Many thanks to all who emailed a response to Guns 1-2-3.
I want to quote a tweet from Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, @CaseyCagle, who sent this message on the afternoon of February 26. Readers can decide for themselves if this behavior is helpful or harmful to the policy debate. Georgia voters can also decide. Here’s Cagle: “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”
Some example of “calm discussion” and debate!
As expected there is a wide range of views among our readers, intensely and intelligently articulated. No surprise there. What did surprise me and is very appreciated is the encouragement people offered to engage in the discussion. Many readers thanked me for trying to articulate the debate from the political center and for inviting their input. It is confirming for me to get messages that encourage discourse. Many opinions were thoughtfully expressed and well-researched. Others recited personal stories. Why not? I did it; why shouldn’t others?
Here is a sampling of readers’ opinions, and I’ve tried to make it representative of various points of view. I have disclosed writers’ identities where I received explicit permission. Otherwise I used first names only.
Fred Feldkamp argued:
If one reads the law applicable to interpretation of statutory English for legal purposes, a modifier placed at the beginning of a sentence is deemed to modify the entire sentence. In the second amendment to the US Constitution, the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” comes AFTER:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,…”
There is, therefore, a clear right (indeed, for the protection of the people of “a free State,” a duty) to “regulate” the “Militia.”
Moreover, it is clear that “keep and bear Arms” does NOT include shooting the darned things. The very concept of a “well regulated Militia” is antithetical to an unlimited ability to shoot weapons without controls that protect other people. No army of any civilized state permits soldiers to “fire at will” except under the most dire circumstances.
There is no reason, in ANY well-reasoned case law, why the US can’t mandate electronic identity lockouts for ALL weapons to assure that only the licensed owners use them and that they are ONLY used lawfully.
All we need is the will to make sure our 290 million-weaponed Militia is “well-regulated.”
There is no excuse for refusing to protect those that choose not to be armed from being killed by our “Militia” because our elected leaders will not lead.
Each and every gun death in America is the result of inexcusable dereliction of duty by each and every leader who refuses to do what is needed to protect our people.
By the way, I always found a rabbit killed by a shotgun to be inedible by the fear of chipping teeth on stray buckshot.
If helpful, feel free to pass this on. I’m happy to debate any and all gun regulation with anyone. We CAN (and therefore must) do whatever protects us from us in the use of guns, and there is no Second Amendment limit to doing that, as long as the rule is correctly written.”
A thoroughly researched commentary came from Jay Simkin, International Representative, The Stratecon Group LLC. He wrote:
At end-2015, there were about 380,000,000 firearms in the US, more than one per resident, including infants, who usually own little. (See US Dept of Justice, “Firearms Commerce in the United States”, 2000 and 2017; military firearms excluded). Things so abundant and concealable cannot be controlled. That what foredoomed Prohibition, the nationwide ban on alcoholic drinks (1919-33).
Then, as now, the ingredients for home-brew could be bought in any grocery store. In some regions, distilling alcohol (“moonshine”, “white lightning”) was a tradition older than is this Republic. Prohibition made some “moonshiners” wealthy. Those, who backed Prohibition bequeathed to us well-organized criminal cartels, still a plague on the land.
Further, since 1980, the number of firearms in the US has doubled, but the murder rate has halved. In 1980, the murder rate was 10.2 per 100,000 residents (Dept. of Justice, “Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008”, p.2). In 2016, the homicide rate was 5.3 per 100,000 residents (FBI, “Crime in the United States”, 2016. Table 1). If firearms drove the incidence of criminality, the murder rate should have doubled. It didn’t. The murder rate halved.
“Gun control” is a concept alien to US jurisprudence. In the US, police forces have no duty to protect the average person. The U.S. Supreme Court so held in 1855 (South v. Maryland, 59 U.S. 296 (1855)). In the modern words of a U.S. Appeals Court decision: “But there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution.”(Bowers v. Devito, 686 F.2d 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1982)). This is “good law”, i.e., this decision has not been overturned. If we have no right to protection from the government, it follows that we are responsible for our own protection.
