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By Charles Thompson III

This is intended as a direct rebuttal to Jim Barrett’s article “Confessions of a 2A Non-Absolutist.” First off, I appreciate you taking the time to so clearly articulate your position.   Clear, concise, and intelligible points make my job a lot easier because I don’t have to struggle to understand what you are really trying to say.  That being said, you as wrong as wrong can be.  There is a fatal flaw in your logic in that you completely misunderstand the concepts of Liberty and Equality.  Consider this excerpt from the Declaration of Independence that you referenced in your article . . .

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

While this phrase does not appear directly in the U.S. Constitution, that phrase is the spirit of the guiding principles that shaped the Founding Fathers’ vision for this Country.   Liberty, in this context, pertains to the interaction between the government and the people, enforced by the accountability of a duly elected government to the electorate, existing without the permission of the governing body.

In its purest sense as a right, Liberty is the right to property, with property being defined as both physical and real property and the person of oneself.  It encompasses the total ownership of self (physically, mentally, philosophically, and spiritually) and all property that one has accumulated without violating the selfsame Liberty of another.  Contrary to what the Progressive message would have you believe, the state cannot guarantee that your right to Liberty will not be abridged by your fellow man in the practical sense, nor should it in the ideological sense. People dwell so much on the Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness part that they often overlook the very next part, which states in the most succinct of terms the purpose and limit of government.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

In my opinion, that is the most powerful part of the Declaration of Independence. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness may be the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, but this line is the cornerstone of the purpose and role of our government. Notice that governments are “among” men, not “over” them, and only to the extent that the people as a whole allow (accountability to the electorate).

Accordingly, Government’s role is clearly to draw a line in the sand and to prosecute an offender should they cross that line.  It is not within its power, both statutorily and practically, to try to prevent people from crossing that line, only to provide recourse within the Law on the behalf of the offended when that line is actually crossed.   Liberty, as a right, is only guaranteed in the interaction between the government and the citizen.  In all other things, the government can only act on behalf of the citizen after their Liberty has been infringed.

To illustrate, the FDA can set standards by which food producers must abide that, if followed, provide a product in good faith to the consumer that will not harm them. This level of governance would be comparable to making it illegal to commit murder. If followed, the would-be-victim will not be harmed. However, if they violate these standards, then the government can prosecute on the behalf of the people. In both instances it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure that people are not harmed, because that is impossible, but rather to provide recourse when someone is harmed or violated. That is the context that all laws should be framed by.

A law prohibiting someone from discharging a firearm in a public setting provides recourse should someone be harmed by the actual violation of the law.  Prohibiting the ownership of a machine gun contradicts that tenet because no one’s Liberty was infringed by the breaking of that law. The possibility of committing a crime cannot in and of itself be a crime.  Otherwise, we find ourselves on the very slippery slope of attempting to regulate “pre-crime.” These victimless crimes have drained our judicial system of all of its effectiveness and rendered it inept at performing the most basic functions of justice and conflict resolution. In keeping with this doctrine, regulation of firearms can only be administered on the actionable use of the firearm that impacts the person or property of another entity.  Any other restriction is an infringement and a clear violation of the scope of government to be among the people.

Taking this a step further, restricting ownership by certain persons (i.e. felons or mentally ill) clearly falls into the realm of pre-crime regulation and therefore falls outside the scope of a proper government.  We in the gun community opine so often that it is the person that commits the crime, not the gun.  Phrased another way, it is the person that is the threat, not the gun. Accordingly, if we restrict ownership of guns, we have not accomplished anything because the person, i.e. the threat, is still free.

If a person is too dangerous to have access to a firearm (which they must have demonstrated as such through action and not based on subjective determinations), then they are too dangerous to be released back into society.  Once a criminal has paid his debt, all of his rights should be restored.  If he cannot be trusted with his rights, then he cannot be trusted and he has not paid his debt in full and therefore should remain in prison.  The punishment must fit the crime comes to mind though.  You stated:

There are people walking around who simply should not be allowed to own a gun.

While that is certain, it is far too subjective to act upon.  Who gets to determine who is too dangerous and who isn’t?  You?  Me?  You say you agree that “pre-crime” regulations have no place, yet you immediately turn around and argue that training should be a pre-requisite for ownership and that certain people shouldn’t own guns.  Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?  I wholeheartedly agree that the more training the better.   However, making it a crime to possess and bear arms without training falls squarely into the pre-crime arena.  Again, it is not within the government’s practical and expressed power to prevent bad things from happening.

This segues nicely into the second major flaw in your logic which is your application of the concept of equality, or, to state another way, the basis for resolution of differences.   The purpose of the courts is to resolve conflict between two parties when one or the other has allegedly violated the Liberty of another.  All citizens should have equal protection and power before the law.  From your post:

As I said earlier, RF’s opinion on the specific meaning of 2A is no more and no less valid than Michael Bloomberg’s opinion. What matters is the SCOTUS’s opinion.

Practically, what SCOTUS thinks matters because it is enforced by the rule of law, which, ironically, is enforced by the point of a gun. However, on a philosophical level, what makes the opinion of a Supreme Court justice any more valid than my own? Or Sylvester Stalone’s? Or Peyton Manning’s? Or Bradley Manning’s?

You make the case that SCOTUS’s opinion in DC v. Heller leaves room for regulation, and rightly so. However, that doesn’t align with the Constitution or the concept of Liberty.  Are you just going to throw your hands up and say “Oh Well” if SCOTUS reinstituted slavery? Certainly not! How can citizens have equal protection under the law if SCOTUS decries that they can be regulated separately and unequally between the several states?  However, your most troubling statement encompassed the subjective interpretation of the public good and its application.

Society has the authority to take your liberty or even your life if you act against the common good. Since the right to keep and bear arms stems from the fundamental right to life (the right to protect one’s life), it seems hard to dispute the fact that if the society has the right to abridge life and liberty, then it certainly can abridge the right to keep and bear arms.

The common good? Who is the final authority on what the common good is or isn’t? Countless times throughout history, men speaking out on the tenets of Liberty have been persecuted and oppressed by their governments, all in the name of the common good. Society and the state do not have the authority to abridge life and liberty for the common good under a Social Contract.

In its simplest terms, the Social Contract should be stated as “If you don’t hurt us, we won’t hurt you.” There is no cessation of life and liberty to guarantee that nobody will get hurt, rather there is the promise that there will an appropriate response of justice should one party violate the rights of another party.  I agree that there has to be a way to resolve our differences . However, it is not for SCOTUS to decide what the power of government is to be or the rubric by which they can resolve conflict.  SCOTUS does not have the power to write  the rules that it will in-turn adhere to.  It is for the people to decide and the state (including SCOTUS) is limited to the expressed powers that the people have defined.

deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed , –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it

The people have reaffirmed on countless occasions that the Constitution is the final authority on the power of government among the rights of the people.  Therein, as a bastion of protection from the tyranny of an oppressive government, is our guarantee as citizens that:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Until such time that people determine to redesign the fundamentals of the greatest social contract ever devised, personified in words of the Constitution of the United States of America, that document remains the final authority on the resolution of our differences.

I could expound further, but let this be summation of my argument. Shall not be infringed.  Period.

