Shooting Holes in Shooting Holes in the Second Amendment

I love it when antis run these mock dialogues with “gun nuts.” Paul Bangiola follows the standard style of setting up and knocking down straw men with his logic and reason, triumphing mightily over the feeble arguments of the ignorant/paranoid/conspiracist gun nut. Paul opens with an anecdote about a debate he went to in the early ‘80s between Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, another member of the Chicago Seven . . .

My takeaway from their debate was a good one-liner by Jerry to Abbie: “It’s OK to be against authority, unless it’s your authority.”

Bear with me here. Paul believes it’s relevant:

Now, this comes to mind when it comes to gun control. I hear many gun rights activists say they might need a gun for self-defense:

“What if somebody breaks into my house!”

No quarrel with me, buddy. You can just get yourself a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle, maybe a moat with alligators in it, and I hope the bad guy falls in!

Well that’s mighty big of Paul, “allowing” me to exercise the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to defend myself and my loved ones as I see fit. OK, maybe the moat was a little hyperbole; probably trying to frame the perfectly reasonable and life-affirming choice of armed self-defense as a paranoid overreaction to the threat of crime.

That’s when Paul ladles on the snark:

Oh, one thing, by the way: Please keep those guns away from kids, particularly your own unhappy adolescent.

Umm, no, Paul, I am not going to keep them away from my kids. I’m going to teach them gun safety and how to shoot. In fact, according to The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s March, 1994 study Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse:

Figure 13 shows a very strong relationship between owning illegal guns and delinquency and drug use. Seventy-four percent of the illegal gunowners commit street crimes, 24 percent commit gun crimes, and 41 percent use drugs. Boys who own legal firearms, however, have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use and are even slightly less delinquent than nonowners of guns.

Please carefully note that final sentence and note what isn’t mentioned; gun crime among boys who own legal firearms. That’s because it is zero percent. As for my “unhappy adolescent” . . . according to the American Heritage Dictionary:

ăd’l-ĕs’ənt – n. A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager.

So why do you want me to keep my guns away from my “unhappy” 15-18 year-old? Are you afraid they’ll commit suicide? I appreciate your concern, but even in adolescents, suicide rates are independent of method; that is, if guns are made less “accessible” the rate of suicide by gun may drop, but overall rates tend to remain unchanged.

In addition, according to the CDC’s WISQARS website, in that age range the gun suicide rate is 3.13 per 100,000. By comparison, the death rate from motor vehicle accidents is 20.41 so perhaps you should take the car keys away from your happy adolescent before trying to tell me what to do with mine.

Now that he’s cleared the decks of the home/self-defense argument, Paul brings out (you should pardon the expression) the big guns:

“But now,” I say, “tell me again about why you need a Bushmaster assault rifle with a 30-bullet clip filled with armor- piercing cop-killer bullets?”

First, as of 2004 there had not been a single police officer killed with a handgun round through their (properly worn) vest whether a KTW Teflon-coated round (the classic “cop-killer” bullet) or any other. Oh, and it was an NBC news report on “cop-killer” bullets in 1982 which informed the BGs that many cops were wearing body armor and so they should start shooting for the head.

Second, it’s a magazine not a clip.

Third, an “assault rifle” is a select-fire weapon, capable of semi-auto or full-auto fire. Some also have “burst” capability which allows the shooter to fire 3 or 5 rounds (depending on the settings) with a single trigger pull. These weapons have been tightly controlled since the 1934 NFA was passed and since the (unlawfully passed) Hughes amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act have become virtually unavailable to non-LEOs.

Fourth, just about any .223 round (“armor piercing” or not) will penetrate the level II or III police body armor (which is designed primarily to protect against handgun fire) that most cops wear.

Fifth, whether I own an ugly gun is not a question of need, but the fact that 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. Furthermore I saw a great quote the other day: I don’t need an AR-15 any more than Rosa Parks needed to sit at the front of that bus.

But let’s address Paul’s question, why do I need a weapon with a 30-round mag?

How about because the police have pulled out of Koreatown or New Orleans where my home and/or store is located?

How about because the police are overwhelmed in Coney Island/Brooklyn or Virginia Beach which is where my home and/or store is located?

How about because there may be more than one attacker and (as Mas Ayoob points out here) it may take more than a couple of hits to stop the threat?

How about because I may miss?

Now, why might I need armor piercing bullets?

How about, because my attacker(s) may be wearing body armor (as the Aurora shooter was (erroneously) reported to have been), or is hiding behind a car door (which, BTW, is what ‘teflon coated bullets’ were originally invented to deal with)?

Realistically, however, in most self-defense scenarios you don’t want to have AP ammo, because 1) it creates a far smaller wound channel than a soft point or hollow point round (as shown with 9mm here) and B} it tends to over-penetrate and keep going to potentially hit something you don’t want hit.