Background checks provide an entirely false sense of security. Only 62 Federal prosecutions followed 76,142 denials (in 2010) of purchase applicants. For the data see, Regional Justice Information Service, “Enforcement of the Brady Act, 2010”, 2012, p. 7. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/239272.pdf
Some denials may have been erroneous, i.e., applicants were actually eligible to buy firearms but were mistaken for ineligible persons. Even so, it beggars logic to think that all but 62 denials were unjustified. It is a Federal felony for a “prohibited person” to possess or to try to acquire any firearm. Such a small number of prosecutions shows that Federal authorities care little about stopping those who seek to abuse firearms.
In the wider World, “gun control” laws have repeatedly promoted genocides, in which millions were murdered. Germany enacted “gun control” on 13 April 1928, before the Nazis took power. The goal: to curb fights between Nazi Party and Communist Party thugs.
When the Nazis lawfully took power in 1933, they found in police stations lists of firearm-owners. Plainly the Nazis did not allow those whom they hated – of whom Jews were only one group – to hold onto firearms. It was not the disarming of Jews that mattered most: Jews were only one percent of Germany’s population. It was the prompt disarming of other Germans – many of whom did not like the Nazis – that was critical.
The Nazis were not wildly popular in 1933. They won 43.9% of the vote in an election held on 5 March 1933. During the election campaign, Nazi party thugs terrorized other parties’ candidates. Even with that help, the Nazis did not win a majority. They formed a coalition, that gave them a small majority in the Reichstag (parliament). By promptly disarming those whom they hated, the Nazis ensured there would be no effective resistance. Indeed, there was virtually none.
More recently, in Rwanda, some 800,000 were murdered in just 119 days (7 April – 19 July 1994). Those who write about this genocide do not explain how so many were murdered so quickly. Unlike the Nazis, the Rwandan murderers did not set-up murder facilities. Instead, village-level murder squads – armed with machetes and nail-studded clubs – sought out those, whom they knew to be Tutsi – the targeted group – and murdered them on the spot.
The victims were defenseless, because Belgium bequeathed to Rwanda a “gun control” regime. Rwanda enacted its own “gun control” law, Decree-Law No. 12/79, 7 May 1979 published in the Journal Officiel (Official Journal), 1 June 1979, pp. 343-346; in French and Kinyarwanda. This law remains in force, as amended by Law No. 13/2000, 14 June 2000.
The intended victims had been targeted in prior years. But because they could not get permits to acquire firearms, they were helpless when murder squads arrived. A “fortunate” few, who had cash in their pockets, sometimes were able to pay their murderers to expend a bullet. Those without cash were slashed and/or had limbs hacked-off. Many, who had taken refuge in churches, were incinerated when churches were set ablaze.
Some will argue that armed citizens cannot stand against professional soldiers. To them I reply: read about “Blackhawk Down”. Several hundred Somalis – with AK-type rifles and some rocket-propelled grenades – prevailed against top-notch US troops in Mogadishu (3 October 1993). The Somalis suffered far heavier casualties. But the US troops did not seize their quarry, a top Somali paramilitary leader. (See: http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/Somalia93/somalia93.html ).
The sources I cite are public and published. I can provide copies of the cited enactments or court decisions. I made these copies myself, so can vouch for the originals’ authenticity.
As to the rash of things wrongly called “school shootings” – they are mass murders – note that while Courthouses (filled with adults) are guarded, schools are not guarded. Further, those expelled from schools because of attacks on students or teachers – or threats of such attack – are not made to wear GPS monitoring devices that trigger an alarm if the wearer gets within 500 feet of any school’s perimeter. Classroom doors are not equipped with bullet-stopping steel plates and locks controlled by teachers and first-responders. Most of these things are simple.
The bottom line: “gun control” is a policy that seems attractive: a false promise of safe streets or safe schools. Behind “gun control’s” shiny façade is a nasty reality: mountains of corpses. If European countries included in their crime data those not born – because their grandparents or great-grandparents were murdered by the Nazis – European murder rates very likely would not be below those of the U.S.
