The Unfettered Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Mike Wells Jr. isn’t just uninformed; he’s uninformed and determined to let the world know it. There are so many errors in his piece at PoliticusUSA I had to stop partway through out of sheer sympathetic embarrassment. To start with, there’s the title. The Second Amendment is Not an Unfettered Right. Actually, it’s supposed to be, hence the whole “shall not be infringed” language. But things just go downhill from there . . .

For the sake of readability I’ll mark all the errors in his first paragraph rather than breaking it up into it’s laughable component parts:

The slayings of twenty children and seven adults in Newton, Connecticut proves something is wrong with gun control in America1. Congress passed the Brady Law in 19942. The law banned the sale or possession of assault weapons3,4, but Congress let the ban expire ten years later. Likewise, criminal background checks are not always required at gun shows5 because the Brady Law does not apply to unlicensed gun dealers6. Many of the dealers at gun shows are unlicensed7. Meanwhile gun owners clamor that their 2nd Amendment rights are infringed upon if there are any restrictions imposed upon gun ownership8. The result is a dangerous combination of no meaningful restrictions on the purchase of assault weapons9, inadequate background checks10 and the elevation of the 2nd Amendment to where it trumps all other rights11, including the rights to live and to be safe12.

  1. Nothing wrong with gun control, lots wrong with the level of care available for people with mental health problems.
  2. Nope, the Brady Bill was signed into law by Bill Clinton November 30, 1993.
  3. Nope, the Brady Bill instituted a 5 day waiting period on handgun purchases (which was later replaced by NICS). The 1994 law regarding so-called assault weapons was (unsurprisingly) called the Assault Weapons Ban.
  4. Nope, the AWB did not ban sale or possession of such weapons if they we produced before the bill took effect, or had been cosmetically modified to conform to the law.
  5. Nope, every law that applies outside a gun show applies inside.
  6. Nope, no such thing as an “unlicensed gun dealer”; if someone is “engaged in the business” of selling guns then he has to be licensed.
  7. Yes, the people who are selling reloading equipment, optics, holsters and optics, ammo, books, clothes, non-gun militaria, food and beverage are not required to have a FFL even if they are at a gun show. I know, it’s just horrifying isn’t it!
  8. Yes, because, well, they are! Look up “infringed” some time Junior.
  9. Nope, every (non-NFA) firearm purchase from a dealer has the same restrictions and goes through the same folderol whether it is a pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle or Evil Black Rifle.
  10. Whaddaya mean “inadequate”?!? You guys are the ones who wrote the damned bill and you guys are the ones who worked so hard to shut down small “kitchen-table” FFLs (see figure below). You can’t start bitching now that not enough people do background checks when you drove 65% of the people who could do them out of business in just 4 years.
  11. Nope, we don’t want it to trump all the others we just want politicians, bureaucrats and judges to quit treating it like the bastard red-headed step-child at the family picnic and start treating it like, oh I dunno, how about start treating it like the highest law of the land! I can’t remember who, but back in the ‘70s some retired muckety-muck federal judge said that if the Second Amendment were treated like the First, gun ownership would be mandatory.
  12. Sorry to bust yer bubble there Junior, but you have no right to either life or safety. A true right a right gives you the freedom to perform (or refrain from performing) an action; it most assuredly does not include the requirement that someone else perform (or refrain from performing) an action. You have the right to worship as you choose, but you do not have a right to be provided with a church. You have the right to ‘feel safe’ insofar as you may take whatever precautions you deem needful, but you may not require me to do (or not do) anything.

Whew! So much for the first paragraph, on to the second:

The belief in the unfettered right to bear arms ignores all rights are relational and not absolute1. For example, the 1st Amendment does not allow for the ritual sacrifice of human beings under the guise of the free exercise of religion2. The 1st Amendment is not an unfettered right, nor is the 2nd Amendment. An individual’s rights extend only so far as the life and liberty of another are not threatened3.

Okay, so Junior isn’t quite as screwy in this paragraph, but three errors in three sentences is still a pretty good batting average.

  1. It took me about 4 times through to figure out what he was saying here, but I think I finally got it; what he’s trying to convey is that you can’t use the rights protected by one amendment to violate another. I think.
  2. Sure it does; as long as there is no coercion and the sacrificial child/virgin/crone/mother/whatever is participating completely voluntarily. See the definition of rights above.
  3. Nope, that is just way too much of a slippery slope/moving target there Junior because you would probably claim that my carrying concealed threatens your life and liberty. It doesn’t, unless you do something to make me reasonably believe that you are threatening me with death or great bodily harm. Then, yes, I will act to remove the threat. Sorry, but you Nervous Nellies don’t get to limit my rights like that.

Shall we go onto paragraph three? Let’s.