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    • Regardless of which supposed pro-gun organization or which members of whichever political party go along with proposed legislation the result is still UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

      Except that Democrats, generally, are more favorable to a large nanny state government and so favor gun control/civilian disarmament/anti-2A legislation, and entrenched RINOs are all too willing to go along to get along (and retain their positions of power) this is NOT a partisan issue. The only issue is whether or not the Second Amendment actually means that the government MAY NOT infringe on the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms, and what the recourse of the people should/must be if the president, the Congress AND the Supreme Court all determine that they may with impunity violate the Constitution.

      In reality this is just a litmus test. If all three branches of our supposed Constitutional government are willing to act outside the limitations of that document, what is the appropriate response? I leave you to discuss this amongst yourselves.

      • It shows the inherent flaws in the Constitution and the system it created. The most limited government ever instituted turned into the largest monstrosity ever experienced.

        • You are mightily confused there fella. The Constitution did not create the mess the US is in today. Foolish and weak men that failed to follow the Constitution, and were allow to, are the cause.

        • Simply having a gun doesn’t make you free; it’s an inanimate object; the willingness to use this tool to protect your freedom is what makes you free.

          Having the constitution doesn’t protect our rights; it’s a mouldy piece of parchment: having people willing to defend what it represents; with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor; is what will keep us free.

        • The flaws weren’t in the Constitution. The flaws were in the people, in their refusal to insist that their elected officials uphold the law, and the allowance of the Supreme Courts usurptation of the power to determine what is or is not Constitutional

        • I don’t remember the person it was quoted but, but I remember the Constitution being described as a wooden gun by some Euro trash back around the time of ARII. It will get waved around in a threatening manner but it won’t ever be used because it can’t fire. Or something to that effect.

  1. Dan’s the Man! People of the gun are privileged to have men of your intellect and ability to so clearly refute such “reasonable” though patently wrong arguments. Thank you.

  2. Society has the authority to take your liberty or even your life if you act against the common good.

    Hell no, it doesn’t! The government has the authority to deprive of you liberty and your life if you violate the law, after due process and a trial, not the riotous mob. Jim Barrett, your writing sounds like dangerous socialist claptrap.

    • Agreed. The very concept of “common good” is abhorrent to me. It is an infinitely corruptible concept in that is it subjective in the extreme, only defined by either the majority or by a coercive authority, and subject to the winds of change and temperament.

      • Agreed. The best good for the “common good” is the good for each individual of the set. As the good for each individual varies there is no “common good.” Therefore, the common good is a compromise – a negotiation – blanketing everyone which is not fair to anyone. That is why we have rights and that is why rights are not up for debate – not even for the majority.

        That is also why the founding fathers were against democracy and instituted a republic.

        “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
        -Thomas Jefferson

    • As true now as when Blackstone first wrote it:

      In vain may it be urged, that the good of the individual ought to yield to that of the community; for it would be dangerous to allow any private man, or even any public tribunal, to be the judge of this common good, and to decide whether it be expedient or no.—Blackstone’s Commentary, Ch. 1§III, 1765-1769.

    • It should be noted that the basis for “communism” is “common good”. That the good of the many over-rides the good of the individual is the basis of every Utopian scheme throughout history and each and every of those social schemes has as its final result the denial of personal liberty in favor of the “common good”, up to and including banishment (if you’re lucky), or re-education, and/or death camps.

      Personal liberty is the EXACT antithesis of “common good”.

    • Every time I hear someone talk about “the common good” or “the greater good”, I always think of the village council in the movie Hot Fuzz. Total wackjobs who’d murder someone over the flowers in their front yard because “it would keep us from being called the prettiest town, and killing them was for the greater good”.

  3. So…. Jim… Have we proven our point to you? Do you have any questions? It really boils down to the singular opinion: Do you believe freedom is the greater means and way of life… or do you prefer otherwise? If you do believe it is – then tell us what you think. Discuss. Reason. Etc.

  4. Boom! FNS for this statement alone:

    “In both instances it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure that people are not harmed, because that is impossible, but rather to provide recourse when someone is harmed or violated. That is the context that all laws should be framed by.”

    • Absolutely agree. That’s the guiding principle that the law makers have lost sight of. All of the “laws are there to prevent crime” mentality has got to stop.

    • And the purpose of the law cannot and should not be to prevent crime, which is truly impossible, but to give the potential criminal pause and reason to consider whether the possible social consequences for committing the crime are worth the risk.

      Adding citizens ready and willing to take responsibility for their own safety by means of Constitutional Carry RKBA adds immediacy to the potential social consequences of law-breaking.

  5. “restricting ownership by certain persons (i.e. felons or mentally ill) clearly falls into the realm of pre-crime regulation ”

    True, but – as a certain psychiatrist I know often says – the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

    So how do you square that circle?

    • Predictions are not one hundred percent, they cannot account for a person truly changing. If they were, petty theft would be a life sentence.

      • Sure. But some behaviors are recalcitrant. Sometimes the first offense turns out to be the first of many (or one of many).
        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for pre-crime measures and – as cynical as I am – I would like all of us to have a chance at redemption and rehabilitation, should we make a big mistake.
        At the same time, I would not want myself or my family to fall victim to someone who what given an undeserved reprieve.

        • Freedom entails risk. If one wishes to be free then one must also accept that there will be risk. No system can get them all. A system based upon individual liberty might not even get most of them. It’s incumbent upon the individual to be responsible for his own safety.

        • On the other hand if the likely consequence of violent crime were to actually be “death on the spot, at the hands of your intended victim” a lot of people would probably think twice before embarking down that path.

    • In the case of felons, the previous actions of the individual are a good argument against the pre-crime idea. It’s not pre-, it’s their unacceptable past actions that are the determining factor.

      • Which leaves open some basic questions: Who decides what is a felony? Who decides which felony results in the “loss” of your natural right to self defense? Who maintains, supervises and controls this list of persons now prohibited from exercising their natural right to self defense? Who successfully prevents these same prohibited persons from obtaining their weapons from other sources?

        Passing a law making something illegal does absolutely ZERO to prevent persons from doing that thing anyway if they feel the benefits outweigh the potential risk of punishment.

        • This is the intractable problem of any liberty-based philosophy — heck, any political philosophy. Even with liberty as the absolute goal, there are always limits. One person’s liberty may infringe on another’s. Sometimes rights conflict when they’re exercised (2A and 1A vs. private property, for instance).

          Who gets to draw the lines between conflicting rights? Who gets to decide when an offense against liberty is heinous enough to result in punitive suspension of civil rights and freedoms? Heck, who gets to decide what a protected human right actually is?

          Society is currently redrawing the lines to include homosexual marriage, which until now has never been treated as a right anywhere in human history (that I know of). Is gender-neutral marriage law really a right? I dunno. Freedom of association and equal protection of law and all that, so maybe… Then there are the spurious “negative” rights, such as the politically correct “right” not to be offended by anything.

        • This talk about peoples rights and felony reminds me of this interesting comment from FWB on the Of Arms and the Law blog.

          “The police powers were left with the states except for roughly 6 areas. 1) counterfeiting coin and securities 2) piracies on the High Seas 3) felonies on the high seas 4) offenses against the Law of Nations 5) securing copyright/patent 6) punishing treason. If the N&P clause carried any weight in implying police powers at the federal level that would negate the explicit grants of the power to punish counterfeiting, the power to secure copyrights/patents, and the powers to punish piracies and felonies on the high Seas, and offenses against the Law of Nations which are granted in the same section as the N&P restriction on lawmaking. All federal criminal laws outside these 6 areas are not part of any legitimate constitutional grant and everyone punished by the fed outside these 6 areas have been unconstitutionally attacked by their government.