Jay Simkin further offered this data and analysis:
Some further data: New Hampshire – which has few laws regarding firearm ownership – has long been one of the three states in the U.S., with the lowest incidences of violence crime:
I note that Vermont has not had – at least in recent decades – a requirement for licensure by those, who wish to carry firearms, openly or concealed. Maine abolished compulsory concealed licensure at end-2015. New Hampshire abolished compulsory concealed carry licensure as of 22 February 2017. In Maine and New Hampshire, those who wish to obtain other states’ non-resident licenses can still obtain a license.
Murders are so infrequent in New Hampshire, that all are prosecuted by the State Attorney General: no county prosecutor sees enough homicides to be adept in their prosecution. For many decades, the incidence of murder in New Hampshire has been a fraction of the U.S. murder rate.
Massachusetts, by contrast, has myriad laws governing firearms, ammunition, etc. In Massachusetts, unlicensed possession of a single spent cartridge case is a crime.
Methinks the focus on firearms misdirects the public safety debate. In a population of 324,000,000 there are bound to be a handful – a few tens of thousands – who are disposed to commit murder. We have no processes whereby such – before they commit murder but after they have made dire threats – can be restrained.
So, a suggestion. If a student is expelled from any school for: (a) attacks on other students, teachers, or administrators or (b) making credible threats of such an attack (e.g., social media posts that show such intent) – why should that student not be made to wear a GPS monitoring device? Such a device – now imposed on probationers – could be set-up to trigger an alarm, when the wearer gets within 500 feet of any school. The alarm would go to the school and to law enforcement. Said student should be required to wear such a device until age 25, at least.
Another suggestion. Why should not classroom doors have a bullet-defeating panel and locks controlled by the teacher and the principal? Should not classrooms have chain ladders for emergency escape?
Yet another suggestion. Should not some teachers and staffers be trained to carry concealed, if those persons are large enough to keep control of their weapon, when a football-player-size student tries to grab it? Those, who are small, are unlikely to be able to fend-off a 6’6″ fellow who weighs 275 pounds.
Finally, someone should explain why, when an accused murderer is in custody or dead, that person’s name should be mentioned or their likeness reproduced. Some of these murderers seek their “15 minutes of fame”. That should be denied. It is one thing if an attacker is “on the loose”. But once a murderer is dead or in custody, said person should be referenced by the place name or via the names of their victims.
Nat added lots of substance to the argument:
I have to take issue with your comment that those who trained and served in the military rarely commit mass murder or go on shooting sprees. This is simply incorrect. I’m attaching a spreadsheet of mass murders back to 1982 and an article from a person who looked into the backgrounds of some of these murderers. There is also an interesting history of the NRA and their historic shift from an organization devoted to teaching proper marksmanship to one that is embedded politically in most of our elections in the US. The training and respect and maturity to care for weapons designed for killing, as you point out, is key. That is fundamentally different than allowing deranged 18 year-olds to purchase assault weapons with limited or completely incompetent background checks. And unfortunately I don’t think military service assures that the person holding the trigger has the respect you speak of.
Your email is very thought out and you go a step further by a little of your life history, Thank you for sharing. Now I’ll play devil’s advocate: So what’s the remedy to stopping them from using our schools for killing fields? Just one thing? My guess the only thing to stopping them is for someone to shoot the sick bastards before they shoot. Once they feel force they will stop going to our schools. They are cowards. I’m all ears for just one remedy, and banning assault rifles won’t stop them.”
A nice background and relevant personal story. Like you, I had gun experiences at Camp Kimball, although I have never owned a weapon. I trust your thoughts will get to the elephant in the room – automatic weapons and large magazines. The love of guns and their role in so many lives is understandable; automatic weapons in the hands of civilians is not.
An excerpt from Brian’s remarks:
Common sense has to prevail at some point. Military-style weapons have no place in society. If gun manufacturers go broke, why do we care? Other industry has throughout history, and I bet politicians will find funding from others.
The GOP is acting ignorantly by not budging on their gun positions, which will haunt them during midterms. I logically understand that tougher gun laws won’t prevent most bad people from causing harm. I expect elected officials to represent their voters’ needs and concerns. Doing nothing to make people feel better is a complete failure. I look forward to the millennials, the group so often bashed, to be the catalyst for overdue change and lasting positive impact. Ironic, isn’t it?
