from within.

What do we glean simply from “…Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State….”

A) the Founders, based on their experience, knew that security means secure from the outside AND the inside
B) the Founders specified precisely what is being secured…a *free* State
C) the Founders specified a non-military entity known as the “Militia”
D) the Founders didn’t just say the Militia was useful, but NECESSARY
E) the Founders considered that no *free* State can exist without the Militia.

Why all the emphasis on the militia and the citizen soldier versus a standing professional army? What is this “Militia”, what did the Founders mean by “A well regulated Militia…”?

The founders were certainly speaking about an organization of the separate people as a collected entity. But they understood that entity to be composed of everyone (yes, I know women and slaves etc didn’t count, but the spirit of the militia was that it was every individual). This, the collected, yet dispersed, force of *every* individual citizen, was the final force that was meant to be a check against the centralizing forces. A constant reminder to those wishing to impose non-republican and non-democratic will on the people, the militia and the right to bear arms (as individuals part of the whole) was viewed as indispensable to Liberty as the 1st Amendment, and all the others.

Since the earliest definitions of the militia clearly point to the notion that it is the entire body of the people derived from an INNATE duty of all individual citizens to safeguard the liberty of nation, I certainly do not think the National Guard or the Reserves or any of the armed federal agencies are the Militia. The various Acts and Laws forming those entities merely established professional standing armies, while co-opting the term “militia”. The militia – in terms of the necessary civic spirit of a vigorously liberty oriented people in opposition to the slightest pretext of centralizing and freedom-usurping forces – still and must exist.”

Okay, back on track:

I’m loathe to mention any compromises as the Left has demonstrated, for reason that a compromise today will merely be the next point to begin compromising tomorrow.  I think that we can seek some fair solutions to minimizing the casualties wrought by bad actors while still preserving the 2nd Amendment. I won’t call these “common sense” regulations, as I think the term is employed as a dirty trick of the Left to avoid having to make an argument. And fellow Libertarians, follow with me here and don’t get angry, as I’m stifling a certain amount of anger merely pondering this.

Let’s assume a premise, that yes, as Americans we shouldn’t have to be told what we can do with our possessions nor should we have to be told we can’t have something we want. I get it. I get that firearms have traditionally fallen into that category, but I also think that modern generations look at firearms much more differently than the Founders did.

[I feel it: you’re already bristling that I’m about to suggest that indeed, within the category of firearms, there may be more than just machine guns that the government can tell us we don’t need to have.]

Our modern culture has increased the “recreational” aspect of firearms to probably a level that the Founders would have found somewhat…troubling…? I personally don’t think it’s troubling, because MOST people can be trusted to shoot recreationally. But then again, Firearms at their essence are TOOLS of VIOLENCE, originally for sustenance and defense (against Criminals of all types). We have, as a consequence of our material and territorial success, been able to increasingly spend more time shooting for fun, such as targetry or hunting, than we have needed to spend shooting for defense, or for essential sustenance. Nevertheless,  you can’t divorce the modern luxury of shooting from its essential purpose.  Any sport and recreation derived from that purpose still arises from practicing the skills necessary to utilize firearms as a TOOL of VIOLENCE. Though the guns are “fun”, this does mean they are in a different class of “possession” than, say, your car, or your house, or your laptop. It does mean that maybe they need to be thought about as different sort of property, and a kind that  doesn’t get the automatic fruits of liberty pass of “I don’t need the government telling me what I can and cannot have”.

Though the firearms are private possessions and are…kind of fun…we can’t deny that there have to be some limits to firepower and potential destructive force  individual can possess, at without expensive permits and registration: Crew served machine guns…rockets…missiles…grenades… etc. Perhaps even these kinds of “potential casualty” considerations can apply to our small arms as well.

Now that I’ve lost most of my libertarian friends, the few hangers-on can possibly let out a sigh of relief, because the compromises I’m going to suggest are going to be seen partly as grossly stupid by the Left and partly as something that may be workable. Conceded: here must be a balance between the 2nd Amendment and the casualties that can come from misuse of firearms.

First, magazines.

You don’t need a 100 round drum…you don’t need a belt fed bullet backpack. Yes, they are fun. Yes, they support recreationally blazing away a lot of bullets without a reload. And I get it, I know you don’t need someone telling you what you don’t need, but, no, you don’t need them as part of the armed citizenry checking the power of an increasingly tyrannical government, which is the goal of the 2nd Amendment. In fact, I’d submit, you only need what an average infantryman carries: which is 7-10 x 30 round magazines. This will probably cause vapors among the Left who wouldn’t be content with anything more than a 3 or 5 round magazine, while simultaneously causing vapors among  libertarians who don’t want any limitations in this regard.

Tough. Your objections mean neither of you are considering the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. How does one actually enforce a limitation, not merely on magazine capacity, but on total magazines owned? I’m not sure yet, but maybe it’s possible. I’m more certain that magazine capacity CAN be easily limited to 30 round.  I don’t think total magazines owned could ever be limited due to the ubiquity of them across the community, but that may be made moot by a later suggestion.

Rate of fire modifications.

Much has been discussed of “bump firing” or “bump stocks” after the Las Vegas massacre. Yes, they are fun. Yes, they support recreationally blazing away a lot of bullets. And it’s crazy fun. Yes, I know you don’t need someone telling you what you don’t need. But, no, you don’t need modifications that replicate fully automatic firing as part of the armed citizenry checking the power of an increasingly tyrannical government. The primary infantry weapon carried has 2 firing modes: single shot and three round burst (and I only ever heard leaders telling their men to use single shot mode and to make every shot count). If the day ever came that armed insurrection is necessary, it will not consist of Johnny Rambo and his machine gun blazing down uniformed lines of cops; it will consist of many citizens likely with the backing of local or state governments. Those groups of rebels will operate effectively enough with weapons firing at a rate typical of semi-automatic weapons. This will probably piss off the Left, who would rather us be limited to bolt action weapons, this will probably annoy libertarians. But I submit that you aren’t considering the purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and  balancing that purpose against bad people killing a lot of innocent people. I think this would be noticeably easier to enforce than the first  suggestion, certainly there will be ingenious people who will make their own modifications, but it isn’t that simple.

Now it’s time to really piss off some people:

Ammunition possession.