Laws that make citizens safer do not infringe upon the rights of others. Even if restrictions on the right to bear arms are imposed, those restrictions are valid if they make citizens safer. An assault weapons ban and more background checks make citizens safer.

Okay we’ll skip the numbering this time around because I can sum this up with one word:


A law which requires me to undergo a full body cavity search before I can board a bus, train or plane most assuredly does infringe upon my rights regardless of how much safer it may make my fellow passengers (although it might be worth it if Miri Bohadana were on the same flight. Sorry, distracted for a moment there. Anyway, the same is true of a law which would allow police to come and search my house, or tap my phones or take my DNA on a whim. Nor (regardless of what the PATRIOT Act says) can I be arrested and bundled off to Gitmo without a hearing, knowing the charges against me or the ability to face my accuser.

As for an AWB making citizens “safer,” see above for the big word in the center of the page. Catch a clue, Junior; more people were beaten to death with fists in 2010 than were murdered with any sort of long gun. And here’s another clue for you; if you go to this report on gun use by offenders (a report, by the way, which was prepared by the Clinton Justice Department, not “gun nuts”) and look at Table 8 you will see that almost 80% of criminals got their guns from friends, family or an illegal or street source. Less than 2% got them from a gun show or flea market.

Now, raise your hand if you think requiring background checks for every firearms transfer would have the slightest effect on those transactions.

Next paragraph and most of these rebuttals will be short, swift and sure:

In order to help prevent tragedies such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Connecticut, the Brady Law assault weapons ban must be reinstated or another law similar to it must be passed1. In addition, background checks must be required whenever and wherever a gun is sold2, be in a store, at a gun show or over the internet.  These are small concessions to make3, and they are not infringements on the right to bear arms4. Even if these restrictions were infringements5, they would be necessary infringements6, as the right to bear arms is not absolute7.

  1. Really? How? It takes less than 2 seconds to swap mags. I know, I know: “But the Tucson shooter[1] was nabbed because he had to reload!” No, he got nabbed because he was a moron who had failed to practice with his weapon and failed to keep track of how many rounds he had fired. Now I submit to you, if the shooter knew he was only going to have 10 rounds per mag, do you think he would have practiced reloading? Do you think that, if he only had 10+1 shots, he would have been able to maintain a shot-tally and reloaded before he went into slide-lock? Do think the result would have been even more bloodshed before Joe Zamudio[2] arrived on-scene and dropped the shooter?
  2. Sold but not transferred? So criminals would have to undergo checks on the 1.7% of purchases they don’t already? And if you actually mean transferred, see above about the friends and family gun plan.
  3. No, they aren’t, and even if they were the freedom to purchase, own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility[3]
  4. Yeah, they are. The Bradys like to boast that background checks have stopped 1.9 million gun purchases, allowing readers to believe that all of those were dastardly criminals who were foiled in their plan to get a gun. In fact, according to some research done by Dr. John Lott almost 95% of those are false positives, meaning that 1.8 million people have their rights infringed when they have to wait for the system to clear them. In fact wasn’t it Martin Luther King who said “a right delayed is a right denied”?
  5. Which they are.
  6. A) Sez who and 2} So what?!? See above for my comment on Junior’s paragraph 3.
  7. Yes it is; this is what “shall not be infringed” means Junior.

Gun advocates argue we have meaningful restrictions already1.  This is inaccurate2 because assault rifles are legal3, and background checks are not always required4 or always performed5.

  1. Nope, I argue that we have unconstitutional infringements already; big difference.
  2. No, no it isn’t.
  3. Yes they are; but so what? You think someone couldn’t go on a rampage with a revolver? Or, for that matter the clubs and knives with which three or four (accounts vary) Lenape warriors killed 10 students and their schoolmaster, Enoch Brown, during Pontiac’s Rebellion?
  4. Again, your side wrote the damned law and left private transfers out of it.
  5. Not performing checks when they are required is a good way to lose your business and home while earning a stay at Club Fed. Not performing checks when they’re not required is, well, not a problem.

Junior does go on for a while more, but he’s just repeating himself: AWB = good, NRA = bad, restrictions on rights ≠ restrictions on rights. Nowhere does he address the signature fact that 94.4% of mass casualty shootings occurred in “Gun Free Zones.” Restrictions on the right to carry are the real fetters. And they are murderous.

[1] I refuse to use the POS’s name as a matter of principle.

[2] I will use his name; anyone who runs towards the sound of gunfire is a bona fide hero in my book.

[3] L. Neil Smith: Letter to a Liberal Colleague


  1. avatar Paul says:

    Lol, where can I find a copy of that image without the writing on it?

    1. avatar Totenglocke says:

      Agreed. I want to hang it on my wall, though I’m sure the girlfriend would be annoyed about it.

