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Despite all of the miracles of modern medicine, there’s still no cure for stupid. And given the whole ObamaCare fustercluck, the prospect of new advances in the area seem remote at this point. Which only points up the benefits of the occasional dash of chlorine dripped into the gene pool. A Waterbury, Connecticut man is dead and his good friend and roommate has been charged with accidentally shooting him. According to police, the two men were taking turns firing blanks – at each other – with a Ruger .22 in the living room of their apartment when, somehow, live ammunition made its way into the mix. “I feel more guilty than anything I could think of,” Shawn French said. Somehow I think his guilty feeling is cold comfort for his friend’s family . . .

Apparently hankering for a throwdown with Foghorn, Hickok45 takes a suppressed 300 Blackout SBR for a spin. Spikes lower, CMMG upper, Wilson Combat Whisper suppressor.

The Yankee Marshall is out with a quick video covering the whole “can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre” meme that the civilian disarmament movement loves to trot out so often. File it away for the next time someone tries to use that argument on you.


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  1. Yankee Marshal is a good guy, but he’s a great example of how a little information is a dangerous thing. Yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater can be illegal without there being a dangerous situation created. There doesn’t have to be a stampede. All there has to be is a good amount of annoyance. BOOM, disorderly conduct. The point is that the 1st Amendment IS clearly limited, a point which he seems to almost purposefully ignore by nibbling around the issue. Just not a good legal analysis at best, disingenuous at worst.

    • Disorderly conduct charges and felony assault weapon possession charges are on two completely different levels. Yankee Marshal’s point stands; restricting gun ownership and restricting harmful use of speech are dissimilar and need to be treated as separate issues, not analogous ones. Plus shouldn’t disorderly conduct cause some disorder before it can be a crime? Aggressive prosecutor aside, I feel like an educated jury would nullify a victimless crime like saying one word in a crowded theater with no ill effects.

      • The fact that something is a lesser or greater criminal act does not nullify its criminality. There has to be ‘disorder’ but that word might not mean what you think it means. In my state it can be as simple as disturbing someone (who is not a cop) in a public place (which, for the purposes of the law, means a place the public can access).

        I’m not saying it’s the same thing as owning a gun, I’m saying that the 1st amendment is absolutely regulated. The Supreme Court has long held that not all speech is equal. My problem with YM is that he’s making an argument without much substance because even if yelling ‘fire’ in a theater is not a criminal act per se, its a distinction without a difference in that speech (and the 1st) is limited in such a way as to allow one to be criminally charged if someone is perturbed. In other words, our 1st Amendment has indeed been restrained, and so I don’t think it’s a useful argument to be engaging in (hey, we’re already screwed, why not bend over backwards to finish the job!)… I prefer Ralph’s, down below a few lines.

        • Just like the 2nd amendment protects your righ to defend yourself, The first amendment protects your right to express speech (ideas/beliefs), even unfavorable ones, without fear of the MAN locking you up. Yelling ‘FIRE’ does not constitute speech. Inciting panick is a crime regardless if I do it by yelling fire, brandishing a gun or singing a Brittany spears song. Also note that all three actions are perfectly legal in and of themselves.

    • In my state (PA) and most neighboring states, an ordinary disturbance of the peace is a summary offense, like a minor traffic offense. If yelling ‘fire’ was uttered in a political context, without intending or causing a stampede, it is certainly protected speech.

    • I think you are mistaken, Hannibal. There is no prior restraint to the act of any speech you may desire to undertake. The first Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” and in fact so far as I know they never have. There is no law that I am aware of listing the things that you cannot utter in public, although McCain-Feingold ( comes pretty damn close. Since there is no legislation mandating what you can or cannot say/speak, there is no prior restraint on your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to free speech.

      That said there might in fact be some prior restraint argument as far as freedom of the press since there are certainly laws on the books regarding certain kinds of pornography and a few other things, and they never seem to stop trying to put prior restraint on the Internet. There are far too many instances of government interfering with right of the people to peaceably assemble. But like “gun control” laws and CCW requirements, the fact that these laws exist does not make them Constitutional, only not yet successfully challenged in the courts.

