Time for gun debate

To the Editor: A recent letter stated that the Second Amendment "is an integral part of checks and balances that upholds the Constitution.” This is irrelevant to the debate our country is having in response to the slaughter of children in Connecticut.
Jan 16, 2013

 

No one is proposing amending or repealing the Second Amendment. No one is proposing banning all firearms. That would be unconstitutional, as legal precedent was set in the Supreme Court case D.C. v. Heller. In his majority opinion, Justice Scalia wrote, “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.”  

But Scalia also wrote: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” And, “The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on ... laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

U.S. v. Miller holds that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”  

What is relevant are what measures can be taken to diminish the risk and damage of possible future mass shootings. Are requiring background checks for all firearm transactions simply “imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” as stated above? Are semiautomatic assault-style firearms and high-capacity cartridges “dangerous and unusual weapons," not “in common use at the time"?

It’s time to have these debates. I don’t know what, if any, measures will be taken, but I do know that we shouldn’t let the extreme fringes in this debate make these decisions for us.   

— David Hanson, Spring Lake Township

Comments

Ghpeytonfan

As a gun owner and parent I am behind protecting children from gun violence. But also not an extreme enough advocate to say nothing should be changed or that Obama is evil. I DO feel that better background checks is fine and that's all that should be done. Gun restrictions as magazine size etc is a waste of time and only adversely affects law abiding citizens. There are enough high cspacity magazines and guns already owned to make a difference when guns such as those in Newtown are essentially stolen for the crimes. Law and arrest practices should be looked at for repeat misdemeanor offenders who are also gun owners, or better mental screening. And most of all parents safer with their own firearms and more nosy about what their children may be involved in.

Vladtheimp

Sorry, this is what was omitted from the quote by Scalia: "1. “Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings

Vladtheimp

I agree that a conversation regarding the Second Amendment is a good thing, as long as it is informed historically and legally. I also agree that extreme fringes shouldn't make decisions for us, including those who believe citizens should have unrestricted rights to own any weapon,and those who believe citizens should have no rights to firearms except those approved by the federal government. The former ignore the reality that all of our rights are subject to reasonable restrictions, the latter indeed want to gut the Second Amendment and should absolutely carry the burden of amending it or repealing it through the difficult process spelled out in Article V of the Constitution.

With respect to having an informed debate, let's fill in the facts missing from Mr. Hanson's analysis:

1. Regarding the Heller case, the rest of the quotation he left out from Justice Scalia's sentence is : http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct...

2. Regarding the Miller case, the quotation Mr. Hanson provided is “sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.” This is simply untrue. The 1939 Miller case upheld the conviction of a felon who carried a sawed off shotgun between two states, without registering it and without paying the tax for a stamp, contrary to the National Firearms Act (imagine – felons not complying with a gun control law). The Miller court's holding was based on the fact that a sawed off shotgun was not used by the military in national defense /b (307 U.S. 178). On the next page the Court did say “The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. "A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline." And further, that ordinarily, when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” but it never said anything about dangerous and unusual weapons – that was thrown in as dicta in the Heller decision while discussing Miller. http://supreme.nolo.com/us/307/1...

So, the issue under Miller is whether semi-automatic weapons, having design characteristics causing them to be called “assault weapons” (folding stocks, pistol grips, flash suppressors, etc.) can be found in today's military – not too hard of a question.

So indeed, if we are to have a discussion let's have one – but let's be certain the basis for the discussion is honest and accurate from an historical and legal perspective, especially inasmuch as under Heller it is now settled law that each of us has a Constitutional right to be armed for defensive purposes.

Lanivan

I also like to add another famous quote from Chief Justice Warren Burger, who said,"The concept of a citizen's right to bear arms has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud - I repeat the word fraud - on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime".

RenegadeX

Lanivan
Thu, 01/17/2013 - 8:54am
"I also like to add another famous quote from Chief Justice Warren Burger, who said,"The concept of a citizen's right to bear arms has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud - I repeat the word fraud - on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime".

