Saturday, September 3, 2011

Meet Monsieur Trebuchet

Perfect for destroying City and Castle Walls.

Of course, successful seiges ended with people giving up on the inside, not from the outside.

Or, for those who are more modernists in their taste in seige weaponry, rather than being gun powder enthusiasts:

and the high tech destruction fans:

Military Suicides

The standard explanation for years has been to blame the high suicide rate on multiple deployments. It seems that's just not the case. From the New York Times about a year ago.

Significantly, the report said that 79 percent of the soldiers who committed suicide had had only one deployment, or had not deployed at all. 
According to the Army, roughly 20 out of 100,000 soldiers have killed themselves, compared with a rate of roughly 19 out of 100,000 for the civilian population. 

Just this week, Stars and Stripes reported this:

In a finding suggesting powerful psychiatric benefits for a component of fish oil, a study published Wednesday has linked military suicides to low levels of docosahexaenoic acid and found that service personnel with higher levels of DHA in their blood were less likely to take their own lives.
I'll bet there are about a dozen other theories floating around too.

A article described some of the newer efforts being undertaken.

The latest military and civilian efforts range from 24-hour-a-day psychological counseling and suicide hotlines, including two by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, to chaplain visits and a new Pentagon video game, released in January, providing a virtual post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience to explore the symptoms and causes of combat trauma.
What's your opinion? Do you have personal experience with this terrible problem? Do you have another theory to explain the phenomenon?

One thing I thought is, could the troops in the military, say over the last couple decades, be over-medicated? Couldn't improper diagnoses and too-freely-dispensed meds actually exacerbate the problem? Just an idea.

Another possibility for me, which might explain the high number of suicides experienced during the Viet Nam War, is the declining belief in what we're doing as a country. Doesn't the anti-war sentiment trickle down into the very rank and file? Some might experience qualms of conscience, others feelings of not being properly appreciated and supported. It could lead to depression and despair in some cases. Just another idea.

I'd like to know what you think. Please leave a comment.

Defining public broadcasting

This is an aside from Microdot’s post How to Kill a Vampire Post, which was reposted by the man with the muckrake where there was the anonymous comment: Too much BBC and Public television for you

The comment about NPR and the BBC is very telling and actually quite apropos for Microdot’s post. I want to expand on my comment since Public Broadcasting is very subversive.

US Public Broadcasting (It’s more than just NPR, since there is also PBS, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Public Radio International (PRI), American Public Television (APT), and American Public Media) is a big bugaboo for the right since it is technically public. Public funding is supposed to remove it from being beholden to special interests (read big business). On the other hand, the US right has done everything it can to keep NPR broke.

There is a loophole in that Public Broadcasting can also get funding through “underwriting” which are the commercials that you see on Public Broadcasting. I find that there is a lot of corporate and special interest (e.g., Cato Institute) input in US public broadcasting. So, it is hardly unbiased.

The BBC is totally funded by the Public, there is a television tax. This means that there is no business funding; however, there are links with US Public Media and the Discovery Channel (BBC America is a Discovery Channel subsidiary). That would be a total anathema to the US interests.

This post takes it’s name from this section of the wikipedia article on Public Broadcasting and I’m adding my own comments:

There is no standard definition for public broadcasting, although a number of official bodies have attempted to identify key characteristics. Public-service broadcasters may transmit programming intended to inform, or of cultural value; the aim of much commercial broadcasting is to provide content that attracts a large audience, maximizing revenue from advertising and sponsorship. However, publicly funded broadcasters may transmit popular programs with little informational or cultural value;[1] and commercial broadcasters may be obliged by the terms of their licence to transmit programs considered to be of value, but with appeal to only small audiences. The distinction between public and commercial is not always clear; UK Channel 4 is ultimately publicly-owned but largely commercially self-funded, and transmits much entertainment but is subject to a public service remit.

Technically, US Broadcasting is supposed to broadcast cultural and public interest material. One commentator noted that the media can present uplifting material, but it usually doesn’t sell. The notable difference comes from some “cable” networks (HBO, Showtime, etc.), but they are pay networks and one can debate how uplifting shows such as “the Sopranos”, “the Wire”, and so forth can be.

The next bit is the most interesting:

In 1985, the UK Broadcasting Research Unit (1981-1991) defined public service broadcasting as involving[2]

1. Geographic universality — The stations’ broadcasts are available nationwide, with no exception. Generally, the “nationwide” criterion is satisfied by either having member stations across the country (as is the case with PBS) or, as is the case with most other public broadcasters around the world, the broadcaster’s use of sufficient transmitters to broadcast nationwide (as with ABC Radio National across Australia).

I wonder how the Beeb’s refusal to support third party iPlayer plug ins fits into this?

2. Catering for all interests and tastes — as exemplified by the BBC’s range of minority channels (BBC Two and BBC Radio 3).
3. Catering for minorities — much as above, but with racial and linguistic minorities. (for example S4C in Wales, BBC Asian Network, Radio-Canada, and Australia’s multicultural Special Broadcasting Service (SBS)).
4. Concern for national identity and community — this essentially means that the stations mostly part commission programmes from within the country, which may be more expensive than importing shows from abroad.
5. Detachment from vested interests and government in which programming is impartial, and the broadcaster is not be subject to control by advertisers or government. Even when a broadcast medium is removed from corporate and government interests, critics argue that it may nonetheless have a bias towards the values of certain groups, such as the middle class, the politics of the incumbent government, or in the case of partially or wholly commercially funded networks, the advertisers.
6. One broadcasting system to be directly funded by the corpus of users — For example, the licence fee in the case of the BBC, or member stations asking for donations in the case of PBS/NPR.
7. Competition in good programming rather than numbers — quality is the prime concern with a true public service broadcaster. Of course, in practice, ratings wars are rarely concerned with quality, although that may depend on how “quality” is defined.
8. Guidelines to liberate programme-makers and not restrict them — in the UK, guidelines, and not laws, govern what a programme-maker can and cannot do, although these guidelines can be backed up by hefty penalties.

Again, the public broadcasting model runs contrary to big business interests in that it wants good programmes, not numbers, and detachment from vested interests. The vested interests in question regarding the US media would be the US media corporations themselves as well as other large corporate interests. There really isn’t any dissenting media in the US. The message is rather homogenous.

A seven-month series of polls by the Center for Policy Attitudes and Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland found that Americans receiving their news from non-profit organizations were far more likely to have accurate perceptions related to American foreign policy than those receiving their information from for-profit entities. The study also found the variations could not be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because the variations were also found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience. Source

Not all of these points apply to public broadcasting in other countries; for example the US Public Broadcasting Service transmits foreign content, such as from the CBC/Radio-Canada and the BBC.

An alternative model for implementing public-service media exists, known as Citizen Media. As it relates to broadcasting, this generally means a radio or television outlet which has some sort of public access, that is, most or much of the programming is created by members of the public which receives the programming. This can be in the form of community radio, campus radio, and public access television, although the latter is not a form of over-the-air broadcasting, as it is only available on cable television systems.

The alternative? Commercial broadcasting where 1/3 of the material presented is advertising. So, who is brainwashed under that system?

Let’s take Fox News, which is incredibly biased, which I will admit to never watching, but one doesn’t need to watch it to be aware that it isn’t worth my time. For example, Newscorp funds the Cato Institute and donates to the GOP.

Amazingly enough five companies control 80% of what you see on TV, and 10 companies control two-thirds of what you hear on the radio in the United States! We can get into how this affect the accuracy of US Commercial media, but you can find that in fine detail at this site.

In closing, I would also add that the BBC is consistantly one highly rated amongst world news sources.

So, let’s hear it for Public Broadcasting!

D.C. v. Heller: Was Scalia Honest with the Facts?