Could there be a way to limit the total amount of ammunition possessed at any one time, without the burdensome “barcoded” ammunition that has been proposed? I don’t know. I do know that you don’t need 10,000 rounds of ammunition stockpiled. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it supports the recreational ability to burn off rounds all day long without pause. Yes, I know you don’t need someone telling you what you don’t need. But, no, you don’t need enough ammunition to replenish a battalion through several firefights at any one time. I think, during the Founder’s era, anyone, as a member of the militia, would have been expected to have an ample amount of ammunition—for themselves—to last through a sustained firefight. I don’t know the numbers, but my guess is that would range anywhere from 30-60 rounds of ammunition. But those were different weapons and different standards of “firefight”. I could see a modern argument being made that the average soldier would need about 2-3 “battle loads” available…with a battle load being about 210 rounds of ammunition. Could there be a way to limit citizens to possessing at any one time 500-600 rounds of ammunition, without imposing onerous and invasive regulations? If so, then I could support that limitation. So far, I haven’t envisioned such a scheme. If that makes you angry, I don’t think you understand the purpose of the 2nd Amendment.

I do know this much, whatever schemes are in place, I would NEVER support them if they didn’t support anonymity of individual gun owners. With the rabidity of the Left’s hostility to guns, I would never trust a list of gun-owners to be collected anywhere. But, for example, if a limitation were placed on ammunition possession such that individual’s purchases were tracked and summed up, I would expect some sort of system would be in place to protect the identity of the purchaser unless the limit was reached. Maybe every gun owner has a type of license, with a unique identification number, such that, when an ammunition purchase is made, the unique identification number along with quantity of ammunition is passed on to the regulators, but no names are passed on. Unless at some point the unique ID number has associated with it, MORE ammunition that permitted, then that may trigger going down to the ammo supplier and getting the name of the individual (which would be on any receipts) and determining if there is reason to pursue legal measures. Of course, I have no way of figuring out how the ammo purchaser would reduce the number of rounds on their account based on firing them off so that they stay below or at the permitted amount when they purchase new. It might be completely unworkable.

Those are a handful of random brain-stormed ideas regarding the hardware of the 2nd Amendment that might work to protect the purpose of the 2nd Amendment while minimizing the potential casualties wrought by bad actors. Even then, I think the compromises still fall on the side of us just having to accept a certain level of killing as being the price of our freedom. All of the suggestions really unworkable, in which case, I’ll always default closer to the absolutist 2nd Amendment side of the debate every time, because checking the government that is also the world’s last great hope is WORTH IT.

What about the behavioral side of the 2nd Amendment?

As much as “mental health checks” prior to gun ownership sounds good, I don’t think I could get on board. I can foresee a future in which all manner of questions could be asked specifically to deny the maximum amount of people the ability to own firearms. It’s too easy to abuse and too easy to make the questions politically (or even religiously) flavored.

“Do you think the 2nd Amendment’s purpose is for the possible overthrow of the government?”

“Yes”

“You’re a nutjob, license denied”

or

“No”

“Ok, then you don’t need a firearm. Next!”

I think responsible exposure to and education about firearms from an early age IS a key component of people respecting the role of guns in society, and avoiding that dangerous fantasy that they are some sexy way to go out in a blaze of glory. Would mandatory firearms classes in middle school and high school be so bad? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t think you can be a responsible and complete citizen if you aren’t at least familiar with the function and employment of firearms.

Should gun owners periodically demonstrate safe handling, possession, and use of firearms? Yes. But I can only back such a requirement if anonymity is maintained at the lowest level possible. That is to say, the only people who know you are due for a “firearms test” are the locals. I cannot support this if aggregated lists of gun owners were made state wide, or national.

Beyond these possible measures I have suggested— I’m not even satisfied by them, as they may be oo difficult to enforce or too easy to become tomorrow’s benchmark for the next round of “common sense” compromises leading us ever closer to total confiscation— I doubt there are many others that are enforceable without the country becoming a police state. That we cannot allow. We may have to live with periodic casualties of liberty.

 

84 Comments

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84 responses to “Putting Gun Control In Perspective: The Second Amendment’s Purpose, And How To Protect It

  1. I would disagree with the “ammunition limits” if only because there are those who like to make their own ammunition. Buy in bulk and press them out. How do you regulate that which is produced at home? How do you regulate a consumable product when you don’t know the rate of consumption? I have a wife and a daughter, do I get 3x the ammunition as the single guy? Can I have the ammunition of someone else who wants to sign off their right to ammunition?

    Regarding the Magazine sizes, I’m fine with a 30+1 system. I know others aren’t. 10 is ridiculously low. Even 21. But 30+1 is the right answer. But again, we shouldn’t be trying to limit the raw numbers of magazines one is allowed to own.

    • What must be produced at home must still be purchased. Buying 50 bullets, 50 casings, 50 primers, and 50 bullets-worth of propellent would be tracked on an account like the purchase of a box of 50 rounds.

      The burden is trying to track expenditure to any particular “account” so it can be replenished without triggering an “over purchase”.

      As for magazines, just like discussion in this topic, there are so many out in the population right now, you can’t just confiscate magazines outside of a regulation…but that doesn’t mean you can’t limit from here on out.

  2. Wow, Tex. I’m going to have everyone in my department read this. Thanks!

  3. ”Can the citizenry oppose and correct those governments without force or threat of force?”

    Anyone know what the BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) folks’ stance on the 2nd Amendment is?

    “Any” is defined as any, am I right?

    “We may have to live with periodic casualties of liberty.”

    T. Jefferson: “The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.”

  4. Chris marschner

    Interesting read. Well articulated. However how does he reconcile his absolute aversion to a gun registery but advocate for an ammunition database. Wouldnt the ammunition database sort of give the gun owner away? Moreover, does the 5-600 round limit measured in the aggregate or by caliber, or by number of weapons owned. How do you prevent straw purchasers of ammo?

    As for limits based on current battleloads, todays warfighter has the luxury of 1st class logistical support. In the event of an uprising against tyranny there will be no supply chain in place to support the patriots. So ammo limits could place the individual citizen militias to be at a more severe disadvantage because they would have been proscribed from preparing for conflict by not being able to stockpile ammo on advance.

    I am not trying to diminish his ideas but to show how difficult it is to balance competing interests in this issue.

    • Chris marschner

      Addendum

      I forgot to include this comment: with all that said Tex has demonstrated how civil debate should procede

    • The only way I brainstormed a way to track ammunition purchase anonymously is by assigning every gun owner a number. When they purchase ammunition, their number, and number ONLY is reported along with quantity of ammunition. In the case of any particular Number coming up as having purchased beyond a legal amount, that would trigger an investigation where the authorities would have to go to a particular store where a purchase was made and get the individual’s name from them.

      That way authorities only had a list of numbers at any one time.

      I don’t like the solution, I don’t think it’s very creative. It probably creates way more burden than is justifiable. I definitely don’t know how any individual gun owner demonstrates how much ammunition has been expended so they can show they’ve gone back below the legal amount before they purchase again.

      Probably not workable, in which case my default answer is, the regulation doesn’t work and Americans should have unlimited access to ammunition.

  5. Cleophus

    “Need”. Well, you don’t “need” to sit in the front of the bus so move it on to the back, okay?
    This is America so don’t presume to tell me what I “need”.