          If it were any other way, the Framers would not have seen the need to grant the limited police powers they granted.”

          So many of these felons prohibited from owning guns have wrongly been charged and convicted by a federal government lacking the Constitutional authority. Much like the government attempting to make exercising our 2nd amendment rights a crime without Constitutional authority.

    • Past behavior is indeed a useful predictor of future behavior. However, who decides if someone is a future risk or isn’t? And who is the decision maker accountable to if they get it wrong? I certainly don’t have the requisite wisdom to make that decision. Regardless, you cannot punish someone for what they might do, even if they have done it before. Let’s say a man is convicted of a crime and serves his prison sentence. When he is released, he is no longer allowed to own a firearm. If the man is truly a danger and evil at heart, who is naïve enough to believe that a simple law is going to stop him from committing more crimes, with or without guns as his preference dictates. All we accomplish is preventing the reformed criminal from ever being able to effectively defend himself and add another thing to charge former criminals with even when they haven’t hurt anyone yet, which only increases an unnecessary burden on the judicial system.

      For the mentally infirmed, we are again punishing the individual before he has done anything wrong. If that person is such a danger to himself or others should he get hold of a gun, I would argue that he is too dangerous to be free because he could still acquire a gun illegally (theft, black market, etc.) Again, we accomplish nothing and contradict out own judgments by letting loose back into society the very people we have identified as dangerous with nothing more than a shrug and a hope they don’t stumble upon a gun one day.

      The only truly effective way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In a perfect world, when Adam Lanza shot the window out of the front door of Sandy Hook Elementary, the first thing he would have been greeted with would be a .45 ACP slug to the face, fired from the gun carried by any number of school staff members. And then we would only have one dead body to deal with.

      Nobody ever said that the execution of Liberty would be beautiful 100% of the time.

    • Easy, review the past success/failure rate of psychiatry and the potential and actual abuses of the mental health system worldwide and in America. They are hardly the final arbiters of sanity or how to deal with mental illness, or it would have been eradicated by their professional competence.

      You cannot prevent a crazy person (Adam Lanza) from getting a weapon of some sort when they decide to commit their criminal acts. How about pulling a fire alarm and then driving that Honda through the crowd of kids pouring out of the school? Nor can you predict that a person who is entirely “sane: today and has collected his perfectly legal cache of firearms and ammunition will not go homicidal insane tomorrow without ever attracting the attention of authorities or the psychiatric establishment.

      People must take responsibility, first for people they know that frighten them and need to be helped, and second for stopping the crazies that make it out into the public and threaten other people. The solution is ALWAYS the ability to stop the threat, whether by intervention of people who know and care before hand, or a well-placed shot group if they do not or cannot. This solution is not fool proof nor perfect, but it is much to be desired over the surrender of our Second Amendment in the vain hopes of securing the “common good”

      • My comments about past/future behaviors related to your mention of presumably rehabilitated convicts.

        I think we end up splitting the baby unevenly when we decide to infringe on second amendment rights in favor of civil liberties of the mentally ill – or vice versa.
        It’s kind of hard to pick the lesser of two evils.

        I am always amused when people here spout Scientology talking points about psychiatry (because we all know just how effective, long term, repeat audits, vitamins, exercise and sleep deprivation are at alleviating real disease).
        Sure, it’s a new field, relatively speaking, but people like me are making real contributions to better diagnosis and treatment.

        Tying back to my previous point: the efficacy of much of psychiatric intervention is limited by patient non-compliance, which is bolstered by legal tenets of rights to self determination (which I think are flawed when talking about psychotic individuals).

        Talking about how “psychiatry poisons our kids” is not very constructive. But it requires less effort than addressing the really tough issue of what is morally superior: infringing on gun rights or on the liberty of individuals with a disease.

  6. I like your use of the slavery issue. It highlights that states are improperly allowed to infringe our firearms rights, contrary to the constitution. Why is it that the issue of slavery cannot become a “state’s rights” issue just like firearms rights, with states that wish to find slavery agreeable, contrary to the constitution, allowing it? Because that liberty cannot be alienated….whether it is firearms or involuntary servitude.

  7. Very nice piece of writing. I had to laugh to myself, though, on the part about SCOTUS decisions leading to enforcement, recalling President Jackson’s comment when he heard the Supreme Court had rendered a decision he vehemently disagreed with, in Worcester v. Georgia: “John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it.”

  8. Help me out here, fellow AI members…

    I agree that the role of the government is to prosecute & attempt to make whole the parties whose liberty was infringed. I concurr that the administration of “pre-crime” is outside of that scope and the practical legislation that attempts to govern it is ineffective at best.

    So how do I respond to the non-converted when they ask – Should we then say that private ownership of nuclear weapons should not be legislated, since it does not automatically signal intent to use nuclear weapons?

    During these kinds of debates with my wife & her friends, I seem to be making good progress on repealing magazine cap limits, nationalizing constituional carry, abolishing the NFA etc. Invariably, someone escalates & then I start to struggle to convincingly establish an argument whereby it seems reasonable for a private citizen (with the necessary means) to posess nuclear weapons (or F-16’s, Hellfires, napalm…. pick your poison ad infinitum).

    So how do you guys think indescriminate WMD’s fit into this vision of legislation vs. liberty?

    • Unless and until every human being has the power to destroy everyone else on the planet and chooses not to, we will not have made adequate progress as a species.

    • I have a feeling we’re being trolled, but just in case you’re serious: WMDs are indiscriminate ordnance. They are not small arms.

      • I don’t think “Small Arms” is all the founders had in mind. We had cannons and ships with many cannons that were privately available to own and 100% legal.

      • Yes, that’s an easy counter to the inevitable escalation into ridiculous things like nuclear bombs and armed fighter jets. The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear weapons for individual, personal use.

        To put it in slightly more abstract terms, if it has a general area effect that can’t be targeted to an individual enemy (e.g., bombs or poison gas), it’s not a personal weapon, it’s a tool of indiscriminate destruction, not something individuals all have the right to own and put to personal use.

        If you’re actually trying to reason your way *into* an individual right to own nuclear weapons and military ordnance, you’re out of luck and on the wrong track…but I’m guessing that’s not what you meant.

      • Sorry guys, not trolling (honest!).

        I’m not suggesting that nukes are the same thing as small arms at all. The question is: If the government should not have the power to legislate private access to items that could be mis-used (small arms), only the act of mis-using those items… then should the government have the power to regulate nukes, bio weapons, even grenades?

        I’m interested in the AI’s answers…. because if we think the gov. should regulate indiscriminate weapons… how do we navigate the slippery slope of what constitutes indiscriminate?

        • Concerning the escalating argument to the point where nuclear weapons or fighter jets are the debated Arms. I would argue that it is a matter of scale.
          Take it down a rung back to 0.50 calibers mounted to look out towers and Humvees. I can’t afford any of those things on my own, but if my neighborhood felt it was in our best interest to pool our resources and build a tour and patrol with armored Humvees and maybe keep a few RPG’s handy to protect against being SWATed then there should be no impediment not by the government. That would make your neighborhood a militia and last I checked those were necessary to a Free State.
          Moving up in scale if you have the property and means to protect it with a fighter jet or threat of nuclear warfare, aside from having way more than I do, who am I to tell you that you cannot protect yourself by any means necessary.

