Robert Scroggins of Edina, MN has penned a letter (remember those?) to the Minnesota Strib. It’s brief, but packs a huge number of misconceptions, errors and outright falsehoods in a really small space. He gets off on the wrong foot with this gem, “The Second Amendment guarantees the right to own and bear arms, and I am not against hunters, sportsmen and people who want self-protection from exercising those rights. But government has a right and a duty to protect innocent people.” That’s mighty big of you Bob, allowing me to exercise my natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional rights, but, here’s a news flash . . .

I don’t need your permission. I do, however, give you points for realizing that the Bill of Rights generally, and the Second Amendment specifically, protects pre-existing rights rather than “granting” them. Unfortunately, Bob, you lose all those points by continuing with your train of thought.

Just to be clear, governments don’t have rights, governments have powers. And while you may believe government has a moral duty to protect people, it doesn’t have the legal duty to do so. Numerous court cases have dealt with this question and numerous courts have ruled that while the police have a duty to protect society as a whole, they don’t have any duty to individuals.

One of the most recent cases, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, is very telling. Briefly, Ms. Gonzales had a restraining order against her husband. One evening he took the children without permission (in violation of the order). But when Ms. Gonzales called the police she was told to call back if they weren’t home by 10:00 p.m.. She called the police several more times, once with her husband’s location and was brushed off each time. The police finally located him when he pulled up in front of the station and started shooting at it. The police returned fire, killing him, and discovered the bodies of the children who he had killed earlier.

Here’s the kicker, though: at the time, Colorado had a law requiring police to enforce restraining orders, but the Supreme Court ruled that neither the department nor the officers were liable even though they made no attempt to follow that law.

Are we clear the whole ‘duty to protect’ thing, Bob?

But government has a right and a duty to protect innocent people from being slaughtered by those who, by any reasonable criteria, should not be able to acquire weapons that can only be used to kill people.

I’m pretty sure everyone here is familiar with my views on the subject of people who shouldn’t have access to guns. David Codrea put it best when he said, “If a person can’t be trusted with a firearm then they can’t be trusted without a custodian.” So I’d disagree with that whole “should not be able to acquire weapons” thing, but more importantly, what would Scroggins have us do? Neither the Aurora gunman nor the Sikh temple shooter met any of the criteria of a “prohibited person” nor are there any “reasonable criteria” I can see (short of calling in the Psychic Friends Network) which could have been used as an excuse to preemptively deprive them of their rights.

Which brings us to that “weapons that can only be used to kill people” thing. I mean Wikipedia defines a weapon as “a tool or instrument used in order to inflict damage or harm to living beings—physical or mental—artificial structures, or systems.” Dictionary.com’s primary definition is “any instrument or device for use in attack or defense in combat, fighting, or war, as a sword, rifle, or cannon.” I’m guessing Bob means the Evil Black Rifle “assault weapon” (i.e. semi-auto rifle) used by the Aurora shooter. Except, they aren’t used solely to kill people.

Or does Robert use journalistic criteria to tell the difference between an “assault weapon”

and a “patrol rifle”?

In case you are confused too, it’s simple; if it is being held by a cop it’s a patrol rifle, if by a civilian, then it is an “assault weapon.” Got it?

And Bob might ask Korean shop owners who lived through the L.A. riots in 1991 whether they “needed” those ugly black “assault weapons” for self-defense.

Scroggins concludes with this contradiction in terms:

It is time for politicians to stand up against this slaughter of innocent Americans and pass reasonable gun control laws that will not infringe upon our Second Amendment rights.

Funny, but I can’t think of a single politician who has come out in favor of the “slaughter of innocent Americans” so Robert is making an assertion completely unsupported by any evidence. To wit, that there exists some sort of “reasonable gun control law(s)” the passage of which will have any effect on these sorts of mass shootings.

Remember the Cumbria shootings which left as many dead as the Aurora shooting? For the geographically challenged, Cumbria is in Great Britain, home to some of some of the toughest gun laws in the world. Furthermore they were carried out with a double-barreled 12 ga. shotgun and a bolt-action .22 – nary a modern black sporting rifle to be found.

As for passing “reasonable gun control laws that will not infringe upon our Second Amendment rights,” there just ain’t no such animal. The freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility[1]. But thanks for the input, Bob.



[1] L. Neil Smith: Letter to a liberal colleague

19 Responses to Gun Rant Letter to Editor: So Many Errors, So Little Time

  1. reasonable gun laws, as opposed to the reams of unreasonable laws on the books. remember, murder’s already illegal. here’s my list of reasonable gun laws. must be 18 to buy a long gun. must be 21 to buy a handgun. must have a crime free and mental health issue ffree background. if you pass these overly stringent infringements on your 2a rights you can own and carry your firearms.