    • Glenn Logan

      While I appreciate the paean to personal liberty implicit in this comment, don’t you think you could adopt a more respectful tone?

    • Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough about the nature of firearms making them a distinctly different class of property than all else. That, unlike other possessions, for which we Americans rightly take umbrage at being told what we can and cannot have or do with what we have, firearms, since their possession IS ultimately in support of the collective good of Securing a Free State yet their function is fundamentally destructive, do deserve a special consideration on whether or not they can be limited.

  6. Cleophus

    And ammo limits? The less ammo available the less practice. Going through 500 rounds a day at the range is not unrealistic.

    • The average soldier is lucky to practice and qualify fire 4 times a year. My battalion was lucky to fire twice yearly for practice and qualification, plus 1 or 2 specialty firing practices.

      Qualification ranges expend 40 rounds of ammunition. Zeroing range before hand might expend 20 rounds. So in a single day, a good shooter will burn MAYBE 50 rounds, a soldier who is awful at shooting might take 100 rounds to qualify.

      So a typical infantryman *might* burn 500-1000 rounds in a YEAR in practice, probably less.

      Going through 500 rounds in day isn’t practice. It’s fun. So no, it isn’t *needed*. If someone needs 500+ rounds a day to get good at shooting, they suck.

      Now, I’m not averse to the “fun” argument. Shooting is fun. And as soon as a solution is imagined for demonstrating a shooter has burned the “legal” amount to possess…there’s nothing saying they can’t burn a ton of ammo in a single day and buy more and burn it and buy more…

      This is a weak argument to make. The better arguments against limiting ammo possession are what others have mentioned: how to even track it and how to keep it anonymous.

      • I when I say might burn 500-1000 rounds in a YEAR, I think that’s even high as I base it off of my old battalion which, due to it’s mission received a brigade sized training budget…so we could spend more on firing ranges.

        I’d guess the average infantryman puts 200-400 bullets down range in practice. So yeah, 500 a day, though fun, is overkill for practice. And if we do see firearms as a special class of property that could be needs based regulated, I don’t see how limiting someone to 500-600 rounds at any given moment is excessive.

  7. Glenn Logan

    First, Texagg04, let me say this was a very thoughtful and worthwhile article. Jack did well by this community by allowing you to publish it on the front page.

    Regarding the Founders intentions and the meaning and purpose of the Second Amendment, I really have nothing to say except, “That seems right to me.”

    Regarding your proposals, I’m afraid we are going to have to disagree on a few things, not because “You’re wrong and a nascent Gun Grabber!”, but rather as a matter of detail and execution.

    Now, let me first say that while I appreciate your position that firearms are “Tools of Violence,” I must respectfully disagree. They are indeed tools, and they can and sometime are used for violence (it’s certainly one of their functions), but not normally. As I see it, these are the fundamental uses of firearms:

    Active usage

    1. The acquisition of food — In our country, food is plentiful and wild acquisition is generally unnecessary. Still, it has benefits both in the control of wild animal population and in the preservation of the hunter-gatherer culture against the possibility of technological or governmental breakdown.

    2. Recreation — Many people shoot firearms purely for recreation, and would not know how to hunt anything or be willing to shoot at another person. This is probably the first or second most common active usage.

    3. Actual self-defense — this category employs the use of firearms in armed combat against an armed opponent wishing to deprive them or other citizens of life, liberty, or property. This is the use of firearms for violence, and is undoubtedly one of their fundamental purposes, but not the only or necessarily most important one. It is, however, one of the primary usages envisioned by the Second Amendment, along with some of the passive uses.

    Passive usage

    1. Passive self-defense — the mere possession of a firearm is a significant deterrent against criminal violence. Studies have shown that criminals avoid households they know have firearms.

    2. Collecting — Some firearms owners are mostly collectors. The like to obtain rare or unusual firearms just as some people collect rare or unusual stamps.

    3. Securing liberty — as you’ve described in some detail, it is the armed citizen that forms the militia necessary to a free state. Even those armed citizens who very rarely go to the range or even have their firearm out of the safe form the fundamental bulwark against tyranny.

    Finally, your proposals for “gun control” — I’d like to respectfully raise several concerns.

    Magazine limits

    This would be difficult to implement, and impossible to police. Magazines are a steel box with a spring in it. Outlawing larger magazines will not prevent their manufacture, and securing the larger magazines already in existence would be well-nigh impossible. You see, the vast majority magazines are not serialized. Nobody would have any idea where to look for them, or how many already exist. You would have to ban a firearm that would accept magazines larger than whatever your limit is, like California does. That would ban an unacceptably large number of common firearms.

    Rate of fire modification

    We could outlaw bump stocks by incorporating them into the NFA just like select-fire weapons. However, like a silencer, anyone can make such a modification out of common materials, so criminals wouldn’t be deterred. Making a silencer out of an oil filter is as easy as pie, and even a non-mechanical person could easily do it. Still, I see a good argument for banning their manufacture and sale, if not their possession.

    I’d be for regulating bump stocks as a concession to the gun controllers in return for national concealed carry, though. Bump stocks, to be honest, are essentially an end run around the National Firearms Act. It would be relatively easy to fix, at least for people who are willing to obey the law.

    Ammunition possession

    As with magazines, this would be impossible and affect only sane, rational people. Plus, it would be so difficult to enforce that it would not only be ineffective, but would probably run afoul of the Second Amendment. After all, how is it that the government, against whom the militia is supposedly able to protect the free state, should be able to set a limit on the number of rounds each person can have even assuming it were feasible and enforceable? The tyrant would merely need to run the free state out of ammunition in order to prevail in a conflict, would it not?

    I understand what you’re trying to do — you feel that it’s not rational for people to stockpile firearms, have vast numbers of magazines and ammunition like the Vegas killer did, be able to functionally convert their firearms into a forbidden weapon, all while still maintaining the Second Amendment and its purpose, which you have eloquently outlined. But would the Founders have complained if a private citizen owned 40 muzzle-loading muskets? I doubt it, and remember, back then such weapons were the state-of-the-art.

    Unfortunately, the United States is a case of not being able to get the genie back into the bottle. There are too many firearms and accessories already out there to effectively recover without a massive, repressive police action which would likely create more violence than it would ever prevent. Some citizens would comply without question, but many would refuse. Then what?

    But I want you to know that I appreciate this effort. It was well and thoughtfully done, raises some excellent points and was worth the ten minutes or so it took to read.

    • “You’re wrong and a nascent Gun Grabber!”, but rather as a matter of detail and execution.”

      I know you aren’t making that argument, but in fairness, the best part about my proposals is they are all STILL too free and liberty-oriented for the average leftist.