    2. avatar Sanchanim says:

      OMG this is painful.
      I think I am going to need a drink before I actually read the full article..
      Bravo Bruce!!

      1. avatar Bill says:

        Agreed about the drink, I only made it through the first paragraph of this guy’s article before I cracked open a bottle knowing it was going downhill this fast on ignorance.

    3. avatar mr.internut says:

      did a ggl image search for skeet club and found this:

      ur wlcm

    4. avatar Don Russell says:

      since the 70’s, it’s been possible for one man to carry a working nuclear device. So the question is, WHAT level of arms are we going to allow the individual to have? Mortars can be carried by one man. Howitzers and SAM missiles are man-portable, too, not to mention rocket propelled grenades and their launchers, specifically including rapidfiring repeaters.

      1. avatar Douglas Self says:

        What level…? Well, let’s just deal with a man-portable nuclear device (which, for all practical purposes, will likely have at most a 1 kT yield, still a fairly big “bang”, but hardly a “city buster”, it’s bigger threat will be fallout)…suppose we “allowed” them under the notion that if a man can tote it, then it’s protected under the Second Amendment? Never mind that man portability was NOT the criteria that the Framers had in mind…indeed, a FEW private citizens in the Revolutionary War days did own cannons, or armed sailing ships, both without which the Continental Army could not have effectively countered the British Army in the field or the British Navy that blockaded Colonial ports. But these were well beyond the reach of most. Even Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr performed their fatal duel (which was illegal in BOTH NJ and NY) in 1804 with muzzle-loading pistols instead of trading shots with a brass Napoleon piece.

        Assuming that one could find a supplier of a “suitcase” nuke, where, pray tell, would a reasonably prudent person KEEP such a device? IDK what the going price of renegade nuclear weapons are, but likely in the millions upon millions. Or, as was postulated in John Woo’s 1996 film, “Broken Arrow” (the actual term for a missing/stolen nuke would be “empty quiver”, but I digress…), how much would a purloined nuke be worth…to US? (I.E., to get it back). I’d say that most folks that have disposable income like that wouldn’t be given to megalomaniacal acts like “brandishing” a nuclear device, so the “problem” tends to be self-correcting. But assuming that some uber-wealthy and influential billionaire just has to have one…certainly he’d have the means to properly secure it, less he also be subjected to it being stolen and used for blackmail. I’m surprised that this little long-forgotten episode of a somewhat funny adult-themed cartoon back in the 1990s, The Critic, wasn’t brought up during the 2016 election. Go to 6:09 and see how Jay’s actor friend, one Jeremy Hawke (an expy of Paul Hogan) assures him that he need not worry about Duke Phillips becoming POTUS.;_ylt=Awr46ucaEyhbxEYAcJ80nIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByZWc0dGJtBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMQ–?p=All+the+Duke%27s+men+The+Critic&vid=afb48f97a3120e2d198a080b57cd638e&

  2. avatar Silver says:

    This guy’s mouth is to the 1A what mass murderers are to the 2A.

  3. avatar Cameron S. says:

    10/10 – Junior got smoked harder than that Gurkha I had on new years.

  4. avatar John says:

    If every owner of an AR-15 went on a killing spree except thee and me… Our right to own an AR-15 shall not be infringed by the mob – elected or unelected. The current situation of only a handful of mentally ill people using scary black rifles for mass murder being used to attempt to disarm the millions that don’t reflects very badly on the grabbers in so many ways.

  5. avatar Lance says:

    RF why do you post such garbage like this guys article its full of Brady crap. a AWB is a infringement on 2A and attack a gun on its looks is illogical dont post this garbage dont give this creep an honer.

  6. avatar William says:

    The dude is not uninformed at all; this is rather a tactic or repeating lies over and over, until the maximum number of people accept them as “unfettered truth”.
    But, as Alex Jones says, “a thimbleful of truth trumps a bucketful of lies.” Something like that.

  7. avatar BLAMMO says:

    Well, I’m glad somebody has the energy to do this kind of critique because I sure don’t. Whenever I read a screed that contains an endless litany of uninitiated, ignorant and obtuse remarks, I usually just give up.

    I sometimes think that we, on the pro-2A side of the debate, have a bad habit of being knowledgeable and getting our facts straight. I’m beginning to wonder, why bother?

  8. avatar WA_2A says:

    The comments were extremely depressing. No matter how hard we try to drill it into antis’ thick skulls, “assault rifles” are NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT designed to “mow hundreds of people down.” They just can’t get that. They are not “military grade weapons” or “weapons of war.” They are NO MORE capable of killing masses of innocent, unarmed civilians than any hunting rifle.

