Are There Too Many Guns?

The tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, has led to a lot of unfortunate misinformation about firearms. Let’s try to add some facts to the justified emotion.

Full disclosure: I don’t own a gun. I have no desire to own one. I don’t shoot things. Especially living things. But when I was in the military, I was a sharp shooter.

Are Some Guns More Dangerous than Others? Of course. But in wake of the shootings, most commentators are incapable of sorting out what the dangers are.

The shooter in Aurora had three firearms when he entered the theater: a pump action shotgun, a semiautomatic rifle and a semiautomatic handgun.

In a closed, crowded setting like a movie theater, the shotgun was probably the most lethal of the three. Every shotgun shell can spray a half-dozen or more pellets, each capable of killing or maiming a person. Twelve-gauge shotguns often fire five shells, and sometimes more, before needing to be reloaded. And unlike semiautomatics, they don’t typically jam.

Yet in most American cities, just about anybody can buy a shotgun at the drop of a hat. Antigun activists and politicians almost never propose banning them.

Instead, the focus these days is on so-called “assault weapons.”

Should We Be Especially Worried About Assault Weapons? When I lie in bed at night, kept awake by fearful thoughts of all the ways a deranged person might kill me, the idea of an assault weapon rarely comes to mind. The reason: Assault weapons are not usually the weapon of choice. Neither of the two worst shooting sprees in U.S. history involved assault weapons. James Huberty, who killed 20 people at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, California, in 1984, used a shotgun, a pistol and a hunting rifle. George Hennard, who killed 22 people at a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, used two ordinary pistols.

Still, gun opponents seem obsessed about them. So what exactly is an “assault weapon”?

What Are Assault Weapons? You would think that the definition would hinge on a weapon’s fire power or its capacity to maim or kill. Not so. Assault weapons are mainly defined by their appearance. As Steve Chapman explained the other day:

Assault weapons are functionally indistinguishable from ordinary semiautomatic hunting rifles. They don’t fire more rapidly, they don’t deliver more lethal rounds, and they don’t spray bullets. They only look like military arms.

The features that disqualified a gun under the federal ban were ones that didn’t affect destructiveness, such as pistol grips and bayonet mounts. If accused [Aurora] killer James Holmes had been prevented from buying this gun, he could have found plenty of others that would have served his purpose just as well.

Basically, what disqualified a weapon when the short-lived assault weapons ban was in effect was looking like a military weapon. The offensive features included plastic stocks, extended ammunition clips, collapsible butt-stocks, and other decorative devices that made them look like, but not operate as, a fully functional assault rifle.

Contrary to the claims that military-looking weapons are only designed to kill human beings, they are, in fact, the fastest growing segment of the hunting rifle market!

What About Machine Guns? Most TV commentators who decry assault weapons imply that they are automatic — that you just pull the trigger and bullets start flying. Not so. It has been illegal to buy a machine gun on the open market in the United States for more than 80 years. However, you can obtain one under special permit and there are about 250,000 in private hands.

Now here is something interesting: despite all those guns in private hands, there appears not to be a single instance of a legally owned machine gun being used to commit a crime throughout the entire 80 year period. This illustrates two things: (1) the bumper stickers have it right: guns don’t kill, people do; and (2) we can have reasonable restrictions on access to guns without banning them altogether.

That brings us to another obsession: the insistence that guns are useless as tools of self-defense.

Are Guns Useful for Self-Defense? As it turns out, they are. According to research by renowned Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, guns are used between 800,000 and 2.5 million times every year in self-defense.

A study by John Lott and David Mustard found that handguns appear to help women more than men. While murder rates drop when either sex carries more guns, the effect is especially pronounced when women carry. Each additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women three to four times more than an additional armed man reduces the murder rate for men.

Do More Guns Cause More Crime? In the typical Western movie, everyone has a gun. When they go into a bar, they start drinking. Then, they start insulting each other. Before long, they start shooting each other. It may be good theater, but it’s lousy history. Turns out, 19th century Dodge City was more peaceful than most American cities are today! Robert Heinlein explained why: “An armed society is a polite society,” he wrote.

Overall, some of the most heavily-armed states have very low violent crime rates and vice versa. Also, it appears that when the good guys are armed there is less gun violence. Research by John Lott shows that allowing citizens the right to carry concealed handguns reduces violent crime. In those states that passed right-to-carry concealed handgun laws, the average murder rate dropped from 6.3 per 100,000 to 5.2 per 100,000 nine to 10 years later — about a 1.7% drop in the murder rate per year for 10 years.

In states that enacted right-to-carry laws between 1977 and 1999, the overall occurrence of multiple-victim shootings dropped by a remarkable 67% with deaths and injuries from such shootings plummeting by 75% and 81%, respectively. And since 1997, two of eight school shootings were both stopped by citizens with guns (before police even arrived at the scene).

