courtesy wikipedia.com

By Johannes P.

Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg’s latest column at National Review Online starts off as a bold defense of liberty. “Can we please stop holding the country hostage to crazy people?” he asks, lamenting calls in the legacy media to restrict certain forms of entertainment because they might lead to violence along the lines of the incident that recently took place in California, perpetrated (mostly) using a knife and an automobile. Don’t ban Catcher in the Rye, he says, because it could ‘inspire’ an insane person to commit mayhem. “Why not instead focus on the source of the problem: the very small minority of mentally ill people who pose a danger to themselves and others?” So far, I’m on board . . .

Unfortunately, his next sentence changes things a bit: “And, yes, guns need to be part of that equation.” But Mr. Goldberg goes on to wrestle with the concept a little, so let’s quote his thoughts completely here:

…(B)lanket efforts to ban guns seem like an analogous effort to ban dangerous speech or art. About a third of U.S. households own a gun, according to surveys, but the number may be higher than that. Getting rid of guns will infringe on the rights of tens of millions of sane, law-abiding citizens in order to tackle a problem posed by dozens of people. And, like it or not, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that we have a constitutional right to own a firearm, subject to reasonable regulation.

One reasonable regulation: Doing what we reasonably can to keep guns out of the hands of people who might find Seth Rogen’s sexploits, or video games, or Batman movies a good excuse to murder innocent people in cold blood. There would still be murderers, of course. But at least the focus would be where it belongs.

And that’s it. That’s where the piece ends. Mr. Goldberg makes no attempt to explain what form these “reasonable” regulations would take, the party(ies) that might be responsible for implementing them. And he doesn’t mention any safeguards that would keep an overzealous demagogue who ignores civil rights in pursuit of his private agenda (i.e., Bull Connor, J.H. Blair, or Michael Bloomberg) from using this imaginary new system to abrogate people’s rights. Goldberg offers no bright ideas, leaving it up to the reader to imagine how interdicting the Elliot Rodgers of the world would take place.

Mr. Goldberg, you can do better than this. If you want to suggest how to achieve the goal of keeping firearms out of the hands of insane people without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans, please do so. If you want to explain why this goal is more important than, say, making sure that the mentally ill get the treatment and help they need (which, somehow, got far less attention in your article) I’m all ears. But I’d expect the author of a book like Liberal Fascism to understand that standing athwart history shouting, “There oughtta be a law!” doesn’t take us anywhere good.

58 Responses to Jonah Goldberg Calls for Grabbing Guns. Sort Of.

  1. “subject to reasonable regulation”. Funny. Didn’t read that in any copy of the Constitution I’ve ever read.

      • that is like saying supporting “sensible” regulation of speech criticizing some government action, such as having a draft, which was recognized by the courts as valid infringement of first amendment rights from the 1920 until 1969, was “just recognizing the opinion of the courts.”

        As far as the mentally ill, again this guy stabbed three people. The only way these three people could have had their risk reduced was to
        1) incarcerate non adjudicated harmful people with mental illness
        2) issue a PUBLIC list of people with all kinds of mental illness. Why should those roommates have known nothing? Asberger’s represents a large increase in risk. So does bi-polar. They both represent more risk than gun ownership.

        This case shows the right to privacy more a danger to “public” health” than the second amendment is.

        In short EVERY one of the important bill of rights represents and causes danger, risk and physical harm to the innocent. “Reasonable” new limits and losses of civil liberties can be used to attack all of them

        • “… The only way these three people could have had their risk reduced was to…..”

          3) Get their own apartment. Meaning, getting rid of zoning laws making apartments/houses more expensive than construction costs.

          4)Stay the heck out of progressive indoctrination institutions. Vanishingly few stabbings/shootings of classmates in home schools so far.

          5) At the very minimum, only rooms with people they know and trust. This is THE way humans, and even animals, have increased personal safety since the dawn of life on earth. I am aware progressives sort some ways below higher animals on the reality comprehension scale, but still…..

    • Really? Me neither, actually. However, in the Constitution I read, it does indicate that “[…No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…]

      I think we can all agree that the right to keep and bear arms is part of one’s liberty, correct? OK then, so we’re all cool with someone who has been adjudicated a mental defective, by due process of law, may be deprived some of his liberty, including this firearms rights?

