January 20, 2013

Guns and the far right

I am not trying to cause more anger in my threads (big part of that was mine, btw) over gun rights, but would like to at least place some of my fear in context.  As I said in my most recent comment, I do not fear my fellow responsible Americans who own guns, and who secure them from their children and teach those same kids from the moment they can crawl to respect and even fear those guns.

I fear people who equate extending healthcare to Hitler.  I fear people who can't even imagine that a black guy is their president.  I fear people who believe that the end of the world is just around the corner.

Left to their keyboards and discussion groups, no big deal.  But put them in an armed camp with a Glenn  Beck urging them to secede from the country and we have a problem.  And even the army recognizes that we have a threat from the right here in America.  As I posted on Facebook this morning, I remember when McVeigh set off a bomb a few blocks from my wife, the immediate explanation was that it had to be Islamic terrorists.  Even when we were looking for two white guys, that was the go-to explanation.  Americans, it seemed, could not do this to us.

Except they did.  And do.  In the last 10 years, I can remember numerous examples of right wingers on the attack against other Americans.  That has to be recognized here in the discussion about gun rights and gun control.  And it has to be added to our discussion of the gun culture.  When you combine paranoid and angry people (not necessarily mentally ill, btw) with easy access to guns that can kill a lot of people--and you have a problem.

I am not nuts to fear that.  Nor am I ignoring the Constitution.  And I am not equating those people with those of you who responsibly purchase and use guns.  So please don't say that in the comments.


steves said...

With all the comments on how sociopathic the NRA is, and knowing that I am a member and a credentialed NRA Instructor, it is hard not to think you believe I am one of the irresponsible ones.

I don't know what to tell you. I don't like many of the people you describe, either. Add to that list, all the Alex Jones conspiracy wackos, the vote from the rooftops revolutionaries, and the kooky preppers

steves said...

The reality is that most of these people are law abiding. Except for some isolated incidents, what do you think is the likelihood that some extreme gun owner is going to kill you?

Streak said...

Then I have to think it is you who is unclear on this. Because you are the one trying to defend the NRA even when they politicize the President's kids. I have repeatedly talked about reasonable gun owners, and I have to believe you have read that. Right? Or are you just ignoring anything outside my frustration with the very people you say you don't like?

Which is it?

steves said...

No, I am not ignoring what you are saying. The anti-gun people bring children into the argument all the time, with the completely unproven notion that the controls they want to establish are for the "children." The group that fought the concealed carry law in Michigan was called, "People that Care About Kids." Why? Because people wanted permits to carry guns to kill children?

This issue is politicized all around and will likely continue to be.

Streak said...

Because children are involved, that doesn't mean they are exploiting children. Surely you know that. Just as if there are African Americans on the stage it doesn't necessarily mean that they are exploiting African Americans for a political advantage.

As I said, you are far too defensive on this. You don't even see the crazy, or when you do, you just distance yourself from it and try to act as if it is anomalous. Arizona, Oklahoma and another state are considering a nullification type bill that would criminalize any state employees who enforce federal gun laws, and some are suggesting that ANY gun control legislation should be nullified.

You will dismiss this as fringe, but you can't convince me that the NRA isn't egging some of these people on. Because the group you want to defend is not good. It may have been in the past, but it isn't now.

steves said...

It is possible that exploit is too strong a word and not warranted. I would still argue that the NRA ad was not over the top, as it was more of a reflection on the President, his position on gun control, and the benefits his family receives as a result of his position (contrasted with what is available to most of the population). It was not mocking or disrespectful towards his children.

Under the Constitution and case law that is still good law, states cannot be coerced or forced into enforcing federal law. Your local police cannot arrest you for violating a federal crime. This is a basic premise of our dual sovereignty system. A very small number of states have agreements in place whereby local and state police can arrest people for federal crimes.

If you violate a federal gun law, such as the GFSZA or sale to a felon, you bill arrested by the BATFE or the FBI, not your local police. This is the same for all laws. If you cheat on your taxes, the IRS will come calling, not some deputy Sheriff. These types of laws are from states that are essentially saying that they are not interested in enforcing laws that are the responsibility of the federal gov't. This isn't some kind of secession BS.