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

Wingmaster

Funny when we have a conversation about another right...1st amendment freedom of speech, the focus usually is directed at the person who said something and used the freedom wrong. We never say we need to restrict that right...hmmm. Why is it not so with the 2nd amendment right to bear arms? Both of these rights were important enough that the founders put them at the beginning of the bill of rights for a reason. Without them, we lose the ability as citizens to keep us safe from an overreaching government or individuals in society!

Since this latest media frenzy around the tragedy in Connecticut, there has been hardly any real discussion regarding personal responsibility (parent), mental health, violence in media (hollywood, video games), or security practice.

So I don't take any debate regarding guns seriously that does not want to also include actual factors that cause the violence to occur! The gun cannot kill without the idiot with a problem pulling the trigger.

Vladtheimp

Wing,

With all due respect, I think you are approaching this from the wrong perspective. The current topic could be seen as an opportunity for conversations about a number of the amendments, using the perspective of those who believe our 2nd Amendment rights can and should be restricted. Some examples:

The 15th Amendment says the right to vote can't be abridged or denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It doesn't say that the right to vote can't be conditioned on testing the ability to understand English, or having an IQ high enough to understand the issues. Literacy tests are constitutionally valid [Lassiter v. Northampton County Bd. of Elections, 360 U.S. 45 (1960)] . I'm sure we could come up with some recommendations for the next president's Executive Orders for reasonable restrictions on the right to vote that would protect the children from, say, crippling debt. Doctors could be forced to administer tests and questions on language and IQ, and report them to the government.

The 19th amendment, passed in 1920, says that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. We have been lectured that sex is not about male or female, but includes sexual orientations, such as transgendered, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and gay folks. The 19th amendment was passed to address women's suffrage, and concepts of different sexual orientations was unknown in 1920. Accordingly, our next president can issue Executive Orders restricting the right to vote to men and women, and today's Congress can legislate to the same end. Doctors could certainly ascertain through questions and other means whether an individual is a man, a woman, or something else, and report their findings to the government.

The 8th amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Since at the time the Constitution was ratified, the death penalty was common, just like muskets were the common individual firearm, the death penalty cannot be considered a cruel and unusual punishment.

The 1st Amendment says the right to free speech and a free press can't be abridged, but when the Constitution was passed, free speech was limited to speech that could be heard without use of any electronic enhancements, and the press was pretty much limited to hand presses. Our next president could certainly issue Executive Orders limiting speech that involves broadcasting by means other than a loud voice or a megaphone, including speech using the internet, and the press could be limited to using printing methods using mechanical devices.

Although tongue in cheek, if we don't pursue our deeply held ideas and beliefs as relentlessly and aggressively as the Socialists like Obama, using some of their same tactics, as reprehensible as we may believe they are, we are doomed to forever being the ones bringing a knife to a gun fight (which is the one instance in which the Socialists believe in gun rights – when they are the only ones having them).

Lanivan

Exactly. But although words can hurt, they can't kill like guns. I do think the Sandy Hook massacre was one mass killing too many and the public is becoming increasingly knowledgeable and outraged. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/1...

Your statement about digging deeper into the underlying reasons for our glorification of guns and violence, and our self-medication via our addiction to it, plus the need for discussion of personal responsibility, is key. In order to find sustainable solutions, this huge problem will require more than pat answers. The Obama/Biden gun task force seems to recognize this.

The NRA has declared this to be the War of the Century. Please, bring it on. The more they dig into their shameful bag of (dirty) tricks, the more they expose themselves to increasing public scrutiny. Looks like their long-successful lobbying to halt virtually all federally financed research on gun violence that could be utilized for any fact-based gun policy, may be coming to an end. Their declared "spike" in membership in December after Sandy Hook has now been revealed to be due to their reducing the Gold membership dues from $1,000 to $300. Talk about not wasting a crisis.