What Does the International Evidence Show? Switzerland actually requires young males to keep weapons in their homes, as part of the country’s militia. Yet no one has ever accused Switzerland of being a host to Wild West shootouts. Finland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. Yet it too has a very low rate of violent crime.

Do We Need More Laws? Here is Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times:

Federal law requires large theaters to have wheelchair seating, ramps as well as stairs, and bathrooms that are accessible to the disabled. Fire codes limit audience size. Emergency fire exits must be illuminated.

We have a ratings system to protect children from nudity or offensive language. Indeed, on that horrific night in the theater last week, only one major element wasn’t regulated: the guns and ammunition used to massacre viewers.

Really? Colorado doesn’t have a law against carrying a loaded gun into movie theaters? How about shooting a gun in movie theaters? What about using a gun to kill people? Of course, Colorado has laws covering all these things. Kristof’s solutions would keep innocent people from engaging in completely anodyne activities. Would that also prevent the criminally minded from committing crimes? Unlikely.

Comments (59)

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  1. Alex says:

    It’s been said so often that it’s become trite, but I’ll say it again: when you outlaw the legal ownership of weapons you only keep them out of the hands of law abiding citizens.

  2. Lizzie says:

    After reading Kristof’s article and a number of others, I think it’s interesting to point out how many gun control advocates promote stricter gun laws (like requiring 2 or more references before buying a gun or limiting the number of firearm purchases to one per month), rather than the complete outlaw of all private gun ownership. I worry, however, that such incremental chipping away at our second ammendment rights will eventually lead to the outright ban of guns. First step, make it difficult to buy a gun; next step, make it impossible.

    I would also point out one of the original reasons the Founders insisted upon the second ammendment: protecting oneself from the government were it ever to breach our liberty again.

  3. Jeff says:

    Excellent post. Finally something sensible on the subject of guns.

  4. Pat says:

    Too many nuts with guns.

  5. Ken says:

    It’s refreshing to read something sensible about the gun question, instead of knee-jerk commentary.

  6. Donald R May, MD says:

    Unarmed People Shot by an Armed Madman

    As John Steinbeck warned us, “An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.”

    It should be no surprise that Evil strikes in areas of least resistance. People intent on committing mass murder seek a high level of certainty that they will not face immediate armed confrontation.

    The Aurora movie theater killer probably realized he would not encounter anyone able to resist him with a gun. Law-abiding citizens apparently were not allowed to legally carry concealed weapons in the theater, as the theater had apparently been designated a “gun-free” zone. Mass murderers may be deranged, but they are not dim-witted.

    Persons who are determined to kill large numbers have often targeted United States Post Office facilities. Other popular murder spree sites have been schools and churches.

    What these places have in common is that all ban law-abiding citizens from legally carrying personal defense weapons, access for criminals with weapons is relatively easy and unchallenged, and armed security is limited or absent. Mass murders are more likely to occur in designated gun-free zones and not where others are armed. Large numbers of people are not shot in gun stores and at shooting ranges.

    Throughout history, those who were inadequately armed were subject to the whims and cruelties of those who were. Those under Roman rule carried swords and other weapons for protection against thieves. The sword Simon Peter carried was a personal protection weapon of those times.

    The heavy yoke of tyranny historically has kept most commoners disarmed. When the rebellious American Colonists starting rattling King George’s chain, his Redcoats moved to quickly confiscate their guns. Remembering that it was the weapons they personally owned and carried that secured their independence, our Founding Fathers penned the Second Amendment to insure our safety against the tyranny of the Elite and the violence of our deranged peers.

    In order to stop the mass murder madness, potentially armed persons must be present in every possible location. Armed citizens are the best deterrent for these evil rampages. Evil people intent on mass murder want as much time as possible to kill others before they are killed. The possibility of an unidentified armed person being present, who will take them out with a gun in the first few seconds of their murderous rampage, is not acceptable to a madman.

    In some public areas, it is necessary to keep weapons out of the hands of everyone other than highly vetted persons employed to maintain security. Airports, certain government facilities, and airliners are places where it is not possible to quickly and efficiently screen the good guys with guns from the bad guys. Security keeps out unauthorized weapons, and armed personnel are there for protection.

    Public places where law-abiding citizens are not permitted to bear arms should be rare and few. An armed citizenry is the best deterrence to violence. Public places where law-abiding citizens are not permitted to bear arms should be rare and few. Wherever legal guns are banned, screening and armed security should be present to prevent the entry of illegal weapons and to protect from terrorist and criminal violence.

    The measure of a civilized nation is how effectively it is able to maintain its social order. Security and Liberty are a result of just and moral people who are able to regulate their own affairs and to protect themselves at times when their police and military cannot.

    Read more at “Mr. Conservative”
    http://bit.ly/OByim1

    Donald R. May, MD

  7. Stephen C. says:

    If guns are outlawed only criminals will have guns.