      But the bottom line in any of these arguments is just that – the Amendments say exactly what the writers of the Constitution intended them to say and what they wanted them to mean. Over the years slick lawyers, and judges who agreed with them, have twisted, perverted, parsed and otherwise corrupted the sanctity of those natural rights and these usurpations have not been challenged because who the hell wants to go up against the might of the U.S government attorney and courts if he doesn’t really have to? And how the hell can an average citizen expect to pay for such a suit? So once these unconstitutional laws manage to get passed, there they sit. It does not make them any less unconstitutional.

      • I didn’t mention prior restraint, and that’s a good point. That said, I don’t know about most people, but I feel restrained to say something which may lead to my immediate arrest. It’s not prior restraint, but it’s not exactly freedom, either.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with such laws. But they make it clear to me that the 1st Amendment has some practical restrictions, even if we get around calling them that by using some mental gymnastics. The 4th is similarly restricted in limited circumstances where a warrant is not always required for a search in exigency, etc. Because of all this I just don’t think the ‘fire in a theater’ argument is a winning one for the pro-gun movement, though I do see the point behind it as a way to defuse a pithy remark from the other side. And to be fair, I doubt most people using the ‘fire in a theater’ point have really thought it through or have much legal knowledge to back it up.

    • The first amendment is not limited. The crime is not speech, the crime is disorderly conduct. At no point is there some magical process you have to go through to ensure you aren’t some free speech fanatic with a big licensing process and background check in place to use that right. I can call someone an a*******, call a cop a pig, and say should that baby be hanging from that window like that? This right is not limited in the pre-crime fashion the 2nd amendment is. There will of course be possible repercussions for some first amendment actions, but those will be reactions, not actions on the speakers part.

      Owning a gun should not be a crime. Calling someone a b***** while owning a gun is not a crime. Shooting someone while robbing a bank is. There’s a nice clear line that some people can’t seem to grasp.

      • My point is that your distinction between a crime of speech and crime of disorderly conduct isn’t that meaningful. If you walk down the sidewalk and call black people racist slurs, you can be arrested if they are ‘disordered’ (or pick another example that does not constitute clear ‘political’ speech); the fact that it is called disorderly conduct and requires someone, somewhere to be annoyed isn’t that much of a difference to me.

        • Three separate threads (or is it four?) and innumerable thoughtful, eloquent rebuttals to the same basic and self evidently flawed argument and you’re still making it Hannibal? You’re last example almost perfectly demonstrates the fallacy of your position, thus making it, subject to a bit of clarification, an excellent case against what you’re suggesting.

          Consider the ability to speak a gun and speech unused an unfired gun. Now examine the hypothetical ‘walk down the street’ again in light of this.

          Clearly if one has to have a license to buy the gun, another to carry it and one is restricted even then as to what sort of gun, how it is carried and where it is carried while all along one has the power to speak any word anywhere without any sort of clearance, background check, licensing or training then there is a wide divergence between controls on speech and those on guns.

          Furthermore one can speak all one wants just as one can shoot all one wants provide no harm is brought to another. Thus you cannot shout racial slurs at people on the sidewalk for the same reason you cannot shoot people because of their color; both are crimes against the person as they cause harm to that person and are crimes against society as they cause disorder.

          The distinction and similarities both are very clear, there is no pre-crime action for speech while there is extensive pre-crime action for the RKBA. Once either is used in a manner that causes harm both become crimes for that reason alone. However that does not make them similar in all other ways, only in that if used to cause harm both are crimes. It’s the very essence of the difference between infringement on the one hand and liberty on the other. The former attempts to influence action via legislation while the latter uses legislation to address actual harm already done to someone (thus infringing on their right not to be taunted or assaulted).

          That there are no illegal words but there are ‘illegal’ guns demonstrates that the context of use argument is spurious and without merit since at it’s root it involves not the rights of the speaker or shooter but rather the rights of the listener or target.