      Active usage….Passive Usage

      I don’t think we disagree about the uses. But for the purpose of even having this discussion, I think we have to recognize the *essential* purpose of firearms. And if that *essential* purpose were taken away or rendered moot (like some of the gun-grabbers claim), then none of the “usage” arguments would ever justify permitting us to keep firearms: recreation, unnecessary food acquisition, etc. The essential purpose being security against tyranny and against criminals, we can only have the arguments as it regards those purposes.

      “Outlawing larger magazines will not prevent their manufacture”

      Professionally speaking, yes it would. But all laws drive the forbidden conduct into black markets and secret home industries. But fear of black markets doesn’t make us stop the passage of laws.

      “and securing the larger magazines already in existence would be well-nigh impossible.”

      No doubt. Which is why I think we’d merely have to ignore their existence until they pop up into the public view…in which case law is obligated to act. Coupled with periodic amnesty “buy backs” or “turn ins”…

      “You would have to ban a firearm that would accept magazines larger than whatever your limit is, like California does.”

      Like what firearms? I haven’t seen firearms that don’t have a wide range of magazine capacities. And if there are, I haven’t seen designers incapable of designing smaller capacity mags.

      The best part about my proposals, is I haven’t even suggested banning particular *firearms* themselves. And I don’t think we’d need to. I mean seriously. This is America, who am I to say what guns a person can own? I’m just trying to balance some other aspects of arms against the ability of mass murderers to … mass murder.

      “The tyrant would merely need to run the free state out of ammunition in order to prevail in a conflict, would it not?”

      I think this assumes the false vision that America, if it were pushed to revolt would be limited purely to the armed rabble versus the entire government and military of the nation and ALL 50 states simultaneously. I don’t think that would be the case.

      “I understand what you’re trying to do — you feel that it’s not rational for people to stockpile firearms,”

      As a matter of fact, I never addressed total number or type of firearms owned by any individual person, nor would I. I’m of the philosophy that if you do want to own alot of guns, diversify your caliber…that way no matter what ammo is available, you’ll have a gun that shoots it.

      I wouldn’t limit total number of guns owned. We all own 2 hands each. Johnny with 500 hundred AK-47s is no more dangerous than Billy with one AK-47.

      “Unfortunately, the United States is a case of not being able to get the genie back into the bottle. There are too many firearms and accessories already out there to effectively recover without a massive, repressive police action which would likely create more violence than it would ever prevent.”

      I agree. Probably not workable immediately. But, over time, it would have effect. I also think the education side of this equation would have a huge impact on any individual’s perception of their need to have vast quantities of ammo and mags. I think alot of the stock-pilers are nervous when they see half the electorate out to take everything from them. If that half of the electorate had even a modicum of appreciation, education, and comprehension of firearms, their vitriol might dissipate immediately. Their attitude reduced to a respect for firearms and gun owners might just lead to the more fanatic owners to reduce their feeling that they need more more more.

  8. Very nice essay and takes a step back from the hyperbole that marks people who speak and yell now but do not listen. I did have a few thoughts.

    “History shows that a rising dictatorship will not care, requiring the people to be more forceful in their demands than mere words can accomplish” I often consider rising dictatorships/tyrannies that rise from different directions. Politics is one, but others more faith sourced may cloak their control in things irrefutable. I would not wish to live under the thumbs of several of the early American colonies, I reject being told what to think and do, outside safety and logistics. But fixing a broken system, I think causes less damage than ripping it all down, even what wasn’t broken. Dictatorships, rising or recently fallen, breed problem areas, and haste after a total collapse is so dangerous.

    “Where these two lines of questions collide—that is, the necessity of the 2nd Amendment, and the mass killings that occur at disturbing frequency—it probably is worth revisiting the concept of “Arms” and the right to bear them.”
    Comparing the US and Europe is like comparing bowling balls and cannonballs. Too many cultural linchpins have or not happened. Europe was scared. especially after WW2 and enacted much stronger laws and attitudes. But lately, I don’t think the attempts to rewrite their own bios doesn’t seem to be working very well. The Paris attack and summer camp attack further north makes that clear to me. If they are so much further along in societal control, why has it been getting so much worse? Not sailing above our efforts in avoiding mass attacks? I think the increased attacks are from some other factor than guns, and we’re pursuing a jabberwok. We should not forget the increase in people using vehicles to attack a crowd, whether at a Nazi demonstration or London bridge. I suspect the media has made the crazy gunman without a real cause, either killed by cops or killing themselves, to romantic somehow. They do something relatively ineffective at a marathon and think it will make them famous or martyrs. What is making these people flailing their angst with guns a popular out? And more, where is this NOT happening? It seems few if any countries are immune.

    “In fact, I don’t think you can be a responsible and complete citizen if you aren’t at least familiar with the function and employment of firearms.”
    While I support everyone else as responsible gun owners, I do not agree with that. I have not touched a gun, nor do I feel a need to have one. The flip side of the right to bear arms is the paired right to NOT own one if I do not want to. I’m getting on in years, and I doubt I could safely use one with nerve damage. That’s not enough to make me an incomplete citizen.

    • ““In fact, I don’t think you can be a responsible and complete citizen if you aren’t at least familiar with the function and employment of firearms.”
      While I support everyone else as responsible gun owners, I do not agree with that. I have not touched a gun, nor do I feel a need to have one. The flip side of the right to bear arms is the paired right to NOT own one if I do not want to.”

      It may be offensive to some, but I was careful not to say one MUST be a gun owner to be a complete and responsible citizen. I do think one must be familiar with the function and employment of firearms to be so.

      I get that that is an offensive statement.

      Then again, I think a person needs to be able to speak clearly and produce a coherent argument to be a complete and responsible citizen. I think every citizen needs to be good at exercising their rights to understand how valuable they are as well as being good citizens.

      We have speech classes in public school…why not firearms classes?

  9. Sue Denim

    The standard infantry argument doesn’t wash. At the time, there were privately owned warships.

    Syria shows what happens when a well armed infantry weapon only populace comes up against a tyranny with tanks and poison gas.

    One defence would be to ensure that the regular military will mutiny rather than massacre dissidents. We saw that effect in the overthrow of Marcos, and even in the death throes of the USSR.

    • Andrew Wakeling

      “One defence would be to ensure that the regular military will mutiny rather than massacre dissidents.” How do you ‘ensure’? Yes, Syria, is thought provoking, as is most of the ME. And we should fear for Spain. If you lived in Barcelona would you feel safer knowing your neighbours were all armed to the teeth …… or not? Of course I fear the tyranny of mis- government. I also fear (more so) rabble rousers who wrap themselves in God and the Flag.

      • Exactly. You don’t “ensure” the military will mutiny.

        Disarmed citizens must merely hope their government is benevolent. And if it isn’t, they must merely hope that someday it collapses or some day some benevolent external influence remedies their problem for them.

