Arizona Shootings

The US gun culture

These mass shootings happen in the United States with dismaying predictability.

Nearly four years ago, after a similar attack, I wrote a post about the second amendment to the US constitution which confers a qualified right to bear arms.  This amendment, which is routinely taken entirely out of context, is the holy writ of the US gun lobby.

I see no reason to write anything new on the subject, so I’ll simply copy the entire post here.


The second amendment to the US constitution is very clear. It was inserted into the constitution in 1789 at a time when there was widespread suspicion of the Federal government. Many felt that the individual States needed the possibility to protect themselves against tyranny and they were probably right.

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.

That’s what it says, and to me it seems very plain and unambiguous. It provides for the need to raise a State militia, and it does so by conferring a right to keep and bear arms. It says nothing about keeping a gun for personal protection.

Now, to read some of the replies to my post on the subject here last week before the awful events at Blacksburg, you would think the second amendment was Holy Writ instead of a political clause inserted by men fearful of centralised government.

A couple of things strike me about it.

Firstly, it’s a complete anachronism, appropriate to the eighteenth century but entirely impractical today. What would happen in reality if any individual State raised a militia against the federal government? Well, it already happened in 1861, and the federal government waged a war of such destruction and terror against the insurgent States that the consequences reverberate to the present day.

That was then. That was before F16 jets, Bradley fighting vehicles, depleted Uranium bullets, Cruise missiles, A-10 Warthog tank-busters, spy satellites and gigantic aircraft carriers. With horse and musket and cannon, the federal government laid waste to the South. Imagine what a federal government today would do to an insurgent State. And no bearded militia armed with Kalashnikovs and knives would withstand the onslaught for a day. If you think the violence in Iraq is savage, it would be nothing compared to the vengeance that any uprising would provoke in the United States.

Therefore, the second amendment seems to me to be obsolete and pointless.

Secondly, what is meant by arms? In 1789, the word would have meant muzzle-loading muskets, but today you have people walking around with Uzis and AK47s. Where are the limits? For instance, is there a right to own a field artillery piece? Or a B-52 bomber? What about a nuclear missile? A battleship. Don’t laugh: these are all arms.

Thirdly, it seems plain to me as an objective outsider that it was never intended as a personal civil right. If the intention was to guarantee the individual a right to bear arms, it would have said this:

The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

That would have been clear, plain and unambiguous, but it doesn’t say that. It qualifies the right by placing it in the context of raising a militia.

Now, the other issue is the law in individual States. As I understand it, you can go to a gun show in Virginia and buy any weapon on sale – there and then – for cash, provided you’re over 18. There’s no background check. There’s no delay. Here’s your assault rifle, Sir. Have a nice day.(Admittedly, it isn’t completely unregulated: you can’t buy more than one weapon a month, which is something to be grateful for, I suppose).

So, even if they kept the second amendment, the individual States could tighten up their gun laws.

But what’s it all about anyway? What’s this business of wanting to carry automatic weapons around with you?  I don’t get it, but looking back through the years, I’d probably have loved it when I was eight.

They say, Well, we need to protect ourselves from the bad guys, and you have to agree there’s a big problem with gun-crime over there. Guns are everywhere, and all the bad guys are armed, so what’s the answer? Is it to arm the whole population, or is it to take away the guns from everyone? Are the people armed so that they can do the work of the police, or should the police be better resourced so that people don’t have to keep automatic weapons?

I don’t know. It seems to me that if the US government can afford to spend $20 million an hour on the Iraq war, you’d imagine they could afford to take on and disarm their own home-grown criminals, wouldn’t you?

I really think Moses was wrong about this one.

163 thoughts on “Arizona Shootings

  1. Bock, you’re making the same argument that Ferdinand von Prondzynski (the president of DCU) made and you’re both equally wrong.

    The problem is not the second amendment to the US constitution; many, many other countries have even looser laws on firearms than the US does (in Switzerland, ignore the whole “everyone has an assault rifle” thing – until two or three years ago, it was perfectly legal for them to walk into the viewing gallery in their equivalent to the Dail while carrying a concealed firearm). They do not degenerate into violent Mad Max-esque landscapes every night. They just get on with things. Forget the law itself and look more closely.

    The problem isn’t even firearms ownership itself; as risks to public safety go, firearms are barely a blip on the radar – even in the US, firearms accidents make up 0.49% of all annual fatal accidents. Cars are far, far more deadly. They may not look it, and everyone suddenly gets defensive about cars because face it, we all love our little freedom-mobiles… but when you look at the numbers, cars are undeniably incredibly dangerous from the point of view of public safety, especially when you notice in the US that half of all accidental fatalities with cars are people who weren’t in the car – ie. innocent bystanders, pedestrians, bicyclists and so forth. So the problem isn’t firearms per se, so look more closely.

    All those deaths you hear about in the US from firearms? Well, the last year we have figures for saw 17,000 or so shoot themselves (deliberately, while committing suicide – in the US, that’s the number one method chosen); and 12,000 or so were shot by criminals.

    So obviously the problem is suicide and crime. But those are really hard to fix, so what we’ll see is a law that says suicide and criminals are banned. Er, sorry, that the things they use to kill themselves and others are banned, that’s far more sensible.

    Now, about that law to ban steak knives, cars, hammers, and your hands….

  2. Well, in order:

    – it’s an anachronism, obsolete and pointless and out of context.
    That’s not only inaccurate – is the magna carta useless given how far we’ve progressed since? – but it’s also irrelevant to the shooting today (and to every other such shooting).

    – So, even if they kept the second amendment, the individual States could tighten up their gun laws.
    Seriously Bock, if you’re the kind of person who sees nothing wrong in walking up to someone in public like that and shooting them in the head, then you’re not going to pay much attention to gun laws in the first place. “Hm. You mean if I buy this illegal firearm on the black market I could go to jail for a year? I’d best not use it to shoot a sitting congresswoman in the head in broad daylight and in public!!!”.

    – What’s this business of wanting to carry automatic weapons around with you?
    You can’t do that in the US. Other countries, yes (Switzerland and Finland jump to mind), but in the US automatic firearms are even more tightly controlled than they are elsewhere.

    As to carrying pistols around with you (which seems to be the main thing they carry in the US), it’s not “I want to”, it’s usually “I’m scared not to when others do”. And face it, if we lived there, you and I would both carry the biggest f-off gun we could and wear kevlar all day when within a mile of them :D

    As to just having firearms to use yourself, well, frankly, it’s a sport to some, a pastime to others, and where their food comes from for quite a few. And those folk, who don’t necessarily want to carry firearms with them all day, do want the 2nd amendment because for everyone who’s happy to let someone have their sport as long as it’s safe, there’s another PETA-style nutjob who wants all the firearms destroyed (including Olympic ones, as one member of the UN NGO IANSA once famously proclaimed during a public debate on the topic). The whole debate gets so heated and the sides so entrenched that nobody wants to give up a legal right like the second amendment because once given up, it can’t ever be regained, and now the firearms laws can be ratcheted down tighter and tighter, all the while not addressing the problem – and since the problem never gets better, the anti-firearms-ownership side calls for more and more ratcheting.

    Which is pretty much what we see here in Ireland, by the way.

  3. Speak for yourself Mark. You don’t know know whether I’d carry a gun or not.

    I think it’s an anachronism because a state militia has been an impossibility since the civil war. And the amendment only confers the right to bear arms in the context of a militia, not as an individual. That’s the point of the post. All the rest is just commentary.

  4. Sorry, but the Supreme Court disagrees with your reading of their constitution Bock (they regard it as the foundation of the laws surrounding the private ownership of all firearms for all purposes).

    And if you were there and didn’t carry a gun or wear kevlar… well, you might be in the one crime-free part of the US and be okay – but personally, I prefer to avoid going there, and if I have to, damn right I’d carry a gun, because their crime figures scare me too.

  5. Not on a point of law it’s not, unless you’re making your case in front of the Supreme Court.
    If you disagree with them on the law outside of that context, you’re basicly breaking the law.

    (ie. I disagree with the Supreme Court’s assertion that the speed limit is 60, so I’ll drive at 80 – well, that’s not really a disagreement so much as it is an illegal act :-p )

  6. What the US needs is more concealed weapons carry permits.
    To get them you have to show you are not a fruitcake or a violent criminal.
    Quite a few mass shootings have been prevented because an honest citizen shot the fruitcake with a concealed weapon.
    400,000 Americans die prematurely of smoking related diseases every year.
    If the troops at Fort Hood had been allowed weapons the Muslim psychiatrist terrorist would have been killed after or before his first shot.

    There are more that 200 million guns in private hands in the US and they will work after 100 years.

    The press reports say the mad man used an automatic weapon–those are illegal in the US and classified as machine guns.

  7. Mark — I don’t think I’m breaking any law in saying that I disagree with the court’s interpretation of grammar and punctuation. There was a time when all schoolchildren were taught to parse and analyse a sentence though, sadly, this no longer so, and people’s reasoning skills have suffered as a consequence. I’m afraid the grammatical deficit may well have reached the US supreme court.

    The court decided that the first clause was merely prefatory as opposed to operative. In other words, they decided, on the basis of a comma, that the bit about the militia was a sort of verbal decoration. Their judgement was founded on grammar, not law, and the learned judges are no more authoritative in that department than anyone else with a reasonable level of literacy.

    In this case, they were wrong. Not only did they fail to grasp the significance of the comma placement, but they also failed to place the wording in the educational context of those who wrote it. Unfortunately, another thing no longer taught in schools is Latin, which most or all of the framers would have learnt. At that time, and up to quite recently, there was an inordinate emphasis, to the point of pedantry, on getting the Latin structures right in written English. It would have been considered self evident by any educated person in the 18th century that the opening clause governs the whole sentence and is not just a preface.

    The supreme court’s decision was perverse, in my opinion, and derived from cultural shifts that occurred since the amendment was drawn up.

  8. A simple reading of the Amendment agrees with Bock – there are no state militias anymore. How the Supreme Court reads into it that someone can have a gun to defend themselves and not just their state is also beyond me. But, on the other hand, they’re pretty smart guys (and ladies), so they must have a good reason to read it that way. I’m sure that others also disagreed with them – in fact, probably other SC justices. But that’s how law is – majority of judges rules (not like juries, where I believe it has to be unanimous, at least for some things).

    But Mark makes a lot of good points. Except about disagreeing with the SC. One can still disagree, as long as they don’t break the law.

    Regarding this shooting – the guy must be crazy to have done what he did – try to kill a sitting legislator, killing a Fed judge (wonder if he knew that that’s who he was), besides all the others. What kind of punishment is appropriate for a killer like that? Death by gunshot to head, seems to me. But if his lawyers have him plead insanity, could he possibly get off? And if he’s a jihadist, he doesn’t care anyway – he got a good harvest of death and maiming in exchange for his own measly life. Allah Akhbar, isn’t He?