I decided to see what else the Federalist Blog had to say about theLink Second Amendment and came up with this. I know you like to try and get me to think that I am the only person who holds these opinions, but I hate to break it to you. Take it away, P.A. Madison!

by P.A. Madison on July 16, 2008

in 2nd amendment

    • “[T]here is no need to deceive ourselves as to what the original Second Amendment said and meant. Of course, properly understood, it is no limitation upon arms control by the states.” –Antoin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law (1997)

The recent Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller caught me by surprise by how far the majority, lead by Justice Antoin Scalia, were willing to go to make a case for a broad individual right under the Second Amendment. While plaintiff prevailed under a starkly divided court, the majority failed to provide any clear and convincing evidence to support their claim for a protected individual right. Instead, Scalia presents strained, forced constructions that often were self-contradicting, and seemingly, served only to favor the majorities’ own prejudicial ideal of what keeping and bearing arms should mean.

For example, Scalia writes like the “First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right,” and the “very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it ‘shall not be infringed.’” Later, however, he declares “there seems to us no doubt” the Second Amendment “conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.” Which is it, recognition of a pre-existing right or does it directly confer the right?

Clearly the majority subscribed to the view that yes, the right to keep and bear arms are words associated with military service, but these words can also be read to mean more than citizen soldiers keeping of arms to bear in the service of a militia.

Scalia explains the “Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose.” Additionally, Scalia adds this prefatory clause acts as a “clarifying function,” and “does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause.”

One must wonder why, if the prefatory clause acts as a “clarifying function,” the court is adjudicating a District of Columbia gun regulation that does not directly cause any lawfully organized State militia to be disarmed. The prefatory clause remember, speaks only of a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State and not of any private right for individuals to privately keep or use firearms for any purpose.

According to the majority, the answer is because “Nowhere else in the Constitution does a ‘right’ attributed to ‘the people’ refer to anything other than an individual right.” Thus, the majority thinks reading the Second Amendment as “protecting only the right to ‘keep and bear Arms’ in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause’s description of the holder of that right as ‘the people.’” Therefore, the majority begins with the “strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.”

Would this mean no one could have ever been compelled to bear arms in the service of the militia because the right can only be exercised individually? Obviously, that prefatory clause is not so clarifying after all.

Perhaps this above so-called explanation is why Scalia felt it was necessary to speak of the Second Amendment as indeed directly conferring a right rather than simply recognizing a reserved right of the people under their State sovereignty to form armed militias. However, if the Second Amendment confers an individual right having nothing to do with service in the militia, one naturally might wonder why a republican form of government was chosen, complete with separate constitutions with their own bill of rights?

Furthermore, if the prefatory clause were to be viewed as dead letters, and limiting national powers ignored (as customary these days), the operative clause would have to be read as an absolute right because the right is unconditional with no exceptions. A law against carrying concealed weapons would be unconstitutional because the right to keep and bear arms alone says nothing about government authority to encroach on the right of people to keep or carry any type of arms.

And the majority did indeed treat the prefatory clause as dead letters when it wrote the “banning from the home ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family, would fail constitutional muster.” To keep guns at home by private choice and for private use has nothing to do with service in the militia under State militia laws. Perhaps if State law made it compulsory for citizens to keep certain arms and ammo at home for use when called to militia service as some once did, and local laws banned keeping those weapons, such a law could well be struck down under State armsbearing amendments.

Therefore, the amendment obviously does not itself confer anything to anybody except declaring Congress possesses no power to infringe a free people’s right to form and maintain armed militias for common security under lawful authority. Otherwise, there could be no regulation by law for the keeping or carrying of guns under most armsbearing language found in State constitutions.

The State of New York under clause three of its Bill of Rights, adopted nearly identical language as the Federal Second Amendment. However, under clause four, citizens could not on their own “find soldiers or men of arms, either horsemen or footmen, without the grant and assent of the people of this state, by their representatives in senate and assembly, except in the cases specially provided for by the constitution of the United States.” This clearly recognizes the keeping and bearing of arms to those arms used for the collective arming of bodies of men.

To show how poorly the operative clause fits with the prefatory clause, Scalia tries to convince us the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment was understood to have broad meaning beyond arms of the militia: “In numerous instances, ‘bear arms’ was unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia.”

The problem here, though, is the prefatory clause does not address other “numerous instances.” Citing the majorities own cited source, William Rawle, the right to bear arms is “corollary” to the proposition of a well-regulated militia as necessary to the security of a Free State. The majority accepts the meaning of a “well-regulated” militia to mean “nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training,” yet on the other hand, they suggest to bear arms can only be “exercised individually.”

The majority goes on to insult readers reading comprehension by quoting such legal scholar’s as J. Pomeroy, Story, Cooley, and others, in supporting their view that bearing arms was not understood to be connected to service in the militia. Scalia quotes Thomas Cooley as saying the “alternative to a standing army is ‘a well-regulated militia’; but this cannot exist unless the people are trained to bearing arms.”

Question: Was keeping a handgun for personal self-defense ever considered part of a training regime in bearing arms under a well-regulated militia?

The expressions Scalia quotes from legal scholars attest only to the long held principle of keeping and bearing arms found under the Second Amendment as those arms normally used by a well-regulated militia, and for which are necessary and suitable to a free people to aid them in resisting oppression, usurpation, repel invasion – not those arms used for purposes of committing bank robbery, shooting rabbits or home intruders.

Scalia quotes from J. Pomeroy, but omits his conclusion of the object behind the Second Amendment: “The object of this clause is to secure a well-armed militia.”

The majority thinks their “interpretation is confirmed by analogous armsbearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed adoption of the Second Amendment.” They count two (Pennsylvania and Vermont), and possibly two more, State Constitutions they feel might be analogues to the Federal Second Amendment. They allege Pennsylvania and Vermont “clearly adopted individual rights unconnected to militia service.”

The Pennsylvania Constitution read “The right of the citizens to bear arms in the defence of themselves shall not be questioned,” while the Vermont Constitution read: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State–and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”

The majority commits a significant error in ignoring other clauses in these constitutions that use the phrase “bear arms.” Under Article 9 of the Vermont Constitution no man “who is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, be justly compelled thereto.” Article VI, Sec. II of the Pennsylvania Constitution read: “The freemen of this commonwealth shall be armed and disciplined for its defence. Those who conscientiously scruple to bear arms shall not be compelled to do so; but shall pay an equivalent for personal service.”

The fact these Constitutions attach a strong military association with bearing arms for defense leaves little doubt what the employed words mean. Scalia could respond by suggesting “bearing arms” meant several different things depending on the context the phrase is used – but this path would run into a thick wall.

Scalia suggests Justice James Wilson interpreted the Pennsylvania Constitution’s armsbearing right as recognition of the natural right of defense “of one’s person or house–what he called the law of ‘self preservation.’” But Wilson makes clear he is not advancing an individual right to keep and bear arms for personal defense under the Pennsylvania Constitution but only describing its historical meaning that is different from what the majority attempts to place on words alone.

Speaking of the constitutional right of the citizens to bear arms in the defense of themselves shall not be questioned, Wilson says, “This is one of our many renewals of the Saxon regulations,” and that “one may assemble people together in order to protect and defend his house.” No question Wilson was speaking from personal experience after having in the year 1779 to collectively defend his home along with 34 others from 200 angry protesters who opened fire, killing two who were inside.

Wilson and his fellow defenders were not only able to hold off the mob long enough for reinforcements to arrive through collective defense, but also through ammunition that had been gathered from a local public armory. Thus, Wilson is talking about the renewal of Assize of Arms as established under King Alfred, where his subjects were compelled to become united under sword for the common defense of their family, neighbors, parish and realm. Without such a united defense, no single man with a musket could have been able to defend either themselves or home against a mob of 200 people.

Judge Story remarked in his commentaries that it is impossible to keep the people duly armed without a disciplined and organized militia – and this is exactly the principle armsbearing provisions found in constitutions recognize.

During the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1837, delegate John Fuller expressed this spirit of a common defense under an organized militia when he said every man “should be considered as a citizen-soldier, because it is consistent with the very spirit of our Government, that every man should feel such a deep personal interest in it, as that he would be willing to shoulder his musket, at any time, and not leave it to his neighbor to defend his possessions, or the country which has given him birth.”