I was a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam. Enough said. I grew up in a house where bird shooting and skeet shooting were our active interests. Allowing anybody to have a weapon – a rifle with a capacity of more than three shells – is insanity. My solution, since we are not going to get the guns back nor should we, is to limit possession to inside a person’s premises. You want to go hunting, ship the gun UPS. What we have now is insanity. First thing to do when in a hole, quit digging. All freedoms have limits. Nothing is absolute save perhaps insanity.
Does your client consider the share of her personal income tax payments that support the largest military budget on the planet? And that this military budget supports all sorts of gun manufacturers? (The AR-15 is based on the M-16, after all.) Why can’t you measure the amount of dividends and capital gain contributions that gun makers contribute to various ETF returns? You could debit that from your client’s account and divert the funds to a charity of her choice; or she could do that on her own. I don’t want to be dismissive of this issue. It is serious and our country has to address it. But looking at it as an investment matter trivializes it rather than deals with it.
Given the desire of some of your investors to avoid supporting gun sales, I thought you should see the attached article from yesterday’s Seattle Times, which I will summarize for you here: It reports that a Washington State law requires the Washington State Patrol to auction off or trade most of the guns it confiscates. A batch of 331 guns they sold last year to a Tennessee dealer included five assault rifles. Washington sheriffs’ offices and police departments have also sold dozens of assault weapons since 2010, although these organizations were not all required by law to sell their confiscated guns. Some, such as the Yakima Police Department, chose to melt them down instead.
Apparently other states – Arizona, North Dakota, and Georgia – have legislation in place requiring sales of all guns confiscated by law enforcement agencies. Supporters defend such sales by saying they “provide law enforcement with needed revenue.” It seems to me that many of the municipalities whose bonds you have long specialized in trading must be among those that benefit from having their local police or sheriff’s departments sell confiscated guns. In the states where there is a law requiring sales of all confiscated guns, it would be impossible for municipalities to avoid benefiting from those sales, even if they wanted to. The arms sales must reduce the need for other local sources of revenue including taxes or bond issues and must therefore improve the overall financial health of these municipalities. I presume that would make any bonds they do offer appear more attractive to your firm, according to your usual standards for evaluation.
I am therefore wondering, could you start offering as investments a class of municipal bonds from municipalities like Yakima that don’t benefit from gun sales? Are there enough municipalities in the US that are both free of dependence on gun sales and financially healthy enough to make that feasible? If it were feasible, such an offering should appeal to your anti-gun customers, even at a somewhat lower rate of expected return than your general offerings in municipal bonds. I would not want any investment firm to be constrained to sell only such bonds, but your firm’s voluntarily offering them as a new instrument to serve potential customers could be a win-win situation.
From Daniel Alpert, Managing Partner, Westwood Capital, LLC and affiliates:
This is certainly outside my usual portfolio, but I (probably like yourself) am deeply distressed the apparent inability of the U.S. to engage constructively in a debate over gun control. After last week’s terror, Cornell’s Robert Hockett and I put forth a few points in The Hill on the desperate need for national reconciliation on the issue. There are many in the country who, like me and Bob, can’t imagine why the U.S. is alone among nations in ensuring the right of private citizens to possess all manner of firearms. We may even enjoy our sporting clays (I do), hunting, or firing off a few rounds at a gun range, but don’t feel we need a weapon for self-defense, couldn’t imagine carrying one around openly or in a concealed manner, and don’t believe any civilian needs a semi-automatic rifle or more ordnance at any one time than the six rounds a revolver holds. But many of our fellow citizens fervently disagree with us – and their point of view is enshrined in the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, especially in light of its most recent interpretation by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).
So the only option we have for reconciliation, as a practical matter, is to acknowledge the two fundamental/natural rights to possess firearms that some of us, not so inclined, often find incomprehensible if not merely offensive. And, in acknowledging the legitimacy and irrevocability of same, the issue of gun rights can be supplanted by the more important issues of gun safety in terms of licensure, sale, possession and carrying. We believe the more extreme arguments of the National Rifle Association would be far less compelling to gun rights advocates (many of whom are quite level headed when it comes to the above issues) in the absence of being able to pander to those fearful of “having their guns taken away” and, with that, their right to defend against both crime and tyranny. And what better era to discuss the concept of tyranny with those on the left, then the era of Trump? Read on.