    I saw a story about this, that Palin did an ad where she revealed where she revealed locations of nasty Dems, and identified the places with a gun site target symbol! Could she be prosecuted for incitement? She’s in pretty hot water now. For example, here, or just Google “giffords palin”:

    Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot in Arizona, was on Palin’s infamous “target” map (Updated)

  9. At first Palin hunted just moose
    The trigger she fingered got loose
    She targeted Dems
    Including some Fems
    It looks like she’s cooked her own goose

  10. or, alternate last two lines – mix and match as you like!:

    At first Palin hunted just moose
    The trigger she fingered got loose
    She targeted Dems
    The ones she condemns
    It looks like she’s hung her own noose

  11. I’ve five words for Mark Dennehy’s argument : “Lies, damn lies and statistics”.

    “in the US, firearms accidents make up 0.49% of all annual fatal accidents.”

    So rapes, non-fatal accidents & robberies don’t warrant inclusion in this debate when they involve guns?

    Bock’s point is well made when he says

    “This amendment, which is routinely taken entirely out of context, is the holy writ of the US gun lobby.”

    People who genuinely care about public safety involve themselves in the debate over where to set the bar on gun control, and most of them agree it’s too low in the US right now. Anyone else who feels the need to hark back to outdated text is more concerned with the right to bear profits from guns & ammo sales.

  12. Mark, RE: “And if you were there and didn’t carry a gun or wear kevlar… well, you might be in the one crime-free part of the US and be okay – but personally, I prefer to avoid going there, and if I have to, damn right I’d carry a gun, because their crime figures scare me too.”

    I’ve lived in the US. I have family and friends who live there – US and Irish citizens.. “Avoid going there” – Are you serious? No one I’ve ever known there (and I’ve gone to college and worked there) has ever owned a gun. Damn right you’d carry a gun? You’ve been watching too many movies I think Mark.
    There are bad spots like everywhere but I think you have the wrong impression of the country if you think you’d have to carry a gun there. I’m really suprised at that type of comment to be honest.

  13. Also, I agree with the points made in the post. The second amendment to the constitution was only relevant to the timeframe it was adopted and has since been interpreted incorrectly. I believe this has proven to be a detriment to the general U.S. populace. It might even be said to be self evident. :)

  14. There are a lot of bad spots, mostly in cities I think. And things might get worse as the economy gets worse. It’s good for responsible people to carry a gun – to protect themselves, and maybe others, too. The problem is, how do we determine being responsible? And, if a good samaritan tries to defend someone else, how will the police know that he’s not one of the aggressors?

    In Israel, many people openly carry guns in holsters, and soldiers, including female ones, carry rifles and even sub machine guns. Just happened a few months ago that an Arag drove his tractor into pedestrians, and another civilian bystander – might have been a military reservist – killed him before he did more damage, and before the police got there. I think that the US is far from such a military mindset, but it does help in certain circumstances.

    There’s really no way to protect against what happened in Arizona, important (or not) people congregating in public, open places. Unless you have snipers in overlooking apartments, watching for shooters and getting them first.

    Mark – it is a little unfair to compare car deaths to shooting deaths – both and all others are bad, and have to be diminished.

  15. On the face of it, there appears to be a problem with America society in general at the moment. Apparently the reason for this atrocity was the idea of health care for all. Some seem to feel that it is acceptable to allow people to die from ill health, but not acceptable to stop everyone from carrying a gun .

  16. Well if gun control is the answer to crime then Ireland must be a crime free safe country and Austria, Switzerland ,Czech republic ,Finland, France etc must be the most dangerous crime ridden places on earth.

  17. You just went down that road – why? I only brought it up as an example of more citizens walking around armed, and you make an “evil Israelis” comment on it – while saying not to go there! With Scotty, too – saying that he was Israeli. You expect to just throw out off-topic barbs like that, and not allow a response? I’m dissapointed.

    When, “not so long ago” did Israel drive “its entire army into Gaza killing thousands” (meaning, at least two thousand)?. I googled “gaza thousands killed” and didn’t find it, at least not in the first 100 links. Thousands protest, thousands mourn, thousands flee, thousands march – but not thousands killed. Not that hundreds or even dozens is a good thing, but let’s not exaggerate. I don’t want to go there either, but you can’t just make a statement like that unchallenged. The closest thing I found was:

    While Israel has killed and wounded thousands of Palestinians in Gaza (one thousand on Saturday alone)…

    But that’s by far mostly wounded. And many of those killed were probably killed by their own Hamas brethren.

    Here is this, OTOH, from

    Yes ALL innocents that die are tragic – but it’s not fair to ONLY mourn the Palestinian innocents while ignoring the FAR GREATER number of Israeli civilians who have been killed. And remember: the Palestinians knew what Hamas stood for when they voted them IN.

    In Iraq, over one million people have died because of the UK and USA. Yet Iraq never attacked either nation.

    Israel was entitled to ***respond*** to the eight YEARS of terror attacks that came from Gaza. Thousands of Israelis died – were THOSE not ‘war crimes’?

    I suggest that people check out

    So we went there – but we don’t have to stay there.

  18. @JL Pagano:

    So rapes, non-fatal accidents & robberies don¿t warrant inclusion in this debate when they involve guns?

    Non-fatal accidents don’t have statistics gathered on them because most of the time they’re not reported – when did you last report it when you hit your thumb with a hammer?

    Rapes and Robberies are reported, but they’re reported as Crimes. And I apparently didn’t make my point sufficiently earlier so I’ll restate it more clearly. The penalty for owning an illegal firearm is much much smaller than the penalty for homicide. If you’re planning on committing an act of homicide, knowing the penalty, then no law about firearms will stop you because you don’t care about the penalty. If it’s life (or the death penalty) for killing someone, then a six-month suspended sentence for buying a gun on the black market isn’t going to stop you killing that someone.

    Ergo, when thinking of firearms and public safety, you ignore crime, because that’s a whole other ball of wax. We don’t, for example, write road traffic acts based on the acts of people who deliberately run other people down to kill them; because that’s a criminal matter, not a public safety matter.


    ¿Avoid going there¿ ¿ Are you serious? No one I¿ve ever known there (and I¿ve gone to college and worked there) has ever owned a gun. Damn right you¿d carry a gun? You¿ve been watching too many movies I think Mark.

    First off, I’m reading too many reports of actual events, not movies. From TSA employees being caught masturbating to the images from the new backscatter scanners at airports, to crime reports in the places I would be sent to work in, none of it makes me wish to go live there or even visit; but if I had to, damn right I’d carry a firearm with me. The US simply doesn’t address the cause of its problem with criminality (it’s much happier play-acting at fighting the effects), and until it does, it won’t get any better. And while small-town america seems comparable to most other countries in that regard, the large cities (where I’d wind up) are horrendous from a crime statistics point of view. Add in a lot of untrained scared people carrying firearms because of that, and you have a recipe for my idea of a really unpleasant place to be.

    BTW, you’re not exactly unique in having friends and family working there.


    The court decided that the first clause was merely prefatory as opposed to operative. In other words, they decided, on the basis of a comma, that the bit about the militia was a sort of verbal decoration. Their judgement was founded on grammar, not law, and the learned judges are no more authoritative in that department than anyone else with a reasonable level of literacy.

    That argument would hold water Bock, if it wasn’t talking about the Supreme Count of the United States. Their status as that court pretty much negates your argument, that’s why membership of the court is such a big deal. You can disagree with their decision, but you still have to abide by it, and any argument you make based on the idea that the decision is wrong, is a fatally flawed argument from the outset.

    To use an Irish example, I am personally convinced that the High Court returned a perverse judgement in Nally-v-Ward based on the evidence and statements surrounding that case. I believe an act of premeditated murder took place and went unpunished because of racism. However, because it went in front of the High Court, my personal opinon is not an adaquate foundation for legally justifying any actions; if, say, I walk up to Nally in the street and call him a murderer, it’s an act of defamation legally speaking because under the law of the land, he’s been exonerated.

    Same deal with the Supreme Court in the US – they’ve decided on the question of how the amendment is to be read, and by definition, any other interpretation of the amendment is, simply, wrong.

  19. The right to bear arms in America is like the right to free speech or in other words a basic human freedom.Remember most of the people who settled America went there because they had no freedom in their home countries.Speaking your mind or possesing a weapon could land you in the dungeon or on the gallows.This is now a deep part of their national psyche.Regarding the spate of mass murders there.It is pointless focusing on what the murderer had in his hand.It would be better to ask what has gone wrong in American society.After all guns have always been available there.But these mass murders are a recent development.As we have seen people in other countries have plenty of guns but do not have this problem.And why this “gun culture” and “gun” crime stuff.Do we add that prefix to crime where the criminal does not use a firearm such as kitchen knife culture or screwdriver crime!!

  20. S1LU — The Scotty comment was not a barb, it was a gentle joke. Your example of Palestinians comes heavily loaded with overtones from which there is no escape. It’s an unfortunate example, because in that region there is conflict, and there is a gross imbalance between the opower of Israel and that of the Palestinians. It was not a wise example to choose because you must know it will provoke a response.

    Mark — I have to accept that it is the law of the land, but, because I don’t live in America I can neither abide by it nor otherwise. However, I do not have to accept that their logic is correct.

  21. The nature of ” American Culture ” is violence, it is promoted in all it`s agressiveness. The shoot first and ask questions later syndrome, firepower ” American Firepower ” is the be all and end all.

    The attitude is he who has the biggest and the most weapons is the best.

    Some 1, your example is scary, did this man lose control of his vehicle, and as a result of that was executed, was the fact that he was an Arab the main ingriedient in his execution. Would the driver of that vehicle have been executed if he had been Jewish?

    Not one part of your example was really relevent to the post, but scary just the same.

  22. Mark a TSA employees being caught masturbating to the images from the new body scanners at airports is hardly the crime of the century. We have a lot worse perverts here on our shores, don’t you think?

    The large cities where you’d wind up? Where are you talking about? I was in Manhattan recently and I’d have to say it seemed perfectly safe there to me. Admittedly there are problems in places like downtown Los Angeles, attributable to social deprivation and gang feuds. These are problems that cannot be solved other night. I believe giving access to guns to the general population when there are problems like this is a recipe for disaster in certain areas.

    “BTW, you’re not exactly unique in having friends and family working there. ” Really Mark? I’m allowed talk of my own experience, no?

    BTW, this statement seems completely illogical to me: “Same deal with the Supreme Court in the US – they’ve decided on the question of how the amendment is to be read, and by definition, any other interpretation of the amendment is, simply, wrong.” What if they are wrong Mark? That is an authoritative fallacy. It is a fallacy to think that any authority is infallible, including the US supreme court. Any decisions they make, can and should be open to criticism – whether we have to abide by their rulings or not due to our country of residence.