        • I go for the Keep and Bear part….. if you can keep AND bear a nuclear warhead then it qualifies.

          My understanding is most nuclear warheads are on the larger side, kind of heavy overall, hella expensive, and despite what you see in the movies they are hard to find on sale.

          You could also point out that there are already plenty of ‘military weapons’ in private collections. There is a nice man in Georgia who owns a couple of tanks, there is a company in the middle east somewhere that owns an old aircraft carrier, and there is a guy in Nevada (Utah?) who owns some old fighter jets. And there are several individuals and group who own and maintain countless military aircraft and maintain them in ‘fighting’ order. There is (was?) a group in Texas that have/had a P38 Lightning from WWII and they rebuilt the guns and used them to fire blanks during airshows.

    • This is a point of the argument that I’m also lost at. I can’t find a clear or good reason besides “Because I want to” to own nuclear weapons or other indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction. (Real WMDs not AR-15’s with 30 round clips or 50 Caliber machine guns with belt fed ammo.)

      • Right! I’m stuck too…

        But at the same time, I recognize that the whole line of thinking – “What is the reason for you wanting to own this item, sir” is a very dangerous path to go down….

        • Exactly. Which is why I’m stuck too. I don’t think grenades or even cannons are an issue for me. It’s clear that even in the founder’s era that these weapons were available and privately owned. Hell, one could even own exploding cannonballs or grapeshot. That’s fairly indiscriminate. Nothing that could level an entire city or kill everyone in a 10+ mile radius existed back then though… And I’m really not sure where you draw the line of ownership vs. risk.

    • Author here. I usually post on here as Charles5.

      I’m glad you ask this question, because it was a question that plagued me for quite some time. But then I considered the reality of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, or, as Michael B. above calls them, indiscriminate ordnance (I like that). Even if all government regulation was removed concerning the ownership and transfer of these weapons, it is doubtful that purchasing them would suddenly get any cheaper. In reality, the vast majority of people would not have the means to pay for such things. Moreover, the people that would have the means and desire to acquire these weapons for nefarious purposes most likely already have designs to do so regardless of the legality. I seriously doubt making it illegal to own or use nuclear weapons means a damn to our terrorist friends around the world.

      Let me put it this way; it would sort itself out. The people that could afford it and wanted them for all the wrong reasons are not going to be stopped by our measly little laws and are going to try and do it anyway. In short making it illegal to own them will accomplish nothing but add one more charge to the long list of murder charges should they be used. The rest of us can only imagine what it would be like to own a $20 million aircraft and pay $20,000 to $30,000 a month (if you’re lucky) to hangar and maintain it.

      • Hi Charles, beautiful article BTW!

        I recognize alot of Bastiat’s thinking on the social contract in there, very well written.

        I agree with you in the practical sense – making nukes illegal would not actually stop someone with the neccessary means from developing one.

        But don’t you think that might open the door for a form of economic aristocracy? If Bill Gates could legally & openly own nuclear weapons… doesn’t that open a can of worms regarding the rights of the individual?

        Take a more accessible analogy – grenade launcher, *relatively* indiscriminate, somewhat expensive, of limited self defense use – should the government be able to say that private individuals are not allowed to own one?

        • What would be the purpose to prevent someone from owning a grenade launcher? Presumably, it would be to “keep people safe.” However, if a guy found out his wife was cheating on him and blew her and the other guy away, would they be any less dead if had used a gun? If a lunatic snapped and went on a killing spree with his grenade launcher, would any of those victims be any less dead if had not had the grenade launcher and used a gun instead? I’ll grant that a grenade launcher has a certain wow factor, but its purpose is not to kill rapidly. It is used for building clearing, equipment destruction, and firing on a covered position. A standard AR would be a much more efficient and affordable tool to go on a killing rampage with.

        • So in summary; the government should not have the power to regulate these items (indiscriminate ordinance) because the legislation would be ineffective & ownership is not the crime, use is the crime.

          After that point, economics take over & the weathiest among us are free to do as they please regarding openly stockpiling WMDs? I know this is purely fictional from a practical perspective… but – I guess I am still stuck.

        • If Bill Gates could legally & openly own nuclear weapons… doesn’t that open a can of worms regarding the rights of the individual?

          I think this is where many people get turned the wrong way around. It isn’t the role of government to protect me from what Bill Gates or anyone else might do. In fact, government is prohibited from stopping Bill Gates from lawfully and openly acquiring nuclear weapons. If, after acquiring such property, Bill Gates should proceed to violate the rights of others, then his actions would fall under the authority of government to act. If the government refused to act or failed at the task then it would be up to the militia or individuals to address the issue.

          The simple and most correct solution, IMHO, is that the government hasn’t legitimate authority to stop an individual from owning such property. It can only act should that individual violate the rights of another. That, of course, doesn’t in any way stop other people from doing their level best to discourage him from owning something on the extreme edge of ‘arms’. However, those individuals can’t lawfully violate his rights in the process. Otherwise, it is a responsibility of government to deal with them should such acts occur.

        • The argument is made easy when you state the difference between “arms” (which the 2ndA addresses) and munitions, which it does not.

        • Arms is a term that encompasses all weapons both offensive and defensive. Munitions is defined as “War materiel, especially weapons and ammunition. Often used in the plural”. Clearly arms is a term that includes munitions. You can confirm this by consulting any modern dictionary. The definition of arms has not changed since the writing of the Constitution. Here is a link to a dictionary from 1768 which defines arms as “Weapons of offense, or armour of defense.”

          And here is a link to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary which again defines arms as “Weapons of offense, or armor for defense and protection of the body.”

          The definition of arms encompasses pistols, rifles,cannons, ships, land mines, grenades, and every other weapon in existence.

    • This is a question to which there is no easily articulated nor understood answer. That said, I’ll offer my two cents…

      I am firmly of the belief that such firepower should NOT be restricted to military personnel. A man can do harm with a nuclear missile, fragmentation grenade, Glock 21, or Muskrat .22 if he so chooses. Presumably, a man who has no desire to kill one person can be trusted not to kill one thousand people. If they can safely own one, they should be able to safely own any. That said, there are certainly plenty of people who should NOT own any of it.

      However, that is not to say that I think everybody should. Should they have the ability? Yes, if they so choose. Should they, from a practical standpoint? Probably not. Allow me to explain…

      The cost/benefit analysis of using, say, a Glock 21 in a personal defense situation is VERY different from a nuclear missile. You’re not going to drop a nuke on the guy who just pulled a knife on your girlfriend, because then the three of you and everybody else in a 25 mile radius is dead instantly. The practical application of “small arms” is simply greater to the private citizen than destructive ordnance.

      In a nutshell, if people were to own them, they would essentially become mantlepieces because they would never be used; simply no practical application. But that said, I do believe that those who can be trusted to own a firearm, can and should be trusted to own any weapon they choose.

    • When the aforementioned infringements (NFA, mags, permits, what-have-you) actually become distant memories then discussing the implication of the constitutionally protected ownership of nukes and missile will seem relevant.

      Until then, it’s just a red herring-rhetorical maneuver intended to detract from the actual argument.

      • Boy, I have opened a can of worms!!!

        You are right, it is a thought-exercise & there are much more pressing infringements of actual rights we all need & use everyday. I encourage us all to stay focused on fighting the meaningful fight directly ahead of us.