          To compare the restriction of certain speech in certain contexts to the ban of certain types of guns or the bearing of them (without shooting them) in certain contexts is an apples to oranges comparison which demonstrates nothing about either.

        • You’re full of it. Plenty of morons go around hurling racist invective and nothing whatsoever is done to them.

  2. That SBR suppressed 300 black is one sexy rifle. How could anyone look at a beautiful firearm like that and be scared of it? If I owned that rifle I’d feel like I would have to take it to dinner before we went to the range.

  3. Let’s just for the sake of argument say that falsely yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater is a crime because the potential for injury is so great. Still, when we enter the theater, they don’t remove our vocal chords just to make sure.

    Certainly, the manner, place and time of discharge of guns can be “regulated.” For example, it’s considered bad form to shoot someone because I don’t like the scent of their aftershave. But denying me the ownership of guns? I rather that the government would just remove my vocals chords, and also strip itself of all pretense of being of, by and for the people.

    • I have smelled some overdone aftershaves that leave that question in doubt 😉

      At any rate, if the Second Amendment was allowed to stand intact, as intended, Mr. Overdone aftershave would have as much opportunity and right as you to be armed for his own defense. At that point you both have equal incentive to politely discuss the stench and come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, or you can fight it out and see who walks away. I suspect the number of useless and foolish duels would be extremely limited and those willing to engage in them would be removed from the gene pool in short order. Problem solved, no unconstitutional legislation necessary.

      • As a history buff, note I did not say expert, I have found that the people who were eager to become duellists usually did not live to a ripe old age. Anger management issues and deadly weapons have a way of sorting them out.

  4. Blanks can be lethal by themselves; that’s how Brandon Lee died. Blanks still have live primers and powder; even without an actual bullet in the chamber, the expanding gases are enough to cause injury by itself. Worse, any tiny bits of lead or brass in the chamber/barrel (and there are always tiny bits of lead and brass in the barrel, no matter how well you clean it) will be ejected at speeds high enough to maim or even kill someone at close range.

    In other words, what a couple of dumbasses.

    • Brandon died because a previous squib during a prior scene left a bullet in the barrel of the S&W Model 29 that was being used in the film. When the blank was fired in the new scene, the bullet previously lodged in the barrel exited the barrel and entered Brandon Lee.

      The guy you’re thinking of who was actually killed by a blank was Jon-Erik Hexum. He was trying to be funny by playing faux Russian Roulette, putting a gun to his head that he knew was loaded with a single blank. He spun the wheel of fortune and was unlucky.

      The wadding did not penetrate his skull. He died of blunt force trauma.

    • Brandon Lee died because they made their own dummy rounds by pulling the bullets but left the primer(s) in. The primer had enough energy to push the bullet into the barrel. Then they sent the firearms guy home and kept shooting (film that is), loaded the revolver with blanks and he was shot with what was essentially a full power .44 magnum load. I believe the word Matt in FL used was fustercluck.

      • Their was a squib in the barrel when a real blank was fired which made the stuck bullet exit the barrel with enough force to be deadly.
        The blank didn’t kill him, the combination of the two did.

  5. There’s only two men who know what really happened, and one of them is dead. While I won’t discount the possibility of two people being idiots and shooting blanks at one another, I’m curious of the physical evidence backs that claim.

  6. It is the oddest coincidence, but I only know of one other person who, apparently for sport, shot his best friend with his father’s pistol. After drinking. And drew only probation. And was named Shawn (spelled Sean). Odd. Is this an ethnic thing?

  7. I really thought we would have all learned our lesson about blanks after The Crow.

  8. Unsupervised males and alcohol/drugs and tragedy will insue. You don’t need a gun. A coworkers family member, young male, after a night of drinking with his buddy complied with his buddies request to help him end it all. Buddy laid in the street and friend ran him over with a pickup. Several years in prison was his reward for being a good friend. And a total dumbass.

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