  23. But all he was saying is that a person shouldn’t go so far as to break the Supreme Law, even if they dissagree with it.

    Bock – I thought that the Scotty comment was just a gentle joke. But then, when you reacted to my gun comment, it kind of put the Scotty one in a larger context. Or maybe not.

    My example was not of Palestinians – it was of one Arab tractor driver who decided one day to kill some people, probably Jews. Should I have not mentioned that he was Arab? Maybe that would have prevented such a highly charged political response from you.

    I understand now that it’s hard for me to say anything about Israel without it being taken as provocative. I read Google News headlines several times a day, and 90% of any of the headlines about Israel are only talking about military actions, attempts at renewing peace negotiations and their inevitable failure, and the like. Almost never good news from Israel, although there is much, like scientific and technical discoveries and advancements.

    Imbalance of power does not necessarily mean inverse imbalance of justification. The current underdog is not always the right dog.

    And finally, you haven’t yet given your source for saying that “Not so long ago, Israel drove its entire army into Gaza killing thousands”.

  24. Mark a TSA employees being caught masturbating to the images from the new body scanners at airports is hardly the crime of the century. We have a lot worse perverts here on our shores, don’t you think?

    Not state-sanctioned perverts who you are not allowed refuse permission for strip-searching or backscatter scanning to…

    What if they are wrong Mark?

    You appeal their decision. Or are you unfamiliar with Holmes’ quote? This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.

  25. I’m talking about Operation Cast Lead, but we will not be discussing it in this thread, nor will we be debating numbers. It would not have come up but for the reference to an Arab in Israel, which is is certainly a highly-charged subject. It’s not so long ago since soldiers regarded Irish people with the same eyes, and sometimes shot them at checkpoints.

    The American problem is a civil issue and has nothing to do with military or political sovereignty

  26. Mark — This is a discussion about whether the court was right or wrong to interpret the amendment as it did. We can do that if we want. It’s allowed. We can have opinions.

  27. Mark — Nothing is above scrutiny. Not the US supreme court, not the Pope, not the laws of physics.

    Nobody is disagreeing that the supreme court is the final stop in the appeal process under the US system, and I have already acknowledged that their decision is law. However, this is not a legal procedure. This is a debate on a web site and their logic is open to be examined. I think they made a mistake. Others think they didn’t.

    It’s a perfectly legitimate discussion to hold, and there’s no point holding the force majeure argument over our heads. I know they”re the final arbiter of law in America. We all know that. It isn’t the point.

  28. Scrutiny, yes; but you can’t make any legal argument about their decision Bock. So when you say “oh, they’ve read that wrong” about the fundamental legal document that they’ve ruled on, you’re wrong by definition because you’re making a legal argument.

    If you think it shouldn’t be that way, that’s a whole other ball of wax, but you have to accept that it is that way before you can make that argument.

  29. Mark — Could you provide some insight into the legal principles they relied on to make this judgement?

    They don’t appear to have relied on any law or principles, as far as I can see, but simply made an interpretation of a straightforward, if somewhat archaic, sentence.

    The arguments proposed in court all had to do with the presence or otherwise of commas. Some states have ratified a version of the amendment that contains three commas, others only one. Transcription of the original appears to have been at the mercy of the scriveners who, in true 18th century style, might or might not choose to insert a comma as the mood took them. Some scribes preferred many commas, some none.

    I don’t claim to have any legal standing but I do have a reasonable grasp of English and I’ve already explained why I think they were wrong. I think they interpreted this straightforward sentence in a grammatically mistaken way, for reasons I’ve detailed, and it would not surprise me in the slightest if a future supreme court overturns this ruling for the same reasons.

  30. I’m talking about Operation Cast Lead, but we will not be discussing it in this thread, nor will we be debating numbers.

    We don’t have to talk about it, or debate the numbers.

    I admit that I started this by saying he was an “Arab” tractor driver. You should admit that you’re wrong about Israel killing thousands. There’s nothing to debate: even the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights claims only 1417 killed (Israel claims 1166 and is more consistent), about 700 of whom, according to both Israel and Hamas, were fighters/security personnel/terror operatives. Not to mention Palestinians killed by other Palestinians, or used as human shields. See the 3rd paragraph of


    “Over a thousand killed” would have been correct (although not necessarily all by Israel); “thousands” is not.

  31. Fine – but you didn’t say mass killings – you said “thousands”. I’m sorry to harp on this, but exaggeration weakens a person’s case, and makes people not want to believe other things that they say. Besides being rather frustrating.

    And the “mass killings” went both ways. Israel’s killing of others was provoked.

    Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, not everyone admits them.

  32. Your choice. Dissappointing, though.

    “Yes, you’re right – I exaggerated a little too much”. That’s all you should say. You could even add “And thanks for pointing that out”. Is that so hard?

  33. Have you any idea at all how you’re coming across?

    even the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights claims only 1417 killed

    Imagine the reaction if anyone said only 1417 Jews had been killed..

    Get a grip.

  34. It now seems that the “shooter” was “disturbed” and expelled from School . He attended with his parents to be readmitted and the School asked for a psychological report prior to considering his readmitted Yet he could “legally” go out and buy a gun and ammunition capable of killing a number of people. To write of freedom/rights in this context strikes as being ridiculous. As to the Supreme court it has been packed with right wing fundamentalist Christians by the Republican system and in my opinion lacks creditability .

  35. This post is about gun control in the US.

    In which case, this post’s comments would be relevant. Because basicly, there’s little wrong with gun control in the US. The problem’s not the guns, it’s the morality of the people using them. There’s something wrong with someone who walks up to another human being and kills them in cold blood, in public, in broad daylight, because they disagree with them. It’s nothing to do with what tool they kill them with, whether it be a gun, a knife, a baseball bat, their bare hands, or anything else.

    The problem isn’t solved by banning guns or controlling them any more than they are already controlled. The problem might be solved by banning americans, but most would think that facile. So instead we’re left with, well, the last minute or so of this, where a qualified expert explains how to prevent such shootings. Of course, we’ll never follow his advice, because that would lose people profits…

  36. I watched it. Pretty clear, reasonable advice – unfortunately not followed. Then one or two expected repeat performances in a week. Terrible.

    Bock, it’s not me that’s coming across as being gripless here. My only point, which you are totally and inexplicably avoiding, is that the number killed that you mentioned is wrong. You’re doing everything you can to avoid admitting that. When I said “only 1,417”, that was as opposed to your thousands – not to say that the number is insignificant.

  37. S1LU you do seem to lost the plot as far as I am concerned. The thread was about American attitude to guns until you turned it into “poor little misunderstood Israel”

  38. The issue you don’t seem to see is that the scale of the slaughter in Gaza renders your example of the Arab very peripheral. That was the point of my response, not the numbers.

    An old science teacher of mine once defined infinity as any number larger than you consider large. Considering the circumstances of the attack, I would consider 1,400 obscenely large. Saying that the death toll was only into the second thousand and not the third thousand looks a lot like an effort to distract attention from the real point, which was drawing a contrast between mass killing and a single Arab in a car.

  39. Every state is different and every state has different gun laws. It is difficult to enact gun laws when, in effect, lawabiders will be the only ones to follow them. It leaves guns then to the criminals.
    The problem is not just about people having guns it’s people with mental health issues having guns. This shooter was thrown out of a community college and his parents advised to get a mental health evaluation.
    I know this won’t be popular but we have a gun in our house. We passed all the criminal and mental health stuff to get it. We took the training and safety classes etc. When I grew up in Ireland we had two hunting shotguns in the house,there were 6 children in our house. We knew not to mess with anything to do with them.
    I do think that it’s a deterrent to burglars to know that many people may be armed. Our crime rate here is exceedingly low (where I live). We got the gun when we had a business that involved a lot of deposits. It’s still here and I don’t intend to get rid of it. Our gun laws are strict. It’s a liberal state. NRA is not strong here. It’s an entirely different matter in other states.

  40. Like Mark stated above he could have used anything,a home made bomb,(remember the Oklahoma atrocity) a sword, an axe,or driven a truck at high speed into the crowd etc.Anybody intent on causing mayhem will find a way to do it.America is a society that is cracking and splinitering into fundamentalism of all kinds.Anybody who has ever joined websites frequented by Americans will quickly see this.If you disagree with their world view you will be subject to a tirade of abuse and threats.If you are foreign the abuse will be based on your national stereotypye and how your “lame ass country” should be gratefull to America for one reason or another and if you are American you will be an America hating traitor who should be kicked out of the country.There is no rational discussion allowed.I dont know what is fueling this.My impression is that America is a superpower that has a self confidence issue.I think this began after their humiliating defeat in Vietnam and the poor performance of their high tech army in Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with economic crisis at home and their huge financial debt to countries such as China.But then this probably does not explain it all either.Certainly not things such as the horrendous problem they have with school bullying for example (the spark for many other mass murders).

  41. William, what is interesting is the self-segregation regarding thought. Fox is a conservative network and thus that line of thought is hammered home, talkpoints are adopted by its Republican followers. Most others are more liberal. Rarely does one side watch the other. As a liberal the only exposure to Fox you see is Jon Stewart’s analysis.
    Newspapers are either one or the other usually and people buy accordingly. Websites too. Huffington Post is easier for me to read than The Freepers are unreal.
    So there is little discourse. And there is no fun in discussing as it gets very personal.
    When we were young I remember riproaring discussions between our FG house and FF visitors, and then we’d all have tea. It was cathartic. Granted the ideological divide isn’t huge. But I can count only two Republicans that we can sit and hash out stuff in a civilized manner.
    You are right. As a foreigner it is difficult to point out any flaw without being castigated. But all nations bristle at outsiders pointing out deficiencies. We were guilty of this in Ireland when non nationals did it too.
    Here they say you should never discuss politics. Can you imagine? We grew up discussing politics. If you are not in the habit of discussing politics you are probably only subjected to one view . Shame

  42. Regarding the gun control issue,there is another side to the issue that the” popular ” media ignores and that is all the people who succesfully defended themselves from criminals because they owned a gun.There was a programme on one of the satelite channels some time ago.Many thousands of cases,one example being a woman who shot and killed a serial rapist who broke into her flat in the middle of the night,also the countless numbers of people who defended their families homes and businesses during the LA riots.Would not like to be the one telling those people their guns have to be seized and smashed up in the interests of “public safety”.And where would it stop after all only last year a guy defended himself against an armed car thief by using his bow and arrow to kill the criminal. So what next after guns seize all bows!!

  43. And that was exactly my point.

    I’m sorry everybody, for continuing this tangent. I just feel unfairly wronged.

    My example wasn’t related to what happened in Gaza – you made that connection. My whole point, related to this post, was that there is a benefit to citizens carrying guns so as to defend against killers.