  8. Robert Bettis says:

    John,

    I enjoyed your “Health Alert” column this morning. I completely understand and accept your decision not to personally own a gun, however, I might have some reticence in advertising that nationwide. Lott and others have pretty conclusively shown that the lack of knowledge on the criminal’s part as to just who is armed and who isn’t armed is a significant factor in the drop in crime in areas where concealed carry is available.

    Regards,
    Bob

  9. frank timmins says:

    Great post John, and I would restate with emphasis your brief lesson on the definition of an “assault rifle”. The technical definition of such weapon requires it to have the ability to fire “automatically” (one trigger pull/multiple rounds). As you pointed out these type of weapons cannot be purchased. People think these military modeled weapons such as the AR-15 are “machine guns”, which they are not. Semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used by the Colorado nut bag have been around in “non-military” looking models for decades without anyone paying attention.

    @ Pat, there are too many nuts with soft drink bottles, gasoline and a piece of cloth.

  10. Brian says:

    Very astute observations and commentary, John.

    As a personal witness: My daughter was shot and permanently disabled four years ago by her estranged husband (who subsequently killed himself). He had been previously treated for emotional problems, but released from professional care with the advice, “XXX should not buy a gun”. Duh. Only a few days later he bought a 9mm handgun and shot her with it 7 hours later. The weapon had fired four shots in its entire existence: One in their ceiling, two into her and one into his head.

    Dozens of surgeries and hundreds of thousands of dollars later, I am thankful my daughter survived and that their young children still have a mom. The financial and emotional impact has been something you watch on TV, not something that you live in your own life.

    That said, the old adage is more true than ever: Guns don’t kill, people do. Like you, I don’t own a gun and don’t shoot. Also like you, I possess that talent but don’t have the desire or need to use it. And despite our family’s experience I am not a advocate of overly restrictive gun control.

    I do support the concept of background checks and waiting periods, which most of us were surprised do not exist in our state. I wholeheartedly support the right to bear arms, if for no other reason than that which Lizzie mentioned above. Most importantly though, I support efforts by society to curtail the nefarious activities of the small part of our citizenry which refuses to control itself. As related to the world of domestive violence, Cindy’s Law is one of those initiatives, sadly less effective due to financial constraints.

    As Dr. May illuminates, society is measured by the actions of its individuals. We do not need to regulate guns. What we need is to raise our children in an environment where the appropriateness of a guns’ use is not a question. Discipline, self-control and personal responsibility are the keys to this vault. Teaching continued and expanded entitlement mentalities is the enemy.

    Neither the Colorado tragedy nor my son-in-law’s problems would have been prevented in the long term by more regulation. (The only hope would have been to slow down their plans’ processess long enough for someone to notice and affect the ultimate outcome.)

    The stifling limitations of an aggressively proactive “big brother” control system would deprive America of a fundamental freedom and are anathema to the very structure we so cherish as a society. Unfortunately, one of the costs of that right is the aftermath left in the wake of the more sociopathic of our citizens.

    Bad things happen sometimes, and no degree of regulation will change that. Mature responses to these unfortunate events are needed to avoid inadvertently redeeming the freedoms our forefathers fought so hard to provide us.

  11. Bret says:

    One thing that’s never mentioned in the gun control debate is the ease of building guns. Guns are very old technology and many military style weapons are designed to be built with a minimum of tooling. Googling “build your own gun” gives 130,000,000+ hits and I’ve seen plans to build fully automatic assault rifles with home depot and other easy to get parts and with tools that many households have lying around.

    You may not be able to build a high precision sniper rifle on your own, but you can build something very destructive for something like the Aurora shooting.

  12. david says:

    Maybe we should pass an individual mandate as Switzerland does and as George Washington did when he was president. Then I wouldn’t have to listen to people say “If only a good guy had a gun…”

    But, no. We can’t have an individual mandate anymore because a liberal president took a conservative think tank’s idea to save lives in our healthcare system, and those same conservatives decided he must be a fascist.

    Anyone in that theater could have gotten a license and carried a concealed gun, but they didn’t. If your answer to gun crime is armed good guys, then you have a moral imperative to ensure that anywhere, anytime there is going to be a good guy with a gun just in case something like this happens.

    How is anyone going to do that without requiring people to carry a gun? But what would happen if you proposed that requirement? People would protest. Why? For the same reason nobody in that theater had a gun: people don’t want to carry guns. Most people don’t like guns.

    If your solution is to give guns to good guys, it will never be enough.

    If the “original intent” of the 2nd amendment is so important to you (which is a moot point since we have state militias, but no matter), maybe we should protect other people’s rights not to be killed by their governments, instead of funding those governments like we do now.

    Every one of the positions conservatives have regarding gun rights are equivalent to anti-liberal internationalism positions: watch as the world is slaughtered.