In his 1829 annual message to the Pennsylvania Assembly, Governor John Andrew Shulze said, “The right to bear arms is another important right guaranteed to all our citizens by the [Pennsylvania] constitution.” This right says he, imposes on the “legislature the duty of so organizing and disciplining the whole body of the citizens, that they shall be able, not only to bear arms, but to use them with confidence and skill, ‘in defense of themselves and the States, ‘ if such a necessity shall arise.” In other words, for the common defense, meaning collectively defending themselves in an organized and trained manner.

Though unlike other similar armsbearing rights found in other State constitutions that used the phrase “common defense” and “bear arms,” the words “bear arms” alone meant the same principle of a common defense because the phrase was understood only to mean bearing arms in the service of the militia for purposes of common defense. Again, militias served as a collective organization of disciplined citizens in defending themselves collectively against other hostile armed bodies of people. Armed individuals alone would be of no use against any organized invasion or security against mass uprising.

There is strong doubt against Justice Scalia’s assertion the “right of the citizens to bear arms” found in these noted constitutions are analogues to the Second Amendment. For example, during the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1837 there was an attempt to remove the conscientious-objector clause found under Article VI, Sec. II. Delegates who debated this issue found this clause of the State Constitution to be directly analogues to the Federal Second Amendment. For example, delegate John McCahen said:

In the amendments to the Constitution, article second, would be found the following words: “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. It is there reserved to the people of every State the right to bear arms and organize a militia, and we do not entrench either upon the Constitution of the United States, or the laws of Congress, when we provide that the freemen of the State shall be enrolled and organized as militia.”

Scalia writes the phrase “keep arms” was not “prevalent in the written documents of the founding period that we have found.” Article XVII of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 read: “The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence.” This may not be any different under the Second Amendment’s well regulated militia “being necessary to the security of a free State.” In other words, a well regulated militia is necessary to establish a common defense in order to bring about security for any State.

The meaning behind “to keep” is easy to understand through events experienced during the revolutionary war. Military supplies had been forbidden to be exported to any of the colonies by orders of the King, and Governor Gage of Mass. following orders of the King, raided the arsenal at Charlestown, which invoked outrage among the citizens. Because the country was deficient in munitions of war, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety set about secretly collecting muskets and gunpowder to keep at a secrete location where they could later be used to arm the local militia.

It should also be noted that under the old Articles of Confederation States were required to keep arms and ammunition for their well-regulated and disciplined militias in “public stores.”

Speaking of comparisons between the Second Amendment and the English Bill of Rights, Scalia claims “Protestants would never be disarmed” under the provision of the English Bill of Rights that read: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense, suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.” Scalia states this “right has long been understood to be the predecessor to our Second Amendment,” and that “it was clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia.”

It is difficult to read from this provision a right for Protestants to never be disarmed because this provision is dependent upon legislation allowing Protestants to have arms for their defense. A law that says Protestants may not have arms would not be infringing because the clause says only that Protestants may have arms for their defense as allowed by law, which provides no protection against banishment. Blackstone described this provision as merely a “public allowance under due restrictions.”

Also, there is no evidence to support the claim this English provision “was clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia.” Just the opposite is true as events surrounding the declaration had everything to do with service in the militia.

The Duke of Ormond had formed an all Irish Militia and provided Protestants who served in his militia with their arms. James II moved to selectively disarm Ormond’s militia under rumor of another rebellion similar to that of 1641. Meanwhile, Papists were allowed to remain armed and employed in militias contrary to the law of the time.

In 1678, there was an effort to provide defense of Protestants against Papists Militias bearing arms against them. A passage can be found in the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Ormonde, K.P. (December 7, 1678) that reads:

Yesterday and this day some progress was made in the House in those two points wherein all agree for the disbanding of the army, and for Bills that may secure the Protestant religion whatever happens. In this provision there arose a long debate to have either a distinct Bill or a clause in this to enable Protestants to withstand and defend themselves against any Papists whatsoever that should come with commission and bear arms in any military employment, and to dispense with those laws that at present made it rebellion so to do. (Note that in the year 1678 “bear arms” was considered military phraseology.)

As this passage makes clear, Protestants by law were unable to arm themselves under an organized and disciplined militia for defense against the Papists because such an act was considered a pretext to an organized rebellion. This passage leaves little doubt the words “Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law” speaks of arms for the common defense under the laws of an organized militia. This conclusion is further supported by the fact it was the disarming of the Irish Militia and the threat of armed Papist militias that lead to the passage of this provision in 1688, and the fact only Protestants were singled out.

When Lord Amherst ordered the disarming of all inhabitants of London in 1780, he made it clear those who were members of the militia were not to be disarmed along with persons authorized by the King to be armed. The reason is because that would had removed the right of the people to defend or restore order in their community (in this case defend against the riots of 1780).

Scalia appears to ridicule Justice Stevens for placing “great weight on James Madison’s inclusion of a conscientious-objector clause in his original draft of the Second Amendment.” Joseph Story wrote among the defects sought to be enumerated under the Second Amendment was for people to “have a right to bear arms,” and “persons conscientiously scrupulous should not be compelled to bear arms.”

Delegate Elias Boudinot asked during the Second Amendment debates what dependence can be placed on those who have scruples to bearing arms, and “what justice can there be in compelling them to bear arms, when, if they are honest men they would rather die than use them.” This isn’t the sort of statement anyone would bring up if to keep and bear arms simply means to pack a handgun for personal defense under the Second Amendment. Did Congress or any State ever advocate for the compelling of people to keep guns for their own personal defense at home?

Scalia goes on to quote an 1825 Massachusetts libel case (Commonwealth v. Blanding) as follows: “The liberty of the press was to be unrestrained, but he who used it was to be responsible in cases of its abuse; like the right to keep fire arms, which does not protect him who uses them for annoyance or destruction.”

To Scalia, this “analogy makes no sense if firearms could not be used for any individual purpose at all.” It does make a great deal of sense because people in fact had a right under Massachusetts law to make, sale, buy and use firearms provided they had been proved and stamped. Scalia’s mistake is he thinks these remarks might subjectively refer to the State constitutional provision on bearing arms. It does not.

The constitutional terms found under State Constitutions had no application toward the private keeping and use of firearms, and there were no laws preventing citizens from owning and using firearms for the same reason there was no known laws preventing people from owning or using a shovel or, even a tea kettle.

Where guns did come under scrutiny was when they were used to arm organized groups for either lawful or not so lawful purposes. It was not uncommon to find laws for the unlawful organizing of militias outside the laws of the State. It was also common to find laws on small arms that can be concealed or used in crime, and these kind of laws were outside the sphere of bearing arms in the service of a militia.

In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Kreps, the court found pistols were not the kind of arms referred to under the State constitution:

The second amendment of the Constitution of the United States is a limitation of the power of Congress and of the national government only. The constitutionality of statutes relating to keeping and hearing arms must be determined by the constitutions of the respective states. …

A pocket revolver or pistol is not included in the term “arms,” as used in Article I, Section 21 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and therefore it was not the intention of the people to reserve the right to carry a pocket revolver or pistol without legislative interference or regulation. …

The Act of April 12, 1873, P. L. 735, which provides, “That any person who shall carry any pistol, dirk-knife, slung-shot or deadly weapon within the city limits of Harrisburg, except police officers, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor” does not violate Article I, Section 21, of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

In Ex Parte Thomas, 21 Okla. 770 (1908), the court says:

The term “arms,” as used in the Oklahoma Constitution providing that the right of a citizen to carry and bear arms shall never be prohibited, when construed in connection with article 5, §40, declaring that the Legislature shall provide for organizing, disciplining, maintaining, and equipping the militia of the state, applies solely to such arms as are recognized in civilized warfare, to wit, guns, swords, bayonets, horsemen’s pistols, etc., and not those used by a ruffian, brawler, or assassin, such as pocket pistols, dirks, sword canes, bowie knives, etc.