    • Here’s my list of reasonable gun laws:

      The End

      Any crime which could be committed with a firearm is already illegal. Thus endeth the sermon.

    • I’m of the opinion that there shouldn’t be *any* age-based restrictions past 18. At that point, you’re old enough to sign contracts giving up everything from several times your salary (college/home loans) up to and including your very life (military service).

      It seems ridiculous that these same young men and women can’t legally enjoy a beer or, more importantly, defend themselves with handgun ownership/carry now that most of them are no longer under the roof and protection of their parents.

      “Congratulations, you now have all the responsibilities of an adult, but you’ll have to wait 3 more years to gain all the rights. Until then, here’s some pepper spray. Try to stand upwind of any danger.”

    • As a mental health professional and consumer, I’d like to insert here that the mental health aspect is not as clear and cut and dried as most people think. Mass murderers and serial killers are by definition deranged psychopaths, but if you want to test for this trait, I’m afraid that LEO’s and prison guards tend to score the same on the MMPI (the main personality inventory used in law enforcement and judicial settings) as the bad guys.

      Anti-social personality disorder and narcissism are the two conditions that are most frequently connected with any violent criminal behavior, but they aren’t really considered “mentally ill”; your wife, aunt, sister, brother, neighbor, etc. who takes anti-depressants or anxiety medication to get out of bed and go to work every day is. I’m bipolar. That’s a pretty serious mental illness, but bipolar people, even schizophrenic and schizoaffective (that’s a two-for-one deal of bipolar AND schizophrenia) people don’t tend to shoot up schools and movie theaters. Those are your anti-social narcissists. Think Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Hannibal Lechter for that matter, and most of the murderers you might see on criminal minds.

      Law enforcement, the court system, the press, and our friends who write and pass all our laws are woefully uninformed about mental illness, and it is very very common to see mass murderers and serial killers portrayed as “mentally ill.” They’re not. They are selfish, empathy-lacking assholes who could care less about the rights and lives of others. When normal people use the term “mentally ill” to describe those who shouldn’t have access to guns, you’re not even describing the guys you are trying to keep the guns away from. You are describing everyone you know who takes anti-depressants etc. instead.

      The irony is that if you were using the personality inventory that COULD identify those anti-social and narcissistic traits, you’d be denying gun permits to a lot of LEO’s and prison guards too. You think you can separate them out from the mass murderers? Good luck. If we could do that we’d have already done it a long time ago.

      • Well said. I’ve also had a problem with stipulations like “mentally ill” because the due process involved isn’t as strong as for criminal cases. It can also make people hesitant to seek out the help they need for fear of being labelled un-gun-worthy.

        I agree 100% with the Dave Codrea quote from above:

        If a person can’t be trusted with a firearm then they can’t be trusted without a custodian.

        Anything short of that level of freedom is a slippery slope that starts with easy targets like “mentally ill” and allows lawmakers to expand those definitions as broadly as they want.

      • So many traits that we used to call “quirks” are now classified as mental disorders that anyone and everyone could be tagged with something.

        Which causes my paranoia level to rise…

    • Here’s a snippet from the only gun law we’ll ever need to reduce these kinds of massacres: ‘shall not be infringed.’ it only takes one good shooter to stop a massacre.

      Gun free zones = target rich zones to nutjobs.

    • Sorry moonshine, being from Kalifornia I take quite a but of asshattery myself, were just trying to spread the love around a bit lol

  2. I’m glad you brought up the Koreans who successfully defended themselves during the Los Angeles Riots–it’s something that has been seemingly swept under the rug in the media; not many people know about it. Good on you!

  3. As an escapee from the People’s Republic of Minnesota, I’d like to point out that this is a step up for The Red Star Chronicle. They usually blame everything on global warming.

  4. Is Bob the Anti Gunner aware we have 20000 gun laws now, many of which infringe on the 2A already? If he put that energy into demanding judges get tougher with criminals we would see fewer scumbags walking the streets.

  5. I had never heard of the Cumbria shootings. Being as it exposes the ineffectiveness of the UK’s firearms laws I’m not surprised. What I was surprised to see is that the least likely gun in my collection, a CZ452 my favorite rimfire rifle, was used in a mass shooting.

  6. Bob says “But government has a right and a duty to protect innocent people.”

    The SCOTUS says otherwise.

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