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Does The 2nd Amendment Provide Absolute Protection To Gun Owners?

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"Gunman Fatally Shoots Self After Killing Journalists on Air, Police Say" by Eliott C. McLaughlin on cnn.com

Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting on wikipedia.com

We've all had this discussion in some form or another, but I'm genuinely interested in hearing peoples' opinions about whether or not the 2nd Amendment provides absolute freedom of gun ownership, or whether that freedom is limited in some form or another due to the wording of the amendment (and not just a "yes or no," but some underlying rationale).

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The 2nd Amendment on Wikipedia

I'm not someone who feels the Constitution and its amendments are sacred. A 220 year-old document that contains a set of instructions on running our country should be more easily updated than it is. Why are we still adhering to a law that was written in a different time and context? Tell you what, I'll support a more specific amendment that allows citizens to carry a musket in case the British decide to give it another go.

I'm disgusted by the gun culture in our country. It's a national embarrassment. And I can't help but feel there's a link between the mentality of people who fervently support the 2nd amendment and other laws or customs written by rich white men in wigs long ago (i.e. that good ol' confederate flag).

On the other hand, the damage is already well past done. There is nearly a gun for every man, woman, and (too often) child in the US. How can we, at this point, get rid of them?

I often think about how we look back through history and see how dopey we humans look for the primitive and/or ignorant beliefs that we held. The world is flat. Better kill them witches. Sicknesses are some god's vengeance (oops, that one still exists). Gun ownership will be one of those things that people 50 or 100 years from now will look back at and say "WTF?!?"

Stats on gun violence in America

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In the first sentence of the 2nd Amendment is the phrase "well regulated". That implies regulations. I don't understand the disconnect between well regulated and the NRA.

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I condemn what happened today in Roanoke.  That being said, there are tens of millions of responsible gun owners in this country, including many in this area and some who are dear to me.  Two of them I would trust with my life.  Don't paint a broad brush.  There are plenty of gun laws in existence.  Enforce them.

P.S. I have shot everything from a .22 rifle to a .50 machine gun.  I have respect for their firepower.  Do I own one personally?  No.  I know that I need training before I could responsibly own one.  Note the difference.  Yes, there are people who get them by legal means who will use them for harm.  They are in the vast minority.  If the vast majority are doing the right thing, why take that away from them?

The response will be, "Because people use guns for hideous crimes."  I'll point you to John Lott's book, "More Guns, Less Crime".

One of the best explanations I've heard of the 2nd Amendment was that it was established to protect the 1st Amendment.

I apologize if I've overstepped the standards of this board.

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I apologize if I've stepped over the bounds of this board.

[You haven't in the least - nor has anyone else.]

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I have owned guns since I could count my age on the fingers of my hand and shoot and kill things with them on a semi-regular basis. I do not hunt for amusement (not that I particularly object to it) but varmint control is a necessity if you do what I do for a living. I suppose that makes me "pro gun".

That being said, I agree completely that gun culture in this country is completely out of control and we would be better off with way fewer of them in the hands of the public. This applies to handguns and semi-autos in particular although it is my opinion that if those were taken away the dunces would then turn to rifles as the most efficient alternative for committing crimes against humans.

The problem with regulation is that this cow has been out of the barn for a long time. There are millions of them already out there. Does this make regulation pointless? I don't know. The statement "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" can be interpreted more than one way.

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I was at a lovely arts festival recently, and noticed a guy with some kind of large handgun tucked into the waistband at the back of his shorts. No attempt to conceal. Our laws here in Ohio are permissive, I think...open carry is a thing. And, it's easy to get a concealed carry permit. So, what part of the right to support, and perhaps to join, a "well-regulated militia" is possibly served by bringing a gun to an arts festival? It scared me, it angered me, it saddened me. I also got very far away from him, while telling myself that there were probably dozens more like him in the crowd.

When the 2nd amendment was crafted, people had a real fear of threat of attack from the British (and others), and no doubt wanted to assure the ability to cobble together an army if one was needed. So, now, we have a military. We have law enforcement. The concept of "militia" is quaint and outdated. We simply don't need to ask all armed men to assemble in the square to fend off the British.

I am pro-hunting. I know lots of people who hunt and I have eaten delicious kills from those hunts. My own personal experience is that hunters respect guns, take care of guns and WITH guns, and keep guns locked up. The are not hunting with handguns. They are not waiting to be called into militias. I don't have a good legislative way to say "some guns are more safe than other guns," that translates to meaningful gun control. But it's hard to deny that permissive gun acquisition and the sheer quantity of guns around means we are far, far, far less safe. Where is all the evidence of people being MORE safe due to guns?

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According to Thom Hartmann, "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says State instead of Country (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states." The article has an interesting perspective on original intent.