        At the same time, we are not called the AI for nothing. We do have a responsibilty to consider the implications of our objectives, the same way we wish the grabbers would…. that is why I asked the question, not to distract from the very real & very valuable fight to retain/regain our individual rights.

        • It’s talking about a black president when haven’t even desegregated schools and restaurants, to give a representative analogy.

    • Are those arms something that could be used in defense of this nation, from foreign invaders? Could those arms be used to keep in check the Federal?

      You’ll find my argument allows purchase of those items, since the answer is yes above.

      • Fair enough!

        I’ll just have to learn to accept my wife’s friends looking at me like I am crazy when I suggest that I support private ownership of WMD’s. On the other hand, freedom is not about what I, or they, or anyone else is “comfortable” with.

        • You might want to ask your wife’s friends how they feel about people being able to buy fertilizer and fuel oil? Or ammonia and chlorine bleach? Or a jerry can full of gas. Or not, if you don’t want to spoil their chances of sleeping peacefully.

          The ways that someone intent on evil can put his intentions into effect are myriad, and not limited to what are labeled as military weapons.

        • As an addition to what Scot said above, Hitler, Stalin and Tojo managed to kill a whole bunch of people without nuclear weapons or (mostly) jet fighters. The bottom line of freedom must be what is the INTENTION of the person to own weapons. IF they are for personal and social defense of liberty, there should be no issue. If they are for the criminal subjugation of others and the violation of their liberties, then at the first inkling of such activity they must be personally crushed. As with any criminal activity, the response MUST come after the criminal act is initiated.

          While it would seem logical that the potential immediate harm from the criminal use of high-end weapons systems is much greater, there is certainly no prohibition, and I suspect their would be a great deal of public interest in, maintaining a very close watch on persons known to possess such weapons.

          It would also seem logical that the use of indiscriminate weapons of this sort would be tantamount to suicide. In every case. It also seems logical that your neighbors/community would be very uncomfortable with your collection and might want to use whatever legal means they could to discourage you and/or make you go away. If you had a nuke in your basement, would that be it? Obviously not. You would need security and guards and other weapons and some way to safely transport the thing if you wanted to move it from place to place. You would need to feed all those people and house them and provide entertainment, etc., etc. Do you really think your neighbors are going to welcome you or your minions into town at the Safeway or the local watering holes? Will they let your mercenaries date their daughters? Or will they all, including you, be persona no grata outside the walls of your compound?

          Foolishness brought about from too many James Bond movies.

        • And by the way, take a look sometime at all the regulations even the federal government must comply with to move a nuclear weapon from place to place in America. You don’t just throw one of those in the back of your pickup and drive it on home. The logistics of getting a nuke delivered to your home address would or could be insurmountable based on state and local regulations for the movement of Hazardous Materials, and that would likely apply to the delivery of poisons or biological weapons as well. The Constitutional liberty to keep and bear WMDs does not necessarily make them easy to transport or deliver.

        • It’s a libertarian thought exercise!!!

          Yes, it’s impractical.
          Yes, it’s unlikely you’d be welcomed in the community.
          Yes, it’s economically cumbersome.

          By raising these arguments as the primary deterrents, we are effectively saying “Yes, in the interests of maintaining a free society, we believe the government should be stripped of the authority to regulate WMD’s”.

          I’m not saying that is good or bad. Just that it is.

    • Same principle a 1775 at Concord. Individual weapons to be owned/possessed by citizens. Crew served weapons community owned/possess and controlled.

    • “So how do I respond to the non-converted when they ask – Should we then say that private ownership of nuclear weapons should not be legislated, since it does not automatically signal intent to use nuclear weapons? ”

      I would say something like, “Why do people like you always come up with the the most extreme implausible example of something as a strawman in your attempts to prove a point that’s not provable because it’s false?

      “Yes, the government is expressly forbidden to infringe the right of the people to keep and bear atomic bombs. So go buy one. Good luck carrying it concealed!”

    • I take a slightly different approach on this question than many of the other commenters. I prefer to make my point with an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank.

      Why shouldn’t a private citizen be allowed to own one? Of course, he needs to have the money to buy it first. They don’t come cheap. Ownership, however, still does not authorize him to put a high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) round into his neighbor’s house. He probably wouldn’t even be allowed to drive it on the streets due to the extreme damage to the asphalt caused by the treads.

      So our intrepid tank owner, if he actually wants to play with his toy, is going to have to buy or lease 20 or 30 square miles of desert somewhere. At that point, he can get three buddies to crew for him and play with his tank to his heart’s (and wallet’s) content.

      It’s not the ownership of a thing that should be illegal. It’s doing something illegal with it that constitutes a crime. I own a nice collection of kitchen knives. As long as I use them to carve the turkey on Thanksgiving it’s all good. As soon as I stab someone I am in deep trouble.

      Mike Dillon of Dillon Precision owns dual anti-aircraft mini-guns on a moveable mount. He can afford it, and from time to time he loads it up on a truck and takes it out into the desert to shoot. Why should he not be able to do this?

  9. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

    -That phrase is our greatest strength, and also our greatest weakness.When “the governed” is composed of anti-self reliance voters, the consent of the governed becomes a millstone around our necks.

    See California among others for a real world example of how perverted the power of citizen government can become.

    • And the institution of a republican form of government as opposed to a democratic government was the Founders attempt to surmount that issue. Their concerns as to whether or not we could keep it seem to have been well justified.

  10. “Once a criminal has paid his debt, all of his rights should be restored.”

    Lots of people agree with that line, right up until an ex-con pedophile applies for a job at your kid’s school.

    The fact is that the Constitution does indeed allow for denying someone their life, liberty or property; provided they’s been afforded due process. There’s no theorem or other first principle which states that only incarceration counts as punishment and therefore all punishment ends upon release. Yet, there are innumerable examples of non-confinement or post-confinement conditions rightly regarded as part of the total punishment.

    It’s a matter of trust: yes, we may believe a given criminal has “paid his debt” with prison time, but that does not ensure he has regained the public’s trust with regard to firearms. Likewise, you may finally receive full payment after very lengthy efforts from a deadbeat debtor. Debt paid, but how soon are you to lend to him again? It’s a matter of trust, you see. But hey, when the ex-con embezzler wants to run for City Controller, we’re cool, right? After all, he paid his debt, so who are we to withold our trust?

    • Likewise, you may finally receive full payment after very lengthy efforts from a deadbeat debtor. Debt paid, but how soon are you to lend to him again?

      I see where you are going with that but the comparison falls apart. Government doesn’t lend rights to individuals. The People have loaned privileges to government. It’s not within government’s power to lend rights as government only has privilege loaned to it. Your point of view seems to be one in that government determines the rights of an individual instead of rights being inherent to the individual, independent of government. Basically, government is attempting to steal that which does not belong to it.

      Unless government can guarantee former felons complete safety and that the government won’t become tyrannical after the prisoner’s release, government has no legitimate authority to infringe upon the released prisoner’s right to keep and bear arms.

      • You’re probably right, John. I was kind of winging it on the phone while pumping gas during that one. Not every element is a direct analog and I did force it a bit with the debtor example. I just meant to emphasize the lingering distrust, even after (eventual) contract fulfillment. You’re right in that such is a private party transaction. Overall, though, I stand by my point.