      Now, for the sake of this post, I’m not necessarily saying that mental defectives should be denied their firearms rights. That’s a political question, not a constitutional question. Nor am I saying that existing procedures for adjudicating mental defective status are sufficiently rigorous and objective to pass constitutional due process muster. And I’m certainly not saying that such procedures are universally adequate such that they’re constitutional on equal protection grounds, either.

      What I AM saying are these: first, the Constitution explicitly allows for the denial of liberty, provided that constitutional standards are met, and second, that anyone denying that reality is guilty of the same exact selective reading of the Constitution as the anti’s do. The constitutional principle is there and it’s irrefutable.

      • “OK then, so we’re all cool with someone who has been adjudicated a mental defective, by due process of law,”

        No, because Hitler executed some 6,000,000 people under the auspices of “due process of law.”

        Please don’t let them open the “mental defective” can of worms. It’ll be like “You want a gun because you think the Government is your enemy? Well, that’s crazy!”

        The right place and time to deal with irresponsible or dangerous use of a gun is on the spot, summarily.

        • Uh…..no. One man’s murderous masterplan is not due process of law. There’s a difference between being a nation of laws (and you know full I’m referring to laws implemented with the consent of the governed) and being a nation of one man.

          Look, I’ve said it a thousand times and been pounded for it at least that many times. Most of the highest profile spree killings have been committed by flat out, plain as day, psychos whose menace was obvious even in advance of their crimes, but about whom no one did anything substantive.

          Yes, I know that these people will use other means, like cars, knives, and probably fire I’d bet is the next big one; but the reality is that the infamous ones are using firearms right now. If we don’t crack down on the worst whack jobs among them and drive mass shootings from the headlines, then it’s just a matter of time before public opinion shifts and the government succeeds in its aim.

        • My point was, “Due process of law” depends on who’s making the laws, and who determines what’s “due process.”

          But in any case, you’re still talking about a department of pre-crime, where, based on some human being’s interpretation of “psychos whose menace was obvious even in advance of their crimes,” you can lock up people who don’t fit this week’s definition of “officially sane and safe.”

          The time and place to stop heinous acts by deranged people is where and when it happens, by armed citizens.

  2. Maybe he was addressing adding more stupid gun restrictions, or maybe he was addressing adding some long overdue lunatic restrictions. Who knows?

    If he wants more gun control, he should hook up with Dick Metcalf. Birdbrains of a feather should go flock themselves together.

  3. Proof that the NATIONAL REVIEW still hasn’t gotten over its William F. Buckley CIA connection.

  4. The fact that he did not expand on his point was a silent admission that he, in the end, doesn’t know how without violating the rights of lawful gun owners. Pretty modest for a east coast pointy headed intellectual.

    • Jonah’s late brother Joshua headed up a 2nd Amendment-dedicated blog at their mother Lucianne’s site. Jonah is one of the good guys I’m pretty sure.

      • Jonah Goldberg is DEFINITELY one of the good guys. I don’t understand where he was headed with this article but there is no doubt that he understands the dangers of leftism.

        I’m giving him the benefit of a doubt because I don’t want to fathom the idea that he screwed the pooch on this.

        • Isn’t he the one who wrote the book “Bias”, which exposed the liberal bias in the mainstream media? If so, then he definitely is Not a liberal.

        • Wait. That’s him in the picture at the top of this thread. NO, that definitely is not the _____ Goldberg I was thinking of.

        • Actually, you are thinking of Bernard Goldberg. but Jonah is no liberal. His latest book is “Liberal Fascism” and discusses how the liberals basically shut off debate thru their control of the media and the mass culture.

  5. Or people could just realize that dangerous people exist, crap happens, and prepare for it.

    Or is that being too adult for the modern world?

    I remember seeing once a sign that said, “Government: If you think the problems are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.”

    • To steal from Homer Simpson:
      To [government], the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

    • Amen! It is just a dangerous world out there. It is better to live in a dangerous world with some rights (2A) than without.

