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Old 03-18-2008, 08:33 AM   #1
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Gun Rights

We haven't had a good knock down for a while so I thought I would alter my feathers and join SamClem (I am guessing here) and some of the others for a change. I often give DW a ride to work in the morning and pass by the Supreme Court coming and going. Whenever a big oral argument is on the media is out in force and loads of people are lined up waiting for their 5 minutes in the gallery. This morning was a circus. The media were all staked out and the visitors' line reached around the corner and down the block at 8:00 AM. This was the longest line I have ever seen. The topic is the DC Gun law and the question: "is the right to keep and bear arms an individual or collective right?"

For some reason this one has always fascinated me, maybe because of the strange wording of the 2nd amendment. I read the decision of the DC Circuit Court which is a interesting tour through history. Basically, they argued that the right is individual and already existed under English common law at the time of the revolution. There had been a big brew ha-ha when the English government tried to disarm the populace. The circuit court held that the framers were saying that it is that pre-existing individual right that cannot be infringed. The lead in phrase about a well regulated militia being necessary for a free state simply set the context. Well regulated being synonymous with well armed (not organized by the state) and militia being a group of citizens who could quickly assemble to fight whatever enemy (including the state) might come along. Lots of other interesting stuff about the meaning of "arms" how militias could be established and provisioned, etc.

I'm not a gun nut but I do like target shooting. I own a shotgun (legal in DC if kept in a useless condition). But I would like to own a handgun. It was interesting to hear the story of one of the plaintiffs appealing for the right to own a handgun. She led a community effort to rid her neighborhood of drug dealing and was targeted for harassment by the dealers. The courts have already ruled that there is no individual right to protection by the police and that was proved out in her case. She was almost killed when a nearly 7 foot tall dealer busted down her door carrying a gun. He fled when her alarm went off without firing. One of the responding police officers told her to "get a gun." She hopes to use this case to do just that.

My bet is that an individual right will come out of this case but there is plenty of room for argument. Over 70 briefs have been filed and some of the control side make good cases.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:43 AM   #2
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Anyone want to start a pool on how many posts this thread will last before being closed?
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:49 AM   #3
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I own a 410, single shot, shotgun for killing no legged critters around the yard. I owned a hand gun 40 years ago. I have thought about getting a 9mm. I believe it is a right. I also strongly believe 'When guns are banned only the police and criminals will have guns'. I have no problem with registration, however, I understand the fear of government knowing where guns are and being able to collect them.

There was a rash of crimes against tourist in Florida a few years back. The bad guys had figured out that European tourist, rent cars, go to Disney World, and are un-armed, as they just got off an airplane. Sitting ducks!
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:00 AM   #4
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Obama
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Close it down

*************
I'm sorry, I had to do it, I couldn't resist, really it is like a drug, I'm addicted, it isn't my fault, it is a conspricy against people like me. Other people feed these ideas into my head and I can not resist them. They must be right if you ignore the things that prove them wrong.
Hahahahahaahahhahahahahahahahahahhahahhahahaha
wowowoowowowowwowowowo
hehehehheheheheheheh

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Wow a flashback or something.

I own 3 handguns for target and IDPA
I think people should have the right to own guns and I am not opposed to background checks, waiting periods (short - 3days) and training classes. Although I have guns and a permit to conceal carry; I have a healthy fear of them and do not carry. The fear comes from the stupid things people do with them. These are very powerful tools.
I think the case you mention about the woman wanting to defend herself is very telling. Most violent and personal crime is in poor areas. The people who need the protection of society the most and because they have the least power and voice get the least attention.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:35 AM   #5
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I'm squarely in the "owning a gun is an individual right" camp. Most of the news reports indicate the Supremes will likely rule the DC law is unconstitutional and that people have a right to own weapons.

