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I don’t think I’ll ever forgive The New Yorker for firing Gun Guys writer and former TTAG contributor Dan Baum. While the left-leaning scribe makes prickly pears seem baby’s bottom smooth, and he’s pro-gun control, Dan’s easily one of America’s greatest writers. Was. Mr. Baum is currently fighting brain cancer and spending his days helping Mexico’s City’s underprivileged. I wish him Godspeed and good luck.

Meanwhile, The New Yorker called me to join their New Yorker Festival panel Armed Citizens: The Fight Over Gun Rights in America. Here are my fellow panelists, links added. (For some reason, The New Yorker didn’t include my bio in the official description.)

Pam Bosley is the co-founder of Purpose Over Pain and the violence-prevention manager at The ARK of St. Sabina, in Chicago. She became an advocate for tighter gun-control legislation after losing her teen-age son Terrell to a shooting in 2006, and works to support the families of other victims of gun violence.

Jonathan Mossberg is the president and C.E.O. of iGun Technology Corp. The iGun is billed as the “world’s first personalized firearm,” and the company is working to miniaturize their smart-gun technology from a shotgun into a handgun. Mossberg was previously a vice-president of the family-owned firearms manufacturing company O. F. Mossberg & Sons.

Evan Osnos has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2008. He won the 2014 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” parts of which first appeared in the magazine. He has written extensively on the 2016 Presidential election, including “The Fearful and the Frustrated,” about far-right supporters of Donald Trump, which appeared in the August 31, 2015, issue of the magazine.

There’s no word on exactly what will be discussed. But aside from Mr. Mossberg — whose “smart gun” technology appeals to proponents of gun control (if few others) — I reckon I’m charged with defending gun rights against the forces of civilian disarmament. Not to tip my hand (much), here’s my opening statement, regardless of the initial question.

Thanks for inviting me to The New Yorker Festival. Before I answer that question, I want to say that the right to keep and bear arms is a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right.

Just like the right to free speech, it’s not subject to arguments about social utility; whether or not gun rights are “good” for society as a whole is irrelevant. And as a Constitutionally protected right, the right to keep and bear arms is not subject to the democratic process.

So while I’m happy to discuss social policy and politics, keep in mind that nothing said here today changes the fact that every American has an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Click here for tickets to provide me with some measure of audience support. Wish me luck in the lion’s den.

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  1. The entire constitution is subject to the (democratic) amendment process. Might revisit that line in your great opening statement (maybe “simple legislative process, vice “democratic”). Best thoughts, cheers and “go get ’em”.


      The Preamble and 1st and 2nd paragraphs tell you why we even have a Constitution.
      The Prosecution of our Declaration is our promise to end each and every bastard opposed to what we are protecting AND THAT [WILL ALWAYS] REQUIRE “ARMS”.

      We can get rid of the Constitution ALL DAY LONG, but we will prosecute our best kill moves on each other according to the impetus of Free Human Nature under Societal Agreement as recited in the Declaration of Independence. We stand on a tenuous bridge to tomorrow. The Constitution is our promise to each other of how we will allow each other to reach tomorrow.

      If they don’t think so, tell them to arm up, and they
      have a say in what comes next.

      • The Right To Keep And Bear Arms to slough-off a government opposed to Liberty [“Freedom” Earned] will outlive (by nearly eternity) the authority of such a government to preempt such.

        Government is “We The People” , of the People, by the People, for the People. Any “people” coalescing and forming themselves into a “government” that goes against the former statement regarding “arms” is an aberrant, and abhorrent usurpation and abuse of Power, and will not stand.

        • “Any “people” coalescing and forming themselves into a “government” that goes against the former statement regarding “arms” is an aberrant, and abhorrent usurpation and abuse of Power, and will not stand.”

          We’ve had said government for nearly 80 years. Still standing. Don’t see it falling in the next two or three lifetimes.

        • We had a Civil War less than 150 years ago (short stint of Human History). Current aberration has been around only ~ 40 years (which is a nap).

          But, you’re right, the war has already started, we should have told you.

      • The Declaration of Independence is a fantastic document, but it does not carry the force of law.