"The 2nd Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery" by Thom Hartmann on truth-out.org

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According to Thom Hartmann, "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says State instead of Country (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states." The article has an interesting perspective on original intent.

"The 2nd Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery" by Thom Hartmann on truth-out.org

I take no sides on this, but I see Hartmann's as a deeply flawed article - granted, it's now 2 1/2-years old.

For example, the fourth paragraph which discusses Dr. Carl T. Bogus's article written for the University of California Law Review in 1998 contains a broken link to that article. However, when clicking on that link, you see that you're actually linking - not to the University of California - but to a website called www.saf.org. SAF stands for "Second Amendment Foundation," a strongly pro-gun rights organization.

Similarly, the fifth paragraph contains a broken link when referring to the "character played by" Leonardo DiCaprio. Both of these paragraphs are rendered moot because of these broken links - not even going into the source used for the fourth paragraph.

The eleventh paragraph mentions "the main concern" of southerners about Article 1, Section 8 of the newly proposed Constitution was that it gave the Federal Government the power to subsume their state militias, ultimately using these militias *against* them. It mentions "Lord Dunsmore," but there was no Lord Dunsmore; his name was "Dunmore." While this may just be a typo, it reflects the general sloppiness of this article.

The author then throws in a few quotes by well-known patriots James Monroe, George Mason, and Patrick Henry, and these quotes take up almost half of the article, but he had already lost me by then. I'll look at it again later when I'm less like a zombie (I got up early, and am still drinking my cup of coffee). I'm learning *so much* from this thread, but this one particular article may not do it for me. I have no feelings pro- or con-, just that it seemed to be dashed off in a hurry, without a whole lot of thought, and I'm not even sure what it's trying to conclude.

The title of the article "The Second Amendment Was Ratified To Preserve Slavery" is one heck of a claim, and I think such a thing merits an entire book, with research and footnotes; not just this little stub of a column with a few quotes, important though they may be. Gary, what do you think I should get out of this article?

I appreciate every single post so far, including Gary's, and am amazed, fortified, and beaming with pride about how intelligently our members are treating this controversial subject. I'm learning a lot, just as I did with the Confederate Flag post, and want to say "thank you" to everyone here.

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In point of fact, gun ownership in the US is regulated.  For one example, there are background checks before you can buy a gun.  For another example, there are places where carrying guns are prohibited, e.g., courthouses, airports.

I'd like to rephrase the question.  I think what you are really asking is, "what can we do to stop crazy people from killing innocent people with guns?"

Um, well, there's already a prohibition against selling guns to crazy people.  So that doesn't work.  And there's no way to get rid of crazy people, so that doesn't work.

So the real question is "how can we take away guns from everybody so crazy people can't get hold of them?"  And the answer is, you can't.

The Roanoke shooter claims he was motivated by the Charleston shooter.  The Charleston shooter said he wanted to start a race war.  The Roanoke shooter said he wanted to start a race war.  Many shootings and other murders are motivated by extremist ideologies. Stopping political polarization would do more to stop killings than anything else.

As the Dalai Lama says, all humans want to be happy and avoid suffering.  We are all the same.  Recognizing our universal brotherhood would go a very, very long way to ending violence.

The vast majority of Americans who own guns are not violent.  If you demonize them, you are contributing to polarization.

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In point of fact, gun ownership in the US is regulated.  For one example, there are background checks before you can buy a gun.  For another example, there are places where carrying guns are prohibited, e.g., courthouses, airports.

I'm not sure if it's really "well regulated" as the NRA has weakened any gun legislation and background checks to the point of them being useless. I mean how well regulated is it when it's much easier to buy a gun than it is to adopt a dog?!!??! (the same dog, who if not adopted could be put to sleep the same day)

Also, a question to the NRA and the members of Congress they have bought and control: If (more) guns are (always) the answer to any problem, why is it that they're banned in the House and Senate chambers and courthouses?

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I'd like to rephrase the question.  I think what you are really asking is, "what can we do to stop crazy people from killing innocent people with guns?"

[You're free to voice your opinion; you're not free to change peoples' words to your own liking. So this sentence must go if you're going to attribute it to anyone other than yourself.

As your post is written, you're asking *your own* rhetorical question, and you then spend the next six paragraphs meandering, twisting, and turning your own rhetorical question into yet another of *your own* rhetorical questions. Please try and read what people are actually writing, rather than what you think they're writing. There's plenty of space here, and we can always start another topic if you want to change the subject.]

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Also, a question to the NRA and the members of Congress they have bought and control: If (more) guns are (always) the answer to any problem, why is it that they're banned in the House and Senate chambers and courthouses?

Amen brother!