I’m confused. The shooter appears to be a mentally disturbed young man for whom there have been numerous Police encounters and ample warnings that this was and is an individual in need of serious mental treatment. The failures to act by the Broward County Sherriff’s Department are stunning. The FBI ignored a rational warning, and the school which managed to toss him out did nothing to refer him to psychiatric and or social services. Altering the gun laws will do nothing to ameliorate the occurrences of the shooting. Fixing the mental health system will do something about the rate of occurrence. Even so it may well be that we are witnessing a relatively constant Percentage rate of occurrence against a population base that has doubled; i.e., 1% of 150 million is 1,500, and, 1% of 335 million is 3,350. Couple the numeric increase with the recently developed speed and ease of communication. Has made us very aware of what may well be a relatively constant problem that has been ignored, and that is the problem failing to improve the treatment of mental and neurotic illness. I view the Second Amendment as being my right to revolution. Take that away and you might well rip up the Constitution.
Here is a thoughtful and detailed analysis from Greg:
I am somewhat of a gun guy, but first and foremost I am a reasonable person that’s always in search of the truth and reality. Perhaps to a fault, but that’s my nature. I point this out because it’s clear that you and your firm operate with the same mindset of finding order amidst the chaos. I agree that changes need to be made, but if we’re going to have a meaningful dialogue in this country about reducing senseless shootings then this kind of rigor needs to be somehow brought to bear to counter the emotion-driven reaction whose impact will be more to trounce on the 2nd Amendment rather than to have a meaningful impact on the number of senseless shootings. In the end everyone will be disappointed.
Perhaps it was just an oversight or mistake, but what triggered this response was the statement in part 2 of your essay that “Sturm, Ruger & Co., the maker of the AR-15”. I suspect others have already responded that Sturm, Ruger is one of many makers of the AR-15 and there are as many makers of it as there are hedge funds. In fact, parts are so standard and widely available it is easy to make your own where you are effectively the manufacturer. I seized on this point because it is so representative of the kind of misinformation with the AR-15 in particular that is so rampant in the discussion and the media. Jumping to the chase, the thinking that ridding society of the AR-15 will somehow eliminate some or most of the shootings is wishful thinking at best. Maybe it will have an impact initially, but only until the uninformed shooter becomes informed and simply purchases another type of weapon with the key feature of easily reloadable high capacity magazines. And there are many alternatives that In a practical sense of how most shootings take place at close range some of these alternatives could even be more deadly by virtue of the ammunition that’s used. .45 ACP for example. I say this because the advantage of the AR-15 is that it’s also good for longer range shooting (e.g. Las Vegas) but most shootings are in fairly close quarters so many other guns are equally or even more effective.
As for the mention of Vegas, that was well planned out and the perpetrator would likely have acquired appropriate weapons even if AR-15s were not an option. The point here is that the dialogue is going to be forever handicapped, for starters, until the public has a realistic understanding of guns and in particular the AR-15. For what it’s worth I do think the 2nd Amendment is due for an update to reflect the realities of modern society while still respecting the original intent. In a practical sense I have no idea how we can do that given the public’s emotion, extremists on both sides, and lawmakers and politicians that have their own agendas at heart. But for sure we need to begin with getting our facts and information correct and a good place to start is with a better appreciation for what an AR-15 is and is not.
Perhaps you’re unaware of the new AR-15 platform rifles from Savage, a Vista Outdoor company. VSTO also owns OLIN and the Winchester brand of ammunition. Smith and Wesson, aka American Outdoor Brands, makes the M&P series of AR-15’s. So all three U.S. public gun companies are involved in the scary looking rifle business. With the plethora of European gun manufacturers, some may be included in foreign and European ETF’s.