        The Constitution and its Amendments are the highest law of the land in the US.

        • The Constitution is perfection un-perfected, but, if you include the Bill Of Rights, it is our Third ‘Constitutional’ document, and if certain peoples had their way, it would be history 15 min. before they were. Again, the Constution attempts to best describe how we agree to get along. However, chuck the spirit of the Declaration, and you can uncase, roll, and cram, the Constitution, because ALL LAW requires Societal Agreement to form, and you won’t have any of a requisite to stand on, if you attempt to abolish, rule out, or overcome, the notions embodied in the Declaration. It is the death knell of bs globalism and a middle-finger to all those worldly captives, that could have the same thing, if they only held each other to a similar standard.
          LAUS DEO

    • Our rights are not subject to the democratic process. The law, pertaining to each right, is. But rights exist regardless even if not recognized by the law. If Hillary full on wins it all a bans the bill of rights entirely, your rights still exist. They won’t be recognized, so at that point, you have to fight for them.

      • Government (through the will of the people) can effectively remove your ‘rights’. Once neutered effectively, you are effectively neutered. The second (actually third) war of independence is not going to happen. So where is one to go when your ‘rights’ are obliterated by law and court decision? We live among ‘man’, not among the poets.

        Tactically, it is best to not talk beyond, over, above your audience. Declaring that natural rights cannot be eliminated by laws is nonsense to all too many. Why offer a detour?

        • Everything else is a detour. We have slightly more basic need slakked, in the U.S. (With relatively strong expectations of its continuance) or I guarantee, the sloth created in the back-waters of our prosperity, would be forced to eat their own dead and we’d have a machete slap-fight like northern Mid-Africa (going on now, nearly coast to coast) daily. Venezuela, is exporting its fearful-starving AS I TYPE THIS. Monumental FU can play out here in America, everywhere that too many people have become imbued with the lie that it cannot happen. You don’t need a Katrina to prove it, but Katrina should not be discounted s support for the argument.
          All Law is based on people who think (with some level of certainty) that you will uphold it too. All Crime is based upon response time. And all government demanding aherence to the first, while providing the latter, will be abolished (often by extremely violent means). Human History holds no contra-indications.

    • Sam, leave the statement as is. If someone wants to get into discussing a constitutional amendment being necessary rather than just a “pen and a phone” or whatever, that would be a HUGE win!

  2. Stick with “the right to self defense.” Screw saying “gun rights”, that’s a stupid phrase that needs to die off just like “abortion rights” did. Guns don’t have rights, people do. People have the right to self defense. Heck, every creature on earth has the inherent right to defend itself.

      • Taking a cue from the abortion debate, they replaced the ugly and polarizing word (“abortion”) with softer, gentler-sounding words (“reproductive rights”). Recently they’ve gotten away from that, and have gone so far to just code-word it as “women’s health issues.”

        So yes, the Constitution provides that we have the right to defend ourselves with arms. But I’m saying we might want to take a page from the other side’s playbook. Using words like “right to self defense” are unassailable. The more narrow the scope you make it, the more people you turn off (hence “reproductive rights” = still assailable, whereas “women’s health issues” = completely unassailable.)

        • You make a good point. I am maybe too sensitive to the other side making the argument that self-defense can be achieved with weapons other than guns. Haven’t yet arrived at a slogan that avoids highlighting guns. Anyone else got a smoother way to say something that doesn’t attract attention to guns, while being a suitable dog whistle for POTG?

        • If they try to argue that you don’t need a gun for self defense, point out that you only get one shot with a taser and attackers often work in groups. Then outline how, whether at home or in public, guns are the most effective means of self defense due to their low cost (cheaper than a cell phone) and ease of use, even for many who are handicapped.

      • Sounds good, but kinda difficult to define, don’t you think? I mean, of course lawful self defense will always be OK, why would we somehow have a “right” to it? And would our right to defend ourselves disappear if a law was passed which made it no longer lawful? How about just “a right to self defense”, lawful or not.

  3. ya’ do have yer eyes wide open, doan cha? i doan espect anythin’ good can come from time ya’ spend with all them touchy-feely folks. an’ doan go bein’ all logic and facts.