Donheff, when you were looking at the line of folks around the court, were there any rapists or muggers out there protesting to keep guns outlawed so they'd have a monopoly on the use of force? Armed citizens are really tough for these guys. Seems to me that this would be an occupational safety issue for them, and that maybe they can make some progress by having OSHA or maybe their union put some regulations in place.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Donheff, when you were looking at the line of folks around the court, were there any rapists or muggers out there protesting to keep guns outlawed so they'd have a monopoly on the use of force? Armed citizens are really tough for these guys. Seems to me that this would be an occupational safety issue for them, and that maybe they can make some progress by having OSHA or maybe their union put some regulations in place.
I was surprised that there were no protesters over there. Just a long line of people waiting to get in. I was probably too early. I will ride the bike by a little later and see what is up.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:53 AM   #7
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After being required to carry, qualify, and clean a handgun for most of the time when I was aged 17-48 it just seems natural to have one within reach. I do admit, however, I do not exercise my CCL much and just leave it in the house "most" of the time. I just hope that the SC clears up any confusion that may exist once and for all - just hope it does not make law breakers of current legal owners.
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:21 AM   #8
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Took a ride back by to see how things are doing. There are quite a few people out with signs on both sides but predominantly on the gun rights side. The primary people on the control side are a group with "Brady Gun Control" signs. But they are pretty moderate. This doesn't come close to the vehemence you see when an abortion case is on the dock or on the anniversary of Roe V Wade.

There are some interesting fringe folks - some guys in a beat up pickup covered with conspiracy stickers were getting a ticket for something or other and an official Ron Paul campaign van was illegally parked right at the corner and festooned with tickets. All a days fun in the heart of the beast
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:24 AM   #9
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There are some interesting fringe folks - some guys in a beat up pickup covered with conspiracy stickers were getting a ticket for something or other and an official Ron Paul campaign van was illegally parked right at the corner and festooned with tickets. All a days fun in the heart of the beast
these are the guys that will be on the news.
If they were smart; they would wear their sunday suit and hold common sense signs.
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:57 PM   #10
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"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I believe that the issue is federal restrictions on gun ownership, not state, so arguably a state could still have restrictive gun control laws even if there is an individual right to bear arms. Though all but seven states specifically give an individual the right to firearms.

The Supreme Court has avoided the issue since the 1930s when they decided the Miller case.
In United States v. Miller, the Court upheld a statute requiring registration under the National Firearms Act of sawed-off shotguns. The court reviewed the militia language and noted the ''obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted with that end in view.''5 The significance of the militia was that it was composed of ''civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.'' It was upon this force that the States could rely for defense and securing of the laws, on a force that ''comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,'' who, ''when called for service . . . were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.'Therefore, ''[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well- regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.''

This old discussion by the Court had little to do with "collective" vs. "individual" rights.

We will see what direction they go. It will tell us a lot about the judges if nothing else. Kennedy likely will be the swing vote. Because it is a federal question, my guess would be that they find the DC law unconstitutional. I doubt that they would find a similar state or local law unconstitutional.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Martha View Post
I believe that the issue is federal restrictions on gun ownership, not state, so arguably a state could still have restrictive gun control laws even if there is an individual right to bear arms. Though all but seven states specifically give an individual the right to firearms.
If the supremes decide it is an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution wouldn't that trump the states ability to restrict it? The states can't restrict speech or religion.


In United States v. Miller, the Court... reviewed the militia language and noted the ''obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. ....''

Quote:
This old discussion by the Court had little to do with "collective" vs. "individual" rights.
The DC Circuit went over this and went in an entirely different direction forcing this issue on individual vs collect to front and center

Quote:
We will see what direction they go. It will tell us a lot about the judges if nothing else. Because it is a federal question, my guess would be that they find the DC law unconstitutional. I doubt that they would find a similar state or local law unconstitutional.
It will be interesting to see where they go.
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+1 individual right
Old 03-18-2008, 05:24 PM   #12
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+1 individual right

I listened to some of it at work, but was too busy to really listen to a lot of it. I hope to get a recording. I'm no lawyer, so hopefully I can follow what they are saying.

I'm of the opinion its an individual right. Heck, our forefathers had just risen up in armed rebellion against an oppressive government and founded their own country. I think they meant for future generations to have the means to do so again if the government got out of control.