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I would like to see a study of how the Supreme Court has a long history of disregarding plain passages that seem to spell out the intent of certain laws or their reason for being.

"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."

The part about the militia gets overtaken by the natural right to defend oneself, period.

Works this way with the clause about copyright:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

The part about the progress of science and technology gets overtaken by some kind of presumed right to a practically perpetual monopoly for things well beyond science and technology.

I wonder how many areas this pertains to?

SCOTUS performs amazing feats of "stunt logic" from their own dubious premises that ignore the language there in the very Constitution, imo.

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SCOTUS performs amazing feats of "stunt logic" from their own dubious premises that ignore the language there in the very Constitution, imo.

In Contract Law (and this is essentially a "contract" between the country and its citizens), vaguely written language is construed against the party that worded the contract.

Like it or not, the Constitution, and the Amendments - including the Bill of Rights, and absolutely including the 2nd Amendment - are *very* poorly and vaguely worded. We must err on the side of the party who *didn't* write the law, i.e. the people.

If only I was alive in the 1780s, we would have air-tight laws in this country; our Founding Fathers weren't as smart as people give them credit for being.

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So the real question is "how can we take away guns from everybody so crazy people can't get hold of them?"  And the answer is, you can't.

I would again point towards the Australian experience after the 1996 mass shooting.  It can be done.

Said in a slightly different way: this.

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I'd like to rephrase the question.  I think what you are really asking is, "what can we do to stop crazy people from killing innocent people with guns?"

Um, well, there's already a prohibition against selling guns to crazy people.  So that doesn't work.  And there's no way to get rid of crazy people, so that doesn't work.

So the real question is "how can we take away guns from everybody so crazy people can't get hold of them?"  And the answer is, you can't.

Those points are a bit extreme and seem to be framed in such a way to "prove" that nothing can be done so why bother even trying. Along with the Australian example that is gun related there are a couple more non-gun related examples of things that work well to reduce but not completely eliminate bad things from happening.

One is safety improvements in cars, the other is drunk driving. I can't quote accurate statistics on either, but the gist of it is this:

30, 40, 50 years ago there were a lot more highway deaths due to crashes and a lot more drunk driving than there is today. We as a society decided that the status quo back then was unacceptable so we passed laws that made cars safer and more "accident resistant" and also passed mandatory seatbelt laws. The rate of highway deaths has been in a sharp decline ever since. Same thing with drunk driving. We had all these public campaigns to educate people about it and make it non-socially acceptable to do it, or to have "one for the road" and the rates of DUIs have declined. We also strengthen the DUI laws and penalties.

Do people still drive drunk? Yes. Do people still die in car crashes? Yes. You can't eliminate it all, but you can certainty take measures to reduce the numbers. The same thing can be done with guns as was proven in Australia but the NRA will never let that happen, and they control half the Congress.

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[You're free to voice your opinion; you're not free to change peoples' words to your own liking. So this sentence must go if you're going to attribute it to anyone other than yourself.

As your post is written, you're asking *your own* rhetorical question, and you then spend the next six paragraphs meandering, twisting, and turning your own rhetorical question into yet another of *your own* rhetorical questions. Please try and read what people are actually writing, rather than what you think they're writing. There's plenty of space here, and we can always start another topic if you want to change the subject.]

Don - Which is why I said, "I think . . . ."

As for what the 2nd amendment says, or means, I also think we're not getting anywhere by debating what the Founders meant, or the historical context of the amendment back in the day.  I am not saying the Constitution is subject to change, but it's certainly subject to interpretation, by the Justices of the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has consistently held, and I count at least 15 cases, that the right to own a handgun is fundamental right, necessary to the Nation's system of ordered liberty, and I am not paraphrasing there.

You aren't starting from scratch.  The right to use a firearm for the purpose of self-defense has been upheld over and over.

How do deal with the pesky Second Amendment.  The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures, and ratified by three fourths of the States.

Ok, so, effectively speaking, we have the right to own firearms and it's not going away, like it or not.  Nevertheless, it is not absolute.

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Those points are a bit extreme and seem to be framed in such a way to "prove" that nothing can be done so why bother even trying. Along with the Australian example that is gun related there are a couple more non-gun related examples of things that work well to reduce but not completely eliminate bad things from happening.

One is safety improvements in cars, the other is drunk driving. I can't quote accurate statistics on either, but the gist of it is this:

30, 40, 50 years ago there were a lot more highway deaths due to crashes and a lot more drunk driving than there is today. We as a society decided that the status quo back then was unacceptable so we passed laws that made cars safer and more "accident resistant" and also passed mandatory seatbelt laws. The rate of highway deaths has been in a sharp decline ever since. Same thing with drunk driving. We had all these public campaigns to educate people about it and make it non-socially acceptable to do it, or to have "one for the road" and the rates of DUIs have declined. We also strengthen the DUI laws and penalties.

