Sometimes people ask me whether I’m just making up the pro-gun position that I occasionally discuss on this blog (and that I tend to refer to as wingnuttery). I assure you I am not.
The above is the tail end of a conversation with someone who found my blog via the Washington Post and wanted to argue with me about whether or not Florida’s Stand Your Ground law constitutes an example of self-defense as an inalienable right found all the way back in the philosophy of Locke and Blackstone. [You can find the whole discussion here if you want to see how he arrives at this nonsensical position.]
Does Locke think you are justified in defending yourself if someone attacks you and there’s no other way for you to preserve yourself? He does. But, if at all possible, it would be better to let the proper authorities handle the matter; one of the main points of having a civil society is that it precludes every man from being judge, jury, and executioner. Locke suggests this over and over again.
Does Locke think you have a right to wander around with a weapon looking for trouble and then claim self-defense when you kill someone you’ve been following around for no good reason? No, sir; that’s utter madness. The only ones who think this way are people who like the idea of waving guns around to make themselves feel like big men.
This whole morning has been spent trying to learn about insurance. What kind of insurance do I need to protect people in my home? No one seems entirely sure.
If I accidentally shoot a visitor to my house while I’m cleaning my guns, it’s covered by my homeowner’s insurance (up to $300,000). If my nanny slips on the tile floor, ???
A friend from college and a friend from grad school both made the same point about my homicide insurance post this afternoon … and they’re right. Everyone who wants to own a gun should have to buy insurance.
Should it be prohibitively expensive? For some guns and for some people, yes.
Insurance: It’s all about personal responsibility.
Well here’s an inventive idea: Homicide Insurance.
If you “have to” use your weapon in Florida, this company's “hand picked lawyers will represent you in any legal proceeding (criminal or civil), for zero additional attorneys’ fees.”
And, best of all, it only costs you $10.95 a month!
It costs a bit more if you’d like to add family members (including minors!) to your plan. There’s also the multi-state option, in case you “have to” use your weapon in a state other than Florida.
WIth all the anger directed toward those poor unfortunates who “have to” use their guns, you can’t afford not to buy into the Firearms Legal Defense Program!
Now you can feel safe about standing your ground and firing your weapon at anyone, whether he’s walking home from the store, having a BBQ in his own backyard, texting his kid at the movies, or listening to music too loudly in his car.
You shouldn’t have to ask yourself about the repercussions of shooting someone before you open fire and, thanks to this affordable program, you don’t have to!
I have never heard of anyone testing out the safety of a gun by pointing at their head and pulling the trigger.
That’s Oakland County, Michigan Undersheriff Michael McCabe, who has now heard of precisely that. He’s commenting on what was either an accidental or intentional suicide, or the worst gun safety lesson ever:
The man’s girlfriend told deputies the victim had been drinking most of the day.
She told authorities that he had begun showing her how to use his three handguns and demonstrating how safe they were when they were empty, which he did by placing the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
But remember, everyone: The fewer restrictions and regulations there are when it comes to access to firearms, the safer we’ll be.
Wasn't it the anti-Federalists that pushed for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights with the ratification of the Constitution? Your post presumes that the Framers were all Federalists when that's completely untrue. It's not as much for overthrowing a tyrannical government but as a last ditch effort at keeping sovereignty with the people instead of a standing army. Also, it should be mentioned that gun owners as a demographic are more likely to be politically involved than non-gun owners.n8kelly
I have to disagree with the notion that the Framers weren’t all Federalists. Framers specifically refers to those Founders who framed the Constitution. The Anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution, in no small part because they felt it gave far too much power to the federal government. In that sense, they might better be understood as Anti-Framers.
Of course, it’s clearly the case that the Founders weren’t all Federalists and I didn’t mean to imply it in my previous post on reading of the 2nd Amendment as providing an individual insurrectionist right against the government.
It’s also not the case that all the Federalists or Anti-Federalists felt the same way about everything; they weren’t monolithic groups. But let’s agree that the Bill of Rights was, in part, designed to mollify the Anti-Federalist complaints about the power of the federal government; given the Federalist majority in Congress, it just doesn’t make sense to assume that they would enpower the federal government and then empower individual citizens to take up arms against that newly-empowered government, especially in light of Shays’ Rebellion.
The notion that a democratic government ought to be resisted by violence rather than through the legislative and judicial processes outlined in the Constitution doesn’t fit with the work of the Federalists. And my sense is that even the Anti-Federalists, who didn’t want a standing army or a powerful federal government, didn’t support armed insurrection as an individual right.