You can count me among those who blame criminals and crazies for the murders, not guns. The focus should be on more security for schools, better data for the NICS, and better enforcement of straw purchase violations. Abandoning Obama’s young criminal coddling program, implemented in Coward Broward County, and reform of the FBI are also needed. Increasing the authority and resources of the thought police is a slippery slope. but it may be the time to try. Gun registration is a necessary precursor to confiscation and thus won’t be widely tolerated, as such laws were ignored by about 90% in California in 1990 and Connecticut in 2014. Many of the refuseniks were LEO and military folks, so any attempt to deploy the army to confiscate would likely result in mass desertions and eventually civil war.
I also own a shotgun and two revolvers. Hunted dove and duck until recently. All beside the point. Why can’t we just have a one-week waiting period for background check for any firearm purchase, make gun shows illegal (highly regulated) and ban the future sale of AR15 type weapons except to police and armed forces? If you own one, great, sleep with it, have sex with it, brag that you own it.
From George came this correction:
I would call your attention to an small error in the second paragraph. Unless you were firing machine guns, the weapons you used were semi-automatic and not automatic… a common misunderstanding. The latter are regulated under the 1934 Firearms Act along with suppressors and sawed off shotguns.
Demographics will win over time. Assault-style rifles will be banned.
Another John said:
Like you I was raised in a family that had guns, primarily shotguns, for hunting purposes. I was taught how to use a gun safely. I was taught that a gun on its own never causes a problem, it’s the operator. All or at least most of the mass deaths using an AR-15 style weapon have been caused by a person with mental problems that were known to others that did very little to prevent the person that did the mass murder from obtaining the firearm. A thirty day delay on obtaining a firearm, stronger background checks and a magazine capacity limit all would be good ideas. They will help with some of these horrific crimes but at the price of the loss of more rights.
Banning guns will not work anymore than for example banning drugs or alcohol sales (briefly during prohibition) stopped them. The criminals always have/had access to the outlawed items. If we look at it rationally, it is clear that banning guns is not the solution. It takes on average 8 minutes for law enforcement to respond and the typical shooting takes about 3 minutes so that doesn’t solve the problem either. The only solution is to have trained and armed employees at the schools. The Broward teachers that used their bodies as human shields certainly had the courage and willingness to sacrifice themselves to protect the kids. If they were also armed they would have stopped the shooter as well. This is the only real solution that I see that will work both short-term and long-term.
Another David added:
It is no wonder that the Sheriff’s Deputies who stood outside the school were afraid. They could have as easily been dead or responsible for shooting students. Pistols against AR-15’s are no match. There is no reason a hunter needs an AR-15, nor a gun collector to have 10 or 100 of these weapons unless we think that the Russians are coming to invade us, the only Russian invasion is sitting in the White House now. I don’t think there is any excuse for the NRA’s position from anyone. The Constitution says a well regulated militia not an armed posse.
Gerry sent this note:
From here, the debate always comes down to: “look how hard it is to get a gun permit in Israel” (which it is, contrary to the belief that everyone has one) and the only gun deaths come from terrorists and then it is more often a suicide bomb, or a truck or a knife. You may be right when you say there is no conclusion because the culture in the US won’t permit it. Still, if the students who are and will be the future leadership in this country have enough fire in the gut and enough support to sustain their momentum, who knows what change is possible. Just as people can’t understand why Israel and the Palestinians can’t come to terms and why it is currently impossible, looking at it from afar it is just as hard for many here to understand why the US can’t outlaw assault rifles, or raise the age limit or …or…or…. Glad you said what you feel, and I’m a pessimist by nature, so my expectations are low in any event. Time will tell…
And this from a longtime friend whom we will call Mr. X:
I think Switzerland ranks as number 1 or 2 in how many guns citizens own per capita. We have very few problems with it but the history of how this happened is important. Switzerland is a neutral nation or we call it “armed neutrality”, which means Switzerland does not act militarily outside the country but uses its military for defending its own territory only. Every Swiss citizen of age 20 has to perform his military education for 4 months. This involves some basic training (6-8 weeks) followed by specialist training. As I was a top athlete when I was 20 (among the top 5 of the nation decathlonists), I became a member of the elite troop and was educated in street fighting, city fighting and manufacturing bombs (would be dangerous today!).