  13. Alexis says:

    Thanks for the great post! It’s always refreshing to see someone take a sensible approach to gun control instead of using an event like the Aurora shooting as a reason to seriously restrict gun rights, without any proof that this would reduce gun crimes.

  14. Alex says:

    @david, who protects us from the state militias?

  15. Larry Harley says:

    Thanks for a common sense approach to gun control.

  16. Rich Osness says:

    Excellent article. One Air Police commander’s preferred weapon for nightime patrolling of air bases in Vietnam was the Remington 870, a pump action shotgun. It was then and still is one of the most common sporting firearms. At that time one of the disadvantages of the early M16s was that they were fully automatic and excited soldiers could quickly run out of ammunition.

    People behind desks and in legislative halls don’t often make good decisions for those that are actually involved in the action. This could also apply to health care decisions for patients and doctors.

  17. Otis says:

    Guns are critical for the defense of the people against a tyrannical government. The United States government is not tyrannical, but who knows what the future holds. This is purely hypothetical, but twenty years from now, there could be a food crisis, an energy crisis, a sovereignty crisis, and growing threats to people’s personal liberties and privacy from government controlled technology. Such societal circumstances could produce the perfect storm for government becoming authoritarian through everything from it’s execution of rationing policies to detainment of citizens and the suspension of elections.
    Such circumstances could sour the relationship between government and people. If the government does go bad, the people have to have some means to defend themselves.

    Let’s not be naive. We’ve learned too many lessons from history.

  18. david says:

    @Alex, I said the point is moot because we have state militias. The second amendment begins “a well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state…”

    Before I answer your question, I’d just like to say that I think you have a weak argument if, every time people try to stop murder, you have to bring up the possibility that the state guard would start killing citizens. It’s a highly unlikely scenario, so I don’t think it adds much to your argument.

    To answer your question, though, other states have militias. The POTUS controls the military. If a governor went crazy, they could intervene. If it were nationwide, other countries could intervene (though they probably won’t, since that would basically mean us getting what we deserve for doing the same thing to them).

    But if the most powerful military in the world decides to start killing its own citizens, we’re gonna be SOL anyway. Even if we had guns, that would still be about as well-matched as unarmed civilians in a theater with a shotgun going off, and the outcome would be the same.

  19. frank timmins says:

    David, no one is using the example of Switzerland as a model to follow (mandating arms). The point is that as a result of the country being armed, crime is greatly lessened. It stands to reason that if a greater percentage of the population is capable of self defense, a lesser degree of crime will be committed. The point is almost inarguable.

    Let’s be honest with regard to concealed carry in a Colorado movie theater. It would have been illegal in Colorado for any of the patrons of the movie theater to be “packing” because the theater would not allow it. Consequently there was essentially no defense against the nut bag. Had even one person been armed (and understood how to use his weapon), the odds are that Mr. nut bag would have done considerably less killing.

    Moreover, forget Aurora for a moment. How many criminals would be anxious to invade a home if they knew the owner was armed and able to defend? How many felons would be willing to carjack someone who had a weapon nearby? Premeditated crime would surely lose a lot of appeal.

    With regard to the world being “slaughtered”, it may be a reality boost if you recall what has actually happened in the world since records have been kept. The “slaughters” have occurred when armed invaders or government tyrants preyed on “unarmed” or under armed populations. The examples are endless even in modern times – from the rape of Nanking to Hitler’s atrocities to Stalin’s purges. What do you suppose would have happened to us had we not been armed with nuclear weapons during the cold war?

    The same principle applies to individuals defending their own families and properties. Is there a price to pay for this? Certainly. There will be accidental shootings and certain crimes of passion, but that is the price of freedom.

  20. Brian says:

    @David: I think the potential is more likely that my state militia will be called to protect me from POTUS and his military extensions especially as the feds increase their ursupation of individual rights. Your observation regarding the futility of that effort in both quantity and quality of weaponry is agreed with trepidation.

    @Otis: Although still only a possibility, I think that our imminent financial crisis could erode into such a scenario, and much sooner than a 20-year horizon–possibly even 2013. The anguish created by the inevitable retraction of the unlimited promises being made by the pandering occupants of decision-making power in Washington will throw millions of people into panic. The fact that those promises should have never been made will be ignored. Without a good plan, strong leadership and a broad societal return to core values, utter hopelessness will quickly erode into anarchy and your description may well prove prophetic. Pretty scary stuff, eh? Think of the 80′s movie Red Dawn, but replace the role of the implied Russians with our own military.

  21. david says:

    The theater not allowing guns is not the same as it being illegal. Would you suggest we require private businesses to allow people to carry concealed weapons on their property? That’s not very free market of you. Isn’t the right supposed to say that people will now begin watching movies at theaters that allow guns, because that’s what will be on their mind when shopping for theaters and they’ll have that information perfectly available?