    • I believe in the vision of the founders, in the second amendment and in the forbearance of my fellow countrymen but not in that of my government. I believe that no restriction of the rights recognized in the second amendment are necessary to secure the peace. I am willing to accept that occasionally, or even often, bad people will do bad things. These people and the things they do have no bearing on the law, other than to violate various existing ones. There is not a law that can be passed that will stop a person, bent on destruction and desperate for tragedy, from killing and maiming, nor should their be. A truly free people are free to defend themselves from such as would commit atrocities and this was part of the founders vision. That atrocious acts still occur time to time is not evidence that we are too free, but rather that bad people will occasionally do bad things. No more laws are needed other than the injunction against murder, which is ancient and already well encoded in our laws and morality.

      That some people will occasionally use their liberty to do harm to others isn’t a new concept nor one difficult to envision. It’s not something that has come up since the founders gave us our best laws and secured our rights.

      The appropriate response to those who abuse their liberties and rights to harm others is to restrict the rights of that person, such as done with committal, incarceration or execution. To restrict the rights of all due to the abuses of a few isn’t appropriate and further isn’t effective.

      There may be a child who, upon exiting the school for recess, always assaults another student. We properly deal with this via detention, counseling and eventual expulsion. There are adults who, with liberty, will often assault other citizens. We deal with this via committal, incarceration and in some cases we deal with it by stopping the assailant in situ with violent force. In neither case should we eliminate recess, nor abrogate the rights of all others. We deal with the individual who is problematic, not the masses who are safe and reasonable in the exercise of their rights and liberties.

      It’s a cliché that freedom isn’t free, but this is mistaken to mean that some men must die in battle to secure freedom. While it certainly means that, that is not all it means or perhaps even it’s original meaning. Freedom isn’t free because there will occasionally be costs associated with being free. One of these is that bad people will sometimes do bad things. They may even murder and maim. The only logical opposite is that no one is ever free, all liberty being sacrificed on the alter of security. The founders warned us of this and we should take heed. Freedom comes with inherent risks, they are more than worth it. I, for one, am willing to run the minuscule risk of being murdered by a mad man in order to retain the rights and liberties I have. I’m far more likely to encounter the every day sorts of criminals who might relieve me of my property or injure or kill me than to meet a homicidal maniac bent only on mass murder. Better than I be armed for those common criminals than disarmed because some maniac somewhere might pose a threat were we both to be at liberty to bear arms.

      It’s more than that though, a life lived with liberty and freedom, however short, is ever so much sweeter than a long one lived under duress, tyranny and without liberty. If there were a mass murder every day I would not be one step closer to surrendering my liberty or that of those around me in order to prevent it. It wouldn’t prevent it in the first place, and cannot in a free society. I’d rather deal with the fall out of freedom than learn to live without it.

      Allow me to say that another way: If some people die because we are all free that is fine. Freedom is more valuable than life. Long ago I embraced the idea that to die fighting for freedom is better than to live under tyranny. If that death comes at the hands of a maniac rather than someone intent on depriving me of liberty it is no less true. I believe that even as I lay dying I would exalt the freedom we have, even if I condemn the misuse of it that has caused my dying state.

      A life lived with freedom and liberty is superior, however short, to a life of tyranny and restriction. If some few of us must die as a result of liberty, so be it. So many have died to ensure such liberty that a few losses because of it are more than acceptable.

      • “a life lived with liberty and freedom, however short, is ever so much sweeter than a long one lived under duress, tyranny and without liberty.”

        I sometimes wonder if people who have never been in jail can really appreciate how exquisitely sweet it is to be free to walk out my door any time I want to.

  6. Reasonable regulations to some is single shot Cricket .22. That is why there is that “Shall Not Be Infringed” part of the 2A.

  7. More proof that Conservatives are just Statists who want to use the unquestioned power of the state in a different way.

  8. If we as Americans are to have personal liberty a certain amount of mayhem must be tolerated. The only way individuals can minimize how much must be tolerated is to be prepared to combat it if it seeks to draw them in. Those who aren’t prepared to combat mayhem should encourage and look toward those who are. Not everyone has to be a sheepdog, but every sheep learns what to do when trouble brews.

    • The “mayhem” will be minor and short-lived. By far the vast majority of people are really OK people. The few miscreants that don’t get the memo will be fully Darwinized within a few days’ time.