I have yet to see any legislation that would nullify all state and federal laws.

Streak said...

Ok. I give. The NRA is reasonable, and people in Oklahoma who want to jail anyone who enforces federal law--those people are reasonable too.

I give. I fucking give.

steves said...

So, you think that local police being made to enforce federal laws is allowable under the Constitution? How?

Streak said...

That isn't what I am reading. I am reading of state officials making it against the law to enforce federal law.

Hell, as you have made clear, you do not consider me reasonable. I thought we had a lot in common, but you are after me now as one of those people who hates all gun owners.

I don't get it.

Streak said...

Here is one of these. I await your dismissal of my problem with this too.

steves said...

The Firearms Freedom Acts (FFA) will probably have to be heard by the Supreme Ct. Montana passed a bill 3 or 4 years ago and a case has been winding it's way up to the 9th Circuit. I have read some of the briefs, though I can't say that I am overly familiar with this area of law.

If you look at the NFA and the GCA, you fill find that almost all federal gun laws are based on the Interstate Commerce Clause (ICC) and that they are presumably constitutional because guns have moved through or otherwise had some effect on IC.

What some states are trying to do is say that guns made within a state are not part of IC if they never leave the state. Therefore, they are not subject to federal gun laws. The Supreme Ct. will likely have to decide this, as they seem to have indicated that a gun has to have moved in IC for it to come under federal jurisdiction (see Scarborough v. U.S., 431 U.S. 563 (1977)).

Arizona's law appears to go one step further and say that the Feds cannot enforce federal laws in Arizona related to guns. There are some cases that stand for the idea that federal officials are not immune from state laws, but I don't see how this would work if the federal laws were part of a valid use of federal power. I suppose one could say that it wasn't a valid use of power, but I don't see how this bill would be at all practical. IIRC, some southern states tried this in the mid 19th century and it didn't turn out all that well for them.

That being said, there are some states that are saying that they will not be forced into enforcing federal gun laws. This is not the same as saying that you will arrest federal officials.

Streak said...

I am well aware of the history of nullification, and this Arizona law is clearly and explicitly aimed at nullifying federal law, and is personally aimed at Obama.

Again, I don't respect this position as legitimate because it expressly is intended as a purely political statement. And that statement is part of the gun culture that I am trying to explain, and I don't understand your resistance here. These people don't really care if people get good training or are safe users--because they aren't concerned with the public good. They are only concerned with their right to purchase and use weapons however they want. The rest of us can go to hell.

This is really amazing to me. They are even resisting background checks and information sharing, even though that clearly could reduce some gun violence if we can keep certain people away from guns. I get it that these people want to play soldier and love having their military style weapons. Don't ask me to respect that, btw, but I get it. I honestly don't give a fuck that they haven't figured out how to interact with the rest of us without a gun on their hip, or in the case of several idiots of late, carrying an assault weapon in public just to freak people out.

I have tried to make clear that I respect honest and law abiding adults who respect firearms and the public good. You don't find that convincing.

Streak said...

BTW, I get that state officials can't enforce federal law. Not complaining about that. I think the argument against gun control because it isn't Interstate commerce is bullshit, frankly, but then again, this is all a bit bullshit. These people are not as true to the constitution as you suggest. Big sections of this grouping are the same ones who defended segregation and any regulation of the work place. These are the same people who are fighting Medicaid expansion because they don't want to help the poor with healthcare.

Streak said...

Sorry, but this is still bullshit: "the benefits his family receives as a result of his position (contrasted with what is available to most of the population). It was not mocking or disrespectful towards his children."

His children are a target for a completely different reason than your children are. the WAPO reported the other day (and I think I linked to it) that their school didn't have armed guards before Obama's kids came, so that part wasn't true. And to somehow equate his kids getting Secret Service protection as some kind of hypocrisy is just, plain, bullshit. Sorry. But it is. The NRA was completely wrong on that one. And so are you for defending it.

steves said...

We either have the rule of law or we don't. If we are willing to set aside the Constitution and say, "well, we can allow this law even if there is nothing in the Constitution that would allow it because...", then what is the limit? The Constitution becomes some kind of suggestion or nebulous good idea that follow when we want to?