All the laws I have encountered that deal with civilian gun regulations never used the term “bear arms” when addressing private ownership or lawful civilian use of weapons outside of military service. One example is Pennsylvania Game laws, which reads in part: “Provided, That nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent any citizen of the United States, residing within this Commonwealth, from having a gun in his home; or from using such gun in defense of either person or property; or from shooting at targets or from hunting for or shooting at, in any place in this Commonwealth, anything not protected by the laws of this Commonwealth…”

Another example is found under the Civil Articles of Limerick spell out the common civil use of a gun: “Every nobleman and gentleman comprised in the said second and third articles shall have liberty to ride with a sword and case of pistols, if they think fit; and keep a gun in their houses, for the defence of the same, or for fowling.”

You would think most all State statutes would follow the same universal terminology found in Federal and State constitutions if “bear arms” was widely understood to mean private use of weapons for personal self-defense or hunting. The fact this isn’t the case confirms “bear arms” had a specific military application attached.

Some recent additions to State constitutions addressing arms fall into the same trap the majority finds itself arguing, mainly construing the keeping and bearing of arms as meaning an individual right to privately own and use firearms. For example, the State of Nebraska adopted this language in 1988: “the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof.”

Apart from the misunderstanding the framers of this provision display over the historical meaning of bearing arms, it is a wonderful provision that should be adopted by every State of the Union with a slight change of removing “to keep and bear arms” and inserting more relevant terminology: “to keep firearms.”

The majority thinks Section 14 of the Freedmen’s Bureau Act is proof that during the reconstruction period the Second Amendment was understood to give freed blacks the right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense:

Sec. 14. That in every State or district where the ordinary course of judicial proceedings has been interrupted by the rebellion, and until the same shall be fully restored, and in every State or district whose constitutional relations to the Government have been practically discontinued by the rebellion, and until such State shall have been restored in such relations and shall be duly represented in the Congress of the United States, the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to have full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and the acquisition, enjoyment, and disposition of estate, real and personal, including the constitutional right to bear arms, shall be secured to and enjoyed by all the citizens of such State or district, without respect to race or color or previous condition of slavery.

One fatal flaw with interpreting Section 14 as recognizing a right of individual persons within States to keep and bear arms is that former rebel States were under the sole administration of Congress, divided into military districts, and were not considered organized States. Therefore, it is easy to understand the justification for including the “constitutional right to bear arms” since Congress had sole jurisdiction. Another flaw the majority committed was ignoring why the “constitutional right to bear arms” language was included in the first place.

It was General Fisk’s letter to the Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau that was the basis for the Act to highlight the bearing of arms:

More than twenty-five thousand colored men of Kentucky have been soldiers in the Army of the Union …. Their arms are taken from them by the civil authorities and confiscated for the benefit of the Commonwealth. The Union soldier is fined for bearing arms. Thus the right of the people to keep and bear arms as provided in the Constitution is infringed, and the Government for whose protection and preservation these soldiers have fought is denounced as meddlesome and despotic when through its agents it undertakes to protect its citizens in a constitutional right.

The infringement turns out not to have anything to do with arms of private citizens at home, but with some 25,000 Union soldiers and their government issued muskets. On the other hand, the city of Opelousas, Louisiana was very careful, unlike Kentucky, not to disarm Freedmen who were in the service of the military:

SEC. 7. No freedman who is not in the military service shall bo allowed to carry fire-arms, or any kind of weapons, within the limits of the town of Opelousas without the special permission of his employer, in writing, and approved by the mayor or president of the board of police. Any one thus offending shall forfeit his weapons, and shall be imprisoned and made to work five days on the public streets, or pay a fine of five dollars in lieu of said work.

Scalia selectively quotes a report from the Commission of the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1866 to buttress the majority’s claim Kentucky’s prohibition of blacks from bearing arms were not in fact “being prohibited from carrying arms in an organized state militia.” In essence, the majority wants us to believe Kentucky’s prohibition against blacks bearing arms had nothing to do with service in the militia, but everything to do with disarming private citizens of their private guns that is said to infringe the Second Amendment. This is a deliberate mischaracterization of the truth.

The law in question specifically was directed at an estimated 25,000 returning black Union soldiers who were returning with their government issued arms – not the banning of private firearms belonging to the public. This attempt to disarm Union soldiers was easily seen as infringing the Second Amendment because they were members of the military – not private civilians. In addition, there were questions over whether Kentucky was acting improper because national law specifically required enlisted militia members to be “white.” In 1867, a bill was presented to remove the word “white” from the militia laws of the United States.

* * * * * * * *

There is no evidence to support the majorities’ suggestion that both the Federal Government and States viewed the Second Amendment as an individual right to keep and use weapons outside of the militia as demonstrated below.

In May of 1680, Massachusetts Governor Bradstreet clearly stated what bear arms signified: “We account all generally from fifteen to fifty that are healthful and strong body’s, both Householders and Servants fit to bear Arms, except Negros and Slaves, whom we arme not.” In other words, it is the arming and training of the citizenry who possess this right to “bear arms” who are the sole military power of the colony.

Soon after Alaska had been acquired from Russia, Congress in 1868 empowered the President of the United States to not only ban the importation of firearms into Alaska, but also forbid the use of all firearms within all of Alaska. This law was not considered to be infringing the Second Amendment.

Gov. John Page of NH, speaking of the Second Amendment on June 3, 1841, clearly viewed the amendment as having everything to do with bearing arms in the service of a militia:

The General Government is authorized “to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia;” — and it is very desirable that a new organization should be made. It is believed that we have one and a half million of soldiers enrolled in the militia throughout the Union; of this number we have about thirty thousand in this State, who are called out thrice in each year for inspection, drill and review. This mode of training so numerous a body of soldiers, is attended with a very great aggregate expense, of both time and money, unaccompanied in the estimation of very many of our citizens by an equivalent advantage. The “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” is a right dear to every freeman; arms should be in the hands of every citizen of the Republic, who is able to wield them, and it is the duty of Government to prescribe such rules of organization and discipline, as will give those arms the greatest possible efficiency.

Missouri Governor, Claiborne F. Jackson, declared in 1863 the citizens of Missouri had the right to “keep and bear arms in conformity to the State laws and to form a well regulated militia necessary to the security of a free State.”

St. George Tucker, Lectures on Constitutional Law (1843), said to bear arms is a duty of citizenship like a duty to pay taxes: “There was no one right which the citizen could exercise, and no one duty which he could be called on to perform, except as a citizen of some particular state. In that character alone could he own real estate, vote at elections, sue or be sued; and in that character alone could he be called on to bear arms, or to pay taxes.”

Victoria C. Woodhull wrote in 1890: “A citizen possesses all his rights of citizenship from birth, else he can never possess them legally as I have shown; but some of these rights, like the right to bear arms, he does not exercise till the military age.

Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, November 1874 issue: “The reason of the feudal inability of women to hold property was that they could not bear arms to defend and maintain it. If, then, women should not have the suffrage because they can not bear arms to enforce the laws, ought they to have property which they can not bear arms to protect?”

The Act of March 2, 1867, was truly found to infringe the Second Amendment, however, radical Republicans danced around the subject by insisting the rebel States were not legal States (seems rebel States were only considered legal when it came to being forced to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.) This Act read in part:

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That all militia forces now organized or in service in either of the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, be forthwith disbanded, and that the further organization, arming, or calling into service of the said militia forces, or any part thereof, is hereby prohibited under any circumstances whatever, until the same shall be authorized by Congress.

Why would this Act be universally condemned as violating the Second Amendment, if we are to believe the court majority, the phrase “bear arms” was “unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia”?

Patrick Henry proclaimed: ”The great object is that every man be armed. … But we have learned, by experience, that, necessary as it is to have arms, and though our Assembly has, by a succession of laws for many years, endeavored to have the militia completely armed, it is still far from being the case. When this power is given up to Congress without limitation or bounds, how will your militia be armed?”

George Mason said: “Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people. … the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but they may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people. … Under the present government, all ranks of people are subject to militia duty.”

Duke of York’s Laws (1676): “No man shall be Compeld to bear Armes or wage war by sea or Land, without the bounds and limits of this Government, But from Defensive wars noe man shall be exempted.”