    I had to give up on reading that abortion of a comments section when the moderator, Shiva, started to intervene. He started to argue with the few pro-gun rights folks on that board, and when his arguments failed, he resorted to insults backed without facts, claiming that the others’ arguments were “bullshit” and the anyone who wanted to own an “assault rifle” just wanted to do so because of “penis envy.”

    What a disgusting excuse for a human being. This is the typical “argument strategy” of antis – pander to emotions, cherry-picked data, lies, and when that fails and they get shut down, insults.

    1. avatar Bruce says:

      I wonder if any soldier would take an AR-15 into combat? Would any branch of the military allow him (or her) to take one? If the military doesn’t allow them, how can they be called assault rifles? Perhaps we should demand they be call non-assault rifles.

      1. avatar Don Russell says:

        I’d prefer a sound suppressed AR, with a real trigger job, over any full auto bs in combat, any day.

  9. avatar James Randall says:

    Dear Paul and everyone else: The picture is by Gil Elvgren and is called “Skeet” or “Skeet club”. Google: Elvgren skeet or skeet club. P.S. I totally agree the guy is a slimeball.

  10. avatar Charlie says:

    Many politicians and media figures have made fools of themselves with their “feel good” fixes and lack of knowledge of firearms and The Constitution of the United States. I’m not sure if this is a feature or a bug, but I think it’s both.

    My son was making some standoffs yesterday. As I instructed him on how to use the drill press I asked; “Didn’t you guys have shop at school?”. He said that they did not, but that they had home ec. Hell, if I’d known I’d have stuck him in home ec!

    Charlie (but he’s a good cook anyway, just like his dad 🙂

  11. avatar TexanHawk says:


    “Sorry to bust yer bubble there Junior, but you have no right to either life or safety.”

    Not a right? While the Declaration of Independence is not the Constitution or one of the Amendments and thus not part of the law of the land, IMO it clearly states the intent and mindset of the founding fathers;

    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.

    I applaud your defense of our Liberty.

    1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

      To have a right to life does not mean that you are immortal, it means that the law does not allow you to be unjustly killed. You may still be killed by any number of means, by any number of people. This is no more just than to have your arms taken by any means, by any people. Except by due process of law, whereby liberty and life may certainly and even properly be taken. Otherwise, every soldier who ever fired his weapon in anger could be a criminal.

      Obviously, due process can be abused in war as easily as it can in peace, and it is the duty of informed and dedicated citizens of strong character to ensure that this does not happen.

  12. avatar Rad Man says:

    Great job Bruce!

  13. avatar Randy Drescher says:

    He’s just a fixated idiot, nice broad, sign me up for a pic, Randy

  14. avatar Mr aNINNYmouse says:

    Can you send a letter to the editor with all these corrections?

  15. avatar John says:

    I’m a bit confused. How does #12 jive with the Declaration of Independence, specifically the mention of the right to life and liberty?

  16. avatar David says:

    Bruce, the Constitution and 1st Amendment certainly doesn’t allow human sacrifice of any kind regardless of whether anyone agrees to it or isn’t coerced. Hopefully, that is a misstatement of your true thoughts. Because the Constitution is based on the Bible and that type of activity is forbidden despite the fact that we do it to the god of convenience and call it a “choice.”

    Best Regards

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      That’s absurd. The Constitution is not based on the Bible. God is not mentioned at all, and the only mentions of religion are prohibitory.

  17. avatar Michael C says:

    You forgot in the rebuttal to paragraph 3 error number 1 to mention that the Colombine shooting happened in 1999, halfway into the vaunted assault weapons ban that this guy says is needed to stop these shootings.

  18. avatar TheSav says:

    The image is available at
    You can get it on t-shirts, hats….
    I was a manager of a coffee shop.
    Guess what my mug had on it.

  19. avatar pat says:

    Mr Wells…..F U. We already tried the worthless AW ban. Why do you want big brother DC to have even more money and power?

  20. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

    You win, Bruce. Prolixity prevails. I was especially impressed with the substantive errors you pointed out here.

    “Likewise, criminal background checks are not always required at gun shows5 because the Brady Law does not apply to unlicensed gun dealers6.”

    5. “Nope, every law that applies outside a gun show applies inside.”
    6. “Nope, no such thing as an “unlicensed gun dealer”; if someone is “engaged in the business” of selling guns then he has to be licensed.”

    Double talking prolixity, I should say with a bit of semantic nit picking thrown in.

    1. avatar Don Russell says:

      i”ve bought and sold many guns at gun shows, and some of them were quite recent, too. If you think differently, you’re quite ignorant

  21. avatar gunluvr says:

    I am so through and over debating this. The 2nd Amendment gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms(all kinds), Period. No limitation.

    1. avatar BO says:

      It doesn’t actually give the right to own and bear arms, it PROHIBITS the government from INFRINGING on a right that citizens have by default outside any governmental influence or effect.

  22. avatar joe says:


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