After that basic education, every member of the army had to perform 8 x 3 weeks until age 32, 4×3 weeks from age 33-40 and 4×2 weeks from 41-50. This was the reserve. And all the reservists had to keep their guns at home and had to perform a shooting test EVERY year. If not qualified, one had to spend an extra day of practicing with army instructors until one performed… We were accustomed to have our guns at home and still are. But in today’s “politically correct times”, members of the military CAN store their guns with the army. This is because the liberals asked for it. We have an incidence or a murder with an army gun about once every 10 years (the last mass shooting took place in my town in 2001 when a crazy man entered the state parliament and shot many dead, including himself). But perhaps that murder would take place, too, if we had a different organization with guns. My point is: Guns are dangerous and you need to have a people that are responsible enough to act correctly and responsibly. Unfortunately, our times have moved far away from originally conservative thinking and behavior and we have “educated” our people in a way of “everything goes” and everybody can do what he wants. We have lost our religion (whatever religion it is – at least in Europe), we have lost our conservative manners and behavior and the result is often chaos. Another law here and another law there – as we keep doing in every respect of life – will not improve the situation. It may control it for a while but will eventually simply lead to more prisoners…. But to really improve this, our people have to become more conservative again. This is only possible via economic hardship. The hardship of the 1930s bred conservatism and conservatism bred liberalism …..and perhaps one day, liberalism will breed conservatism, again. I am in favor of responsible behavior and very much in favor of policies that encourage it. The behavior of our elite (in the Western world) does not encourage this, unfortunately.
I respect the Second Amendment and agree with the content but believe that it has been used by others in an Unhealthy manner!! The Government has been LAXED in NOT having BETTER checks & balances when people try to purchase guns!! High powered AK-47 type of weapons or the ability to retrofit MORE magazine power should be UNACCEPTABLE!! When I was in the USAF and the BASE MEDICAL COMMANDER I was taught how to use a weapon for MY protection! It is HIGH time to create BETTER RULES to prevent the BAD GUYS from doing HARM and still allow the GOOD GUYS to use GUNS!!
Joe sent this:
I also have a personal journey, which I shall truncate. I learned to shoot a 22 caliber target gun at age 10 at a summer camp on Lake Winnipesaukee. Competitive target shooting took hold and over the years I became rather adept; 22 caliber, pistol and rifle, shotguns in various gauges for skeet, 12 gauge for trap and shooting clays. Almost 70 years since I started, and I still shoot on a regular basis. 22 caliber “Olympic Style” pistol. Highly accurate 22 caliber rifle, and my Browning over and under skeet gun.
Still an NRA member, as they control and run competitive shooting matches. I love my guns; clean them, caress them. And so why am I writing this? I am upset! I have enclosed a photo of my highly accurate 22 caliber rifle. I would guarantee that today, ignorant people, reacting to a tragedy, might condemn this 22, and call for its ban. It most probably would not have killed your first rabbit, unless a great shot. Today, three people told me that “AR” as in AR15 stands for “assault rifle”, it does not. It stands for Armalite, the company that ‘invented it’. I am upset, because too many people, reacting viscerally and without proper knowledge, are attempting to influence not just gun control, but the type and extent of gun control. NOT GOOD.
Thomas Jefferson bought 2 semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles in 1780. They had a 22 shot capacity and fired at .46 caliber round. This rifle, called the Girardoni, was adopted by the Austrian army in 1780. The whole Constitution and Bill of Rights happened nearly a decade later. So, the founding fathers obviously knew that there were semi-automatics. I’ve seen photos of other repeating arms that were produced before this time as well.
Gene sent this:
Reasonable gun regulation is not prohibited by the second amendment. My brother specializes in this area (See below). There were extensive regulations at the time of the amendment’s adoption, and of course entire classes of people were prohibited from owning guns back then. All most people want are reasonable regulations, things like background checks, limits on assault weapons and magazines. Note that during the roaring twenties the Supreme Court had no issue with bans on automatic weapons, and these are still prohibited today, so what makes semi-automatics sacrosanct? Nobody is taking away all guns. Even Scalia said that regulations were permitted in Heller.