Speaking of the Federal Second Amendment, prominent Massachusetts politician, Francis Bird, said of the Massachusetts “right to bear arms for the common defence” in October of 1853:

“To keep and bear arms,”–not for self-defence, not for “military instruction,” not for “special service in keeping guard;” but as members of a “well regulated ” [State] militia. This was the very purpose of adopting this second amendment to the federal constitution–to put this matter of the independence of the State militia beyond the domain of controversy; and this is the right guaranteed by this amendment,–the right of the people to bear arms, not for “making defence under special exigencies,” which could in no possible manner come under the control of Congress, and needed no guarantee, but to bear them as a part of the military power of the State.

On July 2, 1863, U.S. issued orders forbidding citizens of the city of Baltimore and County to keep arms except those with the constitutional right to keep arms being members of a militia. Under the Fifty-first Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, assisted by the provost marshal and the chief of police, soldiers in concert with the police went house to house searching for weapons. Muskets, carbines, rifles and revolvers were gathered in considerable quantities.

George S. Boutwell, a significant player in the framing and adoption of both the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, did not dispute the conclusion the Second Amendment was not applicable towards the States in Presser v. Illinois:

The claim that the statute was in violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution was disposed of by the declaration by the Court, that the Second Amendment was a guarantee that nothing should be done by the United States in restraint of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, but that the amendment could not be appealed to as limiting the power of the States.

The teaching in this case seems to justify the following conclusion namely: that as long as a State in the exercise of its power does not interfere with the ability of the United States government to command the military resources of the State, it may exercise jurisdiction over its citizens in the enjoyment of the right of freedom in the matter of keeping and bearing arms.

Significantly, Boutwell says Presser v. Illinois is the “only case of importance which has arisen under” the Second Amendment. This is significant because there was no right of the citizen to keep and bear arms under the Illinois constitution, only provisions for “all free male able-bodied persons (negroes, mulattoes and Indians excepted,) residents of the state, between the ages of 18 and 45 years, except such persons as now are or hereafter may be exempted by the laws of the United States or of this state, and shall be armed, equipped and trained as the general assembly may provide by law.”

Sen. Reverdy Johnson, considered one of the most ablest constitutional lawyers among congressional members involved in the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, said as a lawyer during South Carolina’s Ku Klux Klan trials (1871-1872):

What does the Constitution of the United States say about bearing arms? Nothing. What does the fourteenth amendment say upon the same subject? Nothing. The latter is as silent upon the topic as the former, and if the former cause for silence does not cover such a case as this, the latter, for the same reason, does not embrace it. … Has not the State in a case like that the right to take arms from the militia company? I think there can be no doubt of that. And if the right exists to take the arms out of their hands in such a case as that, then it is because the right to bear arms is not a right given by the Constitution of the United States; but exists under the local law of the State.

There perhaps can be no better in-depth analysis by any State Supreme Court on the meaning of the Second Amendment as found in the West Virginia case of State v. Workman:

The second amendment of our Federal Constitution should be construed with reference to the provisions of the common law upon this subject as they then existed, and in consonance with the reason and spirit of the amendment itself, as defined in what may be called its ‘preamble.’ As early as the second year of Edward III., a statute was passed prohibiting all persons, whatever their condition, “to go or ride armed by night or by day.” And so also at common law the “going around with unusual and dangerous weapons to the terror of the people” was a criminal offence.

The keeping and bearing of arms, therefore, which at the date of the amendment was intended to be protected as a popular right, was not such as the common law condemned, but was such a keeping and bearing as the public liberty and its preservation commended as lawful, and worthy of protection. So, also, in regard to the kind of arms referred to in the amendment, it must be held to refer to the weapons of warfare to be used by the militia, such as swords, guns, rifles, and muskets–arms to be used in defending the State and civil liberty–and not to pistols, etc.

Judge Advocate General of the Army (C. 1169, May 27, 1910) held the word “arms” under the Second Amendment “refers to the arms of the militia or soldier and does not authorize the carrying of weapons not adapted to use for military purposes.”

In Alabama the court found Section 4 of the Bill of Rights, “which provides that ‘the people have the right to ‘bear’ arms for their defense and security,’ is a limitation on legislative power to enact laws prohibiting the bearing of arms in the militia or any other military organization provided for by law. (Nichols v. State, 4 Ala. App. 115, 58 So. 681 (1912))

Refusal to take the “oath to bear arms” always resulted in denial of citizenship in naturalization court. This remained the rule until 1946 when a 5-3 Supreme Court decision struck down the administering of the Arms-Bearing Pledge. Did anyone ever believe new citizens were required to purchase firearms for self-defense at home?

Bishop, Statutory Crimes, §793: “In reason the keeping and bearing of arms has reference to war and possibly also to insurrections where the forms of war are so far as possible observed. The phrase itself, ‘to bear arms,’ indicates as much. The single individual or the unorganized crowd, in carrying weapons, is not spoken of or thought of as ‘bearing arms.’ The use of the phrase suggests ideas of a military nature.”

A.G. Riddle before the House Judiciary Committee, January 11, 1871, remarked:

Apply the gentleman’s idea to other provisions of the Constitution; for instance, to this: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Would he contend that therefore every new-born baby might at once grasp a musket? This might be constitutional, but it would put the infantry on a war-footing before the commissariat could be mobilized, I fear. (Laughter and applause.)

Delegate William Barnes remarked during the Constitutional Convention of the State of California in 1878:

[I] find in article two a declaration that a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of free States, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Now, we know that this question was considered a very important one in the early organization of the government, and it is no less important now than it was then, because the people had their choice then as they have now between a well organized State militia in the several States and a standing army maintained by the central government, which, under our system of republican institutions, has always been considered an enemy to liberty, and when the people had their choice between maintaining a large standing army, maintained by the General Government as the great armies of Europe arc maintained, at a vast cost to the General Government and to the people, they determined upon the plan which now exists, that is to say, to provide for the organization and equipment of a militia force.

Finally, allow me to add that it is irrelevant whether militia members might had been required to own their own arms or were provided public arms because all able bodied men were compelled to possess these specific arms by State militia laws.

I will quickly close by saying the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms means only the right of the people under their own State governments shall never be infringed from organizing and maintaining armed militias for the purpose of a collective security for themselves. The word “arms” had the universal understanding to mean arms of the militia and not general firearms used in civil society.

For NRA pundits, Heller will be held in the same esteem as Roe v. Wade is to Pro-Choice advocates, and like Roe, deserve to be overturned because neither deserves to be called law. The personal right to keep and use firearms remains where it has always remained – under permissible laws demanded by the people themselves under their own State and local governments.

This after all, is what our Republican form of government is all about.

Final Thoughts

It is worth considering the purpose behind the Second Amendment along with the nine other amendments adopted. These amendments, in the words of Madison, were “restrictive & explanatory amendments.” Madison says, all of these amendments indicated a “jealousy of the federal powers, and an anxiety to multiply securities against a constructive enlargement of them.” C.J. Marshal said, “In almost every convention by which the Constitution was adopted, amendments to guard against the abuse of power were recommended. These amendments demanded security against the apprehended encroachments of the General Government — not against those of the local governments.”

Speaking of defending oneself or, ourselves and property, through an armed citizenry is no different then saying the national government defends citizens and property through the military power of the entire member States of the Union in situations of armed invasion by the military establishment of another country. Armed citizens at home are of little use for defending people and property of a State against violence because arms require training, tactics, discipline, communication, etc., to be of any use.

Finally, armed militia’s can easily exist where firearms at home are outlawed because such weapons can be kept in armories for use by members of the militias, or special militia provisions for members to keep arms at home. I am not advocating gun restrictions no more than I would for laws outlawing owning food; I am just saying public laws over private firearms would have no effect on maintaining an armed militia for the defense of citizens of a State.

UPDATE: I was asked to provide a more specific historical definition of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is not a right but a declaration of an ancient principle that says the local military power is safer when left to the citizens themselves rather than in a standing army. In this regard the Second Amendment is no different than the Tenth Amendment.

Standing armies were repulsive because they lived among the people and could by law be quartered in people’s homes in addition to aiding leaders in extending their arbitrary power.

We know this is true meaning of the Second Amendment because the number one complaint against the early Constitution was the absence of a security against a standing army. Hence, the reason behind the insertion of the Second Amendment, to put beyond doubt no power was invested in Congress to disarm the State militias and replace them with a national military force.