      • “The “mayhem” will be minor and short-lived. By far the vast majority of people are really OK people.”

        Agreed. If most people weren’t decent, cockroaches would be the dominant species by now.

      • I wrote recently of the effect my carry has had on a local liquor store. If we were to all carry, all the time, crime would be at all time lows. It could almost be said that we have a duty to defend ourselves and each other.

        I’ve heard those on the fringe left say that the carry of guns has a chilling effect on public discourse. I think this is outrageous. I’ve never felt I could not speak my mind because the person I was arguing with was armed unless they were also inebriated or insane. The carrying of weapons has a chilling effect only on crime. There are few who choose to assault or rob an armed person and those who do are generally not long surviving.

        I carry guns, every day, everywhere. I’ve yet to use my guns to win an argument unless the argument was whether my property was mine or whether I had the right to use the sidewalk without being assaulted.

        I have used my guns to prevent others unlawfully assaulting me. I’ve used them to prevent robbery and general criminal activity. No one who hasn’t violated either the basic edict about peoples property being theirs or that which states a person is entitled to not being assaulted has ever been oppressed or injured by my guns.

        My liberty to carry a gun and all those who do the same has caused more structure, organization, crime deterrence, support of the innocent and even lifesaving assistance than any law ever has. In the end, individual judgment is key, and those who are serious about arming themselves generally have good judgment (this is born out in the fact that CCW holders commit less crime that either the gen pop or police).

        I guess if you need me I’ll be there. In the store, on the corner, wherever it is that criminals ply their trade. You won’t see me shoot many people because most people are willing to stop their bad behavior upon being confronted with it. You might see me actually shoot someone who wishes to continue their bad behavior by use of force, I hope you recognize that shooting such a person contributes the to the common good.

        • I hope you recognize that the Internet is forever. When the day comes, and I’m only surprised it hasn’t already, these posts of yours will make interesting reading in the jury room, I’m sure.

  9. Really don’t see how attacking mentally ill people, who have a lower crime rate than the national average and attacking their rights is acceptable to anyone who loves freedom.

    • Diagnosed schizophrenics have somewhat higher crime rates than people not diagnosed with that mental disorder (although some of the undiagnosed have the illness). When schizophrenia is combined with the use of illicit drugs, the crime rate goes way up.

      As you noted, most mental illness is not violent. For example, I doubt that agoraphobics commit crimes. But some mental illness is a proven indicator of potential danger.

      • Can you post the source for your contention.
        http://depts.washington.edu/mhreport/facts_violence.php

        – “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small, and further, the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population (Institute of Medicine, 2006).”

        – “…the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).”

        – “The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is very small. . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill (Mulvey, 1994).”

        -“People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). People with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al.,1999).”

        Lets also not forget they have rights as well, they shouldn’t be limited and restricted based on the possibility they are people with inalienable rights as well.

  10. First of all I don’t have much respect for the chatting class. That being said, their view of the world is from a priviledged perch. The good Mr. Goldberg will always have access I don’t.

    • Indeed.

      I was through with NR over 10 years ago. They used to employ the anti-gun agiprop hack, David Frum, when he was useful to their efforts to embroil us in mideast wars.

      In general, NR is staffed with people who lack so much real world experience that it is at times mind-boggling to think that some of our national leaders listen to such people.

  11. While living through the Wisconsin Revolution, as radical leftists had their expensive temper tantrum, I read many online accounts of the things I was seeing with my own eyes.

    Jonah Goldberg generally showed arrogance backed up by an extremely shallow understanding of what was going on. He can’t escape his east-coast blinders long enough to understand what most of America is really like.

    I largely tune him out; and I expect that should conservative commentary become unprofitable, his views will “grow” into whatever opinion is profitable.

    • “Jonah Goldberg generally showed arrogance backed up by an extremely shallow understanding of what was going on.”

      Whether left or right, both politics and media are being directed by people who live in a very privileged bubble, and those people would very much to keep us at each others throats, disarmed, dependent and at the complete mercy of an unholy combination of state and capital.