Do people still drive drunk? Yes. Do people still die in car crashes? Yes. You can't eliminate it all, but you can certainty take measures to reduce the numbers. The same thing can be done with guns as was proven in Australia but the NRA will never let that happen, and they control half the Congress.

Bart - my intention was to suggest that, like it or not, moral outrage over gun violence will not stop gun violence.  There are no easy fixes.

In my opinion, the only fix is at the root cause.   And that is CERTAINLY not an easy fix.

The NRA didn't make people love their guns.  People loving their guns is what makes the NRA.  If you can point to a single mass killing by an NRA member, the hatred of the NRA would be more justified.

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For the record, I'm not attacking hunters. I have no problem with that.

Also, I realize that the vast majority of gun owners are trying to be responsible (though those guns too often kill anyway), but there are ridiculous numbers of murders and suicides in this country by gun. There are over 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people in this country while in the UK the number is about .05. And that's just homicides. Folks in the UK hunt too.

The NRA espouses absolute unrestricted access to guns and they are amazingly effective at shooting down (pun intended) any attempt to create better laws restricting their use. In the interest of being civil, suffice it to say, I have low regard for Wayne LaPierre and the congressmen who are bought out by the NRA.

Those paranoid self-styled "militias" (the patriots with under-inflated balls) who think they're protecting our borders, or whatever imagined threat they perceive, would be hilarious if it weren't so dangerous. They're like little boys playing Cowboys and Indians pretending they're big heroes.

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Don - Which is why I said, "I think . . . ."

As for what the 2nd amendment says, or means, I also think we're not getting anywhere by debating what the Founders meant, or the historical context of the amendment back in the day.  I am not saying the Constitution is subject to change, but it's certainly subject to interpretation, by the Justices of the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has consistently held, and I count at least 15 cases, that the right to own a handgun is fundamental right, necessary to the Nation's system of ordered liberty, and I am not paraphrasing there.

The Supreme Court discovered an individual right to keep and bear arms in District of Columbia v. Heller, in 2008. It had been settled law until then that rights under the 2nd Amendment were collective rights, although the Supreme Court itself had never before taken up the question. Do you mean there have been 14 subsequent cases since 2008?

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Bart - my intention was to suggest that, like it or not, moral outrage over gun violence will not stop gun violence.  There are no easy fixes.

In my opinion, the only fix is at the root cause.   And that is CERTAINLY not an easy fix.

The NRA didn't make people love their guns.  People loving their guns is what makes the NRA.  If you can point to a single mass killing by an NRA member, the hatred of the NRA would be more justified.

Moral outrage won't stop gun violence, but it could motivate those in power to try to do something about it.  But that will never happen when half the Congress is bought and paid for by the NRA..   I'm sure there are a lot of GOP Congressmen/women who are outraged by these shootings and want to do something about it, or at least try to do something about it, but can't because they either rely on the NRA for campaign funds or they are worried about getting "primaried" from the right by someone whom the NRA approves.

What is the root cause you're referring to?  Too many guns?  Ease of acquiring guns?  The 2nd Amendment?  Mental illness?  Or something else?  I'm honestly not sure.

And finally, I don't understand your point about showing you an NRA member who committed a mass shooting,  What difference does that make?  That's like saying that since no heroin dealers have OD'd we shouldn't worry about or even address the current heroin epidemic.   And actually, based on a chart I just saw (that I'll post in a bit from my phone), it's highly likely that an NRA member was involved in a mass shooting.  But again, I don't think that really matters in this argument.

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Here's the chart.  It shows we've had 247 mass shootings in the 238 days of this year!  Surely one of them is an NRA member.  And if not this year, surely an NRA member committed a mass shooting in years past.  But like I said above, I don't think this matters and is not a valid argument on either side of the issue.

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Hersch, interesting question, looking at which leads me to the revelation that the harder the states (and DC) try to ban guns, the more explicit the Supremes get in saying no. Each decision more firm. Not elected, beholden to no one but their individual interpretation of the law.

Bart, whatever. If you need to believe the NRA is evil and destroying America out of evilness, your prerogative. I think it'd entirely beside the point. NRA has no sway with SCOTUS. Neither the President nor Congress can get past SCOTUS, absent a constitutional amendment, or enough justices dying and ones who will vote your way getting appointed and a case that will excite enough of them to reverse precident to do so. Appointing justices who think your way is pretty iffy, but in time, maybe there will be a majority who think your way. That law abiding gun owners should not have guns because guns are inherently unsafe, is the way I understand your argument. Do I have that correct?

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