Cars and Guns

I have to admit that people on the “pro-gun” side tend to be fairly clueless and miss the obvious.

Yes, criminals not only DON’T register their firearms–THEY CAN’T. That’s the whole idea–the criminal is arrested and is charged with possession of an unregistered firearm. They aren’t able to register their gun and THEY GO TO JAIL!

It makes it simpler to prove the person shouldn't have had the gun in the first place.

Get the idea, or are you still too stupid?

Over at Commongunsense they are having the old drunks and cars debate. If someone is inebreated and is driving, they are breaking the law and they lose their licence to drive. They might even serve some time in jail!

A drunk on public transporation is annoying–a drunk driving a car is a danger to society.

Anyway, I like this article by Peter Wheeland from the 26 Aug 10 Montreal Gazette which I am copiously citing since pro-gun people are too stupid to spot citations. It concerns how idiotic their arguments are.

You register your car -why not guns?

By PETER WHEELAND, The Gazette August 26, 2010

There’s a very good chance that a private member’s bill will be adopted by Parliament within weeks that would abolish the registry of rifles and shotguns owned by Canadians.

Imagine, if you will, the average car owner trying to use the same arguments as gun owners for refusing to register their weapons, to fight storage regulations and to push for dismantling the gun registry.

The following arguments were lifted from numerous pro-gun blogs and websites about the long-gun registry and little was changed except weapons were transformed into vehicles, bullets into car keys.

- ¦ “Cars don’t kill people, people kill people.”

- ¦ “Criminals won’t register their cars, they’ll just go out and steal them or smuggle them into the country.”

- ¦ “Forcing me to keep my car and car keys separate when I’m not using them is stupid. What if there’s a fox in my field and I have to run into the house to get my keys so I can go run the fox over? By the time I get my keys, he’ll be gone. Yet if I leave my keys in the car and some kid steals it and kills someone with it, they think I’m the one acting irresponsibly! That’s crazy!”

- ¦ “Ninety per cent of car crimes are committed with sports cars, not SUVs, so why should SUV owners by forced to register their vehicles?”

- ¦ “The car registry penalizes the majority of vehicle owners, who are law-abiding citizens, by imposing bureaucratic procedures and fees on them, as well as making them vulnerable to prosecution for failing to register their cars.”

- ¦ “If a lunatic decides to take a bunch of people out, it really won’t matter to him whether or not the car is registered.”

- ¦ “It’s not the fear of registering cars, it’s the cost for each car, plus the hassle you have to go through. Plus you have to take a driver safety course in order to get a permit to drive the car. I’ve been driving without a licence all my life, why should I have to take a safety course? My dad taught me everything I need to know.”

- ¦ “The original cost of implementing the registry was estimated at approximately $120 million, with most of the costs being covered by registration fees. Subsequent reviews, however, have shown the actual cost to be closer to $2 billion.”

Well, it’s hard to argue with that last point. Setting up the registry was enormously, ridiculously expensive. The only way to recoup that $2 billion is, obviously, to scrap the registry.

Yes, yes, that argument doesn’t make much sense, either.

But don’t forget that this is the same government that spend $1.1 billion on the G8 and G20 summits without worrying about what five days’ worth of talks would cost, nor were they worried that the expense (not to mention the criminal trials for 300 protesters) would produce nothing of benefit in its wake.

It’s the same government that wants to spend $9 billion to expand the prison system because of a rise in “unreported crime.”

The same government that wants to increase the cost of conducting the census by $30 million because of privacy complaints that, well, are so private that no one has heard of them.

The same government whose only other major privacy concern has been that Canadians not be allowed to obtain information about MPs’ expenses and that journalists making Access to Information requests get only documents with all of the nouns and adjectives blacked out.

It’s the same government that promotes a “law and order” agenda yet refuses to listen to the unanimous position of the Association of Police Chiefs on the usefulness of the long-gun registry,

Laws don’t kill democracy, politicians do.

Peter Wheeland is a Montreal writer, Gazette copy editor, and owner of a proudly registered car.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

read more:

University of Montana Negligent Discharge Doesn't Count

Shootings on college campuses have dominated headlines in some parts of the country in recent years, but guns have not posed a serious threat at UM, Taylor said. There's not much the university can do to prevent incidents like the one Monday evening, Taylor said.

"This was just plain poor gun handling," Taylor said. "It wasn't a shooting. It was an accidental discharge because they didn't follow proper safety precautions."
And with that, the incident is closed.  The negligent and dangerous young man is given a misdemeanor slap on the wrist and everybody goes back to business as usual.

The fact is the guilty student broke about a half-a-dozen school and basic gun-safety rules and someone was injured. In the exact same way someone or more than some ONE could have been killed. This is proof that in some cases, in too many cases, young people do not respond to parental guidance, teaching and warnings concerning guns. Some people are not capable of apprehending these lessons, which is the reason we have the One Strike You're Out Rule.

What's your opinion?  Do you think they take gun negligence a bit too lightly in gun friendly states like Montana?  I do.

Please leave a comment.

Jacksonville FL - Crown Jewel of the Sunshine State

Eyewitnesses told police that Richardson, 20, and Billy Lorenzo Johnson, 31, arrived together at 1324 Prince Street around 4:30 p.m. and soon thereafter got into a physical confrontation with 26-year-old Kenneth E. Curry.

Police believe Richardson pulled a handgun, then so did Curry, and they began shooting at each other.

During the shooting, 19-year-old Danielle Dominique Melton and a toddler, Marc Smith, were shot, as was Johnson. Another person reported that Richardson fired into her apartment.

Just a couple days earlier this happened.

Ten people were wounded and an unborn child died in a hail of bullets in a neighborhood shooting near Riverside just before 9 p.m. The pregnant mother lost her 29-week unborn boy and an 18-month-old girl was in critical condition after the gunfire.

Six of the victims were women and three were men, all unidentified. A male victim remained at Shands Jacksonville hospital Monday.

Police were looking for at least two shooters Monday and did not say if they knew of a motive. No suspects have been identified.

One of the first things that comes to mind is the pro-gun argument that guns are not the problem. They say violent people are the problem and they always say that as if we don't agree with it. We do agree. We understand perfectly well that there are bad guys who do bad things and the gun does not make them do anything.

The problem is gun availability, and that's where the pro-gun guys themselves come into it. They are the source of the guns used in crime. They'll scream and yell and twist and lie and do everything possible to obscure that fact, but if you think about it, it's clear these guns used in Jacksonville shootings were not manufactured in some gang member's basement. They started out lawfully owned and somehow were allowed to flow into the criminal world.

In their enthusiasm to deny all responsibility for this problem, as a type of distraction, we often hear the ridiculous proposition that even if we removed all the guns, these violent criminals would use other weapons to do the same thing.

I wonder how that would have worked in Jacksonville. Would as many people have been wounded and killed if no guns had been used? That's a rhetorical question, you don't have to answer.

Florida continues to wear the crown and Jacksonville is one of its most precious jewels.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who is a hypocrite?

There was an interesting comment at Commongunsense where the commenter says:
Then we have Black Panther KING SAMIR SHABAZZ being videoed on how to hold a gun, shoot people and use a machete.
japete says: As to the Black Panther video- what's your point? What does that have to do with anything discussed here?

But this is an interesting since point 7 of the Black Panther's 10 Point programme is:

7. We Want An Immediate End To
Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.

We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.

What is 18Echo's point? Especially in light of this video:

Is it only OK to invoke your "Second Amendment right" if you are white?

It's one thing to call me a hypocrite, but it's another thing when you go around saying this type of shit that you have Second Amendment rights.

But if you're black...

And a Black Panther to boot.

How does one lose a gun?

Or for that matter at least 16,485 firearms? That's the number the Brady Organisation is saying went missing from 2009 to the middle of 2011 without a record of being legally sold. And the Brady's say this is likely to be a vast undercount of the total number of guns that disappeared from gun manufacturers in the two and a half year period.