    Ya. That’s as ridiculous and inconsistent as it sounds.

    How many killers know if a gun is loaded? You’re assuming an information symmetry that would never happen in the real world. I suppose that having more houses with guns would keep a guy from robbing a house twice, but that’s about it.

    And really… what would have happened to the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki if we didn’t have nuclear weapons? THAT is your example of a great atrocity avoided? Arms races aren’t a net gain by definition.

    Perhaps you should have read more closely the preceding paragraph. It’s odd to me that there are so many Americans who support the 2nd amendment on the grounds that it serves as protection against a possible murderous government when indeed we already have the most murderous government and nobody says a thing. Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Chile, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, East Timor… There’s one common denominator to all of those atrocities: support from the American government.

    So the 2nd amendment has done nothing to prevent what you say it will.

  22. Bill Caruth says:

    Well said, John.

    Bill

  23. David L says:

    John,

    I appreciate that someone with your credibility separates the facts from the emotions in a very clear manner.

    We all would like a completely civil society devoid of violence. Unfortunately there are those who do evil in real life and I for one would prefer the right to defend myself. As you pointed out with Class III weapons (machine guns) reasonable regulations seem to work.

  24. Frank Timmins says:

    David, you seem to miss the point again. I don’t think I suggested that the theater (or any other business) should be forced to allow weapons on its property. The fact is simply that someone with a weapon would have an opportunity to stop or greatly decrease casualties in this type of scenario. I see you don’t deny that, and that is the point.

    “How many killers know if a gun is loaded”? Uh….I don’t think too many people try to deter people with unloaded guns. Criminals usually don’t get to call the bluff but once.

    “Hiroshima and Nagasaki” citizens? Well let’s see David, by most experts calculations those bombs actually saved the lives of upwards of 500,000 Japanese citizens had we invaded Japan (in addition to the American casualties). So yes, that was a great atrocity avoided. You may recall this occured in World War II, not during the “Cold War”.

    And then we have “murderous government, Haiti, Peru, Chile….” and some connection with the 2nd amendment?? OOOOOkay!

  25. Jennie Fiedler says:

    Brilliant post! I think if you polled people with concealed carry permits you would find 100% would never draw their firearm except in defense of theirs or others’ lives. If someone wants to go on a killing spree they will find a way. Case in point: Sarin gas released into the Tokyo subway system. And I’m sure there are many others. I sleep much better and am not afraid to venture into the world because of my second amendment right. If even one person in that theater in Colorado had been armed that tragedy would most likely been averted. Thank you John.

  26. bart says:

    @david: http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/10C13.txt

    But feel free to push for a Constitutional ammendment repealing the 2nd.

  27. bart says:

    You can change the spelling of ‘amendment’ while you’re at it.

  28. david says:

    Holmes had full body armor on; no one in that theater could have done a thing.

    Loaded gun: that was admittedly unclear. Let’s just assume that statistics show higher gun ownership correlates to less crime (and there’s plenty of debate about even the correlation). Even if a decrease in crime happens after gun ownership goes up, that does not show causation. If you assume information symmetry, then you can have a reasonable argument for why guns deter crimes. But in the real world, that symmetry doesn’t exist. Someone isn’t going to not rob a house because gun ownership in their state has gone up: they don’t know if the person in the house has a gun and they probably don’t even know that overall ownership rates have gone up. Most people don’t really follow those statistics, and I doubt there’s a lot of “moneyball” type burglars.

    So Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved the lives that we would have killed had we invaded? That’s a serious argument? Maybe we should have nuked Iraq (except only once so it would be proportional). You’re gonna say that would have been a good call? Terrifyingly ridiculous.

    Your point about nukes highlights what I would consider the failure in your thinking. Our having nukes only prevented a potential invasion or whatever because the bad guys didn’t have anything better than nukes. That was what you might call a level playing field. And, by the way, it would have been the same outcome if neither side had nukes. You don’t save yourself by keeping up with the bad guys–that’s called an arms race and it’s zero-sum. Actually, it’s completely wasteful, so it’s more like a negative sum.

    Someone throwing a smoke grenade into a dark, loud, and crowded theater then shooting people with a semi-automatic shotgun and assault rifle is not a level playing field. Your solution leads to everyone walking around in combat gear with assault rifles. My solution goes in the other direction, away from escalation.

  29. david says:

    @bart, a statutory definition of the militia does not require a constitutional amendment.

    My point was that the intent of the 2nd amendment is fulfilled by state guards.

    But even if we accept that statue as unchangable, then couldn’t we ban guns from males under 17 and over 45 without any violation of the 2nd amendment? Couldn’t we ban guns from women entirely? Or noncitizens? Or postal workers (that actually might have been a good idea and avoided ‘going postal’ from entering the vernacular)?