Some people are uncomfortable with that argument, talking rebellion and all that. But thats exactly what happened.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:27 PM   #13
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If the supremes decide it is an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution wouldn't that trump the states ability to restrict it? The states can't restrict speech or religion.
Originally, the first 10 amendments were thought to only be restrictions on the powers of the federal government. Then the 14th amendment was passed which said:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to extend most, but not all, of the first 10 amendments to the states. This remains a constant area of litigation. Some conservative supreme court members like Thomas are strong state's rights advocates and there is a good chance a justice like Thomas would say that the second amendment does not apply to state action. This issue is not before the court.
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:34 PM   #14
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No matter how much I tried telling myself, "don't read the Gun thread, don't read the Gun thread, don't read the Gun thread," I just couldn't help myself.

When someone shoots random people in a store or school, it brings front-page international attention. But when a drunk driver mows down an innocent family, which happens a hundred times more often, it's lucky to make the local news.

Alcohol kills far more people than guns. In fact, many gun deaths are alcohol related. Some estimates suggest that alcohol abuse costs society several hundred billion dollars a year. That could pay for the deficit, Iraq war, and have plenty left over to buy Bear Stearns. It's always been a puzzle to me why gun control advocates are not even more passionate about alcohol control. It's probably because most gun control advocates drink alcohol, and they wouldn't want to be inconvenienced by giving up something that they enjoy. It's much easier for them to force their morality on to others.

Personally, I wouldn't ban alcohol or guns. Yes. There will be innocent deaths. There will be non-innocent deaths. There will be bad, foolish, and mentally ill people who own guns. There will be bad, foolish, and mentally ill people who drink alcohol. That's the cost of personal responsibility and freedom.
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Old 03-18-2008, 07:10 PM   #15
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I can't own a nuclear weapon, I can't own a quality machine gun, I can't own a decent mortar, I can't drive a suitably equipped tank. Now I may not be able to own a hand gun. What is this country coming to?
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Old 03-18-2008, 07:30 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Martha View Post
Originally, the first 10 amendments were thought to only be restrictions on the powers of the federal government. Then the 14th amendment was passed which said:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to extend most, but not all, of the first 10 amendments to the states.
Thanks Martha. I believe I knew that history at one time or another but forgot about it. It does seem that, even if they settle on an individual right, the degree to which they give deference to a "militia purpose" may well lead to all kinds of litigation about how much flexibility states should have to deal with local circumstances.
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:57 PM   #17
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I would like to see severe penalties impossed on those who use firearms in committing a crime rather than criminalizing those whose only crime is wanting to protect themselves and family. It appears the career criminals are treated much too lightly.
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:11 PM   #18
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I would like to see severe penalties impossed on those who use firearms in committing a crime rather than criminalizing those whose only crime is wanting to protect themselves and family. It appears the career criminals are treated much too lightly.
It always struck me as strange that should a criminal shoot someone in the commission of a crime (i.e. convenience store robbery) they are charged with Assault with Deadly Weapon which usually doesn't carry the same penalty as Murder.

Isn't it just dumb luck (or poor shooting) that they didn't Murder the victim. Shouldn't the punishment be the same?

(I have the same problem understanding penalties for Attempted Murder)
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:59 PM   #19
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I like the firm linkage between the actual outcome and what the criminal is charged with. If 7-11 clerk dies, then the crime is greater and the criminal should get a heftier sentence. Otherwise, it opens the door to all kinds of questions (did he intend to kill him, or did he intend to wound him? Hey, society doesn't care--the criminal did, in fact, kill the clerk in the course of the robbery, so that's the charge.)
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Old 03-19-2008, 12:23 AM   #20
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It was interesting to hear the story of one of the plaintiffs appealing for the right to own a handgun. She led a community effort to rid her neighborhood of drug dealing and was targeted for harassment by the dealers. The courts have already ruled that there is no individual right to protection by the police and that was proved out in her case. She was almost killed when a nearly 7 foot tall dealer busted down her door carrying a gun. He fled when her alarm went off without firing. One of the responding police officers told her to "get a gun." She hopes to use this case to do just that.

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