The missing guns were noted at ATF compliance inspections of gun manufacturers. Nationwide there are 4,487 licensed gun manufacturers, but due to funding restrictions ATF conducts compliance inspections each year at only about one-fifth of the nation’s licensed gun dealers and manufacturers.

Weak federal gun laws allow gun manufacturers and dealers to operate without security or inventory controls. Under federal law, a gun manufacturer or dealer is not required to secure its inventory from loss or theft or take an inventory of its firearms to account for any that are lost or stolen.

This lack of any security or inventory requirement for gun manufacturers and dealers makes it easy for gun sellers to claim falsely that firearms they have sold illegally and “off-the-books,” were lost or stolen. Federal law requires that gun manufacturers and dealers report guns that are lost or stolen,18 but does not require them to undertake any effort to determine whether guns are missing from their inventory.

The notorious manufacturer was Kahr Arms. One of Kahr's employees, Mark Cronin, was alleged to have taken guns from the factory to sell on the street. It is alleged that Kahr Arms hired Cronin despite a public record of drug addiction, theft to support that addiction, alcohol abuse, and violence, including several assault charges. Cronin stated that he was able to take guns from the Kahr Arms factory at will, before the guns had serial numbers stamped on them. At the time, Worcester Police Captain Paul F. Campbell called Kahr Arm’s recordkeeping so “shoddy” that it was possible to remove weapons without detection.

In July 2011, Kahr Arms agreed to pay nearly $600,000 to end the case, and the settlement is the largest damages payment ever by a gun manufacturer charged with negligence leading to the criminal use of a gun. The settlement is also significant because it was made after enactment of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”), a federal gun law that the gun industry contends shields it from most liability cases. By agreeing to the settlement, Kahr Arms averted a pending motion challenging the applicability and constitutionality of the PLCAA.

Kahr Arms had moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the PLCAA bars such cases. In response to Kahr Arm’s dismissal motion, Brady Center attorneys argued that the statute does not immunize gun companies, and is unconstitutional. Prior to enactment of the gun industry liability protection law, the court had ruled that the Guzman family’s claims were meritorious and should proceed to trial.

The gun lobby should be ashamed as hell at the amount of guns that have fallen through the cracks. Will it make a difference to anyone that the gun industry has "lost" 8 times as many guns in 2 years time as the ATF lost in their failed Fast and Furious program? But will that be pointed out on Fox News?

Hey, nothing like weak gun laws to get guns to criminals! And a tame press to stop the outrage.

The Brady Report can be found here.

Keep on Dancing.....

cross posted from

If I need a 'tie in' to the usual topics covered here, let it be that gender and sexual orientation are one of the two most frequent pretexts for hate crimes of violence, including gun violence.

I have a guilty pleasure.  I watch Dancing with the Stars.  It started as a friendly betting pool at the office every week where a friend of mine works.  Now we watch it together every Monday and Tuesday night when it is on, and discuss how we think the voting will go, with an eye towards who will win the office pool that week. 

The prize? A candy bar. 

And bragging rights, such as they are, which isn't much. It is a good natured fun thing to do, a friendly rivalry, not serious gambling, obviously.  So in that context, there is a very laid back sort of anticipation for each season's announcement of the cast for dancing with the stars.

I use the word 'stars' advisedly, because there are some people who are little known outside of a very narrow demographic, people who when they are announced receive the reaction of "WHO? Who the heck is THAT?".  This is so much the case, that with each season I wonder anew if they have finally scraped the bottom of the celebrity and pseudo-celebrity barrel.

But Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono was a name that I did recognize.  I'm not convinced being the offspring of someone famous is a valid basis for claiming celebrity status rather than doing something famous in your own right.  But as the child of Cher and Sonny Bono, as a little kid, Chastity did appear on national television, beginning at an early age (here, around age 3):

and has appeared from time to time on television and radio since, and has written a book, appeared in a documentary, and has worked as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. 

And here, as an adult, left as Chaz, right as Chastity:

which at least seems to me to be more 'celebrity' than Bristol Palin from a recent season, whose sole claim to fame has been to get pregnant as a teen out of wedlock, like her mom, and to have a famous parent in politics.

The addition of Chaz Bono has actually eclipsed the inclusion of the second gay man on DWTS, the flamboyant author, actor, equestrian (yes, equestrian) Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  It has largely passed beneath the radar in light of the controversy over including Chaz Bono, who as Chastity Bono was openly lesbian, that DWTS actually rendered a policy decision on same sex couples dancing.  Because some of the professional dancers/ teacher partners HAVE spoken out that they were willing to dance with someone of the same gender.

The controversy stems from a uniquely right wing slice of intolerant bigots, ranging from the group Million moms, an astroturf group fronted by the religious right wing extremists of the American Family  Association's One Million Moms / One Milion Dad's web site project (noted for their support of Perry and other right wing extremist candidates), to the statements by Fox News psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow - who should know better. The American Family Association are the same group of intolerant people who protested muslim Keith Ellison being sworn into office as the Congressman from Minnesota using the Koran from the library of Thomas Jefferson.  If you are not familiar with Ablow, he was the guy who went off his nut over the JCrew ad that showed a mom painting her son's toes pink with nail polish, claiming she was going to turn him gay. 

Ablow asserts that if you let your children watch Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars, they might experience gender confusion, and that girls will want to amputate their breasts and boys will want to amputate their penises through some sort of implausible favorable association. 

It is worth noting that the views expressed by Ablow conflict with the position of every major medical and psychological organization in the U.S., and the rest of the world.  It is driven by ideology and religion, not science and medicine.  Ablow's views are simply stupid, wrong, and nasty.

Quite the opposite is true; those who experience gender disphoria, the technical name for people who are trapped in the wrong gender body, often recognize this disconnect when they are younger.  The younger the age at which these kids identify what it is they feel, the better the probability of successfully addressing it.  The risk of suicide is unusually high among those who experience gender dysphoria compared to the general populaton. 

Now personally, what would excite me would be if they could get comedian Stephen Colbert on for a season, because for all of his clowning around, he has occasionally demonstrated a very real ability to dance.  And he would be capable of being both funny and charming, which is largely along with sexy costumes and personality very much what the show works on to involve the viewers, not just the dancing.

But for Chaz Bono to be the preeminent controversy of this season?


This sadly reflects the prejudices, and even more than bias and bigotry, the ignorance among segments of our society, largely conservative segments, about gender and sexuality.  These are not issues unique to homo sapiens; they are mirrored in other species as well.  This is a big topic for ignorance.

Chaz Bono is one of those very articulate people who describe having a different sexual orientation from an early age, a very very early age. 

I don't know or care to know if Chaz Bono is one of those individuals who are born with gender ambivalence, lacking a clear gender, or what his complement of chromosomes are (XX, XY, or some other combination including extras).

But more generally I am aware that there are conditions such as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, where a person may be born genetically male, with an X and Y chromosome, but a resistance to androgens which are responsible for the development of male characteristics.  This is just one of the reasons people seek gender reassignment surgery.  A few details:

Androgen insensitivity syndrome

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is when a person who is genetically male (has one X and one Y chromosome) is resistant to male hormones called androgens. As a result, the person has some or all of the physical characteristics of a woman, despite having the genetic makeup of a man.

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is caused by various genetic defects on the X chromosome that make the body unable to respond to the hormones responsible for the male appearance.

Complete androgen insensitivity prevents the development of the penis and other male body parts. The child born appears to be a girl. The complete form of the syndrome occurs in as many as 1 in 20,000 live births.

The degree of sexual ambiguity varies widely in persons with incomplete AIS. Incomplete AIS can include other disorders such as Reifenstein syndrome (also known as Gilbert-Dreyfus syndrome or Lubs syndrome), which is associated with breast development in men, failure of one or both testes to descend into the scrotum after birth, and hypospadias, a condition where the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the tip, of the penis.


A person with complete AIS appears to be female but has no uterus, and has very little armpit and pubic hair. At puberty, female secondary sex characteristics (such as breasts) develop, but menstruation and fertility do not.

Persons with incomplete AIS may have both male and female physical characteristics. Many have partial closing of the outer vaginal lips, an enlarged clitoris, and a short vagina.