    In short, I don’t think you’re getting anywhere by citing how we define the words in the 2nd amendment.

  30. Donald R May, MD says:

    David,

    Why do you not trust the citizens to be armed? If citizens cannot be trusted with arms, how can the police be trusted with arms?

    Why do you think someone intent on killing others would be stopped by any law?

    Would a sign stating, “It is illegal to take over an aircraft with deadly force,” on the cockpit doors of airliners on 9/11/2001 have stopped the Islamic Terrorist attacks that took place that day?

    A Police State exists when the police are armed and the citizens are not armed.

    Donald R. May, MD
    “Mr. Conservative”
    http://lubbockonline.com/conservative

  31. frank timmins says:

    @ David “So Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved the lives that we would have killed had we invaded? That’s a serious argument?”

    Are you seriously not understanding this? Japan had no intention of surrendering and was preparing for a massive allied invasion. The loss of life would have been unprecedented. Almost every historian agrees with this assessment regardless of their disdain for nukes.

    I only pursue this nuke thing because it sort of explains why you seem to have some kind of enormous misunderstanding of human nature and a complete lack of any survival instinct.

    If that is the way you roll then knock yourself out, but others of us don’t particularly like to become victims or martyrs for some utopian concept. For example, you say the cold war would have had the same outcome with or without nukes. It’s a good thing you don’t work as a military strategist. Tyrannical governments attack other countries because they think they can get away with it, not to commit suicide. Connect the dots David.

  32. bart says:

    David,

    The unorganized militia is roughly the pool of potential conscripts, hopefully with at least some training & practice before actually entering boot camp. I don’t agree that that function is fulfilled by the National Guard.

    I suppose you could try to change the law to narrow the definition of the militia. Then all you would have to do is change the wording of the 2nd Amendment from “the right of the people” to “the right of militia members.”

    The militia clause doesn’t really change the logic of the 2nd half of the Amendment. It merely informs as to part of the intent, and helps to define some of the terms. Not so much “the people”–I don’t see how the militia clause changes that–but it does place upper and lower bounds on what can be meant by “arms”.

    First, the appearance of the term “militia” shows that the protection involves weapons suitable for a militia member– basically an individual soldier. One could almost argue that this means an M-16 or M-4, and not just an AR-15.

    On the other hand, something with a 100-round magazine is more of a squad-level weapon, so I could see room for a limitation there. Same idea regarding bazookas, cannons, and atom bombs that people are always tossing out as evidence of a rubber Constitution.

  33. arcadia11 says:

    another tragic government operation to facilitate the disarmament of the population for final take-over.

  34. Bill says:

    Recently, I lined up my guns and lectured them very sternly. “If any one of you take it upon yourself to kill someone, you will be shipped off, crushed and put in the melting pot.”

    Not one of them disagreed with me and I have not had a problem with anyone.

  35. arcadia11 says:

    lol.

  36. Arizona_Don says:

    Some years ago, Australian’s allowed their government to take their guns in the name of citizen safety. Did it work? Can it ever work? If you think it can name one instance of success. And provide the link for confirmation of the claim.

    Some of them (like in this country) thought if they gave up their guns that would lower crime. Like the gun control advocates in this country they were absolutely wrong but refused to listen to reason, look what happened.

    http://www.impeachobamacampaign.com/video-watch-what-happens-when-a-nation-bans-guns/

    Confiscating the guns has never led to less violence and more safety. Conversely it has always, “unequivocally always” done the exact opposite. During the twentieth century more than 170 million citizens were murdered “by their governments.” Just exactly what is it these gun control people do not understand about this.

    Furthermore, we have the proof right here in front of us in our very gun restrictive cities like New York and Chicago right along with Washington DC. Chicago even with it’s restrictive gun laws has the highest number of gun related crimes in the country.

    In the final analysis “Gun Control Does Absolutely Not work.“ Luckily millions of us in this country know that and will make a stand against gun control of any kind. Because once we give in by trying to be reasonable and give up the right to keep some guns the banning of others will soon follow so that little by little they get them all somewhere down the road. The second amendment has nothing to do with hunting it does have to do with self defense and that includes self defense even against the government if necessary. That is why it was worded the way it was. Those who try to interpret it differently are fools.

  37. Chuck says:

    The ONLY regulation I would like to see enacted in the area of carry permits, concealed or otherwise, would be a national database of those who are taking prescribed psych drugs. These drugs have frequently, though often covered up by the media, been involved in violent crimes in general and mass murders in particular and I believe that those who are on these drugs should be denied the right to carry either open or concealed firearms.

  38. arcadia11 says:

    except that this is not about keeping people safe. it is about disarming a population so that it is much easier to take over. it is agenda 21. it is not logical, it is not lawful or ethical. it is an attempt by the sociopaths who run all governments to implement global dictatorship.