    What your science teacher said was cute – but also wrong. A larger number is just that – not infinity. You agree with him/her? You’re appealing to a mistaken authority – exactly what you think that Mark is doing, by holding by the Supreme Court ruling that you dissagree with! I don’t dissagree with you that 1,400 is large – it’s just not the larger THOUSANDS – that’s all!

    You’re the one distracting from my real point, not me from yours. The fact that the tractor (not merely “car”)driver was an Arab was not essential to the point – it was my mistake to mention it.

    Does anyone agree with me?

  44. Some1lovesU , Jesus Christ man will you leave it go, for fucks sake! Have you no idea what you are starting to sound like? You are talking about the death of human beings here and you keep coming back to your childish shit about 1400 versus thousands just cause you want bock to say he’s wrong. Its just fucken tasteless. I will say you are right and that Bock was wrong. Now does that mend your pride? Leave it go. The light that’s shining on you presently, is not a good one.

  45. OK – I hear that. It’s not pride – it’s misrepresenting what happened, and therefore, implicating Israel (or whomever it would have been) unnecessarily. He was also talking about the death of human beings, and implying that Israel was a greater killer than they were. Is that not as bad as what you claim I’m doing?

    If it was about almost anything else, I would have also called whomever exaggerated like that the same.

    I won’t go on and on about this, but if you want to move it all to another thread, that’s OK.

  46. It is sensible not to have sharp knives visible and easily accessible in ones kitchen, as they can be all too readily seen and used as lethal weapons in the course of a domestic row.

    It is equally sensible to strictly limit the availability of guns in a society.

    The argument that one needs guns for self-protection in a gun-totin’ society like the US doesn’t seem to make much sense unless you are as fast on the draw as Clint Eastwood.

    And nobody is that fast.

  47. It is sensible not to have sharp knives visible and easily accessible in ones kitchen, as they can be all too readily seen and used as lethal weapons in the course of a domestic row.

    My chef’s knives live on a magnetic rack and aren’t coming off of there.

    I judge it to be a far higher risk to have food contamination from an uncleanable knife block slot poison me or my wife (or, for that matter, that either of us suffer from severe lacerations causing tendon or nerve damage while digging a surgically-sharp knife out of a cluttered drawer).

    You have to consider the technicalities of such public safety ideas – otherwise you cause such unwanted side effects, which can often be more harmful than that which prompted the new ideas in the first place.

    Besides, most domestic rows see the man beat the woman with his fists – are you going to cut off your own hands lest you be a bad person? Because that act would rather set you in the camp of people who are unlikely to be a risk. Which is rather the whole problem with all of this debate; gun control (and knife control) laws are exactly that – laws. Words on paper, which are only heeded by the lawful. And those who would ignore a law that says you can’t have a gun, will not be heeding a law that says you can’t kill a person either.

  48. You don’t address the two main points I made, Mark.

    Your point about hygiene is irrelevant. There’s nothing to stop you from enclosing your chef’s knives on the magnetic rack out of sight in a press or something. That would not only be safer but probably more hygienic also.

    In your final paragraph you imply that laws serve no purpose. According to that logic, it is pointless having a law against murder, for example.

    That hardly makes sense.

  49. My final paragraph was meant to imply that a law with a minor penalty for possession of something that could be abused to harm others is nearly useless when the law against harming others has a far higher penalty but is still ignored by someone deliberately.

    As to enclosing my chef’s knives, no. I put the rack in a press, one of them falls off because it’s put on the rack too low, and next time I open the press, I get a surgically sharp chef’s knife falling into my face.

    Besides, if my knives were locked away, there’s still the meat tenderiser, the cast iron frying pans, the other pots and pans, the ceramic pot of the slow cooker, the meat probes on the thermometer, the glasses, the ceramic mugs and plates, the mug tree, the cutting boards themselves, the various other utensils with a bit of heft to them (ladles, etc), the various hurlable appliances like coffee grinders, the mortar and pestle, all the various glass bottles of oils and vinegars and so forth… do you get my point?

    And even if you keep all those away from me in a press, all I have to do if I’m that kind of person is to open a press and there they all are.

    Or are you suggesting I lock them away? Because then I just need to unlock the press and I’ll be the one with the key, don’t forget.

    Seriously, at some point you will have to accept that the problem here is not the tool used to commit violence, and that locking away or banning those tools is not a solution. The problem is people who were not raised to believe that harming others was wrong. And the solution is to raise people to believe that harming others is wrong, and to arrest and lock up those who don’t share that belief until such time as they do.

    But that’s not a quick fix, and it’s not sexy and dramatic, and no-one ever made a tv show about basic moral values (unless you count Mr.Rodgers) because nobody would buy ad time on it, so we’re probably going to stick to ideas that don’t work but let us make buddy-cop movies from now until we finally just give up and say fuck it, humans aren’t worth saving anyway.

  50. If I thought logic would work here, Mark, I’d try.

    But clearly you’re a true believer so it doesn’t matter to you what I say.

    I’ll just make one short simple point.

    A gun is not a “tool”.

    It’s a weapon.

    Many kinds of guns that are very easily purchased in the USA are weapons specifically designed to kill human beings.

    Calling them “tools” as you do is quite disingenuous.

  51. Mark RE: “Because basically, there’s little wrong with gun control in the US. The problem’s not the guns, it’s the morality of the people using them. There’s something wrong with someone who walks up to another human being and kills them in cold blood, in public, in broad daylight, because they disagree with them. It’s nothing to do with what tool they kill them with, whether it be a gun, a knife, a baseball bat, their bare hands, or anything else”
    “There’s something wrong with someone who walks up to another human being and kills them in cold blood” – no shit? Government cannot regulate anyone’s morality. You can never ensure that anyone has a morality that would have a basic standard of empathy, no matter how many movies or programmes encourage that. It might not be a morality issue even, but moreso a mental health problem that is the root cause of mass shootings such as this one.
    If you were to take your position to the next step, why not make nuclear weapons available to anyone, as availability wouldn’t be the problem if they were to be used indiscriminately – it would be the person’s morality that is at fault. Look it, guns are designed to kill. They shouldn’t be availble in my opinion to the general public. You will always have people will mental health problems and people who have a skewed morality. Those problems will never be eradicated, but government can make it difficult for people to get their hands on a gun. I would imagine, a person would stand a considerable less chance of dying by a knife being used on them as opposed to a gun.

  52. Logic works. Incorrect logic is just incorrect. For example:

    A gun is not a “tool”.
    It’s a weapon.

    Mine aren’t designed to kill humans SF.

    Mine are, in fact, specifically designed for Olympic competition and would be utterly useless as weapons, unless you grabbed them by the barrel and used them as overly-delicate, highly expensive clubs. Which I’d rather you wouldn’t as they’re slightly north of three grand apiece.

    There are firearms that are designed to kill. But the vast majority of them are designed to kill animals and are designed and built for that purpose and are not suited to being used in war, and hence aren’t designed to be weapons (a weapon being a thing used to harm another person). You can certainly argue that these can be abused to harm another person, but so can your car; and both cars and hunting rifles are equally un-designed for harming people.

    (Though frankly, when you say “Oh, a car’s intended for transport”, I want to yell in your face that it didn’t matter to the 212 people killed this year, or the 238 last year. They’re just dead because of people abusing cars by driving carelessly, driving too fast, driving while drunk and so forth).

    When you actually look at firearms designed for use on other human beings, you come up with a counterintuitively short list, most of which are already banned from private ownership in the US and EU already.

    So baslcly, you’re back to the same problem as before – people abusing tools for things they weren’t intended for, because those people are immoral.

    It’s like your kitchen knife analogy. Kitchen knives aren’t intended to cut human flesh, but they can be used for it if you’re immoral enough. Banning them won’t fix the problem because you can just as easily get another kind of knife, or pick up a frying pan to use to bludgeon someone instead.

    In more general terms, you won’t fix the problem by banning the tools; because if that’d fix it, people wouldn’t abuse the tools in the first place or they’d just abuse other tools not intended to harm humans.

    You have to fix the people, not the tools.

  53. @FME:

    Government cannot regulate anyone’s morality.

    Really? I was under the impression that that was the entire point of having any legal system at all. If they couldn’t regulate morality, why bother? Why have a police force, or a judiciary, or courts?

    Of course they can regulate morality. But they’re supposed to be the last line of defence in that regard, not the first. That’s why morality is always poo-poo’d by people looking to effect social change, because it’s hard to do, while banning something is simple and fast and you can get idiots to vote for you if you do it.

    I would imagine, a person would stand a considerable less chance of dying by a knife being used on them as opposed to a gun.

    Please, take some sort of basic medical course before you ever exercise your right to vote on this topic. If you believe that being attacked with someone using a knife is in some way less dangerous than being attacked by someone using a firearm, you aren’t fully informed as the the reality of the situation.

  54. I think there’s a flaw in the argument about using other implements to kill people and it’s this: in American movies and TV drama, there has always been a glorification of the gun as a weapon. It could be argued that the US built its modern culture on the mythology of the West and the Detective. You could also argue that much of its modern iconography is based on the car, but not as a weapon to kill people.

    That’s a big difference in a society where so many of its popular cultural references and beliefs come from the cinema and television.

    I can imagine a parallel universe with a different emphasis in popular culture. The Carfight at the OK Corral. The Cars of Navarone. The Drivist. Full Metal Side-Impact Protection.

    However, the difference is, cars evolved as a means of transport, sometimes used for killing. Guns evolved as a means of killing, sometimes used for sport.

  55. Spailpin – I understand your problem with using the word “tool” for a gun. But here are a couple of definitions I found that expand the idea of a tool a little bit:

    A tool is, among other things, a device that provides a mechanical or mental advantage in accomplishing a task…a device for doing work: an object designed to do a specific kind of work.

    A gun is a device that provides a mechanical and mental (intimidation) advantage in accomplishing the task of killing someone. It’s also an object designed to do the specific kind of work of killing. Mark is using it that way.

    But Mark, guns are much more efficient killing tools than knives. If that guy in Arizona had a knife instead of a gun, he wouldn’t have been able to kill and maim as many people as he did.

    And laws against guns aren’t the same as laws against murder. A person might very well be deterred from killing someone, when they might not be deterred from illegally owning a gun.

  56. While I completely agree with you about the cultural glorification there Bock, that’s an argument supporting the idea that the problem is the people, not an argument for banning the tools.

    If people didn’t glorify violence as a means to solve problems, then violence wouldn’t be used as much (it wouldn’t fix the problem in a single act, but nothing will, this is a messy human problem with no fast solutions). That’s what the psychologist was saying in the video clip I linked to above; glorify the act of violence, and it will trigger repeat performances.