    • “The standard infantry argument doesn’t wash.”

      It absolutely does “wash”. Certainly it does as a *minimum* standard. Though a more liberating definition of “arms” would definitely include weaponry available to more than just the infantry. Thanks for establishing this as the lower standard. Though I don’t think you meant to.

      Your 2nd paragraph: Ok, resisting dictators will never be pretty, but that’s not an argument to just lay back and live under a dictator.

      It is nice that the military didn’t massacre civilians during the collapse of the USSR. It would have been nicer if the USSR had never come into existence 80 years prior. But hey, I guess waiting nearly a century underneath murderous regimes is the price you pay for making sure civilians aren’t armed.

  10. Still Spartan

    It’s a thoughtful and well-written essay, but much of it depends on accepting his premise: “And I am of the firm belief that the 2nd Amendment is STILL ultimately essential to liberty.”

    Here’s my premise: “Liberty is dependent on the belief that the military will act indepedently from a malevolent government.”

    If our government went bad and the military followed, it would have the power (and I’m eliminating nuclear weapons from this discussion) of destroying entire states with bombs, tanks, jets, battleships, artillery — and don’t forget biological weapons. On top of that, the military could immediately destroy infrastructure so that Americans do not have access to power, drinking water, pharaceuticals, or a reliable food supply. This is not the 18th C. anymore –not everyone has a 2 acre vegetable garden and a fattening piglet in the barn to see them through the winter. A lot of people do not have access to well water.

    Just as firmly as Tex believes in the Second Amendment, I believe that we are at the mercy of the judgment of everyone in our military from the generals down to the common soldier. All of the firearms in the world could not stand up to the full power of our military. I think it’s a fantasy to think otherwise.

    So, if you accept my idea (and it’s terrifying to think how helpless we really are), you have to ask yourself if the false security of the Second Amendment is worth the loss of life we experience every year. And, I don’t think we can regulate this away (for reasons pointed out above and elsewhere). The only meaningful solution is a true ban plus government buy-back — a full repeal of the Second Amendment. I’m not saying what the answer should be, but I think the analysis should not include whether we are preserving our liberty by keeping the Second Amendment.

    • I think the flaw in that argument is already obvious, and illustrated throughout history, military and otherwise. The military even in malign governments frequently refuses to fight citizens. This occurred over and over again when the Iron Curtain came down. The military is more patriotic than the typical citizen, not less, and that means that tne military would be a likely ally of a citizen revolt. But to have that occur, the military would have to have a revolt to fight against.

      At Harvard, I saw an entire student body “radicalized” when the school employed police that used superior force to subjugate student demonstrators with violence. That, of course, was part of the strategy. The same ornery, authority-defying, individualistic character that makes the US public so violent also makes it a public whose consent to govern cannot be taken for granted. A lot of private gun ownership is a deterrent, and an effective one. Policy makers know that a program of banning guns would eventually turn into pitched shootouts and blood running in the streets. The fact that Obama’s irresponsible anti-gun rhetoric caused the igggest spike in gun ownership in history is just a factoid or trivia, it sent a very clear message.

      The Greek end of my family used to say similar things about the Greek culture, laughing about what fools then Nazis were to even try to take the Isles. “The Greeks don’t follow orders,” my grandmother said. “Hitler learned that the hard way.”

      I wonder why so many people just can’t grasp this. I view the periodic break-outs of the gun-banning fervor as fueled in one part by citizens who don’t understand their own culture, and in a second part by those who actively dislike what the United States of America represents—they understand it, and they like Denmark better.

      Women, as a group, also tend to intrinsically reject violence and threatened violence as wrong, per se. This also isn’t new, hence stupid Greek plays about Women ending war by withholding sex. My Spartan grandmother again—she’d sit watching a Western with us, and tut-tut throughout, half in Greek, saying, “Terrible, terrible. Those poor people. guns…why do we need them?” The arguments on CNN from the female moderators are pretty much that sophisticated. If it was left to women, I have no doubt that the 2nd Amendment would be abolished by President Hillary, and confiscation of the 165 guns in the country would be peaceful and uneventful.

      • There is one additional factor regarding the military. After the Nazi experience and the Nuremburg trials, our military is taught that they are not required to obey unlawful orders. This is an exceptionally awkward subject, given the intrinsically hierarchical nature of the military, but still it is there. And the worse the atrocities, the more resistance there would be in the military.

        As an aside, there is a fictional treatment somewhat related to this discussion that I’d invite people to read. Robert Heinlein’s “If This Goes on”, a novella that is usually included in the book Revolt in 2100 is still a good read, albeit somewhat dated. It assumes the U.S. coming under a religious dictatorship and tells a tale of the Underground that plots to retake the country.

      • Still Spartan

        Thanks for the mansplaining Jack, but my position has little to do with the fact that I am woman and more that I am a student of history.

        “The military is more patriotic than the typical citizen, not less, and that means that tne military would be a likely ally of a citizen revolt”.

        First, while that has not always been the case, I agree that this would probably happen here in the US. I’ll add that this is what helps me sleep at night.

        “But to have that occur, the military would have to have a revolt to fight against.”

        As my daughters have been saying lately in their pre-tween slang, “What the huh?” Either soldiers are patriots or they are not. Whether or not they are going to help lead a successful revolt — or simply stand down — has little to do with whether or not I own a hand gun, a rifle, a shot gun, or a sling shot. When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, did it do so because of an East Germin ARMED civilian revolt? I already know the answer, so no need to reply.

        But since you were so kind to mansplain to me, let me womansplain to you for a moment. You are living in a John Wayne inspired fantasy that you — or anyone — can successfully lead a revolt against the world’s largest military. A military whose deadliest weapons can be controlled by computers. And even if you weren’t fire bombed, you would certainly die of starvation or thirst unless you have the ability to feed yourself off your little plot in Arlington.

        • Wait–so “mansplaining” is making a valid point about not only well-noted differences about gender attitudes and conduct in certain areas, but “womansplaining” is making lame and badly constructed point that simply denies the obvious? That’s good to know. I had thought manipulating was only a cheap-ass term women use to shut men up when it is pointed out that Hillary, Michelle, Jennifer et al. can keep blathering on about how the nation needs more influence from and power for female leaders and then act shocked when someone points out the obvious and INTENDED implication of that assertion is that women often see the world and reality in different terms than men. Like “Guns BAD.”

          As for the last paragraph, you just ignored the rebuttal of that point that I had already written. I guess it’s because women don’t often have the childhood experience of fighting back in the school yard against the huge kid who is beating up everyone, and discovering that bad people with superior force still don’t want to experience the pain on any resistance at all if the can avoid it. It is not about the public being able to match government force. It is the intent and will to oppose abuse, and sufficient means to make it overly ugly and inconvenient for the government to win, even if winning is unavoidable on paper. The US won the Revolution this way, incidentally, and the U.S. lost the Vietnam war in like fashion.