Here’s “Brutus,” responding to Hamilton’s argument in Federalist 23:
The protection and defence of the community is not intended to be entrusted solely into the hands of the general government, and by his own confession it ought not to be. It is true this system commits to the general government the protection and defence of the community against foreign force and invasion, against piracies and felonies on the high seas, and against insurrections among ourselves. They are also authorised to provide for the administration of justice in certain matters of a general concern, and in some that I think are not so. But it ought to be left to the state governments to provide for the protection and defence of the citizen against the hand of private violence, and the wrongs done or attempted by individuals to each other—Protection and defence against the murderer, the robber, the thief, the cheat, and the unjust person, is to be derived from the respective state governments (Brutus, No. 7, Jan 1788, qtd. in Storing, Complete Anti-Federalist).
"Brutus" recognizes the right of the federal government to protect and defend the community "against insurrections among ourselves," rather than arguing in favor of a right to insurrection against the federal government.
"Federal Farmer" wrote that "state control of the militia ‘places the sword in the hands of the solid interest of the community, and not in the hands of men destitute of property, or principle, or of attachment to the society and government" (qtd. in Cornell, The Other Founders).
We can find other quotes relatively easily from leading Anti-Federalists who opposed the idea of a permanent right to revolution or an individual right to resistance. While, again, there wasn’t unanimity amongst them about this issue, it would be very difficult to make the case that, even amongst the Anti-Federalists, the common understanding of the 2nd Amendment was of an individual right to keep and bear arms against the threat of governmental tyranny.
One of the reasons I get so worked up about gun rights wingnuts is the connection so many of them draw between owning guns and protecting themselves from government tyranny.
Especially odd, I think, is the notion that the Federalists — reacting to the weakness of the Articles of Confederation — created a more powerful federal system and then, with the 2nd Amendment, immediately undercut everything they’d just done by creating an expansive right to own all manner of weaponry without regulation for the purpose of undermining (and possibly overthrowing) a more powerful federal government.
Joshua Horwitz and Casey Anderson, in their Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, capture this bizarre way of thinking about the legitimate use or threat of violence in a democracy, as well as its consequences:
In light of the extensive work by political scientists on the conditions that are most conducive to democracy and freedom, the Insurrectionist insistence on the primacy of a link between the unfettered access to guns and political liberty is not only wrongheaded but dangerously counterproductive. The gun rights groups tell their members that they should participate in politics but only to maintain the political leverage needed to keep government in a condition of perpetual weakness. By insisting that the ability to use private force is the best check—and ultimately the only guarantee—against overreaching by the state, the Insurrectionist idea encourages the misconception that a well-maintained gun collection is a substitute for the hard work of citizenship in a democracy (162).
There are lots of fine reasons people might have for owning a gun; taking on the “tyrannical” federal government when you disagree with decisions that have been arrived at democratically isn’t one of those reasons.
Yet there is no evidence towards concealed carry increasing the rates of crime. So this debate is essentially: Does concealed carry reduce crime rates or have no affect. Seeing that people who carry legally very rarely commit crimes there is no real argument against it. Your strongest possible standing is "Well seeing as it has no proven affect, we should get rid of it" So you have two options. 1. Permit concealed carry, and allow individuals an effective defence 2. Strip them of this rightchazstah
- Carrying a concealed weapon isn’t a right; it’s a privilege. You might have a right to keep and bear arms, and we might understand that right more and more expansively after the ridiculously bad Heller decision, but the right to own a gun isn’t the same thing as a right to go to the movies with that gun secreted on your person.
- You’re arguing against a straw man. I haven’t anywhere suggested that no one should be allowed to own guns or even carry them. My argument is that my own rights are infringed by the ongoing concern that some maniac vigilante will shoot me or my family members, whether by accident or as a result of some perceived affront. As a result, I argue that concealed carry testing and licensing should be very stringent and recur at very regular intervals. In other words, if you want the privilege of secretly carrying around a gun on your person, you should be required to submit to a range of tests at regular intervals. I believe the same to be true of driver’s licenses, by the way.
Owning and operating a deadly weapon (or simply carrying it around, loaded, at all times just in case you might feel the need to use it) places other members of society at great risk and the owner should have to demonstrate with some frequency that he can and will operate or carry responsibly.
I can’t understand why anyone would think I’m being unreasonable about this, but I’m sure I’ll hear about it.