  57. Some1, you’re not representing what I said accurately.
    I’m saying that most firearms are a tool intended and designed to do things other than to kill people.

    And as to efficiency of knives and firearms for that particular task, I think it’s the kind of mindset that will sit there and make that comparison that causes the problem. There are many cases on record of multiple stabbings, even from our own country. Comparing the number of people injured or killed between those incidents and cases where people shot other people and then making arguments based on efficiency is grotesque at best, and indicative of the kind of problem I’ve been talking about here at worse.

    As to deterrence, if someone is deterred from killing someone then ownership of the firearm isn’t even a problem to begin with. The problem arises only when someone is not deterred from killing someone, and that’s a problem with the person, not what they use.

  58. Mark — I think your view is somewhat aspirational. American identity seems to be built on the mythology associated with the West, the war movie and the detective narrative, all of which are intimately bound up with firearms. I think it’s unrealistic to expect that it will change.

    That’s what, in my opinion, makes the US different from other countries with high rates of gun ownership. Most other countries don’t define part of their culture in terms of gunslingers, and I’d hazard a guess that most other countries don’t have so many people living in the fantasy of cinema and tv drama.

  59. You’re not just a true believer, Mark, it would seem.

    You’re also a propagandist for the cause, as evidenced by your propensity for diversionary verbiage.

    For example, when I pointed out the flaw in your argument against strict gun control, you responded with this (post 56):

    “My final paragraph was meant to imply that a law with a minor penalty for possession of something that could be abused to harm others is nearly useless when the law against harming others has a far higher penalty but is still ignored by someone deliberately.”

    But this is just another flawed argument. The logic of this argument, again, is that it is pointless having any laws at all.

    Why have road traffic laws or laws against theft, for example, since, as you say, the gun killers in question are likely to flout those laws also?

    Look, Mark, you wouldn’t have to filibuster in this way if your position was logically tenable.

  60. Interesting debate.

    Here are some actual figures from the FBI:

    I see no data indicating how many of these murders were committed with legally-held firearms. Back-of-a-fag-packet calculations indicate that firearms are the instrument of choice in about 70% of all murders, but this varies widely by state. Alaska, Arizona and California appear to have broadly simlar gun laws, and yet Calif has a much higher murder rate. DC appears to be the murder capital at 18.84 per 100,000 population, despite having a relatively rigorous licencing regime:,a,1237,q,567003.asp

  61. Lets look at the real world here,there are many bad people in this world,can we agree on that.Now can anybody tell me of any non violent way a good person can defend themselves from a person intent on killing or raping them.What I am saying is this,Is self defence a basic HUMAN RIGHT and if it is how do the anti gun people here suggest that the average decent citizen accomplishes this?.By sitting the scumbag down and having a long chat with him about right and wrong perhaps!!.I am amazed by this witchhunt against an inamimate object as if human evil can be transferred to a piece of engineering which then can be destroyed and the world will be a safe happy place!!.Lets remember this people were killing each other in astounding numbers long long before the invention of firearms.And like the media I see the anti gun people here ignoring the folk who have defended themselves and their families with firearms.As the saying goes Sam Colt made all men( and women) equal.

  62. Yes, William, but I would prefer to have somebody trying to kill me with a loofah rather than a gun any day of the week.

  63. I think we have several gun owner streams here (in the US)
    -gun glorifiers who need to showcase guns because of some kind of Rambo complex ( I know, that’s harsh)
    -people who are interested in self-defence for legitimate reasons.

    The first and last obviously scare me.The gun glorifiers usually are those who have a very intense belief in “small government”, ie that government does not belong in there lives. This is a Republican (in the US sense) tenet. “Government shouldn’t tell me what to do”. Once this is understood it becomes easier to understand a lot of mysteries of American society. As Europeans we are very used to government telling us what to do and are not so anti-interference, sometimes to a fault. I always am amused by people who are in politics telling you they are going to get government out of their voters lives. They, however, make their living by being that government.

  64. William (and EashtGalwayWoman for that matter)

    I haven’t missed any point.

    The fundamental point here is quite simple really.

    It can be expressed in a rhetorical question:

    Why do you think there are no anti-loofah people?

  65. Boldpilot arrives to the scene yet again with his irrefutable facts and figures. :)

    Mark, RE: “I was under the impression that that was the entire point of having any legal system at all. If they couldn’t regulate morality, why bother? Why have a police force, or a judiciary, or courts?” There is a big distinction between law and morality. Law attempts to regulate external behaviour of people.
    If you want an example of how the law is inefficient and does not cover all aspects of justice, think of what has been done to our country by FF and execs in the banking sector. Whilst it may have been perfectly legal, it was certainly not moral.

    I don’t believe the connection between law and moral is inexorable -Nazi Germany comes to mind there. It is true that laws will be determined on the moral beliefs of a culture’s at a specific time, but I think there is a big difference between what is regulated from the outside – in (the law) as opposed to what you self regulate. E.g. I see no problem with a woman having an abortion, however it’s illegal in this country. Morals and the laws are very distinct from eachother. (off topic, sorry)

    I don’t poo-poo morality at all. I just don’t believe it’s the problem. I think anyone is capable of murder. Some people lose control during a very heated argument and rational decision making is bi-passed. Something to do with cerebral cortex – animal instinct stuff.
    I think having a gun to hand, in a home or anywhere is the cause of people getting shoot and killed – not their morals.
    I don’t need to take a medical course to ‘exercise my right to vote on this topic’ to understand the difference between the injuries a knife can inflict as opposed to a gun. As Some1LU says “If that guy in Arizona had a knife instead of a gun, he wouldn’t have been able to kill and maim as many people as he did.”

  66. EastGalwayWoman…yes here in Ireland we are like helpless children,we depend on our big “parent” the goverment for everything including expecting them to protect us from harm and nurture us from cradle to grave.In my opinion a soul destroying dependency.I understand the American concept of freedom and self reliance and so can understand their abhorrance of goverment interference in their lives.If I am seeing it correctly this opposition to the health bill is not so much opposition to the bill itself but fear that this is the beginning of a nanny state system.And there my understanding of it all ends for I cannot see how this intrudes in their lives to such a degree that it arouses fanatical opposition.I can understand outrage and opposition to a controlling mind numbing nanny state.But I cant see how they equate a health bill with that.Perhaps you can provide some more enlightenment on that topic.

  67. Mark — Incidentally, I asked in an earlier comment if you knew what points of law the supreme court pondered when they interpreted teh second amendment. There’s no point repeating the comment. It was number 34, and it was in reply to a point you made, so maybe you could continue that line of discussion.

  68. Bock, I’m all for it. But the image of our AGS as largely unarmed is actually inaccurate – they’re largely able to be armed rather rapidly. Something like two-thirds of the force can draw out firearms if required, it’s just very rarely done outside of the ERU and other armed units.

    I’m not a great fan of the ERU though, not because of them themselves, but because their track record indicates that their training was underfunded (that, and the ARW’s assessment of them). The same is true of the SO19 unit in the UK,. by the way – they have the same training setup as here (ie. they were trained by their army’s special forces) and the SAS weren’t very convinced that they should be deployed, they felt that they had insufficient training.

    I’m something of an advocate for more funding for training for the AGS than an advocate of closing down their armed units though, in case I wasn’t clear there. I think there’s a need for units like that, just with a lot more training (and that costs money).

    Having a gun to hand doesn’t cause murder. If it did, kitchen knives would have wiped us all out centuries ago in an apocolypse of domestic murder.

    Frankly, your argument is disturbingly similar to the arguments given that imply that victims of various crimes from mugging to rape to murder were in some way to blame because of something they did.

    As to knives and medical courses, if you’d taken one, you’d know that the idea that being attacked by someone with a knife was somehow less serious than being shot was purely a hollywood conceit. Reality is far less pleasant.

  69. If as some claim the right to bear arms only applies to muzzle loaders then surely on the same grounds the right to freedom of speech only applies to people on soapboxes in town square and the right to pursuit of happiness only applies to people clad in buckskins.

  70. Mark, I’m not blaming the victim in any way shape or form. I’m saying that anyone is capable of murder under certain circumstances regardless of their morals. Not that the victim provoked them, but that due to a moment of extreme anger and rational decision making being bi-passed.. and having been given access to a gun and the belief that it would protect them, they became a murderer.

    While you’re talking about morals. You might mention all the nuckle head idiots (that have guns) that need to be sorted out too.. good luck with that one.

    In this case, it’s simply irrefutable that so many people wouldn’t have died by this disturbed man using a knife as opposed to a gun.

    “The right to pursuit of happiness certainly didn’t apply to the Indians.” Too true Bock.

  71. William, re; health care.
    Isn’t it amazing that some of the eejits that object to universal health care on privacy grounds are the same ones that publish every minor happening on their Facebook page:) Again, it’s the government knowing too much about them that bothers them, and the government making decisions on what their healthcare should be. Two ironies here (to me anyway). Private healthcare insurance companies do this anyway-many on this board know I have a kid with medical issues-believe me the ins companies play hardball when the s* hits the fan. The other irony to me anyway is many of these same people who oppose universal healthcare on the grounds of governmental decision making are the same ones who would legislate against me have the decision power to have an abortion.
    It’s a fascinating country

  72. No I dont think so.Farmers there can get explosives for clearing tree stumps and rocks.Black powder is also available and of course it goes without saying fertilizer and diesel is available.Of course having a bomb in public is illegal but then as Mark has already made the point somebody set on mass murder is not going to be concerned about such legal technicalities

  73. Bock,
    The case we’re talking about is Heller and I think we’ve missed the finer points of it in the argument (for example, the second amendment doesn’t allow the insane or criminals to own firearms – something that has some relevance to the Arizona shooting).

    The argument basicly went like this: the constitution was not written in legalese. It was written for ordinary people at the time to read and understand.

    That’s pretty much the core of it. Everything else follows from there. For example, at the time, the militia was everyone who could pick up whatever firearms they had at home and walk to the nearest military outpost. It wasn’t a set group of trained men. And ‘arms’ were whatever you had that was in common usage (actually that point was set in an earlier case, where it was ruled that whatever was in common usage qualified as ‘arms’ meaning okay to handguns but feck off to machine guns and hand grenades and mortars – which is the same sort of law that we have in the EU by the way).

    There’s nothing in there about grammar, it’s all about what was said in court cases at the time and what language meant at the time (which has been the subject of a lot of study and there’s a lot of primary source material to reference).

  74. Bombs are explosives and when you set and fuse an explosive to remove a tree stump you have made a bomb.A bomb that is perfectly legal,so the same as guns perfectly legal.It only becomes illegal when you use it for an illegal purpose.A gun becomes illegal if you carry it for the purpose of mass murder also.

  75. Mark – Can I ask for a little clarification please. I don’t want to misunderstand what you said.

    Are you saying that the supreme court made its decision based not on legal principles but on its interpretation of the language at the time the amendment was drawn up?