Listen to LaPierre’s speech at CPAC. It was nuts. This is just an excerpt:
“The shameful politicization of tragedy is a classic strategy right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement,” LaPierre said.
The NRA leader took broad swipes at his detractors, who he claimed sought to “eliminate the Second Amendment.” “Their solution,” LaPierre said, “is to make you, all of you less free.” He was critical of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, questioning why their “rogue leadership” and “unethical agents” had not been confronted over why they didn’t follow up on tips regarding the suspected Florida shooter.
LaPierre sharply criticized efforts by numerous Democratic lawmakers to bolster gun laws, casting their actions as part of a “socialist” plot to strip law-abiding gun owners of their “firearms freedoms.”
Guns have been regulated since before the revolution, as the history shows. It’s only recently that it has gotten to this extremity of resistance. Note that a lot of the rhetoric speaks of guns as a necessary defense of the people against a tyrannical government. That wasn’t the way the militia was conceived. It was to defend the government without having a standing army. Note Shay and Whiskey rebellions.
And there is only one crime defined in the Constitution:
Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against it.
I don’t think the purpose of the amendment was to enable rebellion.
I think most people want something done. The Onion recycles this headline for every shooting: https://www.theonion.com/no-way-to-prevent-this-says-only-nation-where-this-r-1819576527.
Bill reminded me:
I like your columns, but this one missed the mark. You failed to mention the 2008 Scalia Supreme court decision which defined the limits of the second amendment and could provide a path forward for the next few years.
That there is no agreement about a policy does not mean that there is no best policy. For instance, Americans disagreed about segregation in the 1950s. However that does not make it impossible to discern the differences between segregationist and integrationist policies. It’s up to everyone to discern the differences and then support the best policies. But you are saying that since there is no agreement, you can’t know what the best policy is. That’s classic bad faith.
Consider you are under immediate threat from a deranged person that possesses the means of harming or killing you and your children. You are backed into a corner and under attack. How would you respond? Realistically, the only option is to fight back or die or watch your children die.
Sadly, the above describes the state of our children that attend school. They are under attack, or threat of it – NOW. There is no time for debate or forum for a national policy discussion – something needs to happen today that protects our children. Once this immediate step is taken, then we can focus more on prevention and better controls.
I believe this is the thinking behind arming teachers or other individuals to safeguard our children. Personally, it is very disturbing to me to think my children have to be put in a situation like this; however, this is the sad state of a country that no longer values the family structure.
And now we end with this from Phil, a very good and longtime friend:
Horrible way to end a commentary, but we’re lucky to have that commentary. One big issue for me is that what measures we have to promote safety seem to fail. The school guards, the warnings about Cruz’s behavior. If that’s a given, then it does seem we have to attack the source. One person suggested liability laws for the sellers, they have to check certain boxes when they sell a gun or they are partially liable for what happens next. But you’re right; I don’t see how we come to any kind of agreement. The slippery slope argument is deeply entrenched. Since there are such high stakes maybe we could buy back assault rifles above market price and stop selling them until we figure out what to do. Assault rifles can be used on a range, or to kill people, but not for hunting. If you miss a deer on the first shot you don’t get a second, no matter how fast, and, as a hunter pal put it, if you were planning to eat the deer, there would be nothing left. And for people who think assault rifles will stop a rogue government, they will stop the first wave, after which drones and bombs, so that argument doesn’t really work either.
Many thanks to all those who responded to our series (see below). Clearly, there is a lot more dialogue needed. Maybe the Lt. Governor of Georgia, whose tweet opened this list of comments, will reconsider his use of a threat instead of a dialogue.
David R. Kotok
Chairman and Chief Investment Officer
Email | Bio
The first part in this series, “Guns: Part 1, A Personal Journey,” can be read online here: www.cumber.com/guns-part-1-a-personal-journey/
The second part in this series, “Guns: Part 2, The Investment Journey,” can be read online here: www.cumber.com/guns-part-2-the-investment-journey/
The third part in this series, “Guns: Part 3, The Policy Journey,” can be read online here: www.cumber.com/guns-part-3-the-policy-journey/
The fourth part in this series, “Guns: Part 3, The Journey of Others,” can be read online here:
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