Comment Of The Day: “On The Anti-Gun “Weapons Of War” Talking Point”

Second Amendment authority Chipper Jones. He’s an expert because he had a .303 lifetime batting average, and shoots deer….

It was gratifying that the weekend post about the “weapons of war” anti-gun rhetoric attracted a  great deal of thoughtful commentary here. I was thinking about the post again today when, as is increasingly the case, a sportswriter gratuitously injected politics into sports commentary. Baseball season is fast-approaching, and while one of the many reasons I follow the game so passionately is its ethics content, I look forward to the game to get away from politics, and incorrigible social justice warrior agitators like NBC’s Craig Calcaterra, lapsed lawyer, can’t resist misusing their sports platforms as a political soap box. 

Today he gleefully informed readers that Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones had “denounced assault weapons,” telling Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“I believe in our Constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves,” Jones said. “But I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t.

“I would like to see something (new legislation) happen. I liken it to drugs – you’re not going to get rid of all the guns. But AR-15s and AK-47s and all this kind of stuff – they belong in the hands of soldiers. Those belong in the hands of people who know how to operate them, and whose lives depend on them operating them. Not with civilians. I have no problem with hunting rifles and shotguns and pistols and what-not. But I’m totally against civilians having those kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.”

Calcaterra makes sure that we knew that the ex-Braves player is an avid hunter and owns a rife, because he apparently wants us to think that owning a gun makes an athlete an expert on the Bill of Rights. (It doesn’t, and I’m pretty sure Calcaterra knows that.)

Concludes Craig,

“While debate, often acrimonious, will no doubt continue about these matters indefinitely, it’s striking to see someone like Chipper Jones come out so strongly on the matter in the particular way that he has. It has to make people at the NRA and those who support it wonder if, when you’ve lost Chipper Jones, you’ve gone too far.”

Thus we have a lawyer appealing to the authority of a man who played baseball all through highs school, and signed a contract to be a pro baseball player at te age of 18. Call me skeptical, but I question whether he has devoted much research to the history and philosophy underlying the Second Amendment, or has read any of the judicial opinion and scholarship analyzing it. I especially question Jones’ flippant “denouncement”  given the tell-tale signs that he doesn’t understand the right to bear arms at all, beginning with the misnomer “assault rifles” and the assumption that the most popular civilian rifle in the U.S. is a “weapon of war.” He also makes the offensive assumption that he is qualified to decide what kind of fire arms other citizens “need,” a commonly expressed  attitude sharply discredited in this essay by playwright and screenwriter David Mamet.

I find myself increasingly impatient with uninformed opinions on important matters relating to our personal liberty, expressed by celebrities with no more understanding or special expertise than the typical semi-informed citizen, and often less. I am even less tolerant when I am told by journalists that attention must be paid.

Here is the Comment of the Day by Glenn Logan, who is informed on this issue, on the post On The Anti-Gun “Weapons Of War” Talking Point: Continue reading

The D.C. Court Of Appeals Handgun Decision [UPDATED]

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this week that it is unconstitutional for the District government to restrict handgun licenses only to citizens who can prove a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” D.C. now must follow a standard system approved by the Supreme Court as not unduly burdensome to Second Amendment rights: issuing permits to adults who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class.

You can read the whole opinion here.  Two cases were under scrutiny: Wrenn v. District of Columbia and Matthew Grace and Pink Pistols v. District of Columbia.  Circuit Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote the opinion and was joined by Senior Judge Stephen F. Williams. Judge Karen LeCraft. Judge Karen Henderson, a Republican appointee, dissented.

This is a liberal court, but it properly upheld the Second Amendment while slapping down anti-gun talking points that I have always found obnoxious and totalitarian in spirit. “Why does anyone need a gun? Why do they need a semi-automatic weapon? Why do they need so much ammunition? I don’t need a gun. Guns are dangerous. If I don’t need one, you don’t need one.”

The government doesn’t have the right to tell me what I need. Strangers don’t get to tell me that my needs are unreasonable based on their beliefs and biases. In 2013, playwright and screenwriter David Mamet wrote an op-ed for Newsweek nicely articulating these principles. (If it is still available in its entirety, I lack the cleverness to find it. [UPDATE: Reader Frank Stephens was clever enough, and the link is here]. Newsweek banished the article to its ally The Daily Beast, where all links, including in my post about it, lead. That link is now dead: it just goes to the website. I searched the Daily Beast for the article: it isn’t there. But, oddly, a rebuttal to the article is. I suppose this is how the news media silences the apostates in its midst. Fortunately, this passage survives: Continue reading

Playwright David Mamet on Abuse of Power, Government and Gun Control


I have wrestled over whether to feature Pulitzer Prize winning playwright ( author, screenwriter, director, teacher) David Mamet’s recent essay in what is left of Newsweek on Ethics Alarms. The essay is at least 50% political/ideological, maybe more, and I try, often unsuccessfully, to keep the ethical analysis of political events as separate as possible from the political analysis—some would argue not hard enough, and not well. I also don’t agree with a lot of his piece, but that’s the least important factor. I decided that the essay, titled “Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm” belongs here because I know, from his plays, his screenplays and his essays, that Mamet is driven by a pursuit of ethical thought and action, and it is a theme underlying most of what he writes. He is also a vivid and expressive writer, one of the very best alive, in my view. Mamet is blisteringly smart as well. That doesn’t mean he is always right—he is, after all, a conservative, and in the prevailing view that puts his presumed  brain capacity somewhere between Hulk Hogan and Todd Akin—but he is always thoughtful, and to those few with open minds and good reading comprehension, potentially persuasive and necessarily enlightening.

Mamet’s essay is relevant to current events, of course, due to the sweeping gun ownership restrictions being proposed by Sen. Diane Feinstein, and the hysterical over-reaction to the Newtown tragedy, fanned by a shameless media and demagogues of all stripes that cleared the way for it. I’ve written plenty about all that already, alas not as well as David Mamet could. I am less alarmed at the prospect of Feinstein’s effort succeeding (because it won’t) than I am at what its sudden leap to the fore of Obama Administration priorities indicates beyond question: these people really have no intention of taking any serious, responsible and courageous efforts to address the debt and deficit. To only slightly paraphrase the excitable Matt Hooper in “Jaws” speaking to the pusillanimous mayor of Amity,  I think that I am now familiar with the fact that our current leaders  are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites us on the ass. This is unconscionable, incompetent, weak and despicable…but I digress.

The money quote in Mamet’s essay, I think, is this:

“Disarmament rests on the assumption that all people are good, and, basically, want the same things. But if all people were basically good, why would we, increasingly, pass more and more elaborate laws? The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so: and his right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution.”

What ever your thoughts are regarding gun control policies, you should read Mr. Mamet’s essay, and you can, here.


Graphic: All Music