          I wonder if anyone womansplained to Gandhi? And he WAS living in a John Wayne world.

          • Still Spartan

            You still didn’t address my point re revolutions happening without an armed citizenry.

            • Anything is possible. I would think you would agree that if forced to choose between having arms and not, most rational revolutionaries would prefer the former.

              • Still Spartan

                I think an army would be more likely to fire upon an armed revolt, and more likely to stand down against an unarmed one. See, e.g., Hungary.

          • Chris

            While the term “mansplaining” is often misused, I think “You only think this way because you’re a woman” pretty much fits it to a tee, and your argument would have been stronger without that, Jack.

            I agree with Spartan that the “We need guns in case we need to overthrow the government” justification is naive and impractical in our modern society. The argument that the second amendment is still necessary because individuals have the right to defend themselves from other individuals strikes me as much more compelling.

            • [sigh]

              Once again, Chris and Spartan (and Val, to whom I have made this point before):

              1. Any military attacking their own civilians has the problematic issue of reappraisals against their own families

              2. The modern military is not self supporting, thus must have logistical support or ‘forage in the field’ (steal from civilians) to eat and stay supplied. They would have to pin down a large number of forces to guard against reappraisals against their logistical ‘tail’ (those who organize the supplies sent to the fighters, who are a small portion of the military) as well as the bases, civilian suppliers, and trucks, trains, and planes that deliver goods for the fight. The mere ability to safeguard trucks on the road from insurgents would be almost impossible for a country like the USA

              3. There would be no stand up battles, thus the greater force our military can bring to bear is practically meaningless. See ‘Afghanistan’ and ‘Iraq’ for this how this has played out in recent history.

              4. Ambushes would quickly yield the necessary arms to the civilians, from handguns to artillery.

              Of special note: fully functional tanks ARE in the hands of civilians, at least in Texas. The are used for ‘run.’ (www.drivetanks.com)

              Why should this be banned?

    • So, if you accept my idea (and it’s terrifying to think how helpless we really are), you have to ask yourself if the false security of the Second Amendment is worth the loss of life we experience every year. And, I don’t think we can regulate this away (for reasons pointed out above and elsewhere). The only meaningful solution is a true ban plus government buy-back — a full repeal of the Second Amendment. I’m not saying what the answer should be, but I think the analysis should not include whether we are preserving our liberty by keeping the Second Amendment.

      The same can be said about whether we are preserving our liberty by keeping the 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments.

      I mean, without the 4th it would be easier to solve crimes.

      without the 5th it would be easier to punish criminals.

      Without the 14th it would be easier to selectively restrict the liberties of sub-populations the state judges are more crime-prone.

      If the state could more easily solve crimes, punish criminals, and take away the freedoms of sub-populations that are more crime-prone, we could save lives.

      • cathammer

        It could also be argued that abridging the 1st by prohibiting the release of the name or any information about a spree shooter, thereby removing the dead-end notoriety many of them seem to crave, might be more effective in preventing this particular type of behavior than any gun control. I can’t see the media pushing this as a viable “common sense” proposal.

    • Chris marschner

      How do explain our continued involvement in Afghanistan? You can kill people easily but not necessarily the ideal of self determination.

    • “It’s a thoughtful and well-written essay, but much of it depends on accepting his premise: “And I am of the firm belief that the 2nd Amendment is STILL ultimately essential to liberty.”

      Here’s my premise: “Liberty is dependent on the belief that the military will act indepedently from a malevolent government.””

      Both arguments boil down to putting hope in there being benevolent people with guns. I just think that benevolent citizens with guns can be more predictably reliable to defend their rights than waiting on a military to possibly be benevolent.

      • Still Spartan

        Correct. But a citizen army would be ineffective against the U.S. military. So our only hope is in benevolent military.

        • A) the entire military would not be against the citizens

          B) even if it was, you’re blantantly ignoring modern history

          • And, your conclusion is ultimately, the people should just sit back and die until the military of a malign government suddenly decides to stop supporting the malign government. Somewhat akin to…what poltician said to the effect that if you’re gonna be raped, you may as well sit back and enjoy it…?

            I mean yeah, the Soviet army in the end decided not to suppress the nascent freedom movements…after 80+ years of brutal soviet rule. I guess waiting several generations is worth it.

            I don’t think so.

            • Still Spartan

              East Germany, Poland, and Hungary were ruled by the Soviets for 80+ years? Sheesh, I need my money back for my history degree. In any event, colonial Americans were ruled for a longer period before they took up arms — so what does time matter anyway to this discussion.

              In the end, it was peaceful protest that won Indian independence, not armed rebellion. Canadian independence was peaceful. Much of the Arab Spring was non-violent. How about the Caribbean islands? I would also wager that if Scotland did vote to secede, that England would have let it go peacefully.

              We’ll wait and see what happens in Spain.

              Regarding your “sit back and die” comment, that’s what happens during some of these mass shootings — and that’s why they are so terrifying. I spend so much time, effort, and money keeping my family safe. I have safe cars, live in a safe neighborhood, have great car seats, have an expensive health plan. I minimize risks to my safety as well — I will never go sky diving, ride in a private plane, motorcycle, etc. I park in well-lit places. If travelling for work in a strange city, I avoid going places alone.

              But there is nothing I can do to minimize the risk of a mass shooting (however small the chances are of one happening) absent becoming a shut-in. Should I not send my children to school, ball games, movies? It took me months to see a movie after Aurora, and I have the same feeling now regarding outdoor concerts.

              I actually don’t know if I want guns banned, it’s a complicated issue. But I strongly believe that guns do nothing to protect our liberty — just as strongly as you believe otherwise. So, I don’t engage in discussions about what guns, stocks, etc. are reasonable or should be limited. It all comes back to philosophy. What is the point in discussing this if we don’t agree on the central premise?

              • no snark, Sparty: how do you protect your family against tornadoes? How about accidental explosion? Brake failure on a bus?

                Some things cannot be guarded against. Gun ownership falls into that category.

        • How effective were the Taliban against the U.S. military?

        • Still Spartan wrote, “…a citizen army would be ineffective against the U.S. military.”

          You know not what you are speaking of.

          • Still Spartan

            What weapons do you possess to take down a bomber, jet, tank, battleship, cruiser, submarine, drones, etc.?

            • Still Spartan wrote, “What weapons do you possess to take down a bomber, jet, tank, battleship, cruiser, submarine, drones, etc.?”

              Spartan,
              What’s driving your opinion on this is a serious lack of warfare knowledge and blind assumptions, lots of them; that’s exactly why I said that “you know not what you are speaking of”. The biggest assumption anyone could possibly make in an armed conflict is that a citizens army would be “ineffective against ___________”. If a General of the United States Army thought that way he’d be thrown out of his position in a heartbeat and demoted to pushing pencils or shoveling shit.