  4. First, make it about civil rights. Second, don’t let them double speak about “gun safety”. Its gun control. Point out that if the left loses the White House and stays second in the house and senate it will be because of their continued violation of the peoples civil rights.

    Tell them you hope they keep coming after our civil rights as it is destroying their chances and their party.

    Drop the mic and walk out.

  5. Don’t “talk strength to power”

    Talk “truth to fascistic GEDs”.

    Start every sentence with “You’re too stupid to understand but, [eye roll] . . .” continue with “you’re communistic kibbutz didn’t let you learn to read, much less read our Constitution. . .” and end with “because I say so, and I’m the only one here with a loaded fully auto firearm”.

    • I dunno. Try asking all your hero politicians in your deep blue slave states. Because in red Free states, you either have constitutional carry, or shall issue.

  6. Also, when they go off about how guns are too dangerous, and if potential mass murderers were limited to knives then so many fewer people would die, you can remind them that the two deadliest incidents on American soil were done by boxcutters (9/11) and fertilizer (Oklahoma City bombing). Point out that the Boston marathon was a bomb, recent New York attacks were bombs, Columbine was intended to be a bombing, the Minnesota mall attack was a knife, the beheadings of police in England, the subway knife attacks in China, the Sarin gas in Japan… killers gonna kill, guns or no.

    When they say “only the police and the military should have guns”, give ’em a gentle reminder about Iran, Iraq, Stalin, Pearl Harbor, Ferguson, Tulsa, Charlotte, Rwanda, and all the other places of military slaughter and allegations of police brutality, and just say – “are you sure about that?” Then point out that on the other hand, American citizen gun owners, specifically CHL holders, are far and away the MOST law-abiding citizens in the country, and even police officers commit crimes and murder at a rate three TIMES as much as private citizen CHL holders do.

    Then point out that we could reduce the gun murder rate in this country by 90%, practically overnight, if anyone actually, really wanted to do it — just lock up the gang bangers and keep ’em locked up. What did the Chicago officers say – there were 1,200 people who were responsible for all the murdering in Chicago, and we know who they are, let us lock ’em up”? Something like that. Gang murders account for 90% of all homicide by gun in the USA, you could slash our rate by 90% by simply arresting murderers for murder and locking them up.

    If you really want to do something about “gun violence,” why not go after those who are committing “gun violence”?

    • I think this is the best post in this comment section, but fact is that the opposition hates facts. You can tell them that CCL holders are some of the most law abiding people out there, but they’ll plug their ears and throw a temper tantrum because people have the gall to own guns.

  7. I’m sure you will handle yourself with great arguments and contribute to the conversation in a positive manner for the rights we have to keep and bear arms. Don’t let them make it about “gun violence”, but people who commit violence with most likely illegal guns. Can’t wait for the commentary on this one and am also sorry to hear about Dan. He always had interesting posts and while I sometimes disagreed he had a great depth of knowledge.

    • That should read “people who commit *illegal* violence with most likely illegal guns …” Laws about guns are not going to be any more helpful or effective than laws concerning knives or axes. We need laws against violence, and we need them enforced.

      Start with “Assault and Battery” becoming a felony with more than a year in prison resulting. Not a joke.

  8. Suggestions to include:

    – Self-defense is a human right.

    – Police claim, and the public seems to agree, that they need special weapons (black guns that the NYer wants banned) because they are first responders who face danger. That is not true, victims are the real first responders, bystanders are the second responder. Victims face danger at a much higher rate than police.

      • Didn’t someone on here once say something like “Before the police encounter a criminal, the victim already has” or something like that? Point being that the citizen should be able to defend him/herself the same as the police would.

        Cops don’t know to show up until the victim’s been victimized, y’know… they don’t get called until after it’s over.

        • “Cops don’t know to show up until the victim’s been victimized,”

          Great lead to a “common sense” question;
          ‘So (to the liberal/progressive victim), how’s all that government and police protection working out for ya”?

  9. ” … It is their right , it is their duty , to throw off such government and secure new guards for their LIBERTY .”