I don't want your gun; I just want increased safety for my family and friends. It can't all come from Washington - we have to make this happen, and we can do this. It is time to speak to truth to power.

Lanivan

A baby step, but one in the right direction. Maybe GR could do something like this, experiencing an outbreak in gang gun violence recently....http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/1...

Lanivan

Looks like the modest, but popular, Buyback Programs being held around the country are also under attack by the NRA and ALEC. These guys have no shame - their attempts to dictate state and public policy (so much for small government) and promote "Guns are People" - revel in railing against even a hint of "infringement" of the rights of the guns. http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013...

Vladtheimp

[b] Their declared "spike" in membership in December after Sandy Hook has now been revealed to be due to their reducing the Gold membership dues from $1,000 to $300. Talk about not wasting a crisis. [/b]

Lan - Don't know where you found this (Daily Kos?) but there is no such thing as an NRA Gold Membership. The have a lifetime membership, which occasionally goes on sale when a new member is recommended by another lifetime member, but no such offer I can find. http://home.nra.org/#/nraorg/cus...

Lanivan

I wouldn't read that liberal lefty Daily Kos! This was from HuffPost....http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

"No such thing as...". Right....my guess is that they pulled the membership deal once the media caught wind and got it out there, hence no current offer.

Vladtheimp

Just a sample post from 1909 - I guess this was in response to the Connecticut shootings and Obama's Executive Orders. . . .

Old 03-07-09, 12:58 PM #10
sirenmoses
Lifer

sirenmoses's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: 7400', central NM
Posts: 3,281
Garage

from $300 NRA Lifetime Membership - M4Carbine.net Forums

"The NRA is offering a $300 Lifetime Membership through March 31st.

Please call 1-800-672-3888

It seems that it is as easy as calling the NRA and giving them the code W9AVCRDE. This will only work if you are already a member."

another linky says to call during normal bizness hrs to avoid lowpaid wageslaves at a FL call center, and that you need a current lifetime member to refer you.

http://forum.ih8mud.com/hunting-...

I'm sure I could go back further but not in the business of knocking down every piece of BS from Huffington Post.

__________________

Lanivan

Huh? I've read this 3 times, and the best I can ascertain is: 1.) You have created a post dating from 1909, 2.) You've linked it to something cryptic dating to 2006, 3.) You're determined to spin a HuffPost article by using information by someone named Trunk Monkey.

Please elucidate if I'm missing something here.

Vladtheimp

I pasted a post from the gun forum that is linked showing the NRA was offering the lifetime membership deal for $300 (normally $1,000) back in 2009 (not 1909 - my bad typing) to then current NRA members, I added it to show that your statement (from Huffington Post - "Their declared "spike" in membership in December after Sandy Hook has now been revealed to be due to their reducing the Gold membership dues from $1,000 to $300. Talk about not wasting a crisis.") was false and misleading, unless, of course when your business has had a practice of periodically offering a sale, the latest sale coincides with a gruesome event, and you believe it is fair and accurate for someone to claim that your sale was held to take advantage of the event to make money.

Despite our recent detente, I do not expect that you will admit the quoted sentence was false and misleading,but instead say something like "well, they were boosting their membership because Obama was elected" or some such thing, but I hope I will be pleasantly surprised.

Lanivan

I see - this is you with a Wayne LaPierre mask, wagging your finger at me.

In the spirit of our apparently one-sided and fast-tracking-to-irrelevancy detente, taking the high road, and my fondness for run-on sentences, I will give you this: I could have been more effective in my desire to highlight the despicable and desperate depths the NRA has gone to denigrate our president and his family, and the memory of thousands of children slaughtered from guns, in order to retain control of lots of power and money. Lord knows with all the dirt available from which I could have drawn from, I admit (just this time) this HuffPost link was on the weak side, and was one too easily picked apart by you.

I stand corrected. Mea culpa. Pleasantly surprised?