    ‘the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names’

  39. Arizona_Don says:

    David regarding your reply to @Bart:

    There were two forces that actively participated in the Revolutionary war from within the colonies, the Regulars and the Militia. The “Regulars” were the official Army of the day. The militia were, neither well trained or well armed, civilians with, for the most part, their own weapons. The regulars although not feared by the Brits were for the most part respected, the militia, on the other hand, was neither respected or feared (at least at first) by the Brits. The British mostly lost the war because they failed to adjust to the militia’s “new” method of fighting battles, which was learned by the militia from the American Indian. That new tactic involved fighting from behind trees and rocks rather than out in the open. Consequently, the second amendment was worded the way it was in reference to civilian citizens. Which was also described in the federalist papers as such.

    Therefore, the second amendment cannot be fulfilled by state guards. It precisely pertains to individual citizens. Guns could perhaps constitutionally be restricted by minor age of the citizen that is decision yet to be determined however, otherwise the constitution says it shall not be infringed. Consequently, the upper age limit you set in your comment would not be acceptable. If the second amendment is proposed in any way as a means of self defense, as I and many others do see it, then it would be illegal to remove a means of self defense from those over 45. Also might I add, do you see those of us over 45 as less than citizens and if not why do you wish us to be disarmed?

    Finally, you say you do not think we are getting anywhere by citing how we define the words in the second amendment. Seems to me you are doing the very same thing! However, in any case explain if you would just how you interpret a statement if you cannot define words within that statement?

  40. SWJSLJ says:

    Overall a good article but, I take exception to Mr Goodman’s phrase, “… allowing citizens the right to carry concealed handguns reduces violent crime.” Our founders believed that the individual has the “right” to bear arms and that government is expressly forbidden to interfere with our God-given RIGHTS.

  41. SWJSLJ says:

    @David Full body armor? Not much of an argument, I’m afraid. Are you familiar with the effects of being shot while wearing body armor? It hurts; the body still must absorb a massive amount of kinetic energy. Sometimes ribs are broken and the victim at least get the “wind” kn9ocked out of them. One or two rounds in the chest while wearing body armor would have incapacitated this fiend long enough for more permanent solutions to be had. And of course, arms, legs, and head are left unprotected.

    Sorry, pal but this is real life, not the movies. And according to Professor Gary Kleck a criminologist at the University of Florida, guns are used in self defense between 800,000 and 2.5 million times each year. Armed individuals in that theater might very well have saved lives.

  42. gunowner says:

    SWJSLJ”Our founders believed that the individual has the “right” to bear arms and that government is expressly forbidden to interfere with our God-given RIGHTS.

    When did God write the constitution?

  43. arcadia11 says:

    @pat “too many nuts with guns”

    i agree. i firmly believe that we should completely disarm the government/law enforcement. for starters.

  44. david says:

    @Mr. Conservative, I suggest you do a little research on actual police states. It isn’t the case that they exist where armed citizens do not, and it isn’t the case that armed citizens can stop them. Turn on the news about Syria, for crying out loud.

    @Frank, when I say with or without (though I don’t think I actually said that), I mean when all parties do or do not have nukes. Obviously, when one country has nukes and another doesn’t, things change, but a weapon is only useful when the other guy doesn’t have one too. Hence my saying that your solution to violence leads to everyone having guns and mine leads to no one having them. Violence won’t end either way, but aggression will look far different. There is a problem when people like Holmes have guns and people in the theater don’t. You would say everyone in the theater should have a gun (which isn’t realistic, because “human nature” doesn’t work that way). Would you say every country should have a nuke?

    @bart, legal scholars assume that people meant every word of the laws they pass. The 2nd amendment does not say, “a well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, and for protection from crazy people in crowded theaters, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The reasoning and intent is there, and absent any other explicit intents, we cannot assume they exist. Otherwise, the constitution is meaningless. I happen to think the state guards fulfill that intent. If you disagree, fine, but a statutory definition of what “militia” wont help you, if you think everyone should be allowed to carry a gun, because by defining what a militia is, you define what it isn’t. The only way around that is to argue that the state guards do not fulfill the obligation of “security of a free state.”

    @Arizona_Don, with all due respect, I’m not going to listen to an argument that relies on a source called “impeachobamacampaign.”

    @arcadia11, seriously, get a grip. Agenda 21 is a campaign to get developed-world technologies sold to the developing world under the guise of sustainable development even though the technologies being sold will not help at all. The only “take over” being facilitated by Agenda 21 is large corporations taking over developing countries’ sovereignty and ability to develop sustainably where it is needed. If you’re worried about the world being taken over through the UN, then you should know it will be mostly American business interests owning the third world to the detriment of their human development. The only global hegemony that actually exists (meaning that exists outside of the imaginations of blind and ignorant Americans) is called the Washington Concensus, and it’s the force behind Agenda 21. So if Agenda 21 is to you “an attempt by the sociopaths who run all governments to implement global dictatorship,” then you’re calling yourself a sociopath, which would seem to be supported by your saying we should disarm law enforcement.