    From that Lovely old outdated parchment called …. ” Declaration Of Independence “

  10. Record it. Some times there are editing issues. Don’t forget your camo and your mullet otherwise they may not take you seriously as our representative.

  11. Might want to take any nomex outer wear you own. You are going to be the token gun guy for all of them to take shots at. In front of a decidedly anti-gun audience.

      • Back, sides, front, hopefully there’s olenty of sturdy molle on his plate carrier. ?

        Don’t skimp on the plates, bring water, ammo, nvg’s (he doesn’t really know how long he’ll be there), gas mask, protein bars, baby wipes…

  12. I figure if you’re going to argue it as a natural right that isn’t subject to arguments about social utility, then you better be prepared to explain why it’s a natural right without referencing the constitution because you’ll lose anyone who doesn’t think the second amendment should be in the constitution or thinks the amendment is outdated.

  13. I have an obligation to keep myself alive using whatever tools available however I have to use them to accomplish the goal.

    We all do.

    Being killed is not cool with me regardless of how hip, trendy or liberal it is.

  14. Might throw in Ayn Rand’s quote about the smallest minority in somewhere along the line when someone goes all BLM on you:

    “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

    Ayn Rand

  15. Good luck!

    And bring your own recording device so they don’t do something like Katie Couric tried with the editing thing so the audience can catch their breath or something.

  16. And as a Constitutionally protected right, the right to keep and bear arms is not subject to the democratic process.

    They will challenge you on this, as any amendment can be modified or revoked with enough votes. You should have a rebuttal prepared. My personal opinion is the founders made the ability to repeal the second so amazingly difficult because they intended it never to be repealed.

  17. Robert,

    A great many gun hating liberals lack the ability to see your perspective. Make an effort to convey your perspective to them in a way as polite as possible. If we are trying to change minds here we don’t want to come off too aggressive.

    Keep in mind also – they will seek to dominate the conversation/narrative. They won’t ask questions you want them to ask. They will ask the tough questions looking to either portray you as an extremist psycho or for you to support their statement. Don’t let them control the narrative. If you can’t dance on the head of a needle, flip it back over to concrete concepts supporting self defense of the individual. Those concepts are obvious, logical, and the facts are on our side.

    • Accusations to expect:
      – you want to lower violence by using more violence
      – you want to send the message to kids that might is right
      – you want people to be afraid that police and other authority cannot protect them
      – you want to arm terrorists, potential terrorists, wife and child abusers
      – you want to teach children to be afraid of their government
      – you support shooting and killing agents of the US government
      – you believe the next civil war will be between gun owners and police performing their legal duties
      – you push a “shoot first, ask questions later” culture
      – you want people to respond to difficult situations with a gun, rather than simply walk/run away and contact authorities
      – you want absolutely no restrictions, no training, no proof of competency in gun handling
      – you would give guns to every warm body on the street under the name of natural, civil, inalienable rights
      – you care nothing for innocent injury and death due to negligent gun owners
      – you believe gun owners should not be required to assure the public that the gun owner has sufficient liability insurance to cover damages due to negligent gun handling
      – you believe that gun owners should not cooperate with police by answering questions immediately after a shooting
      – you believe that having a gun is a deterrent against any physical attack, anywhere, any time
      – you believe that gun owners, in a dark, crowded public arena can effectively stop terrorists and murderers, without endangering innocents by hitting them with stray bullets
      – you believe that your handgun will overcome determined terrorists armed with rifles
      – you believe that a 30-round magazine is useful, or necessary for hunting rabbits, wolves, deer, elk
      – you encourage people to view their fellow citizens as threats waiting to attack, without warning, everywhere
      – you believe the world is incredibly dangerous, that thieves, robbers and assailants are waiting around every corner to attack people merely going about their business
      – you believe it is better to risk being killed by your own gun, rather than simply give-in to attackers, give them what they want, and live another day
      – you believe the recent reduction in crime is a direct, indisputable result of more people carrying guns
      – you believe it is conducive to a modern, civilized society for manufacturers to turn out millions of guns each year
      – you believe gun manufacturers, dealers and sellers should be absolutely immune from legal action when someone uses their product for illegal acts
      – you believe gun manufacturers and dealers have no responsibility to the type of people to whom they sell guns
      – you believe that fearful, untrained, reluctant teachers would provide a viable deterrent to attacks on schools by deranged gun owners
      – you believe that teaching children that all guns are bad, all guns should be avoided, all guns are dangerous, all guns are designed to kill someone, is wrong, but teaching the children that guns are an acceptable way to deal with frustrations is a good thing
      – you believe that in a complex society, individual rights to own guns is superior to the need for members of that society to feel safe in their persons, papers and possessions