  12. “. . . “Can we please stop holding the country hostage to crazy people?” ”
    .
    We’ve been held hostage by crazy people for 75 years in this country.
    .
    They’re commonly called “Liberal-us Progress-EVIL-us”.
    .
    During the last 40 years or so, they have acquired numerous blind, faithful followers called “The Sheeple-People”.
    .
    All Democrats fall into one group (or species) or the other.
    .

  13. The first person to use the word “reasonable” in a debate lays claim to the concept. Nyah, nyah, nyah-nyah, nyah.

  14. It’s easy to smell a rotten egg. It’s harder to lay a good one and know what to do with it.

  15. I understand what he’s saying. “Reasonable” is definitely a very loose term though.
    It’s so ironic that these people commiting these atrosities are mostly registered democrats.

  16. Ah… how about you suggest how you would “[make] sure that the mentally ill get the treatment and help they need”.

    Obviously, the treatment of the mentally ill is something that is open to improvement. Decent, liberally minded people like the late great Enoch Powell have made suggestions for how such people can be treated within their society in the past century. However, this was never applicable to everyone with a mental illness, and as of the past twenty years or so there is no such thing as a decent society anymore.

    Thing is, dangerous loons like the hollyweird killer are not fixable, even assuming a serious cultural change. The important thing is not ‘protecting their rights’, but making sure that normal people who could fix society are not prevented from doing so on the basis that they’re ‘abnormal’ because they don’t accept the sick ideal of the gold/bergian media ‘normality’.

    • I’m not confident that I understood you, but it seems to me that the only appropriate response to a homicidal mad man is to shoot him. The more people are able to do so in more places the less the effect these rabid dogs will have on society. Less freedom isn’t working, perhaps more will. In any event a free people will better endure these acts that those who live under tyranny.

      • Broadly speaking- this is true. More guns in the hands of decent working folk- hell yeah.

        But are you saying that the pretence that utterly mad hollyweird types are not a danger to decent folk is irrelevant to this discussion? Because if you are, then that’s an utterly ridiculous claim. It’s clear that Rodger should’ve been in an institution.

        • “It’s clear that Rodger should’ve been in an institution.”

          It’s not clear at all. Whatever “due process” could be used to confine someone who has done no harm, especially one based on hysteria and paranoia and the pronouncements of men with alphabet soup after their name, can be used against you and me on the whim of those same hysterical paranoiacs and old nebbishes.

      • Well, duh, when it’s all wrapped up in a pretty little bow and the homicidal madman has already massacred people. What’s important is getting ahead of the curve and not waiting for blood to spill before we act against these people, regardless the implement of their evil.

  17. The government did not “mainstream” the mentally disturbed into society. They are turning all society into one vast asylum, with all the rules, regulations, and restrictions required to monitor and control homicidal inmates, ignoring the rights and liberties of the sane citizens. The MDA, and all the other anti-gun organizations are setting the standards of Liberty for our civil society on the lowest common denominator of sanity. They think our freedoms should be based on the behavior of the psychos forced to remain in that society, instead of being removed to an asylum.
    The idea that the innocent must be punished, because they somehow share in the guilt of a heinous act by a homicidal maniac killer is from an emotional source, and as illogical as it is emotional.

    “A law which restricts the liberty of the innocent because of the behavior of the guilty, that rests on the principle that the conduct of criminals [or psychos] dictates the scope of liberty for the rest of society, in no sense ‘fights’ crime.” 
    For society has permitted its fear of crime, and craving for safety, to turn the force of law against the innocent and law-abiding. Far from fighting crime, the criminalization of otherwise innocent activities represents a society in retreat from crime. This is a society desperately accommodating itself to crime.”
    — Jeff Snyder

  18. The 4th amendment protects against “unreasonable search and seizure.” I don’t think Mr. Goldberg is claiming that the 2nd Amendment should be subjected to “reasonable regulation” so much as just that’s what the SCOTUS has thus far said. I also don’t think Mr. Goldberg is calling to grab guns so much as just making a point without realizing what that point might entail. For example, HOW do you prevent crazies from having guns?).

  19. Rich Grise said it best, we don’t want to open the mental defective can of worms. Why, because its all subjective. Many anti-gun people view the mere act of owning a firearm, especially a scary black AR, a mental defect.

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