  76. Actually, it’s more complex than that in that it presented a large number of citations of cases from the period and thereafter that pointed out what the language meant. In other words, the judges didn’t make it up from whole cloth, they presented cases which showed what the language was understood to mean at the time it was written.

    Basicly, the difference between guessing what life was like in 17th century england and reading Samuel Peep’s diary and newspapers from the time.

    There were other nuances involved as well. For example, the case wasn’t to let people have firearms willy-nilly; the case was to establish that the plaintiff had a right to apply for a firearms licence. Which is a right most Irish readers of this post have, by the way. And it wasn’t for the right to carry those firearms down the street, but to possess them in their own home. Basicly, the rights they were suing for were pretty much the same rights we have in Ireland, not the rights they would have had in the Wild West. The main change to the law introduced by the case was that the second amendment was held to apply in the case of private individuals owning firearms privately, and that’s simultaneously a lot more restricted and a lot more pervasive than you’d imagine at first glance.

  77. EastGalwayWoman….yeah I find it very difficult to understand the mindset there also.Sometimes I think I understand it,But then I end up getting confused by it all over again.

  78. Actually, the initial summary might be concise enough to post in it’s entirity for clarity?

    1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.

    (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.

    (b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.

    (c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment . Pp. 28–30.

    (d) The Second Amendment ’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. Pp. 30–32.

    (e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion. Pp. 32–47.

    (f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes. Pp. 47–54.

  79. Case law can’t override constitutional law anywhere Bock, but in considering changes, challenges or clarifications to constitutional law, case law can be cited for illustration of a point or in defence or opposition to a legal opinion.

  80. Mark _ Thanks for posting the link to the judgement. Do you know if the entire text was written by the judges, or if some of it was provided by others?

  81. Some interesting quotes:

    How many guns are non registered in the U.S?
    The number of guns owned by civilians in the United States is estimated to be between 238 million and 276 million. (That’s 77-90% of the entire population of 307 million, including women and children of the US! – S1LU)

    There is no gun registration on the Federal level, except for machine guns. There is no registration on the state level in the majority of the states for any guns. This means that most of these are not registered.


    U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people | Reuters 28 Aug 2007 … GENEVA (Reuters) – – Cached – Similar


    there are more registered guns in the state of Texas than in the rest of the UNITED STATES. … – Cached


    Gun culture

    In a seminal article, “America as a Gun Culture,” the noted historian Richard Hofstadter popularized the phrase gun culture to describe America’s long affection for the gun, embracing and celebrating the association of guns and America’s heritage.[8] The right to own a gun and defend oneself is considered by some, especially those in the West and South,[9] as central to the American identity. This stems in part from the nation’s frontier history, where guns were integral to America’s westward expansion, enabling settlers to guard themselves from Native Americans, animals and foreign armies. Frontier citizens assumed much responsibility for self-protection. The importance of guns also derives from the role of hunting in American culture, which remains popular as a sport in the country today.[10]

    This viewpoint[clarification needed] has the least support in urban and industrialized regions.[10] A cultural tradition conflating violence and gun ownership with the “redneck” stereotype has negatively affected opinions in such regions.[11]

    In 1995, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms estimated that the number of firearms available in the US was 223 million.[12] About 25% of the adults in the United States personally own a gun, the vast majority of them men.[13] About half of the adult U.S. population lived in households with guns.[14] Less than half of gun owners say that the primary reason they own a gun is for self-protection against crime, reflecting a popularity of hunting and sport-shooting among gun owners. As hunting and sport-shooting tends to favor rural areas, naturally the bulk of gun owners generally live in rural areas and small towns.[13] This attribute associates with low involvement in criminal violence, and therefore most guns are in the hands of people who are unlikely to misuse them and who tend to not have criminal records.[13]

  82. Bock, I’d be fairly sure a team of legal clerks would support the justices doing the research and finding citations and so froth, but the opinions are ultimately the justices, legally speaking. So, yes, in the sense that the NRA or someone else (and that includes the clerks) didn’t write a word of the final judgement; but no, in that they’d have had clerks to go find citations and research possibly relevant cases and so forth.

  83. Mark — I should have been more specific. Do you know if the judges wrote the introductory part that begins as follows?

    District of Columbia law bans handgun possession by making it a crime to carry an unregistered firearm …

  84. Some1lovesU ..good post, so its an urban rural divide on the gun issue with the vast majority of illegal use of firearms confined to Americas big cities.Another point I saw somewhere is that in contrast to most peoples perceptions and inspite of having the worlds highest level of gun ownership Americas murder rate is far from being the highest in the world,something like 26th place I think.

  85. “District of Columbia law bans handgun possession by making it a crime to carry an unregistered firearm..” ha? That makes no sense to me. So all handgun possession is a crime? – “District of Columbia law bans handgun possession.”

    Should that be something like.. District of Columbia law bans unregistered firearms?

  86. If there was a part written by a clerk Bock, that’d be it since it’s basicly boilerplate; the numbered paragraphs would be solely the justices’ since that’s the actual citable part of the ruling (the rest is just boilerplate used for filing and future research, it doesn’t carry any legal weight on its own, it’s like the explanitory note or the margin notes in Irish Statutes).

  87. FME, as I understood it the direct challenge was to the District’s ban on handgun ownership originally. Not to unregistered firearms specifically – the court upheld that a licencing system could be put in place as it didn’t violate the second amendment.

    The whole point of the amendment was that “the people” had a right to private firearms ownership – not that any one person had a right to it, nor that it was an unlimited right (same as pretty much every other right in the constitution). If that right came via a licencing system, that was perfectly constitutional in the court’s eyes.

  88. Just as well. The introduction to the judgement displays a shaky grasp of the English language.

    I see that Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito agreed, while Stevens,, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer dissented.

    5 – 4.

    Hardly a resounding statement of fact.

  89. It’s a contentious issue because of the history between pro-gun-control and anti-gun-control Bock, so it’s no surprise it was that divided on the bench. Hell, they had Congress filing legal documents with the court on both sides of the argument. But at the end of the day, even with a one-vote majority, that was the court’s upheld opinion. It’s why there are an odd number of justices.

    I mean, Roe-v-Wade was 7-2, but that didn’t mean the law was only changed a little!

  90. Which brings us right back to the start. A politically-appointed court is hardly qualified to interpret the meaning of 18th-century English sentences. Their decisions will not be based on detached, academic assessments, but on ideology. Therefore, while their decisions, by definition, translate into US fundamental law, they are not trustworthy.

  91. If it was a purely politically appointed court Bock, that’d be true. But when they’re all highly experienced legal professionals, it’s not (hence the far-greater-than-usual uproar at the initial nomination of Harriet Miers, who was felt to be insufficiently qualified for the position despite being a legal counsel to the White House). Even Bush Jr. couldn’t railroad an unqualified justice onto the bench.

    Simple fact is, we use words like “interpreting” in a vague nebulous way; it doesn’t work that way in a court. A legal opinion interpreting case law is not some hand-wavy argument over a pint, the same way that a scientific theory isn’t just some idea as to how things might work. There’s a lot more behind the technical terms, having to do with objective standards of reasoning.

    And at the end of the day, had the case gone the other way, you’d have seen drastic changes in state legislation fairly rapidly given the political climate in some states; and if that can happen on a 4-5 verdict, you have to give equal weight to a 5-4 verdict.

    And if you want to ignore the precedent and the law completely and come up with a new system from whole cloth using only logic and data, there’s still no support other than ideological for banning the private ownership of firearms.

  92. THis is what the second amendment says:

    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.

    This is what the supreme judgement says:

    The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia

    So. Was the bit about the militia put in there for fun?

  93. “…there’s still no support other than ideological for banning the private ownership of firearms.”

    Not true, Mark.

    It has been shown on this thread that there are cogent reasons for banning the private ownership of firearms – reasons you or anyone else weren’t able to logically rebut.

  94. The bit about the militia is why the right was documented Bock. The court’s point was that the origin of the right doesn’t preclude the use of those arms for self-defence, and that “militia” didn’t mean “political standing army”. That point isn’t judged by looking at 17th century dictionaries, but at legal arguments made on that point at the time, at political statements made at the time, and at the historical facts that have been established about that time.

    It’s not the justices making it up, and it’s not as easily interpreted as just reading it once, in other words.

    For example, the phrase “firearm licence” isn’t in there either, but that’s upheld by the Court to be constitutional as well.

    And no, scientific conclusions are never decided on a vote. But scientific conclusions aren’t legal decisions. It was an analogy, not a citation.

  95. SF, I don’t accept that.

    As I’ve said elsewhere today:

    – Private ownership of firearms is demonstratably not a significant public safety hazard (as shown by the CDC’s data)

    – Crime and suicide cannot be considered when considering public safety hazards. Suicide, because removing the means for suicide does not prevent the suicide, but merely changes the nature of the final act. Crime, for the following reasons:

    – Criminal acts using firearms cannot be controlled by banning firearms outright (because criminals ignore such bans as the crimes they use the firearms for carry heavier penalties than possession of the banned firearms does)

    – Criminal acts using firearms are not strongly retarded by gun control legislation; in fact no evidence exists that proves a causative relation in either sense between crime rates and gun control legislation (as judged by the NAS and demonstrated by comparisons between different nations worldwide)

    – The strongest driving factor on crime rates using firearms are social in nature. Emphasising such factors over mere throw-away legislation put forward by politicians for political self-promotion would be a sensible course of action

    – Likewise, ignoring causative factors and engaging in political rhetoric to create a form of mass hysteria in the aftermath of a tragedy in order to facilitate political self-promotion by passing legislation that panders to that hysteria is not only highly unethical and immoral, but ultimately ineffectual in combating gun crime and leads to recurrence after recurrence ad nauseum.

  96. Well, Mark, since we don’t have a logic referee here, how about this proposal?

    Twelve paces apart at dawn.

    I’ll take the loaded gun and you can have the loofah.

    Which of us would be the more dangerous, do you think?

    That should settle the argument, I think.

  97. It has been shown on this thread that there are cogent reasons for banning the private ownership of firearms – reasons you or anyone else weren’t able to logically rebut.

    If so, I must have missed them. Would you care to reiterate?

  98. Bock: But as Mark pointed out (if I’m representing him right this time!), Even if the dissenting side makes a good case, they are still in the minority, and majority rules in the SC, even if it’s only a majority of one. All that can be done is to appeal, or replace judges.

    What if cases in the SC were decided by 2/3 vote (6:3) instead of majority (5:4)? That would make things less disputable. A 5:4 vote to change would then not take effect, and the status quo would remain. Any precedent for that?