Vladtheimp

Bout what I anticipated - no admission wrapped in anti-gun rhetoric.

Lanivan

Perhaps, Vlad, the problem lies in too great of expectation based on inflated belief in one's ability to persuade.

Lanivan

"Gold" was my attempt at marketing humor only, not to give false information.

dogbert1918

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ...Benjamin Franklin

Wingmaster

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." –Thomas Jefferson

Lanivan

Gee, this is fun. David Hanson writes about the time is now for gun debate, and the replies range from cherry-picking quote marathons, to constitutional tutorial overreach, to declarations of fears that Obama is posed to turn the Constitution into a cocktail napkin. Next, some goofball will suggest a new board game - "Government Warfare" - with with 3 categories - 1.) Constitutionalists, armed with muskets, 2.) Liberals, armed with knives, and 3.) Republicans, armed with Bushmaster AR15s. Whoever ends up in the most twisted position wins.

Meanwhile, almost 6,000 teens and children died in 2008-2009 from guns, more than our military service personnel in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008-2009, 2 x more 3-4 year old children died from guns than law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Vladtheimp

You state: "Meanwhile, almost 6,000 teens and children died in 2008-2009 from guns, more than our military service personnel in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008-2009, 2 x more 3-4 year old children died from guns than law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty."

The instances of your pulling statistics from a place where the sun doesn't shine is increasingly troublesome - almost like the deception is purposeful. The real statistics follow

IN ONE YEAR (ages 0-19)

Almost 20,000 American children and teens
are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, or by police intervention.

2,966 kids died from gun violence

2,037 children and teens murdered.

748 kids killed themselves.

123 children and teens killed accidentally.

19 killed by police intervention.

39 died but the intent was unknown.

http://www.bradycampaign.org/xsh...

You might also consult FBI statistics that show in metropolitan statistical areas, many of which have very strict gun control laws, the violent crime rate is more than 100% greater than that of non-metropolitan areas and
the murder rate is more than 60% greater than that of non-metropolitan areas http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis... ;

The foregoing notwithstanding, you and your buddy Obama are willing to infringe the Second Amendment rights of EVERYONE - isn't a fair and balanced approach more reasonable?

Lanivan

My statistics were drawn, not from dark, hard-to-reach places, but the Children's Defense Fund....http://www.publicintegrity.org/2...

As they roughly reconcile with the statistics you provide, I'm not clear on your point.

As to your.. " is increasingly troublesome - almost like the deception is purposeful" comment; and the FBI statistics regarding metropolitan/rural murder rates, I would offer in defense of my position the Cheney 1% doctrine (and I paraphrase): If there is just a 1% chance of the unimaginable happening, act as if it is a certainty. If getting serious about gun safety would save even 1% of our children from violent gun death, then we must act.

Obama's approach is a fair and balanced one. Polls show Americans understand and support his latest actions. But history being what it is, the Custers Last Stand Republicans are determined to put their absolute and fierce delusions, denial, and deceptions before common sense, fairness, and balance. Obama is no more infringing on 2nd Amendment rights than I'm a starting center for the Pistons. ....http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/1...

I thought wealth disparity was going to bring us down. Looks like guns is a close second.

You are right about my willingness to allow infringement of my 2nd Amendment rights (the amendment for which I have the least ownership) - I would willingly forfeit that right if it meant that ultimately fewer children would die from a violent gun death.

Vladtheimp

It saddens me that you and people who think like you are so willing to throw away your Second Amendment right, a key provision of our Bill of Rights that has kept us free and unique in the history of nations that so many have fought and died for --it infuriates me that you people are willing to throw away mine.

Lanivan

So now we're questioning my patriotism?....I fold, you win.

Vladtheimp

That is an absurd, self-serving, and victim-like interpretation of what I said. Believe me, if I want to question someone's patriotism, I will come right out and say it.

Lanivan

Bout what I anticipated. It is precisely what you were questioning/judging. If not that, what then?