        That said, the entire justice system regarding firearms does need to be revamped. Not all felonies are created equal. Not only should the punishment fit the crime in terms of scale, but it should hold some logical connection to in terms of type of ongoing threat. Depriving someone of firearms rights as punishment for nonviolent, nontreasonous offenses strikes me as unfair. A guy cheated on his taxes, so we now assume he’s a would-be spree killer? C’mon. I bet it wouldn’t take but five minutes perusing the federal penal code to come up with a long list of ridiculous felonies that probably shouldn’t even be crimes in the first place, let alone felonies, much less worthy of stripping firearms rights.

        I keep coming back to this idea that people in contact ensures rights in conflict. Maybe with the Internet and other technological advances, the so-called information economy, people can spread out a little more throughout the country. Maybe then people can get out of each other’s business, off of each other’s back, and quit worrying/regulating/legislating about other peaceful people and their guns.

    • “Once a criminal has paid his debt, all of his rights should be restored.”
      Lots of people agree with that line, right up until an ex-con pedophile applies for a job at your kid’s school.

      First, a criminal does not “pay his debt” to society. That is a clever catch phrase that means nothing. All society has done is try to implement a system where they impose a certain severity of loss of liberty in an effort to convince potential criminals that commission of the crime is not worth the potential punishment. There is no “debt” to be paid, only a punishment to be endured.

      Second, “all of his rights should be restored.” While detained, tried and incarcerated the criminal has NOT lost his rights. Society has determined that he cannot be trusted and for the time of his punishment he is more or less effectively inhibited from exercising his natural liberties to the extent he would prefer. This is part of the punishment. Since these are natural rights they cannot be taken away, they still exist, but the situation makes it possible to prevent their exercise. So what really should happen, once the punishment has been completed, is the government should have no more authority to inhibit the person’s exercise of their natural rights. In the long run the government really cannot do this once the person is out of their custody at any rate. History has proven this over and over.

      As for your final point, many states have finally realized that sexual deviates CANNOT be rehabilitated, only restrained and inhibited. IN many communities laws have been passed making it possible to keep a sexual offender in a mental institution until such time as the authorities there (for what that’s worth) determine that he/she is no longer a danger or threat. Since they have yet to develop ANYTHING even resembling a “cure” for such deviancy this could result in a very long stay.

      In other areas they seem to think just giving the guy a bunch of cool drugs (that they have no way of ensuring he keeps taking) is sufficient and they turn him onto the streets. The criminal act here is that of the authorities, not the deviant. He is what he is and to a great extent has little or no control over that. The authorities should know better and turn him loose anyway.

      Since the threat of punishment obviously has no effect as a deterrent against sexually compulsive deviants, turning them loose on society and hoping for the best seems a poor strategy. These people are properly what we would refer to as insane and as such they should be treated humanely, but segregated from society for as long as they can be considered a danger, which is realistically the rest of their life. If they are released they should be monitored and as there is no natural or Constitutional right to any particular employment or place of residence they should very thoroughly be prohibited from any position where they might pose a continued threat to the community. As stated, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” Sorry, if you go around swinging your fists, whatever your motivation, your neighbors are going to be within their rights to restrain you. Ask Treyvon.

    • Dan goes astray with that progressive claptrap of Once a criminal has paid his debt, all of his rights should be restored

      The purpose of jail/prison is (or was) to punish and deter. Not to collect _____. The nitwit progressives came up with this “paid debt” BS (and reform inmate nonsense). If paying debt was reality would the inmate rot in jail until the victim is made whole financially? The life he took was somehow restored. And how did we loss the debtor’s prisons?

      Weed out this bit of nonsense from an otherwise excellent piece of writing.

  11. Government’s sole *legitimate* purpose is to protect *individual* rights. Note the distinct lack of the word “common” (as in “common good”) in that sentence. (Also note that there is no room in this for government getting to decide who gets what goodies in society; it should not be an engine of redistribution.)

    In point of fact all *true* rights are individual rights, and no true right can involve making a claim on the product of someone else’s time, property, or labor–they can at most tell him “no you may not do this *to* your fellow human beings.”

    I will go one step further than the author of this article though. I do not think even FDA-type regulation is legitimate, because that too is prior restraint, at least as it is currently implemented. As it sits now, a company may not sell a drug until it has gone through a bunch of trials where it must be “proved” both safe and effective, *even if a patient has been educated about the risks and wants it anyway*. The closest thing a government should do to this sort of thing is to punish fraud. Legally define “safe and effective” and let the pharmaceutical industry sell what they want; if they not only sell it but label it “safe and effective” and it doesn’t meet the definition, bust them for fraud; *don’t* hit them with a violation of a regulation that is just as much “prior restraint” on criminal activity as any gun ban ever dreamed of being.

    • Perhaps you misunderstand my point. I was by no means advocating for the current level of oversight that the FDA administers. There should be no testing and evaluations, only the simple a direct requirement that this product cannot hurt anyone and the accompanying definition of what it means to hurt someone. That is it. If the drug company puts out a product that causes people to go blind or fails to do what they claimed it would, then they answer for it, both civilly and or criminally.

      • With that cleared up I think we are probably in darned close agreement across the board. It’s your article of course, but I’d consider using a different example of what you believe the proper role of government should be, given that the FDA is one of the more obtrusive nanny-state agencies out there now (or alternatively, say something like “instead of XYZ crap the FDA pulls, for instance, it would protect rights rather than violating them if it were instead set up like xyz”) I suspect I am not the only one thrown off track by what seemed like approval of the FDA. It sure seemed glaringly inconsistent with everything else you were saying.

        • Fair enough. In practice, setting those standards and then enforcing them after violation wouldn’t even necessitate the existence if the FDA and could be easily administered by the courts. I’ll grant that I could and should have articulated that more clearly.

        • ” In practice, setting those standards and then enforcing them after violation wouldn’t even necessitate the existence if the FDA and could be easily administered by the courts.”


  12. This is written entirely from the libertarian viewpoint.
    And I, as a libertarian, wholeheartedly agree with every word.

  13. The basis of the Constitution is limited government. Under the Constitution, persons have a right to life, liberty and property (note the difference — not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness).

    When a person commits a wrong, their rights to life, liberty and property can be taken away from them. That’s the basis of justice. The Constitution only insists that the taking of life, liberty and property be pursuant to “due process of law” (and if property is taken for a governmental purpose, that “just compensation” be paid).

    If it’s the OP’s theory that 2A bars the government from taking away someone’s gun rights, the OP is being preposterous. LIFE can be taken away. LIBERTY can be taken away. PROPERTY can be taken away. Does the OP really mean that the state can execute someone but not take away his guns?

    A real issue arises when someone is suspected of being a danger to himself or the community but hasn’t committed a crime. Without due process, that person’s rights and property should not be taken away. Keep in mind, though, that due process has never meant that only a full-blown trial will do, but due process should always entail notice, an opportunity to be heard and the right to an appeal. In an emergency or perceived emergency, such a psychotic break, a person and his guns may be restrained, but only until he has full due process.

    The OP’s theory that “it is not for SCOTUS to decide what the power of government is to be or the rubric by which they can resolve conflict” actually borders on the insane. It is one job of the Court, but not its only job, to be the referee between the government and the people. When the G oversteps its bounds, it’s the job of the Court to say so, based on the Constitution. The rubric (which I think the OP is confusing with Rubik’s Cube) is the law.

    • “Does the OP really mean that the state can execute someone but not take away his guns?”