  99. Some1LU, aren’t you pointing out the obvious? There’s no dispute as to the fact that the ‘majority rules in the SC’. We are allowed exercise some independent thought and any supreme court decisions should be open to criticism. So yes, the dissenting judges’ case is very good and if you read it you might find it’s difficult to disagree with any of it.

    As above:
    “This is a debate on a web site and their logic is open to be examined. I think they made a mistake. Others think they didn’t.
    It’s a perfectly legitimate discussion to hold, and there’s no point holding the force majeure argument over our heads. I know they”re the final arbiter of law in America. We all know that. It isn’t the point.”

  100. I might find it difficult to disagree with them, but the other five justices apparently didn’t. Or maybe they even did, but disagreed anyway, based on their different rationale. We can have opinions, and agree with whichever side seems right to us. But in the end, until the appeal, SO WHAT? If 90% of Americans also agree with the dissenters, does that make them all right? And since everyone, including the justices, has a political and otherwise outlook on life, some will agree with these, and some with those.

    Like Mark said, that’s why it’s so important who gets picked to be a SC justice (and who does the picking) – because their outlook could determine supreme American law. If even one of the majority had thought like the dissenters, or better, been convinced to change her or his mind to think like them, then your concept of “right” would have been THE right. And the new dissenters, who DO think that

    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.

    means that

    The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia

    will have to wait for their turn at an appeal.

    And in cases like these, it could be anyway argued that there IS no real right or wrong, because both sides have a good case. So it comes down to which side has the most SC justices agreeing with it.

    And Bock – who said that you or anyone else was deluded or luny? Exaggerating again. I haven’t read every comment, so maybe someone did say that. If so, sorry.

  101. “If 90% of Americans also agree with the dissenters” then maybe they wouldn’t bother carrying a gun.
    I’m aware of the fact Some1, that if the majority vote had swung the other way, that the dissenting judges would have opposing views to the current SC finding.

    “We can have opinions, and agree with whichever side seems right to us. But in the end, until the appeal, SO WHAT?” Ah, that’d be the force majeure argument there again.. aka horse manure. :)
    There’s no dispute as to the ruling, so no need to repeat it again..
    “SO WHAT?” We’re allowed have the debate. If we didn’t have debate, we wouldn’t be able to enlighten the less enlightened.

  102. Having seen the destruction of life by those that use guns/weapons the argument for the right to bear arms is, if you`ll all pardon the pun, shot full of holes.

    The arms industry is a very powerful group, the NRA in the usa are a very vocal lobbying group who have the backing of the arms industry.

    They, both groups don`t give a tuppeny fuck about the second amendement or indeed about anybodys right to life and liberty. The arguments put on here, in favour of the above groups,are presented to muddy the waters a lot.

    To take a human life, regardless of what weapon is wrong, to allow such weapons to be available to all and sundry, using whatever excuse they can think up, is showing a complete disragard for life, any life. A contempt for humankind, shown in all its glory by wars and mass killings, gloryfied by a corrupt nation of cowboys, america has no culture, indeed if it can be called a culture, violence is the american way.

    No defence of murder or indeed of other crimes using guns/weapons is acceptable, it can never be justified by any so called right to have/keep or use a gun.

    I have worked with guns/weapons and indeed bombs, i have first hand experience of the death and carnage that is caused by the indiscriminate use by people who would pass as ordinary upright citizens today.

    As FME stated in one of her posts, we are all potential killers, keep the guns/weapons locked up and away from us all. Maybe not in those words FME but the sentiment yes?

  103. BoldPilot (post 120), no, I am not going to “reiterate”. My view is that a discussion should proceed in a logical fashion and if a point is proved it’s proved.

    As most of the pro-gun points have already been logically refuted above, I won’t go over them again here.

    However, in view of the fact that, as so often happens, “treppenwitz” kicked in overnight, I will say the following.

    It is plainly ridiculous to claim that a society where lethal weapons, guns, are more or less freely available is as safe as one where they’re not.

    One point I did not respond to was Mark saying that most guns legally available to citizens in the USA are specifically designed to kill animals rather than humans.

    That doesn’t make much difference to the danger those guns represent, as most of those guns will also kill humans and are therefore in effect lethal weapons.

    In any event, the “justification” that many of these guns are used to kill animals for fun is hardly sustainable in a world where many species of animal and the natural environment generally are under severe pressure from the human species.

    And in relation to FME’s point that guns are more dangerous than knives, that was conclusively proved correct years ago.

    As you will find by googling “Indiana Jones, knife v gun, YouTube”

  104. It’s just a discussion about what seems to be an extremely perverse decision by five of the nine judges. In the end, it matters not one jot to any of us whether they change their law or not and I doubt if anyone here cares.

  105. It is interesting to see from many of the posters here that they feel they need the state to protect them,not only from others but from themselves as well.To me that sounds really sad.

  106. Bock very profound ! About time. Comment No. 127 sums it up well. If they choose to shoot one another by “right” then there is little we can do about it. They might contend it is none of our business anyway.

  107. William, you started your posts with facts as you saw them. Then when you discovered that ” many of the posters here ” disagreed with your position you make unfounded assumptions about them.

    Now that is what i call sad.

  108. @Mark:
    none of it makes me wish to go live there or even visit; but if I had to, damn right I’d carry a firearm with me.

    I came to this interesting discussion late, and have little to add on the legal semantics under discussion. The Judge’s outcome is profound, but the chances of any of our opinions affecting them is negligible.

    We moved to Houston, Texas – the 4th largest city in the US – just over 2 years ago, with some concerns about safety, gun culture and the general political viewpoint (which is indeed pretty far out on the wing of the right/conservative/Rush/Glenn Beck nonsense). At no time did we feel unsafe, although there are common sense areas to avoid, and activities not to undertake.

    Our local Texas acquaintanceships, now friends, were by and large very hospitable, welcoming and happy to discuss politics and dissenting opinions. There were some moderates, and some extremists. None made us feel unwelcome or uncomfortable – but in some cases we had to agree to disagree.

    After a year, I bought a shotgun, to pick up my earlier hobby of clay pigeon shooting (I held a UK licence previously) and started attending a local shooting club. The people that went there by and large were impeccably polite, helpful and watchful. When firearms are concerned, there is a protocol of safe behavior and a significant peer group that self-polices.

    Quite a few Texans own handguns (revolvers or semi-automatic pistols) and have a CHL, allowing them to concealed carry. There is a significant background check required for this and enough training to make you realize the significance (particularly in this litigious society) of ever drawing or using it. If you are completely innocent and use your weapon in the correct circumstances, it will still cost you upwards of 50,000 dollars and 6 months of your life to defend against the inevitable Grand Jury in Texas.

    If you deliberately kill someone, it could cost you your life…

    In due course, I came to have this licence and occasionally do carry a concealed handgun; not really because of any fear that I will need it to defend myself in day-to-day life, but because it is a right which I can exercise, and the skills and knowledge associated with it one day may be of value to me.
    At home, our weapons are in the locked gun safe or smaller single-weapon locked boxes. If there was an intruder in my house – I would (a) make very certain that it was such and (b) shoot them several times, without fear of legal repercussions.

    The law here is clear, if your home or car is entered by someone you did not invite, you may respond with lethal force and you will be found innocent by a jury. But the judgement to do so is your own, and the legal and personal consequences thereafter are never lightly dismissed by anyone of my acquaintance here.

    Incidentally Mark could not own or carry a firearm legally in Texas without becoming a lawful resident, and undertaking safety, proficiency and legal training. Thereafter, he would be aware that the consequences of drawing, let alone using such in public will be life-changing and potentially devastating.

    There are checks and balances.

    Happily Bock would be free to criticize as many of the Supreme Court justices as he wished…

  109. Ray — Thanks for your comprehensive comment. One small point of clarification: I’m not criticising the judges. I’m criticising their judgement.

  110. That MSNBC piece is very good. Thanks Brian.
    Sad that we need reminders that violence is not the answer.

  111. Brian, I’m a gawker fan myself, the snark can be good.

    William, I had a thought regarding your last comment, as it related to one by you previously. Perhaps understanding a European attitude to a US one would be this (and this is a gross generalization); Europeans make laws with society as a whole in mind, whereas US makes them with individual wants/rights in mind. For example more safety nets for a struggling person is expensive but Europeans are willing to pay for it for the greater good. Here, there are few safety nets, they have holes in them, and you have to be destitute or dying to avail of them.Many here feel no obligation to provide safety nets for others. The rhetoric Obama used, very toned down for a Democrat, was “offering a hand up, not a hand out”, because a handout would be shameful. An individual should help him/herself, not have the government do it. The jaded observation of the Gawker writer shows this writ large re; gun control. A few deaths is the cost of the freedom

    Bock, have you read about the Westboro Baptist Church. They, again, are protesting. This time the funeral of the little 9 year old girl.

  112. Nice comments, nice tone of the comments. Agree with Bock in appreciating Ray’s comment. When I posted that line about Texas having more registered guns than the rest of the US, I thought that it was a criticism of Texas. I see from Ray that it’s not – could be that they are more careful about registering guns than everyone else, to compensate for their gun culturization.

    And since we’re just having a friendly discussion here, I also agree with the minority justices, that the 2nd Amendment as stated doesn’t extend to a personal right to bear arms. But I’m not a legal expert by any means.

    Here’s an interview from Countdown about the little old lady who helped to disarm the Arizona killer. Very inspiring lady and story.

    Bock, I just wonder a little about “In the end, it matters not one jot to any of us whether they change their law or not and I doubt if anyone here cares.” If you think that the right to or prohibition against carrying a gun might help to end or save lives, doesn’t it matter, and shouldn’t we care?

    Hi Sodacake – how’r you doing? Swine flu scare pass?

  113. Some1, thank you. It appears that the beta blocker that i am on for my heart gave an adverse reaction, it lowered my blood pressure enough to make me unconcious for about 25 minutes. Course my family thought i was dead/dying having a heart attack/stroke. When i came too my body went into shock mode, badly needed in my view. But very very scary. I am fine now, or so i am told.

    Have been out of hospital since last Wednesday, celebrated my birthday on Thursday 6th Jan, i am now 60 yrs old.

    Course the Doctors state that my medication is not working for me, don`t i know it!

  114. Sláinte, Sodacake.

    And thanks for that portrayal of the Lone Star State of mind, Ray.

    “You know, we’re heading into nut country today.” John F Kennedy said to his wife, referring to his visit to Dallas, Texas a few hours later.

    How tragically right he proved to be.

    Thus the USA lost its potentially greatest ever president who might, had he had a second term, steered the country away from, among other things, its MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) “defence” policy fuelled by anti-communist paranoia – a policy that mirrors the kind of madness involved in civilians going about their normal business with concealed lethal weapons on their persons.