There may be:
•A vagina but no cervix or uterus
•Inguinal hernia with a testis that can be felt during a physical exam
•Normal female breast development
•Testes in the abdomen or other unusual places in the body

Exams and Tests

Complete AIS is rarely discovered during childhood, unless a mass is felt in the abdomen or groin that turns out to be a testicle when it is explored surgically. Most people with this condition are not diagnosed until they fail to menstruate or have difficulties becoming pregnant.

Incomplete AIS, however, is often discovered during childhood because the person may have both male and female physical characteristics.


Unusually located testicular tissue may not be removed until a child completes puberty and growth is complete. At this time, the testis may be removed because they can develop cancer like any undescended testicle.

Estrogen replacement is prescribed after puberty.

Treatment and gender assignment can be a very complex issue, and must be individualized with great care.

Wysolmerski JJ. Insogna KL. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In: Kronenberg HM, Schlomo M, Polansky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 266.
Bringhurst FR, Demay MB, Kronenberg HM. Disorders of mineral metabolism. In: Kronenberg HM, Schlomo M, Polansky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 27.
Sexuality and orientation, and gender identity are not simple, they are not black and white issues; they occur across a spectrum of possibilities, and there are many variations which occur. Sadly, among the ignorant, particularly the anti-science crowd, there are a lot of unwarranted judgements and assumptions made. And those assumptions carry with them some very punitive actions. For example, it was noted in an article on this controversy on the website, that simply being a transgender person is a legitimate reason for someone to be fired from their employment in 35 states.

Or apparently, it is a reason to be boycotted on a silly reality tv show.

I am appalled that someone can be fired for making an intensely personal decision, whether it is a matter of choice where a person is trying to reconcile their perceived subjective internal gender, or of medical necessity because of being born with gender ambiguity or hermaphrodism, that a person is transgender.

This should be a personal matter, something which is resolved by each individual for themselves, with the assistance they seek from family, friends, and health care professionals.  This should not be a choice over which other people have a vote, or over which other people can deny someone employment, housing, civil rights or anything else.

In the quick research that I did for this post, I noted that there have been any number of individuals who have been the target of talk, and finger pointing, in their careers over their suspected sexuality.  Jaime Lee Curtis, aka Lady Haden-Guest (her husband, actor Christopher Guest is Baron Haden-Guest) which makes her both British nobility and second generation Hollywood 'nobility' (such as it is).  Then we have the rumors about Lady Gaga of the gender and sexuality anthem 'Born this Way', along with model and 'Bond Girl' Grace Jones, Ciara, Megan Fox.  Back in their day the same rumors about gender and sexuality were circulated around genuine celebrities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West.
Our sexuality is a deeply personal issue, and any decisions someone makes about this aspect of themselves is no one else's business but their own.  We can like or dislike them as human beings for other reasons, but their sexuality should not be one of them.  Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous I Have a Dream speech wrote about the importance of judging people on the content of their character.  There was never a better time for that than here, on a silly entertainment series that is supposed to be about people learning to dance.

But I came across a better quotation from the late civil rights martyr that even better crystallizes how we should approach our human differences, how we should embrace each other as human beings:
"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I cannot think of truer words that equally apply to people coming to terms with their sexuality, whatever that might be, as a facet of who they are, of reconciling their emotional, psychological and physical, and yes, spiritual selves.

Chaz Bono, I wish you a very good time on Dancing with the Stars, regardless of how well you do in the series as a competitor.  Regardless of whether you turn out to be an excellent dancer, or have two left feet, I applaud you for your grace under the onslaught of hateful, narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance that is being heaped on you before the first episode of this show even airs. 

Chaz Bono, good luck and god bless.  And if you happen to win someone a candy bar along the way, or a hideously ugly mirrored ball trophy, that would be great, but extra.  What this is perhaps a better opportunity to do is to push back against ignorance and intolerance and hatred justified by craziness posing as religion.

The Straight Dope: Have Great Britain's restrictive gun laws contributed to the rise in violent crime?

It should be noted that the methodologies in collecting crime statistics between the US and UK are different and do not have a 1:1 correlation. The latest British Crime Survey (BCS) said there had been a "notable" drop in theft, burglary and fraud.

From The Straight Dope

November 5, 2004

Dear Cecil:

I read an article claiming that as weapon-control laws in England become ever tighter, the crime rate is increasing--that over the past 80 or so years the British government has enacted policies making it harder for individuals to carry any kind of weapon for self-defense, with the result, it was claimed, that you are now six times more likely to be mugged in London than in New York. In addition, you can receive a stiff sentence for defending yourself even if a burglar has invaded your home. One case cited was that of Tony Martin, who lived alone in a rural area. He had been robbed six times before. Mr. Martin's home was broken into again, and he shot and killed one burglar and wounded the other. He was jailed for harming the burglars and later was denied parole because he posed a danger to burglars. Given that the author was an American, and the article in a somewhat conservative periodical, I wondered how much spin had been put on the facts. Is England indeed becoming a haven for burglars while aged pensioners cower in their cottages?

Complicated topic. We proceed in our usual methodical manner:

(1) No doubt about it, crimewise the UK has pretty much gone to the dogs. Violent crime jumped by two-thirds between 1998 and 2003. Crime is higher in the UK than the U.S. in every category except rape and murder.

(2) Some say Britain's increase in crime is a result of disarming the populace. One advocate of this view is U.S. history professor Joyce Lee Malcolm, author of the article you saw as well as the book Guns and Violence: The English Experience (2002). Malcolm claims the British government has virtually eliminated the right to self-defense.

(3) Whatever Malcolm may think, there's no direct correlation between weapons restrictions and crime. As she points out, the UK began requiring gun permits in 1920 and in 1953 prohibited the carrying of concealed weapons, even things like Mace. While a slow rise in the UK crime rate began in the mid-1950s, the rate didn't increase sharply until the 80s. Handguns were banned altogether in 1997.

(4) The Tony Martin case, a cause celebre in Britain, may not be as clear-cut as some claim, but it's still pretty outrageous. The eccentric Martin lived in a dilapidated Norfolk farmhouse with only three rottweilers for company. One night in 1999 the place was broken into by Brendan Fearon, 29, and Fred Barras, 16, both of whom had long criminal records. Martin claims he heard a noise, grabbed a shotgun, headed downstairs, had a flashlight shone in his face, and began shooting. The following afternoon Barras was found dead in the garden; the wounded Fearon was arrested nearby. Martin was convicted of murder and given a mandatory life sentence, but an appeals court reduced the charge to manslaughter on grounds of mental illness. Martin was denied parole, in part because probation officers feared he would shoot additional burglars; he's out now. Fearon, who did time for burglary, was granted legal-aid funding to sue Martin, although the suit failed. OK, the burglars weren't armed, Martin had previously expressed a hatred of Gypsies (Barras was one), and Barras was shot in the back, but many Americans would say: Come on--it was dark and they were in the guy's house.

(5) Although it's an exaggeration to say there's no right to self-defense in Britain, the law there is more restrictive and, in contrast to typical U.S. practice, cuts you no slack if you're defending your home. UK householders who injure a home invader are often hauled up on charges (although they may be acquitted), whereas in the U.S. more commonly you'll get a pass. Malcolm claims that because UK crooks don't fear disarmed householders, half of burglaries there take place while someone is home, a much larger fraction than in the U.S. Not so--close analysis of the data suggests "hot" burglary rates in the two countries aren't dramatically different.

(6) Rising crime in Britain surely has a lot to do with the lousy economy. From 1974 to 1999 the UK unemployment rate averaged more than 10 percent. It's lower now, but a lot of antisocial behavior became entrenched during that time. Soccer hooliganism is one example; I'd say crime in general is another.

(7) A case can be made that folks in the UK are too nice for their own good. In reading parliamentary transcripts and such you're struck by how exasperatingly fair-minded and decent everyone is--not just the lefties, either. One detects little appetite for the draconian measures that some believe have reduced crime in the U.S., notably the harsh sentencing laws that have given us one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world. If present trends continue, though, no doubt the Brits will learn to be assholes just like us.