But instead of bringing up personal self-defense reasons, Paul’s gun nut has a different rationale:

“But now,” I say, “tell me again about why you need a Bushmaster assault rifle with a 30-bullet clip filled with armor- piercing cop-killer bullets?”

“Well,” they say, “the Second Amendment is supposed to protect me from the Government in case we need an armed revolt. After all I might need to ‘get revolutionary’ and assert my ‘Second Amendment remedies’ (to quote a failed US Senate candidate of the R-Tea Party-persuasion).

Do gun rights activists really butcher the English language that way or is Paul indulging in a little stereotyping here? Whatever, Paul’s make-believe gun rights activist is not making much sense here, talking about the Second Amendment “protecting” him from the government if he revolts. If you are engaged in revolution (although I prefer the term “restoration” because most of us don’t want to overthrow the Constitution we just want the government to quit ignoring it) you’re going to want to take offensive action, not defensive action. Paul is mingling two arguments here; one that the Second protects us from tyranny and the other that it allows us arms to overthrow such a tyranny. It’s a subtle difference but a difference nevertheless.

In addition, if I’m preparing to “get revolutionary,” why the heck would I be so stupid as to have the same rifle as them? I don’t want to engage in firefights, hell, I don’t want to “engage” at all. Shoot’n’scoot is, I believe, the term; I want to harass and bloody my enemy from beyond the effective range of their weapons and then beat feet before they can reply.

But Paul has his own reply to the (slightly confused) gun rights advocate:

And then I say: “Whoa, partner! It’s okay to be against the Government unless it’s your government. Treason is a crime in this constitutional republic of ours,

Indeed it is and it’s the one crime which is actually defined in the Constitution (mainly because the Founders were tired of royalty (cough *Henry VIII* cough) accusing anyone who disagreed with them of “treason”):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Paul is correct, that does seem pretty straightforward. But let me ask one question: if the government fails to follow the Constitution, then what is treason? Is it treasonous to fight government oppression or to support it (either actively or tacitly)? Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-MN) once said:

The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.

And in his 1860 Presidential campaign the “Great Emancipator” himself, Abe Lincoln said:

The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it

Which I think is one of the best summations of “insurrectionist” philosophy I have ever heard. Paul continues:

Treason is a crime in this constitutional republic of ours, and there is nothing in the Second Amendment that requires, say, that just because our military has F-18s jet fighters, you can get one too–just to keep the battle even when you decide you don’t like the way a vote on the town council went, and persuade yourself that a revolution of one is required.

Nice bait-and-switch. That was so smooth that I missed it the first time around. Paul had his gun rights activist talk about overthrowing the government to restore the Constitution, but then he flips it over to a lone disgruntled individual; you know, the kind of person like Carl Drega who can be safely written off as a “lone nut-job” and forgotten. The kind of person who won’t disturb your little “everything is fine, the government is my friend” fantasy world.

Paul also trots out the classic “you can’t fight the 101st Airborne with your deer rifle” argument. Unfortunately this thesis becomes completely circular when we suggest that in that case the Second Amendment does cover Stingers, LAWS and grenades, and the antis soil themselves with cries of “but why would you need those things?!?”

But setting that aside too, my question for Paul would be, how on earth is the government going to use an F-18 against someone like Carl Drega? What does it matter if the government has them and we don’t? Paul finishes with some more ad hominem attacks:

Maybe our government needs an edge against a guy who is listening to voices and maybe even the guy who just can’t quite get his mind around losing, or being powerless, rejected, or the recipient of one of fate’s thousand slings and arrows. I think so.

You know what Paul? It isn’t the lone loon you need to worry about. No, if we ever do get pushed past that awkward stage I doubt that it will be a “town council” vote that does it. See Paul, local politics are reasonably accessible and responsive, and while there are cases (like Carl Drega) which do precipitate “a revolution of one” that isn’t the sort of repression that is liable to make people “get revolutionary” and reach for “Second Amendment remedies”.

What you and your collectivist buddies should be afraid of (although you probably don’t even realize it) is when the Leviathan goes that one step too far. When it passes just one more “shoulder thing that goes up” ban, burns down just one more church full of women and children or even just railroads one more gun-owner on a bullshit “machine-gun” charge, all of a sudden you have a few hundred thousand seriously pissed off gun owners.

Gun owners who have kids and grand-kids just back from the “sandbox”; kids who won’t be particularly interested in listening to the ATF explaining that Gramps committed suicide by lighting his house on fire and shooting himself 13 times in the back, or why he’s in Sing Sing doing 10 – 20 for having an 8-round magazine.

Gun owners who, for whatever reason, are perfectly willing to lay down their lives and their fortunes to uphold their sacred honor.

Gun owners who, like their kids and grand-kids, served in the military and who remember their oath.

Gun owners with the skills and equipment to drop a man deer at 600 yards.

Gun owners who remember Clinton’s Serbian rules of engagement.

That’s who you worry about Paul.