      I just had the mental image of a convicted and executed murderer’s casket weighing a literal ton because of all the firearms they have to bury with him….

    • And so enter the lawyers.

      Never once did I argue that Life, Liberty, and Property (to include guns) could not be taken away after the application of due process. Due process is the essence and guide of all conflict resolution. However, if certain rights are not restored, I have to question the purpose. Is it intended as further punishment or is it to “make society safe?” Restricting gun ownership to a felon convicted of embezzlement violates, in my opinion, the concept of punishment fitting the crime. Even for a violent felon, it is absurd to expect that denying him the right to bear arms will actually make society safer.

      It is indeed the court’s responsibility to “referee” the interaction between government and the people. However, my position is that it is not for the court to make law, which they effectively do. It is one thing to declare a law constitutional or unconstitutional, which I acknowledge is subject to some manner of interpretation and predicated on the biases of the sitting Justices. However, for SCOTUS to decide what guidelines (rubric) it will and will not use is the unequal application of justice. I understand this area can become very gray and ethereal, but I maintain that in decisions like DC v. Heller, the court overstepped its authority by setting policy that is not enumerated in the Constitution. “Shall not be infringed” leaves no room for discussion. There is no foot note that says, “Well, if it is a reasonable regulation I guess that’s okay.” If the Founding Fathers had wanted to accommodate “reasonable regulations,” they would have stated so in the document and then defined “reasonable.” Despite their faults, they were not men given to concealing hidden meaning or leaving room for broad interpretation.

      • ““Shall not be infringed” leaves no room for discussion. There is no foot note that says, “Well, if it is a reasonable regulation I guess that’s okay.””

        Didn’t you know they wrote that footnote in special ink visible ONLY when wearing the SCOTUS secret goggles?

  14. Charles, I appreciate your detailed refutation, but I feel that your argument has some serious flaws. Let’s begin, shall we..

    First of all, I think we can both agree that government can only legitimately govern by the consent of the governed. Read more directly, this means that if “government” elects to do something that goes against the wishes of the electorate, then the electorate changes the government. I argue that the current interpretation of 2A as not unrestricted does is in fact reflect the wishes of the majority of the governed, otherwise we would not have the restrictive laws we have today. The Federal Government has been infringing upon the Second Amendment since at least 1934, yet in nearly 80 years, some of the most egregious infringement laws still stand. Put simply, if a large majority of Americans truly saw 2A as being unrestricted, then it would be. They don’t, so it isn’t. Now, I won’t try to argue the philosophy that 2A should or should not be unrestricted. That is an academic argument and I’m not an academic. I deal with what is and what is not restrictions on 2A. Saying that there should be any will not make it so.

    Secondly, with respect to Social Contract Theory, please consult Wikipedia for the definition. I did not pull it out of my ass – there is a specific definition for social contract theory as espoused by Age of Enlightenment philosophers that defined the legitimacy of the state over the individual. My comments on Social Contract Theory are to be taken in that context.

    Third, I stated that there are people who should not be walking around with a gun. Your comment on that was, “While that is certain, it is far too subjective to act upon. Who gets to determine who is too dangerous and who isn’t? You? Me?”

    So, we agree then that there are people who should not be permitted a gun. Okay, the fact that you concede this point undermines your earlier statement that 2A prevents any restrictions on gun ownership. You can’t have it both ways – either restrictions are possible or they are not. I do agree that who gets to decide is a thorny issue at best as it becomes a really large tool anti-gunners could use to take guns away from people who should legitimately have them. I don’t have an answer for that, but perhaps someone smarter than me does.

    And finally, kudos for your attempt to turn the point I was trying to make with my quotation from the Declaration into something else. It is a technique worthy of the best gun grabber. My point in citing this passage was simply to show that even though the philosophy of our entire government is built upon supposedly inalienable rights, those rights are not truly inalienable, If they were, then the state would not have the authority to imprison people, confiscate property, or execute them. The state does have those powers to abridge these basic rights. If it didn’t or if the electorate did not agree with those powers, it would change the laws or the government. Since the laws have been in effect for 200+ years, I think its safe to say that society recognizes the legitimacy of the government to abridge these inalienable rights. And, if it can abridge the right to life, then it certainly can claim the power to abridge the right to protect life and thus restrict your gun rights.

    Let me be clear – I would really like to live in a perfect world where I leave others alone and they leave me the hell alone. Hell, if I could own a tank or a rocket launcher I would. I would use it someplace safe (never to deal with that assclown doing 50 in the left lane of the highway), but the fact is that I can’t. What I don’t want to see is any more erosion in our rights and I think the best way to do that is to stand up to the gun grabbers but to do it in a way that makes me look reasonable to my fellow citizens. People who don’t own guns can be swayed and they will generally not be swayed by whoever appears to be the biggest nutcase. The holes in the logic of the anti-gunners is easy to see if you look for it. The problem is that if I take the position that the 2A brooks no restrictions of any kind, I am seen as the loony and lose my chance to win a convert.

    The problem with being a 2A absolutist (or any kind of absolutist for that matter) is that you have a fairly small tent. Many gun owners who called on their congressmen to prevent the passage of Universal Background Checks are not 2A absolutists. They understand that gun ownership is subject to regulation, but see the 2A as a means to control the extent of the government’s regulation. I think that we can generally agree that if the 2A was not part of the Constitution, we would have much stricter gun laws, so it serves a valuable purpose to check the authority of the Government. Unfortunately, under the current legal system, it merely attenuates governmental authority, not eliminates it.

    • Mr. Barrett,

      I am singularly pleased that you chose to respond directly.

      1. I am well aware that the apathy and ignorance of the people has led us to where we are today. If the people actually paid attention to the laws being written, I could abide by the reality that they had indeed consented to the abridgements of their freedom. I contend the only way to cede liberty and property by the people to the government is in direct amendment to the Constitution. The mere passage of a law by Congress that is at odds to the tenants of the Constitution is not a referendum. A contradiction exists between the two and letter of the law gives the clear win to the Constitution, though our government tends to ignore that fact. Also, most people do not truly understand the depth of their constitutional rights.

      2. Please don’t take me for such a fool as to not know what the Social Contact Theory is. I am well aware of its suppositions and conditions and I know that your comments were directed in that context. My point to that end was that a proper social contract should be summed up as “If you agree not to hurt me, I’ll agree to not hurt you.” Simple. There should be no abridging of rights or freedoms save those twisted ones that would violate the rights of another.

      3. While I said that I agree that there are certain people that probably should not have a gun, I never said that I agreed that those people should not be permitted to possess guns. There is a difference. I don’t think people should go into debt to buy things. However, I also don’t think the state should prevent them from doing so.

      4. I believe that our rights are inalienable. It is only just to abridge them when the person has violated the rights of another. I’m sorry that you feel I twisted your meaning. I did not. You used the Declaration of Independence to argue that our rights are not truly inalienable. I used the same document to argue that they are and that the state only has the power to restrain them when the people grant it that power. The state does not possess the power inherently. There is no twisting there.

      5. The problem with men of compromise is that they are trying to do battle with half their armor removed. They do not realize it at first, but their flank is fully exposed and they will have to give ground little by little to avoid total annihilation. Compromise is the reason we have the restrictions on gun rights we do today. Men abandoned their principles to appear reasonable and in so doing they exposed a weakness that will be their ultimate downfall. Adolf Hitler’s rise in Germany can be written as a long trail of compromises by the western powers to appease and appear reasonable. They were nearly destroyed for it.