    @SWJSLJ, actually, his head, neck, legs, and arms were all protected as well. I’ve never said that guns can’t be or aren’t used in self-defense. I have only said that they could not have been used in this particular case and that more guns is not a realistic solution to gun crime, for reasons above.

    @gunowner, touche. God-given rights are what Jeremy Bentham called “nonsense upon stilts,” “self-conceit and tyranny exalted into insanity,” and “a perpetual vein of nonsense, flowing from a perpetual abuse of words.” But if only you had listened to the Bircher Glenn Beck, you would know that the constitution was written with the guiding finger of God. So thank goodness you don’t listen his type. You make one sensible gunowner on this thread.

  45. Arizona_Don says:

    David:

    So David I guess you prefer to remain ignorant of the facts. Where would you logically expect to find this type of fact, under reelect obama? Liberal progressives who support gun control are not going to use these facts to enlighten the citizens of the truth. But they will try to conceal them. I have watched different reports to try to gain knowledge of your beliefs, even on reelect obama sites. Only enlightened people can make intelligent decisions and that is done by getting as much information as possible about both view points and then making an intelligent decision based on that information. But perhaps that’s over you head as well. Its to bad you put a party over your country and prejudiced progressive view point over logic!

  46. arcadia11 says:

    lol again. it appears we have been reprimanded by the god of the trolls.

  47. david says:

    @Arizona_Don, I could probably give you a pretty good case for why every president in your lifetime could be put to death in the ICJ, but I wouldn’t get my info from a website called “killthepresidentscampaign.”

    Reputability matters.

  48. bart says:

    David, regarding “…but a statutory definition of what “militia” wont help you, if you think everyone should be allowed to carry a gun, because by defining what a militia is, you define what it isn’t.”

    I wasn’t relying on the statutory definition, I was merely using it to refute your non-statutory definition implied in “I happen to think the state guards fulfill that intent.”

    As I tried to say earlier, it doesn’t matter what definition you happen prefer, unless you also happen to think that “the people” is synonymous with “the state guards.”

    Regarding “legal scholars assume that people meant every word of the laws they pass,” I agree. But the militia clause is clearly explanatory in nature, and is not written in a way that would modify the logic of the rest of the amendment. It can only help define the terms.

    You may argue that “the people” was only meant in a collective sense, i.e. “the state”, but this has already been decided by the courts.

  49. Arizona_Don says:

    David:

    Ok if you don’t like the impeach site here is one on youtube. Enjoy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDivHkQ2GSg&feature=youtu.be

  50. Arizona_Don says:

    David:

    So I read your article did you watch the video? I doubt it. I know you liberal progressives do not reason well. Perhaps 58 minutes is to long for you to comprehend. Sorry I suggested such a thing. Have a nice day!

  51. david says:

    A 58 minute video about genocide, suggesting it is only possible when governments take away people’s weapons?

    No, @Arizona_Don, we just happen to have an ability to see things in context. First of all, no one is suggesting we take away guns from any one group of people. Second, we have democratic control of the military in America and citizens of individual states have control of state guards; that doesn’t happen anywhere else. And third, if there were the kind of movements in America that lead to genocide, letting people have their guns wouldn’t stop them; also, just about all suspect movements of that kind come from the right.

    Guns or the lack thereof do not cause genocide or mass atrocities. And you have a nice day too.

  52. Arizona_Don says:

    Thank you, I can see I’m wasting my time attempting to enlighten you to the facts, therefore I will no longer try. I really feel sorry for your lack of comprehension. There were about eleven million people during the thirties in Germany who had the same ideas. They all were murdered. I wonder how many of them thought that could not happen there either?

  53. david says:

    Uh huh. Because everyone is so unelightened to how many people were murdered by governments in the 20th century. It’s a real big secret, so I guess I’m glad you’re out enlightening people.

    So are you saying that Hitler wouldn’t have killed Jews if only Jews had more guns?

    This is the problem that I’ve already identified earlier, and you are offering not a single new argument: you people think you stop crime by making people better able to defend themselves from it. We people try to stop crime at the source. You people accept crazies as part of life, a card with which we must deal. We people try to understand them and help them and limit the harm they can do. Yours is an egocentric and reactionary mindset by definition and you cannot change something if your reaction to it is more reaction. If you want to end violence, you have to understand its cause AND its means.

    You play defense; we play offense. Only in this game, you can’t stop the other guys from scoring, so don’t get up in a righteous rage when the offense wants a chance to actually step on the field, because we seem to be the only side that cares about winning the game.

  54. arcadia11 says:

    best not to feed the trolls.

  55. Chris Vickers says:

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