Recognizing we are on opposing sides of the political spectrum, your greater knowledge and experience on this subject, and that critical thinking can not be monopolized, (not to mention the seriousness of this life/death issue), I will not tolerate my viewpoint being manipulated by such a narrow, harsh judgement.

As far as my views re: this topic of 2nd Amendment rights, I quote Eleanor Roosevelt, "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?".

Vladtheimp

Since I consider 2008-2009 to mean one year, the statistics are vastly different. Also, the issue is means to avoid mass murders triggered by Sandy Hook, but you reference statistics that include suicide, accidental deaths, and deaths where the youts were shot by police - I consider that highly misleading given the context of the discussion.

Obama's approach is fair and balanced? Let's see - he already has an historical record that the misnamed "Assault Weapons" Ban had no impact on crime over a previous decade, but he goes ahead and attempts to impose it. He does nothing about violent first-person shooter video games, ultra-violent movies, or removing crazy people from the streets, but calls for commissions and studies, even though these issues are well known. This is as balanced as Oprah on a balance beam.

I will give Obama one huge kudo though, through his shifting from self-declared crises, like a jitterbug playing whack-a-mole, he has distracted the media (no hard work there) and a large segment of the population from his failed economic policies, his disastrous foreign policies (how's that Muslim Brotherhood love goin in Egypt?; how's that “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat” meme goin in Libya, Algeria,Mali, etc.?); and his general inability to govern. As the economy and the world continue to go to hell in a hand-basket, I predict his next distractions will be total amnesty for illegals, slave reparations, or both.

There - As an olive branch I gave the President his props.

Lanivan

The scope of my comments re: children and gun deaths in looking beyond mass shootings was intentional and not meant to be misleading. I really don't like to waste time that way. Btw, my report states clearly the statistics were drawn from 2 separate years, 2008 and 2009 (being forced to split hairs here).

Talk about a step too far on a bridge too wide...let's see where I can go with this. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was too narrow and language too lenient. It allowed loopholes to be created such as no background checks at gun shows and private sales. Also, your assertion that it had "no" impact on crime over a decade is unsubstantiated. Like everything else, one can easily cherry-pick among statistics from which cause and effect is difficult to pinpoint, but over all, mass shootings were down, and then doubled in 2004+; deaths by assault weapons declined by 72% after 1994.

I prefer to see the glass as 1/2 full, and choose to see his comprehensive, multi-step gun policy proposals (proposals most likely to be passed into legislation) to be based on historical record, tweaking where history shows tweaking is necessary.

As for the entertainment aspect, hey - let's limit how many Constitutional Amendments he's going to get beat up over by all you Constitutional scholars/aficionados. This is an area where public response comes into play. I recognize your oblique attempt at calling out a major campaign contributor, but I still think more damage is made by the Heritage Foundation.

Failed economic policies? I would use "formidable", or if that's too big a word, "transformational". What do you have against capitalism? Being that he saved it, but not without having to act in a pragmatic, realistic, and centrist manner, "failed" is a bit harsh. I know you are bothered by use of executive orders, but at 147 mostly modest orders in his 1st term, he's on a par with Bush=294/2 terms, and Clinton=308/2 terms....and they didn't have the intransigent Congress that Obama must suffer with. They love to gum up the works, forcing Obama to turn to executive orders, all to the tune of 12% public congressional approval ratings.

Again, I switch out "disastrous" for "evolving" foreign policies. Everybody wants something from Obama. His restraint in the Middle East, coupled with drone aggression, suits me just fine after Bush. I gave a high 5 to Hollande after the Mali invasion. France needed to step up there. Not a video game that is won in a few minutes, some might not see this as the best move, but the war against Al Qaeda is the real war of the century.

General inability to govern? Total amnesty for illegals, slave reparations? Ok - now the bait has jumped the shark.

Vlad - your olive branch looks different than mine.

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