    The nut Kennedy was referring to was not the “lone nut” Oswald who, according to one theory (there never was a trial, thanks to the intervention of another “lone nut” gunman Ruby) shot him with a rifle allegedly purchased through mail order in the most lax of circumstances.

    The nut Kennedy was referring to was the kind of madness above referred to of which Dallas, Texas, was the epicentre.

    And I’m not saying you’re mad, Ray.

    It’s just that you probably believe you’re as fast on the draw as The Man With No Name.

  115. Spailpin. Your last line ” It’s just you probably believe you’re as fast on the draw as The Man With No Name ” Is a deeply cynical judgement based on your view from outside the ” Epicentre ” designed to coagulate a view based on a stereotypical judgements of a people residing in a specific area.
    The view from Rays perspective, Based on his own experience being one of within the ” Epicentre ” cannot be devalued so cynically based on stereotying, Most especially as you are claiming to apply ” Logic ” to the debate.

    There is no evidence that JFK would have been the USA’s ” Potentially Greatest President ” Simply because he was assinated prior to proof, That is merely speculation based on his record to date of assination and your own opinion, However it is not logical because it did’nt happen.

    It is a very popular notion when people in positions of power have their lives and tenure cut short in tragic circumstances to build a scenario of greatness that was not achieved due to the circumstances, However such scenarios are only based on speculation and heresay and have no basis in reality.

  116. Norma, my comment to Ray is not based on stereotyping but on his own self-description.

    According to his own account he has bought into the US gun culture. He is a gunman.

    My assessment of JFK is not based on speculation. It is based on fairly extensive reading on the politics of the time and how JFK tried to change things. Indeed there is considerable evidence indicating that the assassination was a CIA driven operation designed to “kill off” JFK’s political agenda.

    I am aware that this is heading away from the topic of this thread but I would highly recommend a fascinating book on this subject: JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters by James Douglass.

    I am not the one who is being cynical here, Norma.

  117. have quite an amazing capacity to stick to your preconceived views and ignore all evidence to the contrary.As I have been on shooting ranges in many different parts of the world and they are all exactly the same as Ray describes in Texas,I have met some of the nicest and most polite people on earth on them.Contrary to many peoples media inspired notion they are not full of drooling psychopaths,wannabee Rambos or indeed even asshole types.However I went to few football matches when I was young and found many of the above types to be in the stadiums there and often even on the field as well ( it have gave me a permanent distaste for that sport). And regarding your view of Kennedy being a great guy.Well get a reality check.Tell the poor sods in Indochina whose Nipa huts he was redecorating with Napalm how decent a guy he was.Tell the Cubans who had to fight off an invasion how decent a guy he was and tell the Chinese who were forced to develop nuclear weapons and modernise before they were ready to stave off the threat of nuclear genocide how Kennedy was trying to steer the world away from MAD.

  118. William, you say about me:

    “ have quite an amazing capacity to stick to your preconceived views and ignore all evidence to the contrary.”

    All I’ll say in that regard is read my previous post.

    Likewise, Bock.

    As for your claim, William, that you have met the nicest and most polite people on earth on shooting ranges, the same could be said for Jack Ruby. A “good ole boy” if ever there was one.

    I am not going to get into an off-topic argument about JFK’s presidency. By the way, in that regard in my last post I should have also mentioned a 58 minute video on YouTube of a James Douglass talk that’s well worth watching – google “Talk-JFK and the Unspeakable”.

  119. A Chairde,
    the discussion seems lively here! I hate to personalize things – so I won’t.

    I am limited by time, as I am starting my working day here – but I would like to clarify a few items: I would not class myself as fast on the draw by any standard, rather a steady but competent shot, at best. Machismo does not belong on the shooting range, and actually most people are quite humble about their capabilities.

    The issue I was trying to explain here is cultural relevance, in the US – particularly the South and the rural states – there has never not been gun ownership. One of the earlier correspondents spoke of a rural upbringing, where guns (usually for hunting) are around the household, and are handled and used safely. I have native friends who do not want to use, own or see a gun and that is respected, others who have a hunting rifle only and a spectrum of folks who may own one or two, or a whole armory – for a variety of reasons. Culturally, none of these are alien here – and views on gun ownership do not often correspond with the niceness of the person, nor their political views.

    Regarding my own rationale for ownership, I would recommend the following very interesting book:

    It was obvious to me how quickly the veneer of civilization can slip, around 2001 in the UK petrol tanker blockades prevented resupply of supermarkets for a few weeks, people began hoarding – and as most food these days is imported – the shops started running short. The government brought in the army to open the refineries, had they not – it would have gotten very ugly very quickly.

    Ferfal (from the book) went through the Argentinian economic collapse and made a number of observations:
    1. The government can shut the banks and take all of your money away without warning
    2. When this happens, food is the most valuable commodity, followed by cash
    3. The rule of law doesn’t disappear, it gets patchy and corrupt
    4. All of the bad things can and do happen, and there is a lot you can do to prevent them

    This is not zombies walking the streets territory, but it is quite shocking, there was a massive increase in crime, particularly rape and kidnap. Do you know anyone who has been violently raped? I do. It is the worst crime imaginable, and destroys a person’s life for decades afterwards. If a lady has the right to carry a gun and has had some training, it certainly increases her chances of escaping such an assault.

    If someone enters my house at night, for whatever purposes – kidnapping or robbery, I do not wish to be defenseless. You can effectively defend yourself with a knife, sword or stick – but only up close. A handgun just extends your effective distance to maybe 10 or 15 metres. However, I would emphasize in that event I would certainly rather delay and be sure that there was an immediate danger, than shoot a person in error.

    This is not intended to sound paranoid, just rushing a bit…! Again, I don’t carry a gun often, when I do it is not because I am in fear of my life in the US (and the Kevlar idea is ridiculous) . Most gun owners I know are genuinely sound people, not space cadets or raving looneys (the media has a lot to answer for!). No-one expects social breakdown here any time soon, but if it happens – why not be as prepared as you can?

    Interestingly, when I left Ireland in the diaspora of the mid-80’s – there was no such thing as “tiger kidnappings”, when did that start?…

    Best wishes folks.

  120. —————————-As for your claim, William, that you have met the nicest and most polite people on earth on shooting ranges, the same could be said for Jack Ruby. A “good ole boy” if ever there was one.

    Again with the stereotypes Sir, there are good ole’ boys that wear dungarees and chew tobacco that shoot, but there are also lawyers in pinstripe, and welders in jeans. A case of too much TV methinks…

  121. Ray, I wasn’t stereotyping anyone, as is illustrated by my characterization of Jack Ruby as a “good ole boy”. Ruby didn’t wear dungarees and chew baccy. He was a night club operator who wore suits – just like the mobsters he associated with.

    The characterization of Ruby as a good ole boy was in fact that of author Anthony Summers based on Ruby’s ingratiating behaviour towards elements of the Dallas police force and other local authority figures so that they would turn a blind eye to his shady operations and connections.

    So I got that from reading not from watching TV.

    And I watch very little TV, as I haven’t had a TV since my TV was stolen when my house was burgled a number of years ago and I never bothered to replace it.

    But that’s stereotyping for you.

  122. Can ye all have a bit of sympathy for me, I’ve just dug out from 31 inches of bloody snow and it hasn’t stopped yet.
    Thanks, I’ll take virtual tea and hobnobs please.

  123. EashtGalwayWoman, my heart goes out to you.

    Try a few turns of the Cappataggle Shuffle.

    That should warm you up a bit.

  124. No, right thread – wrong era!

    Just saw this interesting article on the Glock gun:

    The Glock Spiel
    How the company that made Jared Lee Loughner’s gun became so successful.

    And there’s a discussion in the comments relevant to our topic. Five examples:

    “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Man, you guys really don’t like the first part of that Amendment, do you? You know, the one that empowers the government to regulate weapons?

    Gee when I read the 2nd amendment this is what it said, “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.” Nowhere does it say anything about the government being able to regulate the right to keep and bear arms.

    by the way my legally owned weapon saved my family and from a home invasion in which the offenders tried to take life of my wife and myself. To quote Ceasar show a people without weapons and I will show a conquered people.

    There are very few legitimate needs for handguns.

  125. Wrong era, perhaps, Some1LovesU.

    After all, Caesar was something of an imperialist bollix.

    I can understand why you people in Israel might feel the need to privately own lethal weapons. You are still pre-peace process. There was a time in Ireland too when the “pike in the thatch” was a point of honour.

    In a normal civil society I think it is preferable for people to settle their differences by persuasion, mediation or, if it comes to it, litigation.

    The gun culture is based on a “might is right” mentality, which is hardly morally acceptable.

  126. If only persuasion, mediation and litigation always worked. But even in a normal, civil society, there are enough abnormal, uncivil citizens that justify others to also have weapons for defense. Gun culture may not be morally acceptable, but at least you can live to discuss morality afterwards. I also wish that it wasn’t that way.

    And let’s please keep Israel out of this – it got pretty messy last time.

  127. Spailpin “it is preferable for people to settle their differences by persuasion mediation or,if it comes to it, litigation “.
    hmm maybe Larry Murphys victims should have tried that!!.

  128. Some1LovesU, that seems to be the biggest problem with the culture nowadays. Ethics and morality are things to be talked about but not lived by.

    William, you can’t legislate for bad seeds.

  129. Certainly, I always felt safer walking home through the late-night streets of Boston than I ever can here in any Irish city. I have never carried a gun – because I did not know how to acquire one – but always keep an axe handy in case I’m paid a visit by the uninvited. I will have no hesitation with using same – as i would not if it were a firearm. Farmer Nally was morally justified and acted reasonably when he despatched that lump of pigshit Bullfrog Ward. During his trial about forty regulars from my local signed a best-wishes card for him. And they were mostly professional men including two barristers and a solicitor. A judge declined to sign but smiled when I presented him with the card.

  130. Just a little reality check, le Farge.

    That man Ward was actually a human being, no matter how bad he was.

    Calling him “a lump of pigshit” doesn’t change that fact, though by using that dehumanising and hate charged expression you can apparently persuade yourself and try to persuade others that whatever was done to Ward was justified.

    It was not.

    From your description of your efforts on behalf of “Farmer Nally” you sound like a great man to organise a lynch mob – or indeed a kangaroo court.

  131. Whats so special about being a” human being” might I ask.Does being a “human being” make something wonderfull and priceless and if so why,cos I cant see how it does!

  132. Spalpin, a bhuacaill, having previously noticed your great love for our ‘travelling’ community, I thought my lowering of the tone of debate on this thread might draw you out.
    Maybe if Ward and his extended parasitic family moved in next door to you, your compassion for some ‘humans’ might become more rational.
    As an avowed misanthrope (through experience and education) I have little time for humankind en masse, but little or none for those who prey upon their weaker brethern. You will agree the Ward speices live, by and large, parasitically, by violently preying upon the settled community. Ergo…

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