    • Yeah, I’ll add something to that re: “not subject to the democratic process.” Many people simply don’t agree that the constitution is in any way sacred. It’s proven to be a pretty good framework for our society thus far, but it’s not written in stone. As for people in the comments here who insist that the 2A just codifies a “God given right,” keep in mind that many reject that (myself included). I personally don’t believe in any higher power, so that’s completely vacuous to me. I would urge you to focus on emphasizing the opposite of what you said: that it IS subject to the democratic process, but in a well defined way. Not through the slow erosion of rights by laws limiting gun rights, but by amendment to the constitution, a much more difficult (and unrealistic) route. That gives you a principled legal objection to gun control laws without arguing from a fringe.

  18. Also, remember the big picture. This is a cultural difference. Gun hating liberals don’t own any guns. They have nothing to lose from additional gun control. They are looking to pay the government a few extra dollars a month in exchange for the government taking action to make them safer without them directly being involved. They do not want to take responsibility for their own safety. And they certainly do not want a scary gun in their home that they have to worry about. To them, this is a problem for the government to address, not for them personally.

    You, being a guy that got mugged in the street, and managed to survive the incident, know, the problem lies in the hearts of people, not a firearm that they may or may not have. Furthermore, like the war on drugs, the government cannot stop this problem, and when you need help now, the police are minutes away. If criminals can manufacture diacetylmorphine and methamphetamine, they can manufacture the simple machine known as the “gun” too. The only moral solution is to empower the individual (Regardless of race or sexuality, etc) to effectively be able to defend themselves in their moment of need.

    Good luck.

  19. One technique you might find useful is the repetitive paraphrase. Great preachers use it well. Pairing “a natural right–a civil right” is one way. Coupled with “right to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from those who hate” may be useful.

  20. While we’re at it, remind them of how successful government bans are.

    We banned alcohol, with a Constitutional amendment even! How’d that go? No speakeasys popped up, did they?
    We banned drugs, even declared a zero-tolerance war on drugs. That sure took care of the drug problem in this country.
    We banned “assault weapons”. Good thing too, because otherwise we might have had a Columbine-style shooting happen. Er… wait – nevermind.

    We banned drugs, but we can’t even keep drugs out of our prisons. Government bans do not work.

  21. Tape record the meetings, as for Mr. Mossberg he is trying to sell us out to make a Buck , burn his ass, sorta like Rugar supporting the 1994 Gun ban and importation of Semi Auto weapons , why do you think that the Rugar semi auto-rifles were allowed, this is not the first time a gun company has sold us out for big bucks! as for the other yo-yo’s, find out who is paying them, most of them probably could not find a real job but for beings paid pawns in Bloomberg’s game!
    Then you Have Space Cadet Gigolo type who was mooching off his wife until she got shot, now he’s pimping her out to the Anti- American Anti gun crowd for what ever he can get!
    Sign no secrecy documents so you can expose the paid for Bloomberg pawns<
    hang tough! be like the Church either convert them or put them to the inquisition! Vincamus
    Non Sibi Sed Patraie

  22. My preferred response to “Guns are only for killing people!” is “If so, they are damned bad at it. Given that there are 12 billion rounds fired in this country every year, only one round out of every 364 thousand takes a human life. That’s a pretty sorry performance.”

  23. Be sure to remember this scene from Thank You For Smoking.

    Joey: But … you didn’t prove that vanilla’s the best.

    Nick: I didn’t have to. I proved that you’re wrong, and if you’re wrong, I’m right.

    Joey: But you still didn’t convince me.

    Nick: Because I’m not after you. I’m after them. (points to a crowd of people)


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