      6. When I converse with members of the anti-gun crowd, I am very patient in my approach and my delivery. Presentation is everything. I do not lead with 2A Absolutism. I lead with the concept of freedom as it pertains to all things and encourage introspection and thought. My goal is to gradually get them questioning their own philosophies and their applications. Get them to honestly answer the question “What would I do if I had to defend myself or my loved ones?” Many anti-gun people do not wish to reason and are guided by emotion. It takes patience and determination, and kindness even, to reach them. I am always civil and I never call them names or insult their intelligence. That is counterproductive. Some cannot be reached, and no amount of compromise on reasonable restrictions will ever win them over.

      • Charles, I think we are both on the same side here. We just disagree in the methods. I consider myself a realist but I’m probably more of a fatalist. I look at what this country has become and don’t have much faith in the electorate to change it. I choose to reside in a state that strongly supports gun rights. Our Democrats are even not stupid enough to push for gun restrictions here. Many folks do not have that luxury nor do I when I travel.

        In the end, its not the elected representatives nor the courts that will effect the change we desire. As you correctly point out, the only true way to do this is by the consent of the governed. With that in mind, I believe that the only way to make things better is to change the mindset that the large undecided mass of people have about guns. Some believe that the best way to change is to espouse orthodoxy, refuse to compromise on anything, carry rifles openly in coffee shops, and do other kinds of “in your face” activities mainly because they see it as the only way to counter similar tactics being perpetrated by the other side. “The gun grabbers will never yield an inch, so neither should we,” goes the theme.

        I don’t agree. I look at the extremest tactics of the Tea Party “never compromise” crowd and am dismayed. People expect compromises. We all don’t believe the same things and never will. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights was a study in compromise between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. If the founding fathers came to compromises, then we need to as well.

        We have to decide which things are tantamount to us as a people wishing to stand on our own two feet and take care of ourselves. We probably won’t get everything we want but we should be able to expect more than we have now – especially people in states like CA, MA, NY, NJ, IL, etc. There are other people out there who are deathly afraid of guns and don’t want to live next to someone who owns one or want their kids playing in a house with a gun. If we want them to respect our rights to own guns, we need to respect their rights to not be near them. Obviously this is a difficult issue to resolve because it likely means someone moving. But we need to figure out a way to resolve it that both sides will consider fair. Compromise is the key on this issue, but in order to have the power to drive our issues, we need more people behind us. Persuasion is better than force and reasonable discussion is better than in-your-face orthodoxy.

        • How much more compromise are you willing to go before you stop compromising? I think, my own personal opinion, that we’ve compromised an awful lot over the last 80 years. In my lifetime, including my gun owning lifetime, the 1994 AWB was the quintessential straw that broke my camel’s back. I’m done compromising, I’m tired of giving up ground while getting nothing in return. The problem with your definition of compromise, including the example of our founding fathers and the authoring of those great documents, is that it requires quid pro quo. Compromise is when each side makes concessions. What is the other side giving up to meet our wants/demands/needs?

        • Jim Barrett: you’re doing us all a disservice by conflating “no compromise” with the in-your-face tactics of the extremist fringe.

          No Compromise means that the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed, not “may be infringed just a little bit so we don’t scare the hoplophobes,” or “shall not be infringed unless you can raise a big enough mob to vote against it.”

          Shall Not Be Infringed means Shall Not Be Infringed. Period. End of sentence. No Compromise.

          Do you see the difference?

  15. There are people walking around who simply should not be allowed to own a gun.

    So, in the opinion of some you guys here. If a violent rapist, sexual offender, drug addict, pedophile, murderer or anyone who has committed a violent crime be it with a knife, gun or baseball bat the moment of that person is released, he should be given a gun so can do so again?

    Perhaps we should put the rapist and the victim in cage and have them shoot it out and whomever kills the other first wins?

    I just do not get the logic.

    While I understand the stupidity of “pre-crime”, does your reasoning extend to someone whom we all know has committed a violent crime and as we know through overwhelming statistics, will also commit that crime again? So, you go to jail and you get a reset to commit the crime again, and again and again until maybe if we are all lucky, that person is killed?

    Is this the society we want?

    Some place there is a line. I am not smart enough to know where that line is but I do not follow an absolutists view either.

    • If you can prove that restricting gun ownership to convicted criminals (choose your flavor) actually makes a difference as to whether or not they will commit a crime again, I will concede your point. But it is a silly, naive mind that believes that criminals will cease and desist if we simply tell them they can’t be a criminal anymore.

  16. “To illustrate, the FDA can set standards by which food producers must abide”

    NO THEY CAN’T!!!!!

    That’s prior restraint. It infringes on the Liberty of the food producer to sell whatever he so damn well pleases. And, of course, it completely ignores the fact that it is NOT in anyone’s self-interest to poison their customers. Who would buy food from anyone who has poisoned someone?

    You’re making the same fundamental, very dangerous assumption that the tyrants have made – the idea that YOU can determine what’s best for everyone.

    • I get the impression that you didn’t read my article very closely.

      The standard should be “Your product can’t hurt anyone,” which really shouldn’t need articulating since it is just a restating of the concept of not violating each others rights. There shouldn’t be any testing and evaluation for the products, merely the promise of civil and criminal penalties is the company hurts or attempts to hurt anyone. That simple. The end. Honestly, that function could be administered by the courts, so you don’t really need the FDA.

  17. Thank you everyone for all the comments and the robust discussion. I apologize for the small errors and areas that needed further clarification; like the FDA analogy and my use of the phrase “paid his debts to society.” It is an expression that is commonly recognized to mean a person has completed their sentencing obligations and is now free from prison or their financial restitution payments. However some of you took issue with that admittedly incorrect expression. I will try to be more careful in the future. Please understand that I churned this out and submitted it in less than an hour on Thanksgiving morning and would have liked to spend more time on it, but the day’s events precluded me from being more thorough.

    If you disagree with my arguments in part or in whole, so be it. This is supposed to be a free society where we are all entitled to our opinions and their expression. I actually learned a thing or two from some of your comments. When I was a boy, my Grandfather looked at me one time and said “Charles, never stop learning. Even after school has passed, never stop growing your mind.” I have taken that to heart and it is my constant consideration as I take on each new endeavor.

  18. I withdraw my previous support for the other article, teaching students, and throw my full support to this article for the winner.

  19. That sir is a perfect analysis and destruction of the brain dead liberal ant-freedom attack idiots. That is an argument that cannot be broken.

  20. Tenet – a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially : one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession

    Tenant – a person, business, group, etc., that pays to use another person’s property : someone who rents or leases a house, apartment, etc., from a landlord

    Spell check will destroy society.

  21. “Accordingly, Government’s role is clearly to draw a line in the sand and to prosecute an offender should they cross that line.”

    No, the purpose of government is to protect the people from force and fraud. Unfortunately, our government not only fail at these directives, but has actually become the primary perpetrator of each.

    • It is impossible for the government to guarantee protection. You can argue that that is or should be their purpose all you want but the reality is that there is no way to provide 100% protection from bad things happening to you. The best that the highest functioning government model could hope to accomplish is provide a retaliatory justice system so harsh and effective and finding criminals and prosecuting them that most people are deterred from trying to commit a crime. Nonetheless, there will always be those that will break the law anyway.


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