Streak said...

If you are going to put words in my mouth, then we are probably done.

As I have said repeatedly--oh fuck it. Believe whatever you want about me. I am done.

steves said...

You said that the argument against gun based on IC is bullshit. I pointed out that there may be some instances where gun laws have stepped beyond IC. If you want to make an argument that a gun made locally that never leaves the state is subject to IC, then I am willing to listen to the argument.

I was also asking a legitimate question. Do you think the gov't should be limited by the Constitution?

Streak said...

"You said that the argument against gun based on IC is bullshit.

I think in most cases it may be. I haven't studied the case law as you have, and will concede you know more about this both as a lawyer and someone who has followed it, but I do think that many of the arguments against federal regulation in areas like this (includes healthcare) have been largely bullshit. Perhaps you are correct that a firearm manufactured (in its entirety?) inside a state would not be part of IC. Does that mean that if Arizona manufactures fully automatic weapons that Arizona NRA members can carry them? Or is that restricted in another area.

"I was also asking a legitimate question. Do you think the gov't should be limited by the Constitution?" All due respect, but I don't find this a legitimate question--at least if you have paid attention to me all these years. It is a rather condescending question. Of course, I believe that the constitution is the base of our laws, and that we live under the rule of law. One of the reasons I am so frustrated by attempts to clearly nullify things simply because they don't like them is that respect for the rule of law. Asking me that sounded suspiciously like a leading question and more insult than question.

That said, I believe that the constitution is a living document, and believe that is clearly the case. I think the Heller decision is a long ways away from the original intent of the constitution, but that doesn't bother me. That constitution, while our basis, is not some golden book inscribed by God. It has been and will always be read through a lens of our understanding and our culture. We have revised every other amendment to suit changes in technology (I am guessing, actually. Pretty sure we have altered the 1st and 4th--"altered" being a bad word--more that our interpretation has changed). Our view of the 14th amendment has changed dramatically over the years. I am not sure why the second amendment is the only one that cannot be challenged or understood in a broader context. Very hard for me to see as a historian, that people stockpiling dangerous weapons and vests and ammunition was the original intent. And even harder to argue that it fits some kind of contemporary view of being what the constitution promised in its preamble.

Please don't read that to say that I think we should toss the second amendment, but more that we should be able to do some things to mitigate against gun violence--as we have done repeatedly over the years.

One more point on the rationality of the current discourse--perhaps our biggest disagreement. These bills to nullify new gun control legislation--certainly the one in Arizona--as well as the NRA ad--were precipitated by discussions of returning to an assault weapon ban that we survived quite nicely with in the 90s (and saw plenty of people buy gobs and gobs of guns) and background checks--which have huge public support.

For all the talk of confiscation--which is highly doubtful and was never suggested to be universal to all guns--all of this response--nullification, comparing Obama to Hitler, and even our disagreements over that odious NRA ad--are in response to these modest proposals.

There is something seriously wrong with that.

steves said...

Yes, the Obama=Hitler stuff is stupid and I have pointed out on more than one occasion that the historical evidence shows that Hitler actually loosened some of the gun the laws that had been started under the Weimar Republic.

The problem with the AWB, IMO, was that while people were able to buy lots of guns, they weren't really able to buy the more effective ones. Gun owners were stuck having to be neutered magazines, while the police and .gov were able to buy the normal ones. Some were still available, but only if you had gobs of cash. It also hurt the industry, as there was little incentive to come up with new products if you weren't able to sell them to anyone but the police and military.

I also agree that many 2nd Amendment supporters were ok with the Patriot Act, Free Speech Zones, and beating Occupy protesters. They are not always consistent when it comes to fundamental freedoms.

In comparing the 2nd to the other BOR, I think there are big differences in case law. Up until recently, the 2nd was a footnote in most law school textbooks. The Miller decision from the 1930s was one of the only cases that dealt with it. Up until recently, every single one of the hundreds of gun laws has been upheld by courts. We are now just seeing some courts willing to apply some level of scrutiny to gun laws and set some limits.