              The British thought a citizens army would be ineffective against their formidable army right up to the point that their bubble got burst.

              The North thought similarly until their bubble got burst at the onset of the United States Civil war. There were people that made a picnic out of going to watch the North whip the ass of those “ineffective” country boys from the south; how’d that turn out.

              The Army of the USSR underestimated Afghanistan.

              There are examples of this through out the history of the world.

              If you underestimate the opposition in an armed conflict, you get dead.

              • Still Spartan

                Yet you didn’t address any of my points.

              • charlesgreen

                “There were people that made a picnic out of going to watch the North whip the ass of those “ineffective” country boys from the south; how’d that turn out.”
                Uh, the North won, didn’t they?

                • charlesgreen wrote, “Uh, the North won, didn’t they?”

                  That picnicking battle was at Manassas and the North lost! I’m glad the Union Army won the overall war.

                  By the way your statement is not a real argument as proof of the ineffectiveness of the Confederate Army and if you are implying that the Confederate Army wasn’t “effective” just because they lost the war, you are sorely mistaken.

                  Here is some facts based on the information I just obtained from the National Parks Service

                  Army Size
                  Union Army 2,672,341
                  Confederate Army 1,227,890

                  Killed In Battle
                  Union Army 110,100
                  Confederate Army 94,000

                  Wounded In Battle
                  Union Army 275,174
                  Confederate Army 194,026

                  Total Killed or Wounded In Battle
                  Union Army 385,274
                  Confederate Army 288,026

                  Now I’m going to use that wonderful political left propaganda tool called “fun with statistics”.

                  The Union had an Army that was 2.18 times larger than the size of the Confederate Army and yet the Confederate battle effectiveness in lives was 1.34 times (rounded) the that of the Union Army. The Confederate Army had a killed/wounded effective rate of 74.76 soldiers for every 100 Union soldiers. Based on the overall numbers, it took 9.28 Union soldiers to put down one Confederate soldier, where it only took 3.19 Confederate soldiers to put down one Union soldier. (That’s what you call “fun” with statistics) The Confederate Army was actually more effective on the battle field they just didn’t have the numbers to sustain the conflict. Based on the hard numbers and the battle field kill/wound ratio effectiveness, if the Confederate Army had an equal sized army as the Union Army, the Union Army would have likely lost and lost big.

                  Effectiveness should not be only measured by the end outcome. For example; if Russia and the USA got in a nuclear exchange and we destroyed every life in Russia and we only had one person alive in the United States then the United States won, so by your “we won” measure Russia was not effective because they lost.

                  • The South refused to invade the North for years. It took those years for the North to get it together. Who knows what might have happened if the South invaded and burned as was done by Sherman?

                    • They were defending against “invaders” not trying to gain ground. There are lots and lots of what if’s.

                    • Hindsight being 20/20, maybe they should have invaded. Their real enemy were the wealthy industrialists of the North. Had they recognized that fact and realized that they could not win a defensive war, New York would have burned.

                      Interesting to think about, but only valid if you are reading something by Harry Turtledove 🙂

            • I would kill the pilots, tankers, sailors, etc. when they were vulnerable: in port, on leave, at home, in public. Having a gun allows this much easier than having to use an arrow, or a knife, or a truck bomb.

              And they know it.

              • PS: The politicians who order such actions against civilians would have many of the same problems. We would go for their bodyguards, who must be exposed. They will have a hard time getting protection (men with guns) very quickly, and office staffers would be next. Where do these folks get their food? Lots of people with cameras in their pockets these days. Not hard to figure out who to hit.

                And they know it, too.

                This is why the elite want guns to be banned.

  11. Tex,

    Thanks for articulating — and doing it superbly — what many of us believe but haven’t put into words. I wholeheartedly agree with your analysis.

    On the possible proposals: I don’t think I disagree on a limit to numbers of magazines. However, I do think implementation would be virtually impossible to do in a secure manner without getting into some sort of nationwide registry or confiscation action.

    Likewise on ammunition. Whether there should be some sort of limit or not, I doubt there would be a practical means of establishing one.

    Regarding the regular army — I have no doubt that a large portion of the regular army would, in fact, mutiny if called upon to massacre dissidents. Doubt some would not, but such actions would inspire increased resistance from the rest of the army, I believe. The same is probably even more true for the national guard.

    • Yep. My brainstormed ideas would all be difficult to implement given the vast quantity of what is already in the community. That may make solutions impossible.

      Again, I’d only only only support regulations like those IF, they can ensure anonymity of the gun owners coupled with programs designed to calm down the gun-grabbers psychotic fear of firearms to a point that they can be comfortable enough in an armed society that they don’t actually want to disarm everyone.

      If THOSE kinds of compromises can’t be reached, then I will always default to the nearly unfettered access to ammunition and magazines, and guns.

  12. Mrs. Q

    A very sober and nuanced analysis that also shows your humility Tex. All of the suggestions you made essentially ended with the caveat “I’m not even satisfied by them” which demonstrates that this complicated issue remains so, in spite of what you showed as seemingly reasonable solutions.

    My hackles get raised by having registries, even if they are not by name but by an assigned number that eventually links to your name. I say this because once a persons name is attached to gun/ammo ownership is when they can be found and have their arms removed, especially, as history shows, by an emerging dictatorship.

    Oregon just passed a law that allows anyone who knows a gun owner and decides they aren’t “mentally healthy” (which these days could simply be a person who doesn’t worship socialism) to go briefly testify in court, w/o the gun owner present to defend themselves, and have their weapons confiscated. HB 719a also allows the state to take away all guns in a household of different family members or roommates, when one other person in the house had a DUI.

    But I digress. Thank you Tex. I’ll be sending a link to your post to some of my gun-toting relatives to see what they think of your suggestions.

  13. cathammer

    Excellent commentary!

    Like some others, I have a few quibbles, of course ;-).

    I can’t see how an ammunition limit could be realistically managed, much less in any way that would affect serious criminal behavior. I would also like to have seen you address the aspects of how English common law precedent & the idea of effective self-defense being a “natural right” pertained to the legal/historical establishment of the Second Amendment, in addition to the government resistance issue.

    Re: “bump stocks”…To put it simply, they are merely a way to facilitate holding a firearm…loosely. This makes them less accurate and controllable than a full auto, and much less so than a carefully aimed semi-auto.
    They’re pretty easy to make, requiring no particularly special materials, engineering, equipment or skill (my opinion, of course, but contrary to your statement), or “simulate”, with a bit of practice and an unmodified semi-auto. There is also the “shoestring machine gun” trick, which any idiot could easily employ to similar effect. Any new laws banning or restricting bump-stocks will, like many others, only inconvenience the sane and law-abiding, and have no effect on criminal activity.