Another reader suggests that I should rethink everything I’ve said in the case of the retired police officer who murdered a man in a movie theatre because he was a retired police officer and thus any possible rules don’t apply to him:
This “menace to society”, as you put it, was an ex-cop. That means that under the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, he was permitted to carry around a gun, regardless of state and local laws.
Changing state CCW laws would have no effect. Making guns harder to purchase would have no effect. Changing Stand Your Ground laws would have no effect.
And given that the bill was co-sponsored by such notorious anti-gun politicians as Rep Carolyn McCarthy and Senators Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, Diane Feinstein, and Harry Reid, good luck at repealing it.
In light of this, perhaps you’d like to re-think your comments.
Leaving aside the general foolishness of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), the interesting thing about it is that there’s no need to change any state laws (which is good since the guy who sent this comment is certain that changing laws wouldn’t impact ex-cops who hate texting from bringing guns into movie theatres legally).
Movie theatres are private companies and they can restrict access to people carrying weapons … even if those people are eligible to carry weapons anywhere they want under the provisions of LEOSA:
Although LEOSA preempts state and local laws, there are two notable exceptions: “the laws of any State that (1) permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property” (such as a bars, private clubs, amusement parks, etc.), or “(2) prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park”  Additionally, LEOSA does not override the federal Gun-Free School Zone Act (GFSZA) which prohibits carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools. Although the GFSZA authorizes on-duty law enforcement officers to carry firearms in such circumstances, off-duty and retired law enforcement officers are still restricted from doing so unless they have a firearms license issued from the state in which they reside and then it is only good for the state in which they reside. Individuals must also obey any federal laws and federal agency policies that restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in certain federal buildings and lands, as well as federal regulations prohibiting the carriage of firearms on airplanes.
So, yeah, being a police officer or a former police officer doesn’t entitle you to carry your gun anywhere you’d like. Or, rather, it doesn’t allow you to actually go into every place you might like while carrying the weapon you’re legally allowed to carry.
And, of course, being a former police officer doesn’t mean you’re not a menace to society; in the case in question, the former police officer clearly is one.
I’m going to respond to a few responses to some of my recent posts about guns, concealed carry and stand your ground laws, and “freedom.”
My favorite response so far comes from a self-described libertarian brony — “I’m Anti-State. Anti-War. Pro-Market. Pro-Christian. And Pro-Pony” — who blogs at Blame the 1st; he writes:
Actually, a recent university study shows that concealed carry laws result in fewer murders: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13504851.2013.854294
A few comments:
- This isn’t “a university study;” it’s a very, very short piece (three pages) by Mark Gius, a economics professor at Quinnipiac.
- Gius cites almost no literature on the topic and, though it briefly mentions articles that disagree with his conclusion regarding the effect of concealed carry laws on homicide, it doesn’t explain what’s wrong with the arguments found in those articles.
- Gius doesn’t really explain why he hasn’t demonstrated simple correlation, rather than causation, with his quick assessment of some state-level data on homicides. States with lax concealed carry laws might have fewer homicides than states that limit concealed carry … but that doesn’t mean that concealed carry is responsible for the number of homicides in these states.
- Our brony blogger is simply wrong that the “study shows that concealed carry laws result in fewer murders.” Here’s the conclusion of Gius’ piece, which seems a lot less certain of what he’s demonstrated than is the brony:
These results suggest that, even after controlling for unobservable state and year fixed effects, limiting the ability to carry concealed weapons may cause murder rates to increase. There may, however, be other explanations for these results. Laws may be ineffective due to loopholes and exemptions. The most violent states may also have the toughest gun control measures. Further research is warranted in this area.
More important than any of this, however, is the blogger’s strident anti-state and pro-pony stance. I’d like to learn a whole lot more about the connection between “My Little Pony,” guns, free markets, privatizing entitlement programs, and just generally opposing the federal government.
I’m neither a libertarian nor a brony … but this guy’s sure piqued my curiosity.
Well, this a pretty clear example of how gun control advocates can’t ever win an argument with people who believe the hype churned out by the gun lobby.
Someone asserts that “Every family man should own a pistol” and I say, “The statistics demonstrate that your pistol is more likely to harm your family and others than to protect them” and then the other guys says, “That’s all well and good, but who’s going to protect your family in a crisis? My family ain’t going out without a fight.”
In other words, the facts absolutely don’t matter.
I can’t win an argument if facts don’t matter.