I don't know where the nullification laws will go. I don't see much support for arresting FBI and BATFE agents, but maybe for guns that are produced and regulated on the state level. I think this could also benefit the medical marijuana supporters that are running into unprecedented federal raids, despite a majority of local people supporting this type of legalization.

Background checks probably will mandated. As you indicate, there is a lot of support.

Streak said...

That doesn't answer all of the questions, btw. Did you really think I didn't think the constitution mattered?

And the fact that courts have recently considered the 2nd does not, at all, explain why you and others are so absolutist about it while not being so about the others.

It does, actually speak to my argument about the constitution being viewed through a lens of contemporary politics. In this case, it mirrors the rise of the gun lobby. I don't doubt that some of their efforts have been beneficial. But for Christ's sake, the NRA has lost it.

steves said...

No, I don't think you believe the Constitution does not matter. I guess the better question would have been what limits do you think it places on laws related to the keeping and bearing of arms?

I have never taken an absolutist position. My opposition to the AWB is based on the fact that there is no evidence that a an AWB will lower crime or increase safety. It is also overly inclusive and vague.

As for the other BOR, can you find anything anywhere where I have said that I don't support other fundamental freedoms?

Streak said...

The question about the rest of the BOR is probably more for other people. But you certainly have seemed rather absolutist during this conversation. No offense, but you have seemed overly defensive and oddly out of sync--defending things that I would not expect you to defend.

I understand your opposition to the Assault weapons ban. I have real difficulty caring about whether or not people can have their play military weapons--to be honest. None of this stops them from shooting intruders in their home multiple times. None of this stops them from hunting, going to the gun range. Hell, it doesn't stop their infantile playing soldier in the woods.

Perhaps it doesn't make us safer, I don't know. I think that because the previous law was written badly doesn't mean that we can't do a better job this time and address actual gun attributes rather than just the superficial.

My belief on the constitution doesn't matter here because I disagree with the Supreme Court, and that is the law of the land. I believe the amendment was included with the phrase "well regulated militia" for a reason, and believe that run rights people ignore that phrase constantly. That bothers me greatly.

As I have said, I have no respect for the gun hoarding, gun worshiping culture. I think there is a very real and present public health issue that needs to be addressed. Hell, we just had another school shooting today. The NRA or others wanting more gun owners is not the answer. And I continue to be amazed that you would defend either the NRA or those idiots in Arizona.

steves said...

While I don't believe that all on the left want to take away everyone's guns, there do seem to be a small number of politicians and groups that do seek those things as their goals. Groups like the Brady Campaign and Sentators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer have all publicly stated that they support the illegalization of most firearms and that it has to be done incrementally. This makes most gun owners skeptical of smaller measures, reasonable or not, and you hear the slippery slope argument.

Enter the AWB. If gun control measures aren't meant to keep us safer, then why target a weapons system that is hard to define and is only involved in a handful of killings every year. IIRC, more people die falling out of bed then are killed with so-called assault weapons. This reality makes me skeptical of the claims that the laws are meant to protect people and make them seem more like they are going after an easier target and trying to show that they are doing something.

I don't see why my opposition to an AWB is absolutist. I am ok with other measures. I think background checks will be mandated for for more purchases and I have some concerns, but I think they can be addressed.

As for "well regulated", I am going with what that word meant in the context of the writers.

"The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious if it were capable of being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, nor a week nor even a month, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry and of the other classes of the citizens to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people and a serious public inconvenience and loss."

Hamilton, Federalist Papers, No. 29


"That the strength of the Wabash Indians who were principally the object of the resolve of the 21st of July 1787, and the strength of the Creek Indians is very different. That the said Creeks are not only greatly superior in numbers but are more united, better regulated, and headed by a man whose talents appear to have fixed him in their confidence. That from the view of the object your Secretary has been able to take he conceives that the only effectual mode of acting against the said Creeks in case they should persist in their hostilities would be by making an invasion of their country with a powerful body of well regulated troops always ready to combat and able to defeat any combination of force the said Creeks could oppose and to destroy their towns and provisions."

Journals of the Continental Congress, Saturday, December 13, 1777.

I think they are talking about well trained and skilled, not subject to a great many rules. Nevertheless, the SC has made it clear that 2nd is subject to what Scalia says are "reasonable limits."