    From a pragmatic political standpoint, however, it might make sense for the NRA, et al. to trade treating bump-stocks as “firearms”, regulation-wise (background check if bought from dealer, etc.), in exchange for removing suppressors from NFA list status, and passing national concealed carry.

    • I saw a video of a dude using his belt loop to create the same physics as a bump stock. Very interesting.

      I have no doubt that the most ingenious of us will find a way to fabricate their own full autos. But then again, all laws drive some behavior into the dark.

      I donno, forcing would be mass murderers to take a few additional steps before committing mass murder WHILE not infringing on the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is the primary goal of my brainstorm.

  14. We may have to live with periodic casualties of liberty.

    Here is a passage from Mcdonald v. Chicago.

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1521.pdf

    All of the constitutional provisions
    that impose restrictions on law enforcement and on the
    prosecution of crimes fall into the same category. See, e.g.,
    Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U. S. 586, 591 (2006) (“The
    exclusionary rule generates ‘substantial social costs,’
    United States v. Leon, 468 U. S. 897, 907 (1984), which
    sometimes include setting the guilty free and the dangerous
    at large”); Barker v. Wingo, 407 U. S. 514, 522 (1972)
    (reflecting on the serious consequences of dismissal for a
    speedy trial violation, which means “a defendant who may
    be guilty of a serious crime will go free”); Miranda v.
    Arizona
    , 384 U. S. 436, 517 (1966) (Harlan, J., dissenting);
    id., at 542 (White, J., dissenting) (objecting that the
    Court’s rule “[i]n some unknown number of cases . . . will
    return a killer, a rapist or other criminal to the streets . . .
    to repeat his crime”); Mapp, 367 U. S., at 659.

  15. Thanks for this. Thanks for everyone’s input.

    I may not have been clear enough, I know Mrs. Q picked up on it: but even the ideas I floated are not satisfying to me (not in terms of the ideas being restrictive ENOUGH, but that they are too restrictive).

    Probably not workable.

    But, with any suggestion, there can be NO compromise on gun control until the half of the electorate that wants to ban guns steps off that line and agrees to the good of the 2nd Amendment and recognizes that any compromises must be made with an eye to preserving the purpose of and ability to support the 2nd Amendment. That’s why even the suggestions above would be anathematic to the average Left winger, because they are still too liberty and freedom oriented. 7 x 30 round magazines? That’s too much for a gun grabber. Possession of 500-600 rounds of ammo. Too much for a gun grabber. Limiting rate of fire modifications while not limited what firearms a citizen can own? Too much for a gun grabber.

  16. Tex,
    Great thought provoking essay!

    I agree with the 30 round mag limitation and a couple/few Infantry soldier ammo loads – in mags – as a readily available ammo limits. Loose ammo is different and presents challenges as you mentioned. First I do not consider ammo that is not loaded in magazines to be readily available for firing unless the ammo is in speed loaders, so I think it should be dealt with differently.

    Here is a real problem with the ammunition portion of your essay. What if the firearm owner has multiple firearms that all fire a different round, this is not inconceivable at all, how would you suggest approaching that? I only have one round that can be fired from more than one firearm and that’s a.22 LR. Say a firearm owner has 5, 10, or even 15 different firearms and they all fire different rounds, what do you think might be a reasonable approach to this problem.

    Another point; regardless of the ammunition limit number, how would a firearm owner prove that they have actually shot the ammo or used the reloading components before they are allowed to purchase more? Forced to turn in the empty cases?

    • “Another point; regardless of the ammunition limit number, how would a firearm owner prove that they have actually shot the ammo or used the reloading components before they are allowed to purchase more? Forced to turn in the empty cases?”

      Yeah, that’s the problem I can’t solve without a scheme that is onerous on the individual gun owner. Until that can be solved I certainly wouldn’t support an ammunition limit

    • “Here is a real problem with the ammunition portion of your essay. What if the firearm owner has multiple firearms that all fire a different round, this is not inconceivable at all, how would you suggest approaching that? I only have one round that can be fired from more than one firearm and that’s a.22 LR. Say a firearm owner has 5, 10, or even 15 different firearms and they all fire different rounds, what do you think might be a reasonable approach to this problem.”

      My initial gut reaction is, I’m fine with firearm owners owning as many guns as they want, but I’d think that if ammunition limits were a rule, a hard line would have to be at total rounds owned, without exception to quantity of firearms owned. In fairness though, I saw a statistic (the accuracy of which I can’t vouch for) claiming that 3% of gun owners owned 50% of guns… the take away being that most firearm owners don’t own an arsenal, meaning that most people wouldn’t be seriously burdened by not having enough of all caliber ammunition.

      • …claiming that 3% of gun owners owned 50% of guns

        I wonder where that stat came from… as I suspect it is an attempt by the anti gun forces to minimize the impact of new rules on gun owners.

    • And thanks for the input!

  17. You have 2 choices:

    1) Living in a gun-free dictatorship, where the government kills 30,000 innocents per year.

    2) Living in a gun-owning republic with practically unfettered liberty, where criminals kill 30,000 innocents per year.

    OK:

    You have 2 choices:

    1) Living in a gun-free dictatorship, where the government kills 20,000 innocents per year.

    2) Living in a gun-owning republic with practically unfettered liberty, where criminals kill 30,000 innocents per year.

    • cathammer

      Not sure what you’re referencing here. In the past several years, murder and non-negligent manslaughter (by all methods) have averaged a total of around 14,000-15,000 per year in the U.S.
      https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-4
      ?

      • Hypothetical.

        Would you rather live in a dictatorship, in which the government kills 30,000 innocents, but there are no gun deaths by citizens…or in an unfettered republic where there are 30,000 innocents killed by criminals with guns?

        The next option decreased the deaths at the hands of the dictatorship to 20,000, while the free society has 30,00 deaths at the hands of criminals. Which would you prefer?

        • The follow on question being:

          Would you rather live in a seemingly free society that could flip at any minute because there are no protections against a tyrannical government that only has 10,000 deaths of innocents, while the free society has more?

        • cathammer

          Ah, OK.
          I would go with the free republic. My presumption would be that any government that feels free to kill a significant number of innocents would only tend to increase their atrocities, be repressive in many other aspects, and unlikely to improve without some action that would engender many more casualties. Criminals could more easily be dealt with until they go back to mainly killing each other.

          • agreed… with the observation that the ‘gun free’ society would never be so, given that criminals (and patriots) would never give up their guns.

            Of course, that would make patriots into criminals, too, wouldn’t it?

  18. charlesgreen

    All – best discussion I’ve seen on a very thorny, complex issue. Thanks to all who’ve contributed. Also, pretty darn civil, considering the usual tone of debate on this issue.

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